Zeph. W. (Zephaniah Walter) Pease.

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Nation which equalled any demonstration of the present crisis in our
Nation's history. He fought for the rights of the slave in Congress, and
aided in making the early history of the Republican party. He intro-
duced and championed the Freedmen's Bureau Bill, and watched over
the early life of the bureau. But it was as a great lawyer that he was best
known, and his is one of the names whose niche in the hall of fame is
secure.

He traces his ancestry back to the Hon. Andrew Eliot, who was
born in England, and died in Beverly, Massachusetts, in 1703-04. He
married Grace Woodier, who died in 1652. Their son, Andrew (2) Eliot,
was baptized in 1651, and was drowned at sea in 1688. He married
Mercy Shattuck, who was born in 1655, and their son was Andrew Eliot
(3), who was born in 1685, and died in 1749. He married Ruth Simonds,
who was born in 1676, and died in 1760. Their son was the Rev. Andrew
(4) Eliot, who was born in 1718, and died in 1778. He married Elizabeth
Langdon, who was born in 1721, and their son was Samuel Eliot, who
was born in 1748, and died in 1784. He married Elizabeth Greenleaf,
who was born in 1750, and died in 1841. Their son, William Greenleaf
Eliot, was born in 1781, and died in 1853. He married Margaret Dawes,
who was born in 1789, and died in 1875.

Thomas Dawes Eliot in the seventh generation from the Hon. An-
drew Eliot, the American progenitor of the family, was the eldest son of
William Greenleaf and Margaret (Dawes) Eliot, and was born in Bos-
ton, March 20, 1808, and died June 14, 1870. His parents lived awhile in
New Bedford, going to Washington, D. C, in 1815, and there he finished
his studies at Columbian College, being graduated in 1827, and delivering
the Latin salutatory address. Soon afterward he began the study of law
under the direction of his uncle, Chief Justice Cranch, of the United
States Circuit Court, District of Columbia, and until 1830 continued his
studies at Washington. In that year he came to New Bedford, and con-
tinued the study of the law with Charles H. Warren, later a judge of the
Court of Common Pleas. He continued his studies under Judge Warren
until admitted to the Massachusetts bar and then began practice as his
partner as Warren & Eliot. A large practice came to the firm, and after
Mr. Warren's elevation to the bench, a heavy burden fell upon Mr.
Eliot's shoulders, the business of the firm comprising common law causes
in Bristol, Plymouth and the Island counties of Massachusetts. When



502 NEW BEDFORD

Judge Warren left Xew Bedford, Mr. Eliot associated with himself,
Robert C. Pitman, afterwards judge of the Superior Court of Massa-
chusetts : later they were joined by Walter Mitchell, and the firm became
Eliot, Pitman & Mitchell. Mr. Mitchell later became a clergyman of the
Episcopal church, and Mr. Eliot joined with his son-in-law Thomas M.
Stetson (q. v."), and the firm became Eliot & Stetson and remained so
until Mr. Eliot's death in 1S70.

Mr. Eliot had also a great deal of equity business and admiralty
causes were becoming frequent. For thirty years he regularly attended
every jury term of court held in his part of the State, and in addition to
his responsibilities as senior counsel, kept up his own office business in
all its branches except criminal practice. He was deeply learned in the
law. thoroughly grounded in its principles, and its development through
decisions of high courts, and was especially skillful in applying principle,
decision or precedent to the cause in hand. He was a strong pleader be-
fore a jury, able and clear in his presentation, and in stately and more
scientific debates in banc, shone brilliantly.

Among the causes which drew public attention to the counsel em-
ploved was the litigation between the two divisions of the Society of
Friends, the features of the case in which Mr. Eliot appeared involving
the title of the meeting houses of the society in Massachusetts and
Rhode Island, and in the progress of the case the usages and faith of
the respective sects underwent investigation. Another celebrated case
was his defense of the Massachusetts Medical Society in upholding the
chartered powers of the society on issues raised by physicians of the
School of Homoeopathy. Another noted suit was a private one, but
from its novelty and magnitude drew professional and public attention,
as the result depended upon the execution, force and effect of mutual
wills. This \\-as the suit of Hettj- H. Robinson (later Hettj- Green) vs.
Thomas Mandell. executor of the famous Sylvia Ann Howland estate,
invol\-ing an estate of three million dollars.

