William L. (William Ladd) Chaffin.

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

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written indifferently Marble, Maravell, etc. ; but he will remain
a marvel to us, for nothing further can be learned about him.

Ephraim Randall came here no doubt with his father
Thomas. He is taxed as a resident in 1708, and received as his
portion of his father's estate the half of the homestead on the
east side of the river, bounded west and south by the stream.
The old house where he lived, and his father before him, stood
several rods nearer the grist-mill than does the house now stand-
ing on this lot. Five months after the death of his first wife he
swiftly consoled himself by marrying a second, who was Lydia,
the daughter of Timothy Cooper. He became prominent in
town and church matters, and was a deacon as early as 1730.
He died May 17, 1759, aged seventy-five years.

Thomas Pratt came here from Middleboro in 1710. He was
born in Weymouth, and was the son of Thomas, of Weymouth,
and brother of Elder Pratt, who settled here about the same
time. He moved from Weymouth to Middleboro before 1700,
and was selectman there in 1704, and town treasurer in 1705.
His house stood where what is called the Sever Pratt house now
stands, in South Easton, just above the cemetery, on the east
side of the road. The old homestead, settled in 17 10, has never
passed out of the possession of the family, and is owned to-day
by Isaac L. Pratt. He was ancestor of the late Amos Pratt, of
Alfred Pratt, and of many others. He was much interested in
the church in Easton, and was a deacon. He died December
I, 1744.

George Hall was a resident as early as 1708, and may have
come here at the time of his marriage, 1705. His house was at
the Caleb Pratt location, nearly opposite and a little west from


where the late Jonathan Pratt lived. He was son of Samuel Hall,
of Taunton, one of the original proprietors of the Taunton North-
Purchase. He married Lydia, daughter of Thomas and Kathe-
rine Dean, of Taunton. He was a carpenter, and became part
owner in the saw-mill that was built by Josiah Keith. He had
nine children, but they moved away from Easton. He was alive
as late as 1760.

John Daily was here before 1708. He married a daughter
of Abiah Whitman, of Weymouth, and may have come from
that place ; but of his antecedents nothing has been deter-
mined except that he was originally a native of the north of
Ireland. He lived just east of the brook near Stone-House
Hill, between where the old road once ran and the present road
now runs. His father-in-law gave him part of a lot he owned
near the Bridgewater line. Daily also bought land of Thomas
Randall " for 5000 good marchantable boards in hand paid."
He had an interest in the saw-mill at the Green in 171 3. He
and his brother-in-law John Whitman had a little unpleasant-
ness over a mowing privilege, which made considerable family

Daniel Owen, Sr., moved here from Taunton between 1705
and 1 710. He married Anna, daughter of Samuel Lincoln, of
Taunton. His house was on the Bay road about thirty rods
north of the head of Summer Street, sometimes called the
Littlefield road.

Daniel Owen, Jr., settled with his father, and lived in the old
homestead for awhile after his father's death. He then located
another homestead and built a house. It was forty rods south of
the Tisdale Harlow place, on the west side of the road, at the
top of the knoll in the field now owned by the Belchers, The
cellar has been filled and ploughed over. The old well, now
filled with stones, is near the bars. In 1730, and for several
succeeding years, he was an innkeeper and a licensed retailer
of liquors.

Nathaniel Manley was the third son of William Manley, Sr.
He was born in Weymouth, but probably came here with his
father as early as 1695. He was a resident prior to 1708, and
built himself a house where F. L. Ames's farm-house now stands.
He sold this house and considerable land near it, in 1 716, to James


Leonard, of Taunton, the father of the first Eliphalet. He then
built nearly opposite where Timothy Marshall lives. The old
cellar there is not yet entirely filled, and the well may be
located. He died April 21, 1753, his wife dying the next
day ; or, according to another record, on the same day.

Joseph Grossman was the only son of Joseph, who was the
son of Robert, of Taunton. He came here in 171 3, and then
hailed from Bridgewater, where he was temporarily residing with
his sisters. His house was close to, if not exactly upon, the spot
where Thomas Randall now lives, east of F. L. Ames's farm-
house. He was a quiet, pious, and influential citizen, and be-
came an elder in the church. He died March 14, 1776, at the
good old age of eighty-six years.

