I’m having too much fun pulling the string on one of my guys: Moses Luce of the 4th Michigan. I mentioned him in an earlier post about his alma mater, Hillsdale College. I got a great email from Hillsdale’s archivist, Linda Moore, with some quotes, a new photo, and a pointer to the college newspaper.

Hillsdale has digitized and posted online the Hillsdale Herald for the years 1878 to 1896. These are searchable, but displayed as page images (photos of the printed papers) – a digital historian’s dream. I’ve felt like a kid in a candy store.

As a prominent alumnus, Luce is referenced and discussed dozens of times in those years. Social gossip, event records, family history, and biographical information are all here. Tidbits from the paper have also suggested other avenues of reseach for confirmation or clarification. Great stuff.

I’ll be using this material to update our capsule biography soon.

Meanwhile, I have a mystery – take a look and see what you think …

Luce gave a toast at a reunion of the literary society – Alpha Kappa Phi (formerly Adelphoi kai Philoi) – at Hillsdale:

In memory of our noble dead, who left the forum for the field – the pen for the sword – homes, friends and hopes for hardships, struggles and death, to prevent the destruction of our nation and the disgrace of our flag; and who now sleep in their patriot graves.

I also found a photograph of attendees at the 1905 Alpha Kappa Phi reunion (possibly the same event) on the Hillsdale Archives site.

Here’s the mystery.

Only one of the people in the photo is identified. Luce is not labeled. He may not even be there. But, I think he’s the white bearded man at the lower-right of the photo, looking off to his left. My wife, who is really good at this sort of thing, thinks parts of his facial structure are wrong for Luce. I still have hope.

Luce from Luce Forward LLC Luce at reunion

Here’s some help. The photo on the left is certainly of Luce, probably about the turn of the century (from the Luce Forward website). On the right is a blow-up of part of the reunion group picture centered on the man in question. I’ve flipped the image right-to-left to make the parts in the hair match, supposing a flipped negative is possible here.

Assuming that man is 5-10 (or more) years older than the one on the left, are they the same person?

You make the call.

[I’ll ask the super-archivist if there’s other info available about that picture – maybe she has paper on this.]

3 Responses to “More on Moses Luce, late Sergeant, 4th Michigan Infantry”

  1. Laurie Chambliss says:

    Nose doesn’t look right. Ears are too small. But the kicker…where are his glasses? If he had no qualms about wearing them in a formal portrait earlier it seems unlikely to be vanity, and if 10-15 years have passed it seems most unlikely his vision has miraculously improved in the meantime. This seems a bit early for Lasix surgery…. :)

  2. Brett S. says:


    I agree with Laurie on the nose especially. The nostrils of the man on the right seem to be wider than those of the man on the left.


  3. Brian Downey says:

    Thanks for the observations, Laurie and Brett. I’m sorry you couldn’t support my viewpoint on this :)

    The right answer, of course, is for me to get some contemporary evidence – if it exists.

    Thanks for playing!

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