JAMES CUSHING LEACH, deceased. For two hundred and fifty and more years – from the very dawn of civilization in the first interior settlement of the Old Colony of Bridgewater – the name of Leach has been identified with the town, and long been one representative of the substantial and prominent families there. And still beyond the period of the Bridgewater settlement, back to a time within a decade of the landing of the Pilgrim Fathers themselves, it has represented a worthy Massachusetts family. This page treats the Leach Genealogy of Bridgewater, Massachusetts, starting with Lawrence Leach, the immigrant ancestor, and descending to the James Cushing Leach family of Bridgewater, Mass.
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Lawrence Leach, the colonist, a native of England, born in 1589, came over to New England as one of the “planters” with Rev. Francis Higginson, in 1629. He had been a man of repute in England, and is said to have descended from John LeLeche, surgeon to King Edward III. Locating at Salem, he engaged extensively in the farming and milling business, his large plantation and mills being located in what is now Beverly. The mills were of such importance that the adjacent towns caused public roads to be opened to them. He was active in public affairs, was one of the twelve jurymen who at Boston (1630) served on the trial of the first capital offense case that was heard in Massachusetts, and for many years represented Salem in the General Court. He assisted in the formation of the first church that was organized at Salem. His son, Robert, became one of the founders of Manchester, Massachusetts, and one of its largest landed proprietors.
Giles Leach, believed to have been the youngest child of Lawrence, and the only one born in this country, was a founder of Bridgewater, owning one of fifty-six proprietary interests of the town. Giles Leach was at Weymouth in 1656, but removed to Bridgewater before 1665, says Mitchell, who mentioned that he married in 1656 (but Weymouth record says Jan. 20, 1657) Ann Nokes. Their children were:
- Sarah Leach, born 1656 (record says Nov. 13, 1657)
- Elizabeth Leach, who married in l693 John Emerson
- Samuel Leach, born in 1662
- David Leach
- John Leach
- Ebenezer Leach
- Benjamin Leach
- and perhaps others
It was from the foregoing source that descended one of Bridgewater’s distinguished sons, the late Rev. Daniel Leach, D. D., who was graduated from Brown University in 1830, then studied divinity at Andover, Mass., and also under Bishop Griswold, by whom he was ordained an Episcopal clergyman in 1833; and who later became prominently identified with educational affairs, in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island, he being in the latter State for upward of twenty-five years superintendent of the public schools of Providence.
It was from Lawrence Leach that descended the journalist, Hon. DeWitt Clinton Leach, who in 1850 was a member of the Constitutional Convention of Michigan, and made a speech before it urging the granting of the right of suffrage to the colored race. He had previously served in the Michigan Legislature. He became State librarian, editor of a Republican paper at Lansing, and later at other points, served in Congress, was again in 1867 a member of the Constitutional Convention of Michigan, etc. Another of the descendants of Lawrence Leach was the clergyman and editor, Rev. Joseph S. Leach, of New Jersey, whose sons, Hon. Josiah G. Leach and Frank W. Leach, Esqs., became prominently identified with public affairs in their communities. Still another of the descendants of Lawrence Leach and one who remained in the old home town of so many of the name – Bridgewater – and here reached position and wealth, was the late Hon. James Cushing Leach. Born July 11, 1831, in Bridgewater, Mr. Leach was a descendant in the eighth generation from Lawrence Leach, from whom his lineage is through
- Giles Leach
- John Leach
- Nehemiah Leach
- James Leach
- Alpheus Leach
- Alpheus (2) Leach
These generations more in detail and in the order named follow.
John Leach, son of Giles, married Alice, and their children were:
- John Leach, born in 1695
- Giles Leach, born in 1697
- Stephen Leach, born in 1698
- Abiel Leach, born in 1700
- Ebenezer Leach, born in 1702
- Mehetabel Leach, born in 1704
- Timothy Leach, born in 1707
- Nehemiah Leach, born in 1709
- Solomon Leach, born in 1712
- Jesse Leach, born in 1714
The father died in 1744.
Nehemiah Leach, son of John, born in 1709, married (first) Mercy Staples, and they had children:
- Abigail Leach, born in 1730, who married in 1749 Benjamin Keith
- Mercy Leach, born in 1732, who married in 1756 Nathaniel Latham.
