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.
Albert Cranston Thompson, a resident of Brockton, Plymouth county, for over forty years, was a citizen of proved worth in business and public life. His influence in both is a permanent factor in the city’s development, a force which dominates the policy of at least one phase of its civil administration, and his memory is cherished by the many with whom he had long sustained commercial and social relations. As the head of an important industrial concern for a period of over thirty years, as chairman for nearly ten years, up to the time of his death, of the sewerage commissioners of Brockton, as president of the Commercial Club, as an active worker in church and social organizations, he had a diversity of interests which brought him into contact with all sorts and conditions of men and broadened his life to an unusual degree. Good will and sympathy characterized his intercourse with all his fellows. As may be judged from his numerous interests and his activity in all he was a man of many accomplishments, of unusual ability, of attractive personality and un-questionable integrity. He was earnest in everything which commanded his attention and zealous in promoting the welfare of any object which appealed to him, and his executive ability and untiring energy made him an ideal worker in the different organizations of every kind with which he was connected. Mr. Thompson was a native of the county in which he passed all his life, having been born Dec. 19, 1843, in Halifax, a descendant of one of the oldest and best known families of that town. The families of Thompson and Fuller were very numerous and prominent in that region, so much so that according to tradition a public speaker once, in opening his address, instead of beginning with the customary “Ladies and Gentlemen” said “Fullers and Thompsons.” So much for their numbers. The line of descent is traced back to early Colonial days.
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
WILLIAM P. WHITMAN, president and treasurer of the well-known shoe manufacturing concern of the Whitman & Keith Company, of Brockton, and one of that city’s successful and progressive business men, as was his father before him, is a descendant of distinguished and historic New England ancestry. Mr. Whitman is a direct descendant of John Alden and Priscilla Mullins, of the “Mayflower,” 1620; of Rev. James Keith, the first ordained minister of Bridgewater; and of John Whitman, who settled in Weymouth, Mass., as early as 1638, from whom descended many persons eminent in professional life and otherwise, among them Dr. Marcus Whitman, who saved the vast territory of Oregon to the United States; Hon. Ezekiel Whitman, for many years chief justice of the Superior and Supreme courts of the State of Maine; and Hon. William E. Russell, twice governor of Massachusetts.
Nicholas Snow, a native of England, came to this country in 1623 in the ship “Ann,” locating in Plymouth, where he had a share in the division of land in 1624. In 1634 he removed to Eastham, where he became a prominent citizen. His home was on the road from Plymouth to Eel river, on the Westerly side. He was admitted a freeman in 1633, and was elected town clerk at the first meeting of the town of Eastham, holding that office sixteen years. He was deputy to the General Court from 1648, three years; selectman from 1663, seven years. He and his son Mark signed the call to Rev. John Mayo to settle as their minister in 1655. He was one of Gov. Thomas Prence’s associates. He married at Plymouth, Constance, daughter of Stephen Hopkins, who came over in the “Mayflower.” Constance herself came in the “Mayflower.” She died in October, 1677. Mr. Snow died Nov. 15, 1676, in Eastham, Mass.
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.