BENJAMIN (New Bedford family). The New Bedford Benjamin family here considered – some of the descendants of Isaac Benjamin, one of whose sons, the late Isaac W. Benjamin, was for years officially identified with the New Bedford Cordage Company and a public servant of the city of New Bedford of rare fidelity and usefulness – is a branch of the Livermore, Maine, family of the name and it of the still earlier family of Watertown, Mass., where arrived John Benjamin Sept. 16, 1632, in the ship “Lion.” He was made a freeman Nov. 6th following; was a proprietor of Cambridge, and perhaps first settled there. He was chosen constable of New Town (Cambridge) by the General Court May 20, 1633. He was exempted from training Nov. 7, 1634, on account of infirmity and age, but was required to have, at all times, arms for himself and servants. He was of New Town in October, 1636. In 1642 he had the largest homestall in Watertown. He died in June, 1645. His widow, Abigail, went with her son-in-law, Joshua Stubbs, to Charlestown about 1654, where she died May 20, 1687, aged eighty-seven years. Children:
- Joseph (settled in Barnstable)
- Richard (questionable as to being a son; settled on Long Island; admitted a freeman of Connecticut, 1664)
- Joshua (of Charlestown)
- Samuel (settled in Hoccanum, in Hartford, Conn.)
- Caleb (settled in Wethersfield, Conn.)
- Abel (of Charlestown)
Samuel Benjamin, born in Watertown, Mass., Feb. 5, 1753, a descendant in the fifth generation from John (above), on the breaking out of the Revolution, in the spring of 1775, joined the company of Capt. Daniel Whiting, of which he was first sergeant; and eventually he became a lieutenant. He was at the battle of Lexington, on the ever memorable morning of April 19, 1775, served at Bunker Hill, June 17, 1775, and at Monmouth, Yorktown, etc.; was in service seven years, three months, twenty-one days. After the war, in the fall of 1782, he went to the District of Maine for the purpose of selecting a location for his future home; he had married in Waltham, Mass., Jan. 16, 1782, Tabitha Livermore, of that town, a descendant of Samuel Livermore, of Watertown. Suffice it to say that Lieutenant Benjamin bought land in Livermore, becoming the fourth settler with a family in the town. He died in Livermore April 14, 1824, leaving ten children. His widow died June 29, 1837.
Livermore, as intimated in the foregoing, was the birthplace and early home of Isaac Benjamin, the head of the New Bedford Benjamin family, and no doubt of the same stock of Benjamins as those an account of which has just been given.
Isaac Benjamin, son of John and Betsey Benjamin, was born April 6, 1808, in Livermore, Maine, and was married Feb. 5, 1832, to Lucy S. Eldridge, who was born Dec. 2, 1806, in Yarmouth, Mass. After marriage they removed to New Bedford, in this State, where they passed the remainder of their lives. He died April 21, 1889. Mr. Benjamin was a calker by trade. Five children blessed their marriage, viz.:
- Isaac W.
Isaac W. Benjamin, son of Isaac and Lucy S. (Eldridge) Benjamin, was born Oct. 24, 1833, in New Bedford, Mass. He received his education in the public schools of his native city and was graduated from the New Bedford high school with the class of 1848. After this event he entered with ambitious zeal into business life, and after successive service in minor positions he in 1862, in the employ of the New Bedford Cordage Company, developed traits of energy, tact and correctness that found ready appreciation from his employers. His qualifications were recognized by occasional advancement to position of responsibility and trust. On the death of Mr. Leander A. Plummer, the treasurer of the corporation, Mr. Benjamin was chosen his successor in office, which position he occupied and filled acceptably to the time of his last sickness, having been with this company for thirty-five years. He died March 23, 1891.
Mr. Benjamin occupied other prominent positions in business circles, and through his sterling qualifications obtained and held the full confidence of his fellow citizens. He was treasurer of the Roteh Wharf Company, trustee of the Institution of Savings, and was also president of the New Bedford Cooperative Bank.
The political affiliations of Mr. Benjamin were with the Republican party, and he always took a deep interest in national affairs. He served New Bedford as an alderman in 1879; was in the city council in 1869 and 1874, and was one of the board of commissioners of the sinking fund. It was, however, in his twenty years of service as a member of the school committee that Mr. Benjamin did the more effectual work for his native town. His interest in the public schools was characterized by steady devotion and genuine enthusiasm, which he imparted to the teachers and scholars with whom he associated; nor was it confined to those alone, but its influence was felt among his associates in office. The series of resolutions passed by the school committee in session a few days after his decease reveals the esteem and respect in which he was held:
“The school committee of New Bedford, deploring the loss it has suffered in the death of Isaac W. Benjamin, one of the oldest members, places on record this last formal expression of its appreciation of his worth and regard for his memory. Mr. Benjamin was preeminently a faithful servant of the people, who had chosen him to have oversight of their common schools. The duties which devolved upon him were performed with intelligent zeal and scrupulous fidelity. He was unwearied in his devotion to the interest of the schools, un-flagging in his care for the details of their management, and wisely progressive, while he brought to all questions the test of a sound judgment, enlightened by long experience. A wise counselor and an able administrator, the schools and scholars of New Bedford owe to him the obligation of perpetual gratitude.”
In honor of the memory of Mr. Benjamin the school located on Division street was named the Isaac W. Benjamin school.
Mr. Benjamin was a member of the Middle Street Christian Church, and faithfully filled many of its offices of trust and responsibility. For fourteen years he performed devoted service as superintendent of the Sunday school – and for twenty-five years was treasurer of the church. His life was one of great usefulness, winning the sincere respect and love of all his fellow citizens. He was also a member of the Wamsutta Club, of New Bedford.
On March 4, 1855, Mr. Benjamin married Olive Lane Moulton, of Livermore, Maine, daughter of Josiah and Lorinda (Lane) Moulton. They had one child, Lucy E., born Sept. 2, 1865, who married Dec. 8, 1891, Rev. William Rowland Spaid, of Winchester, Va. Rev. Mr. Spaid died in New Bedford, and Mrs. Spaid was later married in Boston, Mass., to Rev. F. O. Cunningham. She now resides in Norwich, Connecticut.