D. Hamilton (Duane Hamilton) Hurd.

History of Plymouth County, Massachusetts : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men (Volume 2) online

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Online LibraryD. Hamilton (Duane Hamilton) HurdHistory of Plymouth County, Massachusetts : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men (Volume 2) → online text (page 113 of 118)
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dent of the Plymouth County Agricultural Society in
1854 and 1S55, and by the trustees of that society
chosen a member of the State Board of Agriculture.
He held positive ideas aud expressed them fearlessly.
He was iu harmony with everything that would make
the people of his town, State, aud nation wiser,
wealthier, and better. Although tenacious of his
own opinions he respected the right of private judg-
ment, and never permitted differences iu regard to
them to separate him from his friends aud supporters,
or interrupt cordial and friendly intercourse. He
had all the honesty and inflexibility of the Puritan
stock from whence he sprang, many of its virtues and
some of its faults. A stern 1'uritanic exterior cov-
ered a heart warm and loyal in its affections, and
throughout his loug and useful life and its varied
relations — family, neighborhood, and business — he
was loved, trusted, esteemed, and honored. He was
oue of the constituent members of the first society of
the New Jerusalem Church iu Abiugton, and the first
to sign the creed adopted by it, June 28, 1835. He
was a fluent writer and speaker. His ideas were
clear iu his own mind and conveyed understanding^
to others. He represented Abingtou iu the State
Legislature of 1828, aud when the Old Colony Rail-
road was locatiug its route to Plymouth, had the
credit of establishing the line where it now is by
making surveys, looking up documents, and his
labors and arguments before the committee who made
the decisiou. When the Cape Cod Railroad was in
its meipieucy he was strongly in favor of an exten-
sion from Plymouth to Sandwich, as he thought it
would be of great heuetit to Abington. He was can-
didate for representative on this issue, but failed of
au election by one vote. He says, in his " History,"
" I have often thought that if I had beeu favored
with that one vote the result would have been differ-
ent aud that cars would now be running through this
town to the Cape." The following extract from the

introduction to the " History of Abingtou" expresses
concisely and unobtrusively his connection with the
towu : " I am too much identified with past events
in this town to be hid in noticing them. I have
been a voter over fifty years, and have taken quite an
active part in public transactions ; have been in active
business over fifty years, aud have paid away for
labor over (as I estimate) one million dollars. . . .
I have had a good deal to say in town-meetings, and
have always intended to be found on the side of law
and order."

Mr. Hobart was spared to see his children and
his children's children filling honorable and useful
positions, and, honored with the esteem and venera-
tion of the entire community, he passed away from
earth Jan. 25, 1877, at the age of ninety-five years
and three months.


William Harrison Dunbar, son of Asaph and Nancy
(Ford) Dunbar, was born iu Abingtou, Mass., Nov.
2G, 181G.

We extract from Hobart's " History of Abingtou"
concerning the family as follows : " The earliest known
settler of this name in New England was Robert
Dunbar, of Hiugham, who had a sou born there iu
1G57, and bought land of Richard Dwelle in lliaf).
Some circumstances indicate that this person was one
of the Scotch prisoners sent to the Massachusetts
Colony iu 1G52 by Cromwell after the battles of Dun-
bar and Worcester, although his name is not found on
the imperfect list of prisoners which still exists."
This Robert Dunbar, Scotchman, was the ancestor of
the present family of Abingtou and vicinity. Wil-
liam H. is his direct descendant in the sixth genera-
tion, the line being Robert', Peter-', Elisha ', Peter*,
Asaph 5 , William H. 6 The family has always shown
the characteristics which have so favorably distin-
guished the Scotch people from other nationalities.
They are good, law-abiding citizens, with a frugal
thrift and industry, a careful economy, and cautious
and discriminating judgment in all the affairs of life.

Lieut. Peter Dunbar, grandfather of William IL,
was active iu the colonial army of the Revolution,
and worthily filled the duties of the commission which
he carried. He died in 1817, aged seventy-six years.
He married Relief, daughter of Capt. Theophilus
Curtis, of Stoughton. She died iu 1S39, at the age
of ninety-six.

