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This biography is from Landmarks of Albany County, New York, edited by Amasa J. Parker of Albany, N. Y., Syracuse, N. Y.; D. Mason & Co. Publishers, 1897.

Luther H. Tucker

Luther Henry Tucker, son of Luther and Mary (Sparhawk) Tucker, was born in Rochester, N. Y., October 19, 1834. His parents were of English descent and New England birth and ancestry dating back into the seventeenth century. At the time of his birth his father was engaged m the publication of the Rochester Daily Advertiser (a journal still widely popular and influential in this, its seventy-first year) and of the Genesee Farmer, both which papers he founded, the Advertiser being the first daily established wesf of Albany and the Farmer the first really practical agricultural weekly in the world. The death of Judge Buel of Albany, conductor of the Cultivator, which occurred in 1839, gave Luther Tucker the opportunity of acquiring that paper and the good will of the New York State Agricultural Society, of which body the Cultivator was regarded as in some sense the organ; and he established himself at Albany, bringing his family with him, in time to consolidate his new purchase with the Genesee Farmer for the first issue of the year 1840, calling the remodeled journal by the broader name. Here his son began school life, studying at the Albany Academy and one or two smaller institutions, and entering the sophomore class at Yale College before he had reached his eighteenth birthday. Although obliged to leave his college course unfinished, he took high junior honors, became eligible to election to the Phi Beta Kappa fraternity, and the faculty granted him the honorary degree of A. M. with the rest of his class.

The premature return from college seemed to be necessitated by the state of affairs at horne. When, in addition to the monthly Cultivator, Luther Tucker started an agricultural weekly, the Country Gentleman, he was not successful in securing for the business management of the venture such assistance as he shortly found to be absolutely needful. He had himself little aptitude and less liking for business details and financial plans. The son appreciated the situation and felt there was just one course for him to pursue abandon his studies and thoughts of a strictly professional career and lend his aid to the management of the papers. So he left college in the middle of junior year and took charge, in January, 1854, of the financial side of his father's affairs, becoming, December 1, 1855, a partner in the firm of Luther Tucker & Son. And it was chiefly owing to his efforts that the new paper, the Country Gentleman (with which the Cultivator was finally merged), proved a financial success.

During the following thirty years he devoted himself to the paper with unremitting energy, assuming at the death of his father in 1873 the editorial as well as the business management. In the beginning he taught himself bookkeeping by the rapid absorption of the contents of one or two manuals of the art that happened to be at hand, and ultimately devised a special system of accounts for his special needs which has proved in the highest degree satisfactory, though probably quite unlike anything in use anywhere. And every department of the business came under his scrutiny and largely into his personal care. Economies were rapidly effected, the circulation of the papers was pushed by every means then known, order was brought out of chaos, and business prosperity began.

But he also early entered into the editorial part of the work, and found himself equally successful in this sphere, and fast winning wide reputation. In the summer of 1859, after seeing what he could, in brief visits here and there, of the best American farming, he spent some months in Europe (agricultural operations in this country being at that time modeled on foreign practice after a fashion hardly conceivable by the present younger generation of American farmers) and detailed his observations, first in letters to the Country Gentleman, and afterwards in a contribution to the nineteenth volume of the "Transactions of the State Agricultural Society," and in a series of lectures on English agriculture in a course of agricultural instruction at New Haven (delivered in 1860) which attracted wide attention and aided materially in the subsequent development of the Sheffield Scientific School. It has seemed surprising that he was able to collect, in so short a time, and particularly in countries like France and Germany, whose languages he was compelled to acquire by periods of study that most persons would consider utterly inadequate such a wealth of the practical and accurate information on agricultural practice for which the trip was undertaken, selecting with rare judgment the points most likely to be useful in the United States.

Of other literary work, outside of that constantly done in the office of the Country Gentleman, Mr. Tucker preserved no record, being absolutely careless of his reputation as a writer and speaker, and keeping no copies of a number of lectures and essays of his that were at one time and another printed. In 1865, at the time when Congress distributed the public land fund for the establishment of colleges of agriculture and the mechanic arts, Rutgers College at New Brunswick, N. J., received its share, and Mr. Tucker was appointed professor of agriculture in the first arrangement of the faculty and delivered a full course of lectures. He was compelled to resign his chair, however, at the completion of his course because of more pressing duties at home.

In 1858 Mr. Tucker was elected treasurer of the State Agricultural Society (as had been his father, ten years before), and entered at once actively into the management of that body. He brought to official duty the same habits of unbounded energy, scrupulous accuracy, and the constant aiming at improvement and expansion, that characterized his operations as a publisher; and the rapid increase in the financial resources of the society which followed his election was certainly due in considerable part to the good management of the treasurer's office and to the sound judgment of the treasurer himself in the councils of the governing board. He resigned this office on the death of his father in 1873, when he became senior member of the firm (the original title remaining unaltered), that occurrence throwing upon him the heavy burden of the editorship in chief of the paper and adding greatly to his responsibilities. The executive committee accepted the resignation "with great reluctance," according to a minute made at the time, adding that the office had been filled by him "most acceptably and efficiently."

So passed thirty active and successful years years however in which there was at first no opportunity, and afterwards but little thought, of recreation or pleasure. He did, it is true, make two or three fiying visits to warmer climes like Florida and Cuba to escape the opening of our northern spring, and he took occasionally a few days at the seashore and the springs in summer. But for the most part he was perpetually at his post.

