William L. (William Ladd) Chaffin.

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

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not help them. He also claims that he can do as well in one
disease as in another, and that he can treat forty patients in
a day, and suffer no exhaustion therefrom. The Doctor has a
very extensive and lucrative practice.



Dr. AsAHEL Smith, son of Michael and Betsy (Crane) Smith,
of Canton, was born in Bradford, New Hampshire, July 25, 1814.
He began to practise the healing art in Easton, in the year 1850.
His method is called clairvoyance, a species of trance, by means
of which he claims to diagnose diseases. His remedies are
chiefly botanical specifics. Dr. Smith married Almira Gilbert,
of Sharon, and they have had ten children.

Dr. William B. Webster, son of Isaac and Betsy (French)
Webster, was born in Stark, Maine, June 11, 1832. His parents
removed to North Bridgewater in 1838, where he continued to
live, though they subsequently returned to Maine. Mr. Webster
was for several years a shoemaker ; but fourteen years ago he
began the practice of medicine in Easton, claiming to diagnose
diseases by means of clairvoyance. His remedies are mainly
botanical, and he is said to prepare them with great care. March
31, 1858, he married Mary Jane, daughter of Levi and Rachel
(Sumner) French, of North Bridgewater, who was born August
12, 1836. They have one child, a son.

Dr. John P. Wilson, son of Eliphalet and Almira (Randall)
Wilson, was born in Easton, October 19, 1837. Mr. Wilson
became quite early a clairvoyant physician. During a sick-
ness, in which he was treated by Dr. Asahel Smith, the latter
suggested to him that he might develop this clairvoyant power
and make his living by its exercise. The suggestion was
adopted. Mr. Wilson practised upon the West Bridgewater
people for a short apprenticeship of six months, in 1857. In
1858 he began the same treatment in Easton, living in Poquan-
ticut until about twelve years ago. He then moved to Mansfield,
where he set up a drug store, which he carries on in connection
with his practice. December 6, 1864, he enlisted as a soldier,
and went into camp at Readville ; was not however called to the
front, but was discharged May 12, 1865. November 25, 1858,
Mr. Wilson married Susan L, Buck. They have had seven
children, four of whom are living.

Before concluding this chapter four other persons ought to be
briefly mentioned, inasmuch as they have assumed or acquired
the title of doctor.



One of them was Dr. Joseph Belcher, a son of the Rev.
Joseph Belcher, of Easton. Doctor Belcher early became a resi-
dent of Stoughton, was a volunteer in the French and Indian
War, and gained what little reputation he enjoyed as a physician
" by preparing eye-water and a medicine for rickets, either of his
own invention or from a recipe which he got from some one
else. His daughter, Mrs. Israel Guild, continued to make eye-
water until within my time." ^

On page 458 of the " History of Bristol County " the statement
is made that James L. Perry, son of Dr. James Perry, was a
doctor of dental surgery. The writer can discover no sufficient
evidence that this statement is true. The real fact is that James
Leonard Perry was what would now be designated as a veteri-
nary surgeon, but what half a century ago was plainly called a
"horse doctor." He kept an inn on the Bay road, south of
Easton, and afterward lived in Mansfield, near Easton, at both
of which places he carried on his business with success, and
gained high repute in his art for many miles around. He was
born in Easton, March 9, 1802, married November 20, 1825,
Phebe N. Hodges, of Norton, who died April 18, 1848. He died
March 8, 1 878.

Washington L. Ames, now of Bridgewater, prefixes to his
signature the title of doctor. This is assumed on account of his
having practised as a veterinary surgeon. Mr. Ames, the son of
Jotham and Polly (Lothrop) Ames, was born in Easton, July 20,
18 1 2. He has made his home in Bridgewater for many years-
There is one other native of Easton, claiming the title of
doctor, to whom we ought perhaps at least to allude before clos-
ing this chapter. This person was a woman, who practised one
branch of medical science, but whose career is clouded with
infamy, and whom it will be better to leave nameless.

Residents of Easton have no doubt observed that the writer has
maintained a judicious silence in regard to more than one person
who has been noticed in this chapter. Let not his silence, however,
be interpreted as indifference concerning the gross immoralities
he has left unmentioned, for such things cannot be thought of by
any true man or woman without deep sorrow and indignation.

1 From a letter of Newton Talbot, Esq., of Boston, to the writer.




Edmund Andrews. — James P. Barlow. — John Augustus Bolles.

— Daniel F. Buckley. — Charles H. Deans. — George W. Deans.

