Lucius Willson Pond


Lucius Willson Pond

Hubbardston, Worcester County, Massachusetts, USA
Death 21 May 1889 (aged 63)
Worcester, Worcester County, Massachusetts, USA
Burial Worcester, Worcester County, Massachusetts, USA
Memorial ID 111755209 View Source
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Taken from the Worcester Daily Spy, 22 May 1889

End of a Remarkable Career.

The palliative influence of time, good fellowship and Christian charity.

Lucius W. Pond died about 7 o'clock yesterday morning at his residence, No. 51 Belmont street. He had been in failing health for a year or more, but until about six weeks ago he had been able to attend to his business. He had been confined to the bed about a month, but hoped were entertained that he would recover until within the last week, since which time he had gradually failed. Mr. Pond wa 63 years old.

Lucius W. Pond was born in Hubbardston, April 20, 1826, son of Obadiah and Sally (Waite) Pond. He came to Worcester at the age of 20, in 1846, and learned the machinist's trade of Samuel Flagg & Co., and in 1857 succeeded to that business and firm in his own name. Soon afterwards he built his large shop on Exchange street, corner of Union street, where he carried on a very extensive business in the making of machinists' tools, till the time of his troubles in 1875.

After his return to the city in 1882 he worked at his old trade for a while for other parties, and then he started in business again as a superintendent of the L. W. Pond Machine Company. This was the name given to the reorganized Powell Machine Company, which Mr. Pond's friends bought almost solely for the purpose of giving him a place in which he could earn the full worth of his abilities. Prominent among these friends were Henry C. Fish, who owns half the stock, Hon. C. B. Pratt, Caleb Colvin and F. B. Knowles. Hon. S. C. Hildreth was also supposed to be interested in the concern at one time. The company prospered in business and the stock is now above par.

Mr. Pons was a member of the common council from ward two in 1858-'59, alderman in 1862, and state senator in 1866, '67 and '68. At one time he was prominently mentioned as republican candidate for congressman and for mayor. He was one of the earliest members of Laurel Street Church, and was for many years on its board of officers, contributing more than any other individual to its financial support. He leaves a wife and one son, David W. Pond, superintendent of the D. W. Pond Machine Company, now located at Plainfield, N.W., and one daughter, wife of Charles A. King of this city. He also leaves a brother, Levi, in Ludlow.

The events in Mr. Pond's life in 1875 created an excitement in the business circles of Worcester such as had never been known here before, and have not been equaled since. Mr. Pond had borne an excellent reputation as an astute and honorable business man, successful politician and an exceedingly genial companion. As for his religious affiliations, he was as prominent in the district Methodist conference as he was in the Laurel Street Church, which he practically carried on his own shoulders. He had a large business, and he spent money with lavish hand. The almost universal deference paid him, both for his riches and for his character, would foster vanity in almost any man. It affected him and stimulated him to a degree of extravagance that became disastrous the moment his business success fluctuated.

For none years he had been a director in the Central National Bank, and his business credit was excellent. In 1875, however, it was rumored that his machine shop was suffering from depression of business, and, as he always had a good deal of paper out, his credit began to suffer.

One day, early in October, Mr. Pond left Worcester for New York, ostensibly on business. He was seen aboard the boat, but all trace of him was lost that night. In his stateroom were found his valise and coat, and the natural supposition was that he had committed suicide. The news was soon known in Worcester, and, as one of his endorsers had already be startled to learn that he was held for notes that he knew had been paid long ago, an investigation followed. It was found that old noted had been used by Mr. Pond over and over again, by the simple process of washing off the date and amount with a sponge and a preparation of chlorine, intended for the removal of ink stains, and by inserting new dates and amounts to suit the convenience of the giver of the notes. By making the original notes payable at his own office, he saved them from cancelation at the bank. One after another, victims of the same trick were found among the Masonic, church and business friends of Mr. Pond, and the amount of his operations grew to an alarming extent. Rich and poor suffered alike through his operations. How much money was actually made way with was never known, for many who had suffered kept the story of their losses to themselves.

Mr. Pond was not dead. When he boarded the boat he carried with him a new suit of clothes, and, disguised in this, he left the boat at New York unobserved. For several weeks no knowledge of him could be had. At last he was seen in a machine shop at Hamilton, Ontario. Detectives were already hunting him, and he was traced to San Francisco, and was at length arrested by Detective Ezra Churchill of this city while on board a boat to sail for Australia. He was brought back to Worcester, pleaded guilty to three indictments for forgery, and was sentenced to the state prison for three terms, aggregating fifteen years. There were many other indictments of a similar nature, a single law firm holding sixteen.

No sooner had he returned than public sympathy turned in his favor and began to swell rapidly. The church people especially, whom he had wronged as deeply as any other victims, refused to hear a word against him. His pastor, Rec. William Pentecost, visited him in prison, and came from the interview with tears in his eyes. "I never saw a better man in this world," said he, "and I never expect to, till I am in heaven." The extraordinary hold that he had on the church people he maintained to an equal degree among many of his political and business friends, and in a few years a petition was in circulation asking the governor for his pardon. It was not granted. Another was started, and to such an extent had public sympathy been aroused by reminiscences of his former good works, by the entreaties of friends, and by the representation that his health was broken down, that a host of signers were found among the prominent men of the city and the country towns. This petition was granted by Governor Long in December, 1882, and Mr. Pond came back to Worcester and to his wife, to whose indefatigable efforts his release was in a great degree due. He had served a little less than half his sentence.

There could hardly be anything more remarkable than the spirit in which he was received by old friends and associated, even though who had most cause to remember him only with bitterness. They even talked of meeting him in a body at the Union station and bringing him home in a carriage of their own hiring. His own attitude throughout his misfortunes was singular. "Why, if I had known that that was forgery," said he, "I never would have done it in the world." How kindly, how generously he has been treated three is no need of detailing now. Seldom do time and charity so thoroughly efface the animosity born of wrongs received. Since his return he has lived a quiet by industrious life. He was taken back not only to business but to the church he had done so much both to benefit and to injure. His old business was conducted in this city by his son till the spring of 1887, when the son removed it to Plainfield, N.J. The dead man had richly paid the penalty of wrongdoing, and he bore his burden manfully. Many a time had he gone faithfully to his office, when, in the weakness of disease, he was scarcely able to drag himself to work.

The funeral will be held at his late residence next Thursday afternoon at 3.30 o'clock, and the interment will be at Rural Cemetery.

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