BRAYTON. The first in America by this name, one Francis Brayton, came from England to Portsmouth, Rhode Island, where, in 1643, he was received as an inhabitant, in 1655, became a freeman, and to him nearly if not all the Braytons of New England trace their origin. He early entered into the political life of the country, serving as a member of the General Court of Commissioners for the Colony, for many years as member of the Rhode Island General Assembly, and frequently during the later generations his descendants have held positions of responsibility and trust in the public offices of State and the private offices of the business world. The name is found on the rolls of the United States Army and Navy, and on the professional records of the clergy, the physician, and the lawyer.
This article, however, is confined to one of the branches of the family several of whose members chose the commercial world for their sphere and through which, during the phenomenal growth of Fall River’s industrial life, the name of Brayton became prominent and influential.
In 1714, Preserved Brayton, grandson of Francis, purchased 138 acres of land from William Little, whose father was one of the proprietors of the ShawomeOKt Purchase in Swanzey, Massachusetts. This farm, since known as the Brayton Homestead, borders on the west bank of the Taunton river and is located in the present town of Somerset, which, in 1790, was set apart from Swanzey (now spelled Swansea).
Preserved had already married Content Coggeshall, the granddaughter of John Coggeshall, whose name is handed down in history as that of a man foremost in the annals of Rhode Island.
To this new home Preserved brought his wife and older children, and here was the birthplace of their younger children and many of their descendants. At the time of his death, Preserved left this farm to his youngest son Israel, while to his other children he left land in different localities.
Israel had a large family and his children unite the name of Brayton with those of Read, Bowers, Winslow, and Slade, all closely identified with the growth of Swansea and Somerset. Prom John, son of Israel, the homestead came into possession of his son Israel, whose sons crossed the Taunton river and made their abode in the growing town of Fall River.
The genealogy of this branch of the Brayton family from its advent into this country is chronologically arranged below.
Francis Brayton, the progenitor of the family in this country, was born in 1611 and died in 1692. He and his wife Mary had six children,
- Sarah, and
The first three generations of the descendants of Francis are given by Austin in his Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island, and the records below briefly trace the line of his second son Stephen.
Stephen Brayton, son of Francis, married in 1678-9 Ann Tallman, daughter of Peter and Ann Tallman. Their children were
- Stephen, and
Preserved Brayton, son of Stephen, was born in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, March 21, 1684-5, and died in Swanzey, Massachusetts, May 21, 1761. He married Content Coggeshall, daughter of John and Elizabeth (Timberlake) Coggeshall. Their children were
- Content, and
Israel Brayton, son of Preserved, was born in Swanzey, Massachusetts, October 13, 1727, and married April 19, 1752, Mary Perry. Their children were
- Israel, born 1754,
- Preserved, born 1756,
- Content, born 1758, (married Captain Nathan Read)
- David, born 1760, (died 1776)
- John, born 1762,
- Mary, born 1764, (married Philip Bowers)
- Bethany, born 1766, (married Dr. John Winslow)
- Perry, born 1768, and
- Baulston, born 1769, (married Mercy Slade).
John Brayton, son of Israel, was born in Swanzey, April 12, 1762, and died in Somerset (which had been set apart from Swanzey) March 12, 1829. He married, November 21, 1782, Sarah Bowers, who was born July 13, 1763, and died August 17, 1843. She was the daughter of Philip and Mary Bowers and sister of Philip Bowers who married Mary Brayton, sister of John. The children of John and Sarah (Bowers) Brayton were
- Mary, born August 16, 1783, who became the second wife of Dr. John Winslow;
- Sarah, born December 29, 1785, married Benjamin Clark Cornell;
- William Bowers, born February 2, 1788, drowned at sea;
- Nancy Jarrett Bowers, born July 18, 1790, who became the second wife of David Anthony;
- Israel, born July 29, 1792; Betsy W., died young;
- Content, died in 1872, unmarried.;
- Stephen, who married, first, Mary H. Gray and second, Abby Gray;
- Almira, married Captain Jesse Chace;
- Caroline and John, who died young.
