AUTOBIOGRAPHY of Wm V. Lucas tag : If you use you can put it on the single file -->



Colonel William Vincent Lucas


Written by him at Santa Cruz, California, in October, 1921, at age 86 after he was stricken with his last sickness, which resulted in his death November 21st, 1921. Copied from the manuscript penned by him.  [Note by original transcriber, name unknown.]

I was born in Jefferson Township, Carroll County, Indiana, in a log cabin owned and occupied by Father as his home, on July 3rd, 1835. 

My father's name was Parker Lucas, son of David Lucas, a native of Charleston, Virginia. My father was born in Miami County, Ohio, on July 26th, 1814 and my Mother, whose maiden name was Nancy Moore, was born in Highland County, Ohio, on July 18th, 1816. She was the daughter of Samuel I. Moore, who was born in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. My Father and Mother were married in Carroll County, Indiana, but the date of their marriage has escaped my memory. 

David Lucas, my Grandfather, was a soldier in the war of 1812, and attained the rank of Sergeant of Infantry, but I do not know the Company nor Regiment. I have often been told that my great-grandfather was a soldier in the Revolutionary War and served with the Virginia troops, but I was never able to learn anything definite about it. Samuel I Moore, my other grandfather (my Mother's father) also served in the war of 1812 and was Captain of a company of Infantry but I do not remember the Regiment. He was in General Hull's command and present at Hull's surrender at Detroit. Grandfather Moore hated Hull ever afterwards with a bitterness he never overcame. When I was a small boy he was very fond of me and used often to take me on his knee and caution me never to swear -- usually adding: -- if you ever do swear, say "damn old Hull." 

My Grandmother Lucas' maiden name was Rachel Yount. She was born in Germany and came to America and settled in North Carolina when she was about ten years old. Grandmother Moore's maiden name was Eleanor Lynch and her birth place in North Ireland. Her family located in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, when she was about eight years old. Grandfather Lucas' ancestors were English and among the early settlers in Virginia. My Father knew very little about them and took little interest in his family pedigree. 

Grandfather Moore was Scotch -- giving to me a mixture of Scotch, English and German blood, but best of all, blood that has been patriotically American for at least one hundred and fifty years. Grandfather Moore was assaulted, mortally pounded and robbed of a large sum of money at Carrollton, Indiana, while on his way home from Ohio, where he had been on a trip to collect money due him. His murderer and robber was a man named Larrimore, whose after history I do not know. Grandfather lived a few days after the assault but was unable to give the particulars of the assault because the wounds he received were on his head. Such information as I got of the tragedy was from Grandmother Moore after I became of an age to enquire about it. The money was never recovered. 

My Father's family consisted of ten children, born in the following order: 

William Vincent Lucas.; Now living at Santa Cruz, California. 

Mary Ellen Lucas. Died at the age of six years. 

John Talbert Lucas. Died in Oregon in 1913. 

Crystal David Lucas. Died in Iowa in 1920. 

James Allison Lucas. Died in North Dakota in 1920. 

Isaac Elliot Lucas. Died in Iowa in 1893. 

Malitia Angelina Lucas (married to L. L. Lush). Died in Montana in 1896. 

Martha Ann Lucas, (married to Lawrence Raw). Living at Waverly, Iowa. 

Sarah Sophronia Lucas. Died in 1857. 

Laura Ann Lucas. Died in 1857. 

My brother James and myself were soldiers in the civil war, both enlisting and serving in Company "B" Fourteenth Regiment, Iowa Volunteer Infantry. We left home for the front in July, 1861 and returned home at the close of the struggle and after peace was declared. We went out under the command of Capt. Richard Currier, a born drill master and very strict disciplinarian. He drilled and fitted the company while in the camp of instruction to be first-class soldiers in every maneuver and movement. This training proved to be of inestimable value to us when we were called to the field of action. Company "B" was at once recognized as the best drilled of the ten companies composing the 14th Regiment. When we reached the front and [were] in our first baptism of fire in battle I am sorry to record that Captain Currier showed the white feather and fled to the rear, under the pretense of being suddenly taken sick. Colonel Shaw, who was a trained soldier, saw that it was cowardice, and not sickness, and sternly informed Currier that he could either resign or stand a court martial for cowardice in the face of the enemy. He elected to resign and left the company and the army instanter. Instead of returning to Waverly, Iowa, where the Company had been enlisted, he went to Buffalo, New York; sent for his wife to join him there and never afterwards that I know of set foot within the borders of the State. I do not think he even held correspondence with any of his pre-war friends. I was first lieutenant of the Company when he fled under the rain of bullets and assumed command of the men, who all acquitted themselves with signal honor throughout the engagement. I was then promoted to be the Captain of the Company and continued as such until the close of the war. In the last year of the struggle I was Senior Captain in the line of the Regiment and when Colonel Shaw was assigned to the command of the Brigade, and after Lieutenant Colonel Newbold was killed and Major Warner assigned to detached duty, I commanded the Regiment for nearly a year. We fought in eight battles in every one of which the Regiment was conspicuous for its dash, discipline and steadiness under galling fire. In all I was under fire twenty-seven times and came home without a wound, other than having my ear drum shattered while laying under the heavy guns at Fort DeRussey, Louisiana. 

