JAMES WESLEY HUTT
ONE OF the most thorough-going and competent men in the express business is James W. Hutt, general superintendent of the National Express Company, whose head-quarters are in Albany. He belongs to a substantial old family of Schoharie county, N. Y., of Holland-Dutch origin, who early came to this region and took an active part in the civilization and progress of the country and afterward in defending their homes in the attacks of British and savage foes. Those old pioneers were men of the simplest habits, loyal in their attachment to the principles of civil and ecclesiastical liberty and earnest in their endeavor to cultivate the virgin soil and to turn the wilderness into fruitful fields.
The great-grandfather of the present Mr. Hutt was John Hutt, one of those revolutionary patriots who was actively engaged in the border warfare of Schoharie county. In 1776 we find him enlisting as a private in the Fifteenth regiment, first company, of the united districts of Schoharie and Duanesburg. He served in the lower fort under Captain Stutroch at the time of Johnson and Brandt’s invasion. And among other instances of his valor in 1782, we see him displaying heroic courage in the defense of the house of Major Becker when it was surrounded by a party of Indians under Captain Crysler. He was near the house when the alarm was sounded by the terrified women and children that a force of Indians was rushing toward the dwelling. Immediately a large Indian sprang forward to seize Mr. Hutt, but the dauntless soldier raised a whiffletree which he held in his hand, defiantly in the face of the Indian, who at once recoiled. Mr. Hutt then sprang into the door which Mrs. Becker was holding open for him. The brave woman then quickly shut and bolted the door while Mr. Hutt seized an old musket and was ready for the encounter. In the dwelling were only three men, Major Becker, Mr. Hutt, and George Shell, another Schoharie soldier, who fortunately happened to be present. Besides these inmates were Mrs. Becker, Mrs. Adam Zimmer, possibly one or two other women and some eight or ten children, who went upstairs to escape, if possible, from the tomahawk and scalping-knife. Then began a desperate struggle for life against fearful odds. The attack and defense are thus vividly described by Mr. Simms in his Frontiersmen of New York: ” The major took his station at the south-west corner window, which commanded the enemy’s approach to his barn; assigned to Hutt the eastern gable windows, and to Shell the north-west window opposite his own, which commanded their approach to the mill, which stood a few rods from the house upon grounds occupied by the raceway of the present mill. The lower sash of the upper windows was also secured by planks. The enemy immediately ran around the eastern end of the house and there gained temporary shelter, some under the creek bank, some behind a fence, and others behind a small log building standing at a little distance south-east of the house, used as a storeroom. The enemy fired numerous balls in at the windows, twenty-eight entering the window Hutt was stationed at. He was bold and vigilant, and often incurred the censure of Major Becker for exposing his person so much about the window, telling him that the force of the enemy was unknown, but their own was three men, the loss of one being one-third of their strength. Hutt, however, could not be restrained by the prudent counsel of the major, and kept constantly returning the shots of the enemy. Discovering through the cranny of the log building the hat of one of his foes, Hutt sent a bullet through the brim of it close to the crown. This hat, it was afterward ascertained, was on the head of Captain Crysler. The balls of the enemy cut the air around the head of Hutt, but fortunately without injury.” This fight lasted a few hours, and after making several attempts to burn the house the assailants, twenty-three in number, left for the forests, while the inmates escaped from a horrible death. This most remarkable and successful defense of life and property by John Hutt and his companions was long after related with thrilling interest by the firesides of old Schoharie. He died in 1825.
His son John, grandfather of the present Mr. Hutt, was prominently identified with the manufacturing and business interests of Schoharie county. He died in Iowa in 1852.
His son William, the father of James W. Hutt, was born at Sharon in 1810. He was during his entire life prominently identified with the interests of old Schoharie county.
Previous to the organization of the National Guard he was a lieutenant in the Ninth regiment. Third brigade, First division cavalry of the state of New York, from which he was, at his own request, honorably discharged in 1835.