Mr. Eliot was devoted to his profession and so closely was he bound
by his conception of the dut}- he owed his clients that twice he declined
appointment to the bench. In his early life he followed the custom for
young lawyers, and sen-ed in both houses of the State Legislature, but
thereafter kept aloof from all political action for many years. He was
a hardworking lawyer, conscientious in his fidelity to his clients, and
always retained their confidence. In 1854 he \^-as brought forward by
the Whig party as their candidate from the First Massachusetts Con-
gressional District to fill out an unfinished term. He was successful at
the polls, and sat in the Thirty-third Congress amid the intense excite-
ment of that Congress which witnessed the introduction and excited
debate on the Kansas-Xebraska bill. He was soon in the heart of that
fight, and his printed speech was circulated by the Whigs to prove its
concurrence with the growing anti-slaver\- sentiment of the State. The
next year witnessed tlie defeat of the Whig party, its complete over-



NEW BEDFORD 503

throw and disappearance as a national party, and the birth of the new
Republican party, that new and virile organization at once enlisting Mr.
Eliot's support. He arranged the first meeting of that party in Bristol
county, was their candidate for Congress, and served in the Thirty-sixth,
Thirty-seventh, Thirty-eighth, Thirty-ninth, and Fortieth congresses,
retiring in 1869, through his refusal to be again a candidate. In 1862
he was chairman of the select Committee on Confiscation ; in 1864 was
chainnan of the Committee on Emancipation, reporting and advocating
a Bureau of Freedman's Affairs, that recommendation leading to the
passage of the law creating the bureau. It was in the conception, forma-
tion and passage of this bill, and his watchful care of the interests of the
bureau when organized, that he performed a service which places his
name not only among the far-seeing statesmen, but among the wisest and
best philanthropists. He was the author of the "Coolie Bill," and its
passage was due to his efforts.

An anecdote may serve here to show how the astute mind and kindly
heart of President Lincoln recognized the fine qualities displayed by
Congressman Eliot. A citizen of Massachusetts, of good character, was
indicted for embezzlement of post office funds. The trail was difficult
and he was convicted and sentenced upon purely circumstantial evidence.
An application for pardon was made to the President by the friends of
the convicted man who had long known him and could not believe him
guilty. President Lincoln referred the papers in the case to the law de-
partment, the report from that department being adverse and positive.
The President was not satisfied and referred the whole matter to Mr.
Eliot, who made a thorough investigation and reported to the President
his belief in the man's innocence. Upon the strength of that report the
President overrode the prosecuting attorney's office and a pardon was
promptly issued. At the first subsequent meeting between the President
and the Congressman, Mr. Lincoln came forward with face beaming, and
with both hands extended, exclaimed : "Well, Eliot, we got our man
clear."

In 1834, Mr. Eliot married Frances L. Brock, of Nantucket, who
died in 1900. They had eight children : Caroline Dawes, who married
Thomas M. Stetson, and resides in New Bedford ; Paul Mitchell, who
died in 1862 ; Ida Mitchell, now residing in New Bedford ; Frances,
widow of R. Swain Gififord, of New York, now residing in New Bed-
ford; Mary, married William Rotch, and they reside in Boston; Emily
Lamb, who married Appleton Sturgis, of New York, and died in 1892;
and Edith, now residing in New Bedford.

The following eulogy^ appeared in the New Bedford "Mercury" at
the time of his death, and is the testimony of contemporaries :

Mr. Eliot was pure minded, kind hearted, of sterling integrity, and
of a most catholic spirit. In our unreserved intercourse with him, we
can recall no instance in which he indulged in any unkind, uncharitable.



504 NEW BEDFORD

or disparaging remarks about even those who had maligned him. He
spoke no ill of his neighbor, but evinced a spirit of charity as beautiful
as it is rare.

He was a deeply religious man, always ready with good words, and
as ready with good works. Of his labors in the Sunday school of the
Unitarian church, where for years he was superintendent, many of our
readers have grateful recollections. His heart was in his work, and he
deeply regretted the necessity of its relinquishment. Thousands will
call to mind his invaluable services as president of the National Confer-
ence of Unitarian churches, and also of the American Unitarian Associa-
tion, his admirable tact in the chair, his hearty zeal and enthusiasm, and
his earnest and successful exertions for fraternal union. He was a gener-
ous man, prompt to give to every good object, and foremost in his con-
tributions of money or of labor to sustain all benevolent enterprises.
Better than any triumph at the bar or the highest honors won in political
life, is the simple record of his unselfish Christian life. "He rests from
his labors and his works do follow him."



