Taber nine years, George W. Baker seven and one-half years, Reuben
Nye two years. Of the remaining seventy-three years, William C. Coffin
served twenty-four and one-half, Charles H. Pierce thirty-six and George
H. Batchelor twelve and one-half years.
For more than half of the bank's existence, Charles H. Pierce was
in the service of the bank and for more than one-third of its existence
was the person most intimately connected with the institution and the
person to whom the public looked as its executive head. There are
many who recall his charming personality, his buoyancy of spirit, his
gentleness of manner, and his splendid rectitude. In a remarkable degree
he epitomized the ideal of the social service which the New Bedford In-
stitution for Savings stands for.
In the ninety-two years of the bank's existence, there have been fif-
teen clerks of the corporation. The last three incumbents, Henry T.
Wood, William G. Wood and Edmund Wood, who have held the office
in heredity, have a united term of fifty-seven years.
The terms of the members of the board of investment, of whom
there have been only thirty-nine in all, have for the most part continued
for many years. The most conspicuous cases are William C. Taber, who
served forty-three years ; Thomas Mandell, forty-one years ; Pardon
Tillinghast, thirty-three years ; William Watkins, twenty-nine years ;
Edward D. Mandell, twenty-six years ; W'illijfm W. Crapo, twenty-three
years; Andrew G. Pierce, twenty-two years.
This record of stability of service is a splendid example of constancy
in voluntary dedication to a public philanthropy.
Fairhavcn Institution for Savings â€” This extract from the records of
the Fairhaven Bank (now the National Bank of Fairhaven) of April 19.
1831 : "Voted that the Directors be a committee to erect a bank building
with suitable provision for an office for the Fairhaven Insurance Com-
pany," locates the insurance office referred to in the records of the first
meeting of this institution as upstairs in the building we now occupy.
Record of the first deposits, March 19, 1832:
No. I, James Neil $25, Fairhaven
2, Thomas Pray 30, Mariner
3, Francis Silvara 50, Mariner
4, James R. Tilton 100, Mariner
5, Jacob T. Davis 200, Mariner
6, Sarah E. I. Hitch 7. Fairhaven
Rec'd from 6 Depositors $412.
The first dividend declared payable on April 29, 1833 : Five and a
half per cent, on deposits agreeable to by-laws.
NEW BEDFORD 249
The savings bank did business in the office of the insurance com-
pany, in the second story of the banking house on Centre street, until in
1876 it purchased the building from the Fairhaven National Bank, and
thereafter occupied the first floor. One of the treasured possessions of
the savings bank is an old banjo clock made in Fairhaven by Lebbeus
Bailey, one of the original incorporators, which still runs true.
The first president of the savings bank was Ezekiel Sawin, who
served fourteen years. The second president was Isaiah F. Terry, who
served sixteen years. He was succeeded by Captain George H. Taber,
who served the bank as trustee for thirty-eight years, of which he was
president twenty-two years. Captain George Taber was born in 1808
and died in 1901, aged ninety-two. He was born and lived and died in
the old house on Adams street, near North, which was a part of his
inheritance from the early founders of Fairhaven. He was a direct de-
scendant of Philip Taber, John Cook and Arthur Hathaway. When
seventeen years old he went a-whaling. Afterwards he was a merchant
captain, taking oil to Sweden and bringing back iron, sailing to all the
ports of Europe, South America and the West Indies. He brought the
first cargo of coal ever brought to New Bedford. After his retirement
from the sea, he was. for half a century, the King of Fairhaven, a per-
petual selectman, assessor, overseer of the poor and general boss. My
first acquaintance with Fairhaven politics was when Captain Taber was
still at the helm. Captain Taber was succeeded in 1886 by Thomas A.
Tripp, the present president of the bank.
William L. B. Gibbs, one of the leading whaling merchants of the
town, was treasurer from 1832 to 1840; Edmund Allen from 1841 to 1847.
Then came Charles Drew, who served the bank as treasurer for thirty-
two years. Deacon Drew was a native of Fairhaven, who lived his long
life of eighty-five years in the quaint little old house at the four corners
opposite the present bank building. Behind the house was a charming
garden, where in summer Mrs. Drew gave garden parties. He studied
in his youth for the ministry. He was postmaster of Fairhaven until
1853. He served in the Legislature. In 1854 he was made treasurer of
the savings bank. He is remembered with kindness by all.
