John Henry Brown.

Indian wars and pioneers of Texas online

. (page 29 of 135)
Online LibraryJohn Henry BrownIndian wars and pioneers of Texas → online text (page 29 of 135)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

came many temptations and encountered and sur-
mounted many obstacles, following always with
undeviating fidelity the lode-star of duty. His
career in all essential respects was identical with
that of his brother, Mr. George Sealy, a biography
of whom appears elsewhere in this volume. The
following is from the Galveston News of Sunday,
August 31, 1884:—

" To say that the news of the death of Mr. John
Sealy touched the whole community with a deep thrill
of sorrow yesterday, but poorly conveys the idea of
the sense of the community upon the sudden taking
away of one of its most prominent members. The
flags upon the Santa Fe general office, Custom-
House, Cotton Exchange, Galveston News building,
British, German, Russian, Norwegian and Austrian
consular offices, engine houses. Artillery Hall, Tur-
ner Hall, Beach Hotel, Mallory and Morgan offices,
Hendley, Eeymershoffer, Blum Block, Oppenheimer
& Co.'s, Kauffman & Eunge, Marwitz, and a num-
ber of other buildings, not now remembered, were
placed at half-mast in honor of the memory of Mr.
Sealy. An hour before the time set for the funeral,
clouds gathered heavily in the north, and the pros-
pect of a storm prevented many from attending the
funeral services, but, as it was, there were hun-
dreds present. The officers and employees of the
Santa Fe road formed at the general office in a
body and marched to the residence. A number of
the members of Hook and Ladder Company No.
1, were also present.

"The floral tributes were numerous and beauti-
ful, the casket being literally covered with choice
flowers most artistically arranged.

" At five o'clock, Rev. Dr. S. M. Bird, rector of
Trinity Church, began the reading of the solemn
and impressive service for the dead. Upon its con-
clusion he delivered the following beautiful and
touching comment upon the good man gone: —

" ' Words of eulogy flow almost spontaneously as
we stand amidst the funereal tributes to excellence
and worth.

" ' We have to restrain, rather than encourage,
the natural instincts of affection which inspire the
coronation of a successful and generous life.

" ' We look into the calm, dead face of our friend
ahd brother and read there all the story of amia-
bility, frankness and honor, and as we recall the

outlines of a life so suddenly closed, memory fully
anticipates the epitaph which will be carved upon
his tomb. We think of him as citizen, father,
friend, neighbor, and each chapter unfolds its
blending harmonies of goodness, purity and virtue.
Wheij one of the old Patrician leaders of Rome
expired, it was the custom of the common grief
for each associate and colleague to bring to his
bier the eblematic tokens of the particular virtue
which most impressed itself upon the offerer.
One brought the laurels which crowned his brow
with the badges of noble bearing and courtly pride ;
another placed in his dead hands, the white lilies
of purity, commemorating a gentle life and unself-
ish patriotism ; a third placed upon his shield the
red rose of unsullied courage and iron purpose;,
and thus, part by part, his catafalque was strewn
with the silent symbols of worthiness and renown.
I have thought if each one of ourselves could come
from our reserve and give out from the respective
treasures of our knowledge the impressions made
by the long and useful life of our departed friend,
the homage would be large indeed, for we would not
cease until we had robed his casket in a funeral
mantle, graceful as ever covered that of Roman
senator or conscript father. To his public spirit
and organizing industry our prosperous city is
indebted for large and enduring elements of its
permanency and present growth. Forecasting
with unerring genius the future of Galveston,
he conceived and carried out many of its in-
stitutions which contribute to-day to its stability
and wealth. Prompt with his judgment and good
will, he promoted every interest which looked to the
happiness of the people and the increase of their
fortunes. Generous oftentimes beyond his share,
he led the way in the courses of liberality and im-
provements. His business and untiring industry
became a passion to him, which laid up its results
in strong material success for himself and in large
and generous returns for others. Wealth brings
power and responsibility, and so to his native
strength of purpose, we find in maturer years this
new gift added to his resources — a gift used so
wisely that nearly every enterprise of public or
municipal interest was unprojected until his name,
his judgment, and his co-operation were first as-
sured. This done, his fellow-citizens and fellow-
capitalists were inspired by the one needed resolu-
tion which almost Invariably leads up to such positive
results as leave little to be desired. Responsibility,
too, was fully appreciated, and so we find the stroma
and solid banking house, whose business he con-
tributed so much to enlarge and strengthen, became
identified directly and at once with every depart-



