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Only a little oral history about William has been passed down in his family. Essentially, that he lived in New York City, was a still-life painter and had a tea store. Over the years I've been able to add much more to this description.
     William was born on a farm in the Whortleberry Hills/Cheese Spring Ridge area of New Canaan, Connecticut, and moved with his family to New York City when he was about two years old.1


Birthplace of William Henry Hoyt on Benedict Hill Road, New Canaan.

At 26 William married Elizabeth Brady, known as Eliza, at Christ Church in Manhattan.2

Christ Church, Anthony St., New York City, at the time of William and Eliza's marriage

William's father-in-law was a coach and carriage builder, and my guess is that he apprenticed there. City directories and the 1850 census call him a painter, evidence shows he was more deeply involved in the business as a coach "architect" and decorator.

an example of a larger New York City coach with elaborate decorative painting. William Hoyt surely did this caliber of work.

His skills were most apparently decorative. Aside from the detailed painting, he decorated carriages used for ceremonial occasions. The earliest reference found for this is in 1847. When the cornerstone was laid for the first Washington Monument in New York City, which was never built, there was a parade and ceremony at the site.6 William devised a display representing "The Temple of Liberty." A newspaper article says "This beautiful tribute to the memory of Washington was designed and decorated by William H. Hoyt, and the horses were furnished by Kipp & Brown." There are two images of the carriage that differ somewhat. The second is a a print by the renowned lithographer James Baillie, whose name is on many of Currier & Ives prints.

The top (engraving) is accompanied by a description and says that the draperies were American flags. Below, the print made by Baillie only shows striped fabric below the canopy and a plain, blue cap. The engraving has a set of bouquet finials on two sets of corners, whereas the print shows them only at the top. Also described were thirteen women holding staffs topped by stars representing the original colonies. This aspect isn't obvious in either depiction. What isn't described are the liberty caps on the women. The woman standing has one hung on a staff, which is iconic in the depictions of democracy. The driver is also wearing the cap. The engraving shows at least the standing woman wearing a modified American flag design for a dress. The garlands along the base of the carriage are floral in one image and fabric in the other. The print has the eagle on top holding what must be a laurel wreath in its beak.

The first US gold coin minted could have been an influence of William Hoyt's design.

Later evidence shows William had a direct connection with Kipp & Brown. They were one of the prominent "omnibus" (horse-drawn taxi) firms in New York City. They suffered two fires in the 1840s, both destroying carriages and killing horses. The last and worst was in 1848, which devastated the company. William would have had plenty of work from them in this decade.
     Another decorative project begs for an image, but nothing has turned up. This was in 1853.

"N. H. Hoyt" is a mistake. The street address confirms that this was William.7 Here is a drawing of the Crystal Palace with the activity of people coming and going on foot and in carriages.

In May 1851 he was granted a patent for an "omnibus step,"8 evidence that he also designed the mechanics for the vehicles. The invention was a simple concept. People getting in and out of the horse-drawn taxis used an exterior step attached in front of the door at the back of the vehicle. William put the step inside the carriage in a sunken well behind the door. This drawing from the patent papers shows a very small taxi as an example.

From a book on Broadway history:9

For the city travel, these stages were superseded by the omnibuses, the first of which appeared in 1830, running from the Bowling Green via Broadway to Bleecker Street; but the drivers were obliging, and if the weather was bad, or there was a lady passenger, the bus would go as far as the Kip mansion between Washington Place and Waverly Place, on the site of the New York Hotel. The buses, at first, were few in number, but were finely painted and decorated, bearing the names of distinguished Americans upon their sides. There were the Lady Washington, the Lady Clinton, the George Washington, the De Witt Clinton, the Benjamin Franklin, and others. Some of the panels with whcih the buses were decorated were true works of art. The buses became popular, and there were soon three lines, run by Brower, Jones, and Colvin; the fare was a shilling (twelve and a half cents), collected by a small boy who stood at the entrance step. The entrance at first was on the side until Kipp & Brown changed it to the rear of the Greenwich buses, and the others followed suit.