Mr. Drew was succeeded in 1886 by Charles H. Morton, the present
treasurer, who has served thirty-one years.
Nezv Bedford Five Cents Savings Bank â€” As the New Bedford Insti-
tution for Savings had proved so useful a civic agency, and had acquired
what seemed an amount of money sufficiently large for the care of one
set of men, the idea was suggested of a new savings bank which might
appeal to a dififerent class in the community, and also permit persons to
have more than one limited savings bank deposit. To indicate in part
the motive of its originators, deposits of five cents would be taken, the
250 NEW BEDFORD
minimum required in the old bank being one dollar. This suggested the
The first meeting of the petitioners for a five cents savings bank in
New Bedford was held at the office of the Marine Bank. Pursuant to a
call by Thomas B. White, one of the persons named in the act of incor-
poration May 5, 1855, the meeting being called to order by Thomas B.
White, and William H. Taylor was called to the chair. Charles Almy
was chosen secretary. The charter as granted by the Senate and the
House of Representatives in April, 1855, was accepted. George How-
land, Jr., was elected president, and Henry H. Crapo and Alexander H.
Seabury vice-presidents. John P. Barker, the cashier of the Marine
Bank, acted temporarily as treasurer, and business was begun in the
Marine Bank and there carried on until November, 1855, when the bank
moved to the second story of a building on the west side of Purchase
street, south of Willard Sears' dwelling house, numbered 19 on the street
at that time. In 1857 the bank moved to the second story of China Hall,
just north of its present location. In 1862 the bank moved to a store on
the first floor of the Ricketson block on Union street, afterwards the ex-
press office of Hatch & Company. In 1870 the bank removed to the
Hicks building, then new, and took the rooms on the north side at the
corner of Mechanics lane. Here the bank continued to do business for
twenty-three years. The south part of the lower story was occupied by
the Union Boot and Shoe Store, and in the upper story the Union for
Good Works was located.
In March, 1891, the bank purchased a part of the Willard Sears prop-
erty on Purchase street, known as "Tannery Lot," the south line being
what is now called Sears' Court. The north line of the lot had been a
matter of bitter controversy between Willard Sears and my grandfather,
George Tappan, who owned China Hall, which was built on the "Foun-
tain Lot." From a spring on the "Fountain Lot," water was led in the
early days to Rotch Wharf by a log pipe. The Fountain Lot was the
southwest corner of William Rotch's original ten-acre purchase from
the Russells. The corner was cut at an angle to permit the cows in the
pasture of the Russells to get water. This arrangement, while doubtless
convenient for the cows, has been the prolific cause of much trouble to
successive generations of surveyors of land in the neighborhood. Not
until the bank acquired the Sears property was the dispute as to the divi-
sion line adjusted on a give and take basis. Willard T. Sears, a son of
the tanner, was the architect of the new building, which was occupied
for business in March, 1893. The building was moved back in 1914,
when Purchase street was widened. Here the bank is now located.
In 1856 the deposits were $63,832.25; in 1893, $5,065,011.13; in 1916,
George Howland, Jr., the first president of the bank, served thirty-
NEW BEDFORD 251
seven years. He was the son of George Howland and with his brother,
Matthew C. Howland, continued the whahng merchant business of their
father at North and Water streets. George Howland, Jr., was born in
1806 and died in 1892. For forty-five years he was a trustee of the New
Bedford Institution for Savings. He was one of the leading men of the
community. He served as a Representative and Senator in the General
Court ; as selectman ; and in nearly every capacity as a municipal officer.
He was mayor from 1862 to 1865, during the war time. His interest in
the Society of Friends and in educational matters were as constant as his
interest in public affairs. In 1857 he gave to the city the salary which he
had received as mayor during two years, as a fund to purchase books for
the Public Library. His fine presence and his gentle breeding as a highly
educated member of the Society of Friends made him a splendid example
of a type now gone. Mr. Howland lived on the west side of Sixth street,
at the corner of Walnut, where Mr. Charles F. Wing now lives. This
house was always the abode of hospitality.
Mr. Howland's successor as president was Loum Snow, who served
for twenty-four years and who died last year. He was succeeded by
Jireh Swift, Jr. James C. Ricketson was the first permanent treasurer.
