William Richard Cutter.

Genealogical and personal memoirs relating to the families of the state of Massachusetts; (Volume 3) online

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laid out in "lots" and "tiers," and the lot
assigned to Thomas Bliss (senior), was "No.
58" in the "tenth tier," south of the little river.
It lay on the east side of a street now discon-
tinued, which extended north and south, a
short distance to the west of the present Lafay-
ette street, and south of the old state house.
The present Trinity street was one of the
original streets of Hartford and was known
as Bliss street from the first settlement to
about 1855. It was probably so named from
this family, and was then described as extend-
ing from "George Steele's to the Mill."
Thomas Bliss married, in England, about 1612
or 161 5, Margaret, whose maiden name is
thought to have been Margaret Lawrence, and
it is believed that she was born about the
year 1594. The following account of her is
taken from the "Genealogy of the Bliss
Family," compiled by John Homer Bliss, of
Norwich. Connecticut : "She was a good look-
ing woman, with a square oblong face that
betokened great capacity and force of char-
acter. She had a broad open brow, fair hair,
and blue eyes. After the death of her husband
she managed the affairs of the family with
great prudence and judgment." Her eldest
daughter Ann married Robert Chapman, of
Saybrook, Connecticut, in 1642, and removed
to Saybrook, where her eldest brother Thomas,
came soon after to live with them, and where



1526



MASSACHUSETTS.



he married in 1644. The other children of
the Widow Margaret Bliss, of Hartford, con-
cluded not to settle there permanently, chills
and fever prevailing in some localities near the
town; she and her children, therefore, in the
year of 1643 removed to the settlement at
Springfield, Massachusetts, thirty miles or
more up the Connecticut river. Margaret sold
her property in Hartford, and gathering her
household goods and cattle together, prepared
with her eight children to make the journey
through the forest to Springfield, which she
accomplished in about five days. Nathaniel
and Samuel, her second and fourth sons, had
been there previously, and a dwelling had
been prepared for the family on their arrival.
A journey like this was thought a great thing
in those days. They camped out in the forest
three nights with their teams so sparsely was
the country settled at that time ; and the forests
infested with the savage beasts and scarcely
less savage Indians, were broken only by the
single roads to the seaboard, on the east and
on the south and these were by no means of
the best. Mrs. Margaret had acquaintances
in Springfield, whom she had known in Eng-
land, and here she settled down for the re-
mainder of her days. It is said she purchased
a tract of land in Springfield one mile square,
situated in the south part of the town, on
what is now Main street, and bordering on
the Connecticut river. One of the streets laid
out on the Manor tract has been named "Mar-
garet" street and another "Bliss" street, on
which has been built a Congregational church.
She lived to see all her children brought up,
married, and established in homes of their
own, except Hannah, who died at about
twenty-three years of age. Mrs. Margaret
died in Springfield, August 28, 1684, after a
residence in America of nearly fifty years, and
over forty years since her husband's death.
She was an energetic, efficient woman, capable
of transacting most kinds of business, and
and was long remembered in Springfield as
a woman of great intellectual ability. A
mother with these characteristics seldom fails
to transmit them to posterity. Her will,
dated in September, 1683, mentions some but
not all of the children of Thomas, hence it
has been surmised that she may have been a
second wife, and that he had children by a
former wife. As she survived her husband
forty- four years, he must have died compara-
tively young, or there may have been a great
disparity in cheir ages. She lived more than
ninety years in spite of the hardships and



anxieties she had passed through and her
grandchildren were generally very strong of
constitution and longlived, as were also her
children. She was a woman of superior
abilities, great resolution, and uncommon en-
terprise, and is entitled to the respect of her
descendants, both for her vigor of mind and
constitution. The children of Thomas and
Margaret Bliss were : Ann, Mary, Thomas,
Nathaniel, Lawrence, Samuel, Sarah, Eliza-
beth, Hannah and John.

(III) Samuel, fourth son of Thomas (2)
and Margaret Bliss, was born in England.
1624, and removed to America with his father
in 1635. He had several grants of land from
Agawam, ( Springfield ) at FYeshwater brook
in the north side of the Agawam river, at what
was first called Ackannuset, amounting to
thirty-five acres. He was a prominent citizen
of the town and was selectman there in 1685.
He married, November 10, 1664, Mary, daugh-
ter of John and Sarah (Heath) Leonard, of
Springfield. She was born September 14,
1647, and died in 1724. He died March 23,
1720, aged ninety-six years. Their children
were : Hannah, Thomas, Mary, Jonathan,
Martha, Sarah, Experience, Mercy, Ebenezer,
Margaret and Esther.

