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The Tappan family of Attleboro, while not an old one in this section of the State, has, nevertheless, been resident for half a century in Attleboro, where Ephraim H. Tappan makes his home, and where his sons, Charles H. and William C, the latter now deceased, have been identified with the manufacturing interests of that section, by their great energy, enterprise and progressive spirit making for themselves a name ranking them among the foremost jewelry manufacturers of the State. The Tappan family was planted in America by:
Abraham Toppan (or Tappan), son of William Topham, of Calbridge, in the parish of Coverham, and fourth in descent from Robert Topham, of Linton, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, England; he was baptized April 10, 1606. He lived for some time in Yarmouth, County of Norfolk. His wife, whose maiden name was Taylor, was born in 1607, daughter of Elizabeth, who married (second) John Goodale, whom she outlived and from whom she inherited considerable property. Mr. Toppan with his wife, two children and maidservant, in 1637, took passage in the “Mary and Ann” to New England, and there came in the same vessel with them Mrs. Goodale, his mother-in-law. He settled in Newbury, being admitted Oct. 16, 1637, and at different times in the year following several lots were granted to him. He made a number of voyages to Barbadoes, one or more of which were profitable. He died Nov. 5, 1672, aged sixty-six, in the house on “Toppan’s Lane” which he had built about 1670 for his son Jacob. His widow died March 20, 1689, aged eighty-two years. The children of Abraham and Susanna (Taylor) Toppan were:
- Peter, born in 1634, in England
- Elizabeth, born in England
- Abraham, born in 1644, in Newbury, New England
- Jacob, born in 1645
- Susanna, in 1649
- John, in 1651
Lieut. Jacob Toppan, son of Abraham, married (first) Aug. 24, 1670, Hannah, daughter of Henry Sewall, and they lived in the house on Toppan’s Lane which was built for him by his father about 1670. Mrs. Toppan died Nov. 11, 1699, at York, Maine, and he married (second) Mrs. Hannah (Fessenden) Sewall, widow of John Sewall. Mr. Toppan died Dec. 30, 1717, in his seventy-third year. The children of Jacob and Hannah (Sewall) Toppan were:
- Jacob, born May 20, 1671
- Samuel, in 1672
- Jane, in 1674
- John, in 1677
- Hannah, in 1679
- Elizabeth, in 1680
- Abraham, in 1684
- Anne, in 1686
Abraham Toppan, son of Lieut. Jacob, born in 1684, married Oct. 21, 1713, Esther, daughter of Rev. Michael Wigglesworth, of Maiden, and widow of John Sewall. Their children were:
- Edward, born in 1715
- Elizabeth, in 1718
- Patience, April 20, 1720
- Samuel, in 1722
- Jacob, in 1725
- Michael, in 1727
Edward Tappan (name so spelled from here on), son of Abraham, born in 1715, married Sept. 7, 1743, Sarah Bailey, and their children were:
- Abraham, born in 1744
- Anna, in 1746
- Sarah, in 1748
- Mary, in 1750
- Patience, in 1752
- Edward, in 1754
- Joshua and Stephen (twins), in 1756
- Enoch, in 1759
- Anna (2), in 1761
- Abner, in 1764
- Judith, in 1768
Abraham Tappan, son of Edward, born in 1744, married Mary Hunt, and their children were:
- Ephraim Hunt, born Feb. 5, 1774
- Abraham, Nov. 6, 1779
- Mary, May 26, 1784
Capt. Ephraim Hunt Tappan, born Feb. 5, 1774, married in July, 1798, Eunice Pilsbury, of Newburyport, Mass., and their children were:
Capt. Ephraim Hunt Tappan was a seafaring man all his life, and was owner of a brig, engaged in foreign commerce. He carried cargoes of New England rum to the West Indies, and while on one voyage was captured by the French and kept prisoner, but later released, the United States government collecting damages from the French government for the arrest.
Abraham Tappan, son of Capt. Ephraim Hunt, was born in Newburyport, Essex Co., Mass., and while young went to sea with his father. He grew to manhood in his native town, and there spent his active life. For some time he was engaged in the manufacture of thimbles and later was a clerk for the firm of Burrell & Blake. After the death of his wife he settled in Attleboro, and there made his home with his son, Ephraim H. Tappan. He was buried in Newburyport. In his religious belief he was an Episcopalian. He married Sarah Stockman, and their children were:
- Sarah Elizabeth, who died unmarried
- Ephraim H., who died young.
- Ephraim Hunt
- Sarah S., who resides in Newburyport
- Caroline C, who resides in Newburyport
- William, a jeweler residing in Washington, D. C.
