PIONEER HISTORY OF
Martha Peacock (1848-1907) &
John Martin Luce (1836-1907)
Born: 8 Jan 1848 Watford, Hertfordshire, England
Died: 16 Nov 1907 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake Co, Utah
Immigration England to U.S.A.
Departed: England: 6 Jun 1866, Ship: “St Mark”
Arrived: SLC, Utah: 22 Oct 1866, A Lowery Co. (per the Co. roster)
Married: 7 Jul 1868 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake Co, Utah
Martha is about age 20 and John is about age 30
John Martin Luce
Born: 18 Sep 1836 in North Haven Island (Vinalhaven), Knox Co, Maine
Birth: 15 Sep 1834 in Vinalhaven, Hancock (now Knox), Maine, USA
According to some researchers his birthdate was 18 Sep 1836, but his death certificate says 15 Sep
1834 (see death certificate online at
Died: 13 Jun 1907 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake Co, Utah
Children of John Martin Luce & Martha Peacock
1- Mary Antoinette Luce b: 31 Oct 1867 in Millcreek, Salt Lake Co, Utah
2- Franklin Henry Luce b: 25 Sep 1869 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake Co, Utah
3- Alfred James Luce b: 23 Apr 1872 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake Co, Utah
4- John Martin Luce b: 21 Aug 1875 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake Co, Utah
5- Samuel Luce b: 20 Jun 1877 in Quincy, Tooele Co, Utah
6- Harriette F. Luce b: 21 Jan 1880 in Millcreek, Salt Lake Co, Utah
7- Quince K. Luce b: 21 Feb 1883 in Millcreek, Salt Lake Co, Utah
8- Adam Luce b: Abt 1885 in Millcreek, Salt Lake Co, Utah
9- Ernest LeRoy Luce b: 30 Apr 1887 in Millcreek, Salt Lake Co, Utah
Martha Peacock immigrated to Utah along with her parents and younger brother and sister during 1866
aboard “St Marks” All her other living brothers and sisters immigrated earlier. Most of her family was
located at Smithfied, Utah.
Peacock, Martha, 1866, Perpetual Emigration Fund (Book)-Microfilm 25686
For more detail about her immigration refer to her parent’s history: William Peacock & Phillis Hyom.
6 Jun 1866 Departed: Liverpool, England aboard the ship “St Mark”
24 Jul 1866 Arrived: New York, New York, USA
26 Jul 1866 Departed: New York
3 Aug 1866 Arrived: Wyoming, Nebraska
8 Aug-1866 Lowery Co Departed: Wyoming, Nebraska
22 Oct-1866 Lowery Co. Arrived: Salt Lake City, Utah
MARTHA PEACOCK (NOT SHOWN AS A PASSENGER ABOARD “ST. MARK”)
SPECULATION: As a 19 year old, young lady, I expect Martha was a real handful for her parents. She
had friends and “a life” in England and her parents are “dragging her away”. When they arrive at the
“St Mark” and she looks at the accommodations, she informs her parents “I AM NOT GOING TO LIVE
IN THOSE ACCOMIDATIONS, I AM NOT GOING”. An intense discussion ensues, until an alternative
accommodation can be made. Out of concern for the rational behavior of a 19 year old, her mother,
Phyllis, accompanies her with the “new accommodations”, probably as paid passengers instead of PEF
Father and the younger children, Thomas & Clara, continue on as PEF passengers.
The St Mark’s carried “several hundred emigrants” but just 95 PEF emigrants.
Finally, they arrive at Winter Quarters, Wyoming, Nebraska. They are all schedule to travel with the
Andrew H. Scott Co.
[Round trip teamsters DO NOT appear on the wagon train roster (SLC to Neb and back to SLC) .
Hundreds of young men in Utah preformed this work and many meet their brides this way]
SPECULATION: Martha meets Martin Luce (Luas), a teamster (from SLC) for the Abner Lowry Co.
An attraction develops and Martin invites Martha Peacock to travel with him. Mother, Phyllis, says “No
Way”, but compromises and decided she will travel with her daughter and the Abner Lowry Co.