(IV) Ebenezer, third son of Samuel and
Mary (Leonard) Bliss, was born in Spring-
field, July 29, 1683, died September 7, 17 17.
He was a tanner by trade and lived in Spring-
field. In 1 71 5 he bought sixty-three acres of
land of Jeremiah Burgess, in Windsor, Con-
necticut. He was somewhat active in town
affairs, holding at various times the minor
township offices of hayward, hogreeve and
fcnceviewer. He married, January, 1707, Mary,
daughter of John and Mary (Clark) Gaylord,
who was born about 1688, in Windsor, Con-
necticut. Their children were : Jedediah, Ebe-
nezer, Anne, Moses, Mary and Martha.

(V) Jedediah, eldest child of Ebenezer and
Mary (Gaylord) Bliss, was born in Spring-
field, February 7. 1709, died November 30,
1777. He was a tanner, and a very eccentric
man, and many stories are told of his odd
ways. He married (first) July 2, 1733, Rachel,
daughter of Joseph and Mary Sheldon, of
Suffield, Connecticut. She died November 1,
1747. He married (second) August 19, 1748,
Miriam, daughter of John and Abigail Hitch-
cock, who died November 19, 1793. Children
by first wife Rachel were: Rachel, Moses,
Jedediah, Mary, Lucy (died young), Lucy,
Aaron and Patience. Those of second wife
Miriam were: Miriam, Ebenezer, Reuben,



MASSACHUSETTS.



1527



Alexander, Zenas, Martha, Isaac, Jacob and
Naomi.

(VI) General Jacob, youngest son of Jede-
diah and Miriam (Hitchcock) Bliss, was born
March 12, 1763, died March 27, 1829. He
was a soldier in the revolution, enlisting in the
continental army in Captain Rowley's com-
pany, Colonel Moseley's regiment, June 5,
1780, when he was only seventeen years old.
He served six months or more. He was also
in the company of Captain Phineas Parker.
The archives of the commonwealth describe
him as five feet seven inches tall, with light
complexion. He rose in rank in the militia
after the revolution and was a brigadier-gen-
eral in the war of 1812. He commanded a
brigade of three regiments of Western Massa-
chusetts troops stationed at or near Com-
mercial Point, Boston, in 1814. He was a
prominent citizen of Springfield. He married,
in 1780, Mary Collins, daughter of Ariel
Collins. She was born in Springfield, June 12.
1765, died October 14, 1854. The children of
General Jacob Bliss were: Theodore, John,
Mary, Jacob, William, Emily (died young),
Emily, Christopher, Josiah and Henry.

(VII) Theodore, eldest child of General
Jacob and Mary (Collins) Bliss, was born in
Springfield, March 4, 1789, died in Springfield,
December 13, 1844. He was a merchant and
banker. He was married at Leominster, Mass-
achusetts, July 3, 1814, to Juliet H. Mann, of
Northampton, where she was born January 30,
1797. She died in Springfield, April 6, 1879.
They had seven children — two born in Boston,
and five in Springfield, as follows : Henrietta
J., Mary Collins, Jacob (died young), Emily
S., Martha A., Jacob and John. Martha A.
married Frederick H. Harris. (See Harris IX),

(VII) William, fourth son of General Jacob
and Mary (Collins) Bliss, was born in Spring-
field, March 29, 1797, died March 3, 1838. He
was educated in the public schools, at an acad-
emy, and at Harvard College, from which he
graduated in 1818. He studied law and became
a prominent lawyer in Springfield for a man
of his years. He was prominent in town affairs.
and was chairman of county commissioners in
1834. He was a very companionable man, and
was very much of a wit and many anecdotes
are told of him. He married, July 1, 1828,
Elizabeth Augusta Benjamin, daughter of
Asher and Achsah Benjamin. She was born
in Boston, January 4, 1800, and died in Spring-
field, June 22, 1877. Their children were :
Ellen Augusta, Harriet L., and William, next



mentioned. Harriet L. became the wife of
Harry A. Gould.

