William L. (William Ladd) Chaffin.

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

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School of Medicine as special lecturer upon "fractures, dislo-
cations, and gunshot wounds," and still acts in this capacity.
He has served for nine years on the school board at Taunton,
is a member of the Massachusetts Homoeopathic State Medical
Society, and has been vice-president of the American Institute


of Homoeopathy. He still resides at Taunton, and has a large
and successful practice.

June 9, 1866, Dr. Hay ward married Lemira Harris, daughter
of John R. Drake, of Easton, by whom he had four children.

James Howard, M.D. — The first physician named in records
relating to the town of Easton was Dr. James Hayward, who was
elected as one of the selectmen in 1731. The names " Hayward "
and " Howard " were once pronounced Hozuard, and were con-
sequently often confounded, which is a source of much perplexity
to the genealogist. This physician was probably James Howard,
son of James and Elizabeth (Washburn) Howard, who was born
in Bridgewater in 1690. Mitchell^ states that he married Eliza-
beth VVallis (Willis) in 1710, and had Mercy, 1741, and Huldah,
1 716, and that he was said to have moved to Stoughton and then
to Woodstock. His name does not appear upon the tax-lists of
Stoughton. He probably lived in Easton a few years after 1731,
as in 1738 he makes charges in Stoughton for medicines and
visits, showing a continued residence in this vicinity.

Ernest W. Keith, M.D., the son of F. Granville and Mercy
(Wardwell) Keith, was born in Easton, August 7, 1862 ; gradu-
ated from the Easton High School in 1878, and from the Medical
School of the Boston University, June 2, 1885. He is now resi-
dent physician and surgeon in the Homoeopathic Department of
Cook County Hospital at Chicago, Illinois, receiving the appoint-
ment September i, 1885.

Edwin Manley, M.D., was born in Easton, May 3, 18 18.
He did not study medicine early in life, but was a workman in
the Ames Shovel Works. Having injured his hand so as to
make work difficult for him, he turned his attention to the med-
ical profession, studying first at the Tremont Medical School,
and then, from 1856 to i860, taking a full course of study at the
Harvard Medical School. Dr. Manley practised for a time at
Stoneham and then at Easton, locating in North Easton village.
From here he went to Taunton, where he was for several years
librarian of the Taunton Public Library. He had a decided taste

1 History of Bridgewater, p. 193.


for reading and study, and it is said would become so absorbed
in the study of chemistry and in making experiments, that the
night would sometimes be far spent before he sought rest.

Edwin Manley married, first, Faustina Smith, of Maine, an ac-
complished lady ; and after her death he married Emmeline Le-
land Hatch, of Kennebunk, Maine. The last eight years of his life
were spent in California. He died in San Francisco, June 4, 1884.

(Rev.) John M. Mills, M.D., was the son of Ralph and of
Sarah Mills, and was born December 21, 1800, in Lancaster,
England. He came to this country when young, and studied
medicine in New York City. He did not at once complete his
medical course, but returned to England, where he married
Sarah, daughter of John and Martha Potter, of Edinburgh.
Coming back to the United States, he finished his medical edu-
cation in the Homoeopathic College in New York City, from
which he graduated and received a diploma. In that city he
practised medicine for over ten years, and then went to Bufialo.
Not long afterward, urged by his family and friends, he became
a preacher in the Methodist Protestant Church, preaching first
in Milford, New York, and then, in 1841, going to Carver, Mas-
sachusetts, where he preached for three years. For the next
three years he preached in Milford, Massachusetts, and then
settled over the Methodist Protestant Church in North Easton
village, coming here March 25, 1847. He soon began to have
serious trouble with his eyes, and suffered considerably with a
bronchial difficulty, but was able to preach for about two years,
at the end of that time being obliged to give up the ministry on
account of his failing sight and voice. He had always practised
medicine somewhat during his ministerial work, and after ceas-
ing to preach he devoted himself entirely to the profession of
medicine, practising in Easton during the rest of his life, except
when prevented by failing health and almost total blindness. He
lived in the house next east of James N. Mackay's, on Lincoln
Street. Dr. Mills died in Easton, May 17, 1871.

