In April 1905, a calendar featuring Hartford, Connecticut, abbreviated Conn., hung on the wall in John and Emma Jane Taylor’s house. When their son was born on 11 April, John looked at the calendar and named his son Hartford Conn.
Hartford graduated from Mt. Vernon High School in 1923. He worked for several years as a Post Office clerk before taking a job as bookkeeper at Peoples Bank in Mt. Vernon about 1927. He was also a musician. Hartford, along with friends Karl Davis and Doc Hopkins, could often be found playing music in Davis’s barn or John Taylor’s blacksmith shop.
Hartford married Elizabeth Josephine “Betty” Mulliner, daughter of Walter E. Mulliner and Edna E. Philbrick, on 9 Nov 1928 in Galesburg, Knox County, Illinois. Betty’s parents hosted the afternoon wedding at their home at 409 West North Street in Galesburg. The house was decorated with ferns and yellow chrysanthemums, with yellow as the general color scheme.
Betty was born on 21 Nov 1905 in Quincy, Adams County, Illinois. She attended Langdon School in Mt. Vernon, where she met Hartford. Betty had worked at Langdon as office secretary for two years at the time of their wedding.
Hartford and Betty lived in Mt. Vernon in the early years of their marriage. In 1929, Doc recruited Karl and Hartford to form the Kentucky Krazy Kats. They appeared on local radio and toured with a semi-pro basketball team, playing music during intermission; they also performed on WHAS radio in Louisville, Kentucky.
In 1930, Hartford and Betty moved to Chicago where he, along with Karl and Doc worked for WLS radio. The three of them joined some other musicians to form the Cumberland Ridge Runners. Hartford and Karl were initially called the Renfro Valley Boys but later changed to Karl and Harty. They performed on WLS’s National Barn Dance and recorded for the American Record Corporation label. They had hits with songs like “I’m Here to Get My Baby Out of Jail”, “The Prisoner’s Dream” and “Kentucky”. In 1937, Karl and Harty joined the WJJD Suppertime Frolic but returned to WLS in 1947. They amiably dissolved their partnership in 1951. Hartford later worked as a toll booth operator in Chicago.
Hartford and Betty had two children. Their daughter, Betty Conn, was born on 22 August 1929 in Mt. Vernon. Their son was born a few years later after they moved to Illinois.
Hartford died of a stroke on 17 October 1963 at St. Theresa Hospital in Waukegan, Lake County, Illinois. His funeral was held on 20 October at Strang Funeral Chapel with Rev. Corell Hart, pastor of the Wildwood Presbyterian Church, officiating. He was buried in Millburn Cemetery in Waukegan. Betty died on 19 February 2002 in Knoxville, Knox County, Illinois and was also buried in Millburn Cemetery.
Betty Conn married C. H. Finch, and they had four children. She died on 19 February 2002 in Knoxville, Knox County, Illinois and was buried there in Knoxville Cemetery.