— Frederic V. Fuller. — Henry J. Fuller. — Cyrus Lothrop. —
George Van Ness Lothrop. — John J. O'Connell. — Jason
Reed. — Edward Selee. — Louis C. Southard. — Charles L.
Swan. — Daniel Wheaton. — George Wheaton. — Henry G.
Wheaton. — Guilford White.

THIS chapter will give some account of the lawyers who were
native to or have practised their profession in Easton.
They are mentioned in alphabetical order.

Edmund Andrews is the first resident of Easton who is
positively known to have practised the profession of the law,
being the attorney chosen by the Baptists to defend their cause
when several of them were arrested and imprisoned in 1764 for
refusing to pay the ministerial rates for the support of the town
church. Edmund was a son of Capt. Edmund Andrews, of
Taunton, and in October, 1742, he married Keziah Dean and
moved to Norton, where he resided until after 1746, coming to
Easton probably not long after 1750, He saw some service in
the French and Indian War. Mr. Andrews did not have much
legal business, but turned his hand to farming and innkeeping,
being licensed for the latter from 1761 to 1773. His house was
on what is now Poquanticut Avenue, not far from its northern
end. His name is found on the tax-lists for the northwest quar-
ter of the town until 1784, when it no longer appears, and he
must then have died or moved away, — probably the latter, as
no record of his death appears, and none of his family were left


James P. Barlow was born in Easton, February 22, 1863,
and graduated from the Easton High School in June, 1879.
For five years afterward he was working most of the time in
shoe-shops in Brockton. October i, 1884, he entered the Boston
University Law School, from which he graduated June 2, 1886.
He took the Suffolk Bar examination June 19 of the same year,
and was admitted to practise law July 20.

John Augustus Bolles was a resident of Easton while a
member of Brown University, for a time taught school in the
No. 2 schoolhouse, and in 1831 was librarian of the Methodist
Social Library. He was the eighth child ^ of the Rev. Matthew
and Anna (Hibbard) Bolles; was born in Ashford, now Eastford,
Connecticut, April 16, 1809; graduated at Brown University,
Providence, Rhode Island, 1829; Master of Arts, 1832 ; subse-
quently made LL.D. ; admitted to the Boston Bar in 1833; Sec-
retary of State of Massachusetts, 1843 ; member of the Board
of Education ; Commissioner of Boston Harbor and Back Bay,
1852 ; and Judge-Advocate Seventh Army Corps, 1862. He was
on the stafifof his brother-in-law, Maj.-Gen. John A. Dix, until the
close of the Civil War, and then went into the Navy Department
as Judge-Advocate, remaining there until his death, which oc-
curred May 25, 1878. Mr. Bolles was the author of a prize essay
on a Congress of Nations, published by the American Peace
Society ; of an essay on Usury and Usury Laws, published by
the Boston Chamber of Commerce, and which led to the suspen-
sion of the usury laws on short bills of exchange; of various
articles in the North American Review, Christian Examiner,
Christian Review, New England Magazine, and other periodicals,
and was the first editor of the Boston Daily Journal.

November 11, 1834, Mr. Bolles married Catherine Hartwell
Dix, daughter of Col. Timothy Dix, of Boscawen, New Hamp-
shire ; they had six children, one of whom, Timothy Dix, is
lieutenant in the United States Navy, and another, Frank, is
connected with Harvard College,

Daniel F. Buckley was born in Easton, December 3, 1864,
and graduated from the High School of Easton in 1881; studied

1 The above facts were kindly furnished the writer by Matthew Bolles, Esq., of
Boston, brother of John A. Bolles.


law at the Boston University Law School, from which he grad-
uated in the class of 1885. Mr. Buckley was admitted to the
Bar at Taunton, April 30, 1886.

Charles Henry Deans, son of Dr. Samuel and of Hannah
LeBaron (Wheaton) Deans, was born in Easton, May 2, 1832.
He pursued a course of classical study in the Academy in New
Hampton, N. H., for four years, and entered in 1854 the Sopho-
more class of Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island. At
the close of this year his health failed, and he was obliged to
leave college without graduating, — his class graduating in 1857.
Subsequently to leaving college he studied law with Samuel B.
Noyes, Esq., and with Ellis Ames, Esq., of Canton, Mass., being
admitted to the Bar of Bristol County in 1858. He immediately
opened an office in West Medway, where he has continued in the
practice of his profession to the present time. Mr. Deans served
the Government two years during the Civil War as commissioner
on the Board of Enrollment, has held the office of trial justice
for twenty years, and served on the school board for eighteen
years, being still a member. He is also a trustee of the Med-
way Savings Bank, being one of its original petitioners for a
charter, and for fourteen years has been president of the New
England Awl and Needle Company, a position he still holds.
He has also been president of the Evergreen Cemetery Asso-
ciation since its incorporation in 1871. November 21, 1861,
Mr. Deans married Mary M. Harris, of Westborough. They
have had five children, all of whom are living. The eldest, who
is their only son, Harris Wheaton Deans, is now in business at
Jamaica Plain.