James Perry, M.D., son of Captain James and Zerviah (With-
erell) Perry, was born in Easton, October 12, 1767. He studied
medicine, and was for many years a prominent physician in


town. James Perry married, April 9, 1793, Adah Sheperdson,
of Mansfield, and they had six children, one of whom, next
to be mentioned, became a distinguished physician. He died
May 2, 1825.

William F. Perry, M.D., son of Dr. James, was born Decem-
ber 9, 1809. At the age of sixteen years he decided to study
medicine ; but having to depend upon himself, he worked and
studied alternately with Dr. Caleb Swan, of Easton. He at-
tended one course of medical lectures at Bowdoin College, in
1 83 1, one at the Harvard Medical School in 1832, and in 1833
another at Bowdoin, where he received his diploma. In 1835 he
settled in Mansfield, Mass., where he became a skilful and suc-
cessful physician. Dr. Perry had a laborious practice for thirty-
eight years, never except for two days being prevented by illness
from visiting his patients, and being absent only twice, — once
for ten days in 1858 on a trip West, and again in 1873 for a few
days in New York. He was a man of decided convictions, strong
character, and wide reading in his special department of study.
The Doctor died suddenly, October 17, 1873, while visiting a
poor family who needed his services. An interesting and much
more extended notice of him may be found in the cumbersome
" History of Bristol County," pp. 458-460.

Seth Pratt, M.D., son of Lieutenant Seth and of Mindwell
(Stone) Pratt, was born in Easton, March 8, 1780; studied
medicine with Dr. Issachar Snell, of North Bridgewater, and was
a practising physician in Easton until his death. He lived in the
house built about 1745, and used as a residence by the Rev. Solo-
mon Prentice. It was on the east side of Washington Street, just
above Grove Street, in South Easton village, on the exact site of
the house of Mr. Snell. April 7, 1807, Dr. Pratt married Re-
becca, daughter of Lyman and Mercy (WiUiams) Wheelock, and
left three children, — Seth, Erasmus D., and Sarah M., who
married Captain Seneca Hills, of Franklin, Massachusetts, and
is now living with her children at Taunton, Massachusetts. Dr.
Seth Pratt died August 12, 1816; he is spoken of in terms of
high praise as a man and a physician by the Rev. Mr. Sheldon,
who preached his funeral sermon. His widow survived him fifty-



six years, dying October 13, 1871. Dr. Caleb Swan succeeded
to his practice.

Seth Pratt, Jr., M.D., son of Dr. Seth and Rebecca (Whee-
lock) Pratt, was born in Easton, January 12, 1809; studied med-
icine at the Harvard Medical School, and received his diploma
February 25, 1832. He at once located at Myricksville, Massa-
chusetts, and remained there two years. In 1834 he removed to
Assonet village, three miles from his first location. Dr. Pratt
was much interested in the temperance cause, aud delivered lec-
tures upon the subject. His health soon failed him, and he
abandoned his business and returned to Easton, where he died
October 10, 1836.

Daniel L. Randall, M.D., the son of Daniel and Hannah
(Ingalls) Randall, was born in Easton, January 12, 1842. He
attended medical lectures at the Harvard Medical School for
three successive winters, beginning in 1862-63, studying mean-
time with Drs. Caleb Swan and George W. J. Swan. He re-
ceived his diploma from the Medical School July 10, 1865, and
began the regular practice of medicine in Easton shortly after
the death of Dr. George Swan, which occurred January 10, 1S70,
and has continued in practice here ever since.

Menzies Rayner Randall, M.D., son of Daniel and Molly
Randall, was born in Easton, June 10, 1794. He studied medi-
cine with Dr. Caleb Swan, and became his partner, but moved
from Easton to Rehoboth early in the year 1825, and practised
medicine there until a short time before his death. He did not
receive his medical diploma until 1832, when one was given
him by the Harvard Medical School, where he had passed an

Dr. Randall married, first, Eliza Edson, July 3, 1823, who
died January 8, 1833; and March 27, 1834, he married Almira
Guild, who died April 15, 1873 ; he himself died July 23, 1882.
The Doctor had three children. One was Eliza, who was born
in Easton June 15, 1824, and died in Taunton March 18, 1874;
she was the wife of William G. French. Two sons, born in
Rehoboth, are both physicians, — Dr. George A. Randall, who


lives in Rehoboth ; and Dr. D. Fordyce Randall, who follows
his profession in Chesterfield, New Hampshire.

