William Richard Cutter.

Encyclopedia of Massachusetts, biographical--genealogical (Volume 7) online

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3 1833 00083 6046

Digitized by the Internet Archive

in 2010 with funding from

Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center

jEtttiiclopeftta cf jlassachusetts

Biographical — Genealogical

Compiled with the Assistance of a

Capable Corps of Advisers and Contributors




Both justice and decency require that we should bestow on our forefathers
an honorable remembrance — Thucydides




RHODES, Marcus Arnold


The Rhodes family has been a con-
tinuous one in Massachusetts for more
than two hundred and seventy-five years,
members of which in succeeding gen-
erations have given a good account of
themselves in the business and social life
of the communities in which they have
abided, rising to useful and substantial
citizenship, and as well to responsible
public trust. This article is to particu-
larly treat of the branch of this family to
which belonged the late Marcus Morton
Rhodes, of Taunton, Massachusetts, one
of the highly honored and respected
citizens of that community, and who was
the head of a family which has figured so
conspicuously in the business history of
that city, the father of sons whose careers
have been marked in industrial, moral
and social circles, and whose generous
deeds and good citizenship are univer-
sally conceded and commended. The an-
cestral line of this branch of this family,
from the first American ancestor, which
follows, is given in chronological order,
the Roman numerals indicating the

(I) Henry Rhodes, born in 1608, in
England, is of record at Lynn, Massa-
chusetts, in 1640, where he was an iron-
monger, residing on the east side of the
Saugus river, and some of his descend-
ants still reside in that section. He mar-
ried Elizabeth , and his family

comprised children, as follows : Eleazer,
born in February, 1641 ; Samuel, Febru-
ary, 1643, married, in 1684, Abigail
Coates; Joseph, January, 1645, married,

in 1674, Jane Coates ; Joshua, April, 1648,
married, in 1678, Ann Graves; Josiah,
mentioned below; Jonathan, May, 1654;
and Elizabeth, 1657.

(II) Josiah Rhodes, son of Henry and
Elizabeth Rhodes, was born in April,
1651, and married, in 1673, Elizabeth
Coates, and to this union were born chil-
dren as follows: Henry, 1674; Eliza-
beth, 1676; Mary, 1677, died in infancy;
John, 1679, died in infancy; Josiah, Jr.,
1681; Eleazer, July 8, 1683; J°hn (2),
March 22, 1685; Mary (2), March 26,
1687; and Jonathan, September 18, 1692.

(III) Eleazer Rhodes, son of Josiah
and Elizabeth (Coates) Rhodes, was
born July 8, 1683, and married, November
21, 1710, Jemima Preble, and to this
union were born children : John, Sep-
tember 9, 171 1 ; Jemima, December 19,
1712; Eleazer, Jr., January 16, 1714-15;
Stephen, mentioned below; Josiah, 1718;
Mary (Lynn vital records say Sarah),
August 24, 1719; Joseph, September 8,
1721 ; Benjamin, 1723; Elizabeth, May
26, 1726; Samuel, April 24, 1728; Joshua,
August 19, 1730; and Mary, April 14,
1733. Eleazer Rhodes removed with his
family to Stoughtonham, about 1720, and
was constable in that town in 1725-26,
and there died in 1742, his widow being
administratrix of his estate.

(IV) Stephen Rhodes, son of Eleazer
and Jemima (Preble) Rhodes, was born
February 1, 1716-17, in Lynn, Massachu-
setts, and married (intentions published
October 25, 1740) Deliverance Walcot,
who was born November 15, 1724,
daughter of William Walcot, of Attle-
boro, Massachusetts. Their children
were : Stephen, Jr., mentioned below ;


Daniel, Simeon, and Deliverance. The
father died January 23, 1792, and the
mother September 4, 1804.

