Captain John

CAPTAIN JOHN GRIER HUTCHISON "sailed the seven seas" before marrying a girl from Camden and settling in the city. He was born in Delaware in 1828 A master carpenter, he was appointed Superintendent of the West Jersey Ferry, a post he held with distinction for over 30 years, prior to his passing at the age of 68 on June 29, 1896.

The 1880 Census shows Captain Hutchsion and family at 308 North Front Street. Directories form 1883 through 1886 show Captain Hutchison living at 305 North Front Street. The 1887 City Directory lists him at 110 North 2nd Street. From 1888 through his passing he resided at 110 Linden Street.

Captain Hutchison survived by four sons and four daughters. One son was Tennie G. Hutchison, who had a plumbing business in Camden for many years. Captain Hutchison's grandson, Tennie G. Hutchison Jr., was a member of the Camden Fire Department the 1920s and 1930s.

History of Camden County, New Jersey
George Reeser Prowell, 1885

THE WEST JERSEY FERRY, familiarly known as "The Market Street Ferry," extends from Market Street, Camden, to Market Street, Philadelphia, and is now, and has long been one of the leading lines of· transportation across the Delaware between the two cities.

This ferry was established about 1800 by Abraham Browning, Sr., an intelligent and enterprising farmer of the territory now braced in Stockton Township. His father-in-law, George Genge, at that time had a board-yard at the foot of the street. Abraham Browning built a ferry-house on the south side of Market Street, on the site the large store building of the Taylor Brothers, on the corner of Market Street and Second.

He also put up stables for the reception of horses and vehicles, as the boats at that time used on this ferry, as on all others on Delaware, were small row-boats or wherries and of insufficient size and capacity for conveyance of the  market teams. Sails used to propel the wherries when the wind was fair, and in the absence of wind, oars were applied; but if the winds were adverse and strong, the boats awaited until the Fates were more propitious. Farmers usually unloaded their produce and left their tea the east side of the river, while they went to market or attended to other business in Philadelphia. Abraham Browning improved the accommodations for landing by adding sufficient wharfing. The original place of landing of his boats at the times of high tide, however, was near the site of his ferryhouse, a long distance inland from the present landing-place, all the land intervening being "made ground," in the language of the common populace. When he completed the erection of his ferry-house, Mr. Browning moved from his farm into it, and operated his ferry for about one year. Disliking the business, he had either as lessees or superintendents various parties, among whom were James Springer, Peter Farrow, Benjamin Springer, William S. Paul and Edward Browning. He continued to be the owner of this ferry until the time of his death, in 1836. It then passed into the possession of his heirs, who conducted it as their property until 1849. It was long known as the "Browning Ferry." In 1849 a charter was obtained, as is evidenced by the following:

"Whereas, Abraham Browning, Maurice Browning, Charles Browning, Edward Browning, Eleanor Browning and Catharine Browning now own the ferries between Market Street, in the city of Camden, and the city of Philadelphia, with the real estate, boats, ships and appendages belonging there­to, which property not being in its nature susceptible of division without great prejudice, and liable to embarrassment or inconvenience by death or other misfortune while thus jointly held, the said owners desire to be incorporated, that they may, with greater security to themselves and advantage to the public, improve said ferries."

The name was the West Jersey Ferry Company, and Abraham Genge, Maurice, Charles and Edward Browning were made directors by the act, to serve as such until October following, when others were to be elected and the number of directors increased to nine. This was the second of the ferries to pass into the hands of an incorporated company, the Federal Street Ferry having passed into the hands of the Camden and Philadelphia Ferry Company nine years before and the Kaighn's Point Ferry to the South Camden Ferry Company three years later.

The presidents of the company have been Joseph Porter, William Clark and James B. Dayton; secretaries and treasurers, Edward Browning, Isaac Porter, Amos Rudderow. Benjamin Sutton, was the first superintendent, taking charge in 1849, followed by Daniel Bishop, and in 1852 by William Morrell, who remained until January, 1857, when John G. Hutchinson, who had been master-mechanic, was appointed and has since continuously held the position.

When James Springer conducted the Ferry, in 1809, the boats landed within a short distance of the hotel on Front Street, but when the Browning heirs took charge, thirty years later, the shore was moved westward by wharfing, extending the slips and. filling up the low ground until the site of the ter­minus of the old ferry is many hundred feet inland, and the timbers of the Mariner, William Penn and Southwark lie buried under Delaware Street, where they were moored when no longer serviceable.

In 1849 the company built the West Jersey Hotel, a large, handsome building, of which Israel English sometime afterwards took and retained charge until his death.