- Abraham, who died in Newburyport
Ephraim Hunt Tappan, son of Abraham and Sarah, was born in Newburyport Nov. 2, 1835. He attended the public schools of that town, and as a boy worked in the shop with his father, learning to make thimbles. In 1853, at the age of eighteen, he left home and started out to make his own way. Coming to Attleboro, he worked for a year in a machine shop, later accepting a position with the jewelry firm of B. S. Freeman & Brother, where he learned the jewelry business. Here he continued until after the death of Joseph J. Freeman, when he worked as a journeyman with Mason, Draper & Co. for four years. He then engaged in the livery business and as a dealer in horses for some time. When he sold out he turned the money over to his son’s business, and he retired from any active participation in business. He still makes his home in Attleboro.
During the Civil war Mr. Tappan answered the call for volunteers, enlisting in Company C, 47th Mass. V. I., under Capt. Everett S. Horton (now Major Horton, of Attleboro) and Col. Lucius B. Marsh, and served from September, 1862, to August, 1863. Mr. Tappan has an honorable record for duty bravely done, and on his return home he resumed his former occupation.
Fraternally Mr. Tappan is connected with Sumner Lodge, No. 62, K. of P., North Attleboro; and William A. Streeter Post, No. 145, G. A. R., of Attleboro. In politics he is a Republican, but he is no office seeker.
On Nov. 1, 1856, Mr. Tappan was married to Susan Clark, who was born in Pawtucket, daughter of Daniel and Amy (Gardner) Clark. Mr. and Mrs. Tappan enjoyed over fifty-five years of happy wedded life. She passed away Jan. 15, 1912, and was buried in Mount Hope cemetery. Mr. Tappan survives and resides with his son Charles H. Four children blessed their union:
- Ellen Frances, who married Edward M. King, of North Attleboro, and has three children
- Maude Ella
- Grace Estella (who married Carl A. Hempel, of North Attleboro, and has one child, Edward King)
- Etta Frances (who married David Colburn, of North Attleboro, and has one son, Charles William)
- Clara, who died at the age of nine years
- Charles H.
- William C.
Charles H. Tappan, eldest son of Ephraim Hunt, was born at Attleboro Falls May 20, 1859. He attended district school near his home and the North Attleboro high school, completing his education with a course in a commercial college at Providence. He then entered the jewelry establishment of Mason, Draper & Co., where he learned everything connected with the jewelry business. In 1885, in company with his brother William C, on the small capital of $1,000 he founded the firm of Tappan Brothers. Having no factory they were obliged to hire bench room in the factory of Thomas & Kelley, of Attleboro Falls, and this became the foundation of a very successful enterprise. Later they admitted as partner George Berry, changing the firm name to Tappan, Berry & Co., and this partnership continued for five years, when Mr. Berry retired and the brothers purchased the D. F. Briggs & Co. plant at Attleboro Falls. Since then the business has been conducted under the name of D. F. Briggs & Co., Inc. The old firm of D. F. Briggs & Co. was an established chain house, and the new firm, recognizing the advantage of that line of goods, adopted it in place of the ladies’ goods they had made up to that time. Their business so increased that in a short time they were obliged to seek new quarters, and moving to Attleboro located in the Bates building on Union street (now occupied by the Dunbar, Leach, Garner Company). They remained in this location until 1898, when they moved to the new Bates building, taking the entire second floor. They made numerous improvements and additions to their plant, enabling them greatly to increase their output. In 1903 they began the manufacture of the famous Carmen bracelet, now one of the most popular articles in the jewelry trade. This firm was the first to resume the making of bracelets after their disuse for several years. They also manufacture plated goods and their product is sold in all parts of this country and Europe. Charles H. Tappan was superintendent and general manager. In 1907 they purchased the business of Bates & Bacon, which belonged to the estate of Joseph M. Bates, one of the largest established plants in Attleboro, and they also purchased the buildings and land located between Union street and the railroad track, this being likewise the property of the Bates estate. Since the purchase of the Bates & Bacon business, F. C. Somers and Amos Blackinton, Jr., have been admitted as partners.
Besides his jewelry business Mr. Tappan is a director in the Attleboro Steam & Electric Company, and a stockholder in the Sun Publishing Company, of Attleboro. He is likewise interested in a private banking business at Washington, D. C. He is a lover of horses, and has owned several fast trotters in which he took great pride, among them being some prize winners. He resides in a beautiful home on Park street, which he erected.
Mr. Tappan married Bertha Slaiger, daughter of John and Catharine Slaiger. Mrs. Tappan is a devoted wife and mother, and for the past four years has given her life to tenderly caring for her invalid husband. Two children were born of this union:
- Alice C, who died young
- Frank E.
In his political principles Mr. Tappan is a Republican, but he has never had time to be an active participant in party affairs. He is public-spirited, and interested in anything that is for the good of Attleboro.
