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

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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 133)
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Librarian of the Worcester Society of Antiquity, and Editor of its Proceedings;

Author of "The Rawson Family Memorial," "Crane

Family," two vols., Etc.

* J^z^ *f

"Knowledge of kindred and the genealogies of the ancient [families deserveth the highest
praise. Herein consisteth a part of the know I edge of a man's own self. It is a great spur to
virtue to look Intel; on the work of our lines." — Lord Be i.

There is no heroic poem in the world but is the bottom the lift of a mdn."—Si>

Walter Seat/. , . ,

Vol. II





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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 form Braintree, which was then a province.
His wife, Sarah Taft, bore him five sons : Thomas,
born 1671; Robert, 1674; Daniel, 1677; Joseph, 1080;
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-
seph and Elizabeth (Emerson) Taft, was born in
1715. 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
Elizabeth (Cheney) Taft, was born May 2S^I743-
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 March,
1799, to Townshend, Vermont, where he died March
26, 1808. About 1768 lie married Rhoda Rawson,
daughter of Abner and Mary (Allen) Rawson, and
great-great-granddaughter of Edward Rawson, sec-
retary of the Massachusetts Bay Colony from 1650
to 1686. Mrs. Taft, who was a woman of superior
intelligence and ability, died June 9, 1827. Their
children were: Milley, born July 29, 1769; Selina,
February 20, 177 1 ; 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 Taft, third son of Aaron and
Rhoda (Rawson) Taft, was born April 14, 1785.
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 (I Inward 1 Taft, was bom
in Townshend, Windham county, Vermont, No-
vember 5, 1810. Through the hard work and
self-sacrifice of his parents, who pos^es ; ed a
large amount of ambition for their son, and
the boy's own intense- desire for a thorough
education, he "entered Yale College in 1829, and
graduated therefrom with high honors in 1833. Fbr
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
111 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
for 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 partii -,
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 em his own caret r The
other two judges decided against the school board.


Judge Taft delivered an elaborate dissenting opin-
ion. When the case was taken to the supreme
court of Ohio, this opinion was sustained in every
point by a unanimous court of five judges, and has
since become the law throughout the United States.
"The Bible in the Public Schools" case arose in
hi-, path several times later and probably prevented
hi> being governor of Ohio. When, however, the
storm of prejudice and bigotry had subsided and
people had time to consider the matter. Judge Taft's
reputation as a judge wdio knew neither tear nor
favor was inevitably increased. In 1872 he resigned
from office 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, 1882. be was appointed by Presi-
dent Arthur, United States minister plenipotentiary
to Austria, and in 1884 was promoted to the
i ourt of Russia, remaining until August, 1885. In
the spring of that year be 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
ought relief in southern California, hut 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.
Ill 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
joined the Republican party at its formation, and
was always a warm supporter of it- principles. In
1850 he was a delegate to the National Republican
('.invention, 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. He was a gentleman of scholarly attain-
ments, of the highest personal character, and a kind-
liness and sweetness of disposition which endeared
him to all who came in contact with him.

Judge Taft was twice married. He married
(first) in September, 1841. Fanny Phelps, daughter
oi Judge Charles Phelps, of Townshend, Vermont
She died in 1851. Of their five children three died
in infancy; the surviving children were:

1 Charles Phelps, horn December 21, 1843. He
graduated from Yale College, class of 1864, after
win h he pass,.,! three years of study in Europe.
taking tin degree of J. I" D at the University of
Heidelberg Returning home he began the practice
if law with his father, but subsequently devoted
himself to journalism. He married Anna Sinton,
-liter of David Sinton. of Cincinnati. Ohio, .and
four children were born to them: Jane Ellison.

married Albert Ingalls, of Cleveland, Ohio, and has
two sons: David Sinton and Albert Ingalls; David
Sinton, died at the. age of fifteen years; Annie
Louise, and Charles Howard, a graduate of Yale,
1 lass of 1906.

2. Peter Rawson, graduated from Yale, taking
the- valedictory of the class of 1867 with the highest
record then attained by any graduate. He after-
wards studied three years abroad, and also took
a degree at Heidelberg. On his return he took up
the practice of law with his brother in Cincinnati,
Ohio. In 1870 he married Matilda Hulbert, daughter
of William Hulbert. of Cincinnati, Ohio, issue, one
son. Hulbert. a graduate of Yale, married in 1904
Nellie Phillips Leaman. Peter Rawson Taft died
in 1888.

