William L. (William Ladd) Chaffin.

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

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them were "The Pronouncing Introductor," "The Pronouncing
English Reader," "The English Teacher or Private Learner's
Guide," " Murray's English Exercises," and " Alger's Murray."
The latter is highly spoken of. In 1825 he published "Alger's
Perry," which was a revised spelling-book according to " a new
scheme, containing also moral lessons, fables, and much useful
matter for the instruction of youth." In the same year he also
published " The Pronouncing Bible," a copy of which the writer
now has before him. The pronunciation is according to Walker,
all the words of the Bible that could present any difficulty,
and many that presented none, being so accented as to make
the pronunciation easy. The first words thus accented in this
book are, in their order, earth, sptr'tt, divided, and were. Foot-
notes on various pages explain that said should be pronounced
sed ; aprons, a'piirnz ; fruit, froot ; " ti long after r sounds like
00." One is not allowed to go astray regarding victuals,
laugh {" pronounced laf "), zvomen, riband ("rib'bin "), etc. And
1 See Memorial of the Descendants of Thomas Alger, p. 19.


lest such words might be forgotten, the pronunciation of said,
furnace, leopard, mirth, guard (gyard), vineyards (vin'yerdz),
girl, watch (wotsh), sky (skel), and woman (" wiim'un, i. e.
w66m'iin ") are constantly repeated as foot-notes. This work
ended our author's literary career. He died in Easton, Septem-
ber 23, 1825.

The Rev. Jarvis Adams Ames, son of Jotham and Polly (Lo-
throp) Ames, was born in Easton, November 8, 1826. At the
age of fourteen years he went to Boston to seek his fortune. In
a window on Washington Street he saw a placard, on which were
printed the words, " Boy wanted ; " he entered the store, secured
the situation, and remained there nine years. It was Partridge's
millinery store in Boston, where he became a partner in the busi-
ness when twenty years old. He left the store about 1850, studied
at Wilbraham Academy, Mass., and was licensed to preach as a
Methodist, February 28, 1852. From 1853 to 1855 he was at the
General Biblical Institute, Concord, N. H., where he graduated.
He preached during this term of study in Goffstown, Canter-
bury, and Salisbury, and later for a time in Townsend, Mass.
Mr. Ames was ordained deacon by Bishop Jaynes at Salem in
April, 1856, and as elder by Bishop Scott at Worcester, April 1 1,
1858. He was stationed at Townsend in 1856 ; Woburn in 1857
and 1858 ; Maple Street Church in Lynn for the next two years ;
at Medford for the next two ; at the Purchase Street Church in
Newburyport for the next two years; at Rockport from 1866
to 1868; at the City Mission, Boston, for three years, and at
the Hanover Street Mission two years ; afterward at Cam-
bridgeport and West Medford ; at Sudbury in 1880; and at
Ruggles Street Church, Boston, in 1881 and 1882. He be-
came superannuated in 1883, and died at Bellevue, Florida,
July 18, 1885.

Mr. Ames married, April 14, 1856, Ruby M. Sedgwick, of
Palmer, Mass., who proved a helpmeet indeed in his labors, oc-
casionally lecturing in his pulpit and otherwise assisting him.
They have had four children, three of whom are now living. An
extended notice of him may be found in the "Minutes of the
M. E. N. E. Conference" for 1886, which gives him a most ex-
cellent character.



The Rev. Matthew Bolles was for several years a resident of
Easton, though he preached in the Baptist church at Cocheset.
He lived on the west side of the Turnpike, just north of Alger's
Four Corners, and was postmaster there in 1829. Mr. Bolles was
the second child of the Rev. David Bolles, and was born at
Ashford, now Eastford, Connecticut, April 21, 1769. He mar-
ried Anna, daughter of Eliphaz and Jerusha (Pride) Hibbard,
of Mansfield, Connecticut, September 15, 1793; was in active
business life until he became a Baptist preacher ; was ordained
at Lyme, Connecticut, and afterward preached in Fairfield,
Connecticut, Milford, New Hampshire, Marblehead and West
Bridgewater (Cocheset), Massachusetts ; and died in Hartford,
Connecticut, September 26, 1838. He had nine children, among
whom were Matthew, now a prominent banker of Boston, and
John Augustus, who will be spoken of in another chapter.