Zephaniah Randall, M.D., the son of Ephraim and Louise
(Stone) Randall, was born in Easton, September 24, 1783, and
was practising medicine as early as 1 816, at which time the town
pays him for doctoring certain poor people. He lived in the
house on the corner of Canton and Main streets, now occupied
by Ziba Randall. Dr. Zephaniah was an eccentric man. If one
went at night to call on him for some medical service, he would
probably be found lying on a buffalo robe on the floor, with his
feet towards the fire, and dressed as in the day-time. Being
called, he would rouse himself, take his large handbox of medi-
cine, and, if not required to go very far, would trudge along on
foot with his summoner. Otherwise he would harness his horse
into his sulky, put on his gray surtout, which was as famous in
a small way as Horace Greeley's old gray coat, and would soon
present himself for action. He was an old-time physician, who
believed in medicines both strong and copious. One soon got
used to the snuff that he sprinkled about as he freely regaled
himself. But it was as well for the patient under his care not
to watch him as he made his pills and rolled them under his
snuffy hands up and down his pantaloons' leg.

Unfortunately Dr. Zephaniah Randall took something stronger
than snuff, and a good deal of it too. In this he fovmd a meet com-
panion in his second wife. His first wife, Hannah Bullard, was
an excellent woman, and one cannot help thinking that had she
lived she might have made an altogether different man of him.
Many a man in Easton, as elsewhere, has owed his character and
success to a good wife ; and here, as elsewhere, some have been
undone by a bad one. Hannah had died in 1822, and ten years
later, September 23, 1832, Dr. Randall married Lucy Gilbert, who
was nearly thirty years his junior, but was older than he in in-
temperate depravity. A sorry couple they looked as they drove
about, — he, full, but self-controlled ; she, maudlin, and redolent
not only with rum, but with essence of peppermint, with lauda-
num, and especially with ether, which the Doctor could not keep
away from her. This bad habit and his filthy ways did not, how-
ever, prevent his having a good practice. People often tolerate


irregularities in a physician that would ruin the reputation of any
one else. They are only " eccentricities," which are supposed
by some persons to add a certain piquancy and interest to a
doctor, but which are sometimes disgraceful moral depravities.
The pure and high-minded regard these eccentricities in their
true light as sins, and would not tolerate them were there other
medical service available. If any man ought to be pure, tem-
perate, and good, it is the physician, who often comes nearer
to the real heart of persons and of homes than even the min-
ister, and who might be a helper not only to the body, but to
the spirit, in noble and Christian ways, in those pathetic scenes
of sickness and sorrow where his duty often calls him.

Dr. Zephaniah would, however, when he had a severe case un-
der treatment, keep sober. There were persons who regarded
him as very skilful, and said that the sight of his old gray sur-
tout did them more good than the learned practice of more edu-
cated doctors. " Dr. Zeph." will long be remembered, and not
without pity, as one of the "characters" of Easton. He died
June 5, 1855.

Frederic J. Ripley, M.D., was born in Easton, November
10, 1858, and is the son of Samuel B. and Rebecca (Bisbee)
Ripley. He graduated from the Easton High School in June,
1876, entered Dartmouth College, and graduated there June 24,
1880. He studied medicine in the Harvard Medical School,
graduating June 27, 1883, and began practice as a physician in
the city of Brockton, September 12 ; was elected city physician
in January, 1884, and re-elected in January, 1885 and 1886, and
served on the Brockton Board of Health as clerk for 1884 and
1885. He is a member of the Massachusetts Medical Society,
and is one of the censors of the Plymouth District Medical

Dr. W. P. Savary, son of Charles P. and Sarah H. Savary,
was born in Groveland, Massachusetts, April 10, 1852. He
began the study of dentistry with Dr. H. E. Wales, of Haver-
hill, Massachusetts, in 1878. In 1881 he was employed as as-
sistant in the office of Dr. Packard, of Brockton, and took up his
residence at North Easton, December 30, 1884, where he still


/ 60

continues in the practice of his profession. August 3, 1879, Dr.
Savary married Alice M. Richardson, of Haverhill ; they have
now three children.