Father, William and two younger children, continue on with Andrew H. Scott Company.
Mother, Phyllis and daughter, Martha, travel with Abner Lowry Co.
Both Co.’s are expected to be very close to one another during the journey to Utah. However. they got
separated and the Lowry Co. had a much more difficult journey.
This is a story I made up to help fit the documentation.
Family records show Martha Peacock married John Martin Luce in 1866 or 1868
Notice different spellings LUCE & LUAS
1880 United States Census: Household:
Marital Birth- Father’s Mother’s
Name Relation Status Gender Race Age place Occupation Birthplace Birthplace
----------------- --------- ------ --------- ----- ---- ---------- -------------- ----------- ------------
Martin LUAS Self M Male W 42 UT Teamster ME ME
Martha LUAS Wife M Female W 30 ENG Keep House ENG ENG
Nelie LUAS Daugh S Female W 12 UT Home UT ENG
Frank LUAS Son S Male W 11 UT ---- UT ENG
Alfred LUAS Son S Male W 7 UT ---- UT ENG
Martha LUAS Daugh S Female W 5 UT ---- UT ENG
Hattie LUAS Daugh S Female W 2 UT ---- UT ENG
*Phillis PEACOCK,Mother L Widow Female W 69 ENG Keep House ENG ---
Thomas PEACOCK Bro L, S Male W 29 ENG Farms --- ENG
Source Information:Census Place:Smithfield, Cache, Utah, Family History Library Film: 1255336,
NA Film Number: T9-1336, Page Number: 205B
*Phyllis Hyom Peacock is the mother of Martha Peacock Luas and Thomas Peacock,
Mother-in Law to Martin Luas and Grandmother to the children.
Phyllis Hyom Peacock's husband was William Peacock Jr.<1810> He died: 1875 at Smithfield, Utah
The family lived primarly in the Salt Lake City, Utah area. Around 1880 they were living in Smithfield,
John Martin Luce and Martha Peacock Luce
Census: 1870 10th Ward, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake Co, Utah
Census: 1880 Smithfield, Cache Co, Utah SEE THE ABOVE CENSUS REPORT
Census: 1900 Salt Lake City, Salt Lake Co, Utah
John Martin LUCE
Parents, Brothers & Sisters
Father: Stephen Luce b: 10 Jul 1801 in North Haven Island, Knox Co, Maine
Mother: Mary Ann (Polly, Nancy) Wheeler b: 30 Aug 1801 in Harpswell, Cumberland Co, Maine
Children of Stephen Luce & Mary Ann Wheeler
1. Sarah Elizabeth Luce b: 12 Sep 1828 in North Haven Island, Knox Co, Maine
2. Jason Reid Luce b: 18 Nov 1830 in North Haven Island, Knox Co, Maine
3. Samuel William Luce b: 10 Sep 1832 in North Haven Island, Knox Co, Maine
4. James F. C. Luce b: 1835 in North Haven Island, Knox Co, Maine
5. John Martin (Matt) Luce b: 18 Sep 1836 in North Haven Island, Knox Co, Maine
6. Wilford Woodruff (Will) Luce b: 7 Nov 1838 in North Haven Island, Knox Co, Maine
7. Nettie Luce b: Abt 1840 in Nauvoo, Hancock Co, Illinois
8. Clara Emma Luce b: 5 Jan 1841 in Nauvoo, Hancock Co, Illinois
9. Maria Antoinette Luce b: Oct 1845 in Nauvoo, Hancock Co, Illinois
John Martin Luce’s Birth: 18 Sep 1836 in North Haven Island, Knox Co, Maine or also given as 15
September 1834 (Death Record). His parents joined the Church during 1837. They moved to Nauvoo,
Illinois in 1838/39.