Asaph Dunbar was born June 8, 17S9, at Stough-
ton, Mass., a farmer's sou, and with only the meagre
opportunities which the schools of that day afforded



for education. He left home early iu life, learned,
and for some years followed, the carpenters' trade, be-
coming a contractor and builder, in which business he
wcut to Charleston, S. O, and was actively and profit-
ably engaged until the breaking out of the war of
1S12. In 1812 he returned to Massachusetts, mar-
ried Nancy, daughter of Capt. Noah Ford (a wan of
high social standing and prominence in Abington),
and settled iu Wrentham, from which place he re-
moved to Abington in 1815, where he ever after re-
sided. In the same year he began his loug-contiuued
and successful business operations by engaging as a
merchant. He developed qualities which proved him
to be iu no small degree fitted for mercantile, manu-
facturing, and financial affairs. He was among the
first to enter into the manufacture of boots and shoes
in Abington, and, iu company with Joshua Whit-
niarsh, as Dunbar & Whituiarsh, became extensively
and creditably known. In connection with manufac-
turing, the firm established mercantile houses in the
South to supply the larue demands from that section.
Mr. Dunbar went first to Charleston, where he was iu
trade two years ; then, as the New Orleans market
offered greater inducements, he removed thither, and
for several years was busily and profitably engaged in
disposing of his own productions aud those of other
manufacturers. He closed this business in 1832, re-
turned to Abington, purchased the interest of Mr.
Whitmarsh iu the manufactory, and continued alone
as a manufacturer on a greatly enlarged and improved
scale until 183S, when he relinquished the business
to his sons, Alden F. and William H.

Mr. Asaph Dunbar was one of the incorporators of
the Abington Bank. He was chosen its first presi-
dent, and was continued iu that office, and iu the
same position in its successor, — the Abington National
Bank, — until his resignation, some years previous to
his death, wheu the approach of old age demanded a
relinquishment of business cares. He was a man
highly valued iu the comiuuuity ; from his careful,
conservative, yet skillful conducting of his business,
he acquired large wealth for those days; he occupied
a commanding positiou iu all local affairs from his
judgment, elevated motives, and positive actions in
favor of the improvement of the condition of his
town. Had he allowed himself to enter politics, he
would have won honor iu that field, but he devoted
himself to his business, and wou his success there.
He was au earnest Swcdenborgiau iu religion, one of
the constituent members of the " First Society of the
New Jerusalem" in Abington, of which he was an
active aud generous representative. He died Dec.
19, 1SG7.

William H. Dunbar was educated at the town
schools of Abington, from which he was taken when,
sixteen to become his father's book-keeper and assist-
ant. Uuder the instruction of, and in confidential
association with, such a successful financier as Asaph
Dunbar, he early became familiarized with the ab-
struse principles underlying commercial success aud
the practical application of the same. From such
instructions, impressed upon a nature ready to receive
them, we would naturally expect to find, as a result,
clear and accurate business foresight, attention to
minute details, systematic arrangement of each de-
partment, aud a just confidence iu one's own abilities,
and William's keen and active nature rapidly devel-
oped into one of commercial strength. In 1838 he
became associated with his brother, Alden F., in
manufacturing boots and shoes, as successors to the
extensive business of their father. They established
a large store in New Orleans, where Alden F. for
many years resided, William H. attending to the
business in Boston and Abington. For fouiteeu
years, until 1852, they carried on the manufacture of
boots and shoes. Then, ceasing manufacturing, Mr.
Dunbar, with his acute discernment of the possibili-
ties of the field, became one of the pioneers of the
boot and shoe business of California, establishing a
house in San Francisco. With this he was con-
nected until 1869, when he sold to B. Hobart, Jr.
This firm, after making several partners wealthy, now
exists as Hobart, Wood & Co. The influence of Mr.
Dunbar upon the material prosperity of Abington
and South Abington has been most largely given by
his connection with tack manufacturing.

In 1S58 he purchased of Mr. Benjamin Hobart
the pioneer tack-factory of the town and countv, aud
formed a partnership with Benjamin Hobart's nephew,
Henry Hobart, to conduct the tack business under the
firm-name of B. Hobart & Son. At the time of its
transfer the main factory was over oue hundred feet
long, averaging thirty feet wide, two stories high,
with spacious basement and attic the whole length ;
its motive-power was both steam and water, which
could operate sixty tack-machines. Under the same
roof, at one end, there was a board-, shingle-, and
saw-mill, and also a grist-mill. Just as the new firm
was getting under headway, Aug. 19, 1859, the fac-
tory was destroyed by fire, a total loss of over fifty
thousaud dollars. Within ten days a lease was
secured of the brick-factory in Fast Bridgewater,
new machinery introduced, and active operations
resumed within a month. Mr. Dunbar built the
present works at South Abington, which were com-
pleted in 1864, and consisted of a two-story building,



