John Augustus Hulen, railroad executive and militia commander, son of Harvey and Fanney (Morter) Hulen, was born at Centralia, Missouri, on September 9, 1871. When he was two his family moved to Gainesville, Texas, where he attended public schools. He also attended Staunton Military Academy (1887–89) in Virginia and Marmaduke Military Academy (1889–91) in Sweet Springs, Missouri, where he graduated. He subsequently returned to Gainesville to enter business with his father. He sold real estate and insurance from 1891 to 1896, then became a railroad executive. His railroad work was frequently interrupted by military service. He was general agent in Lindsay and Houston (1896–98) for the Missouri, Kansas and Pacific Railroad; passenger agent in Houston (1907–09) for the San Francisco Railway (Frisco System); and general agent (1910–16) for the Trinity and Brazos Valley Railway (Frisco). Hulen was president of the Galveston Terminal Railway in 1919–20 and president and receiver of the Trinity and Brazos Valley from 1920 to 1930. He served as traffic manager (1920–30) and vice president (1930–41) of the Fort Worth and Denver Railway and as president and chairman (1930–41) of the Burlington-Rock Island and Houston Belt and Terminal railroads. He held the office of vice president of the Union Terminal Company in Dallas and the Fort Worth and Denver Terminal Railway from 1930 until his retirement in 1941.
He was a director of Texas Technological College (now Texas Tech University) from 1931 to 1937, served on the Texas Centennial Commission in 1935–36, and was president of the Railway Managers Association of Texas. Hulen was a delegate to the Democratic national convention in 1932, and in 1941 President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed him regional salvage manager of the War Production Board, a ceremonial post that he held throughout World War II.
Hulen joined Company G, "Gainesville Rifles," Third Texas Volunteer Infantry, as a private in 1887 and was commissioned a first lieutenant in 1889. He was promoted to captain in 1893 and commanded Troop D, First Texas Volunteer Cavalry, until 1898, when, as a brevet lieutenant colonel, he served with the unit in the Spanish-American War but did not see action. As a captain in the Thirty-third United States Volunteer Infantry, he fought Philippine insurrectionists in the jungles of northern Luzon (1899–1901), where he won the Silver Star. Upon his return to Texas, Governor Samuel W. T. Lanham promoted him to brigadier general and appointed him adjutant general, a position he held from 1902 until his retirement in 1907.
Hulen was recalled to national service in 1916 as commander of the Sixth Separate Brigade. He patrolled the Texas-Mexico border until he was sent to Austin early in 1917 to help reorganize the state militia into the Thirty-sixth Infantry Division. He commanded its Seventy-second Brigade (1917–19) in World War I and won the Distinguished Service Medal, as well as Croix de Guerre (twice) during the Meuse-Argonne offensive. In 1920 he was promoted to major general in the Texas National Guard and in 1922 to commander of the Thirty-sixth Division, a position he held until his second retirement in 1935. At Hulen's retirement ceremony Governor James Allred promoted him to lieutenant general, the militia's highest rank.
Hulen married Frankie L. Race of Gainesville on February 14, 1893; they had no children. He was Democrat, a Mason, a Shriner, a Knight of Pythias, and an Episcopalian. He died in Palacios on September 14, 1957, and was buried there. Camp Hulen. near Palacios, was named in his honor.