The father remarried, his second wife being a Bryant, of Plympton, and their children were:
- James Leach, born in 1737
- Ruth Leach, born in 1739, who married in 1762 Benjamin Packard
- Robert Leach, born in 1740
- Huldah Leach, born in 1742, who married in 1761 Daniel Lazell
- Mehetabel Leach, born in 1744, who married Nathan Jones
- Lydia Leach, who married in 1770 John Dickerman, of Roxbury
- Nehemiah Leach
- Caleb Leach
- Susanna Leach, who married Deacon Isaac Wilbor.
The father died in 1769 and the mother in 1775.
James Leach, son of Nehemiah, born in 1737, married in 1765 Hazadiah, daughter of Robert Keith, and their children were:
- Alpheus Leach
- Apollos Leach
- Caleb Leach
- James Leach, who married Betsey, daughter of Nathaniel Leonard
- Chloe Leach, who married in 1807 Col. Salmon Fobes
- Roxilliana Leach, who married in 1799 Elias Dunbar
- Mercy, Leach who married in 1809 Abraham Gould
- Sarah Leach, who married in 1792 Jonathan Keith
- *uldah Leach, who married in 1803 George Chipman
- Ruth Leach, who married in 1792 Joseph Bassett
Alpheus Leach, son of James, born Aug. 2, 1765, in Bridgewater, married in 1787 Cassandra, born Jan. 21, 1767, daughter of William Keith. Their children were:
- Anna Leach, born Aug. 7, 1788
- Ambrose Leach, born May 5, 1791, who married in 1815 Hannah, daughter of Nehemiah Howard
- Sally Leach, born May 7, 1793
- Alpheus Leach, born April 3, 1796
- Louisa Leach, born Nov. 20, 1800, who married Deacon Philip Hill
- Wightman Rathburn Leach, born June 7, 1804
- Hepsibah E. Leach, born Feb. 23, 1806
- James Keith Leach, born Oct. 7, 1811
Alpheus Leach (2), son of Alpheus, was born April 3, 1796, and married Elizabeth Cushing Mitchell, daughter of Bradford and Meribah (Keen) Mitchell. To this union were born the following children:
- Lucretia Mitchell Leach, who married Miller S. Oldham, of Pembroke
- James Cushing Leach, who is mentioned below
- Alice Leach, who married Linus Snow
- Warren S. Leach, who resides in Raynham, Massachusetts
James Cushing Leach, son of Alpheus (2) and Elizabeth C, was born July 11, 1831, in Bridgewater, Mass., where his father had a small farm. Here the son grew to manhood, drinking from nature the wholesome atmosphere of a most beautiful rural community and imbibing the not less attractive traditions of the sturdy and patriotic yeomanry who had thereabouts figured in historic scenes. He attended the neighborhood schools and at the age of seventeen began learning the carpenter’s trade with Ambrose Keith, a prominent builder of that locality, for whom he worked for a number of years. For a period thereafter he was in the employ of Joseph E. Carver, of Bridgewater, a cotton gin manufacturer.
Later on, tiring of working for others, ambitious to do for himself, Mr. Leach in the year 1870 began business on his own account as a manufacturer of oil-proof paper for use in the manufacture of shoes and boots, and in addition to this he also dealt in various kinds of shoe findings. This enterprise he conducted until the time of his death, and in it, through his business sagacity, his tact, enterprise and careful management, prospered.
As the years were passing and he was gaining in finances and ripening in experience, the ability and integrity of Mr. Leach naturally led him into other enterprises where such composition was sought by the promoters, and he was called into positions of trust and responsibility, his integrity and rare good judgment in matters in general making him available for such. For many years he was a trustee and member of the investment committee of the Bridgewater Savings Bank. He was for a number of years a director of the Brockton National Bank, and member of the Plymouth County Agricultural Society for a long period. He was an ardent advocate of public schools and interested in educational matters, ever ready to further progress along these lines, and as one of the trustees of the Bridgewater Academy he always manifested a great interest in the institution.
