Frank J. Hecker

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Colonel Frank J. Hecker
Frank J Hecker Detroit.jpg
Born (1846-07-06)July 6, 1846
Freedom, Michigan (in Washtenaw County)
Died 1927
Occupation president of the Peninsular Car Company

Frank J. Hecker (1846–1927) was an American railroad-car manufacturer from Detroit, Michigan

Early life[edit]

Frank J. Hecker was born in Freedom, Michigan (in Washtenaw County) on July 6, 1846.[1][2] His family moved to St. Louis, Missouri in 1859, where Frank was educated.[2] He joined the Union Army in 1864,[1] and was appointed first seargent.[2]


Col. Frank J. Hecker House on Woodward in Detroit.

After the conclusion of the Civil War, he hired on as an agent for the Union Pacific Railroad.[1] In the 1870s, a group of investors from Detroit decided to build a rail line near Logansport, Indiana; they hired Hecker to manage their project.[3] Hecker took on the project, taking a younger Charles Lang Freer with him. Although eventually the project fell through, the Detroit investors were pleased with Hecker's work and invited him to Detroit.[3] There, in 1879, Hecker and Freer organized the Peninsular Car Works, which in 1884 was turned into the Peninsular Car Company. Hecker was president of both companies,[2] and business made both Hecker and Freer rich.[4] Hecker also sat on the boards of the Detroit Copper and Brass Rolling Mills, Michigan Fire and Marine Insurance Company, and the Detroit Lumber Company.[1]


Hecker was appointed Police Commissioner in 1888.[2] He unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 1892, and was later a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1900.[5] Hecker served in the Army again in the Spanish–American War, where he was in charge of transporting Spanish prisoners,[1] and in 1899 was commissioned as a colonel.[2] This service brought him to the attention of President Theodore Roosevelt, who in 1904 appointed Hecker to the Panama Canal Commission.[1]


Hecker is perhaps best known for the construction of the Col. Frank J. Hecker House, located on Woodward Avenue in Detroit. The mansion is on the National Register of Historical Places. Charles Lang Freer's home is next door.

In 1868, Hecker married Anna M. Williamson of Omaha, Nebraska.[2] The couple had five children: Frank Clarence, Anna Cynthia, Louise May, Christian Henry, and Grace Clara.[2] Frank Hecker died in 1927.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Colonel Frank Hecker House from the National Park Service
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Historical and Biographical, Comprising a Synopsis of General History of the State, and Biographical Sketches of Men, Western Publishing and Engraving Co., 1900, pp. 86–88 
  3. ^ a b Charles Lang Freer Home from
  4. ^ Hecker Home from
  5. ^ The Political Graveyard