I was for many years commonly called "Capt. Lucas" because of my services during the war. Later I was brevetted "Colonel" because of the service I rendered as commander of the regiment in the absence of a commissioned Colonel. I am proud to say that in the World War or War with Germany, four of my Grandsons enlisted without waiting for the draft and all of them done their duty in a manner to call forth the commendation of their superior officers. I am glad to be able to put it on record that my family has thus shown loyalty to our great country at a time when its flag was in danger. The names of my grandsons who rendered this great service are: -- Parker Vincent Lucas, (in the air service) and Aaron Briney Lucas, Jr., (in the Navy), sons of my son Aaron Briney Lucas; and Vincent Lucas, and Arthur Lucas, sons of my son Sherman Frederick Lucas. 

My lack of an education has always been a great handicap to me. I attended school only six terms of three months each, during the winter time, and was then absent many days. The school was held in a log building situated in the heart of a forest in Indiana. There was not a school book for the children in the building except an old Webster's Elementary Speller. There were no readers of any sort. When I had mastered the words in that spelling book and was able to read them I next read the New Testament. No classes were organized and we were all instructed together. We sat on long home-made benches, each one accommodating eight to ten pupils. The writing desk was a large slab, with bark side down and flat side up. This slab reached the length of the room and rested on bearers one end of which was driven into augur holes bored in the logs of the building, and the other end supported by a standard nailed to the floor. For a seat there was a bench as long as the writing desk on which fifteen to eighteen boys and girls could sit at a time. Each pupil had a half-quire of foolscap paper for a "copybook," at the top of which the Teacher would write a few words or the alphabet for us to imitate. There was not a grammar in the school and only one geography and three or four copies of "Pike's Arithmetic." Some weeks during the term I could attend only one or maybe three days, because when Father wanted me for any kind of work at home he kept me from school. I had from the first term at school a thirst for knowledge and a desire for books. But Father had then in our home only two books that I recall. One was a Hymn Book and the other a New Testament. Not a newspaper or magazine came to our house. As I grew larger I borrowed books from neighbors who happened to have them, but nearly all the homes in the neighborhood were as destitute of books as ours. 

I got an insight into mathematics and succeeded in borrowing an arithmetic. By the light of hickory bark, burning in the fire-place, I finally mastered the fundamental rules of arithmetic and soon found myself able to work-out any problem that did not contain fractions. I became so proficient that at the age of eighteen years I was called by the school trustees to teach the school I had formerly attended. I gave such satisfaction and the pupils under me made such progress that I was re-elected to teach again the succeeding winter. I was offered the same school a third time, but declined it to take a contract to cut one hundred fifty cords of four-foot wood for Reed Case -- a banker then at the county seat. I thought I could make more at that than teaching school. But it did not make much difference, as my Father collected and kept my wages as a teacher and the money I earned cutting wood. As I recall it, out of the salary for two terms of school and the money for cutting the 150 cords of wood I got a $15 suit of Kentucky Jeans clothes. 

I left home when I was twenty years old, and, following Greeley's advice, went west to Iowa with a party of three neighbors. We all got as far as the town of Marion, in Linn County, when my fellow travellers became disgusted and returned home. I remained until the next spring when I, too, made my way back via Chicago. This was the spring of 1855. In the spring of 1856 my Father sold his farm and moved to Iowa. I drove five yoke of oxen on the trip -- hitched to an old-fashioned Penn. Wagon, with the usual covering of bows and canvass. In it was packed the family household goods, and the food supply. Father, Mother and the smaller children travelled in a three-seated light wagon, while John and Chris drove a herd of ten or twelve cows. We reached Janesville in Bremer County on the 26th of April, 1856 and went into camp until Father could look about and find a tract of land that suited him. He finally selected a tract near Spring Lake, about five miles northwesterly from Waverly where he built his home and lived for half-a-century or more. 

