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Manufacturers Index - Hendey Machine Co.
Last Modified: Sep 24 2013 4:13PM by joelr4
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Henry J. Hendey
Frederick F. Fuessenich

      Hendey Machine Co. was founded in 1870 as a partnership between Henery J. Hendey and his brother, Arthur Hendey. The firm incorporated in 1874 and Arthur left in 1875. In 1899, Hendey bought the lathe patents of Peter and William Shellenback of the Shellenback Machine Tool Co.

      This company made metal-working machinery, most notably lathes, planers, and shapers. Since woodworkers also use lathes, planers, and shapers, they sound like they may have made woodworking machinery. They did not.

      The best source of information on Hendy Machine Co. history and products is the Lathes.co.uk pages on Hendey.

The Hendey Machine Co. in 1896
The Hendey Machine Co. in 1907

      The large business of this Company is the outgrowth of an industry founded by Henry J. and Arthur Hendey, on Litchfield street, in 1870, and which later was moved to what is now the Electric Light Company's building at the East Branch. It was brought to its present location in 1873 and now extends over a large tract bordering on the line of the N. Y., N. H. & H. R. R. and Summer Street. This Company has been exceptionally successful and while other industries of like nature have suffered from the general business depression, it has enjoyed continued and increasing prosperity. Its shops have been run to their fullest capacity, necessitating enlargements to the buildings from time to time, and at present writing new and most modern buildings have just been completed and are now in operation. A private electric plant of large capacity has been installed in the power house. This supplies power for operating the works in the new buildings and it is expected that in the near future the entire plant of the Company will be operated by electricity from the same source. The accompanying illustration shows the premises as they were in 1896, but the completion of the new buildings doubles the establishment in its capacity; it is among the most advanced of modern machine producing plants and in appointments and conveniences it is second to none for the purposes intended. Both steam and electricity are used for power; about 270 men, many of them skilled, are given employment and among these is the Company's corps of expert draughtsmen and patternmakers. A general line of machine tools are made, but the great specialties of the Company, those to which nearly all of the attention is given, are the Hendey Pillar Shaper and the famous Hendey-Norton Lathe. The latter is the invention of Superintendent W, P. Norton and is acknowledged by the trade and by mechanics to be the most practical time and labor saving lathe yet devised, and one of the most useful of recent inventions. The Company was organized in 1874. The original capital of $16,000 has been increased from time to time until it is now $120,000. The Company's officers now are H.J. Hendey, president, and F. F. Fuessenich, secretary and treasurer. The products are sold through agents, largely; they have acquired a world-wide reputation and are known and are in demand wherever machinery manufacturing is conducted, and a large and growing export trade has been established. Messrs. Hendey and Fuessenich, the Company's officers, are among the foremost citizens of the town, and every measure tending to the benefit or development of the place meets with their support. Mr. Hendey was born in England, but was but four years of age when he came with his parents to this country. His boyhood and early manhood were spent in Waterbury, and in that city he learned his vocation. He came to Torrington in 1865 and has since made it his home. He was the first Warden of the Borough of Torrington and for many years has been Warden of Trinity Protestant Episcopal Church. Mr. Fuessenich was Town Auditor for several years and Clerk a couple of years. He is a vestryman at Trinity Church and for a long time has been treasurer ot Seneca Lodge, No. 55, F. & A. M. He was one of the committee of five appointed from Torring1 ton to co-operate with the committee from Winsted in procuring a charter for an electric railway between the two places, has been an earnest worker in bringing the enterprise to a successful issue, and on the organization of the Torrington & Winchester Street Railway Company Mr. Fuessenich was chosen one of Torrington's two representatives on the Board of Directors.


      An anniversary volume entitled "Hendey 1870-1920" has been published by the Hendey Machine Co., Torrington, Conn., in which is recorded the history of the company from the time of its foundation in 1870 until the end of the first half century of its existence. This book contains an interesting account of the founder, Henry J. Hendey, of this well-known machine tool building enterprise, of whom it says that "confronted by adverse conditions, hampered by lack of money, but with a splendid faith in what the future held, his many fine qualities and sheer strength of character asserted themselves. An unshaken courage, a steadfast determination, decision; these were his outstanding characteristics."

      In 1870, Henry J. Hendey, a toolmaker of Torrington, Conn., and his younger brother Arthur Hendey, then a patternmaker in New Haven, associated themselves in the launching of a new enterprise with a very humble beginning. In referring to the starting of the business, the review states that "in the present period of business inactivity, there is a homely lesson in the courage and confidence of the founder of this enterprise, who, due to business depression, was at the time unemployed, but who did not hesitate to face forward, backed only by mentality and muscle and that invariable and constant asset, an unfaltering faith in America."

      The motive power of the first shop was a three-horsepower rotary engine made by Henry Hendey at night after leaving his daily task. This engine has been preserved and is still to be seen on a table in the engine room of the present Hendey plant in Torrington. The gradual growth of the business from its small beginning to its present proportions is well illustrated by many interesting photographs showing the earlier shops and the present plant. The book also shows the development of the types of machines associated with the name Hendey, from the simple designs of 1870 to the high production shapers, milling machines, and lathes of 1922. It is being distributed to the friends and customers of the company.

Information Sources

  • The Torrington Register Souvenir Edition, by the Register Printing Co. 1897 page 46
  • American Lathe Builders: 1810-1910, by Kenneth L. Cope, 2001 page 77
  • Machinery Magazine, V28, May 1922, pg. 741