To live ninety years on earth is the lot of very few human beings. To find one's self, at ninety, with all one's physical senses and mental faculties unimpaired, and with an almost youthful vigor, both of body and mind, is an occurrence so rare and exceptional as properly to be considered a phenomenon. Yet this, without exaggeration, is the lot of Samuel Lutz. And the ninety years which he has lived, and for seventy-five of which he has been an interested student and observer of human affairs, have been among the most eventful the world has ever seen. It is doubtful if, even in the civil and political history of the world, any previous era of equal length has been marked by so many important changes as those which have characterized the past ninety years. And, certain it is, that the discoveries and inventions in science and the useful arts, which have been made during the same period, exceed in number and magnitude those of any previous century. A bare enumeration of the great historical events and scientific discoveries which have passed under Mr. Lutz's careful, intelligent and studious observation, would occupy more space in these pages than that which the limits of our space necessarily prescribe for his biography.
Samuel Lutz was born March 13, 1789, in Upper Saucon township, Northumberland county, Pennsylvania. His parents were Jacob and Elizabeth (Demuth) Lutz, his mother being a native of Bucks county, and his father of Newton. They were married about the year 1787. His grandfather, Ulrich Lutz (also a native of Pennsylvania), died about 1790; his great-grandfather (and first-known ancestor) emigrated from Germany to the same German-American State, near the year 1730. Notwithstanding their remote connection with the Father-land, the family have persevered in the use of the German language, down to the present generation.
At a family reunion held at the residence of Samuel Lutz, in Salt Creek township, October 15, 1877, to commemerate the seventy-fifth anniversary of the settlement of the family in that locality, John A. Lutz, one of the sons of Samuel Lutz, the only lawyer and professional writer thus far produced by the family, this spoke of the family name and first-known progenitor:
"The name seems to be purely arbitrary, without any known significance, and, possibly, may have been obtained from the place of nativity, as there is a town in Germany called Lutzen [Luetzen in German], noted in history as the place where the great battle was fought during the thirty years' war, in which the brave Gustavus Adolphus, king of Sweden, was killed. The name being quite common, both in Germany and in this country, is doubtless of remote antiquity, dating back, perhaps to the days of Herman, or even Julius Ceaser."
We would remind our friend Lutz, that there is a German provincial word, luetzel, meaning the same as the English adjective, "little," and doubtless only another form of that and the common German, leitel. Luetzel might easily have been contracted into luetz, and that transformed (by a slight change of spelling, frequently met with in German) into lutz--thus furnishing the family name. This etymology derives a singular plausibility from the diminutive size which is said to be a striking characteristic of the Lutzes.
He proceeds in the following pleasant vein:
Baron Von Lutz, the minister of education of Austria, may be a descendant of the same ancestor, and simply had the title of nobility cast upon him or his immediate ancestors, by some play of fortune, during some of the revolutions and political upheavals, which have taken place in Germany, in the last few centuries; for the venerable dame is somewhat capricious in the bestowment of her favors, and has been known to make noblemen out of plowmen. But if he is of the same ancestry, his lineage is so remote that, like a distant planet, the light reflected by him does not affect us in the least, either for good or evil.
Tradition has it, and we have accepted it as a true history, that about the year 1730, a little old bachelor, by the name of Michael Lutz, came from Germany and settled in Northampton county, Pennsylvania. It is not known what part of Germany he came from, and it has been suggested that, perhaps, he was a natural [illegitimate] son, and was silent as to his ancestry, or had not sense enough to tell where he came from.
He soon found that a different stat of things obtained in this country. In the densely populated Sates of Germany, he might have been permitted to remain an old bachelor, and to waste his sweetness on the desert air; but here, where immense forests were to be cleared and the land brought into cultivation, towns and cities, to be built, the increase of population was a very important item in political economy; and the policy of the colonies was not unlike that of Brigham Young--to utilize all propagating elements. He was admonished that no such moral and social delinquency as bachelorhood could be tolerated. For some reason, he seemed to be unsuccessful in his efforts to obtain a wife, and therefore the elders of the church to which he belonged came to his relief, either from motives of brotherly kindness, or of public policy, and soon procured for him a wife. The issue of this union was two sons, and perhaps one or two daughters.