When the company was incorporated there were three boats connected with the ferry, Farmer, Southwark and William Penn. The first two were replaced that year by the Mariner and the Merchant, much larger boats. The William Penn was rebuilt in 1857. The Mechanic was built in 1856 by John Bender. The America was built in 1867. The next boat was the Columbia, an iron boat, built in 1877, with iron wheel-houses, gallies, frames and engine-house, the first ferry-boat on this river so completely fireproof. The Arctic, in 1879, and Baltic in 1884 followed. These are almost twin boats, with improvements upon the Columbia and larger, the dimensions of the Baltic being: length of keel, one hundred and forty-five feet of deck, one hundred and fifty-seven feet; beam, thirty feet over all, fifty-four feet; with en­gines of forty-inch cylinder and ten feet stroke. They are all powerful boats and crunch ice of formidable thickness. There has been no mishap causing loss of life on this ferry since its establishment. In 1883 the Pennsylvania Railroad Company bought a majority of the stock and that corporation now controls the ferry. James B. Dayton was president for many years. The present board of directors is composed of Edmund Smith, president; William J. Sewell, Wilbur F. Rose, Wistar Morris, Maurice Browning, Peter L. Voorhees, John F. Starr, Edward Roberts, Henry D. Welsh. John F. Joline is secretary and treasurer, and John G. Hutchison is superintendent.

The West Jersey Ferry
circa 1895

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The West Jersey Ferry

circa 1895

Captain John G. Hutchison was superintendent of the ferry for over 30 years, beginning in 1857.

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The Arctic

built in 1879 for
The West Jersey Ferry

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New York Times - August 31, 1895

Camden Daily Telegram - Monday, June 1, 1896

A Familiar Figure Passes Away After A Busy Career.

Captain John G. Hutchinson, for over thirty years, superintendent of the West Jersey Ferry, died at his home, No. 100 Linden Street, on Saturday after a lingering illness.

Captain Hutchinson was for fifteen years master carpenter for the ferry company. He was the originator of the floating slips, now in use by the ferry companies, and during his years as superintendent, he superintended the construction of a number of ferry boats. He superintended the building of the present commodious ferry house, and made many important changes in the way of ferry transportation between Camden and Philadelphia, and was probably one of the best posted men in shipping matters in this section of the country. In early life, he was in charge of a sailing vessel, traveling between Philadelphia and the West Indies, Japan and other foreign ports. In his business life he was of a retiring nature, sympathetic to a wonderful degree, and was well liked by the employes of the ferry company. During his long official career with the West Jersey Ferry Company, Captain Hutchinson was identified with many of the notable improvements, and under his direction much of the now built up land in that locality was created from the mud flats which were familiar to the residents of a half century ago.

He was a member of the Mendan Sun Lodge, No. 158. F. and A. M., and the Volunteer Fireman's Association. Deceased was 68 years of age, and leaves four sons and four daughters. The funeral will take place on Wednesday afternoon and interment will be made in Evergreen cemetery.

The name Hutchison was spelled incorrectly in this article as "Hutchinson"

Camden Daily Telegram - Wednesday, June 3, 1896

The Funeral Largely Attended and Many Beautiful Floral Designs.

Captain John G. Hutchison, the veteran superintendent of the West Jersey Ferry, who died on Saturday last, was laid at rest in Evergreen Cemetery this afternoon. The funeral services were held at his late residence No. 100 Linden street at two o'clock and were conducted by Rev. Charles Bowden. Meridian Sun Lodge No. 158 F. and A. M. of which deceased was a member, had charge of the funeral, and the pall bearers were elected from that lodge.

Members of the Volunteer Firemen's Association and employees of the West Jersey Ferry attended the funeral.

The body was laid out in a black suit and reposed in a black cloth covered casket with silver trimmings. A plate bearing the inscription "Captain John G. Hutchison, born February 17, 1828," was on the lid of the casket.

Among the floral tributes were a clock with the hands pointing to the hour of 3:55 denoting the time of death, a Masonic emblem from Meridian Lodge, an archway, from his grandchildren, a pillow said "Gates Ajar," from his children.

One design attracted attention. It was a ferryboat three feet long and twenty inches wide. Two silk American flags floated at half mast from each end of the boat. The floral arrangement on the design was exquisite and consisted of smilax, roses, and carnations of various colors. This is said to be the first ferryboat design ever made up in flowers in this State. It was presented as a token of esteem by the West Jersey Ferry employes.

The design is the work of Adolph Moeller of the Linden Floral Exchange of No. 213 Market Street. He has had wide experience in this class of work and has made up hundreds of figures, including boats of several descriptions, but this is the first time he has ever made a ferryboat of such size. The design was ordered yesterday afternoon and it was 9:30 o'clock last evening before the frame could be secured. Mr. Moeller assisted by his partner, Justice Philip Schmitz, worked until 7 o'clock this morning making up the design. It was then taken to Photographer Garns who took a picture of it.

The name Hutchison is spelled correctly in this article 

Article states date entry is 1896. This must have been a print setting error, should have read 1828.

Transposed on July 25, 1998, by Thomas H. Hutchison, Jr. from a Camden Daily Telegram photocopy made from microfilm. Microfilm can be found at the New Jersey State Archives in the New Jersey State Library. Article was found on the front page, half way down from top in the center.

Philadelphia Record * June 1896



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