Israel Brayton, son of John, was born in Somerset, Massachusetts, July 29, 1792, and died there November 5, 1866. He married, August, 1813, Kezia Anthony, who was born in Somerset July 27, 1792, and died October 24, 1880. She, also, was a descendant of one of the early settlers of Rhode Island, John Anthony, who came from England in 1634. Her line of descent is, John and Susanna (Potter) Anthony, Abraham and Alice (Wodell) Anthony, William and Mary (Coggeshall) Anthony, Benjamin and Martha (Luther) Anthony, David and Submit (Wheeler) Anthony, who were the parents of Kezia.
Israel and Kezia (Anthony) Brayton had nine children, namely:
- Mary, who married, first, Major Bradford Durfee, second, Jeremiah S. Young. Her only child, Bradford Matthew Chaloner Durfee, died September 13, 1872, and in his memory she gave to the city of Fall River the B. M. C. Durfee High School.
- William Bowers, who married Hannah Turner Lawton.
- Nancy Jarrett Bowers, who married Daniel Chace. Their only child died young.
- Elizabeth Anthony, who married Rev. Roswell Dwight Hitchcock. Their children were
- Roswell D.,
- Mary B.,
- Harriet B., and
- Bradford W. Hitchcock.
- David Anthony, who married Nancy R. Jenckes.
- John Summerfield, who married Sarah J. Tinkham.
- Israel Perry, who married Parthenia Gardner.
- Hezekiah Anthony, who married Caroline E. Slade.
- Sarah S. Brayton, unmarried.
Mary Brayton, eldest daughter of Israel and Kezia (Anthony) Brayton, was born at Foxboro, Mass., May 9, 1814, and for several years previous to her marriage was engaged as a school teacher. In 1842 she married Major Bradford Durfee, of Fall River, who died in 1843. She was again married, in 1851, to Hon. Jeremiah S. Young, who died in 1861. To the first marriage there was born one son, Bradford Matthew Chaloner, on June 15, 1843, and he died unmarried in 1872. Mrs. Young died March 22, 1891. The following record of the school committee of Fall River, Mass., was published in one of their annual reports:
Mary Brayton Young.
The announcement of the death of Mrs. Mary Brayton Young has been received by the school committee of this city with sincere sorrow. Few who pass from our sight leave a more beautiful or lasting influence, an influence that must be felt, not only in this community, but throughout the world; for the works of all the good radiate in ever widening circles to every corner of the universe.
Her gentle manner, loving, unselfish disposition, generous, kindly and sympathetic nature, her quiet unostentatious life, impressed deeply all who came in contact with her.
She has laid her hand in blessing upon our people in many silent but helpful ways. Her interest in the cause of education, which began when she herself was a teacher in our public schools, continued through her long and useful life, and culminated in the greatest educational benefaction a city ever received.
In the splendid gift of the B. M. C. Durfee High School building, she has blessed not only the present generation, but all who are to come. No one can wholly calculate the advantages of educational privileges in and upon a community. In so nobly perpetuating the memory of one who was most precious to her mother heart, she has done that which will ever keep her own memory fresh and fragrant.
Language is inadequate to express our admiration, esteem, and affection for this sincere friend of humanity whose loss we deplore today.
We cannot forget her. Her virtues, her sincerity, her faithfulness, modesty, and true womanliness, her tender sympathy, her devotion to duty, her strict adherence to lofty principle, all her amiable and lovable qualities, endear her to our hearts.