When the Mormons were expelled from Nauvoo in February 1846, John Martin’s father Stephen Luce
and Ephraim Luce families were among those who left the city. There has been some confusion about the
date the Luces came to Utah. Records show they probably came to Utah sometime between 1848 and
John Martin Luce was a laborer.. He was listed as John Luce on the 1850 census and as Martin Luce on
the 1860 census. He was listed on the 1860 census in the 13th Ward, with his mother Mary, brother
Wilford, and sister Antoinette in his household. At the time of this census, Matt's father was living in the
10th Ward with his polygamous wife Caroline. That John Martin had substantially more property than
his father ($800 in real property and $800 in personal property as compared to $350 in real property and
$200 in personal property) might be attributed to his mother's assets.
Like his brothers Jason and Wilford, he seems to have been something of a ruffian. There were some
criminal cases involving him in Salt Lake County:
People vs. John Martin Luce, Assault With Intent to Kill, 9 March 1860;
People vs. J. Martin Luce, Riot, 14 September 1860;
People vs. John M. Luce, Assault, 13 January 1862;
People vs. John M. Luce, Larceny, 17 March 1862.
He was involved in the 1861 assault on Territorial Governor John Dawson, but in March 1862 was found
Not Guilty. In January 1864 he was present at the execution of his brother Jason Luce.
John Martin Luce Married Martha Peacock, 7 Jul 1868 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake Co, Utah.
Thereafter, it seems his life was fairly free from involvement with the law. He seems to have lived a
calmer, more domestic life after being married.
In 1869 he was living in Salt Lake City, where he was called Martin Luce (1869 City Directory). At the
time of his death in 1907 he was living at 853 East 500 South, Salt Lake.
ID: I491 Name: John Martin (Matt) Luce Given Name: John Martin (Matt) Surname: Luce
Sex: M Birth: 18 Sep 1836 in North Haven Island, Knox Co, Maine Note: age 31 in 1870
Death: 13 Jun 1907 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake Co, Utah 5
Burial: 15 Jun 1907 Salt Lake City Cemetery, Salt Lake Co, Utah
Immigration: 10 Oct 1848 Salt Lake City, Salt Lake Co, Utah
Census: 1851 Salt Lake Co, Utah 6
Census: 1856 11th Ward, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake Co, Utah
Census: 1856 6th Ward, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake Co, Utah
Census: 1860 13th Ward, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake Co, Utah
Census: 1870 10th Ward, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake Co, Utah
Census: 1880 Smithfield, Cache Co, Utah SEE BELOW
Census: 1900 Salt Lake City, Salt Lake Co, Utah
John Martin Luce
Died: 13 June 1907, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah
Burial: 15 Jun 1907 Salt Lake City Cemetery , Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Utah
Martha Peacock Luce
Death: Nov. 16, 1907, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake Co., Utah
Burial: Salt Lake City Cemetery , Salt Lake City, Salt Lake Co. Utah
Your tombstone stands neglected and alone.
The name and date are chiseled out on polished, marbled stone.
It reaches out to all who care. It is too late to mourn.
You did not know that I exist. You died and I was born.
Yet each of us are cells of you in flesh, in blood, in bone.
Our heart contracts and beats a pulse entirely not our own.
Dear Ancestor, the place you filled one hundred years ago.
Spreads out among the ones you left who would have loved you so.
I wonder as you lived and loved, I wonder if you knew
That someday I would find this spot and come to visit you.
FOLLOWING ARE SOME ARTICLES CONCERNING THE EARLY YEARS OF JOHN MARTIN
LUCE (BEFORE HE MARRIED MARTHA PEACOCK)
John Martin Luce and his brothers
His nickname was "Matt" but his name was actually John Martin LUCE.
The Luce brothers (Jason, John Martin, and Wilford) were members of Wild Bill Hickman's gang, and
were convicted for assault on Utah Territorial governor John W. Dawson in 1862. Jason was later
executed for murder after killing a man in a knife fight.
READ THE WHOLE ACCOUNT “LUCE’S & GOV. Dawson” AT ROOTSWEB.COM
The Townsend Hotel in Salt Lake City seems to be a “hangout” for some of the rougher men of this
period, including some of the Luce brothers. Townsend Hotel on East Temple Street [Main Street] in Salt
Lake, nearly opposite the post office. (Later, in 1869 it was located on West Temple and 100 South.)