Mr. Leach as a Republican was chosen to represent his fellow citizens in the General Court of Massachusetts, serving most efficiently in the House in the years 1892 and 1893, and in the Senate in 1894, and was renominated for the office of senator the following year, his death occurring before the election. During such representation he served on important committees, among them that on Banking. In 1877 he was commissioned a justice of the peace by Governor Rice, and continued to hold a commission as such until his death.
Mr. Leach, too, was active and prominent in a number of fraternal societies and orders. He was a member of Fellowship Lodge, A. F. & A. M., and of Harmony Chapter, E. A. M., of Bridgewater, and of Bay State Commandery, K. T., of Brockton. He, too, was interested in religious societies and church organizations, a believer that much good came through them. He gave freely to the support of the Central Square Congregational Church of Bridgewater.
As a business man Mr. Leach had the reputation of being one of high order, one safe and conservative, and a man possessed of a high sense of honor and integrity. His death occurred at his home in Bridgewater, Mass., Oct. 3, 1895, and the loss to the community was keenly felt. His remains rest in beautiful Mount Prospect cemetery.
On April 29, 1860, Mr. Leach married Phebe, daughter of Marcus and Hannah (Leach) Conant, of Bridgewater, the former of whom was a native of the State of New Hampshire, and the latter of Massachusetts.
Mrs. Leach was born in Bridgewater, where her girlhood was passed and her education acquired, she being a graduate of the Bridgewater normal school. She, too, was for a period in her younger life before her marriage, a teacher in Bridgewater, Taunton and Raynham. During the lifetime of Mr. Leach she was active with him in social functions. She is an active member of the Church of the New Jerusalem of Bridgewater, is widely and favorably known, and is esteemed and respected. The three children born to herself and husband, Harriet Allen, Jason and Albert Marcus, all died in infancy. Mrs. Leach still occupies the beautiful residence on Pleasant street, one of the handsomest in the village, and built by Mr. Leach in 1869.
That branch of the Leach family to which Mrs. Phebe (Conant) Leach belongs through her mother, Mrs. Hannah (Leach) Conant, is descended from (I) Lawrence Leach, the first settler, through his son (II) Giles, (III) John, (IV) Jesse, (V) Giles and (VI) Hosea Leach, father of Hannah.
(IV) Jesse Leach, son of John, was born in Bridgewater in 1714. He and his wife, Alice, had four children, viz.
- Zadock Leach
- Giles Leach
- Alice Leach
- Calvin Leach
Mr. Leach died, and his widow married in 1772 Daniel Bacon.
(V) Giles Leach, son of Jesse, was born in Bridgewater. During the Revolutionary war he participated in the great struggle, his services, according to the Record of Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors in the War of the Revolution, being as follows:
“Giles Leach, Bridgewater (probably), private in a detachment from Capt. Joseph Keith’s company, Col. Edward Mitchell’s regiment, marched Dec. 8, 1776, service seven days; detachment marched to Bristol, R. I., on an alarm. Also Capt. Nathan Packard’s company, Col. Thomas Carpenter’s regiment, enlisted July 25, 1778, discharged Sept. 9, 1778; service one month and sixteen days, at Rhode Island; roll sworn to at Plymouth. Also Lieut. Samuel Dunbar’s company, Maj. Eliphalet Cary’s regiment, marched to Tiverton, R. L, on an alarm.”
Giles Leach married Mehitabel Wilbor, of Raynham, and their children were:
- Solomon Leach
- Hosea Leach
- Giles Leach
- Chloe Leach, who married in 1796 Zephaniah Wilbor
- Alice Leach, who married in 1804 Seth Grossman
- Laura Leach
- Betsy Leach, who married a Mr. Richmond
- Mehitabel Leach
- Abigail Leach, who married in 1809 Elias Ware, of Wrentham
(VI) Hosea Leach, son of Giles, was born in Bridgewater, and he there married Hannah Keith, daughter of Capt. Seth Keith, who was a Revolutionary soldier. To Hosea and Hannah (Keith) Leach was born:
- Hannah Leach, who married Marcus Conant, of Bridgewater, and became the mother of Phebe, who married James Cushing Leach, now deceased.