ment of the city's life, and widely enough in the
progress of the entire State. The founder of a
city, who lays deeply those varied elements which
make up the security of its wealth, the integrity of
its credit and the happiness of its homes, must
outrank in the hightest verdict every one of those
who, with martial victories and trained warfare,
destroy and pull down the habitations of man. A
successful citizen is always a more interesting
man than a conquering soldier, as the spirit
of construction is always more large than the
spirit which destroys. In the later days of
his health and vigor many of his friends dis-
covered a strong physical and personal resem-
blance to the greatest soldier of the Northern
armies. The likeness was remarkable, and yet we
may be pardoned in rejoicing that our departed
friend and brother possessed powers of worth and
appliance of virtue so different and so much more
laudable, that they will endure in their fruits of
increase long after the ashes of smoking towns and
the ruin of a people's industries have faded from
the records which they so long disfigured. The
commonwealth is made up of its citizens, and its
best citizens are always the basis of its strength
and the welcome prophecies of its fortunes. If we
pass from his life as a citizen to his life as a man
of business we discover similar distinguishing
marks of excellence. One of the finest tributes I
ever heard to a man of business was awarded to
Mr. Scaly by his lifelong friend and partner at the
latter's house on the occasion of a brilliant marriage,
and the entire ' worthiness of the testimony was
seen in the hearty sanction of the moment, and is
echoed loudly by every one brought into commer-
cial relations with him. Whether as banker, rail-
road manager, president of a corporation, or a
private in the ranks — the same straightforward-
ness, integrity and painstaking, was the simple
secret which made him everywhere trusted, and,
most of all, by those whose dealings with him were
intimate, mutual and constant. He enriched him-
self never at the expense of others, while others
were made partakers with him in all his successes
and his fortunes. This is no small consideration in
these days when men are ' making haste to get
rich;' when, regardless of the social compact,
careless of all moral restraint, impatient at the
checks of conscience and defiant against every
principle of virtue, they trample down all obstacles
in the way of interest, until duty, honor and truth
are outraged — wrecked in the rapid eagerness to-
achieve results — and high names and the highest
places, and highest trusts are prost'tuted, drag-
ged down in the financial scramble to the level

of common fraud and unblushing crime. Here
there is not a whisper of detraction or reproach.
If large wealth rewarded his industry and toil, it
was the normal issue of a large heart which refused
all unjust and ungenerous methods. His hands-
are clean, even in death, because they never worked
in the lower ventures of avarice and greed ; and so^
too, his hands were liberal, with a liberality which-
was always his own and not another's. The mer-
cantile spirit of the age was strong within him —
too strong, for it overtaxed his time and his strength.
In this mammon-loving country, I suppose his
temptations were strong and keen, as only success-
ful men can feel them ; but always they seemed
dominated by a justice and discretion which led us
all to recognize his calm superiority to passing
inducements and a ' conscience void of offense.'
More than twelve years continuously I have been
his neighbor. It is needless to say that in him 1
always felt that I had a neighbor ; yea, more, a
friend, a counselor and confidant. His pleasing
manners and cheerful bearing made him accessible
to a fault. One was reassured at the outset,' and
invited to the freest confidence. More than once I
have felt drawn to his side in my moments of doubt,
and depended upon him in my moments of hesita-
tion, and always I have met just what I requiretJ
and in the way that I wanted it. To my church he-
gave a constant support, to my work an open hand>
and to myself a generous and unswerving friend-
ship. I may not intrude upon the inner circle of
his retired home, where he has been a father, a
husband, a brother — where his coming has been
always as the coming of the genial light which
falls upon the flowers, where his intercourse
has been of that quiet and considerate careful-
ness which made blessings fall like sunbeams
upon every member of his family. Yesterday
the light of his house went down in thick
darkness. The shadows of eventide, coming with
the closing hours of his life, fell like a pall of night
upon all his home. A strong brother's arm is no
more within reach, and the strong voice of gentle
love, his children will wonder why they can no
longer hear. Home to him was his atmosphere,
his paradise. Rarely could he be drawn from its
charmed circle. Only affairs of urgent business
and necessity could tempt him abroad. This led '
some to think him retiring and reserved, but his
home was his own creation, and the ideal of his
earthly life, made lovely by his own good heart and "
stamped anew every day with his genial and kindly
nature. In this home the tears are falling fast, as
they will flow long. In this home hearts are
aching with strange and new sorrows, which come