     In 1853 John Stephenson applied for a patent covering his idea for a covered omnibus entry that could be attached to the carriage body. Since it was essentially the same idea as William Hoyt's, William challenged the application. The case reached the appellate level, but in the end favored William. The testimony from other carriage-makers and omnibus operators in New York and Philadelphia10 says they had used his omnibus step after he had first introduced it to Kipp & Brown, for whom he was a "workman," in 1846, and praised it. Once Kipp & Brown recovered from their losses, they had new omnibuses made starting in 1850 and used the Hoyt entry. William placed an advertisement in The New York Herald showing why he personally applied for the patent:11

Omnibus proprietors and builders wishing to apply to their omnibuses Hoyt's Patent Step can make the necessary arrangements by addressing Wm. H. Hoyt, 230 Ninth Avenue. Bodies furnished with the Patent Step attached, and of the best workmanship and sent to any part of the United States. The undersigned stage proprietors are using the Patent Step, and highly recommend them - Kipp & Brown; Ward Boleter & Jackacks; Garrison, Merrian [sic; Merriam] & Brown; Jimmerson & Co.; Joseph Glenat, &c, &c.

When streetcars on rails were invented, the steps were at the front and/or back and led up from the side so that people weren't walking on the tracks. They led up to an open platform with a railing and sheltered simply by an extension of the roof. The design evolution of streetcars and buses saw the gradual enclosing of steps, although some used retractable steps projecting from the vehicle. When motored buses were developed, the open aspect of the steps was completely eliminated by wrapping the entire vehicle into an enclosed space, and this form hasn't changed significantly since. It also brought the configuration back to what William Hoyt had conceived in the first place. Modern buses still use it.
     William's inevitable contact with horses probably led to his developing an ointment that supposedly cured all kinds of equine problems. Called "Hoyt's Columbian Liniment," there are a few spotty references to it for many years, long after William died. The last I found was in 1907, when it was recommended that you get it from your druggist - surely you grandmother would knmow i I can't find anything specific about it other than a few ads for it. Below are examples from 1853 and 1907.

The Hoyts moved to 26th Street about the same time as the disasters at the Kipp & Brown stables and factory. His brother-in-law George Brady, a machinist, and William Walker, another painter, were living with the Hoyts in 1850 and may have also been employed by Kipp & Brown. The family then lived at 230 9th Avenue and 207 10th Avenue by 1860. By 1857 William ran a grocery and tea business at 453 8th Avenue, but he is also listed in directories as an artist at the same address. The family had moved to 129 West 22nd Street around 1860.

to be added!

129 West 22nd St.

While designing, decorating and painting carriages and finding an equine cure-all, William was also a real estate speculator. In 1852 he was a trustee in the Washington Building Association. They ran the following ad in The New York Times:12

He was also treasurer and secretary of the Petersville Homestead Association, and they ran this ad:

Bromley atlas of Westchester Co., 1911

Petersville was a small development in New Rochelle, New York, which included streets named for William and his cousin-in-law James Decker, who was also on the association board. As late as 1914 there were still no houses built there, just individual lots. The area has since been redeveloped with no trace of the old streets.
     At some point William extended his art to canvas. He's listed in the exhibition catalogues of the National Academy of Design for 1859 and 1860.13 He showed three paintings in 1859: "The Bane and the Antidote," which may have been a genre scene, but given his other work, a symbolic still-life; "Melons," and three called "Fruit," which were still-lifes. In 1860 he showed two other fruit still-lifes. None of the paintings were listed for sale, which was an option for exhibitors. There's a still-life, unsigned, passed down in the family. William's paintings have come up now and then at art auctions. He favored peaches, grapes and strawberries in various styles of containers, sitting on a marble base.

William's artistic career may have extended beyond the exhibited work, but it was a short one given that he died in 1862. He doesn't appear in the Academy exhibit catalogues after 1860. William's death is briefly reported in The New York Tribune:14

HOYT - In Newburgh, on Saturday, July 12, William H. Hoyt of the City of NY in the 48th year of his age. Funeral at his residence 129 West 22nd St., Mon. afternoon, 2:00.

