John G. Utterback
Born in Franklin, Indiana, Utterback attended the public schools of his native city. He was employed in a carriage factory 1889-1892. He engaged as a traveling salesman 1892-1905, during which time he resided in Jackson, Michigan, Rochester, New York, and Winchester, Massachusetts. He finally settled in Bangor, Maine, in 1905, where he engaged in the retail sale of carriages, and later automobiles.
Utterback served as a Bangor city councilman in 1912-1913, alderman in 1913-1914, and as Mayor of Bangor in 1914-1915. He was Chairman of the Maine Motor Vehicle Conference Committee in 1930, and served as delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1932.
Utterback was elected as a Democrat to the Seventy-third United States Congress (March 4, 1933-January 3, 1935), defeating Republican Owen Brewster by only 324 votes. Brewster bitterly contested the result following his defeat, claiming voter fraud in the French-Canadian districts of Aroostook County, but Utterback prevailed. Utterback was helped by a lack of sympathy for Brewster among the Republican 'old guard'. Out-going Republican Governor William Tudor Gardiner declared "preposterous" the idea, suggested by Brewster, that he personally go to Aroostook County to investigate the alleged fraud.
Fittingly for a candidate from 'wet' Bangor, Utterback made his first congressional speech in support of the repeal of Prohibition, around which he'd built his campaign. Bangor's saloons had been a major target of the Maine's prohibition law (in force for 75 years), the oldest in the nation. The Maine law was widely supported in rural districts but not in the city itself. Brewster, from the nearby town of Dexter (but whose law office was also in Bangor), continued to stand for prohibition even though the national Republican Party now favored repeal.
The Utterback-Brewster contest was rejoined in 1934 and this time Utterback lost. One issue was Congress' failure to support a planned tidal power project in Passamaquoddy Bay, which would have been a major job-creator in Utterback's district. As consolation, he was appointed a United States Marshal for the district of Maine in 1935 by Gov. Brann, and served until his resignation in 1944. He then resumed the automobile business as president of the Utterback Corp.. He died in Bangor, Maine, July 11, 1955, and is interred in Mount Hope Cemetery.
- Lewiston Daily Sun, Nov. 10, 1932, p. 1
- Lewiston Daily Sun, Mar. 15, 1933, p. 5; Ibid, Sept. 15, 1932, p. 1