William Bowers Brayton, eldest son of Israel and Kezia (Anthony) Brayton, was born April 6, 1816, in Swansea, Massachusetts. He was educated in the schools of Swansea and spent one year at Wilbraham Academy. He became a teacher, as did nearly all of his brothers and sisters, and taught in Tiverton, Rhode Island, and elsewhere for two or three years. In 1832 he came to Fall River. His first commercial venture was in the grocery business, and he subsequently became a clerk on some of the boats running to Wood’s Hole, and finally engaged in the grain business with his brother David. He continued in this business until his retirement, in 1877. His home was where the public library now stands. He was also engaged in farming in a limited way in the town of Somerset. Mr. Brayton was identified with the life of the town in various relations. In 1864 and 1865 he was a member of the common council; he was chairman of the Republican committee, and for some years served as a justice of the peace. He was one of the incorporators of the First National Bank, of which he was senior director from the time of its organization. He was a man of keen intelligence and wide information. He attended the first Congregational Church, of which Mrs. Brayton and daughters became members.
On Oct. 26, 1843, Mr. Brayton married Hannah Turner, daughter of Capt. George and Patience Turner Lawton, and to them were born four children, namely:
- Julia Washburn, of Fall River;
- George Anthony, who married Sarah A. Smith and died in Fall River, without issue, Dec. 20, 1899;
- Mary, of Fall River; and
- William Bowers, Jr., who died June 4, 1875.
Mr. Brayton died in Fall River Aug. 21, 1887, and Mrs. Brayton passed away on July 4, 1898.
David Anthony Brayton, son of Israel and Kezia (Anthony) Brayton, was born in Swansea, Massachusetts, April 2, 1824, and passed the greater part of his childhood on the farm in Somerset that for generations had been the home of his Brayton ancestors. His early education was acquired by regular attendance at the public schools of Somerset and Fall River, and when not at school he worked at different occupations with great energy and zeal. Manifesting in early youth a taste for business, he was not long in seeking a field larger than that which his boyhood home afforded, and when still a minor he made a business trip to Cuba. In later years he was extensively engaged in trade with the West Indies.
The discovery of gold on the Pacific coast intensely interested Mr. Brayton, and in 1J349 he sailed in the ship “Mary Mitchell” for California, where he remained several months. On returning to Fall River, with Silas Bullard as partner, he erected the Bristol County Flour Mills, of which he subsequently became sole proprietor.
Not long after the enactment of the National Banking Law, Mr. Brayton, with his brother John S. Brayton and their associates, established the First National Bank of Fall River. The directors of this corporation manifested their appreciation of his faithful and valuable services in its behalf when they spread upon its records at the time of his death the tribute that “To his remarkable foresight, energy, and high moral character, this Institution owes its origin and its great success.”
Cotton goods were already manufactured in Fall River, and Mr. Brayton, with his usual foresight, realized the possibility of the growth of the cotton industry. In 1865, he conceived the idea of erecting a large manufactory, and a site was purchased bordering on the stream from which Fall River obtains its name. As a result of his sagacity, untiring industry, and acumen, Durfee Mills Number One was completed in 1867; in 1871 Durfee Mills Number Two, a duplicate of Number One, was built, thus doubling the production of the print cloths of this corporation; and in 1880, the plant was again enlarged by the erection of mill Number Three. These mills, named in honor of Bradford Durfee, whose son, B. M. C. Durfee, was the largest stockholder, are an enduring monument to the enterprise, energy, and sound judgment of David Anthony Brayton. From the time of their incorporation until his demise, Mr. Brayton was Treasurer and Manager of the Durfee Mills, which constituted for many years one of the largest print cloth plants in the country.
The results of the business ability and wisdom of David A. Brayton were not confined to these enterprises alone, but his knowledge and experience were widespread, and he held many offices of responsibility and trust. He was director in eight other corporations in Fall River, and at the time of his death was President and principal owner of the Arnold Print Works in North Adams, Massachusetts.
Deeply interested in the welfare of the city, he did not shun the responsibilities of the true citizen, nor did he deem it his obligation to accept the honors of civic office, and declined reelection after serving one term in the city government.
