Esseneth "Essie" Luce

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Esseneth "Essie" Luce (Wilson)

Also Known As: "Essie Wilson"
Birthdate:
Birthplace: Tuscola, Douglas County, Illinois, United States
Death: December 29, 1927 (49)
Rock Springs, Sweetwater County, Wyoming, United States
Place of Burial: Big Piney, Sublette, WY, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of John Calvin Wilson and Elizabeth Ann Wilson
Wife of Wilford Woodruff "Will" Luce
Mother of Wilford Frank Luce; Vivian Swanström; Edwin Wilson Luce; {Unnamed Infant Twin} Luce; {Unnamed Infant Twin} Luce and 2 others
Half sister of ... Wilson; William Brian Wilson and ... Wilson

Managed by: Justin Swanstrom
Last Updated:

About Esseneth "Essie" Luce

Biography

Esseneth "Essie" (Wilson) Luce was born on May 12, 1878 in Tuscola, Douglas County, Illinois, United States. Her parents were John Calvin Wilson and Elizabeth Ann (Mallory) Wilson.

Esseneth married Wilford Woodruff "Will" Luce, Jr. on October 24, 1898 in Champaign, Champaign Co, Illinois. Together they had the following children: Wilford Frank Luce; Vivian (Luce) Swanström; Edwin Wilson Luce; {Unnamed Infant Twin} Luce; {Unnamed Infant Twin} Luce; James Harvey Luce; Elizabeth Mae Luce.

She died on December 29, 1927 in Rock Springs, Sweetwater County, Wyoming, United States and was buried on January 1, 1928 in Plainview Cemetery, Big Piney, Sublette, WY, United States.



She was a small woman, just 5' tall. She had beautiful dark auburn hair, hair which her husband called her "crowning glory," and a "delicate Welsh complexion". She attended a private school in Decatur, Illinois, where her teacher was Mary Helen Sommers Rinehart (1863-1920), later a close friend. The two exchanged photos and letters in later years. she also attended a private school in Kaskaskia. She was raised a Baptist and was a member of the Democratic Party.

When she was five her father died and her guardian squandered much of her property. Her half-brother, William B. Wilson, had a difficult time trying to conserve her property and get a responsible guardian appointed.

In 1898 Essie married Will Luce in a wedding at the Baptist Church in Champaign, Illinois. After the wedding, they travelled by train from Champaign to Opal, Wyoming, then 90 miles by wagon to the ranch at Big Piney.

The family did not attend church in Wyoming, nor were any of the children baptized, but Essie gave her children Bible lessons at home on Sunday mornings. During Essie's early years on the ranch her husband was frequently away from home. Indians of various tribes, including Shoshoni and Arapahoe, usually from the Wind River Reservation near Lander, would come through the valley begging for food. Essie always fed them, both out of a practical compassion for their hunger and out of awareness of her vulnerability as a woman alone. On one occasion, about 1900, a single Indian, an Arapahoe, came to the door and forced his way inside. He held a knife to the throat of Essie's baby Frank and demanded food. Essie fed him, of course, but afterwards she was more frightened of Indians than before.

Essie accompanied her husband each fall on the trip to Omaha to sell cattle and spend a few days shopping. Until her mother's death in 1909 they also made an annual visit to Essie's family in Champaign, traveling by train. One year they made the entire journey by stagecoach. They often went to Saltair in Utah during the summer.

Some extracts from the local newspaper:

