JOHN M. CROCKER, senior member of the firm of Crocker & Hudnutt, architects,
contractors and builders, and proprietors of the Falcon planing mill, has
been a resident of Big Rapids since 1875. He is a son of Wm. H. and Mary A.
(Holloway) Crocker, and was born in the city of London, Eng., July 28, 1848.
His parents came to the United States when he was two years old, and went to
Milwaukee, Wis., where his father operated as an architect and builder until
1858, putting up some of the principal buildings of the "Cream City." In
the year named the family removed to a farm in Manitowoc, Wis., where the
parents yet reside.
Mr. Crocker naturally inclined to mechanical arts, and at 12 years of age
commenced to prepare for the vocation of his father, in whose shop he was
trained seven years, meanwhile obtaining an education. He first went to the
union school at Milwaukee, and afterwards to the common school at Manitowoc,
and also attended the union school at Ypsilanti, Mich.
The civil war broke out when he was 13 years old; and the consequent
discussion of the absorbing topic, and intense feeling which prevaded all
classes at the North, aroused the boy's spirit, and in June 1864, he
enrolled at Manitowoc as a private soldier in Company G, 39th Wisconsin Vol
Inf., under Capt. Patchen. He was in the service six months and
participated in several engagements. His regiment was detailed to guard
Memphis, and was involved in some severe skirmishes with the rebel Gen.
Forrest. He was discharged at Milwaukee. When 19 years old he went to
Grand Rapids and commenced his career as a contractor; remained eight years
and left a substantial record of his work there in the form of a number of
fine buildings. During the period of his residence at Grand Rapids, he
fulfilled a number of contracts for stair-building in Chicago. On coming to
Big Rapids in 1875 he at once entered upon the prosecution of his trade, and
erected the brick school-house and the magnificent dwelling of Thomas D.
Stimson, corner of Elm Street and Warren Avenues, now owned by Wiltre
Stickney. He also constructed the building for the Northern National Bank.
Not long after locating here he formed a partnership with E. W. Hudnutt,
bought the planing mill of C.S. Hanks, and commenced the manufacture of of
sash, doors, blinds, mouldings and building materials generally. Their
rapidly extending business has necessitated two additions to the
establishment. As evidences of the enterprise and architectural skill of
the firm, Big Rapids boasts of the Smith Block, the Northern Hotel, Hood,
Gale & Co.'s Block, Telfer, Morrissey & Stickney's Block, and Furniture
Block, Fairman & Newton's Block, the Mercy Hospital, Moody and Moore's
Livery Stables, and a number of fine residences. They employ at this
writing 53 men, and find demand wholly for their products within the limits
of the State.
Mr. Crocker was married at Coldwater, Mich., Dec. 23, 1877, to Dora A.
Stout, a native of the State of New York. He was a member of the School
Board at Big Rapids, two years, and belonged to the Common Council the same
length of time.