He purchased a small tract of land in Northampton county, on the south side of the Lehigh river, and not far from its mouth, upon which he lived the remainder of his days, and which is said to be still owned by one of his descendants. Of his history, only these few fragments have escaped oblivion. What became of his daughters, if they, or either of them, lived to years of maturity, and left any children, we do not know. His elder son was named Benedict, and the younger, Ulrich. Upon the death of the father, Benedict inherited, by laws which obtained in Pennsylvania, twice as much of his father's estate as Ulrich; and although the estate was small, there seems to have been enough to create a coldness between the brothers; and in consequence of this, the families separated, and but little intercourse passed between them.
Benedict Lutz lived to a great age, and died about the year 1818, in Pennsylvania. Some of his descendants are still living in Pennsylvania, but further than this we have no knowledge of them.
Ulrich Lutz married Elizabeth Dice, about the ear 1760. Her parents came from Dupont, Germany, and she possessed considerable native intellect, with a liberal endowment of common sense, and the improvement in intellect which the family exhibited subsequent to this, was doubtless inherited from her. Though herself of medium stature, she was descended from a family noted for their size. Two of her uncles, about seven feet in height, served in Frederick William of Prussia's celebrated regiment of giants. Though most of us are mere pigmies in stature, it would seem we have some of the blood of the giants in our veins. They lived in Springfield township, Bucks county, Pennsylvania, till about the year 1790, when they, with their sons and families, moved to Shamokin Valley, Northumberland county, where Ulrich Lutz died, the same year.
In 1794, Jacob Lutz, the father of Samuel Lutz, moved from Shamokin valley, Northumberland county, Pennsylvania, to Buffalo valley, a beautiful and fertile portion of the same county. Here he resided until September, 1802, when, with his wife, five sons and his mother, he emigrated to Ohio, and, on the fifteenth day of the same month, settled on the premises where his son, Samuel Lutz, now resides.
His sons were Samuel, Jacob D., John D., Joseph, and Peter. The last two died in their boyhood; the other three grew up to manhood, and, being trained to the occupation of farming, became leading farmers of this county. There were then no public schools in this State, but their father, appreciating the importance of an education, provided his sons with books, and encouraged them to study at home; and, in this way, they acquired a good practical education.
Samuel Lutz married Elizabeth Fetherolf on the fifteenth day of October, 1811. His father set off to him one hundred and eighty-five acres of land, from the west side of his home tract, as part of his patrimony. Upon this he erected a cabin to live in, near the site of his present fine residence, and commenced the work of felling the native forest and bringing the land under cultivation. This was no easy task at that day, for there was very little money in circulation, and hired labor was scarce; and the following year our country became involved in a war with Great Britain, and many of the able bodied men in the new settlement were called to the defence of the frontier, which made it still more difficult to obtain hired labor. He served, himself, a short campaign, under the general call, and he was once drafted for a thirty-days' term, for which he furnished a substitute. The financial depression, which followed the war, produced stringent times and seriously checked every form of improvement in the new States. But, notwithstanding these obstacles, he toiled on, and, after ten years or more of hard labor and self-denial, he had the pleasure of seeing himself the owner of a well-improved farm, with fair prospects of enjoying some of its comforts. He be came the owner, in the meantime, of other lands, and united with farming the business of raising and dealing in live stock, which subsequently became a prominent part of his business. he was one of the pioneers in driving live stock form the Scioto valley to the eastern cities, having driven cattle to Baltimore as early as the year 1822. The business in which he was engaged was well adapted to his habits and taste, and he took considerable interest in live stock, being never in better spirits than when he had his farms well stocked with cattle. Though his principal business was as just stated, yet he managed to devote considerable time to surveying, which was rather a favorite pursuit with him, and one in which he acquired quite a reputation for accuracy and skill. In most of the litigated cases of disputed lines or overlapping surveys in the Virginia military district in this county, he was employed to make surveys, and his opinions had great weight with the court and jury in deciding them.
