OLD DARTMOUTH HISTORICAL SKETCH
Being the proceedings of the Meeting of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society, Water Street, New Bedford, Massachusetts, on September 22, 1910.
ABRAHAM AND ZERVIAH (RICKETSON) SMITH AND THEIR NINETEEN CHILDREN
by Rebecca Williams Hawes
[Note.—The “Old Dartmouth Historical Sketches” will be published by the Society quarterly and may be purchased for ten cents each on application to the Secretary and also at Hutchinson’s Book Store.]
Proceedings of the Meeting of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society
New Bedford, Massachusetts
September 22, 1910
President Edmund Wood, in presiding said:
“We have met tonight for our regular quarterly meeting. The period since our last meeting has been a quiet one for this society.
This quiet almost seems to be accented by the bustle which surrounds us.
New Bedford is passing through a period of great industrial activity. The face of the city seems to change overnight. Every issue of our newspapers tells of the starting of some new industry, or the expansion of some present one. The older citizen bewails the passing of the ancient landmarks, and regrets the fragrant orchards and green fields of his youth, now crowded with tall and monotonous tenement houses. And the city is growing in wealth, and the evidences of it and our multiplying population almost equals the guesses and predictions of our most sanguine boomers.
The character of this population is changing more rapidly than we can realize. The New Bedford of today is all that many of our citizens remember, and is all that some of them think worth remembering. They cry out, ‘Better the years 1909 and 1910 in New Bedford’s history than a cycle of Old Dartmouth.’
Some of us here tonight are all day long in the midst of this exciting bustle and restless activity. We are participating in New Bedford’s growth and have a lively faith in its continued advancement. We have had our shoulder to the wheel all day, striving even to accelerate the pace of building expansion. The present absorbs us, and our absorption is intense.
When we enter the atmosphere of this building we almost experience a shock. But it is a healthy shock. It takes us a few moments to readjust the focus, to put on our distance lenses and distinguish things that are not directly before our noses. Gradually as we breathe longer the quiet atmosphere of this place our perspective changes and we are able to project the crowding foreground of our vision and discern again the serene and beautiful background of New Bedford life.
We are not disloyal to the glory of the advancing present; but we shall be better citizens tomorrow because of this lapse tonight into the past, and because of the [more correct] vision we thus gain of the proportions of our picture and the relative values of the things we are striving after.”
Miss Hawes had on view an interesting exhibit of relics of the Family of Abraham and Zerviah (Ricketson) Smith.
Abraham and Zerviah (Ricketson) Smith and their Ninteen Children.
(A Typical New England Family)
by Rebecca Williams Hawes
A few years ago, I was introduced to a genealogist who was collecting records of the Ricketson family of Dartmouth, as “one who knew more about Abraham and Zerviah Ricketson and their nineteen children than any other person living.” I was able to furnish her, then, with many data of value, and later agreed, at the request of this Society, to gather all material I could in connection with this typical New England family for publication in its records.
Of the nineteen children, four died in infancy; of the fifteen living to maturity, I have seen and distinctly remember twelve, including the oldest and the youngest. My final decision as to the broad scope of this paper was determined after reading an address given in Boston at the 65th anniversary of the New England Historic-Genealogical Society, by Charles K. Bolton, treasurer of that society, on “The New Genealogy.” That address should be read before this and every other genealogical society in our land. It is a plea for developing genealogy as a science,—not a dead, dry record of names and dates, or, at best, including mere data of military and political service and distinction. He says:
“The present genealogy is weak in that it does not closely ally itself with other fields of serious research. If it is to receive honor from the historian, the anthropologist or the sociologist, it must contribute something to the sciences into which these men delve. For any true science does contribute to every other true science, but, in so far as it contributes merely to vanity and self satisfaction it is unworthy to rank as science.”
And he appeals for a genealogy that shall include and record details of family traits, habits, development, education, heredity, modes of living, etc., that shall make it no longer a dead thing, but alive with human and scientific interest. He further says:
“Has any genealogist ever taken the average size of his ancestral families and then examined those children where the family group exceeds the normal to see whether the group tendency is toward genius or degeneracy? Shall we not some day find a great grandson who will take more pride in the fact that his log cabin ancestor owned a copy of Paradise Lost, than that he fought at Louisburg? There is a theory deduced from the English Dictionary of National Biography that the oldest child has a much greater likelihood of a distinguished career than its brothers and sisters; next to him in importance comes the youngest child.”
It is said that the family of Abraham and Zerviah Smith is the largest one ever born in Dartmouth. Surely, here is a group of abnormal size with which to make an experiment along the lines suggested. To make this record of more value to the descendants, I have gone back to its Mayflower-Pilgrim beginning, introducing it by details of the Pilgrim colony and its founders, quoted from the noble address of Dr. Eliot at the dedication of the Pilgrim monument at Provincetown, on August 5, 1910.
From President Eliot’s Address.
