Model 1903 Pocket Hammer serial number 43910
Pistol features standard blued finish and factory recessed medallion
mother of pearl grips. Colt factory letter confirms that this pistol was
a single gun shipment and shipped with blued finish and
mother of pearl grips to A.J. Harwi Hardware Co., Atchison, Kansas and
sold to O.B. Foalson Lumber Company
on May 9, 1922. This Colt was located in Bonham, Texas with its
original holster. The work was processed on Colt Factory Order number
Colt 1903 Pocket Hammer .38 ACP serial number 43910 - right side.
Colt 1903 Pocket Hammer .38 ACP serial number 43910 - right side.
Alfred Jonathan Harwi
ALFRED JONATHAN HARWI was one of the great merchants of
Kansas. Beginning as an obscure hardware dealer in Atchison
he built up a business which now stands as a monument to his
energy and foresight, the A. J. Harwi Hardware Company being
one of the leading wholesale concerns of the Missouri
Valley. Life extended to him only the opportunities which it
extends to every one. It was his own personal character, his
enterprise, and a vigorous and resourceful mind which
enabled him to seize and develop possibilities into
realities of a large and imposing character. While he would
be mentioned prominently among any group of successful
Kansas merchants, it was not alone for his material
achievements that he is remembered and honored. He put
character into his business, and it was the flowering of his
character that earned him such wide esteem.
His birth occurred at Ritterville, Lehigh County,
Pennsylvania, January 21, 1847, and he died at Atchison
September 5, 1910, at the comparatively early age of
sixty-three. His parents were Michael and Lucretia Harwi.
Michael Harwi for many years followed the trade of
carpenter. He was engaged in some of the heavy construction
required in the building of canal locks when canals were
still the principal means of transportation in the eastern
states. He had a farm also, and for a few years before his
death was engaged in the quarrying and contracting of slate
materials. He and his wife were the parents of four sons,
Alfred J. being the oldest, and one daughter who died in
Pennsylvania in childhood. One of the sons also died young.
The other three sons all came to Atchison, Edwin C. and W.
H. following their older brother and becoming associated
with him in the hardware business. Edwin C. Harwi died
September 4, 1903, while Wilson H. died May 30, 1911. His
sons having all gone to the West, Michael Harwi prepared to
join them in Atchison. On the point of his departure on
October 8, 1882, he was taken ill and died. His widow,
Lucretia Harwi, subsequently removed to Atchison and lived
with her children until her death in 1904.
Alfred J. Harwi was educated in the public schools of his
native state. Up to ten years he found his educational
opportunities entirely in his home locality. He then entered
a noted Moravian school at Bethlehem. This school was four
miles from his home and a high mountain ridge separated the
two places. This rather difficult journey to and from school
Mr. Harwi made night and morning for two years. He applied
himself diligently to his studies and besides what he
learned from books and associations with school masters he
acquired an even larger and better knowledge by the study of
books in his leisure hours and by active contact with men
and affairs. He gained his early business experience as
clerk in a general store at Bethlehem. It was the same kind
of training school that has equipped many of our great
merchant princes in America. He early formed the habit of
reading, listening and learning, and was constantly engaged
in broadening his mind and proving his judgment and ability
to think promptly and concisely and decide with a minimum of
the element of error.
His early ambition was formed to become a business man on
his own account. In 1868, at the age of twenty-one, he
invested his very meager savings as a partner in a furniture
store with J. B. Zimmele as partner. Two years later he sold
out and started for the West.
While living at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Mr. Harwi married
his first wife, Cora Wheeler. With her father he
subsequently was in the hardware and implement business in
Missouri. After the dissolution of the partnership Mr. Harwi
went to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and worked there for a few
months in a hardware store.
It was in 1875 that he arrived in Atchison. He had a very
generous equipment of business experience, but little
capital. Associated with C. H. Dearborn he started a retail
hardware business. It was in a small building at 408
Commercial Street, the stock was not all embracing, but
represented practically all the active capital of the
partners Mr. Harwi knew his goods, understood the art of
salesmanship, and acting on the principle that success in a
business is only an adequate reward for real service he soon
had the store prospering and rapidly growing. In a few years
the Harwi establishment was considered one of the leading
enterprises of the City of Atchison.