William Hutt was one of the pioneer expressmen and was connected with its interests up to the time of his death in 1889.
James W. Hutt, the subject of this sketch was born on the 16th of August, 1846, at Sharon Springs, Schoharie county, N. Y., both of his parents being natives of that place. His mother, whose maiden name was Mary E. Sharp, is still living in the old homestead. There, their son James passed his childhood and youth, and when of suitable age, was sent to the district school of his native place. He afterward became a pupil in the Waverville academy, where he spent several terms in acquiring a good education in the elementary branches, such as were most suitable for a young man contemplating a practical business career. On leaving the academy young Hutt was naturally inclined to become an expressman like his father, and uncle, who was a pioneer expressman and stage proprietor on the Pacific coast. Accordingly, in 1862, at the age of sixteen he went to Schenectady and began such a course of life in the American Express Company in that city – an occupation which he has never since relinquished. He remained two years in Schenectady, devoting himself with faithfulness, energy and success to the various duties daily devolving upon him. In 1864 he went to New York city where he continued about seven years, gaining an experience, amidst the busy, stirring scenes of the metropolis, which has been of great advantage to him in later years. There he learned the nature and requirements of his calling and became perfectly familiar with all its details. He was also engaged for some time on the reportorial staff of the New York Times. His capability and efficiency in the performance of his duty were to be subsequently rewarded by well-merited promotions. In the fall of 1870, at the request of Hon. Joseph H. Ramsey he came to Albany and accepted the position of superintendent of the express department of the old Susquehanna railroad, of which Mr. Ramsey was then president. Two years later he became connected with the National Express Company as superintendent. In 1883 he was appointed general superintendent of the same company, having in charge its entire lines, a position which he still holds, discharging its duties with much credit to himself and no little advantage to the company. He is vice-president and general manager of the New England Dispatch Express, reaching from Boston to a great number of points in New England. He is also vice-president of the Adirondack Express Company, which is now doing a large business, especially in northern New York. He is one of the eight members of the Joint Traffic committee, a very useful organization which represents the express companies of the United States, and acts in concert for their common interests.
Mr. Hutt is a great admirer of the beauty and grandeur of the Adirondack region, and has taken a deep interest in making it still more easily accessible to the summer tourist. In 1889 he was elected president of the Adirondack Stage Company, whose route extends from North Creek, at the terminus of the Adirondack railroad, to Blue Mountain lake, a distance of twenty-nine miles, reaching the heart of the Adirondacks. The drive over this line in one of the Tally-Ho coaches is one of the most interesting and romantic of any in that healthful, aspiring region.
On attaining his majority Mr. Hutt united himself with the Democratic party, to whose success he has ever since been faithfully devoted, without a desire of securing for himself any political emoluments.
He is a member and staff officer of the Burgesses Corps, Boston Light Infantry Veteran Corps, the Odd Fellows society, the Fort Orange club, the Albany club, Manhattan Athletic club of New York, a trustee and member of the executive committee of the Round Lake association, and a member of the Methodist Episcopal church at Slingerlands, where he resides.
In 1869 he married Emma L. De Noyelles of Schoharie, and has a family of four children, one boy, James W., Jr., and three girls, Emma, Edith and Dorothy.
In his personal appearance Mr. Hutt is of the ordinary height, with a rather broad physique, a sound, vigorous constitution, which shows a careful physical training in youth. He is of a cheerful, hopeful disposition, an agreeable companion, cordial and gentlemanly in his manners. He is very methodical in his work, and possesses a grasp of mind which is capable of accomplishing with comparative ease and accuracy the numberless and often perplexing details in his daily official business. Calmness, energy and perseverance are marked traits in his character. Admirably fitted by natural tastes and long training for his special life-long calling, no official of our express companies more worthily or effilciently fills the office; and his highest aim has always been to serve with the best of his ability the interests of the public in his chosen field of operation.