I was then within a few months of 21 years of age and left the family to begin the work of life for myself. I hired out to work for M. L. Stewart, of Janesville, April 27th, and worked for him in a stone quarry until August. The last work I did there was to finish cutting ninety acres of wheat and oats for Myron Gates. That was the evening of August 4th. On August 6th I started for Henry, Illinois, to keep a contract of marriage made three years before with Sophronia M. Lowe. I reached her home the forenoon of the 10th of August and then rode 12 miles on horseback to Hennepin, the county seat of Putnam County, Illinois, to get a marriage license. Greenup Scott, a cousin, went with me. At six o'clock, that evening, August 10th, 1856, we were married in the home of my bride's mother and step-father, by that step-father, the Rev. C. D. W. Scott, who was a minister of the Gospel of the Christian Church. 

The following morning I put on my working clothes and went in the field with two others to cut and shock corn for winter's feed for 100 head of cattle Father Scott was fitting to take the next spring to LeSeuer County, Minnesota. I continued working for him until April 27th, 1857, when Froney and I turned our faces west to find a home near Waverly, in Bremer County, Iowa. I had two yoke of strong oxen, yoked to an emigrant wagon, and in that wagon the little "all" we owned of this world's goods. Little did we then dream that in later years I would be a congressman at Washington and she a congressman's wife. The trip was about 225 miles. We crossed the Mississippi River at Rock Island and thence took a northwesterly course via Tipton, Marion, Vinton, Waterloo, Waverly and landed at my Father's home in Spring Lake on May 8th, 1857. The next day I rented 30 acres of land from Judson Hall and Froney and I set-up housekeeping in a log-cabin on the land. We had barely enough furniture to supply our simple needs until I made some chairs of willows and limbs from trees. 

The season was late for putting in crops, but I succeeded in getting the entire tract planted to grain of one kind or another. Before I had my crops all in the ground I contracted with Thomas Hulse to break-out 40 acres of prairie for him at $2.50 an acre. With the two yoke of oxen I finished the job in 20 days and nights, for I worked many nights until 9 and 10 o'clock by the light of a bright moon that was shining at the time. I was usually up at 5 o'clock in the morning to round-up my oxen who sometimes wandered away a mile or two during the night while grazing, and then, when full, would lie down to chew their "cuds." There was a large rock that rose to a height of about ten feet, situated approximately a mile from our home. I soon learned its value as a "look-out" for a large portion of the surrounding prairie. I steered to it each morning my oxen were out of sight and from its summit usually located my cattle. I would then bunch them up and drive them home where I always found breakfast ready and waiting for me -- prepared by the skillful and willing hands of the best little woman in the world to me. Asking God's blessing upon our humble home and thanking the giver of all good for his mercies we would partake of our morning meal. Then I would go to my work in the field one-half mile away and Froney would remain alone in our almost naked home to busy herself preparing for the baby that was soon to come. 

What courage she had! How brave and cheerful she was! Singing the hours away in a cabin home in a new and strange country and amid a strange people! But together, shoulder to shoulder and hand-in-hand we fought the battle through. When I received the $100 for breaking the land, we went to Waverly and spent it for such supplies and furnishings as we most needed. We were a hopeful and happy couple. On the 2nd day of July, 1857 our first child was born. Dr. Oscar Burbank was the accoucher. My Mother and Aunt Priscilla Lucas were the attendants. The baby was a boy. We named him Charles Chester Lucas. He was never very strong physically but exceedingly active and lively. He grew tall and slim and passed away in 1875, of consumption, when but little past 18 years of age. But we were happy to have him for he was a bright, laughing baby, whose future we planned with no thought of his early death. 

Our second baby came to us September 22nd, 1858, and was named Aaron Briney, in remembrance of one of my boyhood friends. He was more rugged and grew to a robust manhood and is now a prominent lawyer-banker and member of the Idaho State Legislature. Five other children were born to us. Alice, who died of fever while I was in the army and while Froney was visiting her sister, Merilda Hoover, at Delphi, Indiana. Frank, who also died during the time I was away in the army; Sherman Frederick, who is now an editor and state employee in the Pure Food Department of South Dakota; Ella and Stella, twins, the latter of which died of dip[h]theria in Waverly, Iowa, in 1870, and the former, who married Russ W. Allred and passed away at Buhl, Idaho, in 1910. Of our seven children only two, Aaron Briney and Sherman Frederick, are now alive. I have eight grand-children, as follows: 

Carroll Mayne Lucas, Parker Vincent Lucas and Aaron Briney Lucas, Jr, sons of my son Aaron Briney Lucas; 

Vincent Lucas and Arthur Lucas, sons, and Faith Lucas and Genevieve Lucas, daughters of Sherman Frederick Lucas; and 

Hazel Allred, daughter of my daughter, Ella, who after her marriage was called "Nell." 

