Otis Olney Wright.

History of Swansea, Massachusetts, 1667-1917; online

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William Brown (sixth generation) was born April 14, 1729, in Swansea,
was a farmer, and much employed in pubUc matters; he surveyed land for
years, settled many estates, was a man of distinction and ability, and much
esteemed by his townsmen. He owned a handsome property in land and
slaves. He married in 1753, Lettice, daughter of Hezekiah Kingsley, who
was born in 1732. They had eight children, — Elizabeth, married Edward
Gardiner (they were grandparents of Mrs. Marcus A. Brown); Joseph
(died aged twenty, a British prisoner on one of the terrible prison-ships) ;
Luranella, married Reuben Lewis; Amy; Betty, married Aaron Cole;
Mary, married Benjamin Butterworth; Sarah, William 2. Mr. Brown
died in 1805. His wife survived him two years. William Brown, Jr.
(seventh generation), was born on the old home in Swansea, a short dis-
tance south of Touisset, Sept. 13, 1776. He was reared a farmer, and
inherited the entire landed estate of his father (about one hundred and
forty acres). He was an unassuming, hard-working man, very social, with
a remarkable memory (a faculty possessed by many of the family in a
large degree). He could repeat whole chapters from the Bible, and had no
need to refresh his memory of any event by memoranda. He devoted
himself to agriculture; married Freelove, daughter of Aaron and Freelove
(Mason) Wood, of Swansea, in 1799. She was born Sept. 28, 1780. They had

202 History of Swansea

nine children attaining mature years, — Marcia W., Gardner, Nathan W.,
Mary A., Samuel, Aaron, Mason, Betsey (Mrs. Charles B. Winslow),
and Marcus A. All are now dead. Nathan, Gardner, and Samuel were
seafaring men. Gardner became captain, and died in Swansea, May, 1848.
The others were young men of promise, but died young. Mason was a
farmer and was a great reader. Of strong memory, he was well versed in
hsitoric and genealogic lore, and was held in high repute by the community.
He died Dec. 9, 1882. Mr. Wilham Brown held a high place in the esteem
of the community, although a plain, unostentatious man of strongly marked
honesty and fixed principles. He was a Whig, but never sought office. In
religion he was independent, rather skeptical, but never argued with others,
and considered every other person entitled to freedom of behef and action.
He died April 8, 1840. Mrs Brown died Nov. 14, 1855. They, like their
American ancestors of each generation, are buried in the cemetery in North

Marcus A. Brown (eighth generation) stayed on the farm until he was
twenty-four, managing the farm after his father's death, having limited edu-
cational advantages at the common schools in summer until nine years old
and in winter until fifteen, the last term being at Warren Academy. He then
learned the mason's trade and worked at that several years. He then pur-
chased a farm of forty acres in Somerset and lived there eight years, selling it
after six years, however. His whole residence in Somerset was seventeen
years, following his trade after giving up farming. He passed two years in
Maine, working as a mason. He married, Dec. 7, 1847, Maria Frances,
daughter of David and Sarah Wilbur. She was born in Warwick, R. I., July
10, 1828. Like her husband, Mrs. Brown was the youngest of ten children.
Her paternal grandparents were residents of that part of Swansea now
Somerset, and resided about one mile west of the village. Their children
were James, Ruth, Phebe, Peleg, Chloe, Patience, Polly, Thomas, and
David. David Wilbur was a machinist, married Sarah, daughter of Edward
and Elizabeth Gardner, and had ten children, — Sarah G. (Mrs. Charles F.
Brown), Harriet G., David G., Thomas B., Peleg N., Caroline A., and
Maria F. Mr. Wilbur lived in Pawtuxet, R. L, and died in 1837, aged fifty-
three. His wife died in 1856, aged seventy-two. The children of tliis
marriage are Marion F. (born iSept. 14, 1848, married Daniel Wilbur, Jr.,
and has one child. Bertha F.); and Clarence A., born June 3, 1850. He
married Emma L. Frost, and has one child, Marcus R.

Mr. Brown removed to Fall River in 1866, and resided in the house he
then purchased. He worked steadily and faithfully at his trade until
compelled by failing health to relinquish it in 1873. He was an honest,
modest man; held the even tenor of an industrious, hard-working life, and
a law-abiding citizen, caring not for nor meddling with official honors,
supporting, however, the Whig and Repubhcan tickets. He had been
successful in business and enjoyed the esteem of his acquaintance, and was
ever a useful member of society. He died February 10, 1894.