James Townsend who operated the hotel came originally from Maine and had a long standing
acquaintance with the Luce’s
SOME ADDITIONS HISTORY,” EARLY UTAH HISTORY.”
SEE REFERENCE TO J. LUCE IN THE FOLLOWING
William A. Hickman
William Adams ("Wild Bill") Hickman by his descendant. Wild Bill was one of the most notorious
figures of the 19th-century American frontier …
Ogden Standard Examiner, John Devilbiss
It was Christmas Day afternoon 129 years ago when William A. Hickman, standing in front of the
Townsend Hotel on First South and West Temple in Salt Lake City, dared another man to shoot him.
Hickman, who was well-known locally as "Wild Bill," was quick with his temper and fast with the pearl-
handled Colt and Yaeger revolvers that he kept slung around his hips.
As a soldier, bodyguard and spy for Brigham Young, Hickman, who stood about six feet tall, was no
stranger to confrontation. He had used his guns many times before and wouldn't hesitate to use them
Recounting that bloody Christmas Day encounter, Hickman said he was in the alley outside the hotel
when Lott Huntington drew his gun on him. Hickman was close enough to grab the cocked pistol with
one hand while drawing his knife with his other. Just as he was about to plunge the knife into
Huntington, he heard someone shouting not to do it. He hesitated.
At that moment, Hickman said someone stepped between them. Huntington then stepped back a few feet
and shot Hickman in the thigh.
"I drew my pistol, but before I got it out of the scabbard, he shot at me again," he wrote later. "As I
brought my pistol on him, he wheeled to run. I shot. He jumped some three feet high, clapping his hand
behind him. He then ran out from the alley about 50 steps, wheeled, shot twice at J. Luce, then at John
Flack, upon which the boys returned the compliments."
Hickman's "boys" were a group of some 20 men labeled by Brigham Young the "Hickman Hounds,"
men said to often take matters into their own hands. It seems a few weeks earlier Hickman's gang had a
run-in with a rival gang, of which Huntington was a member.
An interesting early account of Utah History at RootsWeb.com
… among those arrested for the assault on Territorial Governor Dawson at Mountain Dell Reservoir
outside of Salt Lake, during Gov. Dawson's flight back east.
Governor John W. Dawson was an appointee of President Lincoln, but was not popular in Utah. He
arrived in Salt Lake City on 7 December. Three days later he accused the legislature of disloyalty to the
federal government and suggested that a war tax on Mormons be levied and used to pay the cost of
keeping federal troops in Utah. Further, he vetoed a bill which would have petitioned for statehood.
Dawson had only been in Utah for three weeks when rumor began to spread that he had made improper
advances to his housekeeper, the widow of Thomas S. Williams
Dawson decided to leave the state secretly and hired six men at $100 each to accompanying him. The
hired guards were Wilford Luce, John Martin Luce, Jason R. Luce, Isaac Neibaur, John P. Smith,
Moroni B. Clawson, and Wood J. Reynolds. Dawson does not seem to have realized that Wood Reynolds
was a relative of his offended housekeeper.
Dawson's bodyguards turned on him at the Ephraim Hanks mail station at Mountain Dell, just outside Salt Lake.
They beat him, and according to some accounts, castrated him.
Isaac Neibaur and John Martin Luce were found Not Guilty. At a separate trial the same month, Jason
Luce was fined $50, and Wood Reynolds was fined $25.
Jhn W. Dawson
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Not to be confused with the mathematician John W. Dawson, Jr.
John W. Dawson
John W. Dawson (October 21, 1820 – September 10, 1877) was
Governor of Utah Territory in 1861.
Born on October 21, 1820, in Cambridge, Indiana he was a lawyer, a
farmer and a newspaper editor before he entered politics,
unsuccessfully running for a seat in the Indiana House of
Representatives in 1854, Secretary of State of Indiana in 1856, and
United States Congress in 1858. He started as a Democrat, but later
became a Republican. Abraham Lincoln named him governor of Utah Territory in 1861, but he left the
territory and his post as governor after only three weeks due to tensions with the Mormon residents.