John Whitman was son of Abiah Whitman, of Weymouth,
and brother of Timothy Cooper's wife. His house was about a
quarter of a mile northwest of Avery Stone's. After long and
careful search the writer found the remains of the old cellar of
his house, a few rods west of the dam that is used to overflow
Mr. Stone's cranberry meadow, near the brook which was called
afterwards Whitman's Brook. The land on which his house
was built was laid out to his father in 1701, and was a lot
of a hundred acres. It was a narrow strip nine tenths of a
mile long, and extended south into the meadow east of Lieu-
tenant-Governor Ames's estate. He married, in 171 3, Rebecca
Manley, after whose death he married a second time. He died
about 1757.

Isaac Leonard was son of Solomon, of Duxbury. He moved
here from Bridgewater, buying his lot in October, 171 3. He
purchased the land about the site of the old hinge factory, now
the Novelty Works, at North Easton, There was no pond there
at that time. This became his homestead. He was probably
the first discoverer of the bog-iron ore in this part of the town.
He found a bed of it in some land of his brother-in-law, Na-
thaniel Manley, not far from Lincoln spring. For this service
Nathaniel Manley deeded to him one third part of all the iron
ore that should be taken from it. He married Mary, daughter
of Guido Bailey, of Bridgewater, and daughter-in-law of Thomas
Randall, Sr. In 1726 he sold his house, lands, iron ore, etc., to
Eliphalet Leonard, and then moved away.



Edward Hayward was son of Deacon Joseph Hayward, of
Bridgewater, and was born July 24, 1689. He moved to Taunton
North-Purchase about 1713, and February 2, 1714 (O. S. ?), he
married Hannah, daughter of Samuel Kinsley. The late G. W.
Hayward, in his account of the Hayward family, calls her the
daughter of Benjamin. But Benjamin was her brother, and was
then only sixteen years old. Edward Hayward was " the first
Esquire that was ever in the town of Easton ; " that is, the first
justice of the peace. This title of Esquire once meant some-
thing, and was not indiscriminately applied as it is now. He
was a very positive man, and the old church records show that
several church meetings were held in order to labor with him
and others with whom he had decided differences. In the long
and bitter contention that began about 1750 over the location of
the new meeting-house, he led the " town party," as it was
called, with great ability, and the " party of the East Part " was
led by the Rev. Solomon Prentice, a man of great force of char-
acter. The details of this controversy, and of Esquire Hayward's
connection with it will be given in another place. He lived
where the house of the late G. W. Hayward now stands. He
was a captain as well as justice of the peace, and held numerous
town offices. He died May 21, 1760, being seventy years old.

Seth Babbitt was son of Edward, who was son of Edward,
all of Taunton. In early times the name was usually spelled
Bobbet or Bobbot. Seth moved from Taunton about 171 5, and
made his home at the extreme southwest part of the town. His
house was very near the old Francis Goward place, or more prob-
ably on the exact site of the old house now there. September 15,
175 1, as the town records put it, " he departed this life for abeter,"
He was then fifty-nine years old.

Erasmus Babbitt, brother of Seth, settled here about the
same time, though probably a little later. He owned land north
and west of his brother. In a sterile field north of the old Gow-
ard place, less than a hundred rods from the house, may be found
the vestiges of an old cellar. This was very probably the loca-
tion of the house of Erasmus Babbitt. He was a"joyner" by
trade. He was father of Dr. Seth Babbitt, who was a soldier in
the French and Indian War, and who died of smallpox in 1761.
There were several families of the Babbitts in this section, so



that in course of time it received the name of " Babbitt-town."
Erasmus Babbitt died in 1730.

Samuel Kinsley, Jr., was son of Samuel, of Bridgewater.
By a natural and easily explained error the usually accurate his-
torian of Bridgewater, Nahum Mitchell, has confounded this
man with his father, giving to the latter his own and his son's
children, thus dropping Samuel Jr. into nonentity. He settled
here probably in 171 3, his homestead being west of the present
Littlefield place, near the railroad, and southeast of Cranberry

William Hayward, son of the William who was, as before
said, of Braintree, succeeded to his father's homestead soon after
he became of age ; this was in 1718. The location of this home-
stead has been given in what was said of his father. He had a
large family, one of his sons being Edward, who must not be
confounded with the Edwards of the other branch of the Hay-
wards. He had a son William who died in the French War,
several other sons serving in the same war. He died March
27, 1774, seventy-nine years old. He was probably the first;
child born within the limits of what is now Easton.