The Rev. Silas Brett, though not a native of Easton, was a
resident here during the latter part of his life, and is entitled to
a notice in these pages. He was the son of Seth and Sarah
(Alden) Brett, and was born in Bridgewater, February 29, 17 16.
Mitchell states that " Silas entered college, but left it and be-
came a preacher, and was settled in Berkeley." ^ Records of Free-
town, where he was afterward settled, state that he was educated
at Yale College, and studied divinity with the Rev. Mr. Angier,
of Bridgewater. November 6, 1744, the Church of Christ in
Easton gave him a call to become their pastor ; but already the
contest over the location of the meeting-house was taking shape,
and the church and parish were not in accord on this subject.
The contention thus started will probably account for the follow-
ing vote of the town, taken January 31, 1745: "Voted in ye
Negative not for to concure with ye Churche's vote in giveing of
Mr. Silas Britt a call."

December i, 1747, Mr. Brett was ordained as pastor of the
Congregational Church of Freetown, the Rev. John Porter, of
Bridgewater, preaching the sermon. The church was small,
and at the opening of the Revolutionary War violent dissensions
arose in it which interfered with the support of the pastor, and
he was accordingly dismissed May i, 1776. There is no record

1 History of Bridgewater, p. 120.


that the church, then consisting of twenty-two members, ever
met again. After living nearly twenty years in Freetown Mr,
Brett settled in Easton, where, though he occasionally supplied
pulpits elsewhere, he remained a resident until his death, fifteen
years later. He was paid forty-five dollars for providing for the
council at the ordination of the Rev. William Reed in 1784.

May 10, 1747, Mr. Brett married Thankful, daughter of Lieu-
tenant Joshua and Susanna (Hayward) Howard. They had sev-
eral children, the best known of whom was Calvin Brett, who
was a prominent man in town. The Rev. Silas Brett died April
17, 1 79 1, and Thankful, his wife, March 26, 1822. Their remains
lie in the Pine Grove Cemetery.

The Rev. Nelson Williams Britton, son of William Britton,
Jr., and his wife Maria B. (Williams), was born in Easton, August
10, 1830, from which place his family removed to Mansfield when
he was about nine years old. He was educated at the Mansfield
Academy, and at the East Greenwich, R. I., Academy, after-
ward teaching school at West Bridgewater and Norton. In
January, 1855, he received a license to preach from the Meth-
odist Protestant Church, and joined the Boston District Confer-
ence of that Church, receiving deacon's orders March, 1858, and
elder's orders in August of the same year. From this time until
1866 he preached first at Marion and then at Pocasset, both in
Massachusetts, remaining at Pocasset five years. Being a dele-
gate to the Annual Conference of Non-Episcopal Methodists held
at Cincinnati in 1866, he was at his own request transferred to
the New York district. He was then stationed at Norwalk,
Conn., where he labored two years, going thence to Peekskill,
N. Y., where a bronchial trouble obliged him to give up public
speaking, and consequently the ministry. He then removed to
East Providence, R. I.

May 31, 1857, Mr. Britton was married to Sarah H. Case. In
1870 he was appointed station agent of the Boston and Provi-
dence Railroad at East Providence, a position he still holds.
He has also been postmaster about twelve years, is a mem-
ber of the Board of Trade of Providence, of the Cavalry Com-
mandry. Knights Templars (Masonic), and has held several
town offices.



The Rev. Charles H. Buck, son of Benjamin and Clarissa
(Bryant) Buck, was born in Easton, January 10, 1841. When a
boy his parents moved to Dorchester (now Boston), where he
graduated from the Washington Grammar School in 1858. He
graduated from the Wesleyan Academy at Wilbraham in i860,
and from the Wesleyan University at Middletown, Conn., in
1864, and then joining the New York East (Methodist) Con-
ference, began to preach in Simsbury, Conn., where he re-
mained two years. May 29, 1866, he married Julia O. Foy, of
Simsbury. He preached in 1866 at Westville ; for the next
three years at Bristol ; the next three at New Britain ; the next
three at New Haven, in the St. John Street Church ; and
again three years at Bristol. For a second time also he preached
for three years at the large MethodLst Society in New Britain,
and for the next three years he was in New Haven at the First
Church. He is now (1886) preaching for the third year at
Brooklyn, N. Y., over a very large church. His three years' stay
in important places, and his being returned afterward to the
same churches, justify his reputation as an able and eloquent
preacher and an efficient pastor.

The Rev. Daniel LeBaron Goodwin, son of Daniel and
Polly (Briggs) Goodwin, was born in Easton, July 28, 1800. His
grandfather was Benjamin Goodwin, who bought land in Easton
in 1783, moving here from Boston late in 1784 or early in 1785,
and two of whose daughters were wives of Daniel Wheaton,
Esq. Daniel Goodwin, Sr., moved to Norton about 1802, where
he had three other sons, all of whom became ministers.