(V) Stephen (2) Rhodes, son of Ste-
phen (1) and Deliverance (Walcot)
Rhodes, married, January 18, 1764, Mary
Boyden, who was born May II, 1744, of
Walpole, Massachusetts, and their chil-
dren were : Millie, who married a Mr.
Plimpton ; Mary, born August 24, 1767,
married Jesse Pratt ; Aaron, who married
Mary Wilkinson ; and Stephen, men-
tioned below. Stephen Rhodes, Jr., died
in 1770, inventory of his estate being
taken by John Boyden. He is of record
as having enlisted in February, 1760, for
service in the French and Indian War.
His widow married for her second hus-
band, on November 24, 1775, Asa Morse.

(VI) Stephen (3) Rhodes, son of Ste-
phen (2) and Mary (Boyden) Rhodes,
was born October 17, 1769, and married
(first) Anna (Daniels) Carpenter, who
was born March 27, 1763, daughter of
Francis Daniels, and widow of Nehemiah
Carpenter, of Foxboro, Massachusetts.
The children born of this union were:
Achsah, April 14, 1793, died October 30,
1795; Stephen, mentioned below; Susan,
born May 10, 1797, married Ira Fair-
banks, and died in 1864; Anna, July 5,
1799, married John Corey; Mary, March
20, 1804, married Ira French. Stephen
(3) Rhodes married (second) March 20,
181 5, Polly Carpenter, and she died April
9, 1839, the mother of the following chil-
dren : Catherine, born March 12, 1816,
who married William Payson ; Maria,
November 1, 1817, who married Stephen
Coleman ; Martha, December 4, 1819,
who married William Hitchcock; Eliza-
beth C, May 20, 1824, who married a Mr.
Greene; and Sarah, January 9, 1828, who
died January 3, 1839.

(VII) Stephen (4) Rhodes, son of Ste-
phen (3) and Anna (Daniels-Carpenter)

Rhodes, was born March 15, 1795. He
was for many years connected with the
straw hat industry, prominently identi-
fied with Foxboro's industrial history.
In 1835, with his family, he removed to
Taunton, Massachusetts, and there went
into the tack manufacturing business,
under the firm name of S. Rhodes & Son,
his son, Marcus M. Rhodes, being con-
nected with him in this enterprise. They
were among the first promoters of the
industry that subsequently caused Taun-
ton to be widely noted as the home of
tack making. The business was estab-
lished at Brittanniaville, the original site
being that of the present plant of the
Reed & Barton Company, occupying a
part of the same building with the
original silverware concern. Both con-
cerns grew and prospered, and as a con-
sequence the Rhodes works had to seek
new quarters, establishing itself on Union
street. Mr. Rhodes died in Taunton,
October 24, 1874. On January 1, 1817,
he married Betsey Bird, who was born
July 10, 1795, daughter of Elijah and
Sarah (Pratt) Bird, of Foxboro, Massa-
chusetts (see Bird VI and Pratt VI). To
this union were born the following chil-
dren : 1. Lavinia, born October 17, 1817.
2. Lucretia M., born September 2, 1819,
died November 21, 1878. 3. Marcus Mor-
ton, mentioned below. 4. Stephen Hol-
brook, born November 7, 1825 ; married
Elizabeth M. Godfrey; he was for many
years prominent in the affairs of Taun-
ton, where he was a member of the Board
of Aldermen, and mayor of the city, later
becoming president of the John Hancock
Insurance Company, of Boston. 5. Mary
Bird, born April 30, 1829. 6. John Corey,
born October 10, 183 1 ; married (first)
Sarah B. Perrigo, and (second) Caroline
M. Jewett ; he was for many years a
prominent manufacturer in New Bed-
ford, Massachusetts, where he passed


away, July 15, 1916. 7. Almira Eliza-
beth, born February 3, 1835. 8. Ellen
Frances, born December 30, 1839.