In the autumn of 1884, however, when he had just passed his fiftieth birthday, this unremitting application began to tell. A heavy cold, neglected at first, refused afterward to yield to treatment, and brought about a condition of general malaise that rendered exertion of any kind most irksome; and at last, one gloomy day toward the close of the year a busy day it was, too, when the editor-in-chief had his hands and his head especially full he found himself absolutely unable to go on, and left the office for rest and medical advice, expecting that a few days at home would make him all right again.

But his condition had become so serious that a winter in Nassau was necessary, and even this did not restore his former health. The following winter (1886) was spent in Bermuda, and from January to June, 1887, he traveled in Southern Europe and Great Britain. For some years following shorter trips were taken; another foreign tour in 1895. So although these years were shadowed by semi-invalidism, there were great alleviations in the larger leisure and opportunities for travel and observation. His life, in short, seemed enviable, and would have been .so indeed, had he succeeded in recovering completely his lost health. But this was not to be. A complication of disorders caused him trouble, and gave anxiety to those who loved him sometimes more, and sometimes less, but never entirely absent after the first breakdown. Toward the end of February, 1897, the symptoms of acute Bright's disease suddenly developed, and on Tuesday, February 23, he passed away peacefully and painlessly.

Mr. Tucker was one of the trustees of the Albany Savings Bank, treasurer of the board of trustees of the Albany College of Pharmacy and a vestryman of St. Peter's church.

November 28, 1865, at St. George's Manor, L. I., Mr. Tucker was married to Cornelia Strong Vail, daughter of Harvey Wentworth Vail and Anne Udall Vail of Islip, L. I. His wife survives him and four children, Luther Henry, Jr., Cornelia, Wentworth and Carll.

The following are among the resolutions passed at Mr. Tucker's death in the various bodies with which he was connected:

At a special meeting of the board of trustees of the Albany Savings Bank, called to take action in regard to the death of Luther H. Tucker, the following minute was adopted:

The associates of Luther H. Tucker, who for nearly fourteen years has been a trustee of this bank, desire to express their sincere sorrow for the loss of one who has so long and so ably assisted in the management of this institution, and to bear testimony to the faithfulness with which he has met the responsibilities of the position.

While unobtrusive in manner, he was firm in his advocacy of every measure which he believed would subserve the best initerests of the depositors and his associates felt that they could depend upon him for advice and council whenever needed.

To his family, so sadly bereaved, they extend their sympathy in this hour of trial, and as a manifestation of their respect will attend his funeral in a body.

At a meeting of the vestry of St. Peter's church, Albany, February 28, 1807, an entry was directed on the minutes of the board, in respect to the death of the late Luther H. Tucker, as follows:

The rector, wardens and vestrymen of St. Peter's church have received with profound sorrow the announcement of the death of their friend and associate, Luther H. Tucker. They deeply mourn, in this event, the loss of a trusted and greatly esteemed officer of the church, and of a fellow citizen of rare attainments, widely extended influence and estimable life and character, and they direct that the following brief record of his earthly career shall be entered in their minutes, transmitted to his family, and given to the press for publication.

Somewhat more than forty years ago Mr. Tucker, then barely twenty years of age, came with a brilliant record for scholarship from Yale College, his Alma Mater, back to his home at Albany, quietly dropped into his seat in the editorial sanctum of the Country Gentleman, by the side of that of his distinguished father, Luther Tucker, the founder, proprietor and editor of that sheet, and at once addressed his attention diligently, and with great zeal, to the especial newspaper work of that agricultural organ.

Some twenty years later, when Luther Tucker, the senior, having conducted the paper through his untiring and determined labors to a useful a prosperous career, rested from his arduous duties, the son stepped from the seat which had been at his father's side into the vacant place at the head, and became, as his father before him, manager and editor-in-chief. The enterprise expanded and grew with the efflux of years, under the intelligent management which shaped its editorial work, and guided its business affairs, and it became more and more, as it continues to be to-day, the most important and reliable of the agricultural periodicals of this country.

In the editorial work of the Country Gentleman; in the study of those branches of useful and practical knowledge which were incidental and essential to that work; in literary pursuits, for which he had especial fondness and adaptation; in the enjoyment of the pleasures of an affluent and delightful domestic life, and of a generous hospitality; in the pleasure of a constant benevolence; in travel and in the rational enjoyments of human existence, Mr. Tucker's life was passed, and has closed with the record of a career of undeviating zeal and industry, and of a beneficial, although seemingly impersonal influence upon human which is seldom the lot of individual men to exert.

The honors which he achieved in more public employments were those obtained through occasional non-editorial literary productions in the earlier period of his career; by a series of lectures on agricultural subjects at Yale College; through his connection with Rutgers College as its professor, for a brief period, of agriculture, a position resigned as incompatible with his editorial duties at Albany, and through his connection with the New York State Agricultural Society for some time as its most efficient treasurer.

For fifteen years he had been a member of this board, constantly devoted to the interests of St. Peter's church; a judicious and reliable counselor in its affairs and a ready benefactor in its needs.

At a meeting of the board of trustees of the Albany College of Pharmacy, February 25, the following resolution was adopted :

Resolved That in the death of Luther H. Tucker, who from the founding of the college had been a member of this board and its treasurer, we have suffered great and serious loss. We shall miss his wise counsel, unswerving loyalty and substantial aid. We extend to his bereaved family our sincere sympathy, and direct that this resolution be suitably published and spread upon the minutes of this board.

At a meeting of the Yale Alumni Association of Eastern New York at Albany, February 24, the following was adopted:

The friends of Mr. Tucker entertain pleasant memories of their associations with him in the past, and they appreciate the honor which his literary work has conferred upon his Alma Mater. In later years he showed his affection for the college by sending to it his eldest son, to be educated there. The association desire to express to his widow and children their heartfelt sympathy in their hour of trial and loss.



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