He has always been a man of decided political convictions, and the exercise of the right of suffrage, with him, has been a sacred duty; and it is doubtful whether he ever failed to vote at a political election. His first vote for president was cast for James Madison, and the last for General Hayes. In the days of the old Whig party he was one of its leaders in this county, and Henry Clay was his ideal of a statesman; and, perhaps, no one suffered more keenly than he the mortification of Clay's defeat for the presidency, in 1844. As a Whig, he was elected four times to represent this county in the legislature: the first time in 1830, and the last in 1849. He held many minor offices, and it can be said, with truth, that he performed the duties of every public trust, to which he was called, with fidelity. Upon the repeal of the Missouri compromise and the organization of the Republican party, he united with it, and became a radical anti-slavery man. He supported Lincoln for the presidency, and, when the South seceded, he was in favor of coercion, and he heartily endorsed the war measures of his administration. Though more than three-score-and-ten, when the Rebellion began, yet he took a deep interest in the efforts of the government to suppress it, and contributed money liberally to encourage enlistment.And, perhaps, no events which have occurred in his life were more joyful to him than the abolition of slavery, and the final triumph of our arms in the suppression of the Rebellion.
Naturally inclined to be studious, in early life he provided himself with a good library, and his leisure moments were devoted to reading and to the study of mathematics, in which he became well versed.
Endowed with a good share of common sense and a generous nature, and having acquired extensive practical knowledge and a readiness with the pen, he made himself very useful to his neighbors and to the community in which he lives.
His manner of living was plain and simple, and his habits strictly temperate. His life, in some respects, has been a success, having raised a family of nine children and accumulated an estate of three thousand acres of land in Pickaway and Ross counties, which he distributed among his children as they arrived at full age or married.
On the fifteenth day of October, 1861, he and his wife had the pleasure of celebrating their golden wedding. His wife died on the fifteenth day of April, 1868, aged seventy-four years and four months. They had fourteen children, five of whom died in infancy. The remaining nine are still living, are married, and have families. The following are the names of these surviving children: Samuel G.; Harriet, wife of Robert Zurwehly; Catharine, wife of Ovid Lutz; Isaac; John A.; Lydia, wife of Peter Lutz; George; Mary, wife of Lewis R. Lesher; and Rachel, wife of Christopher Patrick. The oldest of these is sixty-tow, and the youngest forty-two. The living descendants of Samuel Lutz are nine children, forty-nine grandchildren, and thirty-one great-grandchildren.
The Lutzes are a social race, and not interesting anniversary is allowed to pass with being celebrated by its appropriate family reunion. The last of these which has thus far been held, was on the thirteenth of March, 1879, the ninetieth anniversary of Samuel Lutz's birth. The orator of that occasion was Harry E. Lutz, a grandson of "our hero," and a son of John A. Lutz, the lawyer. If it be true, as we have heard it intimated, that he is ambitious to attain a high rank in the honored profession of journalism, we hazard nothing in predicting, that at no distant day, should his life and health be spared, he will fully realize his ambition. His address, on the occasion referred to, was so graceful and felicitious [sic.], and, withal, so fine a resume for the life and character of his honored grandfather, that we insert it here:
Nearly seventy-seven years ago two large, canvas-covered wagons plodded slowly westward from Pennsylvania. they passed over hills covered with the majestic trees of the forest; they journeyed through valleys richly mantled with flowers and grass; they crossed peaceful rivulets, angry torrents, and broad rivers. In one of those wagons there was a boy of thirteen summers. He was small in stature, but his bright gray eyes, which shone beneath a broad, high forehead, and lighted up a thoughtful-looking face, betokened a maturity of mind beyond his years. Untutored and in experienced though he was, he had enough of natural-force of mind to overcome the disadvantages of his position. This journey introduced him into a new life, for those wagons finally halted in the valley which has now been his home for seventy-seven years, and we meet to-day to celebrate the ninetieth birthday of that boy, who is now father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.