He never lost his love for the country, and the freedom of its open life appealed to him. He purchased a large farm in Somerset, now known as Brayton Point, and this he cultivated with much pleasure and pride. Here he found his recreation away from the turmoil of the business world.
Mr. Brayton was a regular attendant and active member of the First Congregational Church of Fall River. He gave freely to the support of divine worship, was generously benevolent, and guided by his keen and quick judgment of persons, he willingly assisted those whom he believed worthy of his aid.
David A. Brayton was married in Fall River, May 1, 1851, to Nancy R. Jenckes, daughter of John and Nancy (Bellows) Jenckes. They had five children:
- Nannie Jenckes,
- David Anthony,
- John Jenckes,
- Elizabeth Hitchcock, and
- Dana Dwight Brayton.
In 1880 Mr. Brayton, accompanied by members of his family, crossed the Atlantic in search of health, but, although every effort was exerted in his behalf, he died in London, England, on the twentieth of August, 1881.
David Anthony Brayton was a man of courage, endowed with a large capacity for affairs, with sterling integrity and a vigorous intellect trained in the contests of a stirring life; a strong advocate of truth and strict honesty, frank and fearless in the performance of duty, prompt in decision, firm in action, and loyal in friendship. These were elements of his power and his success, the characteristics which made him a citizen of commanding influence and a recognized leader among men.
John Summerfield Brayton, son of Israel and Kezia (Anthony) Brayton, was born Dec. 3, 1826, in Swansea, Massachusetts. He attended the district school and fitted himself for the post of teacher and was enabled to further his studies at Peirce’s Academy, in Middleboro, and at the University Grammar School, at Providence. He entered Brown University in 1847 and was graduated therefrom with the class of 1851. Adopting the law as a profession he prepared for it in the office of Thomas Dawe Eliot, at New Bedford, and at the Dane Law School of Harvard College, from which he was graduated in 1853. He was admitted to the bar of Suffolk county August 8th of the year named, returning to Fall River began the practice of his profession, and within a year was chosen city solicitor, being the first incumbent of the office in the newly formed city. He was elected clerk of courts for Bristol county. In 1864 he reentered the general practice of law, associating himself with James M. Morton, now one of the justices of the Massachusetts Supreme bench. He retired from the practice of law to become financial agent of Mrs. Mary B. Young and B. M. C. Durfee and from that time until his death was a prominent business man of Fall River. In 1856 Mr. Brayton represented Fall River in the General Court of Massachusetts and served as a member of the governor’s council in 1866-67-68 and 1879-80, under Governors Bullock, Talbot and Long. At home and elsewhere he was active in many charitable and philanthropic movements and generous in his donations to their funds.
Mr. Brayton was an ardent historian, a patron of art and literature and a lover of all that beautifies and uplifts. He manifested a deep interest in educational affairs, and when his sister gave to the city the magnificent B. M. C. Durfee high school Mr. Brayton devoted to its creation his thought and attention. In 1893, in recognition of his accomplishments, Brown University, his alma mater, conferred on him the degree of Doctor of Laws, and from 1898 until his death he was a Fellow of Brown University. He was for eighteen years, from 1882 to 1900, a trustee of Amherst College.
Mr. Brayton had historical tastes and his knowledge of the Narragansett country was perhaps exceeded by none. He was president of the Old Colony Historical Society for several years, a member of the New England Historic and Genealogical Society, and from 1898 to the time of his death a member of the Massachusetts Historical Society.
In sympathy only with the best traditions and highest ideals, he entered in a remarkable degree into the successes of his friends and fellow citizens in every field of worthy achievement. Their honor was his pride. He delighted to bestow the expression of recognition for work well done, and in so doing extended an uplifting influence in the community which we can ill afford to lose in these days when commercial gain absorbs so much of the ambitions of life. As a man of large private responsibilities and an active participant in the conduct of public affairs Mr. Brayton was a leading figure in this section of the State. He had intense interest in and loyalty to those with whom he associated through ties of business or civic life.