He desired the place and offered to serve the bank for one year without
salary, which he did. He was the son of Barton Ricketson, a prominent
merchant in this community. He served for six years when he resigned
and went to Milwaukee. James C. Ricketson was a thorough sailor. He
delighted in ships. When treasurer of the bank he devoted much of his
time to designing and perfecting a patent windlass which he hoped would
revolutionize old methods. In Milwaukee he was employed by E. B.
Ward, whose large coal and iron business required much shipping. Mr.
Ricketson managed the vessels and afterwards engaged largely and
profitably in lake navigation. On his resignation as treasurer of the
bank, his brother. Barton Ricketson, Jr., was elected and served for
twenty-eight years. His successor, William H. Pitman, the present
treasurer, who had been for twenty years or more previous in the Insti-
tution for Savings, is now serving his twenty-eighth year as treasurer of
the Five Cents Savings Bank.
The Nezv Bedford Cooperative Bank â€” In 1877 the Legislature of Mas-
sachusetts enacted a law establishing a system of "Cooperative Savings
Fund and Loan As.sociations." The main purpose of this form of bank
is to enable men of limited means to buy or build their own homes on the
installment plan by easy monthly payments. It also enables a man to
securely invest his savings by regular monthly deposits of a small
amount. The capital of the bank is supplied by the deposits. Each
share costs one dollar per month. In about twelve years a share matures
when it reaches $200. A borrower takes a certain number of shares suffi-
cient to meet his final payment on his house and gives a mortgage of the
252 NEW BEDFORD
house as security and then by deposits each month gradually pays the
debt. These banks have been of great assistance to the community.
Their aggregate assets in Massachusetts in 1915 were about $75,000,000.
As Mr. Fisher, the treasurer of both the New Bedford Cooperative Bank
and the Acushnet Cooperative Bank, in an admirably prepared printed
statement says : These banks "are no longer experimental, and their
importance as educators in prudence and thrift is apparent on every
hand as we pass through the streets of our cities and towns, showing us
the homes that have been obtained and owned by men of limited means
through their connection with and membership in some cooperative
bank. Thus we proclaim abroad our motto, 'The American Home the
Safeguard of American Liberty'."
The New Bedford Cooperative Bank was organized July 8, 1881,
and commenced business in the following August. The first annual
report in 1882 showed assets of $17,077.88, three hundred and eight mem-
bers holding 1,813 shares. Twenty-two real estate loans amounting
to $16,125. Three share loans amounting to $200. In October, 1916, the
assets were $931,664.64. One thousand eight hundred and thirty-five
shareholders holding 16,757 shares, four hundred and eight real estate
loans amounting to $873,334.74. One hundred and six share loans
amounting to $35,200.
The Nczv Bedford Safe Deposit and Trust Comf'aiiy â€” For many years
after the establishment of the national banks, there were practically no
State banks. During the last quarter of the last century the need was
felt for a form of bank which could exercise some of the functions prop-
erly associated with a financial institution, which were denied to the
national banks. So the modern trust company was devised and a few
such institutions organized under special State charters. The New Bed-
ford Safe Deposit and Trust Company was one of the earlier banks of
this type. This form of bank has no right to issue circulation. It is
empowered to use its depositors' money in forms of investment, espe-
cially connected with real estate, which were not permitted to national
banks. It can act more freely in certain financial undertakings. It can
act as trustee for individuals under wills and other instruments. An
organized department of safe deposit boxes in which the public could
keep their securities upon payment of a rental, now largely adopted by
all banks, was first developed under modern lines by the trust companies.
The growth of this type of bank has been very great and now some of
the most important banking institutions in the country are conducted
under this system.
The New Bedford Safe Deposit and Trust Company was organized
under a special charter of the Legislature of the Commonwealth of Mas-
sachusetts in 1887. The persons named as incorporators in the act of
incorporation were: William D. Rowland, Abbott P. Smith, George F.
NEW BEDFORD 253
Tucker, Standish Bourne, Frederic Taber, Stephen A. Brownell, Gilbert
D. King-man, Savory C. Hathaway, Lot B. Bates, Benjamin F. Brownell.
.* The original capital was $100,000, since increased to $200,000. The
management of the bank has been conservative, and has for the most
part been largely devoted to the care of a considerable number of small
deposits, on which a low rate of interest has been paid to the depositor.
The bank now has deposits of over $2,000,000. The bank at its origin
purchased the property at the northeast corner of Acushnet avenue and
William street, which was then very far "up-town." Without moving
its place of business it now finds itself distinctly "downtown."
