During the month of December, Rosenberg Library will exhibit a silver service presented to John H. Hutchings by the Galveston Wharf Co. in 1874. The silver set was a recent gift of Julie Hutchings Bennett and John H. Hutchings Jr.
Born in North Carolina in 1822, John Henry Hutchings came to Texas as a young man in search of economic opportunity during the 1840s. After forming a partnership with merchant John Sealy in Sabine, both men came to Galveston in 1854 and became associates of George Ball. The trio founded Ball, Hutchings, Sealy and Co. (later called Hutchings, Sealy and Co.) While at first the firm was engaged in the mercantile business, as well as banking, it eventually focused only on banking and commission.
During the Civil War, Hutchings and his associates relocated to Houston after Union troops took control of Galveston’s port. From that location, Ball, Hutchings, Sealy and Co. transported arms and other military goods for the Confederacy via blockade runners. When the war ended, the company returned to Galveston and continued to operate a bank at the corner of 24th and Strand streets. After the deaths of both George Ball and John Sealy in 1884, John Hutchings became the firm’s senior member.
In addition to managing Ball, Hutchings, and Co., John Hutchings held numerous positions in the community. He was a director of the Galveston Gas Co., the Southern Press Manufacturing Co., the Galveston City Co., the Gulf, Colorado, and Santa Fe Railway, the Galveston, Houston, and Henderson Railway, the Galveston Cotton Oil Co., the Texas Land and Loan Co., and the Galveston Insurance Co.
He also served as president of the Galveston Wharf Co. for many years, and under his leadership, many improvements were made to the harbor entrance and bay front. Hutchings was instrumental in establishing a new line of steamships between Galveston and New York. Likewise, he negotiated a settlement over a long-disputed claim to the title of the Galveston wharf property. For this particular achievement, he was presented with the silver service now on display at Rosenberg Library.
Hutchings married Minnie Knox in 1856, and the couple had nine children. He was a member of Trinity Episcopal Church. He died in 1906 at the age of 84.