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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
George O. Luce

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[This information is from Vol. IV, pp. 99-100 of History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925, edited by Nelson Greene (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 974.7 G81h. This online edition includes lists of portraits, maps and illustrations. As noted by Paul Keesler in his article, "The Much Maligned Mr. Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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There were few persons in Ilion more widely or more popularly known than the late George O. Luce, who for years was chief of the fire department of that village, and it is but fitting that in this definite history of the general community in which he spent his life there should be carried some fitting tribute to the good memory he has left there. Mr. Luce was a native son of Ilion and all his life was spent there. He was born on February 22, 1876, and was a son of Cornelius V. and Anna (McDermott) Luce, the latter of whom was born at Utica, New York, October 13, 1852. She died at Ilion on September 27, 1900. The late Cornelius V. Luce also was a native New Yorker, born at Mohawk, this state, February 2, 1849. He early became skilled in the toolmaker's trade and as a young man became engaged as a toolmaker in the plant of E. Remington & Sons at Ilion. He later became a contractor under the direction of the Remington Arms Company, and after following that line for some time became engaged in business on his own account, opening a wholesale and retail liquor establishment at Ilion, and was thus engaged the remainder of his life. He died at Ilion in August, 1907, and was survived by six children, the subject of this memorial sketch having three brothers and two sisters, the latter of whom, Mrs. Mabel Rupp and Mrs. Lois Seipp, both live in Chicago. The elder brother, Harry C. Luce, who was born at Utica, New York, July 21, 1872, died at Flint, Michigan, in January, 1922. The younger brother, Albert P. Luce, is now a resident of Detroit, Michigan.

Charles S. Luce, the second in order of birth of these brothers, was born at Utica, on February 17, 1874, and was but a child when his parents moved to Ilion. He thus received his schooling in the Ilion public schools. Under the capable direction of his father he became a toolmaker and mechanical draftsman and was for ten years connected with the Remington Arms Company's plant in that capacity. When the free delivery of mail was established in Ilion in 1898, Mr. Luce was one of the first letter carriers appointed for that village, and he ever since has been serving as a letter carrier there, this useful service now having covered a period of more than twenty-seven years. He also for nearly thirty years was a member of the Ilion Volunteer Fire Department, attached to Hose Company No. 1, and was for thirteen years foreman of the same. He also served for two years as chief of the volunteer fire department. On July 18, 1899, at Fort Plain, New York, Charles S. Luce was united in marriage to Miss Nancy Elizabeth Goo, who was born in Ilion, New York, on December 9, 1869, a daughter of Peter W. and Elizabeth (Yount) Goo. Mr. and Mrs. Luce have a son, Charles G. Luce, who was born on May 14, 1902.

The late George O. Luce, the immediate subject of this memorial review, received his schooling in the Ilion public schools and as a lad was well trained in the art and mystery of toolmaking, early becoming a toolmaker in the plant of the Remington Arms Company, with which concern he remained until the time of his father's death, in 1907, when he became manager in charge of the wholesale liquor establishment his father had founded at Ilion, and with this business he remained actively connected until his appointment in 1918 to the position of chief of the paid fire department at Ilion, the village board having in that year determined to put the old volunteer fire department on a metropolitan basis, with up-to-date equipment and with systematic direction. Mr. Luce thus became the first paid fire chief at Ilion, a position he occupied until his death. When a boy of seventeen, back in 1893, Mr. Luce had become attached to the old volunteer fire department and was ever thereafter one of the most devoted and active members of the same. He started in as a member of the old Hook and Ladder Company No. 1, and when that organization was disbanded in 1896 he went over to Hose Company No. 1, of which he continued a member until his death. For several years he served as foreman of this company and then in 1911 was appointed chief of the old volunteer department, continuing thus to serve until he was made chief of the paid department in 1918. For some time during the years of his connection with the plant of the Remington Arms Company he served as chief of the fire brigade which was organized within the force for emergency service in the factory. During the time that Chief Luce had charge of the Ilion fire department many important changes in methods were inaugurated and much new equipment installed, including the motorization of the department to the extent of two triple combinations, combining hose, chemical and ladders. During this time also a fire alarm system was established, a system of four circuits and thirty-six boxes. Mr. Luce took much pride in the accomplishments of this department and continued actively connected with the same as chief until his death, which occurred at Ilion on August 20, 1922. Mr. Luce was a member of the Church of the Annunciation (Roman Catholic) at Ilion and was a republican. He was an active and ever interested member of the New York State Fire Chiefs Association and also was affiliated with the International Fire Chiefs Association, ever taking an interest in and keeping fully abreast of new methods of fire fighting. He was a member of the Ilion Lodge of the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks, No. 1444, and of Nokomis Tribe of the Improved Order of Red Men at Ilion.

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