Hermann H. Heiser Saddlery Company History


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Denver, Colorado 1858 - 1955

The early life of Hermann H. Heiser started in the City of Altenburg, Saxony, Germany on June 29, 1836 and this is where he spent all of his childhood life. H. H. Heiser was educated in the National Schools of Germany and upon the completion of his education he went to work in a Book Bindery a position he maintained until 1854. In 1854, with few prospects for a future in Germany, Hermann H. Heiser, with the permission of his parents, Hermann immigrated to the United States, arriving in New York City, New York in September of 1854. After staying in New York for a short time, Hermann H. Heiser relocated to Platteville, Wisconsin and in the spring of 1855, he moved to Muscoda on the Wisconsin River.

These were the years where Hermann H. Heiser was perfecting his trade and learning the English language while trying to find a place to settle. So after a little over a year in Muscoda, Wisconsin, by the winter of 1856, Hermann H. Heiser relocated to Dubuque, Iowa. It was in June 1858 that Hermann H. Heiser relocated once again to Highland, Iowa County, Wisconsin and this is where he opened his first Saddlery & Harness business in his own name. After working diligently and establishing a reputation for making very good Saddles, Gun Leather and Farming Harness equipment, H. H. Heiser had started to suffer from health issues, and by recommendation of his doctor, he was advised to relocate to a higher elevation or become a victim of Tuberculosis.

In September 1863, Hermann H. Heiser along with a friend outfitted a Mule Team and heavy freighting wagon they loaded their necessities and took a load of freight across the plains to Denver, Colorado arriving at Denver on December 22, 1863. After a short stay in Denver for the winter, H. H. Heiser relocated again to Black Hawk, Colorado where he reopened his Saddlery & Harness business along with another Saddle Maker or Partner in April 1864 and by June of 1865, they had a second location at Central City, Colorado. Now in the West, Hermann H. Heiser solidified his reputation as a superior Leatherman and people were seeking all the goods his Saddlery & Harness business could produce, including Harness Goods, Tack and Cowboy Accessories; although the specialties were Saddles and Gun Leather. After maintaining a partnership and the 2 locations for 10 years, Hermann H. Heiser turned the businesses over to his partner saying he did not want to have anything to do with ill gotten goods. So he walked away empty handed.

It was on May 20, 1874, Hermann H. Heiser purchased the Saddlery & Harness business of William Merchant at 1528 - 1530 Blake Street and renamed it "The Hermann H. Heiser Saddlery Company" of Denver, Colorado. In 1877, at the age of 41 years old and with the Saddlery & Harness business established, Hermann H. Heiser was married to Mathilde Wolter Heiser on October 29, 1877 in Denver, Colorado. By September 25, 1878, John Peter Heiser was born to Hermann H. Heiser and Mathilde Wolter Heiser, their first of four sons. Then came Ewald Fredrick born March 21, 1880, Herman W. Heiser - birth date unknown, and Arthur Bismark Heiser born January 22, 1887. In the early 1880s Hermann H. Heiser became a Charter Member of the Odd Fellowship of Union Lodge #1 and the Grand Lodge of Denver, as well being very active in the fraternal order of Freemasons. Also with the Odd Fellowship, H. H. Heiser held the position of Secretary for many years between the 1870s and early 1900s. In 1878, the business had grown so much that Hermann H. Heiser felt it necessary to register his Triple H Trademark with the State of Colorado, making that the 9th Registered Trademark in the State of Colorado. Through the use of Cabinet Card Advertising and later the use of Mail Order Catalogs, The Hermann H. Heiser Company became known not only Nationwide but Worldwide in the early part of the 1900s.

It was in the later 1870s Hermann H. Heiser recognized the need for superior Gun Leather and Leather Hunting Equipment, not only across the Country but Worldwide. By the early 1900s, there was a Hermann H. Heiser Sporting Goods Catalogue devoted to Gun Belts, Holsters, Scabbards, Knife Sheaths and many other Leather Hunting and Gun related Sporting Goods. To ensure the production of quality goods at a high production pace, The Hermann H. Heiser Company became the first to utilize high speed leather sewing equipment, versus hand sewing the leather goods which had always been done prior these advances in the 1890s propelled the Company. In 1904, there was a ballooning accident at Lake Sloan in Colorado and unfortunately, Herman W. Heiser had drowned as a result of this accident leaving Hermann H. Heiser extremely heartbroken over the loss of his son. In 1904 Hermann H. Heiser turned the everyday management of the business over to his son John P. Heiser and at that time H. H. Heiser planned a trip back to his native Germany to visit his sister. When Hermann H. Heiser left for Germany in mid 1904, he left in relatively good health for a 68 year old man. But while he was visiting, his health deteriorated and Hermann H. Heiser died on September 12, 1904.

