William L. (William Ladd) Chaffin.

History of the town of Easton, Massachusetts online

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1872, the practice of medicine in Easton, where he still resides,
although he has at times practised elsewhere.

William E. Channing Swan, M.D., son of Dr. Caleb and of
Louisa S. (Johnson) Swan, was born in Easton, June 14, 1842 ;
studied at the Thetford Academy, and attended lectures at
the Harvard Medical School, receiving his diploma March 8,
1865. He had, however, settled in Stoughton in 1863, where
he began practice, and attended the medical lectures afterward.
November 27, 1866, he married Estelle J. Parker, of Stoughton,
and they have one son, Charles L., born December 17, 1867.
Dr. Swan still resides at Stoughton, and has a large practice
there and in the vicinity.

Byron H. Strout, DD.S., son of Sanford B. and of IMelvina
(Torrey) Strout, was born in Easton, July 28, 1861. He gradu-
ated from the Boston Dental College in 1882, began the practice
of dentistry in Boston in March of that year, and continued
there until October, 1883, during which time he was also de-
monstrator in charge of the mechanical department of the Den-
tal College. He removed to Taunton in October, 1883, where
he still follows his profession. Dr. Strout was married June 2,
188 1, to Alice H. Mertins, of Evergreen, Alabama, whither he
had removed with his parents from Easton, in 1875.

Frank Elmer Tilden, M.D., son of Francis and Alvira M.
Tilden, was born in Easton, April 13, 1853, received a High
School education in Easton, and took a full course of study in
the Medical School of Harvard University, from which he re-
ceived the degree of Doctor of Medicine, June 28, 1876, For a
short time he was assistant in the Free Dispensary for Women
in Boston, and began practice in Easton in the fall of 1876,
locating in North Easton village, where he still follows his
profession. November 12, 1884, Dr. Tilden married Ellen L.

The foregoing physicians are those who have had a more or
less complete medical education, and have practised their pro-
fession accordinir to the reirular methods. But in addition to


these regular practitioners there are others who have devoted
themselves to the art of healing, carrying it on by methods of
their own, and not without success. There is no sufficient rea-
son why, because they have not followed the customary standards
of medical practice, they should not have a notice here ; brief
sketches of them are accordingly given.

Dr. George Brett, son of Jonathan and Martha (Bartlett)
Brett, was born in Boston, December 3, 1829. His father died
September 30, 1834, and his mother then returned to Easton,
where May 10, 1838, she was married to Jason G. Howard.
George Brett became a shoe-manufacturer, carrying on busi-
ness for some years in North Easton village. Since he was
twenty-five years of age he has cured headaches and neuralgia
by manipulation. In 1875 he was induced to try his power
upon a rheumatic patient in East Stoughton, who had suffered
severely, and who had not been able for two months to move
his swollen ankle. The patient experienced immediate relief.
"I went home," said Mr. Brett, "never dreaming there was busi-
ness in it." The result of his success in this case was that the
halt, lame, and sick of East Stoughton began a pilgrimage to
him. " What will you go to East Stoughton and see ten sick
people for ? " some one asked him. " Ten dollars " he answered.
He went, receiving his first money as a practitioner, and in one
year thereafter did a business worth three thousand dollars. His
fame increased. He opened an office in Brockton and East
Stoughton. Some Boston people induced him, in the spring of
1876, to open an office in that city. Patients come to him now
from nearly every State in the Union, and from the Provinces
also. Dr. Brett claims to possess the "gift of healing, without
medicine or liniment," but makes no pretension to clairvoyance
or " spirit influence " or " Faith-cure." He says that he can di-
agnose accurately seventy-five per cent of the cases presented
to him, and does it merely by taking the patient by the hand.
Twenty-five per cent do not respond, and he tells them he can-
not help them. He also claims that he can do as well in one
disease as in another, and that he can treat forty patients in
a day, and suffer no exhaustion therefrom. The Doctor has a
very extensive and lucrative practice.



Dr. AsAHEL Smith, son of Michael and Betsy (Crane) Smith,
of Canton, was born in Bradford, New Hampshire, July 25, 18 14.
He began to practise the healing art in Easton, in the year 1850.
His method is called clairvoyance, a species of trance, by means
of which he claims to diagnose diseases. His remedies are
chiefly botanical specifics. Dr. Smith married Almira Gilbert,
of Sharon, and they have had ten children.

