The Hudson Hat Company at one time employed over 250 people.  You can just imagine the emotions of the family as they watched their factory burn down.

The Hudson Hat Company

Max Wosnitzer immigrated to the US from Tarnow, Galicia in 1881.  We know that members of his family were involved in the hat industry there, so he must have brought that expertise along with him.

According to,the book History of the Hat Industry at Orange, NJ, the Orange NJ area (emcompassing  Newark Mountain) was the center of the hat industry in the late 19th century because of  the mountain stream that supplied water which ws ever important to the hatter.

According to the book, Newark The City of Industry, Fact and Figures Concerning the Metropolis of New Jersey, 1912, the Hudson Hat Comapny started in 1890 at 76 Somerset Street.  It was started by Max Wosnitzer. The business was very successful and was considered of one Newark, NJ’s, best examples of a successful business. ” from 1852 to 1921 there were as many as fifty hat factories in the Oranges, all at brooksides.”

The History of the Hudson Hat Mfg. Co., Inc.

In 1897, Max appears in the Newark, NJ, directory listing under Hat Manufacturers.

1897 - Max Hat Manufacturerer

In 1909, Max, his son Abe, and a man named Joseph Frank, incorporate the Hudson Hat Mfg, Co, of Newark, NJ. (from the book the American Hatter, p. 86)

1909 - Hudson Hats incorporates
1909 - Hudson Hats Articlle

In 1910, there is a fire at the factory.

1910 fire to Hudson Hat Co.

In 1911, they add an addition on to their factory, including a new power plant.

1911 additon to Hudson Hat Co factory

By 1912, the company  also had offices in New York City and employed 250 people.  The factory in Newark was now on New Hoyt and Searing Streets and had expensive modern machinery. They produce only men’s soft hats. They were praised for the quality of their product and for their customer service. In 1912, Max was the President and Abe was the treasurer and manager. Other relatives employed in 1912 were Max, his brother, Benjamin, and his newphew,  Isador (Irving).  We know it is his nephew by the address since that is where Irving was living with Minnie.

19012 Hudson Hat Employees

In 1913, they announce the construction of a two-story factory addition which will cost $15,000.

1913 Hudson Hat Factory addition

An ad that appeared in the New Yrok Tribune on January 26, 1917, p. 3

Help Wanted ads also appeared in area newspapers.

Help Wanted ad for hatters, circa 1920

Help Wanted ad for trimmers, circa 1920

In 1921, they purchase the factory from Jesse E. Triest and intend to operate it under the same name of Hudson Hat Co.  Also, in 1921 there were only five hat manufacturing firms left in Orange, N.J.  Hatters had left Orange for Danbury and Norwalk, Connecticut.

1921 Hudson Hat Co purchase announcement.

1921 Hudson Hat co. purchase

Here is an ad for the sale of Hudson Hats in Buffalo, New York.

The ad appeared in the Buffalo Times on Friday, November 17, 1922.

Hudson Hat Ad from Buffalo, NY, 1922

In 1926, Max’s nephew, Irving, no longer appears as an employee.  Instead, his son, Irving, is listed.  We know this again, by the address.  The addresses can be found in census reports and also in Newark, NJ, directory listings.

1926 Hudson Hat Co. Employees

In 1930, there are problems with picketers.

1930 Picketers

1930 Picketers

Also, in 1930, police investigated a robbery at the Hudson Hat Company in Nutley. Over $10,000 worth of hats were stolen.

The article appeared in The Daily News, on Monday, September 15, 1930.

Robbery at Hudson Hat Company

In 1934, Irving is President of the United Hat Body Corp in New York City.

1934 - United Hat Body Corp Pres.
  • Which Irving is this?  Max’s son or nephew?
  • Is the United Hat Body Corp, part of this as described in the book:
    • “On July 17, 1901, in a special to the New York Times: To Form a Hat Trust:
      “The hat manufacturers of New Jersey and Connecticut …plan to form a company to control the leading hat factories of the country, nearly all of which are situated in Orange and in Danbury, Connecticut, with a few in Philadelphia and Newark. The new company will probably be called the United Hat Manufacturers of the United States. .. It is proposed to have one large salesroom in New York.”

In 1942, Morris, Abe’s son, received a patent for a Felt Hardening Machine. He is listed under Zuczek.

Patent issued to Morris Wosnitzer in 1942

Patent issued to Morris Wosnitzer in 1942

On October 16, 1950, Joseph Watson (on the right) and his wife, attend the Hat Research Foundation Gala at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. Joseph changed his name from Wosnitzer to Watson. Was it a coincidence that my grandfather’s Irving’s business was called the I. Watson Hat Company?

Hat convention - 1950

The family always called the Hudson Hat Co. the Nutley Hat Co.  Sadly, they got a call one night that the factory was on fire.  This was about 1950 or 51  when Carolann Jennings was in 8th or 9th grade.  Carolann remembers being on summer vacation in Lake Hopatcong, NJ, when her Nana received a call from her Poppy (Abe) who worked weekdays and came up to the lake only on weekends.  It was early evening and he called to say the building was on fire. 

Carolann drove with her mother to the factory site.  The factory was ablaze and burned to the ground. The labor unions were pushing Abe around that time and they were blamed for the fire, although it was never proved. 

Abe closed the business after that.

Nutley Hat Factory from the Nutley Historical Society

An article about the fire was published in The Central New Jersey News (New Brunswick, New Jersey) on May 2, 1944, Tuesday, Page 6. (Downloaded from Newspapers.dom)

The Nutley Hat Company Fire

The bottom photo shows the factory after the big fire.

The Nutley Hat Factory before and after the big fire.

Carolann also remembers that her Poppy, Abe, would travel by train  to a hat factory in New York State. She believes that he was also backing some presidential candidate who had an office there.  This was after the death of Pres. Roosevelt.


  • Newark, NJ. Directories
  • The American Hatter p. 86:
  • Documents of the Legislature of the State of New Jersey, Volume 136, Part 3
  • Newark The City of Industry, Fact and Figures Concerning the Metropolis of New Jersey, 1912,,+Inc&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiE2trkrJzaAhXqwFQKHUGLANsQ6AEIKDAA#v=onepage&q=Hudson%20Hat%20Mfg.%20Co.%2C%20Inc&f=false
  • Oral accounts from Wosnitzer family members
  • History of the Hat Industry at Orange, NJ
  • John Demmer from the Nutley Historical Society

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