Eliy'ij-,-ll '■ r Kor.>-oi-,is.]IY




Confederate States government. As the coast of
Texas was closely blockaded, goods of all kinds
soon became scarce in the State, and one of the
first importations made by the firm was a cargo of
fifty thousand pairs of cotton and wool cards,
which they brought in under a contract with the
State, to enable the people of Texas to manufacture
their own clothing. These were introduced by way
of Mexico, through which country they continued
to make large shipments of cotton during the con-
tinuance of the blockade, while at the same time
they employed foreign vessels to run war material
into the harbor of Galveston. In all of this they
were eminently successful, and Mr. Hutchings is
still proud of the fact that, through the energy and
daring enterprise of the firm, vessels were, at the
close of the war, arriving at Galveston with arms
and munitions, and departing, laden with cotton,
on every change or dark of the moon, with almost
the regularity of mail steamers.

In 1865 the firm returned to Galveston and re-
sumed the banking business in the same building
which they had erected in 1855, and which they have
now occupied for thirty-seven years ; but Mr.
Hutchings still cherishes the kindest feelings for
the people of Houston, with whom he lived so hap-
pily and prosperously during the dark days of the
Civil War. Soon after their return to Galveston
they admitted as a partner Mr. George Sealy, who
was a brother of Mr. John Sealy, and had long
been in their service. The firm name, however,
remained unchanged. In March, 1884, Mr. George
Ball died, and in the following August Mr. John
Sealy died, leaving Mr. Hutchings and Mr. George
Sealy the only surviving members of the firm, and
they have continued the banking and exchange
business under the same firm name until the present
time, and their rating for wealth and credit in bank-
ing circles is perhaps as high as that of any other
banking house in the world.

The old building, which, in simple strength, so
long and faithfully abided by the fortunes of the
firm, has just been replaced by another, con-
structed by Mr. Hutchings specially for their use
and having every feature of safety, comfort and
convenience suggested by the long conduct of the
banking business. This structure is the best
equipped and most thoroughly appointed bank
building in the South.

It is one of the handsomest buildings on the

. In addition to being one of the two managers of
this great banking house, Mr. Hutchings has occu-
pied, and still holds, many important and responsi-
ble business positions. His sound judgment, his

solid integrity, his far-seeing enterprise, his great
activity, his superb business qualities, and remark-
able success in all his undertakings, have caused
his name and services to be almost indispensable in
a leading connection with every important enter-
prise of Galveston. He was for a long time presi-
dent of the Galveston Wharf Company and it
was during his presidency of this association
that a compromise was effected with the city, which
settled long disputed claims as to the title of the
wharf property. In consideration of the value of
his services in negotiating this settlement, the com-
pany presented him with a handsome service of
silver. The McAlpine survey of the wharf was
also made during the same time, and improvements
were begun which have created valuable property
for the company, and given a spacious and beauti-
ful front to the city. He was the first president,
after the war, of the Galveston Gas Company, and
has continued ever since to be one of its directors,
and is now its president. He has long been a
director of the Southern Press Manufacturing Com-
pany of Galveston, and is at this time its president.
He was for some time a director of the Galveston
City Company, and is now the president of that
company. He was appointed by Judge E. P. Hill,
the Confederate States Judge for Texas, a Commis-
sioner of the Confederate States Court, which he
held as long as the Confederate States were in exist-
ence, and still preserves his commission from Judge
Hill and values it very highly. He was also one of
the original directors of the Gulf, Colorado and
Santa Fe Railroad Company, also of the Galveston
Oil Mills Company, of the Land and Loan Com-
pany, and also of the Galveston, Houston and Hen-
derson Railway Company, and of the Galveston
Insurance Company. In 1859-60 he was an alder-
man of the city of Galveston, and negotiated the
bonds for the first bridge biiilt over the bay. He
was the author of the plan for raising money to
open the inner bar in Galveston harbor, and
drafted the ordinance of June 25, 1869, which ,
put his plan into successful execution, He was
the originator and chief promoter of the estab-
lishment of the splendid line of steamers plying
between Galveston and New York, so well known
as the Mallory line, and now incorporated as the
New York and Texas Steamship Company, and he
is one of the five directors of this company. He
accomplished this splendid enterprise by inducing
the Galveston Wharf Company, of which he was
president, to take a fourth interest in the four first
steamers built for the line, by taking stock himself
and inducing his partners to do likewise ; and the
present firm still owns a large interest in the line.



