WILLIAM P. WHITMAN, president and treasurer of the well-known shoe manufacturing concern of the Whitman & Keith Company, of Brockton, and one of that city’s successful and progressive business men, as was his father before him, is a descendant of distinguished and historic New England ancestry. Mr. Whitman is a direct descendant of John Alden and Priscilla Mullins, of the “Mayflower,” 1620; of Rev. James Keith, the first ordained minister of Bridgewater; and of John Whitman, who settled in Weymouth, Mass., as early as 1638, from whom descended many persons eminent in professional life and otherwise, among them Dr. Marcus Whitman, who saved the vast territory of Oregon to the United States; Hon. Ezekiel Whitman, for many years chief justice of the Superior and Supreme courts of the State of Maine; and Hon. William E. Russell, twice governor of Massachusetts.
Nicholas Snow, a native of England, came to this country in 1623 in the ship “Ann,” locating in Plymouth, where he had a share in the division of land in 1624. In 1634 he removed to Eastham, where he became a prominent citizen. His home was on the road from Plymouth to Eel river, on the Westerly side. He was admitted a freeman in 1633, and was elected town clerk at the first meeting of the town of Eastham, holding that office sixteen years. He was deputy to the General Court from 1648, three years; selectman from 1663, seven years. He and his son Mark signed the call to Rev. John Mayo to settle as their minister in 1655. He was one of Gov. Thomas Prence’s associates. He married at Plymouth, Constance, daughter of Stephen Hopkins, who came over in the “Mayflower.” Constance herself came in the “Mayflower.” She died in October, 1677. Mr. Snow died Nov. 15, 1676, in Eastham, Mass.
The Rounsville or Rounseville family of ancient Freetown is believed to be of French origin, and a family tradition has it that they left France on account of religious persecution. It is the purpose here to refer to a branch of the Freetown Rounseville family which in time found its way into the busy manufacturing center of southeastern Massachusetts – Fall River – and soon became a part of the great activity there. Reference is made to the family of the late Capt. Cyrus Cole Rounseville, a master mariner of Freetown, who sailed from New Bedford in the whaling service, whose son and namesake Cyrus Cole Rounseville has long been one of the leading manufacturers of Fall River as treasurer of the Shove Mills, prominent in public life and identified with the banking interests of the city.
The family bearing this name in New Bedford, where it is one of nearly one hundred years’ standing one, too, of prominence and wealth, is a branch of the ancient Knowles family of the town of Eastham, Barnstable county, this Commonwealth. Reference is made to some of the descendants of the brothers Thomas and James H. Knowles of Eastham, several of whose sons – at least two of the former and one of the latter – in their earlier manhood cast their lot with the people of New Bedford. The firm of Thomas Knowles & Co. for many years was one of the greatest engaged in the whale fishery business in New Bedford; and its members in turn have been succeeded in business by younger generations who have most worthily worn the family name and sustained its reputation; and today the name continues of record in and about the city of their birth connected prominently with many of the most extensive commercial establishments and banking institutions of the locality.
The Washburn name in this country is a distinguished one. Perhaps it is as yet only a tradition that John Washburn, the ancestor of the Washburns here considered, was he who first served as secretary of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Several governors of our States have borne the Washburn name and at one and the same time four of the name occupied seats in the United States Congress. And the branch of the Massachusetts Washburns seated in Middleboro and vicinity have borne no small part in the annals of the Old Colony and later Commonwealth. Capt. Amos Washburn was in command of a company in the American Revolution; one of his sons, a graduate of Harvard, was a talented lawyer at Middleboro; Edward Washburn, brother of Capt. Amos, was another patriot in the Continental army; and his son, Gen. Abiel Washburn, was one of the leading men of his time in Middleboro, the acknowledged leader of the Federal party, and for thirty-six years held commissions through the different grades of office in the State militia; while Luther, Cyrus and the late Bradford Sumner Washburn, in turn, were substantial citizens of the town, and the latter’s son, Judge Nathan Washburn, lawyer and present Justice of the Courts of Plymouth county, is giving a good account of himself.
As will be seen in what follows the Fall River family of Sears here considered – to which belongs Chauncey Howe Sears, an extensive mason contractor and builder and one of Fall River’s well-known citizens and substantial men – is one of some two hundred and sixty and more years’ standing in this Commonwealth. The family history and genealogy of the Fall River family follow in chronological order from the immigrant settler.
Among the most prominent law offices in southern Massachusetts is one which by lineal succession has existed for nearly, if not quite, a hundred years, and in which three generations of the Clifford family have been represented. The members of the Clifford family who have been such important factors in this old and prominent law firm came of a distinguished ancestry. The late John H. Clifford was a direct descendant in the eighth generation from George Clifford, who came with his wife Elizabeth and son John from Arnold village and parish, Nottinghamshire, England, to Boston in 1644.
The Pierce families of this country are and have long been very numerous. Early in the settlement of New England came representatives from England, most of them not related, so far as now known. Among them were Abraham, of Plymouth, 1623, who became one of the original purchasers of Bridgewater in 1645; Daniel, of Newbury, blacksmith, who came from Ipswich, County of Suffolk, in 1634, aged twenty-three years; John, of Dorchester, mariner from Stepney, Middlesex, before 1631; another John, of Dorchester and Boston; John, of Watertown, 1638; Capt. Michael, of Hingham and Scituate; Richard, of Portsmouth, R. I.; Robert, of Dorchester; Thomas, of Charlestown, who was admitted to the church there in 1634; and Capt. William, of Boston, who was a distinguished shipmaster of his time.