While I am on the subject of the Whig Party, I thought this might be a good time to include a post on my 3xgreat-grandfather, Cyrus Gray Luce. I briefly mentioned Cyrus’s father, Walter Luce, in an earlier post. The first Luce’s arrived in Martha’s Vineyard in the 1600s. About 1720 Walter’s father moved to Tolland, Connecticut. After serving in the War of 1812, Walter, in 1815, settled on the Western Reserve in Ohio, where Cyrus was born on July 2, 1824. Cyrus’s mother, Mary, was born in Virginia. Mary’s father was “tinctured with abolitionism” and moved out of Virginia to Ohio to get away from slavery.
Cyrus was raised on the family farm until, when Cyrus was 12 years of age, Walter and Mary moved again, this time to Steuben County, Indiana. Cyrus “attended one of the pioneer country schools and supplemented his early education by a course in an Academy located at Ontario, Lagrange, Indiana, where he resided for three years.” When Cyrus was 17, his father started a cloth-dressing and wool-carding establishment. Cyrus went to work there and eventually was in charge of the factory for seven years.
“In early life Mr. Luce was a warm admirer of Henry Clay and he cast his first Presidential ballot for Zachary Taylor in 1848.” That same year, Cyrus ran for State Representative on the Whig ticket. The district was comprised of the counties of DeKalb and Steuben. It was apparently a strong Democratic district, and despite a vigorous canvass on his part, Cyrus lost by eleven votes.
Perhaps stung by this defeat, Cyrus soon moved north to Branch County, Michigan. In August, 1849, he married Julia A. Dickinson, the daughter of “well-to-do and highly respected residents of Gilead.” In 1852, he tried his luck at politics again, this time winning a seat on the County Board of Supervisors. Cyrus was one of the organizers of the Republican Party in Branch County, Michigan, and in 1854 he was elected to the Michigan legislature on the Republican ticket. In 1858, and again in 1860, he was elected county treasurer; in 1864, and again in 1866, he was elected State Senator. In 1867 he was a member of the constitutional convention that drafted a new state constitution for Michigan. In 1879 he was appointed State Oil Inspector. In 1886 he was elected Governor of Michigan on the Republican ticket, and was re-elected in 1888.
The above information comes from brief early 2oth century biographies of Cyrus G. Luce which can be found online. There is no booklength biography that I know of. I have found scattered references to Governor Luce and have found speeches given by him online. I wish I had the time and money to go to Michigan, do the research, and write a biography myself. Maybe someday. In the meantime, I will write more on him in future posts here.