William L. (William Ladd) Chaffin.

History of the town of Easton, Massachusetts (Volume 3) online

. (page 59 of 78)
Online LibraryWilliam L. (William Ladd) ChaffinHistory of the town of Easton, Massachusetts (Volume 3) → online text (page 59 of 78)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

ruary 13, 1867 ; and March 18, 1868, Mr. Gilmore married Clara
M., daughter of Humphrey and Rhoda (Nash) Welsh of Bath,
Maine. They have one child.

Town Clerks.
[Before their office was united with that of town treasurer.]
Captain John Phillips, 1726-1732, 1734-1739, 1753, — twelve years.
Benjamin Fobes, 1732, 1733, 1 739-1751, 1760, — fifteen years.
Daniel Williams, Esq., 1751, 1752, — two years.
Timothy Williams, 1 754-1 759, — five years.
Mathew Hayward, 1761-1788, — twenty-seven years.^

Town Treasurers.
[Before their office was united with that of town clerk.]
Ephraim Randall, 1726.

Edward Hayward, Esq., 1727, 1733, — two years.
Eliphalet Leonard, 1728-1730, 1736, — three years.

1 From 1 788 the offices of town clerk and town treasurer were merged in one.


Benjamin Drake, 1731.

Thomas Mania}', Sr., 1732.

Daniel Owen, 1734.

Benjamin Kinsley, 1735.

Thomas Pratt, Jr., 1737.

John Dailey, Sr., 1738-1742, 1744, — five years.

Henry Howard, 1742, 1743, — two years.

Joshua Howard, 1745, 1746, — two years.

Joseph Crossman, 1747.

Thomas Manley, 1748-1751, 1759-1771, — fifteen years. 1

Joseph Gilbert, 1751.

Lieut. John Williams, 1752, 1753, — ^two years.

Capt. Benjamin Williams, 1754, 1755, — two years. |i|

Joseph Drake, Jr., 1756. if,.

Josiah Keith, 1757, 1758, — two years.

Lieut. Samuel Coney, 1771-1774, — ^ three years.

Jacob Leonard, 1774, 1775, — two years.

Rufus Ames, 1 776-1 782, — six years.

Abisha Leach, 1782.

Seth Littlefield, 1 783-1788, — five years.

Town Clerks and Treasurers.
[After the two offices were united.]

Elijah Howard, 1 788-1 799, — eleven years.

John Pool, 1799-1811, — twelve years.

Howard Lothrop, 1811-1827, 1833-1836, — nineteen years.

Isaac Lothrop, 1827-1833, — six years.

Tisdale Harlow, 1836-1841, 1845-1849, — nine years.

Martin Wild, 1841.

William Reed, 1842-1845, — three years.

Joel S. Drake, 1849-1853, — four years.

John Kimball, 1853-1855, 1856-1873, — nineteen years.

Albert A. Rotch, 1855.

Sanford Strout, 1873-1876, — three years.

George G. Withington, 1876 to date, — eleven years.

The town records give ample proof that the town has usually
shown excellent judgment in the choice of its clerks ; the books
have, as a rule, been kept with remarkably good care.


John Phillips, 1726, 1734, 1744, 1 746-1 749» — six years.
Josiah Keith, 1726, 1727-1731, 1732, 1738, — seven years.



Benjamin Drake, 1726, 1728, 1731, 1 733-1 736, 1738, 1 743-1 746,—

ten years.
Thomas Pratt, 1727.

John Dailey, 1727, 1745, — two years. >

Ephraim Randall, 1728.
Joseph Snow, 1729.

Mark Lothrop, 1730, 1732, 1736, 1737, — four years.
Eliphalet Leonard, 1730-1734, 1736, 1737, 1739-1743, 1746-1751,

1 761, 1764, 1765, — eighteen years. H

Dr. James Hay ward (Howard), 1731.
Lieut. John WiUiams, 1733-1736, i739-i743, i744, i745> 1749-1757.

— seventeen years.
Thomas Manley, Sr., 1735, 1738, — two years.
Samuel Kinsley, 1736, 1737, 1743, — three years.
Edward Hay ward, Esq., 1 739-1 743, 1 746-1 749, — seven years.
Henry Howard, 1 743.
Benjamin Kinsley, 1749.