The late Mr. Harwi was possessed of a wonderful fund of
common sense. At the same time he was a man of vision. He
was not a dreamer of dreams, and when his ideas and ideals
could not stand the test of experience and reason he
discarded them and used only what could be translated into
He was in Atchison when that town stood at the parting of
the ways, one leading to metropolitan prosperity and the
other to comparative obscurity as a small country town. Mr
Harwi foresaw the possibilities and was one of the biggest
factors, indeed he might almost be considered a cornerstone
in Atchison's growth and subsequent progressive development.
He planned and worked so that his own establishment might be
in a position to serve the developing western country with
goods, and the success of his own firm was closely
identified with the prosperity of the city at large. To make
Atchison a gateway of commerce and a distributing point for
a large section of territory, the essential elements were
business houses powerful enough to develop the trade. Having
formulated his plans Mr. Harwi devoted himself with
unremitting energy the rest of his life to building up a
great jobbing and wholesale house. From ideas that
originated in his own brain and were translated by his own
energy the A. J. Harwi Hardware Company came into existence
and has since become known throughout the West and Middle
West. Before he passed away his house was represented by
twenty traveling salesmen who carried the goods of this firm
over four states. More than fifty employes were employed to
handle the office work and the warehouse and shipping
details in the main establishment at Atchison. The company's
home is a commodious four story office and warehouse
building located at the corner of Commercial and Ninth
streets, and it is one of the imposing landmarks in the
wholesale district of Atchison. The warehouses contain
75,000 square feet of floor space, and it is an exceptional
condition when this place is not packed with the vast and
varied stock distributed by the company. The A. J. Harwi
Hardware Company was incorporated in 1889 with a capital
stock of $100,000.00.
During his later years the stress of business and ceasless
activity told heavily upon Mr. Harwi's physical resources.
For the last twenty-five years he was a sufferer from
locomotor ataxia. But he never gave up, and in the
accomplishment of his large plans he did not spare himself
as much as he should nor take efforts to conserve his bodily
strength. Thus it was that the span of his life was
shortened, though he lived to realize the fondest dreams and
anticipations of his earlier career.
Mr. Harwi's first wife, Cora Wheeler, died leaving one
daughter, Mrs. E. P. Ripley, of Boston Massachusetts. For
his second wife he married Elizabeth Whitehead, of Atchison.
They were married in 1873 and she died in 1907. Her two
children are: Mrs. H. P. Shedd of Bensonhurst, Long Island,
and Frank E., now president of the A. J. Harwi Hardware
Company. On June 3, 1909, Mr. Harwi married Mrs. Mary E.
Holland, who survives him.
The City of Atchison has grateful remembrance of Mr. Harwi's
thorough public spirit and generosity. He contributed to all
worthy charitable and philanthropic causes, and was a wise
steward of the fortune which accumulated under his efforts.
He naturally had the handling of large investments, but he
was never known to take advantage of a debtor and foreclose
a mortgage. In church affairs he was a member of the
Congregational Society, was a trustee of Midland College at
Atchison, and established and endowed the Harwi Scholarship
prizes, which have been of such benefit to many young
students. He was also a trustee of the Atchison County High
School at Effingham and education was always a cause close
to his heart. Only once did he participate actively in
political service. In 1884 he was chosen state senator from
the Atchison District, and served creditably during the
following sessions. He made a splendid record, and on its
basis his friends mentioned him as party candidate for
governor, though the movement never received any
encouragement from him.
His heart and soul were in his business, and even while he
was a member of the Legislature and after a day spent at
Topeka he would return home and put in the greater part of
the night in the supervision of his business.
A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and
compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas
State Historical Society, Topeka. Chicago: Lewis Publishing
Company, copyright 1918; transcribed October, 1997.