JOHN THOMAS KIRK.

A babe of two summers when brought by his parents to New Bed-
ford in 1866, John Thomas Kirk was for many years a traveler and a
wanderer, but always a worker, going from mill to mill in search of
knowledge, even back to England, remaining for several years, and also
to Canada. A roll call of the mills in which he has been employed sounds
like a list of United States mills with English and Canadian mills thrown
in for variety. He is now general superintendent of the Nashawena, a
$3,000,000 corporation, employing in their two mills twenty-four hundred
hands in the manufacture of combed cotton yarns. As general superin-
tendent, Mr. Kirk brings the manufacturing experience of a lifetime into
daily practical use and there is no man in the cotton mills of New Bed-
ford better qualified for the position he holds. He is a son of Josiah and
Sarah Kirk, who were the parents of six sons, three of whom died young,
three came to the United States, and all the family except John are now
deceased. Josiah Kirk was a cotton weaver, as were all the men of the
family for generations. He later became a manufacturer, but the panicky
times in the cotton trade wrought his financial downfall. After coming
to the United States, he soon went South with his family, traveling from
the end of the railroad to Waco, Texas, by prairie schooner for two days
and three nights. He is deceased.

John T. Kirk was born in Burnley, Lancashire, England, October 26,
1864. In 1866 he was brought to the United States by his parents, who
first settled in New Bedford, then went South and traveled over a great
deal of the country, the boy attending public schools in different local-
ities, travel and experience having been his best teachers. He was but
six years of age when the family went South, and in Houston, Texas, he
began work in a cotton mill, that being followed by work in Waco,
Texas, mills. New Orleans came next, where his father was in the



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NEW BEDFORD 505

secret service for two years, and where the son attended school. About
1880 he went back to his native land, and after attending school for a
time, he worked in cotton mills. From England he went to Canada, and
then to the Harmony Mills, Cohoes, New York, where he spent about
eighteen months. In the meantime his parents had moved to New Bed-
ford and there he joined them in 1885, securing employment in the Wam-
sutta Mills as loom-fixer, remaining for five years. In 1900 he went to
the Grinnell Mill, then to South Berwick, Maine, to the Pierce Mill, as
second hand, remaining for three and one-half years, then went on the
road for the Compton Loom Company. He was for six months employed
as a weaving expert, then went to Moosic, Connecticut, as overseer for
the Aldrich Manufacturing Company, thence to the Grinnell Mill, New
Bedford, as weaving overseer, thence to the silk department of the New-
market Manufacturing Company, New Hampshire, thence to the Cocheco
Mills, Dover, New Hampshire, as assistant superintendent, thence to
Pawtucket, Rhode Island, as superintendent of weaving at the Slater
Mill, later becoming superintendent in charge of the plant, a position he
held until 1914, when he came to New Bedford to the responsible post
he now fills, general superintendent of the Nashawena Mills. There was
also a period in his earlier life when he was employed in the Carpet Mills
at Philadelphia.

A Republican in politics, Mr. Kirk was for five years councilman at
Pawtucket. In Masonry he belonged to Star in the East Lodge and
Adoniram Chapter, in New Bedford, and the Godfrey de Boullion Com-
mandery. Knights Templar, in Fall River. He is a lover of all out-of-
door sports and plays some of them himself, loves boating, and is a man
of unusual physical activity. He is level-headed and broad-minded, his
travels having taught him the world is quite large and peopled by quite
a number of men and women.

Mr. Kirk married (first) in New Bedford, March 5, 1889, Mary Addy,
who died in 1903, leaving a daughter, Margaret, born in New Bedford, a
graduate of Pawtucket High School, now a stenographer in the offices of
the Nonquitt Spinning Company of New Bedford. Mr. Kirk married
(second) in 191 1, Helen D. Mills, daughter of William J. and Celena
(Andrews) Mills, of New Bedford. The family home is at No. 12 Locust
street.



THOMAS NEIL ROCHE, M. D.

Thomas Neil Roche was born in Boston, Massachusetts, February
9, 1884, and completed a course of public school instruction extending
through grammar school. He prepared at Boston Latin School and while
there made the football team and the crew. Later he entered the medical
department of Tufts College, and there pursued full courses until gradu-
ated Doctor of Medicine, class of 1904. At the same time he took special



5o6 NEW BEDFORD

courses in surgery at Carney Hospital, and before graduation from
Tufts took the examination in surgery and passed the hospital examin-
ing board. He continued his studies in surgery at the hospital, and in
1909 received an additional degree at graduation. He also was admitted
and for a time was connected professionally with the Lying-in Hospital
of New York City.

