Charles T. Hinde

Charles T. Hinde (July 12, 1832 – March 10, 1915) was a riverboat captain, businessman, and entrepreneur. During Captain Hinde’s life he managed many businesses and invested in numerous business ventures. Towards the end of his life Captain Hinde generously donated a large portion of his estate to undertake various projects for the city of Coronado, California.

Early Years

Hinde was born in Urbana, Champaign County, Ohio on July 12, 1832. His father was Thomas S. Hinde, a real estate investor and Methodist minister, and his grandfather was Dr. Thomas Hinde.

Hinde grew up and attended local schools in Mount Carmel, Illinois. His father founded the town in 1815. The Hinde family were large landowners in Mount Carmel, Illinois and Wabash County, Illinois. A portion of the family land was located on the Wabash River and included Hanging Rock and the Grand Rapids Dam. When Hinde’s parents died he inherited a large amount of cash while his sister, Belinda Hinde, inherited the large family land holdings in Wabash County, Illinois. Hinde attended Indiana Asbury University at Greencastle, Indiana for a year and a half before dropping out. Being a college dropout he found work as a grocery clerk in Vincennes, Indiana.

Employment in River Navigation

Hinde originally was employed as a clerk on a boat that operated between St. Louis, Missouri and St. Paul, Minnesota. After working for about a year Hinde quit and joined Galena, Dubuque and St. Paul Packet Company, which later became one of the largest transportation companies in that part of the country. At one point during his employment with the Company he contracted cholera and almost died. Hinde made rapid advancement and was promoted to the position of captain, which he held until 1862. In that year, he went to Louisville, Kentucky and took command of a steamer running from Louisville to Memphis, Tennessee. In 1864, he returned to St. Louis to serve as captain to the steamer Davenport, which ran from St. Louis to St. Paul. He resigned that position to organize the Halliday Brothers of Cairo, Illinois. He later secured the agency for all the steamboat lines passing through Cairo, Illinois both on the Ohio river and Mississippi river and their tributaries, and formed a forwarding commission and transfer company. Hinde displayed great executive ability. It was also during this time the Captain Hinde lived in Evansville, Indiana.

Railroad Business

After a brief episode of poor health in 1870, Captain Hinde sold his interests in river navigation business and began work in the railroad business. He went to Louisville, Kentucky to rest and by chance became connected to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company. During his time there he arranged various contracts for hauling grain. However, this proved to be an unsuccessful endeavor when the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad went into receiver’s hands. Due to this development Captain Hinde arranged to have all shipments transferred to the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad Company. It was during this time that Hinde was invited to move to California.

Coronado, California

After moving to California, Hinde again became involved in various businesses and investments. Initially, he was the commercial agent and manager for the Santa Fe Wharf. He was one of the founders of the Spreckels Brothers Commercial Company owning a one third interest. The company imported coal, cement, and general merchandise. Hinde’s most important, and lasting investment, was his investment with John Diedrich Spreckels in the Hotel del Coronado. The Hotel del Coronado was owned by the Coronado Beach Company which was originally capitalized with three million United States dollars. At the time of capitalization the original company directors were E.S. Babcock, John Diedrich Spreckels, Captain Hinde, H.W. Mallett, and Giles Kellogg. The Coronado Beach Company was responsible from numerous other investments in the Coronado, California area. Towards the end of his life, he actively gave to charities in the vicinity of Coronado, California. One example is that he built with his own money the Episcopal church, parish center, and rectory for the people of the city. When Hinde died, he left a large portion of his estate to his sister Belinda’s son, Frederick Hinde Zimmerman, who used the money to build the Grand Rapids Hotel on the Hinde family farm in Mount Carmel, Illinois.

Additional information

Captain Hinde was well connected among the elite of his time. One of his closest friends was James J. Hill of the Pacific Railroad. Around 1912, Hinde entertained President William Howard Taft at his home in Coronado. At this time President Taft was campaigning for reelection for the Presidency of the United States against Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. During the stay with Hinde President Taft visited Hinde’s ranch in California where they went hunting and rode horses. Hinde invited many friends during President Taft’s visit.

A few years later in 1915 Hinde died in Coronado, California. Captain Hinde’s funeral service was modest and was held in the Episcopal Church that he built for the residents of Coronado.

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