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Edwards, Richard; Hopewell, M.; Ashley, William; Barry, James G.; Belt and Priest; Casey, John; Hall, W.; Labaum, Louis A.; Leduc, Mary Philip; Lisa, Manuel; O'Fallon, Benjamin; Piernas; Port Folio; Risley, W.; Stoddard, Amos; Williams, Henry W.; Yore, John E. Edwards's Great West and Her Commercial Metropolis, Embracing a General View of the West, and a Complete History of St. Louis, from the Landing of Ligueste, in 1764, to the Present Time; with Portraits and Biographies of Some of the Old Settlers, and Many of the Most Prominent Buisiness Men . St. Louis: Office of Edwards's Monthly, A Journal of Progress, 1860. [format: book], [genre: biography; history; letter; narrative]. Permission: St. Louis Mercantile Library
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=edwards.html


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James H. Lucas.

JAMES H. LUCAS can boast of an old line of French ancestry who were conspicuous both for their virtues and their talents. His father, John B. C. Lucas, was born in the province of Normandy, France, and graduated with distinction at the University of Caen, and received the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws. Immediately after the Revolution, he came to the United States, bringing with him flattering credentials from Dr. Franklin, who represented the United States at Paris, to some of the most distinguished citizens of Philadelphia.

Wishing to remove farther west, Mr. Lucas went to Pittsburgh, and talents and integrity being in demand, he was appointed Judge of the District Court, and soon afterward was elected member of Congress. This was in the year 1800; and the same year, on the 12th of November, the subject of this memoir was born.

After representing Allegheny county, in the state of Pennsylvania, with honor in the national Congress, Judge Lucas, in 1805, removed to the city of St. Louis, having previously visited it in 1792, and became at once convinced of its future greatness. The state of Missouri was at that time a territory, and was termed the Territory of Louisiana, and Judge Lucas was appointed by Thomas Jefferson one of the Judges of the Territory, and Land Commissioner, and these appointments were renewed

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by the two subsequent presidents, Madison and Monroe, who were satisfied with his honorable administration. He kept this responsible position until eighteen hundred and twenty, when Missouri was admitted a state into the confederacy.

Judge Lucas was blessed with a numerous family, and in 1811 lost his estimable wife, whose virtues had endeared her to a large circle of friends. One of his sons, Robert Lucas, was an officer in the United States army, and died in 1813, on the Canada frontier. Charles Lucas, who was United States Attorney in the state of Missouri, was killed in a duel with Col. Thomas H. Benton. Adrian was a planter, and died in 1804, William Lucas died in 1837; and Judge Lucas, the father, after being appointed, by the younger Adams, Judge of Land Claims in Florida, died August, 13th 1843. Of all the numerous family, there is only living at this time, James H. Lucas, the subject of this biography, and Mrs. Hunt, his sister, who is well known to the citizens of St. Louis for her many charitable donations. The early days of James H. Lucas were spent upon a farm, and it is probable that he owes to that circumstance much of that exuberance of health which he has always enjoyed. His father, who was highly educated, directly the physical system of James had become strong by wholesome exercise on the farm, sent him to school, and finally to Jefferson College in Pennsylvania, where he remained three years; and then to St. Charles College in Kentucky, at which he staid eighteen months. After completing his education, James H. Lucas, desirous of still farther pursuing his studies, resolved to teach school, at which he could, at the same time, earn a livelihood. He commenced the profession of teacher in the town of Hudson, state of New York, but did not long remain in that honorable and useful avocation. In that city he commenced the study of law under Judge Talmadge and J. B. Dexter. He, however, did not like the East, and soon returned to his home in St. Louis, and then removed to the territory of Arkansas, where he continued teaching school and reading law," till 1821, when he was admitted to the privileges of an attorney.

May 10th, 1832, Mr. Lucas married Miss Mary E. Desruisseaux, the daughter of one of the earliest settlers of Arkansas, who had removed from the town of Cahokia of Illinois; and from the time of his marriage until the year 1837, he devoted his attention to farming, and was very successful in the pursuit, having a very extensive and fertile tract of land. On the death of William Lucas, his brother, in 1837, Judge Lucas, his father, wrote him word to come and settle in St. Louis, as he was the only son that was living, and he was anxious that he should be near him. He then, according to the wishes of his father, removed to St. Louis, where he remained until the dissolution of his surviving parent in 1843.