Judge Taft married (second), December 26. 1853,
Louisa Maria Torrey, daughter of Samuel D. Tor-
rey (see sketch of Samuel D. Torrey). of Millbury,
Massachusetts. They had five children:

1. Samuel Davenport, died in infancy.

2. William Howard, born September 15, 1S57,
see forward.

3. Henry Waters, born May 27, 1859, in Cin-
cinnati, Ohio. After his graduation from Yale Col-
lege in the class of 1880, he studied law in Cincinnati
and Columbia, and established himself in practice
in New \ ork city, being now a member of the
firm of Strong & Cadwalader. One of his ablest
and most important arguments recently was in the
United State's supreme court, where he was employed-
by the government to prosecute its suit against
the Tobacco trust. The decision of the court was
a complete triumph for principles which have far-
reaching consequences. This important case is re-
ported as Hale vs. Henkel in volume 201 of the
United States Supreme Court Reports. In 1005
Mr. Taft received the honorary degree of Master
of Arts from Yale. He married in 1883. Julia
Walbridge Smith, daughter of Hon. Levi Smith, of
Troy. New York, and their children are: Marian
Jennings, died in infancy; Walbridge Smith, of the
class of [907 at Yale: William Howard, class of
1909 at Yale: Louise- Witherbee.

4. Horace Dutton, born in Cincinnati. Ohio. De-
cember 28, 1801. He graduated from Yale College
in 1883. studied law and was admitted to the bar,
but decided to pursue the vocation of teaching.
He was for three years a tutor of Latin in Yale
College. In 1890 he established the Taft School for
boys, at Pelhant Manor. New York, but in 1893
moved the school to Watertown, Connecticut. The
school has prospered and has now about one hun-
dred pupils. Ihe catalogue announces that "the
object of the school is to give boys a thorough
preparation for the best colleges and scientific
schools, and to make them strong, healthy and
manly men." In 1893 Mr. Taft received the honorary
degree of Master of Arts from Yale. He married
in 1891. Winifred Shepard. daughter of Mrs. Helen
Bierstadt Thompson, of Niagara Falls. New York.

5. Fanny Louise, the only daughter, was born
in Cincinnati. Ohio, July 18. 1865, She was educated
in Cincinnati and at Farmington, Connecticut, com-
pleting her studies abroad in music and the
languages. In 1890 she became the wife of Dr.
William A. Edwards, a physician ami surgeon, form-
erly of Philadelphia. Pennsylvania, now residing in
Ls Angeles. California.

HON. WILLIAM H. TAFT. second son of
Judge Alphonso and Louise Maria (Torrey) Taft.
was born in Cincinnati. Ohio, September 15. 1857.
He attended the public schools of his native city, in-


•eluding Woodward high school, from which he was'
graduated in 1N74. He was a student in Yale Uni-
versity four years, graduating in June', [878, with
degree of Bachelor of Arts, second or salutatorian
in a class of one hundred and twenty-one, also elected

class, class orator. He entered the law school
of Cincinnati College, 1878. graduating in May, [880,
with degree of B. L., dividing first prize. He was
admitted to the bar of supreme court of Ohio, May.
[880. He served in the capacity of law reporter for

i incinnati limes and subsequently Cincinnati
,.-/ in 18S0. He received the appointment
of assistant prosecuting attorney. January, 1881, hut
tendered his resignation in March, 1882, to become
collector of internal revenue, fir-t district of Ohio,
under President Arthur. He resigned the collector-
ship in March, 1883, to enter the practice of law,
continuing the same until March. 18S7, holding mean-
time from January, 18S5, office of assistant county
solicitor of Hamilton county. In March, 1887, he
was appointed by Governor Foraker judge of the
superior court of Cincinnati to fill vacancy caused
by the resignation of Judson Harmon, and in April.
1888, was elected to succeed himself, serving five
years. He resigned in February. 1890, to become