Caleb Swan, M.D., the youngest child of Caleb and Sarah
(Semple) Swan, was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts, Sep-
tember 22, 1793. He entered Harvard University in 181 1, and
graduated in 18 14, maintaining while there, it is said, a credit-
able standing for talent, behavior, and application. Among his
classmates were Dr. James Walker, later president of the Col-
lege, and William H. Prescott the historian. At the age of
twenty-one Caleb Swan began the study of medicine under the
instruction of Dr. Jonathan Wales, Jr., of Randolph, Massachu-
setts, and after obtaining his degree settled in Easton, in the
year 1816, continuing here in the practice of medicine, never
interrupted for more than a week or two by sickness or travel,
for fifty-four years. He died March 18, 1870.

On coming to Easton Dr. Swan began at once to inspire confi-
dence as a physician, and to build up a medical practice that grad-
ually extended beyond the limits of the town, he being often
called for consultation in cases of serious illness for many miles
around. In his later years he showed decided leanings towards
Homoeopathy, and for this reason his name was dropped from
the membership rolls of the Massachusetts Medical Society,
which he had joined in 1833. He was one of the founders of
the Bristol North District Medical Society in 1849, o^ which,
March 10, 1852, he was made president for one year. Four of
his sons have become physicians. His reputation drew many
students into his ofifice, and few doctors have had so large a
number of young men for medical pupils as he.

Dr. Swan became very early identified with various humani-
tarian enterprises. In the great temperance movement of 1826
and the following years he was an active participant, encour-
aging it in every way, being accustomed to make public addres-
ses upon it, — addresses characterized by vigor, point, and good
sense. He was always interested in education, and frequently
spoke upon this topic ; and while he steadily refused all other
offices, he was willing to serve upon the board of school com-
mittee of Easton, in which position he rendered efficient service.


At one time Dr. Swan was interested and prominent in politics,
being in 1840 an earnest supporter of the election of General
Harrison, at the same time declaring that if Harrison was elected
he would join the Liberty Party, afterward known as the Free
Soil Party. This he did, and became a very pronounced Anti-
slavery man. He was a candidate on the Free Soil ticket for
representative to Congress, his principal opponent being Ar-
temus Hale, of Bridgewater, who, after several elections result-
ing in no choice, was finally chosen. Dr. Swan, on the same
party's ticket, ran for governor against N. P. Banks. In 1S65,
being chosen on the ticket of the Republican Party which had
grown out of the Free Soil Party, Dr. Swan served as repre-
sentative in the State Legislature, and in 1867 was chosen a
State senator. He was intensely opposed to the Know Nothing
movement, which swept the State like an epidemic, and had a
most surprising and not yet understood means of knowing what
went on in the secret meetings of that party.

In his intercourse with others Dr. Swan was suave, genial, and
agreeable, a companionable man, and as welcome in a social as
in a professional way in the homes of those who knew him. But
with all his suavity he never yielded a hair's breadth in discus-
sion or action in matters of political principle. In religious
views he was a Swedenborgian. His brother-in-law, the late
George W. Johnson, of Buffalo, New York, under date of 1839,
wrote of him as follows : —

" His heart is in his profession. Like most others of his profession
he possesses great knowledge of men, and tact in managing their
weaknesses. He possesses also a placable and generous temper, is
fond of wit and humor, which he has displayed from a child, and has
few or no enemies. His mind delights in the investigation and dis-
covery of truth. He rejects no theory till he has sounded it and
found it wanting, examining everything for himself. Yet he is no
visionary. His mind is characterized by activity, love of research,
and caution. I believe he had one of the best of hearts."

Caleb Swan was three times married, first to Ruth Barrell, of
East Bridgewater, October 3, 18 16, who died January 13, 1830.
He was again married, February 14, 1831, to Louisa S. John-
son, of Enfield, New Hampshire, who died September 6, i860.



He had four children by his first, seven by his second, and none
by his last marriage. Four of the children died before coming
to maturity, and two afterward. Four of his sons became phy-
sicians, and one a lawyer. Of the two daughters now livin

Online LibraryWilliam L. (William Ladd) ChaffinHistory of the town of Easton, Massachusetts (Volume 3) → online text (page 67 of 78)