George Wheaton Deans, son of Dr. Samuel and Hannah
LeBaron (Wheaton) Deans, was born in Easton, May 29, 1827.
He was two years in Brown University, studied law in the Har-
vard Law School, went to California in 1849, where he stayed
about four years, having some success in mining. He returned
to Taunton about 1855 and practised law, but after two years
went into the hardware business in Boston, and made money.
In the hard times beginning in 1872 he suffered reverses, and
finally abandoned mercantile pursuits and returned to his profes-


sion, which he practised in Jacksonville, Florida, whither he went
on account of his health. George W. Deans married, January
25, 1855, Nancy Shaw Richards, of Dedham. Of their three
children, one alone, George DeWolf Deans, survives, who lives
in Boston.

Frederic V. Fuller, son of Henry J. and Rebecca (Vincent)
Fuller, was born in Easton, September 9, 1863. He studied one
year at Harvard College, and then left it to enter the Law School
of the Boston University, from which he graduated in 1884. He
was admitted to the Bar September 9, 1884, the day he became
twenty-one years old. Mr. Fuller is associated with his father
in the practice of the law in Taunton. February 2, 1886, he
married Ettie C. Strange, of Taunton.

Henry J. Fuller, son of Harrison and Mary (Morse) Fuller,
was born in Mansfield, May 5, 1834. He fitted for college at
the East Greenwich Academy, entered the Wesleyan University
at Middletown, Conn., in 1853, and graduated with one of the
honors of the class in 1857. He had intended to enter the min-
istry, but was induced by his room-mate to study law ; spent
some time in the law-office of Mr. Hyde, at Worcester, studied a
year in the law school at Albany, N. Y., and completed his stud-
ies in the office of Ellis Ames, Esq., of Canton. Mr. Fuller
was admitted to the Bar April 10, i860, in the Supreme Court
at Dedham. At the urgent request of Ellis Ames he then went
to Easton to assist him in closing up some cases in which
Mr. Ames had engaged with Edward Selee, who had practised
law here a short time and had just died. Mr. Fuller remained
in Easton seven years, removing to Taunton April 13, 1867,
where he has since followed his profession. Both in Easton
and Taunton Mr. Fuller served several years on the school
board, and at least at the former place was the terror of back-
ward scholars, whose intellects under his close questioning were
soon put to hopeless confusion. He has been a trustee of the
Public Library at Taunton, and has been a member of the city
government for several years, but has held no other important
official positions, wisely deeming it best for him to attend strictly
to his profession. This will account for his high standing therein


and the excellent success he has secured. Mr. Fuller is a
man of character and ability, and one of the leading citizens
of Taunton.

November 9, 1862, Henry J. Fuller was married to Rebecca
J. Vincent, of Edgartovvn. She died March 31, 1872. He has
two children, both sons, and natives of Easton ; the older one
has just been spoken of ; the younger one, Albert, is now a
senior in Harvard College.

Cyrus Lothrop, the son of Edmund and of Betty (Howard)
Lothrop, was born in Easton, in 1789, graduated from Brown
University in 18 10, and subsequently graduated from the Litch-
field Law School. He married, probably in 18 14, Abby W.,
daughter of Dea. John Seabury, of Taunton, Mass. She was
born May 22, 1795, and died in her native town, Nov. 22, 1851,
a lady of great personal excellence and worth. ^ Mr. Lothrop
was a lawyer of ability. The elaborate and eulogistic inscription
upon his tombstone, however, is to be read with caution. His
death was the result of an accident by which he was thrown
from his carriage; this accident occurred in Taunton, May 21,

George Van Ness Lothrop, attorney-at-law, Detroit, son
of Howard and Sally (Williams) Lothrop, was born in Easton,
August 8, 1817.^ His early years were spent on his father's
farm. After an academical course he entered Brown University,
and graduated in the year 1838. In the fall of the same year he
entered the Law School of Harvard University, then in charge
of Judge Story and Professor Greenleaf In the summer of 1839,
being somewhat out of health, Mr. Lothrop came to Prairie
Ronde, Kalamazoo County, Michigan, where his brother, the
Hon. Edwin H. Lothrop, a man of note in the State politics
and government of Michigan, owned and cultivated an extensive
and productive farm. Here intermitting his studies, he spent
most of his time for two or three years in practical farming, and
in building up his health.