Joshua Howard, 1750, 1755, 1756, 1764, 1765, — five years.
Timothy Williams, 1751-1755, — four years.
Josiah Keith, Jr., 1 751-1755, 1756, — five years.
Robert Randall, 1755,1757, 1761-1764,1766, — six years.
Nathan Kinsley, 1757.^
Abiah Manley, 1757.
Silas Kinsley, 1757.

Benjamin Pettengill, 1757, 1777, 1778, — three years.
Daniel Williams, Esq., 1758, 1 760-1 764, 1767, — six years.
Matthew Hayward, 1758, 1766, 1767, 1770, 1775, 1776, — six years.
Samuel Stone, 1758.

James Dean, 1759, 1761, 1762, — three years.
Josiah Kingman, 1759.
Ebenezer Ames, 1759.
George Ferguson, 1760.

Thomas Manley, 2d, 1763, 1768, — two years.
Zephaniah Keith, 1764-1767, 1770, — four years.
Capt. Benjamin Williams, 1767.
Timothy Randall, 1768-1777, — nine years.
Col. Abiel Mitchell, 1768, 1769, 1771-1775, 1779, 1783-1786, 1787-

1798, — twenty-one years.
Seth Lothrop, 1769, 1772, 1773, — three years.
Samuel Coney, 1771.
Abisha Leach, 1774, 1790-1799, — ten years.

1 There were five selectmen this year.


Ephraim Randall, 2d, 1775.

Jacob Leonard, 1776, 1778, 1787, — three years.

Seth Pratt, 1777, 1 780-1 785, 1 786-1 790, — ten years.

Dr. Samuel Guild, 1777, 1785, — two years.

Joseph Gilbert, 1778.

Elijah Howard, 1779-1782, 1785, 1786, — five years.

Dea. William Pratt, 1779.

Lieut. Jonathan Pratt, 1780-1785, — five years.

Joseph Drake, 2d, 1782.

Rufus Ames, 1786, 1788, — two years.

John Howard, 1789-1793, — four years.

Seth Littlefield, 1794-1803, — nine years.

Ephraim Randall, 3d, 1 798-1802, — four years.

Edward Williams, 1 799-1802, — three years.

Josiah Williams, 1802-18 11, — nine years.

Daniel Macomber, 1802-1813, — eleven years.

Calvin Brett, 1803-1821, — eighteen years.

Josiah Copeland, 1811-1816, — five years.

Moses C. Dunbar, 1813-1817, 1819, 1820, 1823-1829, 1845, — thirteen

Elijah Smith, 1816-1819, 1822, — four years.
Isaac Lothrop, 1817-1828, — eleven years.
Richard Wild, 1821.

Roland Howard, 1821, 1822, — two years.
John Pool, 1823, 1833-1836, — four years.
Elijah Howard, Jr., 1824, 1825, 1830, — three years.
Capt. Jonathan Pratt, 1826-1830, 1831, 1832, 1845-1849, — ten years.
Joel Drake, 1828-1833, — five years.
Thatcher Pierce, 1829.
Daniel Wheaton, 1830.
Wade Dailey, 1831, 1832, — two years.
Henry French, 1833.
John Selee, 1833.

Nathaniel Howard, 1834, 1835, 1 841-1 844, — five years.
Perez Marshall, 1834, 1835, — two years.
Lewis Williams, 1 836-1 839, — three years.
Nathaniel Guild, 1836.
Nathan Willis, 1836, 1837, — two years.
Bernard Alger, 1837, 1838, — two years.
Seba Howard, 1838.

Daniel Randall, Jr., 1839, 1840, — two years.
Horatio Copeland, 1839-1843, — four years.


Archippus Buck, 1839, 1840, — two years.

Albeit A. Rotch, 1 841-1845, — four years.

Seneca Hills, 1843, 1844, — two years.

Linus Manley, 1844.

Galen Sylvester, 1845, 1846, — two years.

Daniel B. Wheaton, 1846-1853, 1855, — eight years.

Tisclale Harlow, 1847.

Jason G. Howard, 1848.

Alson Gilmore, 1849, ^^5°' — two years.