facing the road, one hundred and eighty-three hy
forty-eight feet, and another one of one story, three
hundred and thirty-four by sixty-seven feet. This
building Mr. Dunbar leased to the new firm of Dun-
bar, Hobart & Whiddeu, which was formed in 18(15,
ou the removal of the business from East Bridgewater.
(Dunbar, Hobart & Whidden subsequently became
the purchasers of the works.) The business of this
house is now so exteusive as to necessitate the erec-
tion of a uew buildiug (in 1884) one hundred and
seventy-five by thirty-five feet, of which forty by
thirty-five feet is two stories, and one huudred and
thirty-four by thirty-five feet, one story iu height.
Mr. Duubar married, June 2-1, 1840, Amelia, daugh-
ter of Hon. Benjamin and Deborah (Lazell) Hobart,
of Abington. (See biography of Benjamin Hobart.)
They had three children, — Emily, Amelia H., and
Lucy C.

Mr. Dunbar has ever given a generous encourage-
ment to enterprises tending to build up the town, and
is liberal iu contributing to them. He is the senior
member of the firm of Dunbar & Rhodes, formed, in
1870, for the manufacture of eyelets. He was one
of the incorporators (in 1847) and is a director in the
National Exchange Bank, Bostou, and is now the
only surviving member of its first board of directors.

Like all engaged in large operations, Mr. Dunbar
has at times made money rapidly, aud at others lost
large amounts. But both successes aud reverses have
been received with the same unruffled philosophy,
and he has maintained in all critical periods that un-
varying coolness which carries to success, and he
stands to-day high iu financial circles. For quite a
number of years his state of health has not per-
mitted him to actively participate in labor, but his
advice aud counsel are still as wise and valuable as

Unassuming by nature, earnest iu character, faith-
ful to all his personal, political, and religious attach-
ments, of generous, kindly, and courteous disposi-
tion, he has a large circle of true and devoted friends,
and deserves the warm encomiums bestowed upon
him by the best people of his native town. He is a
Republican in politics, aud Swedenborgian iu religious


The first aucestor of the numerous family of Reed
was Brianus, a noted man of Lincolnshire, Englaud,
who in 1139 was registered as " Briauus de Reed."
He left two sons, who were respectively named
Robert of Reed aud Thomas of Reed-dale. This

new Reed family occupied nearly the same locality
for several centuries. From it descended William
Rede, an eminent mathematician, who in 131)0 was
made Bishop of Chichester. William Reed, born
1450, was a great-grandson of the bishop, and had
this lineal desceut: William, born 1490 ; William,
born 1510; William, born 1545; William, born
1572. This last-named William had two sons, —
William, born 1596, and John, boru 159S. These
brothers became participants in the great Massachu-
setts laud pateut of which Governor Winthrop (con-
nected with the Reads by iutermaniage) was the
leader, and iu 1G30 came with Wiuthrop's expedition
from near Boston, England, to the place which they
named Boston also. William removed to Weymouth
in 1635, and was one of the most active men of the

William Lincoln Reed, a descendant iu the sixth
generation from William, of Weymouth (the line
being William 1 , Thomas 2 , Daniel', Thomas', Isaac 5 ,
William L 6 .), and sou of Deacon Isaac aud Naucy
(Lincolu) Reed, was born in Abington, Mass., Oct. 5,
1825. His father, Isaac Reed, was a farmer, a useful
member of society, and an excellent and worthy
citizen. He died in 1847. His mother was the
daughter of Caleb Lincoln, of Taunton (the Lincoln
family were among the early and prominent settlers
of Taunton and Hingham). She died in 1874.
Thomas Reed, grandfather of William L., is remem-
bered as a man of large frame, over six feet in height,
of great physical endurance and energy of character.
He possessed large lauded estates.

William L. received his education in the public
schools of Abiugton. He also assisted his father in
the farm-work. Agriculture, however, was not to his
taste, and he learned the shoemakers' trade, which he
prosecuted for several years. Iu 1853 he commenced
shoe manufacturing iu a shop connected with his
house, cutting out his owu stock and putting it out to
be made. In 1855, Mr. Reed's increasing business
demanded more commodious quarters, which he found
over the store of Randall Cook, where he remained
for the next five years. Business continued to pros-
per, aud in I860 he built what was then regarded as
a large factory near the South Abiugtou Station.
Results showed the wisdom of his enterprise, aud pre-
dicted the coming necessity of still further enlarge-
ment. Iu 1866 he entered into copartnership with
Joseph Bunage, of Abington, and jointly conducted
business for the ensuing six years under the firm-
name of Bunage & Reed. In 1872 his business cou-
nection was dissolved by the death of Mr. Bunage.
He theu entered into partnership with David B.