The Rev. Daniel LeBaron Goodwin was fitted for college at
Phillips Academy, Andover, Mass., graduated from Brown Uni-
versity in 1822, and May 3, 1825, was ordained a deacon in St.
Paul's Church in Boston. On the 15th of July following he took
up his residence in Sutton as an Episcopal clergyman, where he
remained till April, 1854, when he removed to Providence, R. I.,
and was employed as "church missionary " for that city. Decem-
ber 12, 1825, he married Rebecca, daughter of WilHam Wilkinson,
Esq., of Providence, and had ten children. He died at Provi-
dence, December 25, 1867. Mrs. Goodwin, now eighty-five years
of age, is still alive, and resides at Bristol, R. I. Five of the chil-


dren are also living ; namely, Miss Sarah W. Goodwin of Bristol,
Rev. Daniel Goodwin, rector of St. Luke's Church, East Green-
wich, R. I., Mrs. Hannah W. Drury of Bristol, Mrs. Anne D.
Deane of Fairhaven, Mass., and Mrs. Susan W. Munro, wife of
Wilfred H. Munro, the president of De Veaux College, Suspen-
sion Bridge, New York.

The Rev. Francis Homes, though not a native of Easton, has
been a citizen of the town for fifteen years. He is the son of
Henry and Isabella Homes, of Boston, long the residence of his
ancestors, where he was born July 17, 1826. He was educated
at Phillips Academy in Andover, graduated at Amherst College
in 1848, and subsequently passed through the Andover Theo-
logical School. He preached some time in the State of Missouri,
and then in Massachusetts, in the latter State serving as pastor
in Congregational Orthodox churches in Granville, Westfield,
Marblehead, and Lynn. In the year 1871 he settled in Easton,
where he has engaged in farming.

Mr. Homes is a man of intelligence, and of straightforward
decided character, much interested in morals and religion, and
long served as superintendent in the Sunday-school at White's
Hall. He takes much interest in education also, and was for
three years an efBcient member of the Easton school committee.
In 1864 he was married to Sarah Hooper Broughton, of Marble-
head. She soon died, and in 1867 he married Mary Angelina
Tuck, of Lynn.

The Rev. William Keith was born in Easton, Mass., Septem-
ber 15, 1776. He was converted in 1794, and soon after joined
the Methodist Church. His mind was greatly exercised in re-
gard to becoming a preacher, and after sore conflicts of spirit he
entered, in 1798, into the work of the ministry, being first sta-
tioned on the Albany circuit. " Having to ride," he says, " three
hundred miles in four weeks, and preach forty-three times, and
sometimes travel on foot through storms and snows, I was so
worn out that in the month of April, 1799, I returned home un-
able to ride any more." Soon after this he became dejected,
lost his religious fervor, and being harshly reproved for it by
preachers from whom he had a right to expect sympathy, he



"withdrew from the connection" in 1801. After a year and a
half of darkness (a consequence no doubt of ill-health, though
his biographer fails to see it) he had so improved in health and
spirit that he felt it his duty to join the Methodists again. On
this occasion he writes : " As soon as I consented to bear the
cross and join the Methodists again, I felt a return of the favor
of God, and could truly say, ' My Jesus is mine and I am his.' "
Mr. Keith labored as a local preacher about two years, and then
entered the itinerant connection again. In 1806, 1807, ^^ was
on the Newburgh circuit, in 1808 on the Montgomery, and in
1809 he was stationed at New York City. There he ended his
days, September 8, 18 10, aged thirty-three years, eleven months,
and twenty-three days, leaving a widow and three children.
His biographer speaks of his character, and of his ability and
success in the work of the ministry, in terms of high praise.^
" Sound in doctrine, deep in experience, uniform in practice, he
was able to look a congregation in the face while he denounced
the terrors of the law to sinners and administered the promises
of the gospel to mourners and believers."

It would be gratifying to know who were the parents of the
Rev. William Keith ; for it is not to be presumed that, like
Melchisedek he was " without father, without mother, without
descent." The most painstaking efforts have not, however, suc-
ceeded in discovering his parentage.