In 1807 he studied surveying at Chillicothe, under John G. Macan, and last year, after seventy-one years' service in that profession, he bought a new stock of instruments, expecting to begin life anew. In 1810 he surveyed the first public road which the pickaway county commissioners ordered, and recently, after an interval of sixty-nine years, he was again appointed to resurvey a portion of that same road.
In 1811 he married Elizabeth Fetherolf, and they, together, shared the joys and the sorrows of life for a full half centry.
In 1813 he served a few weeks in the militia, when Ohio received a fright from the British, which has only been equalled by that which John Morgan's raid occasioned in 1863. Although it is a family trait "to snore louder in bed than to shout in battle," our hero was not without glory in this his only campaign, for he confidently affirms that he fired off his gun once, which is more than many of his fellow warriors could say. And for this invaluable service his grateful country has pensioned him and given him one hundred and sixty acres of land. He afterwards served eighteen years as a justice of the peace, and represented his county in four sessions of the Ohio legislature.
Such is the record of his life, as it would be told to a stranger, but it is as inadequate as the boy's note of his daily experiences, that "he got up, washed, and went to bed." Behind this short account there is another, of days of joy and days of sorrow, of weeks of pain and weeks of pleasure, of years of gain and years of loss; and it is this account which truly shows the progress of his mind, but which we have not now time to trace.
We will, therefore, turn from the life to the character of our hero, and we shall find that, in the words of Emerson, the man towers head and shoulders above his deeds. The most prominent characteristic of his min is force. He puts his whole soul into whatever he undertakes. He is inclined to go over or through, rather than around. You have noticed an ant moving along on the earth, and have noticed that when it comes to an obstacle in its path it immediately turns aside. That is the way with some men; they change their course whenever anything opposes them, without trying to overcome it. But that is not the way with our hero. If it is possible, he will go over, or he will go through. Last summer, while in Adelphi, a man told me an anecdote which fully illustrates this trait in his character. About fifteen or twenty years ago, he was carrying one end of the chain, while surveying a field, and the man was carrying the other, when they came to a large pond. He urged our hero to make a triangle and estimate the distance across, but, with scowls, was answered: "Come on, come on; what are you about? Let's go through!" And in they plunged, up to their waists, and did go through. This same force of mind, however, makes him impatient of slow people, and causes him, also, to get into what has been called a "cast-iron sweat" at trifles.
Another trait of his character is inquisitiveness. He would walk a mile to find out a stranger's name, and think that he was amply repaid for his journey, though he should forget it the next day. He would have made a first-class newspaper reporter, if he had been taken when young, for he could get an interview with the greatest man on earth any day. While we were traveling, he wanted to know the name of every station which we passed, and asked me all sorts of questions about the things which he saw, and not unfrequently compelled me to expose my ignorance, and that was rather rough on my pride, you know. He invariably inquired the price of everything, from a boot-black's outfit to the steel bridge at St. Louis. Macaulay may have had a great memory, but I would be willing to wager a fortune that our hero has forgotten more than he knew. But notwithstanding all the facts that have passed from his mind, his inquisitiveness has not been in vain, for he is well posted in history, and has a wide knowledge of current events.
Another characteristic of his mind is studiousness. he sometimes works at a problem during a whole day, which is something that neither love nor money could induce any of his descendants to do. Farm life has very little in it to stimulate one to hard study, but our hero overcame those discouragements, and is now well acquainted with the different branches of mathematics. But this special study did not so bias his mind that he neglected other things, for he has read much of the classical prose and poetry. Last summer, when in his ninetieth year, he bought a volume of poems, and since then has spent many of his leisure moments in reading those stirring Scottish lays of Robert Burns.