JosiAH Keith was a son of the Rev. James Keith, of Bridge-
water. In 1 71 7 he bought over two hundred acres of land on
the easterly side of Mulberry-Meadow Brook, afterwards called
Leach's Stream, and became a resident here either that year or
the next. In 1720 he was selectman for the East Precinct of
Norton, now Easton. His house was probably built in 1717,
and is the oldest house standing in town. An addition was
made to it at a later date. The old part of it is the west end, at
the left of the accompanying picture as seen by the observer.
This remains about as it was, and is an interesting relic of the
olden time. It was used for an inn as early as 1724, Josiah
Keith then being a licensed innkeeper. The house is now the
property of, and is occupied by, Edward D. Williams. Not long
after settling, Keith built a saw-mill ; at least it was in full
operation in 1724, for he is then involved in a lawsuit concern-
ing " sawing sundry planks, bords, and other timber at his saw-
mill near his now dwelling-house." The location of this mill
may still be seen west of Edward D. Williams's house. He
died Feb. 4, 1754.



Benjamin Selee was a son of Edward Selee, of Bridgewater,
and was born in 1693. He was a resident here as early as 17 16,
remaining here about ten years, when he removed to Norton.
His house was probably a few rods south of where his brother,
next to be spoken of, lived.

John Selee, brother of the above, was born April 10, 1697, in
Bridgewater. He was the direct ancestor of the Easton Selees.
He settled in 1718, building a house about forty rods north-
easterly from where John A. Selee lives now. The site of the
original dwelling-house is marked by an old ash-tree now grow-
ing there. The farm has remained in the possession of the
family to this day. He died December 3, 1783, over eighty-six
years of age. The name has been variously written, as follows :
Sealey, Silli, Silly, Selle, Seele, Selee, etc.

William Thayer, "a weaver," settled here as early as 1720.
About this time he sold his place at Braintree, his previous
residence, and purchased land in the section through which the
north road to Brockton now runs. He was married to the
widow of the first William Hay ward. In June, 1724, in order
to develop the resources of his neighborhood, he gave land
and needed privileges to a company of men, who immedi-
ately built the first saw-mill in that vicinity. The stream
then went by the name of Dorchester-Meadow Brook. William
Thayer had an eighth ownership. He did not live long, dying
May 5, 1727.

Jonathan Thayer was a son of the last-named. He appears
to have succeeded to the ownership of his father's estate. He
married Tabitha, daughter of Timothy Cooper, January 11, 1727.
His sister Bethia, who married Samuel Waters, and his brother
William settled near him.

Jonah Newland, of Taunton, was a settler here in 171 7. He
was a relative of the Newlands of Norton, and lived not far from
them. His house was in the extreme southwest part of what
is now Easton, southeast of the Babbitts, on what became the
Norton road. There are known to have been at least three
houses on that road between Asa Newcomb's and the Norton
line. He probably lived in the second or third. He married
Joanna, daughter of Thomas Harvey, of Taunton, and, for a
second wife, Abigail Babbitt.



Benjamin Drake, son of Benjamin, was born in Easton, De-
cember I, 1700. He married Elizabeth Hewitt in 1723, and built
his house just north of where Daniel Daily lives, at Easton
Centre. No vestiges of the cellar can now be seen. In June,
1724, he distinguished himself by killing a wildcat, as a reward
for which he received the sum of five shillings.

William Phillips was a son of Captain John ; but whether
born before or after his father left Weymouth cannot now be
determined. He was located with a homestead before 1720, and
owned land " on both sides of the road that leads from Joseph
Crossman's to Boston," — the old road that Washington Street
has taken the place of He lived on the east side of the road, not
far from, probably a little south of, where Allan Wade now lives.
No house appears there on the oldest map of Easton, made
about 1752, and it had probably been destroyed by that time.
Phillips was a carpenter, one of the builders and owners of the
saw-mill near William Thayer's house.

Samuel Smith, Jr., was of Taunton, — a grandson, on his
mother's side, of Hezekiah Hoar, one of the original proprie-
tors of the North Purchase. In deeds at Taunton he is
spoken of in 1718 as "living at Poquanticut." At that date
Poquanticut was a more indefinite term even than now, includ-
ing the whole of the northwest corner of what is now Easton.
Samuel Smith lived just west of the Bay road, near the Sharon
line. In 1721 he sold out and moved away; but as early as
1 73 1 his wife Mary and her child had become town charges
of Easton.