(VIII) William (2), only son of William
(1) and Elizabeth A. (Benjamin) Bliss, was
born in Springfield, December 11, 1834. As a
young man he worked for Cicero Simons, 2
merchant of Springfield. For a time he was
employed in New York City, but after his mar-
riage he returned to the city of his nativity to
reside, and entered the employ of the Western
railroad of which his father-in-law, Chester
W. Chapin, was president. In 1865 he was
made assistant to the president and in 1866
was promoted to the general freight agency.
This position he held until 1872, when the
Western and Boston & Worcester railroads
were merged into the Boston & Albany, of
which he was made general manager. In 1878,
on the retirement of President Chapin, he was
made vice-president and general manager,
while Dr. Waldo Lincoln was made president.
When Mr. Lincoln was killed, July 1, 1880, in
a railroad accident, Mr. Bliss was named by
the directors to succeed him. Shortly after
assuming the presidency of the road his fre-
quent presence in Boston became so necessary
that he removed there and for many years
previous to his death had made his home at
No. 25 Exeter street. After the leasing of the
Boston & Albany road to the New York Cen-
tral, Mr. Bliss was freed from much business
care and he gave this otherwise leisure time to
out-door sports and to reading and social pleas-
ures. He was devotedly fond of golf, and in
the latter part of his life was an enthusiastic
automobilist. He was a great reader and had
a reputation as a wit and conversationalist.
Among the strong men whom he attracted as
associates in the management of the road were
Judge A. L. Soule and Samuel Hoar, both of
whom died before him, and who had served
as general counsel for the railroad, and ex-
Congressman Edward D. Hayden, vice-presi-
dent of the road, deceased (1908). In appear-
ance Mr. Bliss made a striking impression with
his six feet three inches of erect physique.
Dignified and courteous he impressed those
whom he met with his strong character, while
the men beneath him, with many manifesta-
tions of his care of them in mind, revered him
in a manner seldom witnessed today. During
the panic of 1893, when most corporations
were paying off their help in checks, the
employees of the Boston & Albany were paid
in cash at great inconvenience to the company,
but to the great pleasure of Mr. Bliss and his



1 528



MASSACHUSETTS.



men. His relations with his directors were
also uniformly pleasant and high-minded and
though they several times sought permission
to advance his salary beyond $12,000 he would
not listen to it. He was also extremely care-
ful that charges against his personal account
should not get into the railroad accounts, and
this was especially true of the provisions which
went into his private car on his railroad jour-
neys. As a railroad man he was held in high
regard by his associates throughout the country.
He was a director in the New York Central
road and had several times refused offers con-
nected with the management of other railroad
properties. In the year or somewhat more
following his accession to the presidency he
made a proposition looking toward the pur-
chase of the New Haven & Northampton rail-
road as a means of extending the road so as
to secure an independent connection with New
York City. The directors of the New Haven
road, however, received word of the negotia-
tions and they purchased the road of Presi-
dent Yeamens in time to checkmate Mr. Bliss's
purpose.

His death was due to heart trouble which
manifested itself a few months before his
demise, reaching an acute stage but a week
before his death. He was seventy-three years
of age, and for forty years had been actively
engaged in railroad work in Massachusetts.
His family life was singularly happy and
although Mrs. Bliss experienced a long period
of invalidism before her death, her husband
was especially devoted to her. His only daugh-
ter. Airs. Hamilton Perkins, and her family
made their home in Boston with Mr. Bliss
after the death of Mrs. Bliss. William Bliss
and Margaret C. Chapin, of Springfield, born
May 23, 1834, died March 11, 1895, daughter
of Chester W. and Dorcas (Chapin) Chapin,
were married, September 22, 1858, at Spring-
field, Massachusetts, and were the parents of
two children: Chester W., mentioned below;
Elizabeth, born December 8, i860, who mar-
ried Hamilton Perkins, of Boston, September
18, 1884. Two children, one of whom is living,
Margaret, married Charles D. Greenough (2),
January II, 1906; one child, Charles D.
Greenough (3), born November 16, 1908.

(IX) Chester William, only son of William
(2) and Margaret (Chapin) Bliss, was born
in New York City, July 3, 1859. He was edu-
cated in the Gunnery school, Washington. Con-
necticut, the Noble school, Boston, and the
Adams Academy at Quincy. From the latter
institution he went to Harvard College, enter-