£ Cis cc mJ





Closson, of Boston, name of firm being Reed &
Clossou. Soon after his association with Mr. Clos-
son the rapidly-increasing demands of trade impera-
tively required enlargement of manufacturing facili-
ties, which were at once provided. In 1S79 a further
addition was necessitated. The factory was length-
ened by the erection of eighty-two feet, so that its
dimensions were fixed at two hundred and thirty-two
feet in length by thirty-five in width, and four stories
in height. The annual value of the goods manufac-
tured by about two hundred employes exceeded four
hundred and fifty thousand dollars. July 1, 1883,
this extensive manufactory, filled with costly ma-
chinery and a large stock of material, was entirely
destroyed by fire. Since that time Mr. Reed has not
been in active business.

Mr. Reed married, June 6, 1847, Deborah, daugh-
ter of Ziba Chessmau, of Weymouth. Their children
are William Bradford (deceased), Anna Gertrude,
Sarah Chessman, and Walter Lincoln.

Mr. Reed has been called upon to fill many official
positions. Republican in politics, he represented his
town in the lower branch of the State Legislature in
1858 and 1859. In 1859 he served as a member of
the Joint Committee on Towns. In 18C5 he was
elected to the State Senate, to represent the Second
Plymouth District, and served on the Standing Com-
mittee on Leave of Absence, the Joint Committee on
Prisons, and on the Joint Special Committee on the
Annexation of Roxbury to Boston. Agaiu returned
to the Senate iu 1866, he served as chairman of the
Joint Committee on Prisons aud as a member of the
Joint Special Committee on the Cost of State Aid.
In 18C7 he was elected to the Senate for the third
time, occupied his former chairmanship, aud was a
member of the Committee on the Hoosac Tunnel
and Troy and Greenfield Railroad. He was a mem-
ber of Governor Claflin's Council (from the Second
Councilor's District) for 1870 and 1871, and served
on the Committees on the Hoosac Tunnel and Troy
and Greenfield Railroad, Military Affairs, and the
Boston, Hartford aud Erie Railroad.

He is a prominent member of the order of Free
and Accepted Masons. Dec. 30, 1860, he received
the degree of Entered Apprentice in the John Cutler
Lodge at Abington, aud on the same day the degree
of Fellow-Craftsmau ; that of Master Mason Jan. 28,
1801. March 25, 1861, was elected a member of the
John Cutler Lodge, and Aug. 8, 1870, withdrew from
it iu order to couuect himself with the Puritan Lodge
of South Abington, which was then coustituted and
dedicated, and of which he was one of the charter mem-
bers. Feb. 9, 1803, he received the degree of Murk

Master Mason; March 6, 1863, that of Past Master aud
also of Most Excellent Master in the Pilgrim Lodge ;
April 3, 1863, he was raised to the dignity of Royal
Arch Mason, and October 2d of the same year became
a member of the Pilgrim Chapter of Royal Arch
Masons. Dec. 11, 1863, he received the order of the
Red Cross ; March 15, 186-1, the order of the Temple
and the order of Malta. He is also a charter mem-
ber of the Old Commandery of Knights Templar.
In the Boston Council of Select aud Royal Musters he
received the degrees of Select Master, Royal Master,
and Super Excellent Master in succession. Subse-
quently withdrawing from the Boston Council, he
and others (as charter members) were constituted and
dedicated as the Abington Council of Select and
Royal Masters.

Mr. Reed is genial, attractive in manners, and
actively interested in all local improvements. He is
a liberal contributor to the cause of Christianity.
Endowed with a high and keen sense of honor,
always actuated by sound ethical principles, he has
acquired unusual personal popularity, even from polit-
ical opponeuts. His singularly accurate judgment
has almost always preserved him from mistake, aud
in the guidance of his remarkable energies has raised
him to his present altitude of social success.

As an evidence of the esteem in which he is held,
we mention that after the burning of Mr. Reed's
manufactory a citizens' meeting was called at South
Abington, to give public expression of sympathy for
his loss aud show the estimation with which he was
regarded by the leading citizens of this sectiou, in
whose prosperity he had been a solid factor for so
many years. The attendance was large, and the
spirit shown deep and heartfelt. Many prominent
men of neighboring towns took part with cordiality
aud earnestness. This meeting was an unselfish
tribute of respect such as few men have while living.