Eleazer Gilbert was first of Taunton, and then of Norton.
He bought out Samuel Smith, Jr., and lived on what has since
been known as the Gilbert place. It was a little to the west
of the Bay road, a few rods northwest of the pond-hole, and
up the hill. Besides this, he purchased eighty-three acres,
some of it being in Dorchester, now Sharon, — "a gore of
land which Dorchester line cuts off from the lot of land
which Jeremiah Willis's house stands upon." Reference is
here made to the fact of the accidental change in the boun-
dary line between the two colonies, by which a strip of land
formerly belonging to the North Purchase was cut off from its
northern part.


John Phillips, Jr., a son of Captain John, was born at Wey-
mouth, in 1692. He owned land where the Dickerman brothers
now live, on Washington Street, and his house appears to have
been just south of where John Dickerman now lives. His son
Ebenezer, the Baptist deacon, lived there after him, and the first
Baptist minister of Easton was ordained there. He died Jan-
uary 18, 1758.

Benjamin Kinsley was a son of Samuel Kinsley, Sr., before
mentioned. He was born May 16, 1701, probably in Bridge-
water. He married Priscilla Manley, in 1732, perhaps for a
second wife. He became the owner of his father's homestead,
already located. He died March 13, 1759.

John Austin, son of Jonah, of Taunton, had a lot laid out in
1 7 19, and built his house soon afterwards. It was southwest of
George Hall's, and not far from the No. 3 schoolhouse. He was
as near to being a Mormon as the circumstances of the case
would admit. In January, 1726, his wife Priscilla dies ; in the
following June he marries Deborah Caswell, of Norton ; and
she dying in August, he marries in the next March Elizabeth
Briggs, — thus having three different wives in fourteen months.
He was a rough character. In 1739, Esq. Edward Hay ward
sentences him to pay " a fine of ten shillings for prophaine curs-
ing, for the use of the poor of the town of Easton." Were pro-
fanity taxable for the benefit of the poor of Easton, they might
always have lived like kings. In the year following, Austin is
indicted for a far worse offence. By trade he was a " cord-
wainer," or shoemaker.

Benjamin Fobes was a son of Deacon Edward Fobes, of
Bridgewater. He was born in 1692, married Martha Hunt in
1721, and settled in Easton at once. He lived on what is now
called Pine Street, a little south of the cemetery on the hill.
He was town-clerk in 1732, and also from 1740 to 1750 inclu-
sive. His handwriting was remarkably good, and very legible.
He died April 10, 1770, seventy-eight years old.

Samuel Waters was son of Samuel, who was perhaps of
Salem, and then of Woburn. He was ancestor of Asa Waters,
who was so well known here in the first part of this century, and
who once made shovels, in company with Oliver Ames. In the
Waters genealogy, recently published, it is stated on the authority


of Asa Waters, that the father of the Samuel under consider-
ation came here from Woburn. This is evidently an error.
Samuel, Sr., could hardly have settled here without having
his name appear on the North-Purchase records, or on the
county deeds in some way. There is no trace of him there.
His son first appears in this locality in 1722. He was of
Stoughton, September 27, 1719, when he "laid hold of" the
covenant of the church there. He lived in the extreme north-
east quarter of what is now Easton, north of William Thayer's.
He married Bethiah, daughter of William Thayer, and lived
here until 1731. In October of that year he sold his property
here, and moved afterwards to Stoughton. In the old town-
records, and in most of the deeds at Taunton, the name is
spelled Walters.

Mark Lothrop, son of Samuel Lothrop, of Bridgewater, set^
tied on land previously laid out for his father, who was an exten-
sive owner in the North Purchase. His homestead was about
twenty-five rods east of where Henry Lothrop now lives. Ruins
may still be seen there. The name was at that time spelled
Lathrop. He was born September 9, 1689, married March 29,
1722, Hannah Alden, great-granddaughter of John Alden, and
died January 21, 1777.