William C. Tappan, son of Ephraim Hunt, was born in Attleboro Falls July 4, 1864. His education was acquired in the public schools and high school – the latter in North Attleboro, and when he had completed his schooling he entered the employ of Mason, Draper & Co., jewelry manufacturers at Attleboro Falls, and there received a thorough training in the jewelry business. He continued with this firm until 1885, during a portion of the time executing work on contract. He then formed a partnership with his brother, Charles H., and they continued together as partners for a period of twenty-two years, building up a most successful business. For twenty years he was a traveling salesman for the firm, visiting all parts of the country. By his enterprise and personality he did much to advance the interests of the firm, and he was known everywhere from Boston to San Francisco as “Will Tappan.” Two years before his death he retired from the road, giving his whole attention to the manufacturing part of the work. He was a wide-awake business man, and put his whole soul into his work.
Like his brother, Mr. William C. Tappan was a lover of good horses, owning a number of valuable horses and some fast racing stock. He was the owner of considerable real estate in Attleboro, and was interested in several enterprises outside of the jewelry manufacturing concern. He had an interest in the Bates & Bacon firm, was a stockholder in the Sun Publishing Company, a partner in a wholesale grocery business in Washington, D. C. and in the Hump Hair Pin Company (of Providence), and a stockholder and director in the Modox Company of Providence. Mr. Tappan died at his home on Park street, after an illness of only a week, June 8, 1907, and was buried in Mount Hope cemetery. The Manufacturing Jeweler, a publication devoted to the jewelry business, said on that occasion:
By the death of William C. Tappan, of Attleboro, that busy jewelry center has met with a great loss, as, indeed, has the entire jewelry business of the country. Mr. Tappan, who was in the prime of life, had developed, in connection with his surviving brother and partner, into one of the greatest factors in the jewelry trade. The writer knows something, in fact, very much, of the early struggles of the deceased and his brother, who survives him, and of their ambition, when both were entering into manhood. That those ambitions were realized at an early period of life shows the quality from which the deceased was made. Mr. Tappan will be missed by many in his home town, as his friendships were extremely broad. We know of no small number of instances where he has assisted those in need of capital in a financial way that was the means of putting them on the road to prosperity. He was of a charitable nature, and his charities were many, though not given with ostentation. We could tell of a great many good things that we know that W. C. Tappan has done to benefit others. As a friend he was a friend indeed. As was before said, his loss to his home town and to the jewelry fraternity is great. His genial companionship and friendship will be missed. His funeral services were held at his late home on Park street on Tuesday afternoon of this week, and were attended by a large number of personal friends and business acquaintances from Attleboro, Providence, and many other places. Evidence of the popularity of the deceased was certainly pronounced by the saddened faces of those at the funeral.
In politics Mr. Tappan was a Republican. He was a member of Orient Lodge, I. O. O. F., of Attleboro; Pythagoras Lodge, K. P., of Attleboro; and Providence Lodge of Elks.
The Attleboro Sun of June 8, 1909, announced that
“The Attleboro Y. M. C. A. is to have a new building, which will be provided by Mrs. William C. Tappan, as a memorial to her husband, the late William C. Tappan, who was one of the most prominent jewelry manufacturers and business men of the town. The news of the offer was received by General Secretary Charles F. Coykendale last night. Detailed plans for the building are not yet ready, but it is known that it will cost between $50,000 and $60,000 and that it will be erected in front of the new gymnasium building on North Main street.”
The statement issued by General Secretary Coykendale reads:
“The Young Men’s Christian Association is delighted to announce that a public-spirited citizen has come forward and offered to give a memorial building to be placed in front of the present gymnasium building, which will be a credit to the town and a magnificent tribute to the memory of William C. Tappan, who was one of the leading business men of the town. By this generous gift the town will be furnished with a beautiful, up-to-date, fully equipped plant for the benefit and use of all the young men and boys of Attleboro and vicinity.”
Editorially the Sun said:
“No worthier tribute to the memory of William C. Tappan could be devised than a Y. M. C. A. building dedicated to community and individual service as a lasting and exalted memorial. In Attleboro’s over two hundred years of life it is the most imposing public gift given by a single person, and it honors Mrs. Tappan as it honors her husband.”
On March 26, 1884, Mr. Tappan married Fannie M. Moffitt, daughter of Lyman S. and Ellen F. (Fuller) Moffitt, of Attleboro Falls.
Frank E. Tappan, only living child of Charles H. and Bertha (Slaiger) Tappan, was born at Attleboro Falls Dec. 13, 1888. He attended first private school, later the high school in Attleboro, and took a business course at the Bryant & Stratton business college at Providence. After leaving school he entered the business of D. F. Briggs & Co., Inc., of which his father was the head, and since the retirement of his father from active business because of poor health the son has been looking after his interests, which are extensive. He is much devoted to his parents and home, a young man of domestic tastes, taking no interest in societies or political affairs. Mr. Tappan was married July 5, 1911, to Edith Wiggmore, born at Paterson, N. J., daughter of James L. and Minnie Wiggmore. They reside on Tappan avenue, in a house given them by his father.