Michigan Transportation History

Jere C. Hutchins

Person Transit DetroitPublic

Jere C. Hutchins was the president of the Detroit United Railway.

Early Life

Portrait of Jere C. Hutchins. From Charles Moore, The History of Michigan, vol. III (Chicago: The Lewis publishing Co., 1915), opposite p. 1241.

Hutchins was born Jeremiah Chamberlain Hutchins on October 13, 1851, at Carroll Parish, Louisiana.1 He was named after his maternal grandfather. Shortly after his birth, his father, Anthony W. Hutchins, who was described as a "successful" planter, moved the family to Lexington, Missouri, hoping that the more northern climate would improve the health of Jere's mother, Mary Blaine Chamberlain, the daughter of Jeremiah Chamberlain.2 Hutchins attended the public schools in Lexington as far as he could and then was tutored privately until he was seventeen. Thereafter, he worked various odd jobs in farming, clerking, and even law until he took employment with the railroad.

During the Civil War, Anthony Hutchins was an officer in the Confederate Army, and shortly after (probably) the First Battle of Lexington, was arrested. He was imprisoned but later exchanged. In 1864, Anthony and Jere made a journey to Natchez and New Orleans. When they returned, Anthony moved the family to St. Louis as the family's hemp plantation in Lexington had become completely inoperable because Anthony's slaves had run off.3

Railroad construction

In 1870, Hutchins found work in railroad construction Engineer on the Missouri division of the Lexington, Lake and Gulf Railroad.4 The construction chief was an engineer Hutchins identified as Major J. Morriss. After this, he went on to do engineering work with the Kansas Pacific. Then he moved to Texas and worked for the Missouri–Kansas–Texas and the Texas Pacific railroadsRailroad.

While in Texas in 1876, Hutchins became a journalist for NewspaperJournalistEditorthe Waco Examiner in Waco, Texas. Soon he became editor of that newspaper as well as becoming the Texas political correspondent for newspapers in New Orleans and New York.

In 1881, at about the time that he got married, Hutchins returned to railroad engineering working for the :New Orleans and Pacific, the Missouri, Kansas and Texas, and the Illinois Central railroads.


In 1894, Hutchins moved to Detroit to become a vice president of the Detroit Citizens' Street Railway?. He was, at the time, a significant shareholder in the corporation, so it's not clear whether he was buying into the company prior to his move or if he was asked to come to Detroit to help transition the company and then subsequently bought in.5

In either case, Hutchins soon began investing in other Detroit electric railways, including the Detroit, Fort Wayne & Belle Isle Railway? (of which he was made president) and the Detroit Electric Railway?. In Citizens' he made significant investments in facilities and improved service. Then in 1901, he was one of the principals involved in the consolidation of Detroit's electric railways into the creation of the Detroit United Railway (DUR). Initially a vice president, Hutchins was elected president of the DUR in 1902. He remained president until he retired in 1916.6

Hutchins was also a director of the Detroit People's State Bank.

Hutchins was a member of the the Detroit Board of Commerce? and many city clubs and social organizations. He was a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers?, the Masons (32-deg, Scottish Rite)Mason, and the Knights of Pythias? (Knight Templar in the York Rite).


Hutchins married Anna M. Brooks of Waco, Texas, in April, 1881. She died in Detroit in July 1900. Three years later, Hutchins married Sarah Horner Russel, who was daughter of George B. Russel.7


1. Hutchins, Personal Story, 5; Moore states 1853.

2. WP authors did poor research on Jeremiah Chamberlain, noting that he had four daughters, when William L. Sanders (Carved in Stone: Cemeteries of Claiborne County, Mississippi [Dorrance Publishing, 2014], 11), a source even referenced by the WP article, clearly notes that Sarah Matilda Chamberlain (a sister) was the seventh daughter of Jeremiah and Rebecca. WP doesn't mention Mary at all. Geni is more accurate.

3. Hutchins, Personal Story, pp. 18-29.

4. Hutchins in his Personal Story identified the railroad as the "Great Lakes, Lexington, and Mexican Gulf Railroad" but no such railroad ever existed.

5. Charles Moore claims that Hutchins was responsible for the "construction and improvement of various lines in different parts of the state" but he doesn't get specific about any line other than those around Detroit. Moore, p. 1241.

6. Retirement is in Hutchins, My Story, 354; the remainder is again from Moore, 1241-1242.

7. Moore, 1242.


Hutchins, Jere C. A Personal Story. Detroit: by the author [Norwood, Mass., Printed by the Plimpton press], 1938.

Hathi Trust

Moore, Charles. The History of Michigan. Volume III. Chicago: The Lewis publishing Co., 1915. Pages 1241-1242.

Citation: When referencing this page please use the following citation:

R. D. Jones, "Jere C. Hutchins," Michigan Transportation History (Ypsilanti, MI: 2020), www.michtranshist.info/.

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Page last modified on March 29, 2020, at 01:04 PM EST

Page last modified on March 29, 2020, at 01:04 PM EST