Mr. Lucas has always been opposed to the turbulent life of polities, but was drawn by the persuasion of his friends upon the political arena, and in 1844 he was elected to the state Senate of Missouri, where he served four years with honor to himself and usefulness to the state; during this time was enacted the well-known Lucas law, which much simplified the confused process incident to land claims. After his term of service had expired, he retired from political life, and has been sedulously engaged since that time in attending to the large business connected

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with his immense property, and in various ways has been identified with the progressive advance of St. Louis. He was the early friend of the railroads in Missouri, and in every available manner advocated their utility, and assisted in their completion, while many old fogies laughed at the idea of any thing better for the country than the turnpike and the wagon. So as to give force to his advocacy to internal improvements, he was the first to subscribe to the stock in the large sum of $33,000, and this generous commencement by one whose business foresight was almost infallible, quickly made railroad stock a hobby, and the digging for the roads soon commenced.

Mr. Lucas projected and built Lucas Market, and laid out that handsome portion of the city known as Lucas Place, and which has become the most recherché neighborhood in the city of St. Louis.

All corporations, in the election of their officers, are always careful to install those who have the character and influence to control the respect of public opinion; and Mr. Lucas was appointed the President of the Pacific Railroad Company, and by his moral worth and known wealth, and above all by his business capacity, did much for its advancement. After filling that responsible position for some time, he resigned his office, and started on a European tour. On his return to St. Louis, he was solicited to fill many responsible positions, and became director and an extensive stockholder in many of the various moneyed institutions of the city.

In 1851, Mr. Lucas established his banking-house, which had a branch both in New York and San Francisco, and such was the universal confidence that the public had in the institution of which he was the head, that at one time his bank in St. Louis alone contained deposits to the enormous amount of more than two and a half millions of dollars. After some little time, Mr. Lucas discontinued his house in San Francisco.

In the great financial panic in 1857, Mr. Lucas, with every other bank in St. Louis, had to yield to the unnatural convulsion of affairs, and for a short time suspended payment, and it shows how boundless was the terror of the community, from their being guilty of the folly of running upon a bank whose proprietor was worth millions of dollars in real estate in the city of St. Louis. However, Mr. Lucas gave his notes to his creditors, and in a little while his boundless resources becoming available, he was anxious to pay off all demands, but to this day many of his notes are carefully kept in the drawers of thriving citizens, who prefer them to any mortgage on fee-simple property in the city. Mr. Lucas has had a large family of children, eight of whom are now living. One of his daughters married Dr. J. B. Johnson, an eminent physician of the city.

The business habits for which he was always remarkable Mr. Lucas still adheres to, and can be found constantly at his counting-room, actively engaged in the details of affairs, naturally arising from his immense possessions, and is courteous and unassuming at all times, and to every one who makes a demand upon his valuable time. Wherever he goes in the city of St. Louis, he can see in the splendid buildings which he has erected monuments of his taste and industry, and when he dies, and the turf is green above his "narrow house," Lucas Market and Lucas Place will hand his name to posterity.

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Edwards, Richard; Hopewell, M.; Ashley, William; Barry, James G.; Belt and Priest; Casey, John; Hall, W.; Labaum, Louis A.; Leduc, Mary Philip; Lisa, Manuel; O'Fallon, Benjamin; Piernas; Port Folio; Risley, W.; Stoddard, Amos; Williams, Henry W.; Yore, John E. Edwards's Great West and Her Commercial Metropolis, Embracing a General View of the West, and a Complete History of St. Louis, from the Landing of Ligueste, in 1764, to the Present Time; with Portraits and Biographies of Some of the Old Settlers, and Many of the Most Prominent Buisiness Men . St. Louis: Office of Edwards's Monthly, A Journal of Progress, 1860. [format: book], [genre: biography; history; letter; narrative]. Permission: St. Louis Mercantile Library
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=edwards.html
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