On Nov. 27, 1855, Mr. Brayton married Sarah Jane Tinkham, daughter of Enoch and Rebecca (Williams) Tinkham, of Middleboro, Mass. They had three children:
- Mary J., who married Dr. Charles L. Nichols, of Worcester (their three children are
- Charles L., Jr.,
- Harriet and
- Harriet H., of Fall River; and
- John Summerfield, born in Fall River, Sept. 16, 1864, who was married June 20, 1894,’ to Jessie C. Flint, daughter of the late John D. Flint, of Fall River (their children are John S., Jr., Flint, Edith and Anthony). Mr. Brayton died Oct. 30, 1904, at his home in Fall River, Massachusetts.
Israel Perry Brayton, son of Israel and Kezia (Anthony) Brayton, was born May 24, 1829, and died Aug. 10, 1878, in Fall River. He followed agricultural pursuits and had a well stocked farm in Swansea, Massachusetts. Because of poor health he was never able to engage actively in the business or political life of Fall River, but for some years served as a director of the First National Bank.
Mr. Brayton married June 18, 1863, Parthenia Gardner, daughter of Peleg Gardner, of Swansea. Mrs. Brayton died Feb. 24, 1882. To them were born two daughters:
- Nancy Jarrett Bowers and
- Sarah Chaloner.
Nancy Jarrett Bowers Brayton married June 10, 1896, James Madison Morton, Jr., of the ninth generation of the Morton family, and to them have been born four children:
- James Madison, June 10, 1897 (died May 14, 1908);
- Brayton, Oct. 28, 1898;
- Sarah, Sept. 29, 1902;
- Hugh, Sept. 10, 1906.
Hezekiah Anthony Brayton, son of Israel and Kezia (Anthony) Brayton, was born June 24, 1832, in Fall River, Massachusetts, and passed his boyhood days at the Brayton homestead in Somerset, in the schools of which town he acquired his early education, furthering it at the East Greenwich (R. I.) Academy. He taught school for one year in the town of Seekonk, Massachusetts, then for a time was employed in a railroad ticket office, from which he left for Texas in the capacity of surveyor. Returning to the North, he was for a time employed in the carding and mechanical engineering departments of the Pacific mills in Lawrence, this State. In 1857, in company with his brother Israel Perry Brayton, he went to Chicago and there engaged in the grain commission business on the Board of Trade, a line of business he later continued in on the Produce Exchange in New York City.
Returning to Massachusetts in 1872, Mr. Brayton was actively and successfully occupied at Fall River the remainder of his life. He was chosen vice president and cashier of the First National Bank, and some six years later, at the time of the failure of the Sagamore mills, he was appointed one of the trustees of that property. When the business was finally settled and the corporation was reorganized as the Saga-more Manufacturing Company, he became treasurer and a director, offices he held up to the time of his death. He was also president and director of the Durfee Mills and a trustee of the B. M. C. Durfee high school, which was given to the city by his sister, Mrs. Mary B. Young. Mr. Brayton was one of the most successful mill treasurers in Fall River. The Sagamore was among the corporations of Fall River which have paid phenomenal dividends. In this manufacturing company Mr. Brayton as treasurer made a record in dividends that would be hard to surpass. He was devoted to his business, which he carried on to the last and which seemed to be his one pleasure; and for years before his death he had seldom been absent from Fall River except to visit his farm at the west end of Slade’s Ferry Bridge, in Somerset. His judgment was usually accurate, and the results in returns to his stockholders most satisfactory. At the same time he pushed the development of the mills to the extreme of possibility. When he took charge the foundation of only one of the mills was laid. He put up the stone building on this foundation, and later, when the brick mill burned, he rebuilt it. His son, as treasurer, built an entirely new mill as a part of the plant.
Mr. Brayton believed in new enterprises in Fall River and was willing to back them with his means, as in the case of the last cotton corporation formed there previous to his death, in which he subscribed for a considerable block of stock.
