The Stetson family of Bridgewater is one of the oldest and most prominent in that section of the State, and it has for upward of two centuries been identified with the manufacturing interests of the town, its representatives being the founders of the iron industry of Bridgewater. Especial reference is made to Capt. Abisha Stetson, who was one of the first to engage in the iron business; his son, Nahum Stetson, whose name was a household word in his native town, and who by his great foresight, enterprise and progressive ideas built up the great Bridgewater Iron Works; and the latter’s sons and grandsons, all men of substance and good citizenship.
Horace Alden Keith, founder of the Brockton Webbing Company, one of the successful and thriving industries of Brockton, and one of that city’s enterprising and progressive business men, is a descendant on both his paternal and maternal sides of historic old New England ancestry. Mr. Keith was born in West Bridgewater May 25, 1862, eldest son of the late Henry Snell and Thalia (Alden) Keith. The ancestral line of the branch of the Keith family in this country to which Horace Alden Keith belongs, and which follows, is given in chronological order from the first American ancestor. Rev. James Keith, born in 1644, was educated in Aberdeen, Scotland (as tradition says at the expense of a maiden aunt), where he was graduated likely from Marischal College, his name appearing on the roll of 1657, said college having been founded by George, the fifth Earl of Keith Marischal, in 1593. At the age of eighteen years he emigrated to this country, arriving at Boston in 1662. He was introduced to the church at Bridgewater by Dr. Increase Mather, and became settled as the minister of the Bridgewater Church Feb. 18, 1664. Rev. James Keith passed away in West Bridgewater July 23, 1719, aged seventy-six years, having labored in the ministry of the town for fifty-six years.
KELLEY (New Bedford family Haverhill branch). At New Bedford for several generations have lived what for designation may be termed the Haverhill-New Bedford Kelleys. Reference is made to some of the descendants of William Kelley and his wife Abigail (Cannon) Kelley, both natives of the town of Haverhill, one of whose sons, the late Henry C. Kelley, was in the earlier half of the nineteenth century a merchant in New Bedford, and his son, the present Charles Sampson Kelley, since young manhood has been one of the most active and useful citizens of the city, having coupled his name with most if not all of the projects which have tended to the developing and modernizing of the city, one whose efforts in this direction have been especially conspicuous; and who, as a business man, banker and broker, is the architect of his own successful career.
The name Kelley, which was originally spelled Kelleigh, can be traced back to a period prior to the Norman conquest, and its barons are undoubtedly descended from the ancient Britons. The principal manorial seat of the family in England has been for many centuries located in the small parish of Kelly (or Kelley) in Devonshire. Burke and Shirley both agree as to its great antiquity, and the latter asserts that the Kellys have been lords of the manor from the reign of Henry II. (1154-1189). All the Kelleys in New England prior to 1690, with the exception of David Kelley of Yarmouth, Mass., freeman, 1657, and possibly one other family, appear to have been of English origin, and in all probability were of the Devonshire stock.
Ellis Brett, president of the Plymouth County Trust Company, of Brockton, and one of that city’s honored and respected citizens, is a worthy representative of historic New England ancestry, the Brett family having resided in this community since the first settlement of the mother town of Bridgewater, from which the town of North Bridgewater (now Brockton) was set off. Mr. Brett was born in the latter town Oct. 23, 1840, only son of Ephraim and Ruth (Copeland) Brett. The early history of the Brett family in America begins with William Brett, who came to Duxbury, Mass., in 1645, from Kent, England, and later became one of the fifty-four original proprietors and first settlers of the town of ancient Bridgewater, settling in the West parish of the town. He was an elder in the church, and often when the Rev. James Keith, the first ordained pastor of the church there, was ill, Mr. Brett preached to the people. He was a leading man in both church and town affairs, and was deputy to the General Court from the date of the in-corporation of ancient Bridgewater in 1656 to 1661. That he was well educated and intelligent is manifest from a letter to Governor Winslow, still extant, and he was much esteemed by his brethren and often employed in their secular affairs. He died Dec. 17, 1681, aged sixty-three years
For nearly fifty years the name of Whipple has been one of Brockton citizenship, representing a family here of substance and exceptional prominence in the community. Reference is made to the late Ferdinand Whipple and his son, the present Hon. John Jay Whipple, who together and in turn have been among Brockton’s successful business men, the son having figured conspicuously in public affairs, filling most of the offices within the gift of his fellow citizens, among other honors having been four times elected to the mayoralty of the city of Brockton. The Whipple family is one long prominent in the country, the earlier generations having been conspicuous in Rhode Island’s Colonial period, it being a Rhode Island family.
The Perkins family is one of long and honorable standing in America, being one of the oldest in New England, where it is first found of record in Hampton – then in Massachusetts, now in New Hampshire. This family has numbered among its members men who have been prominent in the learned professions as well as in the business and financial circles of this country. This article is to particularly treat of that branch of the family through which descended the late John Perkins, of Bridgewater, of which town his ancestors were early settlers, and where he was actively identified with the iron manufacturing industry for a number of years. The ancestral line of this branch of the family is here given in chronological order from the first American settler, Abraham Perkins. Through his grandmother, Huldah Ames Hayward, who became the wife of Asa Perkins, Mr. Perkins is also descended from another of the oldest and best known families of Massachusetts. The progenitor of this family, Thomas Hayward, came from England to New England, becoming one of the early settlers of Duxbury before 1638. In the early part of the eighteenth century many of the Haywards changed their name to Howard, the two names in all probability having been the same originally, as both have the same Norse origin. Among the distinguished descendants of this Hayward or Howard family may be mentioned William Howard Taft, president of the United States. The branch of the family through which Mr. Perkins descends is herewith given, in chronological order.
BRADFORD ELLIOT JONES, of Brockton, one of the best known merchants of southeastern Massachusetts, is also one of that city’s most enterprising and successful business men, and as a citizen has been prominently identified with the growth and development of its business and financial institutions. Mr. Jones was born Sept. 22, 1840, in North Bridgewater, now Brockton, son of Rosseter and Hannah (Marshall) Jones, and a descendant of several of New England’s earliest settled families. A record of that branch of the Jones family to which Mr. Bradford E. Jones belongs follows, the generations being given in chronological order.
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.
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.