Hartford is one of the oldest communities dealt with in this work. It was originally the Old Sugarloaf Valley Community. According to Alberta Cardin, there were Pre-civil war settlers, mostly from the South. Among these people were: Dr. Allen, Dr. O'Neal, The Glenns, Babs, Earlys, Flemings, Tuckers, Bloodworths, Gists, Nortons, Hearts, Dees, Mayes, Caseys, Nicholsons, Rev. Joseph Smedley, and C.E. Goddard, father of well known Methodist Ministers, Drs. Sam and Oscar Goddard. Much of the land in the area was homesteaded, and by 1858, there was the beginnings of a community. In 1868 or 1869, the settlement was named after the ford near the home of the Widow Hart, on West Creek. It was known as Hart Ford (Hartford). In November, 1874, Hartford got its first postmaster, Joseph B. Forrester>|
In 1899, the Choctaw Railroad bought the unmined coal deposits in the area and caused the main part of town to be moved a few miles away. During the next five to six years, the new location went under the name of Gwynn in honor of area mine owner Wylie P. Gwynn. It was incorporated Feb. 28, 1900. Finally in 1905, the new town officially became Hartford, and the old town was to be called West Hartford.
Around the turn of the century, the Hartford area boomed with coal mining activities, and experienced a rapid growth period. One characteristic that existed in Hartford, and other nearby South Sebastian County towns, was ther great influx of Europeans that came during the late 1800's and afterwards. For example, the Robert D. Boyd family arrived from Scotland and had a home built in Hartford. Also huge numbers of Italians arrived to add to the mixture. So many arrived that part of Hartford became known in the area as "Little Italy." Hartford continued to grow until at its peak it reached over 2,000. The population now is around 600 persons.
The following is a list of early businesses in New Hartford:
First merchantile: Joe Spradling and W.L. White.
Early Saloon: Jack Belt and H.O. Bell.
First Bank: Joe Spradling.
Early Hotel; J.A. McConnell.
Early General Store: M.M. Smith.