^ Lathrop Family Memoir, p. 342.

2 For this admirable sketch of the life and character of Mr. Lothrop, the writer
is indebted to D. Bethune Dufi&eld, Esq., of Detroit, Michigan.




In the spring of 1843 Mr. Lothrop came to Detroit, and
resumed the study of the law in the office of Joy & Porter, then
prominent members of the Bar of that city. The first case he
ever argued was before the Supreme Court of the State, prior
to his admission to the Bar, special leave being granted by the
court for the purpose. It was the celebrated case of the Michi-
gan State Bank against Hastings and others.^ So ably was
the case presented by the young student, that the members of
the court did not hesitate openly to express their admiration
of the effort, and to predict for him that brilliant career which
he has since realized. In the spring of 1844 he began to prac-
tise in Detroit as a law partner of D. Bethune Dufifield, Esq.,
under the firm name of Lothrop & Dufifield, which continued
until 1856.

In April, 1848, Mr. Lothrop was appointed attorney-general
of the State, — the former attorney-general, Hon. Edward Mun-
day, having been appointed to a seat on the Supreme Bench
of the State, — and held the ofifice until January, 185 1. Some
excitement occurring about this time, in consequence of a real
or supposed purpose on the part of the Roman Catholics in
Detroit to secure a portion of the school funds for the benefit of
their schools, Mr. Lothrop enlisted earnestly in a popular move-
ment to counteract the scheme. An independent ticket for city
officers was the result, and he became the nominee for recorder
of the city, being triumphantly elected to a position for which
he certainly could have no personal ambition. Mr. Lothrop has
two or three times received the vote of the Democratic members
of the State Legislature for United States Senator, and was a
member of the State Constitutional Convention of 1867, the
records of which bear abundant evidence of his position and
influence in that body. The Legislature of 1873 authorized the
appointment of a committee to prepare amendments to the Con-
stitution of the State ; and the Governor, Hon. John J. Bagley,
looking to both political parties for members of the commission,
recognized Mr. Lothrop's position in his party by appointing him
to a seat in the body. This, however, was respectfully declined.

For twenty-five years Mr. Lothrop has been general attorney
of the Michigan Central Railroad Company, and still continues

1 See I Douglass's Michigan Reports, p. 225.


to be their adviser, besides being also a trusted adviser of many
other corporations. He is essentially a man of work, — idleness
is unknown to him ; and as the fruit of such a life of industry
he enjoys a moderately large fortune. From the time of his
entrance upon active professional life (1844) Mr. Lothrop has
enjoyed a wide celebrity throughout Michigan as a lawyer,
politician, and cultured, courteous, and honorable gentleman.
His legal record runs through the entire catalogue of Michigan
Reports, embracing a period of more than thirty-five years.

Mr. Lothrop very early became a representative man in the
Democratic party ; and had that party remained in power, a seat
in the Senate of the United States would have been tendered
him, unsolicited. Indeed, he has, by a prevailing sentiment,
been looked upon as having a right to the best positions, and
has been the standard by which other public men have been
measured in the field of legal learning, eloquence, and general
attainments. No man in the State is his superior as an orator.
He possesses a peculiar charm of voice and manner ; and that
which with some advocates would in the energy of forensic
appeal seem bitterness, with him is simple earnestness. A true
chivalry seems to inspire Mr. Lothrop's every act. Without
ever being time-serving, but always obeying conviction regard-
less of consequences, he yet has never been unpopular, — al-
though this species of valor would appear to be fatal to most
public men. If ambitious, ambition has been his servant, not
his master. A change of political profession with the turn of
political tide would have secured for him the highest honors ;
but he believed in the principles of the Democratic Party, and
his views must change before a shred of his political gar-
ment could change. Mr. Lothrop twice led the forlorn hope
of his party as their candidate for Congress in his district,
when the power of the opposition was so overwhelming that
defeat was a foregone conclusion. He led the Michigan dele-
gation at the Charleston National Convention, in i860; and
it may also be said that he led the Douglas sentiment in
that body, where he was pitted against the ablest as well as
the most inveterate and malignant champions of that political
schism which was the first really audible muttering of the
storm that in less than a year burst upon the country. In


that emergency Mr. Lothrop maintained his ground with a
courage and constancy that would have suffered martyrdom
rather than yield a principle. He believed that a vital principle
was at stake, and did not hesitate to characterize the disorgan-
izing element in the convention as the premeditated secession
and treason which it subsequently proved to be.

