Tom Plant’s Luck Runs Out

Tom Plant, Olive Dewey Plant, William Plant
Left to right: Tom Plant, Olive Dewey Plant, William Plant (Before 1934)

Retirement life at Lucknow was founded on a fortune that began slipping away from Tom, almost as soon as he and Olive moved in. Theodore Roosevelt recommended that Tom invest in Russian bonds. These bonds became worthless at the time of the Bolshevik Revolution. Roosevelt also supposedly recommended that Tom invest in Cuban sugar [through futures?]; but a hurricane destroyed a crop and some of Tom's wealth with it. By the early 1920s, Tom's fortune was severely diminished.

The number of servants at the estate decreased. Tom tried unsuccessfully to sell the estate in the 1930s, printing a colorful brochure for the purpose. But few persons were in a position to buy such a property in the Depression. My grandfather, Fred Tobey, offered to buy the logging rights to the forest, which he estimated as worth $750,000; but Tom refused. Tom mortgaged the property. Eventually, he could not even pay local real estate taxes to Moultonborough. By the time Tom died, in July 1941, he was completely ruined.

John Dewey writes: “When he died in about 1942[1941], Uncle Mills and Aunt Irene went east to helpl Aunt Olive move back to Toulon (Illinois) where she lived until Grandmother died and then she moved to a retirement home in Laguna Nigel, in Southern California, where she was supported by Uncle Phil and Uncle Mills in the custom she have become used to when Uncle Tom was at his zenith.”{1}


Most details are from Barry Hadfield Rodrigue, Tom Plant : the making of a Franco-American entrepreneur, 1859-1941 (New York : Garland Publishing, Inc., 1994), except for information as noted below.

1. Reminiscence of John Dewey, as communicated to Ron Tobey by Dale and Christine Dewey Martin, e-mail, September 15, 1996. [Return]