Biography of Captain Augustus Joseph Hiner

Captain Augustus Joseph Hiner of St. Louis, captain and pilot of Mississippi river steamboats, was born in Covington, Kentucky, December 17, 1860, and was but seven years of age when brought to Missouri in 1867 by his parents, David Augustus and Desdemona Amanda (Gorman) Hiner, the former a native of Hamilton county, Ohio, while the latter was born in Selma, Alabama.

Captain Hiner pursued a high school course at Mexico, Missouri, and when seventeen years of age started out to learn piloting on the Mississippi river between St. Louis and New Orleans. He received his license from the government in 1881 and has since followed the profession. During his active career he had occasion to pilot: The Battleship Mississippi in May, 1909, from New Orleans to Natchez, Mississippi, and return; in May, 1911, the Battleship Idaho from New Orleans to Vicksburg and return; and in May, 1912, the Battleship Nebraska from New Orleans to Vicksburg and return. These were some of the largest ships of the navy at that time. He also piloted the government lighthouse tender Oleander in 1910 between St. Louis and New Orleans, with President W. H. Taft on board, when he was making an inspection trip of the rivers through the Mississippi valley in connection with the deep waterway’s passage. Captain Hiner was also pilot on the same vessel for seven years, but has recently confined his operations to general river business. During the Spanish-American war in 1898 he was engaged as a pilot in the government service. During the World war he took a fleet of sixteen barges loaded with railroad cars for General Pershing in France, conveying them down the river to New Orleans. He was also master on the first vessel, the steamer Nokomis of the Federal Barge Line, handling foodstuffs and supplies for the government between St. Louis and New Orleans for shipment overseas.

Captain Hiner came naturally by his interest in navigation, for his father, David Augustus Hiner, was for fifty years a pilot on the Mississippi and Ohio rivers and during the Civil war-acted as pilot on General Grant’s flagship operating on those two rivers. His grandfather, David Hiner, was chief pilot of the Mississippi Squadron under Admiral David A. Porter. His great-grandfather, Jacob Hiner, was a resident of Pennsylvania and took part in the Revolutionary war. In the maternal line, too, Captain Hiner of this review comes of ancestry connected with navigation interests, for his great-grandfather on the mother’s side was Nathan Hulbert, who was a pilot on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers before steam was used as a propelling power on river craft, as the vessels floated down the. river and the trip back was made by the men the best way they could, mostly by walking.

Captain Hiner was married in North Carolina to Miss Isabella Grimm and they make their home at No. 4244 Westminster place in St. Louis. Captain Hiner gives his political allegiance to the democratic party, which he has always supported since age conferred upon him the right of franchise. He belongs to the American Association of Masters, Mates and Pilots. The experiences of his life which have come to him through his work as pilot and steamboat captain have been varied and interesting, bringing him into contact with many prominent people and through his efficiency in his chosen field of labor he has rendered signal service to the interests he has represented.


Stevens, Walter B. Centennial History of Missouri (The Center State) One Hundred Years In The Union 1820-1921 Vol 6. St. Louis-Chicago: The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company. 1921.

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