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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sacramento County



A radical change from the environment of his early life came to Mr. Luce with his removal from Maine to California. As a boy at Farmington, Me., where he was born in 1836, he had become familiar with conditions existent in the far northeast regions of our country. The impressions made upon his plastic mind in youth were never forgotten, although they were dimmed by later and more pleasurable experiences in the agricultural activities of the west. The rigorous climate of Maine and the unpromising soil, with the forests of pine trees and the multitude of streams, imparted to the inhabitants in their isolation something of like attributes, for the exhibited a dauntlessness of courage in trial, a fixedness of purpose in adversity and a resolution of character in business associations that brought them success notwithstanding the discouraging conditions under which they often labored.

Seeking an environment more favorable for permanent residence and profitable labor, Mr. Luce left Maine at the age of nineteen and made the long voyage to California by way of the Isthmus of Panama. Immediately after his arrival in the west he settled in Placer county and became identified with the ranching interests of that region. In order to secure a start he homesteaded one hundred and sixty acres of raw land. This he brought under cultivation and improved with buildings. It was his far-seeing judgment that an investment in land would prove profitable eventually. Acting upon that theory he began to buy out squatters' claims. For this purpose he incurred a heavy debt, but he planned his enterprises in such a manner that he always was ready to meet the interest when due. With the increase in valuation of the land his financial standing became assured and he entered into the gratifying reward of his early foresight. At his death, December 16, 1901, he left to his family a splendid estate of fifteen hundred and twenty acres in Placer county, on which he had raised profitably both stock and grain. The widow, finding the care of so large a tract of great burden, finally disposed of the ranch and in 1910 established a residence in Sacramento, where at No. 1613 Eighteenth street she is now surrounded by all the comforts of life.

It was not until a considerable period had elapsed subsequent to his location in California that Mr. Luce formed home ties, his marriage in 1867 uniting him with Miss Lottie Wheeler, a native of Maine, and the daughter of a minister who served in the Baptist denomination throughout the entire period of his useful and consecrated maturity. Eventually Mrs. Wheeler came to California and settled in Placer county, where she died at an advanced age. Three children blessed the union of Mr. and Mrs. Luce, but they had the heaviest bereavement of their wedded life to endure when their only son was taken from the home by death. The older daughter, Effie, was educated in Placer county and is now the wife of G. A. Wessing, of Sutter county. The other daughter. Miss Ida, who resides with her mother, is a woman of culture, qualified by nature and by education to enjoy the advantages connected with a residence in the capital city. The welfare of his family was always close to the heart of Mr. Luce. For them he labored with patient industry and for them he accumulated his large acreage of land, in order that he might leave them beyond the reach of material want or financial struggle, and in his last days it afforded him gratification to realize that his efforts in their behalf had been crowned with such abundant success. As a citizen  he was loyal to the interests of his county, a believer in Republican principles and a stanch supporter of the party, but not a politician in the usual sense of that word, his desire being to promote the com- mon good of the people and to avoid all partisan activities. 

History of Sacramento County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: William L. Willis
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1913)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011