Capt. Seth Keith, father of Hannah Keith, served in the Revolution as follows:
“Seth Keith, Bridgewater, Capt. John Porter’s company, Col. Paul D. Sargent’s regiment, order for bounty coat or its equivalent in money, dated Cambridge, Nov. 20, 1775. Also private, Capt. Abraham Washburn’s (Bridgewater) company, Col. Edward Mitchell’s regiment, service six days; company marched to Horse Neck in Braintree March 4, 1776. Also list of men mustered by James Hatch, muster master for Plymouth county, to serve in the New England States until Jan. 1, 1779; resident Bridgewater; engaged for town of Bridgewater. Also private Capt. Nathan Rowle’s company, Col. John Jacob’s regiment; enlisted July 26, 1778, service six months, six days, at Rhode Island, enlistment to expire Jan. 11, 1779. Also corporal, Lieut. Samuel Dunbar’s company, Maj. Eliphalet Cary’s regiment, marched July 30, 1780; discharged Aug. 9, 1780; service eleven days; company marched to Tiverton, R. I., on an alarm.”
The Conant family is of long and honorable standing in Massachusetts, having settled there but three years after the landing of the Pilgrim Fathers, over two hundred and eighty years ago. The Conants in general since the coming to New England of the progenitor of the American family of the name, who is referred to in most complimentary terms by historians, have been industrious people, modest and of retiring disposition, but through force of strong personality of wealth, influence and power.
Roger Conant, who was baptized at All Saints’ Church, in the parish of East Burleigh, Devonshire, England, April 9, 1592, was the youngest member of a family of eight children born to Richard and Agnes (Clarke) Conant, and grandson of John Conant, of Devonshire. He came to America in the ship “Ann” in 1623, landing at Plymouth, where his stay, however, was brief, on account of religious differences. Roger Conant was known as a “pious, sober and prudent gentleman.” He was manager of the affairs of the Dorchester Company, who made a settlement at Cape Ann, in 1625 being chosen to take charge of that settlement, located on several islands in Gloucester Harbor, near Stag Head. He was the founder of Salem in 1626, and was governor of the Colony until the arrival of John Endicott, late in 1628. Although not universally recognized as the first governor of Massachusetts, this distinction fairly belongs to Roger Conant, for the settlement of which he was the head made the first permanent home in Massachusetts, and was the germ from which sprang the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Roger Conant was the most prominent man of those early days, and historians pay glowing tribute to his character and ability. He was a member of the second representative assembly that ever convened in America (the first being in Virginia), representing the town of Salem, where he held many important offices during his life, and with his wife was a member of the First Church of Salem, both signing the covenant in 1637. Mr. Conant died in Salem in 1679. His wife, Sarah Horton, whom he married in London, Nov. 11, 1618, was a native of the parish of St. Ann’s, Blackfriars, London.
Lot Conant, of Beverly or Bass River, Mass., son of Roger, married Elizabeth Walton.
William Conant, son of Lot, born Feb. 19, 1666-67, and baptized July 30th of that year at Beverly, married Mary, daughter of John Woodbury, of Beverly, and both were admitted to the church at Beverly Sept. 5, 1703, and both were dismissed to the church at Bridgewater, Mass., Jan. 12, 1706-07. In 1706 Mr. Conant bought land of Nathaniel Allen in East Bridgewater, on the north bank of Satucket river. On this he built a house the same year, which he occupied until the time of his death (the house was taken down in 1811), His will was proved in 1754. The children of William, and Mary Conant were:
- Mary Conant, born April 4, 1694
- William Conant, born Jan. 30, 1696
- David Conant, born Dec. 11, 1698
- Elizabeth Conant, baptized Nov. 16, 1702
- Abigail Conant
- Hannah Conant, baptized Aug. 5, 1705
- Sarah Conant, born in 1708