Mr. Lothrop gave a cordial support to all just and necessary
measures of the Government during the war, but not to those
that he considered unjust. At the time of Mr. Vallandigham's
arrest Mr. Lothrop addressed a public meeting in Detroit in
protest against it, not that he would shield Mr. Vallandigham
from the just consequences of his acts, but that all should be
done according to law and not in defiance of it. He understood
the professional bearing of the case, and regarded the occasion
as seriously imperilling the most sacred rights if a citizen could
be arrested by a mere military order, and subjected to pains and
penalties without even being permitted the benefit of a remedial
writ. Many a man in his position would have shrunk from
taking this stand at a time when not only partisan spirit ran
high, but when to oppose the popular sentiment was deemed
little short of treason. But personal considerations were prob-
ably not regarded by Mr. Lothrop. He was a sentinel on the
watch-tower of the law ; the law was everything, — he was
nothing in comparison.

In 1885, after Mr. Cleveland's administration came into power,
Mr. Lothrop was appointed United States Minister to Russia, —
a position which his ability and learning, his known worth of
character and the dignity of his bearing, qualify him to fill with
exceptional honor to the country he represents. He now resides
at St. Petersburg with his wife and daughters.

May 13, 1847, Mr. Lothrop married Almira, daughter of Gen-
eral Oliver and Anna (Chapin) Strong ; they have had six chil-
dren, — George Howard, Charles Bradley, Henry Brown, Annie
Strong, Cyrus Edwin, and Helen Ames. ■ Their first child, George
Howard, died in infancy.

John J. O'Connell was born in Easton, October 2, i860.
In September, 1875, he entered the college of St. Sulpice, Mon-
treal, Canada, a preparatory seminary for those desiring to enter


the clerical state. Here he spent three years, when in Septem-
ber, 1878, he entered Boston College, where he graduated and
received the degree of Bachelor of Arts, the third of Easton's
sons to receive the honor from the same institution of learning.
In October of the same year he began to read law at the Boston
University Law School, and after three years of study received
a diploma from that institution and was admitted to the Bar.
He was admitted to practise at the Bristol County Bar in June,
1885, June 19, 1886, Mr. O'Connell received an appointment
to a clerkship in the Law division of the Treasury department
at Washington.

Jason Reed, son of the Rev. William and Olive (Pool) Reed,
was born in Easton, October 14, 1794. Evincing a taste for
study quite early, his father began fitting him for college, but
was interrupted by death, after which Jason's preparation was
completed by his uncle, the Rev. David Gurney, of Middlebor-
ough ; and entering Harvard in 18 12 he graduated in 18 16. Hav-
ing chosen the law for a profession, he began a course of study
with the Hon. William Morton Davis, of Plymouth, Massachu-
setts, completing it with the Hon. Frederic Allen, of Hallowell,
Maine, and was admitted to the Bar in 1820. He began law-
practice in Jefferson, Maine, soon afterward, but the climate
proving too severe for his health he removed to Lexington,
Massachusetts. Mr. Reed married. May 19, 1824, Nancy Eliza-
beth Coates, of Milton, daughter of Ezra Coates, Esq. His
health declining, he was forced to engage in a more active out-
of-door life and abandon the profession which he loved. In
1836 he went to Milton, purchased the estate of his late father-
in-law, and lived there the remainder of his life. Mr. Reed
held several offices in Milton, — was town clerk for over thirty
years, and town treasurer for seventeen years ; was a member of
the school committee, and for several years a member of the
Legislature. He was also for many years secretary and treas-
urer of the Milton Unitarian Society, and was universally loved
and respected by his townsmen as a man of unswerving integ-
rity and kindly courtesy. Only a year or two ago in his memory
they named a road cut through his estate the " Reedsdale " road.
Mrs, Reed died February 18, 1873. Mr. Reed was stricken with

Online LibraryWilliam L. (William Ladd) ChaffinHistory of the town of Easton, Massachusetts (Volume 3) → online text (page 68 of 78)