Luther Colby was born in 1814 to Captain William and Mary Colby in Amesbury, Massachusetts.He attended common schools in the area and at the age of 15 became a printers’ apprentice in Exeter, New Hampshire. His first important work was type setting an edition of “Scott’s Family Bible” and the New Testament with another apprentice.
In 1836, Luther moved to Boston where he worked for the Boston Daily Post, one of the city’s leading newspapers. He remained there for twenty years, working his way up to the editorial room. By that time Luther was a materialist and had no interest in any kind of religion. When Spiritualism began to grow in the 1850s, he would have ignored it.
Some of those in Massachusetts who were interested in Spiritualism included: Dr. Henry F Gardner, Rev. Allen Putnam, Mrs. A. E. Newton, and William Berry. It was through fellow printer, Mr. Berry, that Luther was introduced to seances. At an initial seance at the residence of Mrs. Sterns, Luther first met Mrs. J. H. Conant. He was so impressed with her that he recommended Mr. Berry invite her to hold a series of weekly seances at his home.
Mr. Berry was told by the spirit world through Mrs. Conant in 1856 that he would change jobs and publish a paper to be called Banner of Light. And Luther was right there with all the right publishing experience to help him. The two founded and edited the Banner of Light in Boston beginning in 1857. It became the longest running publication of its kind in the nineteenth century.
Luther was not a prominent man nor book author, but he firmly believed that truth could best be served by a careful publication of all alleged communications from the “sphere of light” to the “mortal state.” He had an avid conviction that the revelation of spiritual truth by the Banner of Light would revolutionize the world. It was his policy that “we shall not believe everything but shall not refuse to listen to what is said.” After Mr. Berry was killed in the Civil War, Colby continued to serve as editor until his death in 1894.
In a memorial address Lyman C. Howe said, “He has come to touch with millions through his public ministrations, with thousands personally; and every one who has felt the life of his touch retains the impress of his individuality still. That impress is, and will continue to be, a modifying influence in the direction of character and its development. He was strong in convictions, and ready to carry out, according to his best understanding, the highest ideals of his life; and in his departure we shall miss all these outward, tangible expressions, and none can take his place from this time, though others, perhaps, are equally as well qualified to give direction to the work ….”