- Ruth Conant, born in 1711 (the latter two in Bridgewater)
David Conant, son of William, born Dec. 11, 1698, in Beverly, married Sarah, born in 1705, daughter of Benjamin and Sarah (Aldrich) Hayward, he a grandson of Thomas Hayward, who came from England and settled at Duxbury, and became one of the original proprietors and first settlers of Bridgewater. Mr. Conant removed to Bridgewater with his parents while yet a child; occupied the house built by his father in 1706 till about 1780, when it passed into the possession of the Whitman family, and he moved to Lyme, N. H. He died at Lyme April 3, 1789. The children of David and Sarah were:
- William Conant, born Sept. 12, 1724
- David Conant, April 6, 1726
- Jemima Conant, May 12, 1732
- Jonathan Conant, Oct. 25, 1734
- Solomon Conant, Sept. 24, 1737
- William Conant, Jan. 29, 1742
David Conant (2), son of David, born April 6, 1726, in Bridgewater, Mass., married in 1748 Rhoda, daughter of Thomas and Deborah (Harden) Latham. Mr. Conant built and lived in a one-story house, near his father’s, in South Bridgewater. He died in 1760. His children were:
- Elias Conant, born in 1749
- Mary Conant, born in 1752
- Solomon Conant, born in 1756
- Rufus Conant, born in 1757
- David Conant, born in 1759
Elias Conant, son of David (2) and Rhoda, was born in 1749 in Bridgewater, Mass., where he resided. He served for a short period in the war of the Revolution; was in Allen’s company of Gary’s regiment. Mr. Conant married in 1774 Joanna, born in 1755, daughter of Phineas Conant. Their children were:
- Huldah Conant, born in 1779
- William Conant, born in 1778
- William Conant (2), born in 1780
- Martin Conant, born Aug. 26, 1787
Martin Conant, son of Elias, born Aug. 26, 1787, in Bridgewater, married in 1805 in Bridgewater Lucy Mehurin, born July 9, 1785, in Bridgewater. Mr. Conant removed to Lyme, N. H. He was a farmer and shoemaker, and died April 8, 1877. His wife died June 1, 1873, in Lyme, N. H. Their children were:
- Marcus Conant, born Sept. 12, 1806, died July 30, 1901
- Asa Conant, born Dec. 26, 1807, died Dec. 30, 1887
- Calvin Conant, born May 25, 1809, married Olive Nickerson, and died Aug. 18, 1883
- William Conant, born Dec. 1, 1810, died Aug. 8, 1811
- Sarah Conant, born March 29, 1812, married Harrison Bowman, of Sandwich, and died April 12, 1876
- Phebe Conant, born Jan. 2, 1814, married Pyam Whitman, and died July 16, 1834, in Bridgewater
- Martin Allen Conant, born Oct. 21, 1815, died Sept. 14, 1892
- Seth P. Conant, born Aug. 11, 1817, married Elizabeth Ball, and died Nov. 20, 1894
- Lucy Conant, born March 18, 1821, married John Alvin Powers, of Milford, N. H., and died Sept, 20, 1851
- Hannah Conant, born Jan. 21, 1824, died in January, 1900
- Joanna Conant, born April 18, 1826, married Erastus Chilton Hayward, of Bridgewater, and died May 13, 1851
- William Henry Conant, born March 7, 1828, died Sept. 21, 1908
- Susan Conant, born Sept. 24, 1830, died March 12, 1885
Marcus Conant, son of Martin, was born Sept. 12, 1806, at Lyme, N. H., and there grew to manhood and learned the trade of wheelwright, Upon finishing his trade, at the age of twenty-one years, he came to Bridgewater, the home of his ancestors for so many generations, and here he followed the carpenter’s and millwright’s trades. He became interested in cotton gin manufacturing, being connected with Carver, Washburn & Co., and later with Bates, Hyde & Co. and Joseph Carver. His last years were spent at the home of his daughter, where he died at the age of ninety-five years, and was laid to rest in Mount Prospect cemetery, Bridgewater. He was well known and highly respected throughout the community. On May 18, 1835, Mr. Conant married Hannah Leach, who was born in Bridgewater, daughter of Hosea and Hannah (Keith) Leach. Two children were born to this union:
- Joanna Conant, who married Alfred Hall, of Raynham, and they reside in Cambridge, Mass., the parents of two sons, William Morton and Francis Marcus (both well-known lawyers of New York City)
- Phebe Conant, who married James Cushing Leach, now deceased, of Bridgewater, where she still resides.