Edward F. Hutton
Born September 7, 1875, industrious young Edward started work at age 17 when he secured a position in the mail room of a New York mortgage company. He later joined Manhattan Trust Company, which later merged with Bankers Trust Company. He soon came to realize that finance and investments were his calling. With a friend Hutton purchased a seat on the Consolidated Stock Exchange, forming the brokerage of Harris, Hutton & Company.
Handsome and highly confident, the young man socialized in New York’s high society and he fell in love with Ms. Blanch Horton, the daughter of one of the leading members of the New York Stock Exchange. When he asked for her hand in marriage Hutton was dismissed by her father as an unworthy suitor. Undeterred, he married her in 1902. On their honeymoon to the west coast, he realized that San Francisco and Los Angeles had no direct link to Wall Street. Financial information arrived slowly via a patchwork of telegraph feeds and messengers, often with only closing stock prices. He became determined to establish a quality national brokerage to serve the West Coast.
He went back to New York and purchased a seat on the New York Stock Exchange with his friend George Ellis. E.F. Hutton & Company began executing trades on the exchange on October 12, 1903. Mr. Hutton had just turned 28 years old. Hutton proved to be a financial salesman extraordinaire. He was tireless in pursuing new accounts while continuing to pursue his dream of a West Coast brokerage. His plan called for a private telegraph wire from New York to San Francisco that would provide investors with critical time for securities decisions, but it wasn’t going to be easy. Western Union went only as far as Salt Lake City and was apparently in no hurry to extend to the Pacific Coast. Hutton proposed to pay half the cost of construction and maintenance of a line from Utah to San Francisco, up to $50,000, an investment of about $1.2 million in 2014 dollars. When it was completed E.F. Hutton had the only private transcontinental wire in the country.
When the first E.F. Hutton & Company office opened to serve individuals in December of 1904, his San Francisco brokers could execute orders in minutes as opposed to hours for other brokerage houses. All the biggest investors in San Francisco were soon E.F. Hutton clients. For years, many investors on the West Coast thought E.F. Hutton was the Stock Exchange. In April 1906, the great earthquake struck San Francisco. EF Hutton was the only company that had a live telegraph line. The east coast learned about the quake from EF Hutton and EF Hutton helped coordinate the relief and recovery efforts earning the gratitude of all people in California.
Although not as well-known in New York, EF Hutton & Company continued to grow rapidly. Rather than wait for clients, EF Hutton established hotel branches for the convenience of wealthy travelers. Ellis proved to be the ideal partner for Edward F. Hutton; he was methodical, cautious and reserved. In 1923, his friend Gerald Loeb joined EF Hutton & Company. Loeb was renowned as a trader and for his sound investment advice. Loeb became a partner of the firm and was a founding stock holder and vice chairman when the company incorporated in 1962.
Mr. Hutton’s wife and son both died before he was 45. He married Marjorie Merriweather Post, the daughter of C.W. Post, founder of the Post Cereal Company. They had a daughter, Dina Merrill, who later became a director of EF Hutton & Company. His new wife convinced him to assume the chairmanship of Post Cereal. Consequently, in 1923 he became chairman of Post Cereal while continuing to be involved in strategic direction of EF Hutton, but no longer in an operating role. With Post Cereal Company, he directed the acquisition of fifteen nationally-known grocery manufacturing companies into Post Cereal thereby creating the General Foods Corporation in 1929. Hutton served as chairman of the new conglomerate until 1935.
In 1949, he founded the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania to give awards to individuals and organizations that promote patriotic ideals. The Foundation‘s work has involved extensive collaboration with the Boy Scouts of America. He also wrote a syndicated newspaper column titled “Think It Through” which appeared in more than 60 papers across America before he passed away on July 11, 1962 at the age of 86.