The chief characteristic of our hero's old age is vigor. To-day, were we to walk a race, he would outstrip one-half of us. Last summer, when strong men were lying under shade-trees, complaining of the heat--when people of all ages and conditions were being stricken down in the great cities--our hero surveyed a field in Ross county. When eighty-six years of age he climbed to the top of Bunker Hill monument, and, a few days afterward, he went up the three hundred and sixty-four steps leading to the dome of the capitol at Washington. In 1876 he passed through that most wearisome of all ordeals, the attending of the Centennial. And that he fully appreciates his vigor, the following anecdote will show: Last summer, while we were at Cincinnati, he started to get into a stree[t]-car before it should stop, but I kept him from doing so; and when we were seated in the car the driver passed through and remarked that he was too old a man to get on a car while it was in motion. At that a scowl came over our hero's face, like a thunder-cloud, and, throwing up his arms, he exclaimed, with withering contempt, "That's nothing; I could jump over the whole car." Then seeing the general look of amused incredulity, he added, with emphasis, "Why, yes! why, yes!"
Whatever position in society our hero has attained, it has been entirely owing to his own efforts. No long line of ancestors has given him "title deeds to sloth." Others may boast of their descent, but he can glory in his ascent. As the Swedish epic says:
"Boast not they father's fame--'tis his alone,
We are accustomed to speak of beauty as an exclusive attribute of youth, but we forget that nature has thrown a mantle of grace over old age also. One is the beauty of action; the other, the beauty of repose. One is the beauty of a torrent dashing over rocky precipices; the other is the beauty of still waters, which unchangeably mirror the heavens. The bright green of a forest in spring is beautiful; but so, also, are the golden hues of the trees in autumn. The rosey-faced child and the white-haired old man, alike command our love. And we can think of nothing in which our hero has been more fortunate than in having all the venerableness of age, without its pains and its weaknesses.
A bow that thou canst bend is scarce thine own.
What can a buried glory be to thee?
By its own force the river gains the sea."
I would call him great, not only because he has performed his part in the drama of life well, but also because I think that his natural talents are sufficiently above mediocrity to make him deserving of that name. Great men do not always occupy high places, and the heroes whose names adorn the pages of history are outnumbered by heroes equally great, though unknown to fame. In the story of our family, one of the brightest pages will be the one which records the struggles and triumphs of Samuel Lutz.
The grandmother who accompanied Mr. Lutz to Ohio, died at the home of her son, June 23, 1818, aged about seventy-five. His father died September 4, 1824, at sixty-two, and his mother, January 27, 1842, at eighty-six.
Mr. Lutz was, as we have seen, abut thirteen years of age when he left his native State, having received there only such education as the pennsylvania common schools afforded. After his arrival here, the only training which he received from a teacher was that obtained during the two months under Professor Macan, studying the elements of surveying. So that, even in his favorite science, it may properly be said that he was self-taught.
At the family re-union (the first one noticed above) held to commemorate the settlement of the Lutz family in Pickaway county, a large stone (after the good old Jewish fashion) was set up and dedicated, as a memento of the event. The formula for the dedication of this stone, pronounced by John A. Lutz at the close of his address on that occasion, will form an appropriate ending for this imperfect sketch. It is as follows:
"To perpetuate the memory of the interesting event which we to-day celebrate, and as a memorial of the divine goodness to us as a family, I now solemnly dedicate this simple monument, composed of a rude boulder, found upon these premises, and doubtless brought hither by the great northern drifts. Of itself it is a monument of the wonderful changes which have taken place on the surface of the earth in the geologic periods of the past, in the formation and preparation of these picturesque hills and beautiful fertile valleys for the abode, comfort, and happiness of man.
"May no rude hand deface it, nor unrestrained violence destroy it, but may it ever remain to remind the future generations of our children o[f] the event we celebrate, and of the goodness of God and their ancestors. And to this let all the kindred say, Amen."