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The New York Times, February 20, 1915

Well-Known Character of This City and Country Was an Intimate of Mark Twain.

Told Story of Humorist Cutting Buttonhole Stitches in His First Evening Dress Suit.

Frank Fuller, war Governor of Utah, lawyer, dentist, physician, friend of Lincoln, intimate of Mark Twain, and one of the most widely known characters of this city and the United States, died of old age yesterday afternoon in his apartments at the Hotel Irving, 26 Gramercy Park, in his eighty-eighth year. He was one of the few men who had lived and been part of the history of this country and had been in touch with events of national import.

Dr. Fuller was born in Boston, his father, John Smith Fuller, being a Deacon in Dr. Lyman Beecher's church and a noted Biblical scholar. As soon as he was able to decide for himself he made up his mind to become a doctor. Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes selected Dr. Benjamin Hubbard of Plymouth, Mass. As his preceptor because he had a drugstore, and Dr. Fuller studied under him. Later he studied dentistry under John Gunn, one of the best dentists of his time, and of whose will his father was the executor.

Dr. Fuller next became a newspaper man, more by accident than by his own decision. His brother, Edward Fuller, was a printer on The Dover Gazette and sent for him to come and help him out, and he remained with the paper until he had thoroughly mastered the business.

In 1860, when Dr. Fuller was practicing dentistry in Portsmouth, he began making speeches for the Republican Party and became prominent in politics. Robert T. Lincoln, son of Abraham Lincoln, was then at school at Phillips Exeter Academy, and when Dr. Fuller was asked to deliver a Fourth of July oration he asked that young Lincoln be called upon to read the Declaration of Independence. Lincoln agreed to do so if his father would permit. Dr. Fuller wired to Mr. Lincoln, and his reply, received next day, gave the permission, saying "Tell Robert to take every occasion to read the immortal document, and the bigger the crowd the louder he must holler."

Shortly after this, Dr. Fuller attended a convention in Cleveland and there met Abraham Lincoln for the first time.

When the war broke out Dr. Fuller organized the Second New Hampshire Regiment, of which he was in the beginning paymaster, quartermaster and to use his own words, "Inspector of cooks and protector against coffee strong enough to kill." He went with his regiment to Washington and then came another change in his life.

Gov. Cummings of Utah had been reported missing at that time, and President Lincoln was much worried over the situation in that State. Senator John P. Hale of New Hampshire took Dr. Fuller to the White House and suggested to the President that he appoint him Governor of Utah in place of the missing Governor. Because he feared that Cummings might return, Mr. Lincoln appointed Dr. Fuller Secretary of Utah, with the salary of Governor, and sent him out to take charge of that State. The understanding was that if Cummings never returned (and he never did) Dr. Fuller was to be appointed Governor, and thus he became the wartime Chief Executive of Utah, which then was having much trouble with Brigham Young and his Mormons. The Governor was able to avoid friction by taking a firm stand for the enforcement of the laws, and the result was that conditions in Utah were better during the evil times of the civil war than ever before.

When the Pacific Telegraph Company completed the first telegraph line into Salt Lake City, in October, 1861, Dr. Fuller sent the first message, a dispatch to President Lincoln, to which the President replied saying:

"The completion of the telegraph to Salt Lake City is auspicious of the stability and union of the Republic. The Government reciprocates your congratulation."

Dr. Fuller first met Mark Twain in Nevada when he lived in the little camp which was the home of Gov. Nye of Nevada, whom he was visiting. On this trip Dr. Fuller was admitted to the bar of Nevada, the motion to admit being made by the late Senator William M. Stewart. Mark Twain at that time was working on the Territorial Enterprise of Virginia City.

Dr. Fuller and the author became intimate friends and years after when Mark Twain first came to this city, after his first successful lecture tour in California, he called on the former Governor at his offices at 25 Broadway. With the assistance of Dr. Fuller, arrangements were made for the first Twain lecture, which was given at Cooper Union. Before the lecture an incident occurred typical of both Mark Twain and Dr. Fuller. In speaking of it in later years, Dr. Fuller said:

"Mark was a very fine dresser and thought that his ordinary sack suit would be good enough to lecture in. I told him he must wear evening dress and he said he had never worn a claw-hammer in his life. I put a first-class tailor on the job and made Mark get a suitable collar and necktie.

"When the clothes came Mark put them on and rehearsed in my office, and as he rehearsed he railed at the tailor who had sewed up the button holes so he couldn't button his coat. I told him that it was not customary to button a dress coat. He pointed to my engraving of Daniel Webster and sarcastically asked who knew best. Daniel Webster or a scrub of a tailor? He then asked if I knew of any other man who habitually wore evening dress and I told him that I did.

"He then grabbed the scissors and cut the stitches closing the buttonholes, and buttoning the coat remarked, 'Now there are three of us,' and so garbed he spoke his piece when the time came."

Dr. Fuller established the Health Food Company, of 25 Lexington Avenue, in 1874, of which he was President until his death. With his wife, who died in 1906, he was in the Windsor Hotel fire, in which eighty-four of their friends lost their lives, and from which they escaped unhurt. A son, Louis R. Fuller, survives him.

Related article: The New York Times, Oct. 1, 1911 - Utah's War Governor Talks of Many Famous Men

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