Frank Joseph Hecker (1846-1927)

Colonel Frank J. Hecker, of Detroit, Michigan

Associated Houses

Hecker Mansion


He was born at Freedom in Washtenaw County, Michigan, and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1864, he volunteered to fight with the Union Army during the Civil War and was appointed first Sergeant. After the war, he worked as an agent for the Union Pacific Railroad and when a new line was being built near Logansport, Indiana, Hecker was hired to manage the project and he took Charles Lang Freer to help him. It failed, but he had impressed the investors and was invited to Detroit. In 1879, Hecker and Freer established the Peninsular Car Works which was renamed five years later as the Peninsular Car Company. Hecker was President of both companies, and quickly became wealthy. He was appointed Police Commissioner in 1888 and unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 1892. During the Spanish–American War, he was given the rank of Colonel and tasked with transporting Spanish prisoners. His work impressed Theodore Roosevelt who appointed him to the Panama Canal Commission in 1904. He was a director of the Detroit Copper & Brass Rolling Mills; the Michigan Fire & Marine Insurance Company; and, the Detroit Lumber Company. In 1868, he married Anna Williamson of Omaha, Nebraska, and they had 5-children: two sons (Frank and Christian) and three daughters, Mrs Anna Freer, Mrs Louise von Szilassy-Szilas und Pilis, and Mrs Grace Beaham.
Contributed by Mark Meredith on 29/07/2020 and last updated on 29/07/2020.