Ink-Singer Profiles by Alex Jay: Oscar Hitt

Oscar Samuel Hitt was born on March 22, 1892, in Nottingham, England, according to his World War I draft card which had his full name. Lambiek Comiclopedia said “Hitt was an American cartoonist of German descent…” International Journal of Comic Art, Volume 10, Issue 2, 2008, said Hitt was a German cartoonist. 
The 1901 England census recorded Hitt in the household of Oliver Altree, his maternal grandfather. Also listed was his mother, Edith, one-year-old sister, Beatrice, and uncles Percy and Alfred. On September 26, 1901, Hitt and his mother sailed from Liverpool to Boston, Massachusetts. They were on their way to Salt Lake, Utah. 
On September 20, 1915, in Salt Lake City, Hitt married Nellie Chase
Hitt signed his World War I draft card on June 5, 1917. His address was 4832 Winthrop Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. Hitt was a Chicago Herald artist who was described as short, medium build, with brown eyes and hair.
American Newspaper Comics (2012) said Hitt’s first series was Hitt and Runn which ran from October 30, 1916 to May 12, 1917. He drew the Katzenjammer Kids from May 28, 1917 into 1919. The copycat Mama’s Darlings started June 24, 1917 and ended August 28, 1918. Hitt’s work appeared in some 1917 issues of Cartoons Magazine
The Salt Lake Telegram (Utah), February 24, 1918, published the following article.
Pioneer Resident of Salt Lake Dies
After a lingering illness extending over a period of nearly five months, William Powe, a pioneer resident of Salt Lake, died at his home, 171 Third East street, late yesterday afternoon.
Mr. Powe came to Salt Lake from England twenty-six years ago, and had been engaged as a hatter in this city ever since. He was connected for some time with the firm known as the Taylor Hatters, but in late years had been in business for himself.
He is survived by a widow and stepson, Oscar Hitt.
Hitt has not yet been found in the 1920 U.S. Federal Census. Hitt’s wife, daughter and son were in Springville, Utah, with his in-laws. According to the Ogden Standard-Examiner (Utah), Hitt lived in New York City. 
Oscar Hitt, noted cartoonist, of New York, was a guest during the early part of the week at the residence of Mr. and Mrs. V R Reeder, Jr. Mr. Hitt will join his wife at Springvllle. Mr. and Mrs. Hitt are to spend the summer in Utah. They will visit frequently in Salt Lake and Ogden. 
Mr. and Mrs. Hitt of New York are spending two weeks at the Virginia. Mr. Hitt is connected with the New York Times. 
Oscar Hitt, cartoonist for the New York World, pleased the guests with cartoons which he drew upon large sheets of paper in view of his audience. Miss Fay King offered vocal selections. 
During the 1920s, Hitt drew Captain and the Kids; Ever Since Adam; Seezem and Sqeezem; Ambitious Ambrose; Uncle Eph Says; Wally and His Pals; Mack and Marx (credited as Sam Hitt); and Hi-Way Henry. Robert Lesser described in his 1975 book, A Celebration of Comic Art and Memorabilia, a Hi-Way Henry toy car, designed by Hitt and made in Germany.

It is a small lithographed tin car with an old bearded man hunched over the steering wheel and his fat wife in the backseat. Their laundry is drying on a clothesline on the roof, their pots and pans are lashed to the back of the car, the radiator cap has popped up, and the head of their dog sticks out from the crank-handle insert. …

Lesser included the inserted poem.
The Hi-Way Henry
Out on the highway rain or shine
This funny bus you’ll always find,
Six million of these cars they say
Start out on every holiday.
With stove and clothes line all intact,
They “step on it” and leave the pack,
And thump and bump along the road,
Regardless of the heavy load.
And then when dusk begins to fall
Into their back seat beds they crawl, 
Until the dawn of another day,
When they resume their merry way. 
And so the cartoonist, Oscar Hitt
Has made this into a comic strip
That runs in papers far and wide, 
For folks who read life’s funny side,
And, we in turn, have made a toy,
That’s sure to bring a lot of joy,
To every little girl and boy.
In the 1930 census, Hitt was one of ten people boarding with the Hebeler family in Manhattan at 48 West 70th Street. I believe he and his wife had separated or divorced. Hitt was naturalized and worked as a newspaper comic artist. 
Hitt’s longest running series was Neighborly Neighbors which ran from March 17, 1930 to August 27, 1938. It was one of several new cartoons introduced in the Sarasota Herald (Florida), on March 16, 1930. (Editor & Publisher, February 8, 1930, was first to announce the lineup.)
Hitt went on a short cruise from February 29 to March 3, 1932. The passenger list said his home was the Hotel St. George in Brooklyn.
The Maine Marriages at Ancestry.com said Hitt married Gladys M. McKechnie on November 24, 1933. 
The 1935 Florida Census listed Hitt, his wife, “Sanford May Hitt”, four-year-old son, Robert, and mother-in-law in Miami Beach.
The Catalog of Copyright Entries, Part 4, Works of Art, etc., 1939, New Series, Volume 34, Number 1, published the following entry: “Hitt, Oscar Samuel.* 339, Dude and his wife. Old Timer and his wife. © 1 c. Jan. 3, 1939; G31345.”
In July 1939, Hitt filed his Social Security application which identified his parents as Samuel Hitt and Edith M. Altree.
According to the 1940 census, Hitt was institutionalized at the Mountain View Farm, the Home for Homeless, in Sanford, Maine. He was divorced and had four years of college education. It’s not known when Hitt passed away; presumably, it was at the institution.
Hitt’s first wife, who remarried, passed away November 4, 1965. His son, Howard, passed away April 10, 1989. His daughter, Kathryn, passed away May 9, 1997. The status of his second son, Robert, is not known. 
(An earlier version of this profile was posted in October 2015.)

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