Dr. William B. Webster, son of Isaac and Betsy (French)
Webster, was born in Stark, Maine, June 11, 1832. His parents
removed to North Bridgewater in 1838, where he continued to
live, though they subsequently returned to Maine. Mr. Webster
was for sev^eral years a shoemaker ; but fourteen years ago he
began the practice of medicine in Easton, claiming to diagnose
diseases by means of clairvoyance. His remedies are mainly
botanical, and he is said to prepare them with great care. March
31, 1858, he married Mary Jane, daughter of Levi and Rachel
(Sumner) French, of North Bridgewater, who was born August
12, 1836. They have one child, a son.

Dr. John P. Wilson, son of Eliphalet and Almira (Randall)
Wilson, was born in Easton, October 19, 1837. Mr. Wilson
became quite early a clairvoyant physician. During a sick-
ness, in which he was treated by Dr. Asahel Smith, the latter
suggested to him that he might develop this clairvoyant power
and make his living by its exercise. The suggestion was
adopted. Mr. Wilson practised upon the West Bridgewater
people for a short apprenticeship of six months, in 1857. In
1858 he began the same treatment in Easton, living in Poquan-
ticut until about twelve years ago. He then moved to Mansfield,
where he set up a drug store, which he carries on in connection
with his practice. December 6, 1864, he enlisted as a soldier,
and went into camp at Readville ; was not however called to the
front, but was discharged May 12, 1865. November 25, 1858,
Mr. Wilson married Susan L. Buck. They have had seven
children, four of whom are living.

Before concluding this chapter four other persons ought to be
briefly mentioned, inasmuch as they have assumed or acquired
the title of doctor.


One of them was Dr. Joseph Belcher, a son of the Rev
Joseph Belcher, of Easton. Doctor Belcher early became a resi-
dent of Stoughton, was a volunteer in the French and Indian
War, and gamed what little reputation he enjoyed as a physician
I by preparmg eye-water and a medicine for rickets, either of his

own mvention or from a recipe which he got from some one
else. His daughter, Mrs. Israel Guild, continued to make eye-
water until within my time." ^

On page 458 of the " History of Bristol County " the statement
IS made that James L. Perrv, son of Dr. James Perry, was a
doc or of dental surgery. The writer can discover no sufficient
evidence that this statement is true. The real fact is that James
Leonard Perry was what would now be designated as a veteri-
nary surgeon, but what half a century ago was plainly called a
horse doctor He kept an inn on the Bay road, south of
Laston, and afterward lived in Mansfield, near Easton, at both
of which places he carried on his business with success, and
V b gamed high repute in his art for many miles around. He was

f| born in Easton, March 9, 1802, married November 20, 18-^s

Phebe N. Hodges, of Norton, who died April 18. 1848. He died
March 8, 1 8y8. . ^ ic uica

_ Washington L. Ames, now of Bridgewater, prefixes to his
signature the title of doctor. This is assumed on account of his
having practised as a veterinary surgeon. Mr. Ames, the son of
Jotham and Polly (Lothrop) Ames, was born in Easton, July .0
1812. He has made his home in Bridgewater for many years. '
There is one other native of Easton, claiming the title of
doctor, to whom we ought perhaps at least to allude before clos-
ing this chapter. This person was a woman, who practised one
branch of medical science, but whose career is clouded with
infamy and whom it will be better to leave nameless

Residents of Easton have no doubt observed that the writer has
maintained a judicious silence in regard to more than one person
who has been noticed in this chapter. Let not his silence, however
heha Tr' " indifference concerning the gross immoralities'
he has left unment.oned, for such things cannot be thought of by
any true man or woman without deep sorrow and indignation.

' From a letter of Newton Talbot, Esq.. of Boston, to the writer.




Edmund Andrews. — James P. Barlow. — John Augustus Bolles.

— Daniel F. Buckley. — Charles H. Deans. — George W. Deans.

— Frederic V. Fuller. — Henry J. Fuller. — Cyrus Lothrop. —
George Van Ness Lothrop. — John J. O'Connell. — Jason
Reed. — Edward Selee. — Louis C. Southard. — Charles L.
Swan. — Daniel Wheaton. — George Wheaton. — Henry G.
Wheaton. — Guilford White.

THIS chapter will give some account of the lawyers who were
native to or have practised their profession in Easton.
They are mentioned in alphabetical order.