I have also sixteen great-grand-children. 

The struggle we made during the hard times of 1857 to 1860 can never be told in words. We managed to live through those years, but it was "existing" rather than "living." At one time it became a question of "bread" to eat with us. We had two good cows and a few chickens. The Cedar River was full of fish. And these were the source of our food, together with the corn meal we could grind in a coffee grinder and the bread we made of acorn flour when unable to get wheat flour or buckwheat. For more than a year we had not enough money for a stamp to pay for sending a letter to Froney's Mother in Minnesota. In 1860 the tide turned in our favor and we could see a ray of hope ahead. I worked day and night when I could find anything to do, to get ahead. It was in December, 1859 that W. W. Morris, treasurer and recorder elect of Bremer county, came to our home and asked me to accept the appointment of deputy in his office, beginning January 1st, 1860. It was a complete surprise to me and a glorious one to both Froney and myself, for neither of us had dreamed of such good fortune ever coming to us. I had given no thought to the matter of a deputy for Mr. Norris and had done nothing for any candidate in the preceding campaign. Of course I accepted the offer and we made arrangements to move from our little farm home to Waverly. And from that time on we slowly prospered, except for the interruption caused by the war. I served as deputy under Mr. Norris until July, 1861, when I enlisted to serve in the army. I left Froney and our three little children, on a farm, at Spring Lake, where she resided until I returned from the field in June, 1865. 

I was elected Treasurer of Bremer County in November, 1865, following the war, and held that office for six years. I declined to be a candidate for a fourth term and took up newspaper work in January, 1872, on the Bremer County Independent, which W. H. Tyrrell and myself purchased from J. K. L. Maynard and Charlie Lord. Later I sold the Independent and bought the Waverly Republican, which I edited until 1875 when I disposed of my interest in it to James Fletcher and bought the Shell Rock News. In l876 I was nominated by the Republican State Convention as a presidential elector in support of the Hayes and Wheeler presidential ticket -- and elected to that office. During that stirring campaign I visited Mason City, and while there bought the Cerro Gordo Republican, and after the election in November, that fall, moved to Mason City to take charge of it. 

I continued to edit the Republican for five years, and in the meantime was twice elected Chief Clerk of the House of Representatives of the Iowa State Legislature. While absent attending to the duties of this office I left the paper in [the] charge of my son, Briney, who proved to be very efficient and a fearless champion of the people's rights. In the 1880 election I was elected State Auditor of Iowa and entered upon the duties of that office January 1, 1881 -- leaving my son again in charge of the paper. I then took him in partnership with me and the paper was published under the firm name of W. V. Lucas & Son. My other son, Fred, although but a school boy, became interested in newspaper work and learned to be a printer in the office. 

The years 1882 and 1883 saw a great rush of people to Dakota Territory. My son, Briney, who, in the meantime had been admitted to the bar as a practitioner at law, decided to go to Dakota to "hang out his shingle." Fred desired to go with him, and the two of them start a newspaper and run it in conjunction with the law office. I outfitted the enterprise with such material and equipment as could be spared from the Republican office and helped them to buy presses and additional materiel to start with. Harry Hazlett, an old-time printer in the office and son of a friend of pioneer days, dubbed the proposed new paper "The Great Western Shriek for Liberty and Political Condenser." When started it was called the "Castalia Republican" and issued from the little town of Castalia, Charles Mix County, in what is now South Dakota. The movement to Dakota was large and the country a very promising one. I therefore sold the Republican to Leo Chapman, first husband of Carrie Lane Chapman Catt[1], and in May, 1883, followed my sons to Dakota Territory. They had settled at Castalia, in Charles Mix County. I settled at Chamberlain, in Brule County, which adjoins Charles Mix. 

