Out of the spirit of the pioneer of yesterday, men of loyal devotion, energy and progressiveness, has emerged the Lone Star State of today with its immense activities. To these builders of yesterday, who laid foundations, is due much of the success of the present and future eras. In the list of capable pioneers of the state, no name stands out with greater prominence and none is more worthy of honorable mention, not simply as one of the makers of Texas, but as a leading spirit of the Southwest, than is the name of Henry J. Lutcher. He was known and esteemed by three generations as lumber king, financier and Christian philanthropist. Henry J. Lutcher was born at the Block House, Center County, Pennsylvania, November 4th, 1836, son of Lewis and Barbara Lutcher, natives of Germany, who came to America and Center County in 1826, where the wife died in 1883, followed by the death of her husband nine days later. At the age of twenty-one Mr. Lutcher engaged in business for himself, both as a farmer and in managing a meat shop in his native town. Being successful in his first venture he was ambitious for larger fields, and in his twenty-seventh year entered a partnership with John Waltman in the lumber business, under the firm name of Lutcher and Waltman. This partnership continued for two years, at which time Mr. G. Bedell Moore purchased Mr. Waltman's interest, becoming a partner in the rapidly expanding business. Mr. Lutcher retained a keen interest in the cattle business, and during the early part of his venture in lumber he purchased and had delivered at Williamsport a large number of cattle which were disposed of by the local meat houses, the transaction proving very successful, adding nearly $60,000 to the increasing fortune of the future lumber king. In January, 1877, Mr. Lutcher came to Texas in search of timber land. Accompanied by his partner they journeyed along the Nueces River, and then along the west side of the Sabine to Burr's Ferry, when they crossed and came down the east bank to Orange, having located the finest belt of long leaf pine timber they had ever seen. Seeing the wonderful opportunity, the firm purchased a vast acreage of these lands, and in 1877 located at Orange one of the largest saw mills in the country. This venture met with success and other mills were built in Texas and Louisiana in later years. Other industrial plants in Orange are the outgrowth of this beginning and are owned and operated by Mr. Lutcher's family or former associates.
In the construction and operation of these vast industries no expense was spared to secure every new idea suggested that could in any way better conditions or add to the producing capacity of the mills. So thoroughly were these ideas worked out that mill owners of various parts of the country have for years patterned after these properties. Up to the time of Mr. Lutcher's coming to Orange, cypress had been the main product of the mills in this section and pine had not taken its place. He had a conviction that there was a great future in Southern pine, and he backed his judgment with great investments of money, securing the necessary amount of credit that was needed. Fighting his way through many obstacles that always confront the pioneer, he built up a business with enormous assets, which made rich men of those who had the good fortune to be associated with him.
Mr. Lutcher was a widely traveled man, a deep student, a logical reasoner and an interesting conversationalist. He possessed a fine library, of which he made frequent use, despite his many cares and responsibilities. Here he found the best thoughts of the world's greatest scholars and thinkers, from which he partook not only to expand his views, but that he might confer the results of his reading and research upon those with whom he came in contact. He left a large fortune, an unsullied name and a wide reputation for probity of character which will stand for all time as an illustration of what can be accomplished by pluck, energy and perseverance. On January 23rd, 1858, Mr. Lutcher was united in marriage to Miss Frances Ann Robinson, daughter of David Robinson of Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Two children were born to this union, Miriam, wife of W. H. Stark, and Carrie Luana, who married the late Dr. E. W. Brown.
W. H. Stark today is the president of the Lutcher and Moore Lumber Company, with which he has been identified for many years. He has contributed much to the carrying on of this business as well as most all of the leading financial and industrial concerns in Orange. An interesting incident of his life is that as a boy, employed as a sawyer in the lumber mill of R. B. Russell, he sawed lumber and timber that built the first Lutcher and Moore Lumber mill in Orange. Although of a retiring and modest disposition, Mr. Stark is today considered one of the leading men of Texas and of the South. There is probably no business man in the state who is more highly respected, honored and beloved than he is. His office is ever open, not only to capitalists and men of big affairs, but to working men, and to those less fortunate in material things. Of the union of W. H. Stark and Miss Mariam M. Lutcher were born two children, Frances Ann, who died in infancy at the age of twenty months, and H. J. Lutcher Stark. The latter, although a young man, has rapidly forged to the forefront in business, civic and educational affairs in Texas, serving at this time as a regent of the University of Texas.
Mrs. H. J. Lutcher, who survived her husband twelve years, devoted much of her life to the welfare of humanity, and for her Chrisitian deeds was honored and respected by the citizenship of Texas. Her thoughts were ever for the welfare of the less fortunate in this life. As a memorial to her husband she built the First Presbyterian Church of Orange, one of the finest edifices of its kind in the United States. Being close to the large industrial plants of her husband, she came to realize the number of unavoidable accidents that come to the men who labor, and after mature thought she established the Frances Ann Lutcher Hospital in Orange at a cost of $500,000. Provision was made whereby no remuneration should ever be received by the owner, but any compensation received should go to the upkeep fund, and it was Mrs. Lutcher's expressed desire that the doors should always be open to the sick and suffering. At the time of the dedication of the hospital the following was said of her, which sums up the life of one of Texas' noblest women: "Her loving, womanly character, deeply spiritual, is a study in the responsibility of great wealth. Her life is beautiful because it is simple and honest. It is the simplicity that makes it touching. It is said, the right use of money is to accomplish what you wish with it, then Frances Ann Lutcher can give a good account of her stewardship, for 'Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these, ye have done it unto Me.' "
Mrs. W. H. Stark inherited the fine Christian qualities of her father and mother, and devotes much of her time to carrying out their policies and wishes in social and civic affairs. She is a kindly type of woman, beloved by all of the citizenship of her community.
In the passing of H. J. Lutcher in October, 1912, one more of Texas' hardy pioneers returned to his Maker. His loss was not only felt in the city of his adoption, but throughout the state. His mourners were not only scores of leading lumbermen and prominent business men, but his former employees and associates af a lifetime. At the funeral there were more than eight hundred of his working men, both white and black. Every business house in the city was closed for two hours during the funeral. His influence was always for good, and it continues on to the present day, his policies being carried out by those of his family and associates, who had learned his methods, and who had become imbued by his Christian spirit. The memory of his well lived life will ever fill a bright page in the history of Texas.