From the resolutions adopted at this meeting we
extract the following:

" Resolved, That to our fellow-citizen. Hon. William L. Reeil,
the senior member of said firm, we tender our warmest sympa-
thy, and sincerely trust that he realizes how fully we appreciate
his life-long devotion to the best interests of his native town, —
how heartfelt is our grief over his great loss, — and how great is
our reliance that he will meet the disaster which has overtaken
him with the same courage and ability which has marked an
active and energetic life, and made bis name and that of his lirm
honored and respected wherever known."

Numerous speakers gave expression to their sym-
pathy and regard for the energy, industry, persever-
ance, thrift, and benevolence of Mr. Reed, and we
fittingly close this brief sketch by this extract from
the speech of Hon. B. W. Harris:



'■ I came over froui my houie to express my deep sympathy
fur my friend, lion. William L. Reed. I have known Mr. Heed
for more than thirty years, lie began life as a mechanic, at
the bottom of the ladder, and by untiring industry, strict econ-
omy, and unvarying iutegrity, has won his wuy up to his pres-
ent high position as a successful business man in the community.
lie is entitled to active and helpful sympathy. My acquaint-
ance with him has been largely in the social and public relations.
In public trusts as well as business relations he has made an
honorable and enduring record. During his long public service
I have yot to hear of his lacking auything of strict integrity
and honorable purpose. In his business lifo ho has attaiucd
an equally enviable reputation."


Tlie American Gurneys are descended from the
ancient race of Gournay, which, in early European
history, is recorded to have accompauied Rollo into
Neustria, now Normandy, and became Lords of Gour-
nay, whence their name. Gournay-en-Brai is a town
iu the arroudisseiuent of Neufchiitel. At the battle
of Hastings, in 1066 (when William the Conqueror
defeated Harold, the last Saxon k[ng of England, and
thereby acquired the English crown and territory,
which he divided among his chieftains), there were
two Hugh de Gournays; the father (an old man)
leading on his vassals of Bray. Both Hughs had
grants from William, the caput baroutu being in Nor-
folk, still the stronghold of the name, and their
blood, became mingled with that of the Conqueror
himself by the marriage of Gerard de Gournay with
Edith, daughter of William the Conqueror. He
joined the first crusade (1096), and subsequently died
on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. From Walter de Gour-
nay, who flourished uuder Stephen, and whose sou,
William, still held a portion of the fief of Bray,
" came a long line of country gentlemen in Norfolk,
who seem never to have risen above or fallen below
that honorable status."

John Gurney, an early inhabitant of Braintree,
born Sept. 29, 1615, died 1663, came probably from
Southwark, England, near London Bridge. His chil-
dren settled iu Weymouth, and John and Richard
were early residents of that town. This John was
no doubt the John Gurney who came from Wey-
mouth about 1690, and settled in South Abington
(then Bridgewater). He died in 1715. His son,
Nathan, had numerous children, among them Noah,
born May, 1735. He married a daughter of Samuel
Pool, Esq., and had sis sons and one daughter. Asa,
the oldest, married Mary, daughter of Joseph Hersey.
Their only son, David Gurney (born 1782, died 1862),
possessed a strong vitality, was au industrious and
useful citizen, of fine mechanical skill, and when tacks

were made only by hand, worked years in making
them in that way. He and Charles Dyer put iu order
and set in operation one of the first tack-machines iu
the United States, and for ten or twelve years Mr.
Gurney employed horses to give the power. After-
wards a shop was erected on a stream affording a
water privilege in Abington, and the manufacturing
steadily advanced in proportion. Mr. Gurney com-
bined fanning with his tack-making, and by thrift
and enterprise acquired wealth, and laid the founda-
tion of one of the leading manufactories in Abington,
proving himself worthy in many ways to be remem-
bered as one of the most honest and valuable residents
of his town. He married Anna Ellis. Their chil-
dren were Ruth (Mrs. Orange Wilkes j, Mehitable
(Mrs. S. D. Wilkes), Davis, David B., Mary (Mrs.
James Corthell), Rosanda (Mrs. Thomas Drake).
He was a man of strong religious convictions, a mem-
ber for many years of the Baptist Church, in which
he was much interested, and to whose prugress he
contributed liberally both of time and money.

David Brainard Gurney, son of David and
Anna (Ellis) Gurney, was born iu South Abington,
Mass., Sept. 10, 1815. nis education was confined
to the limited opportunities afforded by the town
schools, but these laid the foundation for a clear aud

Online LibraryD. Hamilton (Duane Hamilton) HurdHistory of Plymouth County, Massachusetts : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men (Volume 2) → online text (page 113 of 118)