In 1888 I was elected Treasurer of Brule County -- quitting the office at the expiration of my term to take charge of the building of the Soldier's Home at Hot Springs. I was appointed the Commandant (the first Commandant) of that institution, and while serving in the position was nominated and elected to Congress. I served but one term at Washington, being defeated for renomination by the Pettigrew-Pickler-Gamble organization. I was a delegate to the National Republican Convention at St. Louis, in 1896, that nominated William McKinley for President. In 1897 I was appointed Register of the United States Land Office at Chamberlain, South Dakota, and held that office for four years, and was then again appointed Commandant of the Soldier's Home. It was while in Washington, as a congressman, that Froney developed a cancer, which later took her life. She lived however, to return with me to the Soldier's Home, where she officiated as Matron, and became "Mother" to all the old Veteran's in the Home. No woman could have been more loved, than was she. She was in the true sense "A Mother in Israel" to the old soldiers at the home and there was not one of them but wept tears of genuine regret when she went, brave as a soldier, to the home of our daughter, in Iowa, to pass her last days. She passed away that fall and was buried in the Spring Lake Cemetery, in the same plot with our children, Charlie, Frankie and Stella, near the first home we ever established, there to await the call of our Savior who alone has power to call from death unto life everlasting. My sorrow and grief cannot be expressed in words, but I had this consolation: she was the personification of [C]hristian womanhood, purity and saintliness. To me, there was none other like her, nor so good. 

Later I married Amanda Louise Avery, who was the widow of a Union Soldier. She also became Matron of the Soldier's Home. She was a true and faithful companion. I could not have made a better choice. We lived together happily for 23 years, and while she did [was] not and could not be the same to me that Froney was, she was all a good companion and helpmate could be and when she, too, passed away in 1920, I missed her more than I did Froney when I was 25 years younger. 

Among the many offices to which I have been elected, not one is more appreciated than that of Mayor of Mason City, Iowa. I was elected after a hot fight over the temperance question. Mason City was at that time a "saloon ridden" town of about 2,000 people. I waged an unrelenting and vigorous war of extermination against the liquor traffic and against the saloon gang. Doing that cost me a number of theretofore staunch friends and considerable business. But I had the pleasure of effectually closing the door of every saloon and the satisfaction of knowing that none of them ever opened again. Mason City, instead of "dying" with grass growing in the streets, as the saloon element said it would, grew to a city of more than 20,000 people and is today one of the best towns in northern Iowa. When I went to Des Moines to enter on my duties as State Auditor, my son, Briney, in charge of the paper, carried on the fight with so much vigor that he was twice assaulted by hired thugs of the saloons. Happily, the damage in each instance, was all to the thug, and the fight went merrily on. 

I was defeated only once by a vote of the people when I was a candidate for office. And that was when I ran as a temperance candidate for the Assembly in California. Because I refused to pledge myself to vote against the "drys" the liquor interests of Santa Cruz County united in support of the [D]emocratic candidate and accomplished my defeat. I afterwards served on the ''Exemption Board" during the draft for the World War, and done so without compensation or reward. I have always given freely of my time and my substance for the advancement of [C]hristianity, temperance and the general good of the communities in which I lived and of the State and the Nation. I am glad that I done so, and hope the world is at least a little the better for it. 

I was made a Master Mason in Tyrrell Lodge, No. 116, at Waverly, Iowa, on the 17th day of March, 1861. After my return from the civil war I served as Worshipful Master for twelve successive years and was such officer in the lodge when I moved to Mason City. I was exalted through the Royal Arch Degree in Jethro Chapter No. 24, in Waverly and created a Knight Templar in Baldwin Commandery No. 12 at Cedar Falls, Iowa. 

I was converted to the truth of [C]hristianity when I was 19 years of age and never from that day to this have I doubted the power of Jesus Christ to save all who believe in his word and live the life he commands. This testimony I leave to my posterity and exhort them to accept the bible as an inspired message from God and Christ as a savior from eternal death. It has been my pleasure since coming to Santa Cruz to be the leader or teacher of the Men's Bible Class in the Presbyterian Sunday School and the copy of the Holy Bible given to me by that class as a testimony of their love and appreciation is one of the joys of my old age. 

I am now some sixteen years past the allotted three score years and ten appointed unto men. I thank my Heavenly Father for his care and guidance; for the wife of my youth; the companion of my old age; for the health I have enjoyed; the dutiful and good children I have raised; for the esteem and confidence of my fellow men and for the assurance of an unending life beyond the tomb. God bless the world and bring all men into a life of righteousness and unity with Christ. Amen. 

William Vincent Lucas. 

[1] Carrie Lane Chapman Catt later became a prominent women's suffrage leader and founder of the League of Women Voters, among other distinguished achievements. See [CNS]

This material was transcribed from a typed copy made from Lucas' manuscript by an unknown copier. I have limited my own editorial changes to the few instances marked with [square brackets].
See also a Letter from Aaron Briney Lucas to his grand-daughter Elinor in 1938, which describes aspects of the Lucas family history.
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Last updated on 27 Nov 2010.