In 1909 he began private practice in Boston, and there continued
until 1915, being a ship's doctor to the North German Lloyd Steamship
Company and a member of the medical corps of the Ninth Regiment,
Massachusetts National Guard. In 191 5 he came to New Bedford, and
is here practicing, his home and offices being located at No. 279 County
street. He is a director of the New Bedford Medical and the American
Medical societies, St. James' Roman Catholic Church, New Bedford, and
the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.

Dr. Roche married, in Boston, August 3, 1916, Elizabeth C. East-
wood, daughter of Nathan Eastwood, a farmer of Milford, Connecticut.



JOHN B. WEBSTER, M. D.

As a specialist in orthopedic surgery. Dr. Webster is meeting with
success in New Bedford, his native city. He is a son of Joseph V.
Webster, born at Provincetown, Cape Cod, now a retired bone-setter,
living in New Bedford, at No. 341 Cottage street.

Dr. John B. Webster was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts,
October 19, 1886, and is now a practicing physician in his native city.
He attended Parker Street Grammar School, and for three years was a
student at high school, then withdrew to begin work as an apprentice to
the tool-maker's trade for five years, becoming an expert tool-maker, but
his ambition was to become a physician, and after a year in Mosher
Preparatory School (1909), he entered the College of Physicians and
Surgeons, Baltimore, Maryland, there taking a four years' course and
receiving his degree of Doctor of Medicine, class of June, 1914. He was
for a time at St. Francis Hospital, Hartford, Connecticut, then took a
special course in orthopedic surgery at the Hospital for the Ruptured and
Crippled in New York City. Thus well furnished, he began practice in
New Bedford with office at No. 341 Cottage street, and has become well "
established as a specialist of skill in the treatment of the crippled. On
May I, 1917, he was appointed city physician by Mayor Ashley, his pub-
lic practice keeping him fully occupied.

Dr. Webster is an Independent in political action, selecting his can-
didates for personal fitness and not for party allegiance. He is deeply
interested in the work of the City Mission Dispensary, does a great deal
of charitable work, and is highly respected by all who know him. He is
a member of the Church of St. John the Baptist, Roman Catholic, and of
the Improved Order of Red Alen. He is unmarried.



NEW BEDFORD 507

CHARLES NEVES SERPA.

A successful lawyer, member of the Bristol county bar, practicing
in the State Court, and also Federal courts, Mr. Serpa has the further
distinction of serving the government of Portugal as vice-consul, repre-
senting the interests of citizens of that country in New Bedford. Since
1907 he has been in practice in the city of his birth, is well established and
highly regarded as a professional man and as a citizen. He is a son of
Charles A. and Anna (Murray) Serpa, his mother deceased, his father,
born in Portugal, now a business man of New Bedford.

Charles N. Serpa was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, July 15,
1883, and after passing all grades of the primary and grammar depart-
ments, entered high school, whence he was graduated, class of 1903. His
education was continued in the College of Liberal Arts, University of
Boston, the degree of Bachelor of Arts being conferred upon him, gradu-
ation class of 1907. Choosing the profession of law, he entered the Law
School of the University of Boston, there completing legal study, and
receiving the degree of Bachelor of Jurisprudence, class of 1910. The
same year he was admitted to practice in State courts, and became asso-
ciated with the office of Crapo, Clifford & Prescott, remaining there one
year. They opened offices in the Masonic Building, in association with
Charles Mitchell. Mr. Serpa has grown rapidly in public favor as an
attorney-at-law, and has a most satisfactory law practice ; is public ad-
ministrator for Bristol county, and deeply interested in many depart-
ments of city life. He is a member of the bar association ; director of
the New Bedford Anti-Tuberculosis Society; director of the Society for
the Prevention of Cruelty to Children ; former lieutenant, junior grade,
of Company G, Massachusetts Naval Militia ; member of Theta Delta
Chi and Phi Delta Phi, legal fraternities, the New Bedford County Club ;
and in political opinion is a Republican, although taking no active part in
public affairs. In all the other organizations named he takes an active
part and is deeply interested in their success. In July, 191 5, he was
appointed to represent Portugal in New Bedford and vicinity as vice-
consul, a position he still holds.