Daniel Edson

The subject of this sketch was born in Rehoboth, Mass., Feb. 10, 1791.
He was the son of Ebenezer Edson, who served in the Revolution under
Gen. Washington.

He, Daniel, was a direct descendant, in the 6th generation, from
Samuel Edson. who was born in England 1612. He, Samuel came to Mass.
about 1638 or 1639 and settled in Bridgewater and built the first corn mill
in that town in 1662.

The mill was erected on Town River, in what is now West Bridgewater.

Personal Sketches 203

He became the common ancestor of one of the most numerous, popular and
respected families in Bridgewater. Some of whose descendants can now be
found in almost every state of the Union. "He died in Bridgewater, Mass.,
July 20, 1692."

Daniel Edson had limited opportunity for attending school but was
possessed of unusual abihty to learn and by perseverence he acquired a
good education, which enabled him to serve the town of Swansea as Select-
man and in other capacities. He represented Swansea in the State Legis-
lature 1851.

When quite young he came to Swansea and lived in the family of
Benajah Mason where he was an apprentice and served seven years to learn
the trade of a tanner and shoemaker. When 21 years of age he was married
to Sarah Marvel, daughter of Benanuel Marvel, who kept a store near Mr.
Mason's shop. It is related that on their wedding day March 5th, 1812,
both were at work when the minister came to perform the ceremony,
Daniel removed his leather apron which he wore at the shoemakers bench
and Sarah left her work and was married in her father's house. Then both
resumed their work in a very practical manner. A little later Daniel
served in what is called the war of 1812, for which, late in life, he drew a
pension. In an old letter written by him to his wife from Fort Phoenix,
Fairhaven, Mass., we find the date Oct. 2nd 1814, The letter is well
preserved and we give a few statements from it "Thinking a knowledge
of my situation would be very agreeable to you I shall inform you in as
few words as possible. Our rations are a pound of good bread a day, one
pound and a quarter of beef per day, for four days in the week, twelve
ounces of pork per day for two days in the week. One pound and a quarter
of codfish for the other day with a sufficiency of potatoes. We also draw a
pint of molasses for every six persons, and one gill of rum a day for every
man. One pound of coffee for every fifty men. We lack many vessels for
cooking. We are in a deUghtsome place and we fare better than I expected.
I do not consider that we are in danger of being attacked. We have seen
one ship which we supposed to be an English Frigate. "

Daniel and Sareih Edson lived for many years in that section of Swansea
known as the Two-mile Purchase. Ten children were born to them six
daughters and four sons. (8 lived to manhood and womanhood — 7 of them
to old age). One son Daniel Edson Jr. served as Quartermaster in the Mass.
Seventh Regiment, in the Civil War, and died in 1866.

Mrs. Edson died May 8th 1869. Mr. Edson hved to be nearly 90
years old and died Jan. 2nd, 1881. (89 years-10 months-16 days.)

Job Gardner

Job Gardner was widely known, beloved and respected not only in
his own town, but in Fall River and elsewhere. He was born in the house
where he died in South Swansea, then more commonly known as Gardner's
Neck, December 27, 1826, the son of Job and Patience (Anthony) Gardner
being one of a large family of children. He attended school in that town
and later learned the trade of mason. Having a taste and aptitude for
books, however, he prepared himself for college, entering Wesley an Univer-
sity, from which he was graduated in 1855. Soon after his return from
college he was chosen as a teacher in his native town. He taught in the
village schoolhouse which was burned and was the first preceptor in the late
village schoolhouse. After a few years he was honored by a place on the
School Committee, and this he retained for almost hedf a century. Much
of the time he was chairman of the board, and for not a few years he acted
as superintendent of schools.

204 History of Swansea

Swansea further showed its appreciation of Mr. Gardner's ability by
electing him as selectman, and in 1870 he was chosen as representative to
the Great and General Court at Boston. He was a member of that body
the year that the grant was authorized for the construction of Slade's Ferry
Bridge over the Taunton River, a structure that is now regarded as anti-
quated and altogether out of fashion. For many years he was a trustee of
East Greenwich Academy and superintendent of the Sunday School of the
South Somerset M. E. Church, both of which positions he was obliged to
rehnquish on account of his health. He was also a trustee and member of
the official board of that church for a long period up to the time of his death.
Besides all his other duties, in which he labored with unfailing devotion, he
was very much interested in the Fall River Deaconess' Home.