ing with the class of 1884, but did not con-
tinue. In 188 1 he became rodman on a survey-
ing corps of the Pennsylvania railroad at Paoli,
Pennsylvania, and in the next three or four
years was all over the state, finally leaving the
company, having attained the position of assist-
ant supervisor of track. He soon afterward
entered the employ of the Boston & Albany
road as assistant road master with headquarters
at Springfield and by a series of promotions
became assistant general superintendent of the
load. In 1900 he resigned and made a tour
of Europe which in the years following he
has several times repeated, visiting the prin-
cipal countries of the Continent and Britain.
In Eebruary, 1907, he was elected president
of the Chapin National Bank of Springfield, of
which he had for some years been a director.
In 1908 he was elected to the directorate of
the Boston & Albany railroad. Mr. Bliss is a
man of hard financial sense, deliberate in his
movements in business, yet closely observant
of what is transpiring and the financial pros-
perity of the bank, since he was elected its
chief officer, attests to his qualifications to con-
duct one of the great monetary institutions of
the state. He is social with his fellowmen and
genial in his manner. He is a member of no
secret order. In politics he is a Republican,
but has never held a public office or a position
in the party organization. His love for society
finds expression in associations with men in
many organizations for amusement. He is a
member of the Somerset, Union, Tennis and
Racket clubs of Boston ; the Country Club in
Brookline, the Eastern and New York Yacht
Clubs; the Harvard Club of New York, and
the Automobile Club of Springfield. He mar-
ried, June 9, 1883, Isadora Leech, of Erie,
Pennsylvania, who was born in Leechburgj
Pennsylvania, daughter of Addison and Mary
(Reynolds) Leech. They have had six chil-
dren: 1. Dorcas, born August 2, 1884, died
August, 1884. 2. William, July 27, 1886, died
September 6, 1896. 3. Katherine, April 24,
1888, died November 19, 1888. 4. Elizabeth,
June 15, 1890. 5. Addison, November 21,
1 89 1. 6. Isadora, December 17, 1898.

(The Chapin Line).

(ID Henry, second son of Deacon Samuel
(q. v.) and Cicily Chapin, does not appear to
have resided in Springfield in the early part
of his manhood, but took up his residence there
about 1659. The town records show that he
was prominent in town affairs, and was a
representative in the general court in 1689.



MASSACHUSETTS.



1529



Tradition says be was impressed on board a
British man-of-war and served seven years,
during which time he was in a severe engage-
ment with the Dutch. He afterward com-
manded a merchant ship and made several
voyages between London and Boston, but at
length, tired of a seafaring life, took up his
residence in Boston, and afterward in Spring-
field, where his father and family resided. He
settled in that part of Springfield now Chico-
pee, built a house on the south side of Chico-
pte river in what is now the village of Chico-
pee, on Ferry street, facing south on West
street near where a large elm tree now stands.
This house was burned in 1762. He bought
of John Pynchon, May 9, 1659, two hundred
acres of land on the north side of Chicopee
river, for which he was to pay in wheat the
sum of twenty pounds in money by March,
J663. The greater part of these premises have
been and still are in the possession of the
descendants of Henry. He married Bethia,
daughter of Benjamin and Sarah Cooley, at
Longmeadow, December 5, 1664. She died
December 11, 171 1; and he died August 15.
1718. Children found on record: Henry,
Sarah, Bethia, Henry (again) and Benjamin,
next mentioned.

(III) Deacon Benjamin, youngest child of
Henry and Bethia (Cooley) Chapin, was born
in Springfield. February 2, 1682, and died
March 22, 1756. He was one of the first dea-
cons of the church in Chicopee, elected to that
office in 1752. He lived on Chicopee street,
near where Deacon Giles S. Chapin lived some
years ago. Benjamin Chapin married (first)
November 9, 1704, Hannah, daughter of Isaac
and Mary Colton, of Longmeadow. She died
March 5, 1739. and he married (second)
Joanna, widow of Ebenezer Warriner. She
died October 13, 1764. Children by first wife:
Hannah, Benjamin, Isaac, Abner, Jacob.
Bethia, Sarah, George, Abigail, Mary, Ephraim
and Eunice.

(IV) Captain Ephraim, sixth son of Dea-
con Benjamin and Hannah (Colton) Chapin.
was born October 29, 1729, and died October
12, 1805. He built the house where his grand-
son Briant Chapin lived in late years, and
kept a tavern there for a long time. He was
a good farmer, was one of the largest land
holders of his time in the Connecticut Valley,
having large tracts in Springfield, Ludlow and
Chicopee, and fatted many cattle for market.
He was a captain of a military company, and
was out with a part or all his company during
a portion of the old French war. He married,



May 1, 1755, Jemima, daughter of Abel and
Hannah (Hitchock) Chapin, and granddaugh-
ter of Thomas and Sarah (Wright) Chapin;
Thomas being a son of Japhet and Abilenah
(Cooley) Chapin, and grandson of Deacon
Samuel the settler. She died November 1,
1804. They had: Abel, Ephraim, Jemima.
Benjamin and Bezaleel (died young), (twins)
Kezia, Bezaleel, and Frederick.

