Luther B. Pillsbury.

Vice-president of the Somerville Historical Society.—a prominent citizen of Somerville,—Died march 8, 1905.

Luther Batchelder Pillsbury was born in Bridgewater, N. H., November 23, 1832, and was the son of Caleb and Nancy (Nelson) Pillsbury. He was of the sixth generation in descent from William and Dorothy Pillsbury, who were married in Dorchester, Mass., in 1641, and settled in Newburyport, where a descendant erected the original Pillsbury mansion1 in 1700.

Mr. Pillsbury's great-grandfather, Caleb Pillsbury, was one of the most prominent citizens of the town of Amesbury, Mass. He was repeatedly chosen selectman, was representative to the General Court and to the Provincial Congress. He was a captain of militia under the royal authority, and his commission under the king's name, signed by Governor Hutchinson, is carefully preserved by a descendant. He was captain of the little company of fifteen minutemen who marched from Amesbury to Cambridge on the Lexington alarm. Of the members of the company, four were named Pillsbury, three being his own sons. All of his five sons were at different times in the Continental army.

His son Caleb, grandfather of Luther B. Pillsbury, was born in Amesbury. He engaged in agriculture, and occupied at different times farms in Loudon and Bridgewater, N. H. He married Judith Sargent, and both lived to an advanced age. The former's last days were spent at Danville, Vt. The couple were the parents of thirteen children, all of whom grew to maturity. [2]

Their son, Caleb Pillsbury, father of the subject of this sketch, was born and reared in Loudon, N. H., and acquired ed a good education. In early life he taught school, but eventually turned his attention to farming. He removed to Bridgewater, N. H., where he resided until his death, which occurred when he was eighty-seven years of age. He was a man of practical ability and sound judgment, and served as selectman and town clerk in Bridgewater for a period of ten years. His wife, Nancy (Nelson) Pillsbury, was a native of Ipswich, Mass., and a daughter of William Nelson. She was the mother of twelve children (of whom Luther B. was the youngest), and died at the age of fifty-three, when Luther B. was sixteen years of age.

Luther worked on the farm in early life, and by his own efforts was fitted for college at the New Hampton Institute. He taught while yet a student, beginning his first school before his sixteenth birthday, and also was engaged in teaching winters while pursuing his college course at Dartmouth, from which he graduated in 1859. Among the towns he taught in during this period are Campton, N. H., North Sandwich, Mass., South Yarmouth, Mass., Deering, N. H., and Cedarville (Sandwich), Mass. After graduating, he continued to teach for a period of twenty years in grammar and high school positions in Massachusetts. He taught in Canton and in the Reading, Hopkinton, and Bridgewater high schools. For one year he was principal of the Prescott grammar school, Somerville, resigning to accept a submaster's position in the Charlestown high school, which he held several years. He also held a similar position in the Somerville high school.

Over his pupils he exercised a great influence. A teacher who had an intimate acquaintance with his methods asserted that ‘he never saw a man who could keep such good order with so little apparent effort as he.’

Mr. Pillsbury removed to Somerville from Bridgewater, Mass., in 1872, and for many years resided at 45 Sargent avenue, formerly Mills street, where he reared his family. In 1883 he turned his attention to the real estate business, in which he continued until his death. [3]

In politics he was a Republican, and was elected to the Somerville common council in 1877, acting as president of that body in 1878.

In 1863 he was married to Miss Mary A. Leathe, daughter of Edwin B. Leathe, a shoe manufacturer of Reading, who was a teacher before her marriage. Mrs. Pillsbury was connected by ties of blood with the Weston family of Reading and Brooks family of Medford. She possessed considerable literary ability, and contributed poems to the Youth's Companion, the Congregationalist, and other publications. She was the author of the book of poems, ‘Old Mill and Other Poems.’ She died in Somerville in 1888. Of her four children, three survive. They are Edwin Brooks Pillsbury, publisher of the Grocers' Magazine, now residing in Medford; Dr. Ernest D. Pillsbury, a practicing physician at 8 Curtis street, West Somerville; and Miss May F. Pillsbury, a member of the Somerville Journal staff. The youngest son, Harry Nelson Pillsbury, the noted chess player, died in Philadelphia June 17, 1906.

Mr. Pillsbury married February 6, 1895, Mrs. Mary A. Libby, of Somerville, who survives him, and is an active member of the Somerville Historical Society.

He was vice-president of the Somerville Board of Trade, and active in all the meetings of the organization. He was also vice-president of the Somerville Historical Society, and president of the Somerville Fire Underwriters. He was prominent in the Somerville Sons and Daughters of New Hampshire; was a member of the Massachusetts society of the Sons of the American Revolution; past dictator of Winter Hill lodge, Knights of Honor: a contributing member of Willard C. Kinsley post, 139, G. A. R.; a member of the Somerville Y. M. C. A. and the Broadway Congregational church; and also of the Masonic fraternity, in which in his younger days he was very active.

Possessed of a fund of general information, which was always at the disposal of those who sought his counsel, and having a cheerful, even temperament, he was a valuable person in any community. Although not a lawyer, he had an extensive legal [4] knowledge, and was frequently consulted by those in need of advice. In business transactions he had an enviable record for honesty and fair dealing. His main idea in life was to set a good example to, others and to leave an honorable name behind him.

He was unusually interested in public affairs. In whatever pertained to the welfare of the city he took a prominent part, and was always ready to give an opinion on any important question. He was a frequent contributor to the Somerville Journal and other publications, writing with a clear and vigorous style.

Having a good memory, he was able to repeat many passages from the best literature. He was literary in his tastes, and was particularly fond of his library.

The funeral services were held on Saturday, March 11, 1905, at 1 p. m. from his home, 17 Dartmouth street. The city flags were placed at half-mast, and from 12 to 2 o'clock the stores on Broadway in the vicinity of his office were closed. The services were conducted by Rev. Horace H. Leavitt, pastor of the Broadway Congregational church, of which Mr. Pillsbury was a member for many years; Rev. Charles L. Noyes, pastor of the Winter Hill Congregational church, a long-time friend; and Rev. Francis Gray, pastor of the Winter Hill Universalist church, his next neighbor.

The sentiments of affection and esteem which were feelingly expressed at the funeral service and were spread upon the records of the various organizations to which Mr. Pillsbury belonged may be summed up in the following, taken from an editorial in the Somerville Journal:—

‘A man of wide experience and learning, of a kindly and generous nature, and interested in every phase of public development, he was an exceedingly valuable man in the community. In the Winter Hill section of this city no man could be more sorely missed.’

1 Burned about ten years ago.

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