George W. Hayward, 1849-1855, 1856, — seven years.

Horace D. Howard, 1851, 1852, 1854, 1855, 1857-1873, — twenty years.

Nahum Williams, — 1853.

Cyrus Alger; 1853.

Elbridge G. Morse, 1854.

Ward L. Foster, 1855.

Joel S. Drake, 1856-1860, — four years.

Hiram Williams, 1856-1860, 1874, to date, — seventeen years.

John Kimball, 1 860-1 873, — thirteen years.

Dan W. Heath, i860.

Joseph Barrows, 1861-1874, — thirteen years.

William C. Howard, 1 873-1882, — nine years.

Jonathan A. Pratt, 1 873-1 886, — thirteen years.

George Copeland, 1882 to date, — five years.

Henry W. Heath, 1886.

By the above list it will be seen that one hundred and four
different men have served the town of Easton as selectmen,
many of them holding the office for only a year or two. The ten-
dency lately has been to retain them longer in service than for-
merly. The wisdom of this is obvious. The duties of the ofifice
are so varied, important, and sometimes perplexing as to require
considerable experience in order to do them well. When such
experience has been gained, it is desirable for the town to reap
the advantage of it. Until 1790 the assessors were a separate
board of officers, but from that date the selectmen appear to be
chosen for that office also. It was not formerly the custom for
the selectmen to present reports to the town of their doings.
Most of the business now done by them was once done in town-
meetings, the tovv^n acting as a body even in minute and ludi-
crous details. The first printed town report of the selectmen
was for the year ending March i, 1844, when Nathaniel Howard,


A. A. Rotch (then spelled Roach), and Seneca Hills were select-
men. It is printed upon one side of a single sheet, which is
nineteen by twenty-four inches in size, and is elaborately done.
The report is surrounded by a heavy ornamental border, in which
at the topis a picture of a sheaf of grain with a sickle, rake, pitch-
fork, and spade, and at the bottom an old-time hip-roofed house.
It bears the imprimatur of " Butts, Printer, School Street, Bos-
ton," and must have been unfolded with immense pride by the
selectmen to the astonished gaze of congregated citizens.


Until 1772 the town of Easton chose a representative to the
General Court only four times. The first one was Capt. Elipha-
let Leonard, who was elected in 1746; the second, Capt. John
Phillips, in 1754 ; the third, Daniel Williams, Esq., in 1755 ; and
Captain Leonard was chosen again in 1760.

The years when the town does not appear to have had any
representative are 1 726-1 746, 1 747-1 754, 1 756-1 760, 1 761-1772,
1774, 1776, 1779, 1780, 1815-1823, 1836, 1837, 1841, 1848, 1849,
1 85 1, 1854. Some of the last seven omissions were cases in
which there were several candidates, none of whom received a
majority. In 1856 a new representative system was adopted,
and Raynham was united with Easton in one district, — Easton
being entitled to three representatives every five years, and
Raynham to two. In 1886 Mansfield was united in one district
with Easton and Raynham.

Following this is the list of Easton representatives to the Gen-
eral Court, drawn from the records of the Court at the State
House. It is to be noted that for some of the years when Easton
was represented, no account of an election appears upon our town
records ; these are several of the blank years when the town ap-
pointed what was called an " agent " to present some special
town interest to the General Court. Thus in 1774 Capt. Elipha-
let Leonard served as "agent," and was a delegate to the Pro-
vincial Congress. In 1776 Capt. Zephaniah Keith served in
the same capacity. For the years 1778, 1810-1814, 1828, 1838,
1839, there were two representatives from the town.

The dates following the names below represent the years of
service, not the time of election : —


Eliphalet Leonard, 1746, 1760. Wade Dailey, 1853.

John Phillips, 1754. Dea. Harrison T. Mitchell, 1855.

Daniel Williams, Esq., 1755. William Barrows, 1856.

Matthew Hay ward, 1772, 1773, 1777. John Kimball, 1857.

Benjamin Pettengill, 1775. Horace D. Howard, 1858.

James Perry, 1778, 1781-1784. Hiram A. Pratt, i860.

Col. Abiel Mitchell, 1778, 1785-1806. Charles B. Pool, 1862.

