Ellery Bicknell Crane.

Historic homes and institutions and genealogical and personal memoirs of Worcester County, Massachusetts, with a history of Worcester society of antiquity; (Volume 2) online

. (page 1 of 132)
Online LibraryEllery Bicknell CraneHistoric homes and institutions and genealogical and personal memoirs of Worcester County, Massachusetts, with a history of Worcester society of antiquity; (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 132)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


c n/U7r7ij-'{; c7-ai/












Librarian of the Worcester Society of Antiquity, and Editor of its Proceedings

Author of "The Rawson Family Memorial," "Crane

Family," two vols.. Etc.

' Knti7ii/fifgi- lit kindred and the genealogies oj Ike ancient tainilies deseiveth t/ie tiighest
praise. Herein consistetli a part of tlie knowledge of a man's own self. It is a great spur to
virtue to look back on the work of our lines." — Lord Bacon.

There is no heroic poem in the wj)rld hut is at the hot torn the life oj a man. " — Sir
Walter Scott.

Vol. II

xj snr F^^^T"E>iz)




r- 10O7


THE TAFT FAMILY, of Worcester county,
Massachusetts, trace their ancestry to Robert Taft,
who was a housewright by trade, and settled in
Mendon, Massachusetts, in 1669, to which place he
came f6rm Braintree, which was then a province.
His wife, "Sarah Taft, bore him tive sons : Thomas,
born 1671 ; Robert, 1674; Daniel, 1677; Joseph, 1680;
and Benjamin, 1684. The father. Robert Taft, died
in February, 1725 ; the mother, Sarah Taft, in No-
vember of the same year.

Captain Joseph Taft, fourth son of Robert and
Sarah Taft, was born in 1680, died in 1747. He
married, 1708, Elizabeth Emerson, granddaughter
of the first minister of Mendon, Massachusetts. They
were the parents of nine children, among whom were
the following: !Moses, born 1713; Peter, 1715; Jo-
seph, 1722; and Aaron, April 12, 1729.

Captain Peter Taft, second son of Captain Jo-
sei)h and Elizabeth (Emerson) Taft, was born in
1713. He was a farmer in Uxbridge, Massachusetts.
He married Elizabeth Cheney, and the sons born
of this marriage were : Henry, Gershom, Aaron and

^ Aaron Taft, third son of Captain Peter and
Ehzabeth (Cheney) Taft, was born May 28, 1743.
His early education fitted him for Princeton Col-
lege, but the exigencies of the family called him
home before he had finished his college course, but
not before he had established a good reputation as
a scholar. He then turned his attention to farming
in his native town of Uxbridge, from which, after
a residence of thirty years, he removed in Alarch,
1799, to Townshend, Vermontj where he died March
26, 1808. About 1768 he married Rhoda Rawson,
■daughter of Abner and ^lary (Allen) Rawson, and
great-great-granddaughter of Edward Raw.son, sec-
retary of the Massachusetts Bay Colony from 1650
to 1686. Mrs. Taft, who was a woman of superior
intelligence and ability, died June g, 1827. Their
children were: Milley, born July 29, 1769; Selina,
February 20, 1771 ; Cynthia, August 17, 1773; Raw-
son, October 15. 1775. died 1776; Nancy, August
20, 1777; Jeremiah. November 21, 1779; Mary, July
12, 1783; Peter Rawson, April 14, 1785; Sophia,
December 3, 1787. died 1843; Judson, November
6, 1791, died 1794; Samuel Judson, October 4,

Peter Rawson 'I aft, third son of Aaron and
Rhoda (Rawson) Taft, was born April 14, 17S5.
In 1810 he married Sylvia Howard, and settled in
Townshend, Vermont, where he taught school and
later was admitted to the bar. He was judge of
the court of common pleas, the probate court, county
court of Windham county, also one of the commis-
sioners of the county and for many years a mem-
ber of the legislature of Vermont, In 1841 he re-
moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he died in 1867.
ii — I

aged eighty-two years, leaving one son, Alphonso

HON. ALPHONSO TAFT. son of Peter
Rawson and Sylvia (Howard) Taft, was born
in Townshend, Windham county, Vermont, No-
vember 5, 1810. Through the hard work and
self-sacrifice of his parents, who possessed a
large amount of ambition for their son, and
the boy's own intense desire for a thorough
education, he entered Vale College in 1829, and
graduated therefrom with high honors in 1833. For
two years thereafter he taught in Judge Hall's
Academy, in Ellington, Connecticut, and was after-
ward tutor at Yale. He studied law in the Yale Law
School, and was admitted to the bar of Connecticut
in 1838. The following .year he began the practice
of his profession in Cincinnati, Ohio, rose steadily
and rapidly in his profession, was engaged in many
important cases and became a leader of the bar of
Ohio. In 1857 he argued successfully before the
United States supreme court the claim of the city
lor the bequest of Charles McMicken, which se-
cured the fund forming the nucleus of the endow-
ment of the University of Cincinnati.