After the death of James E. Easterbrooks, September 8, 1896, Mr.
Gardner was selected as his successor on the Board of Trustees of the
Swansea Library and also secretary of the body. He served in this
capacity until March 6, 1899, when he was made chairman, holding that
position up to the day of his demise. He was the presiding officer at the
dedication of the library building on September 19, 1900, receiving the keys
of the handsome structure from the selectmen. He also presided at the
dedication of the commodious Town Hall on September 9, 1891, and had
hoped to live until the new schoolhouse then in process of erection was
finished and ready for occupancy. Deeply interested in local history as
well as that of the country, he took great pride in reciting the names of the
participants from Swansea in the various wars. He prepared the lists of
names of those from the town who fell in battle, for the marble tablet
placed to the east of the entrance of the main room in the Town Hall.
Indeed, he was instrumental in having the tablet itself made. On pubhc
occasions he was often a speaker and in town meetings he took an active
part. He will be remembered as advocating Swansea's claims at the
pubhc meeting in the City Hall (Fall River) when the initial arrange-
ments were being made for the building of the new county bridge, which
was then being constructed to the north of the old pile.

Forty-three years ago Mr. Gardner married Mrs. Marietta (Saunders)
Gardner, widow of his brother, Lucius, who had been drowned. Mrs.
Gardner died January 5, 1901. A son, Howard S. Gardner, of Swansea;
a daughter, Mrs. Walter S. Winter ,of Marion, Iowa, and a step-son, Lucius
D. Gardner, of Swansea, survive him, but the daughter was not able to be
present at the funeral services. These began at 1 o'clock and, as a mark of
respect to his memory, the hbrary was kept closed until 3 :30 that afternoon.
The services which were attended by legislative representatives, Swansea
town officials, friends from his own town. Fall River, Freetown, and
Somerset, were conducted by Rev. Frederick W. Coleman and Rev. John
Pearce, pastors of the St. Paul and Summerfield M. E. Churches of Fall
River. In his eulogy Rev. Mr. Coleman noted how closely Mr. Gardner*3
life had been associated with that of the community, the members of which
would miss him with a deep sense of loss. He also mentioned the pubhc-
spirited character of the man and quoted the words, "Well done, thou
good and faithful servant."

Abner Slade

Abner Slade, son of Benjamin and grandson of Joseph Slade, was born
in Swansea Oct. 2, 1792, on the homestead of his father, within a short
distance of which his long life of usefulness was passed. He was in the
fifth generation from the first of the family who settled in Swansea, and

Personal Sketches 205

the line of descent is (1) William, (2) Edward, (3) Joseph, (4) Benjamin,
(5) Abner.

The first ancestor of the Slade family in America was Edward, who was
born in Wales, Great Britain. TJttle is known of him except that he lost
his life on a voyage between this country and England. He had a son
WilUam, born also in Wales, who settled first on the island of Rhode Island,
where he was admitted a freeman in 1659, and in 1680 he removed to
Slade's Ferry, in Swansea, now Somerset.

Abner Slade was reared a farmer and tanner, and succeeded his father
in business, and made tanning and currying his principal avocation during
life. When he first began it, the custom was for the tanner to travel
through the country on horseback and purchase hides, which, when tanned
into leather, were sold, largely on credit, to the farmers and traveling
shoemakers of the period. From this primitive condition of the trade Mr.
Slade built up a business of large proportions, which became very remun-
erative. He was one of the most industrious, systematic, and persevering
of men, and looked sharply after the minute details of every transaction.
He was very successful, and this success may be attributed to his sterUng
integrity, his good judgment, and his earnest and steady persistency. He
retired, with a handsome competency as the reward of his apphcation and
energy, from active business about 1856, and the subsequent years of his
life were devoted, in a business way, only to looking after his various

He never accepted nor wished for office in town, nor had political
aspirations. He was a director of the Fall River National Bank many
years, and was interested in the Old Colony Railroad, and to some extent
in the Providence and Worcester Railroad. He was also a stockholder in
various corporations and manufactures in Fall River.

He married, Sept. 30, 1829, Sarah, daughter of Asa and Ehzabeth
(Mitchell) Sherman, who was born Feb. 20, 1810. (Asa, son of Samson and
Ruth Sherman, of Portsmouth, R. I., was born Dec. 22, 1779, and died in
Fall River, Dec. 29, 1863, aged eighty-four years. He was a hneal
descendant of Philip Sherman, who in 1636, with seventeen others, pur-
chased from the Indians the islands of Rhode Isand, — Patience, Hope, and
Conanicut. Ehzabeth, his wife, daughter of Richard and Joanna Mitchell,
of Middletown, R. I., was born Oct. 17, 1782, and died in Fall River, April
22, 1858, in her seventy-sixth year. They had ten children, of whom Mrs.
Slade was the third).