Capt. John Tisdale, 1806-1812. Alson A. Gilmore, 1863, 1885.

Charles Hayden, 1810. Dr. Caleb Swan, 1865.

Calvin Brett, 1811-1814. Joseph Barrows, 1867.

The Rev. John Tinkham, 1812, 1813. John H. Swain, 1868.

Howard Lothrop, 1823-1827. Thomas Bean, 1870.

Elijah Howard, Jr., 1827-1832, 1835. The Rev. Geo. H. Bates, 1872.

Oliver Ames, Sr., 1828, 1833, 1834. George Copeland, 1873.

Nathauiel Guild, 1838, 1839. Alpheus Fobes, 1875.

Martin Wild, 1838, 1839. William C. Howard, 1877.

Jonathan Pratt, 1840. George C. Belcher, 1878.

Lincoln Drake, 1842, 1844-1848. Hiram Williams, 1880.

Lewis Williams, 1843. L. S. Drake, 1882.

Alanson White, 1850. George A. Lackey, 1883.

Galen Sylvester, 1852. Louis C. Southard, 1887.

In addition to the town officers and members of the State
Legislature already noted, there are those who attained higher

The first Easton man who was elected to the office of State
senator was Howard Lothrop, who was chosen in 1827, and
served four years. Elijah Howard, as already stated, was chosen
to the same office in 1832, to fill a vacancy caused by the death
of Senator Ebenezer Daggett. The next senator was Oliver
Ames, Sr., who without seeking the office, and even contrary to
his wishes, was elected in 1845. In 1852 his son, Oliver Ames,
Jr., was chosen State senator by the Legislature, there being no
choice by the people, and in 1857 he was chosen by popular
vote to the same office. In 1867 Dr. Caleb Swan was elected
to the same position. In 1872 it was filled by Frederick L.
Ames ; and in 1880 and 1881 by Oliver Ames, the son of Oakes.
In 1882 L. S. Drake, a Democrat of Easton, having many Re-
pubHcan friends, was chosen State senator, and held the office
for a year. Frank M. Ames, a native of Easton but a resident
of Canton, was elected senator in 1884.

Two Easton men have been members of the Governor's coun-
cil, — Howard Lothrop from 1832 to 1836, and Oakes Ames, who



in 1 861 and 1862 was in the council of the able and honored
war governor, John A. Andrew. He has also the honor of being
the only citizen of Easton who has been elected to the National
Congress as representative, to which position he was chosen in
1862, and served therein for the ten succeeding years.

Oliver Ames was elected lieutenant-governor in 1881, be-
ing chosen on the Republican ticket, though General Butler,
the Democratic candidate for governor, was also elected. For
the three years following Mr. Ames continued in the same office,
George D. Robinson being governor. In September, 1886, he
was nominated for governor almost unanimously on the first bal-
lot in the Republican convention ; and Tuesday, November 2, the
town of Easton rejoiced to see one of its citizens elected to the
highest office within the gift of the people of Massachusetts.

The most conspicuous office in some respects ever held by an
Easton man is that of United States Minister to Russia, — an
office now filled by George Van Ness Lothrop, who was appointed
to this position by President Cleveland in 1885,

It is fitting that there should follow here brief sketches of
those citizens of Easton who have held the positions of trust and
honor which have just been mentioned. Some of them are, how-
ever, more appropriately given in other chapters.

The Hon. Howard Lothrop, son of Edmund and Betty
(Howard) Lothrop, was born in Easton, December 17, 1776.
After becoming of age he invested in a furnace in Pittsford,
Vermont, and managed in time to make it a real success, be-
coming its superintendent and sole owner. He sold it in 1809,
the failure of his father's health leading him to settle perma-
nently upon the old homestead in Easton, where he spent the
remainder of his life.

