Santa Clara County Genealogy -

State Normal School

Source:  Historical Sketch of the State Normal School at San Jose, California, with a Catalogue of Its Graduates and a Record of Their Work for Twenty-Seven Years [1862-1889]. State Office, J.D. Young, Supt. State Printing.  Sacramento, California. 1889.

(Principal from May, 1868, to August, 1873.)

    Dr. William T. Lucky was born in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, April 14, 1821.
    When fourteen years of age, with his parents, he removed to Illinois.  At the age of sixteen he went to McKendrie College, Lebanon, Illinois.  There he entered upon a regular course of study, and remained in the college until he graduated with the honors of his class, In August, 1842.  On the same day on which he received his diploma, he was elected professor of mathematics in his alma mater, and after teaching two years, his resignation was received with deep regret.
    In August, 1844, Dr. Lucky was married to Miss Mary Searritt, and in October following removed to Fayette, Missouri, for the purpose of establishing a first class High School.  This was his first individual enterprise, and it seemed a very small beginning, as he opened his school in Fayette with six pupils, and closed on Friday afternoon of the first week with two.  But Dr. Lucky was of sanguine temperament and full of energy, and hi peculiar faculty as an instructor, his rare talent for governing, together with his genial manner, soon filled his school-rooms, and there, with uninterrupted success, he taught for seventeen years.  Meantime, under Dr. Lucky’s labor and direction, the High School increased, developed and finely resulted in Howard Female College and Central Male College, both of which are now in a flourishing condition.
    In 1847 Dr. Lucky was ordained a regular minister in the Methodist Church, but did not receive special appointments as a pastor.  He regarded his teaching as his special calling and profession.  To become a thorough, useful, Christian educator was a fixed desire and purpose of his life, and he felt that to be vested with the authority of a Christian minister would increase his opportunities for doing good in his chosen field of labor.
    Almost in the beginning of the late war, these two colleges, with near three hundred students in attendance, were suspended, and the buildings occupied by soldiers during a greater part of the war.  While things were in this unsettled condition, Dr. Lucky was warmly solicited to come to the Pacific Coast and take charge of a Methodist college at Vacaville, in Solano County.  He came to California in 1861, accepted the position as President of the Pacific Methodist College, in which he remained five years, and through many discouragements was successful in building up a fine school.
    From Vacaville Dr. Lucky went to Alameda, with the intention of opening a select seminary for young ladies, but was delayed in his plans for want of suitable buildings.  At this time he was elected Principal of the Lincoln High School in San Francisco.  After filling this position for one year with marked success, he was elected Principal of the State Normal School, of which he had charge five years—three years in San Francisco and two years after it was removed to San José.
    While living in San Francisco, Dr. Lucky became interested in the moral and spiritual welfare of the many prisoners in San Quentin, and volunteered his services as chaplain for two Sabbaths in each month, and for over two years he was faithful to this new post of duty, employing every means possible to cultivate the better principles of their nature and induce them to reform their lives, and become honest men.  It was largely the result of his individual effort and labor that a chapel was built when the prison was enlarged, and quite a large library of books was donated by the different churches of the city.
    In 1873 Dr. Lucky removed to Los Angeles, and there was appointed Principal of the High School and City Superintendent.  In both of these positions he was successful and popular.
    In 1876 he made a visit to many friends in the East.  While there he visited the Centennial, attended the National Educational Convention in Baltimore, which convened in July, and a State Convention in St. Louis.  He was urged to remain East and accept the Presidency of his alma mater, and also warmly solicited to return to Fayette and take charge of one of the colleges he had been instrumental in founding.  But, after having been identified with the educational interests of California for fifteen years, he chose to decline the kind offers made him there, and to return to California, to take his place in the ranks and his part in the labor of elevating, improving, and carrying on the grand system of education in this glorious State.
    Though Dr. Lucky had a good constitution and seemed in perfect health for many years, yet thirty years of mental labor and continued taxation of brain work, proved too much for even him.  He was suddenly stricken down with disease which soon developed into paralysis of the brain, of which he died in San Francisco August 21, 1876.
 “Dr. Lucky was a man of no ordinary powers, a man of even balance, a clear thinker, an extraordinary teacher, and an impressive preacher.  But few men were more active and energetic than he in whatever he engaged in, and never seemed to tire in his self-imposed task, and but few men have impressed themselves upon more minds than did he.  The record of his work is with us, his reward is on high.  His life of unselfish labor and usefulness will remain a lasting monument to his memory.”

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