He and his partner, John Sealy, formed a company
and built the Factor's Cotton Press, but the com-
pany was soon afterwards merged into the Southern
Cotton Press and Manufacturing Company, the
suggestion and accomplishment of which was the
work of Mr. Hutchings, and his associates, appre-
ciating his skill, industry, and ability in the adjust-
ment of that matter, presented him with a gold
watch and chain of the most costly kind, which he
prizes highly and wears daily.

It is said of Mr. Hutchings that in all these
varied and exacting business relations, with their
multitudinous demands upon his time and energy,
he has never been known to fail in an appointment ;
and he has maintained this course throughout a
lifetime of hard work, extending through more than
fifty years. He early found his task, and has
faithfully stood to it. There has been no time in
such a life for idle dreams. To him all true work
has been held sacred — as wide as the earth, with
its sumipit in heaven ; and if genius be, as has been
said by one, " an immense capacity for taking
pains; " or, as said by another, " a great capacity
for discipline," in either character we find it in
an eminent degree in the life of Mr. Hutchings.
Being asked by the author the measure of his suc-
cess, and the qualities and conditions to which he
chiefly attributed it, he answered promptly: " Suc-
cess in life depends much upon honesty, sobriety,
industry, economy, and a disposition to promote
the best interests of the community in which one
lives. This disposition is always observed and
appreciated ; and the measure of a man's success
depends much upon the kindly disposition of his
neighbors towards him. Success in life consists
not so much in making money as in being use-
ful ; and the man who has been the most useful
in his day and generation is the most successful

The life of Mr. Hutchings grandly illustrates his
views of usefulness and success. Few men have

^ taken the lead in so many enterprises that pro-
moted the interests of the communities in which
they lived ; and he has always faithfully discharged
every duty which devolved upon him", laboring at
all times for the public good, as well as for the
interests and welfare of those who were directly
concerned in his undertakings or affected by them ;
and amid all the advantages and opportunities
afforded by his official positions, he has never
speculated upon his knowledge, his power, or his

He has strong faith in the future of Galveston
as a great commercial city, and in the illimitable
growth and prosperity of Texas. For nearly
twenty years, he has taken a warm and active
interest in every project for deepening the channel
over Galveston bar, as being not only of the
greatest importance to the welfare of the city,
but of the whole State.

During all this time, while so busily engaged in
enterprises of a public character, he has not failed
to attend with equal minuteness and promptitude
to his private affairs. Early and late he has
always been found at his bank during business
hours, and is still found there at the proper time.
He believes strongly in the old adage, that it is
better to wear awaj' than to rust away.

"While Mr. Hutchings, like all long-disciplined
and successful business men, is stern and strict
in his business habits, in social life he is
kind, courteous, and genial. He is devoted
to his family and warmly attached to his friends,
and kind to all who have dealings with him.
He was married in Galveston on the 18th of
June, 1856, to Miss Minnie Knox, a lady of supe-
rior reflnement and excellence of character, who
was the niece of Robert Mills, at that time the head
of the then well-known banking house of R. & D.
G. Mills. They have reared a large and interest-
ing family of children. Their third daughter was
married a few years since to Mr. John W. Harris,
an excellent young man, and a son of the late
Judge John W. Harris, a distinguished pioneer of
the Texas bar.