M>r general of the United States under ap-
pointment of President Harrison, and resigned in
March, 1892, to become United States circuit judge
for the sixth judicial circuit and ex-offico member of
circuit courtof appeals of the sixth circuit. In 1896
lie became professor and dean of the law department
of University of Cincinnati, and in March, 1900, re-
signed the circuit judgeship and deanship to be-
c iii'-. by appointment of President McKinley, presi-
dent of the United States Philippine commission.
July 4, 1901, by appointment of President McKinley,
he became first civil governor of the Philippine
Islands, and November I, 1001, on account of ill-
ness, turned over his office to Vice-Governor Wright.
1 >ecember 23, 1901, by order of secretary of war, he
visited the United States and Washington to testify
before the senate committee on the Philippines and
house committee of insular affairs, his testimany

e both committees covering a period of six
weeks. By order of President Roosevelt and Secre-
tary Root, he sailed from the United States to Rome,
May 17, 1902. to confer with Pope Leo XIII con-
cerning the purchase of agricultural lands of Re-
ligious Orders in the Philippines. He held con-
ference with committee of Cardinals in June and
July and reached a general basis for agreement. He
sailed from Naples for the Philippines, July 10,

1902. reached his destination August 22, 1902, and
resumed his office of civil governor. December 23,

1903. he sailed to the United States to accept the
responsible position of secretary of war, succeeding
Flihu Root, and February 1, 1904, entered upon
the duties of the office. The fact that Secretary
Taft throughout his long and honorable public career
has received promotion continuously is ample evi-
dence of his capability and reliability and of his
~ti rling integrity of character. In November, 1904,
Secretary Taft, by direction of President Roosevelt.
visited the Republic of Panama to confer with that
government upon diplomatic questions, and in

iiber-December, 1904, visited Panama to confer
with the Panama authorities upon questions arising
with reference to the government of the Canal Zone,
this by direction of President Roosevelt. In July,
August and September, 1905, he, with a party of

rs and representatives, made a tour of inspec-
:i' 11 of the Philippine Islands and in November.
[905, again visited the Republic of Panama to ob-

the report on the progress of the canal. In

er, 1906, he was sent by President Roosevelt

tn Cuba in direct in the restoration of order, and
discharged his delicate duties with and

signal success. In June. [903, he received the honor-
ary degree of LL. D. from. Yale University, also
received the same degree from University of Penn-
sylvania. February j_>, 1902, and from Harvard and
Miami, 1005

Secretary Taft married, June 19, 1886, Helen
Herron. daughter of Hon. John W. Herron, of
Cincinnati, Ohio, United States district attorney and
state senator, and their children are: Robert Al-
phonso, born September 8, 1889; Helen Herron, burn
August 1. [891 ; and Charles Phelps, born Septem-
ber 20, 1897.

in Mendon, Worcester county, Messachusetts, April
14. 1789. and died at hi, home in Millbury, same
county, December 2s, 1877. His ancestors came to
the province of Massachusetts Bay in the year 1640,
from the parish of Combe, St. Nicholas, in tlie
county of Somerset, England, and settled in the town
of Weymouth, Massachusetts. The genealogical
line of descent has been traced from William Torrey,
of Combe, St. Nicholas, Somersetshire, whose will
was dated in 1556, through Philip, his son, and the
second William, and then through the second Philip
to the third William, who was born in 1608, and
came to America in 1640. This William Torrey was
a conspicuous character in Massachusetts, for many
years a member of the house of deputies, and al-
ways chosen clerk; a magistrate, and a captain of
militia. He died in 1690. He was a man of affairs,
with education, having some knowledge of Latin,
and also fair literary ability, which appears through
a printed essay on "The Futurities," a quaint pro-
duction still extant.

He had three brothers who settled severally :
Philip in Roxbury, James in Scituate, Plymouth
Colony, and Joseph in Newport. Rhode Island.
William's oldest son was the distinguished scholar
and preacher, Rev. Samuel Torrey, who lived in
Weymouth , and died there after a pastorate of fifty
years. He was educated at Harvard College, and
it is recorded that he subsequently twice declined
the presidency of the college. He had also the un-
usual honor of preaching three "election sermons"
before the "Great and General Court of Massachu-
setts." He left no descendants. His brothers were Wil-
liam, Micajah, Josiab. Jonathan and Angell, the
youngest, who settled in Mendon in 1680. and from
whom the line comes down through a fourth Will-
iam, and through Joseph to a fifth William, the
father of Samuel Davenport Torrey, the subject
of this sketch. Tradition credits the family with
unusual physical proportions, the last William be-
ing fabulously reported as six feet and seven inches
in height. His wife was Anna Davenport, daughter
of Seth and Chloe (Daniels) Davenport, of Mendon,
by whom he had six children — Samuel. Joseph,
Louisa, Stephen, Benjamin and George.