Mr. Lothrop was town clerk of Easton for nineteen years, as
long a term of service as held by any one in town except Mat-
thew Hayward, who continued in the office for twenty-seven
years, from 1761 to 1788. Mr. Lothrop served from 181 1 to
1827, and from 1833 to 1836, being a very accurate and com-
petent officer. He was also for many years the clerk of the
Taunton North-Purchase Company. From 1823 to 1827 he was
a member of the State Legislature, and for the next four years


he was in the State senate. For four years following this, from
1832 to 1836, he was a member of the Governor's council, — thus
serving four years each successively in the three official positions
just named. He was also one of the candidates for presidential
elector on the Webster ticket in 1836. He was conservative
in his opinions ; for though opposed to the Rev. Mr. Sheldon
during the great controversy already described, he remained
Orthodox in his religious views. Although Mr. Lothrop called
himself a farmer, he did considerable business of a partially
legal character, being often called upon to prepare and to ex-
ecute wills and make the settlement of estates, for which work
his superior business qualities and excellent judgment especially
fitted him.

June 13, 1805, Mr, Lothrop married Sally, daughter of Ed-
ward and Sarah (Lothrop) Williams, of Easton, who was born
May 9, 1787. He died August 23, 1857, and she May 15, 1864.
They had a family of ten children, of whom only four now sur-
vive, — namely, Sarah, who married the Hon. Oliver Ames, Jr. ;
George Van Ness, now minister to Russia ; Howard Augustus,
who resides in Sharon ; and Cyrus, who lives in North Easton.

The Hon. Oliver Ames, founder of the great manufacturing
firm of Oliver Ames & Sons, was born in West Bridgewater,
Mass., April 11, 1779, being ^^e youngest son of Capt. John and
Susanna (Howard) Ames, and a lineal descendant of William
Ames, who came to this country in 1638 and settled in Brain-
tree. Mass. His early education was gained by ordinary com-
mon-school instruction, and by the practical experience of hard
work in his father's blacksmith shop. These furnished him
the groundwork of a sober judgment, industrious habits, and
a stable and energetic character. In April, 1803, he married
Susanna Angier ; and by this marriage two distinct branches
of the English family of Ames, which had sent representatives
to this country, were united, — for Susanna Angier was a de-
scendant of Dr. William Ames, a famous author and professor.
Very soon after his marriage Mr. Ames removed from Bridge-
water to Easton, and began the manufacture of shovels and
hoes. He bought the Shovel-Shop Pond privilege August i,
1803. He continued here for three years, and then moved to

|^^-^ -A



Plymouth to manufacture shovels for Messrs. Russell, Davis, &
Co. Mr. Ames did not however give up his property or his
business in Easton, but carried on here the manufacture of hoes
and shovels, the work being done by others under his over-
sight.i l^Q ^a.s also one of the partners in the cotton factory
managed by Col. David Manley, Difficulties and embarrass-
ments that would have disheartened and defeated any one but a
man of persistent energy and great ability beset him in those
early days. The effect upon business of the War of 181 2 was still
felt ; the cotton factory had been burned ; he was endeavoring
to restore the business of his father to a prosperous condition,
and had made great outlays in getting established at Easton.
But his credit was good and his courage strong ; his character
and ability alike inspired unlimited confidence, and he worked
steadily on to a sure and lasting success.

With only an humble beginning, shovels being made by hand
and carried to market upon a one-horse wagon, the business
steadily grew, shop being added to shop, workmen increasing
by scores, until the business became by far the largest and most
prosperous shovel business in the world. Mr. Ames would not
allow any work to be sent to the market that was imperfect,
and he thus laid the foundation for the great reputation which
the Ames shovel has borne and which it continues to bear.

In 1828, 1833, and 1834 he represented his town in the Massa-
chusetts Legislature, serving with marked ability upon the com-
mittee on manufactures. In 1845 he was elected, contrary to
his desires and by a large vote, to the Massachusetts senate.
He was however no lover of office, being only ambitious to have
the charge of the highways of his town intrusted to him, — a
charge he took pride in and faithfully fulfilled. He was a man of
strong and resolute will, of great force of character, indomitable
energy, and persevering industry. He was the possessor of a
splendid physique, and easily bore off the palm in all feats of
strength and skill, especially in wrestling, of which he was very
fond. His manly and dignified bearing gave every one who saw
him the impression that they looked upon a man of mark. He
was such a man as a stranger, meeting him upon the street,
would turn to look at a second time. Born of the people, he was

^ For particulars concerning his early business enterprises see chapter xxx.


always very simple in his tastes, as well as democratic in his
feelings and principles. In his likes and dislikes he was equally
decided ; but his judgments of persons were based upon what he
believed to be the real worth of any one, without reference to
station or condition. He was consequently greatly respected
and beloved by his neighbors and fellow-townsmen.