Edmund Andrews is the first resident of Easton who is
positively known to have practised the profession of the law,
being the attorney chosen by the Baptists to defend their cause
when several of them were arrested and imprisoned in 1764 for
refusing to pay the ministerial rates for the support of the town
church. Edmund was a son of Capt. Edmund Andrews, of
Taunton, and in October, 1742, he married Keziah Dean and
moved to Norton, where he resided until after 1746, coming to
Easton probably not long after 1750. He saw some service in
the French and Indian War. Mr. Andrews did not have much
legal business, but turned his hand to farming and innkeeping,
being licensed for the latter from 1761 to 1773. His house was
on what is now Poquanticut Avenue, not far from its northern
end. His name is found on the tax-lists for the northwest quar-
ter of the town until 1784, when it no longer appears, and he
must then have died or moved away, — probably the latter, as
no record of his death appears, and none of his family w^ere left



James P. Barlow was born in Easton, February 22, 1863,
and graduated from the Easton High School in June, 1879.
For five years afterward he was working most of the time in
shoe-shops in Brockton. October r, 1884, he entered the Boston
University Law School, from which he graduated June 2, 1886.
He took the Suffolk Bar examination June 19 of the same year,
and was admitted to practise law July 20.

John Augustus Bolles was a resident of Easton while a
member of Brown University, for a time taught school in the
No. 2 schoolhouse, and in 1831 was librarian of the Methodist
Social Library. He was the eighth child ^ of the Rev. Matthew
and Anna (Hibbard) Bolles; was born in Ashford, now Eastford,
Connecticut, April 16, 1809; graduated at Brown University,
Providence, Rhode Island, 1829; Master of Arts, 1832; subse-
quently made LL.D. ; admitted to the Boston Bar in 1833; Sec-
retary of State of Massachusetts, 1843; member of the Board
of Education ; Commissioner of Boston Harbor and Back Bay,
1852 ; and Judge-Advocate Seventh Army Corps, 1862. He was
on the staff of his brother-in-law, Maj.-Gen. John A. Dix, until the
close of the Civil War, and then went into the Navy Department
as Judge-Advocate, remaining there until his death, which oc-
curred May 25, 1878. Mr. Bolles was the author of a prize essay
on a Congress of Nations, published by the American Peace
Society; of an essay on Usury and Usury Laws, published by
the Boston Chamber of Commerce, and which led to the suspen-
sion of the usury laws on short bills of exchange ; of various
articles in the North American Review, Christian Examiner,
Christian Review, New England Magazine, and other periodicals,
and was the first editor of the Boston Daily Journal.

November 11, 1834, Mr. Bolles married Catherine Hartwell
Dix, daughter of Col. Timothy Dix, of Boscawen, New Hamp-
shire ; they had six children, one of whom, Timothy Dix, is
lieutenant in the United States Navy, and another, Frank, is
connected with Harvard College.

Daniel F. Buckley was born in Easton, December 3, 1864,
and graduated from the High School of Easton in 1881; studied

1 The above facts were kindly furnished the writer by Matthew 15olles, Esq., of
Boston, brother of John A. Bolles.



law at the Boston University Law School, from which he grad-
uated in the class of 1885. Mr. Buckley was admitted to the
Bar at Taunton, April 30, 1886.

Charles Henry Deans, son of Dr. Samuel and of Hannah
LeBaron (Wheaton) Deans, was born in Easton, May 2, 1832.
He pursued a course of classical study in the Academy in New
Hampton, N. H., for four years, and entered in 1854 the Sopho-
more class of Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island. At
the close of this year his health failed, and he was obliged to
leave college without graduating, — his class graduating in 1857.
Subsequently to leaving college he studied law with Samuel B.
Noyes, Esq., and with Ellis Ames, Esq., of Canton, Mass., being
admitted to the Bar of Bristol County in 1858. He immediately
opened an office in West Medway, where he has continued in the
practice of his profession to the present time. Mr. Deans served
the Government two years during the Civil War as commissioner
on the Board of Enrollment, has held the office of trial justice
for twenty years, and served on the school board for eighteen
years, being still a member. He is also a trustee of the Med-
way Savings Bank, being one of its original petitioners for a
charter, and for fourteen years has been president of the New
England Awl and Needle Company, a position he still holds.
He has also been president of the Evergreen Cemetery Asso-
ciation since its incorporation in 1871. November 21, 1861,
Mr. Deans married Mary M. Harris, of Westborough. They
have had five children, all of whom are living. The eldest, who
is their only son, Harris Wheaton Deans, is now in business at
Jamaica Plain.