In 1865 Mr. Taft was appointed by the governor
of Ohio to a vacancy in the superior court of Cin-
cinnati. He was afterward twice elected to the office
by the' people, the second time having the unusual
honor of being chosen by the votes of both parties,
no opposing candidate being presented. He was
considered a model judge. It was said of him that
"no young man was ever turned away with the
impression that his case was too small for the
judge's patience; no experienced lawyer ever felt
that his case was too large, or the questions in-
volved too intricate, for the judge's capacity and
learning." Perhaps the most important case which
came before him as judge of the superior court was
that of "The Bible in the Public Schools." The
Catholics and Jews, who formed a large proportion
of the citizens of Cincinnati, complained of the in-
troduction of religious instruction in the schools
as violating the spirit of the Constitution, and doing
them an injustice. The school board stopped the
reading of the Bible in the schools. The court was
appealed to on the ground that the board had no
power to take such a step. A violent contest arose
on the question. Feeling ran high, and it was evi-
dent that the judge who dared face the storm must
incur great unpopularity. To Judge Taft, however,
there seemed absolutely no question of the right
of the school board to take such action. His mind
clear on that point, it was not in the nature of the
man to consider for a moment popular clamor or
the effect of the decision on his own career. The
other two judges decided against the school board.


Judge Taft delivered an elaboi-ate disscnliiig opin-
luii. When the case was taken to the supreme
cuurt of Ohio, this opinion was sustained in every
point by a unanimous court of five judges, and has
>ince become the law throughout the United States.
"The Bible in the Public Schools'' case arose in
his path several times later and probably prevented
his being governor of Ohio. When, however, the
storm ol prejudice and bigotry had subsided and
people had time to consider the matter, Judge Taft's
reputation as a judge who knew neither fear nor
favor was inevitably increased. In 1872 he resigned
from ofhce in order to join his two sons in the
practice of law under the style of A. Taft & Sons.

In 1876 Judge Taft was appointed secretary of
war by President Grant, succeeding General Belknap,
and the following May was transferred to the office
of attorney general, which he held until the end
of the administration in March, 1877, when he re-
sumed the practice of his profession in Cincinnati,
Ohio. In April, iS&J, he was appointed by Presi-
dent Arthur, United States minister plenipotentiary
to Austria, and in 1884 was promoted to the
Cuurt of Russia, remaining until August. 1885. In
the spring of that year he had a severe attack of
pneumonia, followed by typhoid fever, being one of
the numerous Americans who have fallen victims
to the Russian climate. The disease broke down
his extraordinary rugged constitution and he re-
turned, shattered in health, to private life. He
sought relief in southern California, but his death
occurred in San Diego, May 21, 1891, aged eighty

Judge Taft was exceedingly fond of historical
and genealogical research, and gave considerable
attention to tracing the lineage of the Taft family.
He delivered the historical address at the Taft fam-
ily re-union at Uxbridge, Massachusetts, August 12.
1874, Judge Taft took an active interest in all
educational matters, and served more than twenty
years as trustee of the Cincinnati high school. He
was a member of the corporation of Yale College
and was honored with its degree of LL. D. in 1867.
His five sons graduated from that well-known in-
stitution, and his grandsons keep up the family
tradition. In politics Judge Taft began life as a
Whig and an ardent supporter of Webster. He
jiiincd the Republican party at its formation, and
was always a warm supporter of its principles. In
1856 he was a flelegate to the National Republican
Convention, which nominated John C. Fremont for
president. In the same year he was nominated by
the Republicans of Cincinnati for congress, but was
defeated by the Democratic candidate, George H.
Pendleton. In every position to which Judge Taft
was called he rendered most able, effective and loyal
service. I le was a gentleman of scholarly attain-
ments, of the highest personal character, and a kind-
liness and sweetness of dispositioti which endeared
hiin-to air who came in contact with him.

Judge Taft was twice marrie

Online LibraryEllery Bicknell CraneHistoric homes and institutions and genealogical and personal memoirs of Worcester County, Massachusetts, with a history of Worcester society of antiquity; (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 132)