The Rev. Jason Lothrop, son of John and Sarah (Cook)
Lothrop, was born in Easton, May 16, 1794. His father moved
to Easton in the year 1782, or early in 1783, and lived here
twenty-five years, when he moved to Cornish, New Hampshire.
All his children were born in Easton, except the oldest, Calvin,
who was born in Stoughton, though the " Lathrop Family Me-
moir " states erroneously that he was born in Bridgewater. In
accordance with the well known notion that the seventh child is
especially endowed with the healing gift, the subject of this
sketch was named Jason, which is the Greek for /lea/er or doctor ;

1 See Minutes of Methodist Conferences, vol. i. p. 509- His biographer speaks
of certain " Experiences " written by the Rev. William Keith, referring to them by
pages, as if a printed book. The writer has searched the Boston and New York
libraries, and even the Congressional Library at Washington, but no trace of such
a book appears ; it may have existed only in manuscript.


and he states that with this destiny marked out for him by fate
he was permitted to go to school at sixteen years of age. Mr.
Lothrop studied medicine at an early age, and is said to have
been for a time in Yale College. At the age of eighteen he
taught school in New Hampshire, and later applied himself so
closely to the study of medicine as to impair his health, being
forced to devote himself to recreation in the effort to restore
his physical powers to a good condition. In the year 1815,
being then twenty-one years of age, he went to Utica, New York,
where for a time he was engaged in the editorial management
of the " Baptist Register " published in that city, showing marked
ability in the work. He went to Newport, Herkimer County,
New York, in 18 18, and preached there for about ten years as
the minister of the Baptist church ; was then settled for a time
at Pulaski, and from there went to Oswego, where he had a large
and intelligent congregation. He afterward became principal of
an academy in Hannibal.

In 1834 Mr. Lothrop was one of a company that organized at
Hannibal, New York, a Western Emigration Society, the mem-
bers of which proceeded at once to settle in what became Keno-
sha, Wisconsin. In this society he was quite prominent, being
one of five to draw up its Constitution. He established the
first school in Kenosha, acting as its teacher. In 1838 Mr. Lo-
throp organized the first Baptist church in the same place, and
was for nine years thereafter its pastor, resigning, according to
his own account, because of ill health, but according to another
account because he differed from his church upon some car-
dinal points of doctrine.^

" Mr. Jason Lothrop, who while living East had been many years a
Baptist minister and afterward a school teacher, was next found in
September, 1835, in the 'far West' engaged in keeping a boarding-
house at Kenosha. He was a man of considerable talent, and of
some eccentricity of character. Having no part of his family with him,
he had necessarily to perform all the duties which pertain to such an
establishment, such as cooking, washing, and general housewifery, and
also the accustomed duties of 'host.' Notwithstanding the Elder was
a man of fine education, and of more than average natural abilities,

1 See Mr. Lothrop's account of the Western Emigration Society, in Wisconsin
Historical Collections, vol. ii. p. 450 et seq.


and had been accustomed at one time of his life to elegance of
living, and for these reasons not familiar with such avocations, yet
he performed all the diversified offices which his new occupation
demanded, with aptness in one department and with good address in
another." ^

The writer has a photograph of Mr. Lothrop before him. It
is a face of marked character and strength, resolute, sturdy, and
indicative of superior common-sense. When it is considered
that he was six feet one and a half inches in height, and must
have weighed over two hundred and fifty pounds, it would touch
our pity, if it did not more decidedly appeal to our sense of the
ludicrous, to think of him with apron on and rolled-up sleeves,
mixing dough, rolling out doughnuts, making pies, washing
dishes, and attending to all the little details of housekeeping.
He was however apt at anything he put his hand to. He had
a domestic printing-office, the second in the State of Wiscon-
sin, in which he first printed a small pamphlet, and then two
hundred and fifty copies of a volume of about one hundred and
thirty pages. He also made a rude printing-press himself, and
worked it " placed upon a stump." In addition to this he acted
as a land-surveyor, and after asthma prevented his preaching he
turned his attention to horticulture.

Jason Lothrop should be of interest to Easton readers, not
only on account of the vigor and originality of his mind and char-
acter, but because he was perhaps a more prolific author than any
other native of the town. His own account of his literary work
is as follows : —

" I first published the ' Poetical Precepts,' a little book for children,
which went through five editions ; then the ' History of Almera ; Or
the Advantages of a good Education,' which died as it ought with the
first edition ; then ' Letters to a Young Gentleman,' a book of about
two hundred pages, which is defunct ; then, in Utica, New York, the
'Juvenile Philosopher 'which went through three or four editions, but
I sold the copyright and have not heard much of it since. This was
extensively used in Western New York and in Canada." ~