(VIII) Marcus Morton Rhodes, son of
Stephen (4) and Betsey (Bird) Rhodes,
was born January 22, 1822, in Foxboro,
Massachusetts, and acquired his educa-
tion in the common schools of Franklin,
Foxboro and Taunton, and at the high
school and Bristol Academy, of Taunton.
After leaving school, he entered the tack
factory of his father, where he familiar-
ized himself with the details of the trade
of making tacks and nails. At the age
of twenty-one years he was taken into
partnership with his father, becoming a
member of the firm of S. Rhodes & Son.
In the middle fifties the business was
transferred to the Taunton Tack Com-
pany, and Marcus M. Rhodes then
started a new enterprise, the Dighton
Manufacturing Company, engaged in the
manufacture of tacks, of which he was
agent and treasurer. A foible of feminine
fashion which prevailed at that time gave
a field for the making of hoop skirt trim-
mings, which were a side line with the
manufacture of tacks. This plant was in
lower Dighton, opposite Berkley, on the
Taunton river. In 1872, Mr. Rhodes
established himself in the button manu-
facturing industry, with which he was
prominently identified throughout the re-
mainder of his long and active life. Up
to that time the shoe industry flourished
in this part of Massachusetts, it being the
day of the small shoe shops, which were
scattered through the country in this
section, but there had been a handicap as
a result of the necessity of importing all
the shoe buttons from the foreign coun-
tries, France supplying most of them.
Realizing the commercial value of a ma-
chine that would turn out this line of
buttons, Mr. Rhodes, who had an in-
genious inventive faculty, set to work in

this direction. A button works had been
started in Connecticut, with an American
designed machine, but the device had
many imperfections, which rendered the
enterprise a failure, and it had been aban-
doned. Mr. Rhodes was more fortunate;
the machine he invented for the purpose
of making shoe buttons from papier-
mache proved a success, and thereby the
first successful shoe button manufactory
in this country was established by him,
under the firm name of M. M. Rhodes &
Sons. Shoe hooks and other accessories
were also manufactured for the trade by
this new concern, which grew and pros-
pered from the beginning, under the
direction of Mr. Rhodes. His sons were
associated with him in the business, which
was incorporated under the laws of Mas-
sachusetts, in 1888, as the M. M. Rhodes
& Sons Company, of which he became
president, continuing in that capacity un-
til his death.

Aside from his manufacturing enter-
prises, Mr. Rhodes always displayed an
active interest in civic affairs. He was
one of the leading townsmen at the time
the town government of Taunton was
abandoned, and he had no opposition for
a place on the original City Council,
when the city form of government was
created, in 1865. At this time Taunton
was also considering the establishing of
a water works system, and the following
year Mr. Rhodes was elected a member
of the board of water commissioners, by
which board the present water system
was established. He served for three
years in this capacity, declining a re-
election. In his younger days he was
connected with the old Taunton Volun-
teer Fire Department, of which he was a
member, and for several years was cap-
tain of the old "Union Company, No. 1 ,"
a hand-tub, with a history earned under
Mr. Rhodes' captaincy that was credit-


able for efficiency, and which was situ-
ated at a station at the foot of Union
street, in the vicinity of the home he
occupied for many years on Cedar street.
Besides these offices, he was for many
years a member of the board of directors
of the Taunton National Bank, and of
the Taunton-New Bedford Copper Com-

Mr. Rhodes was always held in high
esteem in the community. He was of a
kind-hearted, benevolent disposition, his
benefactors being many and of the sort
that carried no ostentation in the giving.
"He was," as a close friend said, in
speaking of his death, "a man who was
always looking for an opportunity to do
a kind act for somebody." He found
these even to the last months of his life,
and there are many who have special
occasion to mourn him personally, by the
loss of a benefactor. Mr. Rhodes had
lived during the administration of all but
the first four United States presidents.
He had watched the growth of this coun-
try from the days when the Ohio Valley
was the frontier in the West, as the popu-
lation spread by degrees to the Pacific,
and increased from less than ten million
people to over one hundred million. To
the very last day of his life he was
blessed with an intellect that was un-
clouded by any infirmities that often
follow advanced age, and his memory of
the improvements and advancements
made in various lines during his recol-
lections made him a particularly inter-
esting conversationalist, especially when
he talked of his impressions of the
advance that man had made in procur-
ing conveniences and methods for im-
proved living conditions during the
marvelously developing nine decades of
history over which his life had extended.
Mr. Rhodes devoted his personal atten-
tion to his business affairs until within

a few months of his death, visiting the
factory every day until the infirmities of
age became more marked.