Mr. Serpa married in New York City, June 26, 1912, Mildred L.
Rounds, of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, daughter of Israel P. and Abbie
E. (Graves) Rounds, her father a Pawtucket business man. The family
home is No. 268 Hawthorne street. New Bedford.



STEPHEN DURPHEE PEIRCE.



Ever since beginning business life, Mr. Peirce has been interested
in the sale of automobiles even when holding positions not related to that
business. He now has the agency for the Dodge car, taking the old
David L. Parker garage at Nos. 14-16 Market street, New Bedford, as
headquarters. Although a young man he early began business life and



5o8 NEW BEDFORD

has had the benefit of experience gained in different cities and in different
lines of activity. He is a son of Stephen D. and Cyrene A. (Eldridge)
Peirce, his father at one time a clothing merchant of New Bedford, mem-
ber of the firm, Ashley & Peirce, and a man of prominence.

Stephen Durphee Peirce was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts,
August 22, 1886. He was educated in the public schools and in the
Mosher School, attending the latter for two years, taking a business
course which was finished in 1903. His first position was with J. K.
Bishop & Company, contractors of Worcester, Massachusetts, his posi-
tion that of timekeeper, and while holding it he became interested in
motor cars, the peculiarities of the different makes, their defects and
their advantages. The sale of autos was then becoming an established
profitable business, and Mr. Peirce decided to fit himself for it by a
course in general repair and garage work. For a short time he was so
employed by Harry Wilson, on Pleasant street, then went with J. E.
Watson, on Fourth street, on the old New Bedford Ice Company site.
Mr. Watson at that time had the agency for the Locomobile, a steam
propelled car, the first car of that make in New Bedford, according to Mr.
Peirce, having been sold by J. E. Watson to E. G. Russell. He spent one
year at the Watson Garage, then for about four years was a private chaf-
feur with Edward T. Peirce, Everett B. Sherman and John Hicks, serving
about an equal period with each.

From private driving he went to the Berlieu factory in Providence,
Rhode Island, then building the Alco automobile, and there became
familiar with all phases of motor car construction. After a year there a
strike disorganized the plant and he returned to New Bedford and ob-
tained a position with the Carlow Agency of Taunton, Massachusetts, as
salesman for the Autocar, acting as such for one season. The next
eighteen months were spent in the employ of the Waite Auto Supply
Company as traveling salesman. The company sold only to dealers, and
in his traveling Mr. Peirce formed the acquaintance of the leading men
of the automobile industry all over New England. In 1910 he returned
to New Bedford, entering the employ of R. W. Powers Auto Company,
then agents for the Hudson car, with offices on Williams street. Later
the Cadillac agency was taken from Mr. Robertson, he being the first
local salesman either Powers or Robertson had employed. Later, while
Mr. Green was in the South, Mr. Peirce took charge of his sheet metal
working plant at the corner of New Bedford and Acushnet avenues, but
kept in touch with automobile sales and business. In 1912 he was man-
ager of the Knickerbocker Garage, owned and run by Mark E. Sullivan,
who was then agent for the Hudson and Dodge cars, the latter car then
just coming into the market, its builder, the Dodge Brothers, having
previously been connected with the Ford Motor Company of Detroit.
On November i, 191 5, Mr. Peirce secured the Dodge agency and is con-
ducting a successful agency and garage at Nos. 14-18 Market street. Mr.
Peirce is a member of the National Automobile Show Managers ; Abra-



NEW BEDFORD 509

ham H. Rowland, Jr., Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons ; New Bed-
ford Lodge, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks; the Masonic and
Julien clubs, and the Trinitarian Church.

He married, in January, 1910, Agnes M. Jackson, daughter of John
and Margaret (Ersken) Jackson.



PELEG C. HOWLAND.



From the organization of the Merchants' Bank of New Bedford
down through the years of its existence as a State and National bank to
the year 1885, but two men filled the position of cashier. The first of
these was James B. Congdon, a man of great ability, who began with the
organization of the bank in 1825, resigning January i, 1858, his mantle
falling upon Peleg C. Rowland, who held the office until his death, Octo-
ber 26, 1885. Upon the records of the Merchants' National Bank are
pages devoted to these two men who bore an even closer relationship
than that of business contemporaries, the inscription of Peleg C. Row-
land reading:

Resolved, The directors of the Merchants' National Bank of New
Bedford desire to give expression to their sense of the loss which they



Online LibraryZeph. W. (Zephaniah Walter) PeaseHistory of New Bedford (Volume III) → online text (page 25 of 33)