Charles E. Hendrickson, who had formerly been the cashier of the
First National Bank of Fall River, was the first president. He was suc-
ceeded in 1891 by John W. Macomber, the manager of the New Bedford
Cordage Company, whose hearty and energetic manner many of us here
can well remember. Mr. Macomber served eight years, and was suc-
ceeded in 1899 by Frederic Taber, the present president. Edmund W.
Bourne, a son of George A. Bourne, has been the only cashier of the
bank, having served thirty years. This bank has lately lost by death a
comparatively young man who is seriously missed not only by the bank,
but by a wide circle of friends, Herbert C. Wilbor, the assistant cashier,
fcrmerlv associated with the Mechanics' Bank. He was a bank man who
was thoroughly well liked by all the officials of all the other banks.
1 he Acushnet Cooperative Bank â€” This bank is similar in its purpose
and has been under the same general supervision as the New Bedford
Cooperative Bank, the same treasurer having acted for both banks. The
Acushnet Cooperative Bank was organized November 12, 1889. and com-
menced business November 16, 1889. Its first statement in 1890 showed
assets of $17,479.35; 283 members holding 1,651 shares; 12 real estate
loans. $12,875 'â€¢ 7 share loans, $465. The last statement of October, 1916,
showed assets of $335,226.97; 1,370 shareholders holding 11,730 shares;
264 real estate loans, $498,825 ; 64 share loans, $17,375.
The Nezv Bedford Morris Plan Bank â€” In March, 1916, a Morris Plan
Bank was incorporated under the laws of Massachusetts and organized
in this city and has conducted business for one year in the Coffin build-
ing on Pleasant street. Its capital is $100,000. The purpose of the bank
is to make small loans to persons of small means who repay the same
with moderate interest charges in fifty-two weekly payments. This insti-
tution should prove a great benefaction to the community by rescuing
the small borrower from the exorbitant charges of usurious loan com-
panies which have heretofore been the only practical resource for the
poor man who is temporarily compelled to borrow. That the bank is
appreciated is evidenced by the fact that during its first year of business
it has loaned $140,000 to one thousand borrowers.
Courts and Lawyers.
According to a list supposedly correct published in 1767, there were
only four lawyers in Bristol county, viz. : Hon. Samuel White, Robert T.
Payne, Daniel Leonard and George Leonard, of Norton. There were
added between the years 1767 and 1779, Edward Pope, Seth Bradford,
Laben Wheaton and David Leonard Barnes, these four last named, with
George Leonard, composing the Bristol county bar in 1779. The mem-
bers of that bar, residents of New Bedford, who died or retired from
practice between 1779 and 1834, were Peleg Sprague, John M. Williams,
R. H. Williams, Thomas Hammond, James Washburn, John Nye and
John S. Russell. In 1834 there were practicing at the Bristol county bar
and resident in New Bedford the following: Lemuel Williams, Charles
H. Warren, Timothy G. Coffin, W. J. A. Bradford, Ezra Bassett, John
Burrage, Thomas D. Eliot, John H. Clifford, Oliver Prescott, and John
H. W. Page. In this list are names famed in the records as lawyers,
jurists and statesmen.
All the sessions of the early county courts were held at Taunton, but
in 1828 the Legislature created New Bedford a half shire town, and a
local court was held in the old town hall on Second street. This bill
passed the Senate on February 29, 1828, and the House on March 13,
1828. The first term of the Court of Common Pleas held in the town of
New Bedford was on Monday, June 9, 1828. Judge Williams presiding.
Until the erection of a court house, all courts were held in the town
hall. In June, 1828, the county commissioners purchased a lot of land
as a site for the public county buildings, court house, jail, etc., embrac-
ing an area of about an acre and a half. The jail building was the first
to be completed, and was ready for service October 5, 1829, with Wil-
liam S. Reed the first keeper of the jail.
By a special act of the Legislature, passed January 25, 1834, a police
court was established within and for the town of New Bedford. Na-
thaniel S. Spooner was the first justice of this court.
The Third District Court of Bristol County, Frank A. Milliken, ju.s-
tice, sits in a new building on Pleasant street, corner of Spring, court
being held on the morning of every week day, with the usual exceptions.
The Superior Court for Civil Business holds regular terms in New
Bedford, both with and without jury, as does the Superior Court for
A session of the Supreme Judicial Court meets at New Bedford for
the counties of Bristol, Nantucket and Dukes.