1 Wisconsin Historical Collections, vol. iii. p. 405.

2 From a letter to his nephew David W. Lothrop, West Medford, written in


Jason Lothrop was married February i6, 1817, to Susan Jud-
kins, who was born in New Hampshire, August 3, 1797. By
her he had four children, — Lucius, born in 1818 and died young;
Jason, born January 13, 1820, married Jane Burnside, had six
children, and is now living in Kenosha, Wisconsin ; Susan Har-
riet, born August 25, 1824, married to David Barton Burr, had
three children, and is living with her brother Jason ; Lucian,
born September i, 1827, married Sarah J. Haggerty, had three
children, and died in 1875. In 1841 Jason Lothrop married for
a second wife Ruth Belinda Foster, who died in 1863. He died
in Kenosha, September 2, 1870, highly honored as a man of
varied learning, great ability, and excellent character.

The Rev. Ruel Lothrop, son of John and Sarah (Cook) Lo-
throp, was born in Easton, July 7, 1789. He became a Baptist
minister, preaching in Sutton, New Hampshire, from 1816 to
1819.^ Very little definite information can be gained about Ruel
Lothrop, except that he was married twice, — the first time, No-
vember 6, 1 82 1, to Sally, daughter of Jesse and Hannah (Clark)
Spaulding ; and the second time to a lady whose name is un-
known to the writer. By his first wife he had a son, James Win-
chell Lothrop, born in December, 1823, and died June 9, 1849.^

The Rev. Ephraim Randall, son of Hopestill and Submit
(Bruce) Randall, was born in Easton, November 29, 1785. He
graduated at Brown University in the class of 18 12,^ and was or-
dained a minister at New Bedford, October 26, 18 14. Several
years prior to this date " unhappy divisions began to appear " in
the North Congregational Church of that city. The majority of
the church-members adhered to the more conservative views,
and the minority of the church, with a majority of the society,
preferred the new and milder views then becoming prevalent.
They were not then known as Unitarian views, but gradually
developed into them. The ordination of Mr. Randall was pro-
tested against by the conservative part of the church, although

1 See the Rev. E. E. Cummings's "History of the Baptist Churches in New

2 So given in the Spaulding Genealogy.

8 The History of Middlesex County, Massachusetts, is in error in stating (vol.
ii. p. 479) that the Rev. Ephraim Randall graduated at Harvard Uuiversity.



they had three years before formed another society and settled a
minister. They still claimed, however, to be the old church, and
objected to Mr. Randall because " he did not, in the opinion of
the church, speak the things that become sound doctrine," etc.^
He was ordained, notwithstanding, October 26.2

Mr. Randall married, soon after his settlement, Eliza Bryant.
His marriage for some reason tended to weaken his hold upon
his parish, and he resigned his position in less than two years.
He then went into the business of storekeeping at New Bed-
ford, but did not make a success of it. Being an excellent
singer, after he ceased preaching he sang in the choir of the
church of which he had been pastor. From New Bedford Mr.
Randall returned to Easton, where he had a little store on the
Turnpike, selling drugs and various small goods, sparing no pains
to save all the money he could. Not succeeding in this enter-
prise to realize his hopes, he turned to the ministry again, preach-
ing for a time at Stoughton, and was soon settled at Saugus,
Massachusetts, October 3, 1826, from which place he was dis-
missed August 7, 1827. April 30, 1829, he was settled at West-
ford, but his connection with this church closed in two years.^

An infirmity that may be mildly characterized as excessive
economy became a ruling passion with Mr. Randall, and was
sure to create a speedy opposition to him wherever he went.
But the writer is informed that this propensity, while it sub-
ordinated nearly all his feelings and purposes, never tempted
him to overstep the limits of honesty. His abilities were excel-
lent, and but for the reason already assigned he might have been
an able and useful minister.

After his regular settlements, Mr. Randall preached in differ-
ent places as he had opportunity, not being particular where it
was, or what kind of doctrine was demanded. He taught school
for a time in Easton. While being examined by the school com-
mittee for the position, he failed to answer some questions re-
lating to certain details with which a teacher was expected to be

1 See History of Bristol County, p. 75.

2 Another authority gives the date of the ordination August 25. But the state-
ment in the text is that of the Rev. William J. Potter, of New Bedford, who kindly
examined the records of the church of which Mr. Randall was pastor.

3 The authority for this is the "History of Middlesex County," as above.



familiar, and getting a little excited, he said, " It is n't to be
expected that a man of my abilities should know about these
little things ! " The latter years of his life were spent in South

Online LibraryWilliam L. (William Ladd) ChaffinHistory of the town of Easton, Massachusetts (Volume 3) → online text (page 64 of 78)