On November n, 1845, Mr. Rhodes
was united in marriage to Rowena A.
Williams, who was born November 16,
1825. She was the daughter of George
W. and Rowena C. (Wilbur) Williams,
the former of whom died in Taunton, Au-
gust 19, 1858, aged sixty-nine years, and
the latter July 23, 1892, in the eighty-
eighth year of her age. To Mr. and Mrs.
Rhodes were born three sons, namely :
1. Charles Marcus, born October 6, 1846,
married Annie B. Haskins, and they re-
side in Taunton. 2. George Holbrook,
mentioned below. 3. Albert Clinton, born
April 9, 1857, married Cora E. Dyer, and
they reside at Clifton Springs, New

Mr. Rhodes passed away at his home
on Cedar street, Taunton, Massachusetts,
March 23, 1916, in the ninety-fifth year
of his age. He was a member of no fra-
ternal organizations, but for many years
and until its dissolution was connected
with the Trinitarian Society. He was an
active member of the Old Colony His-
torical Society. In political faith he was
first an old line Whig, and upon the
formation of the Republican party, in
1856, he became identified with the latter
political party. He was the last survivor
of Taunton's original City Council, of
which body he was a member in 1865, in
which year the city government was
established. The Taunton "Gazette," of
March 23, 1916, in speaking of the death
of Mr. Rhodes, editorially, said :

Taunton loses one of its grand old men in the
passing of Mr. Marcus M. Rhodes. A leading
manufacturer, a useful and honorable citizen,
his many years of active life placed him in close
touch with all the elements working to build up
the city, and his influence and his moral and
financial support were always found quietly con-


Vy m







cerned in every worth-while movement. His
later years, going far beyond the span of life
usually allotted to man, were spent in enjoying
that quiet repose which is all the more enjoy-
able when it is compassed by the wholesome
and united respect of one's fellow citizens, as in
the case of Mr. Rhodes.

(IX) George Holbrook Rhodes, sec-
ond son of Marcus Morton and Rowena
A. (Williams) Rhodes, was born August
ii, 1848, in Taunton, Massachusetts.
His educational training was acquired in
the public schools of his native town,
graduating from the high school, in 1866,
the year following the incorporation of
Taunton as a city. After leaving school
he entered the factory of his father, and
in 1872, when his father organized the
firm of M. M. Rhodes & Sons, he was
admitted to partnership. In 1888, when
the concern was incorporated as the M.
M. Rhodes & Sons Company, Mr. Rhodes
was elected treasurer of the corporation,
which official position he continued to
hold until his death. In political faith
Mr. Rhodes was a staunch Republican,
and served his native city as a member
of the Common Council from 1877 to
1886, inclusive, during which service he
was for the last four years president of
that body. He was president of the City
Council at the time the high school
building was erected, and by virtue of his
office as president of the Council was also
a trustee of the public library, and a
member of the school committee. Mr.
Rhodes never sought any other public
office, although he was on various
occasions solicited to become a candidate
for various public positions, but always
declined, preferring to give his undivided
attention to his business interests. He
was a director of the Taunton National
Bank, a trustee of the Taunton Savings
Bank, and a trustee of Morton Hospital
for a number of years, in all of which