Dawson had made "grossly improper proposals" to the Mormon widow Albina Merrill Williams, who
responded by thrashing him with a fire shovel. When he offered her $3,000 for her silence, she rebuked
him and he quickly abandoned Salt Lake City on New Year's Eve 1861.
Taking a mail coach eastward, he arrived at Ephraim Hanks' Pony Express station at Mountain Dell,
Utah. There, Hanks assured Dawson he was now safe. However a group of young Mormon vigilantes
named Jason Luce, Martin "Matt" Luce, Wilford Luce, Wood Reynolds, Moroni Clawson, Lot
Hungtington, and Isaac Neibaur followed the retreating governor, and during a night of drinking, they
plundered the governor's baggage, and attacked him, beating and kicking Dawon about the head, chest,
and groin (and allegedly castrating one of his testicles). The thugs later claimed they were acting under
direct orders of the Salt Lake Police Chief. Four of the youths were captured but the other three were
gunned down trying to escape from police and sheriffs.
Dawson later became famous as the first biographer of John Chapman, the legendary Johnny Appleseed.
Dawson's 1871 article in the Fort Wayne News Sentinel of October 21 and 23 about Dawson's childhood
friend is still considered the main source for biographical information on Chapman.
He died on September 10, 1877 and was interred at Lindenwood Cemetery in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Jason R. Luce was the first Mormon to be formally executed. On 7 December 1863, Luce attacked and
stabbed Samuel R. Bunton with a bowie knife at the door of the Townsend Hotel at the comer of First
South and West Temple in downtown Salt Lake City. He nearly severed Bunton’s head. According to the
Union Vendetta, 11 December 1865, after the killing Luce “brandished his bloody weapon in the air for
nearly a quarter of an hour, acknowledging the deed, and apparently gloating over his triumph.”
Luce said he had met Bunton in Bannock, Montana, while working at the mines. He was invited by
Bunton to his home for supper. While there Bunton asked Luce if he was a Mormon and when he replied
he was, Bunton jumped him, beating and stabbing him. On another occasion, Luce reported
encountering Bunton, who drew a knife and threatened him. On 7 December Luce saw Bunton in
downtown Salt Lake. He approached him, asked if he was Samuel R. Bunton, and when the man replied,
“Yes,” Luce said, “Well, we have an account to settle, and may as well settle it right here.” Luce claimed
Bunton then went for his weapon and Luce stabbed and killed him with his bowie knife.
There is more to the story than this, however. Jason Luce was a brother-in-law of Bill Hickman and a
member of his gang. There were suspicions that this group did the bidding of those in positions of
authority (ecclesiastical and secular) but also often ventured forth on their own. Sometime during 1859,
Luce killed Joe Rhodes by running him through with a bowie knife. He was tried and acquitted. In
[p.41]the spring of 1862 he was arrested as a member of a group who beat Governor Dawson at Ephraim
Hanks’s way station as he was leaving the territory. Luce and others involved in the beating claimed they
were ordered to do so by law enforcement officials in the city.
With Hickman as his attorney, Luce was found guilty and sentenced to die by firing squad for Bunton’s
death. The sentence was carried out on 12 January 1864 at 12:00 p.m., exactly thirty-six days after the
Toward the end Luce turned against Hickman. On the day of his execution he was described as “cool,
calm and collected.” In a brief address he talked about the influence of “evil associates” and castigated
those who “had betrayed him,” indicating his “desire to brand [them] before the world.” Brigham
Young’s secretary wrote: “Jason Luce executed at noon. His mother, brother [John Martin Luce], wife
and five children visited him last night and this morning. He requested his brother to take care of a
woman he had impregnated. He confessed all his sins and asked God for forgiveness. He addressed the
people from his chair—feet manacled—pronounced Wm Hickman his betrayer, he bid the people
goodby. His face was covered, 5 balls shot into his heart—no groan.”11
The Daily Vendetta, 13 January 1864, concluded its coverage of Luce’s execution with the following: “It
is hoped that the awful doom of Lute will have a beneficial effect upon the community, and that the
bloodthirsty will restrain their arm when passion, or still more unworthy motives, may impel to deeds of
violence and crime. Truly, ‘the way of the transgressor is hard.’”
