Monday, October 11, 2010

The Last Days Of J.B.C. Lucas

J.B.C. Lucas of 4495 West Pine Boulevard, a member of one of the oldest families in St. Louis, is so ill at his summer home in Normandy that he has not yet been informed of the death of his 5-year-old daughter, Emily, on Monday, nor of the critical condition of his other daughter, Mrs. Frank Sawyer of Anderson, Ind., and his nephew, Henry Lucas Jr.

Henry Lucas Jr. was operated on for appendicitis...Mrs. Sawyer is seriously ill with typhoid fever...Emily Lucas died at the Mullanphy Hospital Monday, following an operation for appendicitis.

Mr. Lucas, the elder, is ill as the result of an operation for appendicitis. He has been operated on thrice within a year, and on account of his age there is thought to be but little chance for his recovery.
-Dallas Morning News, August 6, 1908

According to the physicians attending him, Lucas could not stand the shock of his little daughter's death nor the news of the illness of his other daughter and his nephew...

John B.C. Lucas is a representative of one of the richest St. Louis families. He is the president of the Wellson, Mo., Bank, and is officer and director of a score of St. Louis mercantile concerns and financial institutions.

His summer home in Normandy, St. Louis county, is regarded as not only the finest in the county but is one of the finest in the entire West. The town residence on West Pine Boulevard is a mansion. It tops the hill overlooking St. Louis's finest residence section.

Lucas's condition took a change for the worse today...

Mr. Lucas's first wife was Mary C. Morton, said to be related to Paul Morton, head of the Equitable Life. When she died Lucas married her sister Isabella, who is the mother of Emily.
-Evening News [San Jose, Ca.], August 20, 1908

The best information I've found has Lucas passing away in September of 1908.


David Ball said...

I have some trouble keeping this family straight. Do I understand that Henry Lucas was the nephew, not the son of John B. C. Lucas? And, if he was Henry, Jr., his father must have been Henry as well.

Does this mean it was his cousin, rather than his brother who had been president of the original Brown Stockings?

Jeffrey Kittel said...

Henry is the younger brother of this J.B.C Lucas. Their father was James Lucas, son of the first J.B.C. Lucas. They had another brother, Robert, who was a member of the first nine of the Union Club during its heyday. The original J.B.C. Lucas was the largest landowner in StL during the first half of the 19th century (along with the Chouteau/Laclede family). He passed that wealth on to his children, James and Anne, and when James died, the third generation of the Lucas family came into their money, allowing Henry to do things like start a baseball league and J.B.C. to invest in the Brown Stockings.

I'll try to post a genealogy and brief family history this week. It's something I've planned to do for awhile but never got around to it.

Huntley said...


Not exactly a baseball question, but .. were the Lucas' Catholic? I rarely see the religious backgrounds of these figures discussed in baseball history even though it would be a significant factor in how certain folks like Lucas interacted with the city at large as an owner of a very publicly visible entity, the Brown Stockings. Likewise, with Chris Von der Ahe, was he from a Lutheran background? Did their religious affiliations or backgrounds have any affect on how they were received in the press etc.?

Jeffrey Kittel said...

Sorry for taking so long to get to your comment. Just got back from vacation. It's a really interesting question and you're correct in thinking that it would be significant.

To the best of my knowledge, the Lucas family were Catholics. This is based on nothing more than the fact that they're all buried at Calvary Cemetary in StL, which is a Catholic Cemetary, and that they're of French ancestry.

Von der Ahe, I'm not sure about. He was originally from Westphalia so he was probably either Catholic or Lutheran. He's not buried in a Catholic cemetery so if I had to bet I'd say he was Lutheran.

I would argue that the fact that the Lucas family was Catholic was significant because I don't think that the elder J.B.C. Lucas would have been so successful if he wasn't. It would have been difficult for him to have been accepted into the society of what was, at the time, a very Catholic town. By the time VdA arrived in StL, things were a bit different, changed largely by the influx of American citizens at the beginning of the 19th century. The difficulties that VdA had in being accepted by the StL establishment had more to do with the fact that he was a German immigrant. I don't think it would have mattered if he was Catholic.

VdA was an outsider based on his nationality and immigrant status while the Lucas family had been memebers of the establishment and of StL society for three generations. Did religion play a part in that? Sure. But nationality, immigrant status and race also played a part in it. The new immigrants from Germany and Ireland as well as blacks had an impossible time getting accepted into StL society and the political establishment. A lot of the Germans and Irish were Catholic but they were still largely hated by the old Creole and American St. Louisans. It would take a few generations for the Germans, Irish and blacks to gain power and influence in StL.

As to baseball, I've argued that the involvement of J.B.C. Lucas and some of the members of the Union Club in the establishment of the Brown Stockings had an impact on how the professional game was accepted in StL, across all social lines. The flip side of that is that VdA's exclusion from the establishment had an influence on how he was portrayed in the press and how quickly the press turned on him after 1890.

So religion played a part in all of that but only in so far as being part of the "proper" religion helped one gain entry into the establishment. But religion was not the only criteria.

I'm not sure if any of that made any sense as a bit of a complicated question, I'm doing this off the top of my head and I just got home from travelling for a few days. But somewhere in there, I'm sure, is a cogent answer.

Huntley said...

Thank you Jeff, a great answer, I appreciate it.