ALONZO J. CUTLER

Source: Album of Genealogy and Biography, Cook County, Illinois with Portraits 3rd. ed. revised and extended (Chicago: Calumet Book & Engraving Co., 1895), pp. 279-281.

ALONZO J. CUTLER is widely known as one of the most daring and successful brokers operating upon the Chicago Board of Trade. His transactions are distinguished by a display of exceptional judgment, discretion and foresight, which causes his movements to be watched and commented upon by the whole field of speculators and investors. It is a notable fact that the men who have made and retained fortunes on the Board of Trade were all of a kind especially endowed with the trading instinct, or made wise in the school of experience; and Mr. Cutler can justly be classed under both these heads. Every move made by him is carefully calculated and planned, and all his financial arrangements are faithful to well-grounded principles of business.

Mr. Cutler first came to Chicago in the spring of 1869, being then but seventeen years of age. His cash capital at that time consisted of about $20, but this lack of means was abundantly compensated for by brains, pluck and energy, and he immediately set about the task of bettering his financial condition. With that end in view, he vigorously applied himself to the first employment which presented itself. This was the position of driver of a wagon for the Singer Sewing-Machine Company. A few weeks' experience in this capacity demonstrated his capability for employment demanding more skill and acumen, and within a few months he was promoted to the position of head salesman of the Chicago agency. It was not long before he was dealing in sewing-machines at wholesale, and in a single year cleared over $5,000 in this way. Such a practical demonstration of business ability and aptitude for trade could not fail to attract the attention of live business men, and in the spring of 1883 O. H. Roche, the well-known Board of Trade operator, suggested to him that his trading talents would find a more extended field in speculation. Other friends pointed out the dangers and hazards, and advised him to persevere in his previous line of business.

But Mr. Cutler had abundant confidence in his own powers, and, after a brief consideration, resolved to enter the speculative field, as a more congenial and speedy method of gaining a competence. He soon became an active trader in the capacity of broker for Mr. Roche, for whom he has ever entertained the highest respect, and whom he regards as his preceptor in the speculative field.

When Mr. Roche retired from business the following year, Mr. Cutler opened a brokerage office for himself, and his rise has been steady and not less remarkable than that of the renowned Ed Pardridge, whom he has actively represented in many great deals. But he has an outside business of his own, and numbers customers by the score, who have the utmost confidence in his judgment, integrity and ability. One of the most active traders on the Board, Mr. Cutler is always in the thick of the crowd when there is any excitement in the wheat pit. He is generally known "on 'change" as "the man behind Pardridge," and his natural instinct and adaptability as a trader have made his success no less remarkable than that of the great speculator, in whose service and under whose tuition his peculiar talents have been developed. That these two men, being similarly endowed by nature, and having knowledge of each other's abilities, should have made a record unparalleled in successful speculative annals is not surprising.  Their immense daring and successful operations have become a part of the absorbing and wonderful history of the Chicago Board of Trade. Some of their boldly and cleverly executed plans have evoked the admiration of the commercial world.  The appellation of "plunger" is a misnomer  when applied to either of this pair, for the reason that their movements, upon  analysis and investigation, appear plainly to be the results of the most carefully laid plans and calculations.  None of their deals have been reckless, although they have been pronounced so by persons not familiar with the inner details.

Alonzo J. Cutler was born at Montpelier, Vermont, March 24, 1852. He is the youngest in the family of four children born to David W. Cutler and Maria Marshall. The father, who was a farmer and ice dealer at Montpelier, died of typhoid fever during the infancy of the subject of this sketch, who was afterward placed under the guardianship of Elon Hammond, of East Montpelier. Owing to the incompetence and mismanagement of this guardian, young Cutler was removed to the charge of Hon. Clark King, a prominent farmer, in whose home he remained until about sixteen years of age. Most of his education was obtained by attending a country school in winter, and his first money was earned by working as a farm hand at $7 per month. Before coming West he spent one year as clerk in the Pavilion Hotel in Montpelier, but becoming dissatisfied with the irksomeness of this position, which consumed nineteen hours per day of his time, he resolved to seek a change by moving to the West.

The Cutler family in America is of English descent. The first progenitor of A. J. Cutler in America was John Cutler, Senior, who is supposed to have come from Sprauston, a suburb of Norwich, England. About 1637 he settled at Hingham, Massachusetts, where he soon afterward died, leaving a widow and seven children. He and his immediate posterity furnish examples of the typical Puritan character. His fifth son, Thomas Cutler, who was a farmer by occupation, died at Charlestown, Massachusetts, in 1683. The next in the line of descent herein traced was Jonathan, a tailor by trade, and the generations following him are successively represented by the following names: David, Jonathan, David, and David W., the father of the subject of this notice, who died in 1854, aged thirty-nine years. His mother was Abigail, daughter of Daniel Carroll, of Montpelier, Vermont, and a niece of Charles Carroll, the noted statesman of Carrollton, Maryland.

A. J. Cutler was married, December 26, 1891, to Jessie Estelle, daughter of O. B. Warner, of Peoria, Illinois. This lady is endowed with musical and elocutionary powers of a superior order, and is the mother of two charming children. They are named, respectively, E. Warner and Fanchon T. Mr. Cutler is essentially a family man, and, when able to leave the haunts of trade, finds his greatest pleasure in the attractions furnished by the home fireside. He is not connected with any religious, social or political organizations of importance, but always votes the Republican ticket. He is well known and respected in Vermont, where he has scores of warm friends, who admire his liberal and genial disposition as well as his gift for making a trade. Mr. Cutler honors his Yankee ancestors by exhibiting the proverbial New England thrift and shrewdness, and is abundantly able to take care of himself. In the course of his transactions it is no rare matter for him to handle checks representing a half-million dollars.

– Submitted by Sherri Hessick on May 26, 2007.

 

DISCLAIMER:  The submitter is not related to the subject of this biography nor is she related to anyone mentioned in the biography.