Execution of Jason Luce
The Daily Vedette,
Excerpts from the The Daily Union Vedette (1863-1864), a Civil War newspaper published at Fort
Douglas in Salt Lake City. These excerpts describe the murder of Samuel R. Bunting by Jason Luce, an
associate of Bill Hickman, and Luce’s subsequent trial and execution.
Murder.---On Monday morning last the prevalent quiet and monotony of city life in Salt Lake, was
startled by a most wanton and brutal murder. One Jason Luce, a resident of Salt Lake City, was latterly
engaged in running the express to Bannack, Insert: The Stagecoach in Bannock County, Idaho
The Stagecoach to Bannock County Idaho – A dangerous road in broad daylight, on the most frequented
thoroughfare, in the door of Townsend’s Hotel, attacked Samuel R. Bunting with a large bowie knife, and
stabbed his unresisting victim to death. He finally gave himself up to the police; but not ‘till after he had
brandished his bloody weapon in the air for nearly a quarter of an hour, acknowledging the deed, and
apparently gloating over his triumph. On Tuesday, Luce had his examination, before Justice Miner, who
committed him to answer at the next term of the Probate court of this county. The testimony adduced on
the examination, showed that about 1 o’clock of the day mentioned, Luce met Bunting and after a few
words, as the latter turned to pass into the hotel, dealt him a deadly blow in the neck, from behind, nearly
severing the head from the body, and followed it up with at least two stabs in the back, driving his bloody
weapon to the hilt, and while the victim was prostrate on the floor. The wounded man expired within a
few minutes after the first blow was struck, and never spoke, save feebly to cry "murder."
When asked by the Justice if he had any defense to offer, Luce replied that his only witness was at
Bannack, and gave his own version of the matter. He says that some weeks since, while at the mines, he
was invited by deceased to go home with him to supper; that while at supper deceased asked him if he
was a Mormon? Upon replying in the affirmative, deceased jumped upon, beat and stamped him, until he
was taken home by some friends. That afterwards he met deceased, when the latter drew a knife and
threatened to kill him, and again maltreated him. Seeing the deceased in this city last Monday, Luce
approached and asked if his name was Bunting. He replied "yes." "Samuel R. Bunting?" "Yes," again.
"Well," said Luce, "we have an account to settle, and may as well settle it right here." The deceased then
"went for his pistol," says Luce, "but whether he got it out I don’t know; at all events he didn’t hurt me
much with it." This is the substance of defendant’s statement, and almost his exact language. He takes
the thing quite cooly, and apparently thinks himself in very little danger of punishment. If every word
were true, as Justice Miner remarked, it would not reduce the grade of the offence from murder in the
first degree. The assault was wanton, brutal and unjustified in any sense, and it is to be hoped that strict
and impartial justice may be meted out to the offender. It struck us as not a little remarkable that the
Justice should have bound Luce over to appear before an inferior court, when there will sit in this City in
so short a time a court of higher power having jurisdiction of the offence—we mean the U.S. District
The deceased (Bunting) was about 36 years old, recently from Bannack, and lately a Lieutenant in the
service of the United States, but was on his way to Missouri to see his aged parents, from whom he had
been separated upwards of 14 years. He is represented to have been a quiet, peaceable man, and those
who know him cannot place full faith in the story of Luce about the beating and threats while at
--The Daily Vedette, Tues Jan 12 1864
THE EXECUTION OF LUCE—HIS LAST SPEECH, ETC.
Yesterday at 12 o’clock, Jason R. Luce suffered the extreme penalty of the law, for the murder of Samuel
Brunton. At the hour named, a large number of invited persons (specially notified under the law) were
admitted to the Court House, the windows of which opened upon the back yard on the scene of execution.