Eliphalet Leonard, born in 1702, was the son of Lieu-
tenant James, of Taunton, a man of considerable note. Lieut.
James Leonard was a " bloomer," and the news of the recent
discovery of iron ore in what is now North Easton led him to
think of erecting a forge in that vicinity. Accordingly, he pur-
chased of Nathaniel Manley thirty-five acres of land where
Stone's Pond lies, including the dwelling-house, which was after-
wards occupied by his son Eliphalet, and was very near the spot
now covered by F. L, Ames's farm-house. He also purchased
the three acres of "iron mine" near Lincoln Spring. The exact
date of the erection of the forge where the Red Factory now
stands, cannot be determined. It was an accomplished fact be-
fore October, 1723. It was probably between 1720 and 1723, for
at the former date Lieut. James Leonard bought the land below
his first purchase, and apparently where the forge was built.
Eliphalet was then eighteen years of age, and his name is
always coupled with that of the forge. He was a prominent


man in town and church affairs, became a captain, and held
various offices and positions of trust. He was grandfather of
the well-known Jonathan, or " Quaker Leonard." He died Feb-
ruary 4, 1786, aged eighty-four years, — his wife, with whom he
had lived over fifty years, dying two months afterwards. Their
tombstones are in the old cemetery, and are among the few that
have survived the wear of time and the vandalism of the ruffians
who have desecrated by their violence that sacred spot, the most
interesting historical locality in Easton. On his tombstone one
may still read this epitaph : —

He was so Just his friends put trust
In him for years to come.
We hope the Lord will him reward.
For He hath called him home.

Benjamin Williams was a son of Benjamin, who was son
of Richard, whose name heads the list of the North-Purchase
proprietors. His father took up land in 1700, on Mulberry-
Meadow Brook, but lived at Taunton. The son Benjamin does
not appear to have settled here much before the incorporation
of the town, in 1725. He and his brother, next to be mentioned,
were the earliest members of the Williams families who settled
here. The location of Benjamin's house was about where Daniel
Wheaton now lives. He was a licensed innkeeper from 1726
to 1730. He and his son Benjamin were captains. He died
April 5, 1775.

John Williams, early known as " Ensign," was brother of the
last named. He was born in 1700, and settled here about the
same time as his brother. His house was south of Benjamin's,
and was where Walter Henshaw now lives. When his brother
gave up innkeeping in 1730, John took up the business and
carried it on until he died, in 1756. His wife Abigail continued
the same for three years afterwards. Seldom does it fall to
the human lot to have such an accumulation of sorrows within
a month as visited this bereaved woman. Hardly regainng
strength after the birth of a child, she buries, late in September,
a son. October 3, another son dies; on the 15th she loses a
daughter ; on the next day she sees her husband breathe his
last. Four days after that another son passes away ; and in less


than one month afterward still another son is gone. She loses
a husband and five children in the space of a month and a half.
Ensign Williams was one of the builders of the furnace at the
Furnace Village. Both he and his brother owned each a negro
slave. He died October i6, 1756.

Joseph Drake, probably of Weymouth, and nephew of
Benjamin, settled, when just of age, in 1723. His house was
north of William Phillips's, and south of John Phillips's, a little
north of the No. 8 schoolhouse, in the hollow on the east
side of Washington Street. He must be distinguished from
Joseph, Jr., son of Benjamin, who settled at the Centre soon

Thomas Manley, Jr., was the only early settler who can boast
that he was a grandson of an original settler. His house was
situated a few rods southwest of the Philip Willis place, in the
field east of the south end of the pond. This was the old
house bought by Philip Willis, the one in which he lived until he
built the house now standing. There, for about twenty years,
Mr. Manley kept an inn, and probably did something at
farming also.

Samuei, Phillips, son of Captain John, born May 17, 1702,
married Damaris Smith, of Taunton. He was one of the last
settlers before the incorporation of the town. The location of
his homestead cannot be indicated with certainty. It seems
probable that it was where his son Samuel afterwards lived, close
by the location known fifty years ago as the Turner place, near
the Old Meeting-house road, west of the DeWitt place. This
may be seen on the old map.

To the list of early settlers now given must be added the
names of Elder William Pratt and the Rev. Matthew Short. The
former came here in 171 1, buying land, with a dwelling-house
and other buildings, south of Captain John Phillips's, about
where the factory and store are located. The Rev. Mr. Short
came probably in 1722, and had his dwelling-house on the
north side of the street leading from the Green to the Railroad
station, a few rods east of where the street from Morse's factory
joins it. As, however. Elder Pratt and Mr. Short will require
our particular notice further on, nothing more will be said of
them in this chapter.


We have thus found that prior to the incorporation of the
town, in 1725, there were fifty-nine families that settled here.
We have been able in most cases to state their previous resi-
dence, the time of their settlement, and the location of their

Online LibraryWilliam L. (William Ladd) ChaffinHistory of the town of Easton, Massachusetts (Volume 3) → online text (page 6 of 78)