capacities he gave valued and efficient

Mr. Rhodes was an active and promi-
nent member of the Masonic fraternity,
having attained the highest degree in
that organization, having been elevated
to the thirty-third degree, September 21,
1897. He was a member and past wor-
shipful master of Charles H. Titus Lodge,
Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, of
Taunton ; a member of Keystone Chap-
ter, Royal Arch Masons, of Foxboro,
Massachusetts ; a member and past emi-
nent commander of St. John's Command-
ery, Knights Templar, of Providence,
Rhode Island ; and a member of the Mas-
sachusetts Consistory, thirty-second de-
gree, of Boston. He was one of the
trustees of the Masonic Education and
Charity Trust of the Grand Lodge of
Massachusetts, elected in December,
1895, to serve eight years, and reelected
in 1902 for another term of eight years.
He was also treasurer of the Taunton
Masonic Corporation. While not hold-
ing office in the institution, Mr. Rhodes
was for many years very actively inter-
ested in Wheaton Seminary, and the
present Wheaton College, at Norton,
Massachusetts. For a period of twelve
years he officiated as marshal of the
commencement exercises, officiating at
these exercises in that capacity in June
preceding his demise, and during all
these years was a steadfast worker in its
interests. When the Young Men's Chris-
tian Association was organized in Taun-
ton, Mr. Rhodes was made treasurer of
the association, and was actively inter-
ested in the work of this organization.

On September 10, 1874, Mr. Rhodes
married (first) Louisa L. Bassett, who
was born October 10, 1846, daughter of
Charles J. H. and Nancy L. (Gibbs) Bas-
sett, of Taunton, Massachusetts (see
Bassett VIII). To Mr. and Mrs. Rhodes


were born children as follows: I. Helen
Holbrook, born August 13, 1877; mar-
ried, June 4, 1901, Ralph E. Barker, of
Taunton; she passed away June 5, 1915,
the mother of the following children :
Anson, born March 21, 1902; Humphrey,
June 20, 1905 ; and George Holbrook,
June 5, 1915. 2. Nancy Bassett, born
January 20, 1880, who became the second
wife of Ralph E. Barker, on February 10,
1917. 3. Marcus Arnold, mentioned be-
low. The mother of these children
passed away March 30, 1902, and Mr.
Rhodes married (second) October 15,
1913, Mary E. Van Patten, of Auburn,
New York, who survives him.

Mr. Rhodes passed away October 19,
1916, at Poland Springs, Maine, whence
he had gone in hopes of regaining his
broken health, his death being a severe
shock to his wide circle of friends and
acquaintances. As a man and citizen,
Mr. Rhodes was noted for his uniform
courtesy, democratic manners and per-
sonal integrity. Few men could be less
pretentious and yet dignified, and none
commanded greater respect. He was a
forcible, energetic and progressive man
in his ideas and purposes, and succeeded
to the prestige of his family which has
conducted one of Taunton's leading in-
dustries for many years. His usefulness
as a citizen extended far outside his busi-
ness career into spheres of active benefi-
cence. His many and substantial acts
of real charity were seldom known ex-
cept to the recipients. There was neither
ostentation nor show in his make-up, but
rather a marked antipathy for pretense
and deceit. Nowhere in New England
can there be found a family that for more
than half a century has occupied a
higher position in the industrial, finan-
cial and social life of their community
than this Rhodes family in Taunton. Mr.
Rhodes' greatest pleasure may be said to

have been found in his home and family,
where were displayed a devotion and an
indulgence rarely witnessed.