In the yard, attended by Sheriff Burton, the unhappy criminal was seated in a chair, his feet being
manacled. His demeanor throughout was cool, calm and collected, evincing the utmost steadiness of
nerve. The prisoner briefly addressed the persons present in clear unmingled tones, but with some little
emotion. He warned those present to beware of evil associates, as to such influences he laid his present
fearful position. In reference to the crime of which he had been convicted, Luce said that his heart was
right in the matter, if not his head, and he had evidently impressed himself with the idea, so contrary to
all the evidence in the case, that he acted in self-defence. He indulged in some sever remarks concerning
those who had professed to be his friends, but who, he said, "had betrayed him." (As it would serve no
good purpose, we refrain from specifying the party named by Luce as his betrayer, and whom he said he
"desired to brand before the world.") Having concluded his remarks, the cap was drawn over his eyes,
and five musket shots were heard at a given signal. The executioners were concealed from view, being
stationed in the basement of the Court House, where they fired through the windows. The unfortunate
man died without a struggle, each of the five shots having probably entered a vital part. The militia
company of the city was posted around the Jail and Court House, to prevent even an attempt at escape,
and also to keep off the large crowd whose curiosity to witness such a scent led them to the spot.
The law of this Territory provides that a person convicted of murder in the first degree, may have a
choice of deaths, whether by hanging, shooting or being beheaded. As Luce, at the time of sentence,
declined to make any choice, it was incumbent on the Judge to determine the means of execution. Judge
Smith, therefore, sentenced him to be shot.
It is to be hoped that the awful doom of Luce will have a beneficial effect upon the community, and that
the blood-thirsty will restrain their arm when passion, or still more unworthy motives, may impel to
deeds of violence and crime. Truly, "the way of the transgressor is hard." –
The Daily Vedette, Wed Jan 13 1864
Jason Reid Luce (1830 - 1864)
Birthplace: North Haven, ME, USA
Death: Died January 11, 1864 in Salt Lake City, UT, USA
Cause of death: firing squad
This is a partial account of Wilford Luce from the above web site.
From about 1855 Wilford Luce was often associated with his brother-in-law William Hickman. In that
year Hickman hired a group of men to accompany him on a trip to South Pass, Wyoming to prospect for
gold. From September to December 1859 Hickman seems to have been away from Salt Lake. According
to his nephew, the Hickman brothers had gone to Colorado for the Pike's Peak Gold Rush. (Hilton, 88). If
so, some of Hickman's "boys" might have accompanied him.
In 1860-1861 Will Luce worked for the Overland Mail Company, riding "pony express" through Skull
Valley, Utah. He later entertained his children with stories of lying on the ground listening for Indians. In
1860 he was living in the 13th Ward with his mother Mary, brother Martin and sister Antoinette.
In 1861 he was a member of the Bill Hickman Gang. Bill Hickman had previously been married to Will's
sister Sarah Luce, and was one of three men popularly believed to run the Danites, a group that acted
outside the law to attack enemies of the Mormon Church and which claimed to take orders directly from
Mormon leader Brigham Young. Many of the incidents relating to the gang occurred at the Townsend
Hotel on East Temple Street [Main Street] in Salt Lake, nearly opposite the post office. (Later, in 1869 it
was located on West Temple and 100 South.) James Townsend who operated the hotel came originally
from Maine and had a long standing acquaintance with the Luces. Sir Richard F. Burton, the noted
Victorian traveller, visited Salt Lake in 1860 and described the hotel as being filled with "a rough-looking
crowd of drivers, drivers' friends, and idlers, almost every man openly armed with revolver and bowie-
knife." There were so many bars in this area that the street was popularly called "Whisky Street."
He married Annie Quarmby, the divorced wife of Williams Camp in 1861 or 1862. They were probably
married in Salt Lake City's 13th Ward, where both Wilford and Annie's foster father Joseph Bates Noble
were living in 1860. No record of their marriage has been found, although they were sealed in 1869.