Mr. Ames was enthusiastically fond of farming, and like Dan-
iel Webster was especially fond of fine oxen, always obtaining
the best, and taking great pleasure in their management. He
took an early stand, both as a matter of principle and practice,
in favor of temperance, bringing up his family according to total
abstinence principles. He was a decided Unitarian in his reli-
gious convictions, having a cordial dislike to the rigid tenets of
the Calvinism of his day, and was liberal in his aid to religious
institutions ; to the church he gave the sanction of his personal
attendance. His charities were large ; nor were they bounded
by the limits of his sect or neighborhood. His defects were
such as pertained merely to his limited culture and to the stern
conflict and discipline of his early life.

Mr. Ames lived to the ripe old age of eighty-four years, dying
in North Easton, September 11, 1863. His wife died March 28,
1847. Their remains now repose in the Ames family lot in the
Village Cemetery near Unity Church in North Easton. Their
children were as follows: Oakes, born January 10, 1804, died
May 8, 1873; Horatio, born November 18, T805, died January
28, 1 871 ; Oliver, Jr., born November 5, 1807, died March 9,
1877; Angier, born February 19, 1810, died July 27, 1811;
William L., born July 9, 1812, died February 8, 1873 ; Sarah A.,
born September 9, 1814, died June 5, 1886; John, born April
18, 1817, died May 14, 1844; Harriet, born September 12, 1819,
and still survives.

' The Hon. Oakes Ames is the most widely known of any of
the citizens of Easton, and the one who has had the greatest in-
fluence upon the fortunes and affairs of the country. To him
more than to any other man belongs the credit of accomplish-
ing one of the grandest enterprises of this generation, — the
building of the Union Pacific Railroad. For that work, which
has been of incalculable benefit to the country in many ways,

Oakes Ames.



he deserves the gratitude of all its citizens, and his name will
always be associated with that splendid achievement.

Oakes Ames was the oldest son of Oliver and Susanna (Angier)
Ames, and was born in Easton, Massachusetts, January 10, 1804.
He passed his youth here, acquiring a common-school education,
and assisting his father in the workshop and on the farm. He
gained a thorough knowledge of the shovel business, in which
his father was engaged, and devoted to it for years a laborious
industry and great energy, early becoming its overseer. In
1844 his father, having reached the age of sixty-five, withdrew
from active participation in the business, turning it over to his
sons Oakes and Oliver ; and from this date the firm bore the
name of Oliver Ames & Sons. The discovery of gold in Cali-
fornia and Australia, and the vast increase of railroad building,
gave a new impetus to the shovel business, so that it rapidly
grew to extensive proportions, and became very profitable. It
was managed with great enterprise, weathered the financial
storm of 1857 without serious disturbance, and went on to
increasing success.

In i860 Oakes Ames was elected councillor from the Bristol
district, serving as one of the cabinet officers of Governor An-
drew, by whom he was highly esteemed. He was soon solicited
to become a candidate for Congress from the Second District.
On the informal ballot at the nominating convention he received
two thirds of all the votes cast, was then formally nominated,
and was elected by a large popular vote. This was for the
Thirty-eighth Congress ; and to the four succeeding Congresses
he was continuously elected, serving ten years altogether. Dur-
ing these ten years he was a member of the several committees
on manufactures, on the Pacific railroad, on Revolutionary
claims, and on roads and canals, his business experience and
sound practical judgment making his services especially valu-
able in all these positions. He was a warm friend of President
Lincoln, and enjoyed his personal confidence.

It was as a member of the committee on railroads that he
first became interested in the Government project of building a
road to the Pacific. In July, 1862, Congress passed an Act au-
thorizing and making some provision for the construction of a
railroad and telegraph line from the Missouri River to the Pacific



slope. Scarcely anything, however, was done about it. In July,
1864, the need of such aline of communication between the East

Online LibraryWilliam L. (William Ladd) ChaffinHistory of the town of Easton, Massachusetts (Volume 3) → online text (page 59 of 78)