At the time of Hermann's death in 1904, John Peter Heiser was managing the Hermann H. Heiser Saddlery Company, and now John would become the Administrator of the Estate of his father, H. H. Heiser. It was later in 1904 after attending to all the immediate arrangements to deal with his father's death that John P. Heiser called a family meeting to decide what the family wanted to do with the Estate. The Heiser Brothers had decided they wanted to keep the business and operate ot themselves, so they reorganized the company as a close Corporation with John P. Heiser listed as President and Ewald F. Heiser as Vice President. In 1904 the Hermann H. Heiser Saddlery Company generated approximately $40,000 in annual sales. In 1913, the company generated approximately $65,000 in annual sales, employing 12 Saddle Makers, plus additional support personnel and the company maintained about a $15,000 payroll with $30,000 in capital.

By 1915, the Heiser Brothers had seen the coming of the automobile and the effect it would have on the Saddle Industry so they obtained the Denver, Colorado contract to sell Velie Automobiles and Trucks and formed the H. H. Heiser Automobile Company, which was owned by The Heiser Brothers Investment Company. It took simply six months for the H. H. Heiser Automobile Company to expand from its 16 feet of frontage to 32 feet of frontage and they built a $40,000 Service Station. The H. H. Heiser Automobile Company offered every Velie Purchaser free service on their Velie Automobile if always brought to their garage while it operated. This was offered rather than the standard 60 to 90 days Warranty. This program was so successful that it was named "Heiservice" and that term was copyrighted as a Trademark by the H. H. Heiser Automobile Company and used throughout the company's existence.

On June 19, 1917 John P. Heiser, along with Ewald F. Heiser and Arthur B. Heiser, finalized the incorporation of both The Hermann H. Heiser Saddlery Company and The Heiser Brothers Investment Company. The application was filed in late 1916. In the incorporation, John Peter Heiser was the President and General Manager, Ewald Fredrick Heiser was Vice President and the name of the business became The Hermann H. Heiser Manufacturing & Selling Company. The H. H. Heiser Automobile Company was the primary interest of John P. Heiser and Arthur B. Heiser, with John involved in many early Automotive Trade Organizations and the Sales Manager for the H. H. Heiser Automobile Company was Arthur Bismark Heiser. It is unclear if Arthur was an officer in the Corporation. The primary concern for Ewald F. Heiser was the Saddlery and Leather Business, which he developed into a wholesale giant in the Industry. In 1917, before the incorporation, the Hermann H. Heiser Saddlery Company was the largest wholesale manufacturer of Saddlery goods between the Missouri River and the Pacific Coast, supplying some of the premiere Sporting Goods Retailers Worldwide. Some of the Retailers the Hermann H. Heiser Saddlery Company supplied were Abercrombie & Fitch, Von Lengerke & Antoine Chicago or VL&A Chicago, Von Lengerke & Detmold N.Y. or VL&D New York. These were all among the finest dealers in Sporting Goods at the time. In 1917, when The Hermann H. Heiser Manufacturing & Selling Company was incorporated, the annual sales were in excess of $600,000 with $200,000 in Corporate Capital. These were combined numbers from all the Heiser interests. The Saddlery Business maintained 35 Saddle Makers and Leather Workers as well as a large support staff from shipping to clerical, and at this time the H. H. Heiser Company was the largest wholesale supplier of Leather Hunting Sporting Goods in the US West.

In 1919 the Heiser Brothers again made a bold move, with Ewald F. Heiser taking over the Saddlery Business and the other two brothers, John P. and Arthur F. Heiser, going into the Automotive business. The details of how this was all worked out I do not know. Over the next 26 years, Ewald F. Heiser took the company to further greatness and with the company well entrenched in the wholesale market, they were able to maintain and outlast many of the other Saddleries that were merging or closing due to the dwindling market for Saddles. In 1945, after 87 years as a family owned and operated business, The Hermann H. Heiser Saddlery Company was bought by The Denver Dry Goods Company, one of the retailers the Saddlery had supplied for many years. After the sale of the Hermann H. Heiser Saddlery Company, Ewald F. Heiser died in Colfax, New Mexico on April 9, 1949. This is where his death certificate was issued, although I do not know if he lived there or not.

The Denver Dry Goods Company continued to market and sell under the H. H. Heiser Saddlery Company name and continued to use the maker marks and logos as though nothing had changed in the company. This continued until 1950 when The Denver Dry Goods Company sold The Hermann H. Heiser Saddlery Company to Keyston Brothers Saddlery of San Francisco, CA with the Keyston Brothers marketing under the Heiser - Keyston combined names. The Keyston Brothers Company developed a line of holsters called the Heiser - Keyston Sportsman Line of economical holsters that were made to fit a range of guns, they were not made to order as previously for a specific gun. In 1958 Keyston Brothers bought out the Lichtenberger - Ferguson Saddlery in Los Angeles, and the designated name on the Maker Mark was Heiser - Keyston - Lichtenberger. This logo was used until the Keyston Brothers left the Saddlery Business and they went into Automotive Upholstery.

Here are some Company Motto's or Sayings:

"It Pays to Hitch to the House of Heiser"

"Heiser Gun Leather Life is too short to take Chances"

"No Man Ever Lived Long Enough to Wear Out a Heiser Holster"

Hermann H. Heiser c 1900
Hermann H. Heiser - c. 1900


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