On March 25, 1868, Mr. Brayton married Caroline Elizabeth, daughter of the late Hon. William Lawton and Mary (Sherman) Slade, of Somerset. She, with three sons and five daughters, survived him. Ten children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Brayton, as follows:
- Caroline S. was born March 10, 1869, in New York City.
- Abby S., born Nov. 10, 1870, in New York, married Randall N. Durfee, of Fall River, and they have had four children:
- Randall Nelson (born March 13, 1897),
- Bradford Chaloner (born Aug. 12, 1900),
- Caroline (born March 12, 1904) and
- Mary Brayton (born March 4, 1909).
- William L. S., born Nov. 13, 1872, in New York City, is treasurer of the Sagamore Manufacturing Company, having succeeded his father. He married June 18, 1903, Mary Easton Ashley, daughter of Stephen B. and Harriet Remington (Davol) Ashley, and they have had five children, born as follows:
- Lawton Slade, June 20, 1904;
- Lincoln Davol, Oct. 20, 1905;
- Constance, March 22, 1907;
- Ruth Sherman, April 17, 1908; and
- Perry Ashley, May 25, 1910.
- Israel, born in Fall River Aug. 5, 1874, is a member of the law firm of Jennings, Morton & Brayton.
- Mary Durfee, born May 1, 1877, died March 29, 1889.
- Stanley, born March 20, 1879, died July 29, 1902, in Caux, Switzerland.
- Arthur Perry was born May 25, 1881.
- Margaret Lee was born Dec. 14, 1883.
- Dorothy was born Dec. 9, 1885.
- Katharine was born Dec. 16, 1887.
Mr. Brayton was devoted to his family, and the home life was made especially pleasant and happy. His home was always open and the many visitors there always hospitably entertained. Tn his business life he had formed strong friendships, and did much for those whom he favored in this way. He died suddenly in the evening of March 24, 1908, at his home, No. 260 North Main street, Fall River, in the seventy-sixth year of his age.
At a meeting of the directors of the Sagamore Manufacturing Company, held March 25, 1908, the following tribute to the late treasurer, Mr. H. A. Brayton, was adopted:
Hezekiah Anthony Brayton.
Hezekiah A. Brayton, treasurer of this corporation since the sixth day of November, 1879, died after a short illness on the twenty-fourth day of March, 1908, in the seventy-sixth year of his age. Mr. Brayton was born in this city on June 24th, 1832. His ancestors were among the earliest settlers in this part of New England. His boyhood was passed on the Homestead Farm in Somerset. He attended the District school and later went to the academy at East Greenwich. At the age of sixteen he taught school; and from that time until his death he was actively engaged in professional and business work. His life was an unusually varied one. As a young man, he studied surveying and went to Texas as a surveyor. Afterwards he was, successively, a mechanical engineer at the Pacific mills in Lawrence, a grain broker in Chicago and New York (where he was a member of the Board of Trade), vice president and cashier of the First National Bank of Fall River. Upon the failure of the Sagamore mills in 1878, he was appointed one of the reorganizing committee; and when the present corporation was formed he was chosen its treasurer, a position he continued to hold until his death.
The ability and signal success with which he man-aged the affairs of this corporation are recognized by every one familiar with it, and by the community at large. His personality dominated the entire organization and impressed upon it his own belief in honest work and fidelity to everyday duty. It was his pride to make good goods, and to keep his word absolutely. A contract was to him a matter of personal honor, as well as of dollars and cents. He was a man of strong and unique individuality, direct and straightforward in his dealings, frank of speech, absolutely honest, and with a rare touch of humor. Behind his apparent impulsiveness, there often lay long and deeply considered reasons.
As the years passed, he acquired in an extraordinary and ever increasing degree, the confidence of those who associated and dealt with him. He was fortunate in his life; and he died at the height of his success, before age had dulled his interest, or impaired his mental vigor. His death is a serious loss to this corporation and to us, his associates.