(X) Marcus Arnold Rhodes, only son
of George Holbrook and Louisa L. (Bas-
sett) Rhodes, was born in Taunton, Mas-
sachusetts, July 17, 1881. His educa-
tional training was obtained in the public
and high schools of his native city, and
after graduating from the high school, he
entered Amherst College, from which he
was graduated in 1903 with the degree of
Bachelor of Arts. He then took a special
course at Harvard University, graduat-
ing therefrom with the degree of Master
of Arts in 1905. During the following
three years he was engaged in teaching
at Deerfield Academy. In 1908, Mr.
Rhodes became associated with the M.
M. Rhodes & Sons Company, and upon
the death of his father, in 1916, succeeded
him as treasurer of the corporation. In
political faith Mr. Rhodes is an independ-
ent Republican, and is now (1917) serv-
ing on his second three year term as a
member of the school committee. Fra-
ternally, he is a member of the Masonic
organization, holding membership in
Ionic Lodge, Ancient Free and Accepted
Masons, and St. Mark's Chapter, Royal
Arch Masons, of Taunton ; and is also a
member of Alpha Delta Phi college fra-
ternity. Socially, he is a member of the
Winthrop Club, of Taunton. Like his
father, Mr. Rhodes is an active and
valued member of the Broadway Trini-
tarian Congregational Church, of which
he has served as deacon for several years,
and as superintendent of the Sunday-
school for a number of years.

On September 1, 1908, Mr. Rhodes was
united in marriage to Ruth L. Bangs,
daughter of Frank W. and Elmina (Tis-
dale) Bangs, of Greenfield, Massachu-
setts, and this union has been blessed
with four children, namely : Louisa Bas-



set!, born February 12, 1910; Stephen
Holbrook, February 25, 191 1; Rowena
Lincoln, July 6, 1914; and Marcus Arnold,
Jr., March 20, 1917.

(The Bird Line).

The Bird family is of long and honor-
able standing in Massachusetts, having
been settled there early in the settling of
this country, being referred to by histor-
ians as an industrious people, modest and
retiring in disposition.

(I) Thomas Bird, the founder of this
family in America, was born in England,
in 1613. He came to New England at an
early period, locating at Dorchester, Mas-
sachusetts, where he joined the church,
in 1642, on its reorganization under the
distinguished Rev. Richard Mather. He
was a tanner by trade, which occupation
he followed in Dorchester, and lived on
what was called Humphrey street. He
was bailiff in 1654. He died June 8, 1667,
aged fifty-four years. His widow, Ann,
died August 21, 1673. They were the
parents of six children.

(II) John Bird, the second son of
Thomas and Ann Bird, was born at Dor-
chester, March II, 1641, and died i\ugust
2, 1732. He married Elizabeth Williams,
who was born in Taunton, in 1644, and
died at Dorchester, October 20, 1724, aged
seventy-seven years. She was the daugh-
ter of Richard and Frances (Dighton)
Williams, her father being one of the first
settlers of Taunton, Massachusetts. John
Bird and his wife were the parents of
eleven children.

(III) Samuel Bird, sixth child of John
and Elizabeth (Williams) Bird, was born
in Dorchester, April 14, 1680, and mar-
ried, May 16, 1704, Sarah Clapp, who was
born March 24, 1686. He died March 20,
1740, in Stoughton, Massachusetts, where
his estate inventoried 1,731 pounds, 5
shillings and 10 pence. They were the
parents of nine children.

(IV) Samuel (2) Bird, youngest child
of Samuel (1) and Sarah (Clapp) Bird,
was born July 27, 1726. He lived in
Stoughton, Massachusetts, where he was
married April 13, 1748, by Rev. Jona-
than Bowman, to Anna Atherton, who
was born at Dorchester, Massachusetts,
daughter of Humphrey Atherton.

(V) Elijah Bird, son of Samuel (2)
and Anna (Atherton) Bird, was born at
Sharon, Massachusetts, June 9, 1753, and
married, December 12, 1777, Sarah Pratt,
of Stoughton, Massachusetts, daughter of
Captain Josiah and Abigail (Williams)
Pratt (see Pratt VI). Elijah Bird, of
Stoughtonham, was a soldier in the Revo-
lutionary War, serving as a private in
Captain Robert Swan's company, Colonel
Benjamin Gill's regiment ; marched De-
cember 19, 1776, service six days, at Castle

Online LibraryWilliam Richard CutterEncyclopedia of Massachusetts, biographical--genealogical (Volume 7) → online text (page 1 of 56)