Mr. and Mrs. Slade had no children, but they adopted a little girl of
about two years, named Sarah Bowers, to whom they gave the care of
parents until her death in her twentieth year. Afterwards they adopted
Adehne F. Cole, when she was seven years old, whom they reared and
educated. She was born March 29, 1849, and married Charles A. Chace,
son of Obadiah and Esther (Freeborn) Chace, of Warren, R. I., and they
have four children: Benjamin S., Arthur F., Warren O. and Sarah Slade.

Mr. Slade was an earnest and unassuming member of the Society of
Friends, and was held in the highest esteem by his brethren. The Friends*
Review gave this just and well-deserved notice of him: "Abner Slade, an
elder of Swansea Monthly Meeting of Friends, deceased, twelfth month,
second, 1879, aged eighty-seven. He was truly a father in Israel. "

Valentine Mason

Valentine Mason was a native of Swansea, and was born Oct. 7, 1825,
the son of Valentine and Mary Elizabeth (Cole) Mason. He came of
Pilgrim ancestry and was in the fifth fine of descent from Samson Mason,

206 History of Swansea

who by tradition was a soldier in Oliver Cromwell's army, and who after-
wards owned the tract of land lying between the present residence of Frank
T. Mason, of North Swansea, and the First Christian Church, Swansea
Center, a distance of a mile and a half. Samson Mason was also distin-
guished as one of the 93 men who purchased a mile and a half tract of what
are now known as Attleboro, Mass., and Cumberland, R. 1. The deceased
was a third cousin of the late Chief Justice Albert Mason, of Brookhne,
also a relative of the celebrated Capt. John Mason, whose exploits in
Swansea are a matter of history. He was a member of the family in which
there were several physicians and clergymen of notable attainments. He
was the last survivor of his parents' household.

Mr. Mason attended the district school in the town of his nativity and
at 16 went to Fall River to learn the trade of a mason. He engaged him-
self to TiUinghast Records and Sylvanus Westgate, then the principal
masonry contractors in Fall River. After about two years, when he had
made good progress in his trade, he bought his time of his employers. The
great fire of 1843, which swept away all the houses and business places of
the village, prepared the way for a very large field in masonry and other
construction; and after he had done a variety of smaller jobs, Mr. Mason
set out by himself as a superintendent of construction. In the following
year he was married to Miss Deborah Macomber, of Westport, who sur-
vived until 1900. They settled in Fall River, making their home there
until 1881, when they moved to Swansea, which was ever after their res-
idence until the death of Mrs. Mason. In 1394 they celebrated their
golden wedding. Mr Mason then went to live with his son. Job, of 487
Hanover Street, Fall River, but for a year was under the care of his
daughter, Mrs. Bowler, at 136 Franklin Street.

Mr. Mason's career as superintendent of construction was notable
from the first, but the earhest work of special note was in connection with
the city almshouse, in 1857. Through the action of Hon. James BuflSnton,
of this city, representative in Congress, he secured the appointment of
superintendent of construction of the United States treasury building, in
Washington, which position he held for four years; until during the civil
war period, the work of construction was suspended for a time. He then
succeeded James Wheaton as superintendent of construction of the fourth
plant of the Wamsutta Mills at New Bedford, which was completed about

In 1886 Mr. Mason superintended the construction of the first of the
Durfee mills, on Pleasant Street; in 1868-9, that of the Mechanic mills on
Davol Street; and in 1871, that of the Stafford mills on County and
Quarry streets. He superintended the building of the entrance arch at
Oak Grove Cemetery, on Prospect street; the Troy building, on Fourth
and Pleasant streets; the United States Custom house on Second and
Bedford streets, (1875-1880); the B. M. C. Durfee High School, Rock
street, (1883-1887); the Bristol county Court house. North Main street,
(1888-1889); the Fall River Public Library, (1896); and Christ Episcopal
Church, and the Swansea Free PubUc Library, in Swansea, (1899).

Mr. Mason had other work on hand later, at a distance from home,
including the Medfield Insane Asylum, the superintendence of the con-
struction of which was in his hands at the outset and before difficulties
arose in regard to the acts of the building commission. He was also
superintendent of the construction of the Ames Memorial Unitarian
Church of North Easton. In the course of church and school construction
of which he had superintendence, Mr. Mason put in place seven chimes of
beUs. His capacity as a superintendent was mainly self -acquired, as he
enjoyed no opportunities for scholastic training and was under no individual
direction in his development. A clear head for figures and a natural taste

Personal Sketches 207

for calculations and estimates served him effectively as he progressed with
the work of a building superintendent.