Mr. Hutchings has a marked fondness for the
beauties of nature, and claims great skill in the
transplanting and nurture of trees. He has
beautified his home in Galveston with an enchant-
ing verdure of live oaks, flowers, and shrubbery ;
and a visit to his hospitable mansion will well repay
those who have a taste for the combined embellish-
ments of art and nature.

And yet the crowning virtue of the life and char-
acter of Mr. Hutchings is his deep-founded faith
in the precepts and promises of Christianity. He
has long been a devout communicant of the Episco-
pal Church ; and he considers spiritual attainment
and a Christian life far above all earthly posses-
sions and worldly successes — the golden crown of
a successful life, of which all other qualifications
are but parts. He is a liberal supporter of the
church, and wears upon the brow of age the
chaplet of many noble charities and benefactions.

E^8 V^^C Koevoets NY

Mrs J.H.HuTCHiNGs.





It has often struck me that the real is the most
unreal. David Copperfield was a more real person-
^Se and will longer exercise an influence in shaping
the course of human lives and ultimate human des-
tinies than many of the persons who are living and
have actually lived. The ordinary human life,
except in so far as it concerns the individual
soul and affects those with which it mediately
or Immediately comes in contact, is void of
lasting effect. As to itself, it passes away like a
shadow and is remembered no more. But there
have been lives whose influence will extend to
remotest time and of these was the life of the sub-
ject of this memoir, Mr. George Ball.

It is doubtful if there ever was an intrinsically
noble man who did not have a noble mother, and it
is doubtful if any man ever accomplished much
worthy of commemoration, who was not sustained
and cheered by the companionship and counsel of a
noble wife. Mr. Ball possessed both and few men
have done more to entitle themselves to an honorable
place upon the pages of the State's history.

He was born May 9th, 1817, at Gausevoort,
Saratoga County, N. Y., where he resided until
twelve years of age, when he went to live with
his uncle, George Hoyt, at Albany, in that
State. He learned the trade of silversmith and
jeweler from his uncle and was indebted to him also
for most excellent training in business affairs. On
reaching his majority, he set out to seek a location
for himself, traveling extensively through the
Western and Southern States, and finally set
tling for a time in Shreveport, La. There he
came to hear a great deal of Texas, and being
influenced by favorable reports, at last decided to
try his fortunes in the then infant republic.
Eeturning to New York, he formed a copartner-
ship with his brother Albert, and, procuring a stock
of general merchandise and lumber suflQcient to
erect a small store house, embarked for Galveston,
and arrived there in the fall of 1839, during the
disastrous epidemic of yellow fever that prevailed
that year. Nothing daunted by the gloomy sur-
roundings that environed him, he landed his cargo
and, leasing a lot on Tremont street, between
Mechanics and Market streets, proceeded to erect
his building and open his business. His brother
joined him the following year, and their business
proving successful, they moved to the vicinity of

Strand and Twenty-second streets, at that time
much nearer to the center of trade than the first
site selected. After a few years this firm was dis-
solved, Albert entering the clothing business and
George continuing that of dry goods.

In 1854, Mr. Ball disposed of his mercantile
interests and, associating himself with John H.
Hutchings and John Sealy, formed the firm of Ball,
Hutchings & Co., for banking and commission pur-
poses. As senior member of this firm, Mr. Ball
showed himself to be a man of good ability.. Under
his management it soon took rank among the first
in the city and eventually became the first in the
State. During the four years of the late war (from
1861 to 1865) this firm transacted an extensive
business with Europe in the interests of the Con-
federate government through Mexico and after-
wards, in 1873, tided over that year of panic and
failure. Ball, Hutchings & Co., met all demands
and, by integrity and business skill, have met and
weathered all subsequent financial storms that have
wrecked so many business concerns and are now
one of the most famous banking houses that the
United States can boast. From the first Mr.
Ball manifested his belief in the future of Gal-

Online LibraryJohn Henry BrownIndian wars and pioneers of Texas → online text (page 29 of 135)