Will Luce was among those arrested for the assault on Territorial Governor Dawson at Mountain Dell
Reservoir outside of Salt Lake, during Gov. Dawson's flight back east . Governor John W. Dawson was
an appointee of President Lincoln, but was not popular in Utah. He arrived in Salt Lake City on 7
December. Three days later he accused the legislature of disloyalty to the federal government and
suggested that a war tax on Mormons be levied and used to pay the cost of keeping federal troops in
Utah. Further, he vetoed a bill which would have petitioned for statehood. Dawson had only been in Utah
for three weeks when rumor began to spread that he had made improper advances to his housekeeper,
the widow of Thomas S. Williams. A Deseret News editorial, published 31 December 1861, said that the
governor had qualified himself for the position of chamberlain or eunuch in a king's palace, an innuendo
that he ought to be castrated. Dawson decided to leave the state secretly and hired six men at $100 each to
accompanying him. The hired guards were Wilford Luce, John Martin Luce, Jason R. Luce, Isaac
Neibaur, John P. Smith, Moroni B. Clawson, and Wood J. Reynolds. Dawson does not seem to have
realized that Wood Reynolds was a relative of his offended housekeeper. Dawson's bodyguards turned on
him at the Ephraim Hanks mail station at Mountain Dell, just outside Salt Lake. They beat him, and
according to some accounts, castrated him. According to Dawson's account, published in the Deseret
News on 22 January 1862, the men had been drinking and subsequently beat and robbed him. (Hickman
1872, 149-50; Taylor, 215-18).
Many Utahns were delighted at the Governor's fate, but Dawson wired the federal government about the
attack and eastern newspapers had a field day with accounts of Mormon outrages. Brigham Young
wanted Utah to become a state, and was undoubtedly concerned that a federal appointee had been beaten
after a Mormon newspaper suggested the deed. Young said on that stand that the men who had beaten
the Governor ought to have their throats cut. The authorities ordered the arrest of the men, but they had
disappeared. President Lincoln stated that he had been imposed upon in the appointment of Dawson, and
the Senate subsequently refused to ratify the appointment.
Wilford Luce was charged with Assault, People vs. Wilford Luce, 13 January 1862. His brothers Jason
and John were similarly charged. A charge of Larceny was later added, People vs. Wilford Luce, 17
Two weeks after the incident, on 14 January, warrants were issued for the arrest of all those involved.
The Luces, Neibaur and Reynolds were arrested. (Deseret News, 15 January 1862). Smith and
Huntington were believed to have been involved in the January 12th theft of $800 from the Townsend
stable. After the arrest of the others a saddle horse was stolen in West Jordan, and Huntington, Smith
and Clawson were seen heading west along the stagecoach road. Warrants were issued for their arrest,
and Porter Rockwell tracked them to Faust's Station. The three men were ordered to come out, and
Huntington did so without haste, and was shot while mounting his stolen horse. Smith and Clawson were
returned to Salt Lake where they were shot at close range, one of them in the face, by police who claimed
that they had attempted to escape. (Deseret News, 22 January 1862).
On 17 January the surviving members of the gang were interogated. Bail was set at $1,000 for Wilford
Luce, Jason Luce, and Wood Reynolds, and at $500 for John M. Luce and Isaac Neibaur. (Deseret News,
22 January 1862). Wilford and Jason Luce were unable to post bail and remained in jail at the Townsend
Hotel. According to Hickman, Brigham Young forbade anyone to bail them out, but after about two
months Hickman posted bail for Jason Luce, and Wilford got bail a few days later. According to
Hickman, he heard from Jason Luce that Jason had been approached by Sheriff Bob Golden and
instructed to give the Governor a good beating. Jason said that the gang had only followed orders,
expecting to be protected by the authorities if any trouble should come of it, and he was unhappy about
his treatment. The trial was held in March 1862. Wilford was found Guilty and fined $50 and sentenced
to one year in the penitentiary, while Isaac Neibaur and John Martin Luce were found Not Guilty.
At a separate trial the same month, Jason Luce was fined $50, and Wood Reynolds was fined $25. Wood
Reynolds died later the same year, on 9 June 1862, in suspicious circumstances. He had been driving a
stage when his scalped and naked body was found pierced with arrows and with his heart ripped out.
Reynold's death was attributed to Indians, but it was generally believed that his death was engineered by
church authorities. Wilford Luce was pardoned by the governor on 8 December 1862 and released from
Wilford Luce Sr., about 1871 Wilford Luce Sr
From original at Utah State Historical Society