George Wheaton Deans, son of Dr. Samuel and Hannah
LeBaron (Wheaton) Deans, was born in Easton, May 29, 1827.
He was two years in Brown University, studied law in the Har-
vard Law School, went to California in 1849, where he stayed
about four years, having some success in mining. He returned
to Taunton about 1855 and practised law, but after two years
went into the hardware business in Boston, and made money.
In the hard times beginning in 1872 he suffered reverses, and
finally abandoned mercantile pursuits and returned to his profes-



sion, which he practised in Jacksonville, Florida, whither he went
on account of his health. George W. Deans married, January
25, 1855, Nancy Shaw Richards, of Dedham. Of their three
children, one alone, George DeWolf Deans, survives, who lives
in Boston.

Frederic V. Fuller, son of Henry J. and Rebecca (Vincent)
Fuller, was born in Easton, September 9, 1863. He studied one
year at Harvard College, and then left it to enter the Law School
of the Boston University, from which he graduated in 1884. He
was admitted to the Bar September 9, 1884, the day he became
twenty-one years old. Mr. Fuller is associated with his father
in the practice of the law in Taunton. February 2, 1886, he
married Ettie C. Strange, of Taunton.

Henry J. Fuller, son of Harrison and Mary (Morse) Fuller,
was born in Mansfield, May 5, 1834. He fitted for college at
the East Greenwich Academy, entered the Wesleyan University
at Middletown, Conn., in 1853, and graduated with one of the
honors of the class in 1857. He had intended to enter the min-
istry, but was induced by his room-mate to study law ; spent
some time in the law-office of Mr. Hyde, at Worcester, studied a
year in the law school at Albany, N. Y., and completed his stud-
ies in the ofifice of Ellis Ames, Esq., of Canton. Mr. Fuller
was admitted to the Bar April 10, i860, in the Supreme Court
at Dedham. At the urgent request of Ellis Ames he then went
to Easton to assist him in closing up some cases in which
Mr. Ames had engaged with Edward Selee, who had practised
law here a short time and had just died. Mr. Fuller remained
in Easton seven years, removing to Taunton April 13, 1867,
where he has since followed his profession. Both in Easton
and Taunton Mr. Fuller served several years on the school
board, and at least at the former place was the terror of back-
ward scholars, whose intellects under his close questioning were
soon put to hopeless confusion. He has been a trustee of the
Public Library at Taunton, and has been a member of the city
government for several years, but has held no other important
official positions, wisely deeming it best for him to attend strictly
to his profession. This will account for his high standing therein


and the excellent success he has secured. Mr. Fuller is a
man of character and ability, and one of the leading citizens
of Taunton.

November 9, 1862, Henry J. Fuller was married to Rebecca
J. Vincent, of Edgartovvn. She died March 31, 1872. He has
two children, both sons, and natives of Easton ; the older one
has just been spoken of; the younger one, Albert, is now a
senior in Harvard College.

Cyrus Lothrop, the son of Edmund and of Betty (Howard)
Lothrop, was born in Easton, in 1789, graduated from Brown
University in 1810, and subsequently graduated from the Litch-
field Law School. He married, probably in 18 14, Abby W.,
daughter of Dea. John Seabury, of Taunton, Mass. She was
born May 22, 1795, and died in her native town, Nov. 22, 1851,
a lady of great personal excellence and worth.^ Mr. Lothrop
was a lawyer of ability. The elaborate and eulogistic inscription
upon his tombstone, however, is to be read with caution. His
death was the result of an accident by which he was thrown
from his carriage ; this accident occurred in Taunton, May 21,

George Van Ness Lothrop, attorney-at-law, Detroit, son
of Howard and Sally (Williams) Lothrop, was born in Easton,
August 8, 1817.^ His early years were spent on his father's
farm. After an academical course he entered Brown University,
and graduated in the year 1838. In the fall of the same year he
entered the Law School of Harvard University, then in charge
of Judge Story and Professor Greenleaf. In the summer of 1839,
being somewhat out of health, Mr. Lothrop came to Prairie
Ronde, Kalamazoo County, Michigan, where his brother, the
Hon. Edwin H. Lothrop, a man of note in the State politics
and government of Michigan, owned and cultivated an extensive
and productive farm. Here intermitting his studies, he spent
most of his time for two or three years in practical farming, and
in building up his health.

1 Lathrop Family Memoir, p. 342.

2 For this admirable sketch of the life and character of Mr. Lothrop, the writer
is indebted to D. Bethune Duffield, Esq., of Detroit, Michigan.




Online LibraryWilliam L. (William Ladd) ChaffinHistory of the town of Easton, Massachusetts → online text (page 69 of 79)