(V) Captain Ephraim (2), second son of
Ephraim (1) and Jemima (Chapin) Chapin
was born April 3, 1759, and died December 26,
1806. He resided for several years in South
Hadley and Ludlow, but removed to Chicopee.
and died there, a farmer. He married, Feb-
ruary, 1782, Mary Smith, born March 30,
1763, daughter of Phineas Smith of Granby.
or South Hadley. She died January 9, 1844,
aged eighty-one. Children : Erastus, Sophia,
Giles Smith, Ephraim, Mary S., Betsey, and
Chester William, next mentioned.

(VI) Hon. Chester William, youngest child
of Ephraim (2) and Mary (Smith) Chapin.
was born January 16, 1797, and died June io,
1883. His father died before he was of age,
and his elder brother Ephraim being in college,
Chester was left with his mother to look after
the interests of the family. He was educated
in the common schools and at Westfield Acad-
emy, and after a brief service with his brother
Erastus, who kept the old Williams House in
Springfield, he became a partner in business
with his life-long friend, Stephen C. Bemis.
Believing that outdoor employment would be
of benefit to his health, he bought an interest
in the great stage line of the Connecticut
Valley, which at that time was controlled by
Jacob W. Brewster, of Sackett's Harbor, and
Horatio Sargent, of Springfield. This busi-
ness was carried on at a profit until the steam-
boats furnished a quicker, cheaper and more
satisfactory mode of transportation. He then
bought out the interests of Thomas Blanchard,
and afterward entered into an alliance with
Commodore Vanderbilt, then engaged in the
transportation business at Hartford. This
alliance proved of great mutual benefit, and
laid the foundation of a lifelong community
of interest and close personal friendships. Mr.
Chapin was an early and zealous promoter of
railroads. Having established a successful
line of steamboats between New Haven and
New York, on Long Island Sound, he with
others undertook the construction of the Hart-
ford & Springfield railroad, of which, with
the extensions and additions, he was an active
director during the rest of his life. One of



1530



MASSACHUSETTS.



his favorite and oft-quoted maxims to young
men was : "When you can't stem the current,
get in and steer," and his career showed that
he made a personal application of the maxim.
In 1850 he was made a director of the Western
railroad, then running from Worcester to
Albany, and the same year was elected presi-
dent of the Connecticut River Railroad Com-
pany, which office he held until 1854. He then
became president of the Western Railroad
Company, and filled that position with marked
ability and success for twenty-four years. He
found the road in 1854 with inadequate rolling
stock, wooden bridges, light rails, a single
track, a depleted treasury, and poor credit ;
and one of his first moves was to go to Lon-
don, where through his acquaintance with Mr.
Sturgis, the active partner in the great banking
house of Baring Brothers & Company, he
obtained a loan of five hundred thousand
dollars for the purpose of supplying those
things which were imperatively demanded to
meet the growing traffic of the road. From
that time until he effected its consolidation
with the Boston & Worcester road, and until
it passed into the keeping of his successors,
the history of the Boston & Albany railroad
was a conspicuous and uninterrupted success.
His practical knowledge of all the details of
the business, his wise judgment and foresight,
his accurate estimate of men and his skill in
so placing and directing them as to utilize their
respective capacities, and above all, his integrity
and high notions of honor, coupled with a rare
sense of justice, combined to attract the atten-
tion of the business world and distinguished
him as a man. He was a man of large capacity
and was connected with many large enterprises
other than the transportation lines mentioned.
As president of the Agawam Bank, and sub-
sequently of the Chapin Banking & Trust Com-
pany, as director in the New York Central &
Hudson River Railroad Company, the Con-
necticut River Railroad Company, the New
York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad Com-
pany, the Springfield Fire and Marine Insur-
ance Company, the Agawam Canal Company,
the New Haven Steamboat Company, the City
Library Association, and the other less con-
spicuous enterprises, his rare judgment and
exceptional business sagacity were consulted,
He was for a time president of the Hannibal
& St. Joseph railroad, and was offered the
presidency of the Hudson River Railroad
Company, which he declined. He was a mem-
ber of the constitutional convention which met
at Charleston, South Carolina, in 1854. and



was elected to a seat in the Forty-fourth Con-
gress from a district largely Republican,
although he was a lifelong Democrat. His
public benefactions were liberal, and his purse
was ever open to those in need. Amherst
College received fifty thousand dollars during
his life, and the church of the Unity, where
he was a regular attendant, counted him among
its most liberal supporters, receiving from him
at one time twenty-six thousand dollars. In
1878 he retired from the presidency of the
Boston & Albany Railroad Company, and from
active business, and on June 10, 1883, died at
his residence in Springfield, deeply mourned
by the community which he had served so



Online LibraryWilliam Richard CutterGenealogical and personal memoirs relating to the families of the state of Massachusetts; (Volume 3) → online text (page 32 of 145)