The deceased was much interested in music, and, having a rich bass
voice, used it to advantage in religious reform and social gatherings. He
was the first bass for some years in the choir of the First Congregational
Church, Fall River, when a relatively young man, and later in that of the
Unitarian Church, Fall River, and as a member of the Sons of Temperance
his voice was heard in all the music of the choir of that organization when
it was flourishing here.

By reason of his staunch qualities, Mr. Mason was much esteemed
in both of the communities in which he lived. His long residence in Swansea
gave him recognition as a Swansea man, although he was so connected with
Fall River operations that he seemed quite as much a citizen of Fall River.
He was approachable and genial in conversation, a man of the people, one
whom all felt they could rely upon and one whose record is thoroughly
honorable. He was associated in business with a class of men whose
reputation for square dealing has sometimes been smirched, and by whose
action employers have suffered money loss, but not even the slightest
charge of graft or deception was ever laid at his door.

Mr. Mason was a member of Mount Hope Lodge of Masons, a Mason
of the 32d degree and a member of Godfrey de Bouillon Commandery, K. T.
He is survived by a daughter, Mrs. Lydia C. Bowler, widow of George B.
Bowler, formerly city clerk of Nashua; a son Job Mason, and two grand-
daughters, Mrs. Charles A. Davis and Mrs. Charles P. Davis, both of Fall

Jeremiah Gray

Jeremiah Gray was one of five children: Elizabeth Young, born in
1816, Jane, Samuel, William.

His grandfather was Joseph Gray born in 1762. His grandmother
Avice Anthony, born in 1766.

Children of Above

Sam'l Gray born 1791

Jeremiah Gray born 1792

Sally Gray born 1795

David Gray born 1797

Mary Gray born 1799

Hannah Gray born 1802

Joseph Gray born 1807

Elizabeth Gray born 1810

Jeremiah Gray, son of Samuel Gray of Somerset was born in that
town, March 26, 1818. His mother was Elizabeth ( ) Gray.

He learned the printer's trade of Noel A. Tripp, in Fall River, in 1835,
and off and on, followed that business for many years, being employed for
a time in the office of the Boston Advocate, then published by Benjamin
Hallett, who was a very rigid democrat in his political views, but recog-
nizing the ability and worth of Mr. Gray waived all matters of pohtical
variance, and promoted him to the position of foreman in the office.

While a young man he was employed on the New York Tribune, in
which he became a stockholder. In 1849, in company with several other
employees of that paper, he went to Cahfornia seeking gold. His departure
was signahzed by Horace Greeley in an editorial in which he expressed his

208 History of Swansea

high regard for him. While in Cahfornia, Mr. Gray was a regular cor-
respondent of the Tribune, writing many letters of interest to the readers
of that paper. After a brief absence he returned to New York, and was
again employed upon the staff of the Tribune. Six years later he made a
second visit to California, and purchased an interest in the Sacramento
Union, the largest newspaper pubhshed in Sacramento at that time, and
one of the influential journals of the State. On his retirement from the
Union he was presented with a gold headed cane as a token of the printers*
esteem. His successful management of this paper had enabled him to
gather a comfortable property, which he thought might be sufficient for his

In 1861, he returned to Fall River to live, the ill health of his wife
requiring a change of residence. While residing in Fall River, he served
there, as deputy collector of customs for several years. And at one period
he resided in Washington, D. C, serving as clerk of the committee on
accounts. Mr. Gray held no public office in Swansea, although he was
once unanimously chosen as a member of the Board of Selectmen of the
town. But being employed in Washington, D. C. at that time, he did not
accept the office. He was once a candidate for Senatorial honors, and
failed of an election by only four votes. He was a man of public spirit and
of a social disposition, but of a quiet virtue and honesty of purpose. During
the last ten years of his hfe he was editor of the Swansea Record, a locsJ
sheet published from Fall River for the country towns.

Mr. Gray's death occurred Feb. 23, 1898, at the home of his sou
Lewis S. Gray in Swansea, where he had resided for a number of years.
His burial was attended by a large and deeply interested company of

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Online LibraryOtis Olney WrightHistory of Swansea, Massachusetts, 1667-1917; → online text (page 21 of 27)