The oldest son. Samuel Davenport Torrey. es-
tablished himself early in life in Boston, in the West
India trade, at No. 25 South Market -tie t. near
Faneuil Hall, where the business has ever since con-
tinued in the family name. In 1831, his health being
somewhat impaired, and having acquired what he
regarded as a competency. Mr. Torrey retired from
business and located himself permanently in Mill-
bury. For forty-six year- be was one of the sub-
stantial citiz' 11s of the town, bearing an important
part of its affair-, a- also of the Congregational
church, of which be was a member. His life was
a model of courtesy and uprightness, and his genial
and cordial maimer, wire a true index of his rare


character. Mr. Torrey was twice married. His
first wife, Delia Chapin, died in 1821, about a year
after their marriage. In 1824 he was again mar-
ried to Susan Holman Waters, the eldest child of
Asa Walters, the founder of Armory Village, and
granddaughter of Colonel Jonathan Holman, who
raised and commanded a regiment in the
revolution. Mrs. Torrey was a woman of rare en-
dowments and character and well educated for that
period, and her highest interest was always in the
world of thought. She had an irrespressible desire
to know the best that had been written in literature
and philosophy, and she had the courage to follow
the new views of truth, which her active and pro-
gressive mind attained, to their conclusions. She
died m Millbury, February 3, 1866. Her memory
is cherished by her children as a precious legacy.
Five children were the fruit of this marriage —
four daughters and one son :

1. Delia Chapin, the eldest, born in Boston Sep-
tember 30, 1825, has resided in Millbury most of
her life. She has never married, the gentleman to
whom she was betrothed, Rev. Dr. Samuel Dutton,
of New Haven, Connecticut, having died suddenly
of pneumonia, at her father's house, whither he had
come to arrange for their approaching marriage.
Her mother died the same week of the same dis-
ease. She was prostrated with grief, but hence-
forth devoted herself to the care of her father as
long as he lived. Except for travels abroad and in
California, she has ever since occupied the old

2. Louisa Maria, born in Boston, September 11,
1827, married Alphonso Taft of Cincinnati, Ohio,
who was Secretary of of War, and also Attorney
General under General Grant, afterwards United
States Minister to Austria, and later to Russia.

3. Samuel Davenport, died in infancy.

4. Susan Waters, born in Millbury, August 26,
1835 : married Samuel A. Wood, of San Francisco ;
died February 1,. 1904, leaving two sons: 1. William
F., in business in' California; 2. Samuel Austin, mar-
ried Romola, daughter of Lemuel Bigelow, banker,
of San Francisco; they have two children — Austin
Bigelow and Helen Torrey. 3. Nellie Susan, a daugh-
ter of Samuel A. and Susan Waters (Torrey) Wood,
died in infancy.

5. Anna Davenport, born November 1, 1S40,
wife of Edward Orton, LL. D., president and Pro-
fessor of Geology in Ohio State University at Colum-
bus, and State Geologist. She died June 25, 1900,
leaving two children: 1. Louise Taft, wife of Francis
C. Caldwell, Professor of Electricity in the Ohio
State University. They have two children: Anna
Davenport and Edward Orton Caldwell. 2. Samuel
Torrev. graduate of Ohio State University, and of
the medical department of the University of Penn-

Mr. Torrey will long be remembered as a man
of marked individuality, of thorough business
methods, of inflexible integrity, with a decision and
force of character which left a lasting impression
wherever he was known. In Millbury he devoted
his attention to the care of his farm, to his family
and his friends, taking also a lively interest in
passing events. As he advanced in life his health
became so far established that In- was -.pared many
of the painful infirmities of old age. It happened
to him to lie called upon to assist in the burial til
many of his juniors.

" In a green old aee

He seemed like an oak. worn hut steady.
Amidst the elements, whilst the younger trees
Tell fast around him."

Belonging to the heroic age of New England, he
never for a moment lost the bearing of a gentleman
of the old school. Without office, or the desire of
office, he enjoyed the respect and confidence of all.
To an unusual degree he possessed

" That which should accompany old age.

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 133)