The Whig Press, published in Middletown, New York, reported his death on 16 July, saying erroneously that he was 48, died on the 13th of July and that he was formerly of New York City.15 Letters of Administration for his estate say that "immediately prior to his death he was a resident of New York City."16 New York City kept records of "Bodies in Transit," when bodies were brought into or through the city bounds. William is there17 with the cause of death "pthisis," which was another term for tuberculosis. There's nothing found that suggests why William was in Newburgh. Tuberculosis is not a sudden onset disease. Was he there for treatment? There are no official death records for Newburgh from that time, and I've found nothing about a treament hospital there. I'm inclined to think that he had pneumonia, "pthisis" being used as a more general term since tuberculosis tended to be a lung disease.
     The "Bodies in Transit" record and a burial certificate at The Evergreens Cemetery say that he was first buried in Green-Wood Cemetery. Evergreens says he was reinterred there on 20 December 1876, the same day his son-in-law was buried there and a day before his wife. Although Elizabeth (Brady) Hoyt's family had a plot at Green-Wood, there's no record of his being buried there, leaving the question of where at Green-Wood he was for all those years and why. He bought a lot in Evergreens for his father's burial in 1856 that had room for 9 others when William died. It can be assumed that his daughter Eveline (Hoyt) Ellingwood was in charge of these burials and made the decision to reinter her father and her husband, who had died the previous August and whose whereabouts inbetween isn't known. William's grave and those of most others in the plot are marked by small granite stones giving their first names. These may have been placed by the Ellingwoods when William's sister Louisa was interred there in 1894, as they are typical of that time.
     William's family continued to live on West 22nd Street after he died. Elizabeth kept the tea and grocery store open, given that she is listed with the occupation "dry goods" in the 1870 census.

The Hoyt plot at Evergreens Cemetery, Queens, NY

Child of William Henry and Elizabeth Ann (Brady) Hoyt:

Eveline Amelia Hoyt b. 1 January 1843

vital records sources: His birth date doesn't appear in New Canaan municipal or church records, but it does appear in private records, which were very likely the source for information on the family in David W. Hoyt's A Genealogical History of the Hoyt, Haight, and Hight Families, etc., (1871). His death date is reported in The New York Times and in "Bodies in Transit" records of the City of New York as well as private records and the Hoyt genealogy. His marriage is found in an announcement in The New World (NYC periodical), 19 Mar 1842, p. 194. It is confirmed in private records and the Hoyt genealogy.

1. Deed records indicate where they lived in New Canaan and about when they moved, and censuses confirm he was born in CT.
2. The New World, 19 Mar 1842, 194.
3. The New-York City Directory for 1844-1845 (John Doggett, Jr., New York:1844), 175.
4. The New-York City Directory for 1845-1846 (John Doggett, Jr., New York:1845), 197; The New-York City Directory for 1846-1847 (John Doggett, Jr., New York:1846), 207.
5. William Hoyt household, 1850 US census, New York, New York, 16th Ward, 3rd Dist., 156A. This was an apartment building with 3 households. William's brother-in-law, George Brady, a machinist, and William Walker, a painter, was living with the Hoyts. They may have worked for Kipp & Brown as well.
6. New York Herald, 20 Oct 1847.
7 New York Times, 4 Dec 1852, 1; 21 Mar 1853, 1.
8. US patent #8119, 27 May 1851.
9. Stephen Jenkins, The Greatest Street in the World (New York:1911), 145-146.
10. The Federal Cases, etc. (St. Paul:1896), 1304; case #13373.
11. New York Tribune, 13 Feb 1852.
12. Ibid, 6 Mar 1852.
13. National Academy of Design Exhibition Record, 1826-1860, (New York:1943), 241.
14. The New York Tribune, 14 July 1862, 5.
15. The Whig Press, 16 July 1862, 2. Although a common mistake still made today, William being in his 48th year means he was 47 and would turn 48 on his next birthday.
16. Elizabeth Ann Brady was given the administration on 4 Sept 1862 (74-109-95)
17. The records says: 14 July 1862, William H. Hoyt, 47 years, 6 months, b. CT, died Newburgh, pthisis, d. 11 July 1862, bur. Green-Wood Cem., H. Estwick in charge of body, L. Y. Wiggins, attending doctor (who is found in Newburgh city directories, office at 42 Water St. in 1872).

all text and photographs © 1998-2020 by Doug Sinclair unless where otherwise noted

1851/2, 230 Ave 9, painter William Walker 442 Greenwich 1853/4, 230 9 54/5 same, also Walker (Trow) 54/5, "secy" (Charles R. Rode dir) 55/6, Trow, same as 54/5 56/7, Trow, tea