A Biography of Harvey W. Peace and The Vulcan Saw Works

The Vulcan Saw Works ca. 1884
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Originaly published in The Civil, Political, Professional and Ecclesiastical History and Commercial Industrial Record of the County of Kings and the City of Brooklyn, N.Y. From 1683 to 1884.

HARVEY W. Peace-- Were we called upon to name one among the manufacturers of Brooklyn, who had, in early middle life, won for himself a high and honorable position as a manufacturer, solely by the exercise of industry, enterprise, and the mental abilities which fitted him for being a leader and employer of men, our first thought would be of the name of Mr. Peace, as the most striking exemplar of the success which comes from the exercise of those qualities.

HARVEY W. PEACE was born in Sheffield, England, Aug. 10, 1831. His father and grandfather had both been brought up in the saw business all their lives. When he was yet very young, his parents moved to Dore, in Derbyshire, about six miles from Sheffield, but still retained their connection with the saw-works in Sheffield. Mr. Peace obtained his early education in Dore, but at the age of thirteen began to work, a part of the time, in the same manufactory with his father and grandfather. At the age of eighteen, he was a very skillful saw-grinder. At that time (1849), he came to America with his father and family, the father having received an invitation from Messes. R. Hoe & Co. of New York, to take charge of the saw-grinding in their extensive works. In this establishment, young Peace remained for twelve years (except a trip to Europe, in 1857, for health and recreation). In these twelve Years, he had become a complete master of his business, and with his industry, temper- ate habits, and economy, had been able to save a little capital, to start the business of saw manufacturing for himself. Accordingly. in 1861, he commenced, in a small way, in Center street, New York, taking a younger brother as a partner. Finding their location not a good one, at that time (it was just a t the beginning of the Civil War), they removed, the next year, to Johnstown, Fulton county, New York, where they remained about a year. By this time, business -in some directions, and the manufacture of saws was one of them- had greatly revived, and was much better in the seaports than in the interior. Once more, therefore, they removed, and this time, to what proved a permanent location, to Ainslie street, Brooklyn. At first their quarters here were small and narrow, and proved so inconvenient that they moved to a better location on the same street, in 1867; the times were favorable for the development of an extensive business, and though averse to anything like speculative action, they went forward, "hasting not and resting not," increasing with each year the quality and the quantity of their saws, till one building was added to another, and one kind of saws to another; and now (with the exception of the file-works of Mr. C. B. Paul, a friend of theirs, and one whose manufacture is an almost indispensable adjunct to their own), they occupy several lots in the block bounded on two sides by Tenth and Ainslie streets. They make every description of saw known to the trades, and for such as require handles or frames, they manufacture these necessary attachments. We have described elsewhere the processes of saw manufacture, the four classes of workmen, the saw- maker, saw-grinders, saw-handlers, and saw-finishers, and it only remains to be said here, that in all this great enterprise, employing a force of more than 200 men, and producing annually nearly a quarter of a million dollars' worth of goods, Mr. Harvey W. Peace has been the informing and controlling spirit; his judicious and enterprising managements has brought order out of confusion, success out of threatened disaster, and his house has now but two rivals in the United States in the extent of its production, and none in the quality and excellence of its wares. It is well under- stood everywhere, and among all classes of purchasers, that the stamp of " Harvey W. Peace" on any saw, or case of saws, insures the purchasers that the goods are of the very best possible quality.

In his relations to his fellow manufacturers, Mr. Peace has always been kindly and helpful; often taking large risks, to keep them from disaster, and where they have succumbed to the hardness of the times, furnishing them with employment in his own establishment till they could recover themselves.

In all the relations of civil and social life, Mr. Peace has shown himself a good citizen, a tender and kind husband and father, and a pleasant neighbor, Though not a member of any church, he is a regular attendant on the Methodist church - the church of his parents. In politics he is a decided republican, though never an office-seeker or office- holder. He wields a powerful influence in his ward, but has invariably refused to be a candidate for any public position. In regard to the tariff, he favors a moderate protection of our struggling manufactures, but insists that the duties should be taken off from raw material which cannot be produced here, and reduced on such raw material' as is equally a product of our own and foreign countries; thus placing us on an equality with foreign manufacturers.

Mr. Peace, though heartily American in feeling and interest, does not forget that he first drew breath in England. He is an officer of the St. George's Society, and a hearty and cordial friend and helper of his countrymen. In other directions also, his liberal spirit exhibits itself, and he is a generous giver to all good causes.

Mr. Peace, and some of his skillful workmen, have designed and patented many of the machines for the purpose of grinding the various kinds of saws, as well as for polishing, toothing, handling and graining saws. While this company make every description of saws known or demanded in the trade, their special attention is directed to the higher grades of carpenters' saws, band saws (some of these are fifty-five feet in length, and they vary in width from one-eighth inch to six inches), veneer and re-saw segments, and cross-cut saws. They from 150 to 160 hands, and their production ranges from $200,000 to $225,000 per annum.

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