  • "Mrs. W. W. Luce, who is now visiting in Champaign, Ill., will not return home this winter. She has a new son." [Pinedale Roundup, Pinedale, Wyo., Thurs., Dec. 22, 1904.]
  • "W. W. Luce started for Evanston last Tuesday." [Pinedale Roundup, Pinedale, Wyo., Wed., Apr. 18, 1906.]
  • "Reports from Evanston are to the effect that Wm. Luce, a prominent rancher on the Green River, has effected a reconciliation with his wife as the outcome of a suit for divorce instituted by Mrs. Luce. Mrs. Luce has been east for some time and has now returned for the children, and together they will return to the ranch. Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Luce." [Pinedale Roundup, Pinedale, Wyo., Wed., May 23, 1906.]
  • "Mr. and Mrs. W. W. Luce and family are expected in Piney tonight on their way to their ranch home on the Green river. Mrs. Luce and the children have just recently returned from a visit to her parents in Illinois, since which time they have been in Evanston. Their many friends in the vicinity gladly welcome them back." [Pinedale Roundup, Pinedale, Wyo., Wed., May 30, 1906.]
  • "John Wardell Sr. returned home from Opal a few days ago bringing the new piano for W. W. Luce." and "Mrs. W. W. Luce received a piano from a Denver firm last Monday. It is a very fine instrument and no doubt we will have "music in the air" now." [Pinedale Roundup, Pinedale, Wyo., Wed., Apr. 24, 1907.]

Essie and her husband were founding members of St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church, organized in 1914. About the same time they sent their daughter Vivian to an Episcopal school for girls in Denver.

About 1915 or 1916 they went to the San Francisco World's Fair (the Pacific Panama Exposition, which opened 4 December 1915). They were founders of the annual 4th of July Barbecue at Big Piney, where a steer was buried in coals and roasted. On 9 September 1907 she filed for 320 acres in Sublette County under the Desert Land Act (the East one-half of the Southwest one-quarter of Section 10, the West one-half of the Southeast one-quarter of Section 10, the Southwest one-quarter of Northeast one-quarter of Section 10, the Southeast one-quarter of the Northwest one-quarter of Section 10, the Northeast one-quarter of the Northeast one-quarter of Section 15, and the Northeast one-quarter of the Northwest one-quarter of Section 15, all in Township 30 North, Range 110 West).

As the family prospered, Essie had a cook and a "yellow girl" to help with the laundry. She loved cats and kept quite a few of them in house at a time when their neighbors usually had only half-wild barn cats and kept only one, at most, in the house.

A death notice published in the Rock Springs Rocket says, "Mrs. Luce was brought to Rock Springs Christmas Day from her ranch home near Big Piney. Early in the week she lapsed into unconsciousness from which she never rallied. When it became apparent that she would not recover members of her family were sent for, arriving several hours before her death."

At the time of her death, Essie owned property in Illinois including a house in Champaign which she had inherited from her mother. Her half-brother William B. Wilson served as executor of her estate there in 1929. Her children signed their share of the property over to their father who promised to see that it came them after his death. It didn't. After Essie's death, her personal papers, photos and the Wilson family bible were thrown away by her husband's housekeeper. Essie's portrait appears in Progressive Men of the State of Wyoming.

She was a second cousin of Lora Howe, whose husband Elmer Holt, was briefly Governor of Montana.

Death Notice

Well Known Green River Valley Woman Dies Hospital Here

Mrs. William Luce, well known resident of the Green River valley, died at the Wyoming General hospital here yesterday morning. Mrs. Luce was the mother of Miss Vivian Luce, who for three years was a student at the local hospital, from which she was graduated last spring.

Mrs. Luce was brought to Rock Springs Christmas day from her ranch home near Big Piney. Early in the week she lapsed into unconsciousness from which she never rallied. When it became apparent that she would not recover members of her family were sent for, arriving several hours before her death. Decedent is survived by her husband, one daughter, Vivian, and two sons, Frank and Edwin. Frank resides in Fresno, California.

The family expect to leave tomorrow morning for Big Piney where funeral services will be held and interment take place.

  • Rock Springs Rocket, Dec 30, 1927

Sources

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Esseneth "Essie" Luce's Timeline

1878
May 12, 1878
Tuscola, Douglas County, Illinois, United States
1899
September 18, 1899
Big Piney, WY, United States
1901
November 17, 1901
Big Piney, Sublette Co, Wyoming
1904
October 2, 1904
Champaign, IL, United States
1909
1909
Big Piney, Sublette, WY, United States
1909
Big Piney, Sublette, WY, United States
1913
February 8, 1913
Big Piney, Sublette County, Wyoming, United States
1916
August 20, 1916
Big Piney, Sublette, WY, United States
1927
December 29, 1927
Age 49
Rock Springs, Sweetwater County, Wyoming, United States