A Probate and an Insolvency Court also holds regular sessions in
NEW BEDFORD 255
Names that have long been honored in the law annals of New Bed-
ford include justices of the Police and Third District courts, the former
court abolished when the latter was established ; justices of the Court of
Common Pleas ; judges of the Superior Court, New Bedford contributing
from her sons two chief justices and three attorneys-general.
One of the earliest county judges was Edward Pope, who was promi-
nent in the affairs of New Bedford in the early part of the nineteenth
century, a man of learning and natural ability. He was collector of the
port when the custom house was located on Middle street, and was also
a judge of the Court of Common Pleas.
Perhaps the ablest lawyer of Southern Massachusetts in an earlier
period was Timothy Gardner Coffin, born in Nantucket, in 1790, admitted
to the bar in 181 1, began practice in New Bedford, and gained a wide
reputation in Bristol, Nantucket, Dukes, Barnstable and Plymouth coun-
ties. He devoted himself exclusively to the profession, eschewed politics,
and never held an office of importance. He seemed to grasp every point
on either side of a case, was strong in argument and so brilliant in ques-
tioning and cross-questioning that it was an impossibility to evade him.
Charles H. Warren was a brilliant lawyer and able advocate, district
attorney for several years prior to 1836, and later a judge of Common
Ezra Bassett came to New Bedford in 1834, practicing until his
death in 1843. His law library was the largest in the city at that time.
Horace Gray Otis Colby, a graduate of Brov^'n College, 1823, studied
law in New Bedford under Timothy G. Coffin, and was admitted to the
bar in 1830. He practiced in Taunton until 1838, then settled in New
Bedford, formed a partnership with John H. Clifford, and rose to high
professional renown as a learned and painstaking lawyer. When ap-
pointed a judge of the Court of Common Pleas, he gave satisfaction, but
he disliked the bench, and in 1847 he resigned to resume practice. He
was district attorney, 1849-185 1 ; represented both Taunton and New
Bedford in the Legislature ; and was captain of the New Bedford Guards,
Thomas Dawes Eliot was a graduate of Columbia College, District
of Columbia, 1825; and completed his studies in New Bedford under
Judge Charles A. Warren, with whom he later became a partner. He
became celebrated in the litigation between the two branches of the
Society of Friends, involving the title to their meeting houses in Massa-
chusetts and Rhode Island. He also figured in contests in this county,
where he upheld the chartered powers of the Massachusetts Medical
Society in issues raised by homoeopathic physicians. His practice
was very large, and he twice declined appointment to the bench. He
served in the Massachusetts Legislature, declined to enter State or
National politics, but allowed his name to be used as a candidate for an
256 NEW BEDFORD
unfinished Congressional term. He was elected as a Whig, but when
that party gave up the ghost he aided in organizing the Republican party,
calling and organizing the first meeting of the new party ever held in
Bristol county. He was again elected to Congress from the First Dis-
trict, serving until 1869, when he refused to again be a candidate. He
was a deeply religious man, always ready with good words and as ready
with good works. For years he was superintendent of the Unitarian
Sunday school, and his services as president of the National Conference
of Unitarian Churches and also of the American Unitarian Association
were invaluable. Better than his triumphs at the bar or the honors won
in politics is the simple record of his unselfish Christian life.
Oliver Prescott, upon first coming to New Bedford after graduation
from Harvard, class of 1828, taught in Friends' Academy. Later he
studied law, and in 1832 was admitted to the bar. In 1835 he was ap-
pointed judge of probate for Bristol county, and in 1846 judge of the
New Bedford Police Court. In 1858 the probate judgeship was abolished
and that of probate and insolvency created, whereupon he resigned the
police judgeship to continue as probate and insolvency judge. For fifty-
eight years he was in the public eye as a professional man, and won a
reputation as honorable as it was long. He was rated one of the very
best probate judges in the State, and an authority on probate procedure.
After his death in New Bedford, June 11, 1890, aged eighty-four, every
honor was paid his memory by his professional brethren.
George Marston, a graduate of Harvard Law School, was admitted
to the bar in 1845, ^nd removed to New Bedford in 1869, having previ-
ously been elected district attorney. After the death of Joshua C. Stone,
the firm of Marston & Crapo succeeded the firm of Stone & Crapo. In
1879 ^^ was elected Attorney-General of the State, resigning his ofifice of