WILLIAM E. TUCKER
No resident of Yuba City holds a higher place in public esteem than does Judge William E. Tucker, who for many years has served his city and county in various public capacities notably that of justice of the peace, in which position he dispensed justice and mercy for twenty-eight years. Born in Morristown, New Jersey, on the 6th of February, 1845, he comes of an old American family, established in New England in early colonial days, members of which moved to Long Island, New York, and thence to Morris County, New Jersey. His father, Freeman Tucker, was born near Morristown, New Jersey, and became a landowner. However, being a stonemason by trade, he followed the business of contracting and building. He lived to be past seventy years of age. The mother, whose maiden name was Elizabeth Williams Drake, died at a comparatively early age. She also was born near Morristown, the old Tucker home standing near General Washington’s headquarters there. The Williamses and Drakes were originally from Connecticut, though they went to New Jersey from Long Island, where Grandfather Drake was born in 1800 and died in 1880. It is said that Grandfather Williams was a blacksmith and toolmaker, and that he lived to be eighty-five years of age. One of his forebears served as attorney-general of New York.
William E. Tucker was reared in Morristown, New Jersey, and studied surveying in the same school with the late Theodore N. Vail, president of Bell Telephone Company. He was thus engaged when in 1861 President Lincoln called for volunteers to suppress the Southern secession. Though but sixteen years of age, he ran away from home, and in November, 1861, he enlisted in Company K, First Regiment New York Engineers. He fought in South Carolina; was in Richmond where he saw President Lincoln on horseback at the front; and was at Petersburg and Burnside Mine. In one of the engagements in front of Richmond Mr. Tucker was wounded, and in a later engagement again sustained wounds. He was on the staff of General Truman Seymour at the bombardment of Fort Sumter April 7, 1863. He served for three years and one month and was honorably discharged in December, 1864, with the rank of sergeant of engineers. He had vivid memories of seeing Generals Butler, Meade and Grant.
On leaving the army Mr. Tucker returned to his home at Morristown where he learned the carpenter trade. In 1878 he came to California locating at South Butte, Sutter County, where he continued as a carpenter and builder until in 1886 he came to Yuba City establishing a permanent home. He served as deputy county assessor under the late W. F. Peck, and also served as chief deputy assessor, Sutter County, making out the assessment rolls in 1884, 1885 and 1886. From 1887 to 1889 he was deputy county clerk under A. H. Hewitt. From 1889 to 1893 Mr. Tucker served as postmaster of Yuba City under appointment of President Harrison. In 1902 he was appointed justice of the peace of Yuba Township to fill the vacancy caused by the death of H. C. Grover, and was repeatedly elected, without opposition, serving continuously until 1929, when, owing to advanced age, he resigned and is now enjoying well earned leisure. In 1908 he was appointed the first police judge and recorder of Yuba City, which offices he also held until retiring from public life.
In 1872, in Morristown, New Jersey, Judge Tucker was united in marriage to Miss Louise Miller, who was born and raised in Morristown, and at the time of her marriage was a teacher in the public schools of New York City. He was also a singer and elocutionist of note and upon one occasion during the Civil War sang for the soldiers as they marched down Broadway, in New York City. Judge and Mrs. Tucker had a son, Henry Freeman Tucker, a musician, who died, unmarried, in Yuba City, November 6, 1928. He was preceded in death two weeks by his mother, who died very suddenly in October, 1928.
In 1886 Judge Tucker became a member of the Corinth Post., No. 80, G. A. R., which he served as quartermaster, adjunct and commander, and also served as an aide-de-camp on the staff of James W. Willett, commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic. Judge Tucker is the only surviving member of Corinth Post and on Memorial Day, 1930, faithful to the memory of his deceased comrades, he strewed their graves with flowers, after which he took part in the parade and was escorted to the seat of honor at the memorial exercises at the National Theater in Marysville. There he was a conspicuous figure, the only person present in the uniform of the Grand Army and retaining his soldierly bearing, despite his years. It is a matter of family history that his father originally wanted him to study law, while the dearest wish of his grandmother was that he should study for the ministry. He has practically functioned in both capacities, for he has given considerable time to the study of law and served in a judicial capacity, while he has also officiated at many marriages, and has performed a number of burial services, particularly the deceased comrades of the war. During all the years of his public service of over a third of a century, his actions were controlled by the highest principles and strict adherence to the law, which in the enforcing of justice was tempered with mercy. He possesses a broad conception of the needs, temptations and struggles of his fellowmen and his record as a jurist is one of which he has just reason to be proud. In the affairs of the community he has consistently stood for those things which make for the public good and his fellowmen have uniformly held him in the highest respect.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.