“In July, 1623, the number of Pilgrims who had reached America was, in all, about 233, but at the close of that year there were living at Plymouth, including the children and servants, not more than 183 of these immigrants who had suffered for conscience sake. It is an inspiring instance of immense moral and material results being brought about by a small group of devoted men and women whose leading motives were spiritual and religious. These first comers put their opinions and ideas into practice with marvelous consistency. Their works were humble, their lives simple and obscure, their worldly success but small, their fears many and pressing, and their vision of the future limited and dim; but they were inspired by a love of freedom, and they wanted all sorts of freedom—of thought, of the press, of labor, of trade, of education and of worship. They were genuine pioneers of liberty, and the history of the world since the anchor of the Mayflower was dropped in Cape Cod harbor demonstrates that the fruits and issues of their pioneering are the most prodigious in all history. It does not matter that there were but 41 men to take part in the first proceedings. It was a small beginning, but who can comprehend or describe the immensity of the outcome. One of their first declarations was ‘We are knit together in a body, in a most strict and sacred bond and covenant of the Lord, of the violation whereof we make great conscience, and by virtue whereof we do hold ourselves straightly tied to all care of each other’s good, and of the whole by everyone, and so mutually.’ The Pilgrims were pioneers in the practice of industrial and financial co-operation. For seven years, all profits and benefits got by trade, fishing or any other means, remained in common stock, and from this common stock all were to have meat, drink, wearing apparel and all provisions. At the end of the seven years the capital and profits, viz.—the houses, lands, goods and chattels, were divided equally between the ‘adventurers’—those who furnished money, and the ‘planters’ or workers. One share each was allotted to women, children above sixteen and servants. At the end of seven years every planter was to own the house and garden occupied by him. During the seven years every planter was to work four days in each week for the colony and two for himself and his family. No hereditary titles or privileges ever existed among them. All the able-bodied men brought over by the Mayflower, the Fortune and the Anne worked hard with their hands, and all men bore arms as a matter of course. The assignment of quarters in the Mayflower and Speedwell, at the sailing of the Pilgrims from Southampton, illustrates the democratic practices of the colonists. To prevent any suspicion of favoritism, some of the leaders went in the narrow quarters of the sixty ton Speedwell, a vessel only one-third the size of the Mayflower,—yet no community ever recognized its leaders more frankly or followed them better. The original company of adventurers and planters was never a well-conducted, prosperous commercial organization, and in two generations they found themselves making part of the new Royal Province of Massachusetts and under the rule of a royal governor. We have great difficulty in realizing that the original Pilgrims had no vision at all of the ultimate triumph, on a prodigious scale, of the social and governmental principles in support of which they left home and country and struggled all their lives to establish new homes and a new social order on the edge of an unexplored wilderness. We honor them, largely, because of their sacrifices, dangers and labors, so bravely endured, without any knowledge of the issues of their endurance and devotion.”
How different is this record from that described by a historian of Plymouth, who says: “How striking is the contrast between the voyages of Carver and of Winthrop. The Plymouth colonists, hunted and imprisoned like felons, and glad to escape by artifice and stealth into Holland, finally embarked for America, unknown, unhonored and unsung. The Massachusetts Bay colonists set out in a grand array, filling a fleet of eleven ships, the admiral of the fleet, in the Arabella, carrying 52 seamen and twenty pieces of ordnance. As they sailed by the fort at Yarmouth, England, they were saluted by its royal guns as ‘adventurers’ whose enterprise, under the broad seal of the king, would reflect honor and renown on the British empire.”
Another fine tribute, lately published, says: “If we have modified some of their theological notions, we have not found ourselves able profitably to dispense with the finer qualities of the Pilgrim character. We cannot do without their inexorable sense of justice, of the equality of every man with every other, of the little vital difference there is in the sight of God between the best of us and the most hardened criminal. If we are to realize the loftiest ideals as a nation or as individuals, we cannot far depart from the established ways of our forefathers; we must conserve the Pilgrim tradition, we must keep alive the memories of the Pilgrims, not alone in monuments of granite, but in our daily performance as living men.”
The Pilgrims of the Mayflower were followed by Quaker Pilgrims from England, who left the first settlement at Plymouth and settled at Duxbury. From there, Arthur and Henry Howland, brothers of John of the Mayflower, who was not a Quaker, moved to Dartmouth and were among the first founders of the faith which became the ruling power in the first settlement at Apponagansett and others adjoining. There the first Friends’ meeting house was built in 1698-1699. While still a resident of Marshfield, near Duxbury, Arthur Howland was brought many times before the Plymouth court and fined for holding Quaker meetings in his house, etc. The History of Bristol County says, “The same causes that sent to our shores the Pilgrim pioneers impelled the persecuted Quakers to seek shelter here.” Ellis’s History of New Bedford says: “It is well established that, notwithstanding the attitude of the Quakers in military affairs, they were, as a people, loyal, in their sympathies, to the cause of freedom, and there are several cases on record where they rendered military service. Whatever may be said of them in regard to their relations to the bearing of arms, it must be admitted that they exercised a healthy and benign influence in times of peace, and that their societies, scattered throughout the land, were wellsprings of pure and enlightened thought. They fostered and encouraged education and lent their political influence in modifying many of the cruel punishments meted out to the criminal classes. Their societies were the unswerving friends of the slave. The records of Dartmouth Monthly Meeting mention a number of cases where some of the members were rebuked and others disowned for abusing Indians and beating their slaves!”
It is from two members of this original band of Quaker-Pilgrim stock that we have the record which I have prepared for their descendants and this society—a duty and a privilege which I gratefully appreciate. Starting at Plymouth Rock, I have followed the “trail” west, via San Francisco, to the Hawaiian Islands, and have set down nothing that I have not verified by copies of all records and my own personal knowledge. These two men were John Smith and William Ricketson.
First John Smith of Dartmouth—Born in England in 1618; it is not recorded when he arrived in Plymouth, but when about eleven years old he became apprenticed to Edward Dotey of the Mayflower for full term of ten years.
The record says: [1633, Plymouth Court, Winslow, Governor.]
“That whereas John Smith, being in a great extremite formerly, and to be freed of the same, bound himself as an apprentice to Edward Dotey for the term of ten years,—upon the petition of said John Smith, the court took the matter into hearing; and finding the said Edward had disbursed but little for him, freed said John Smith from his covenant of ten years, and bound him to make up the term he had already served the said Edward for the full term of five years, and to the end thereof; the said Edward to give him double apparel, and so be free of each other.”
He then became a “boatleman” or able seaman. On June 5, 1651, he was admitted as a “freeman of Plymouth,” and the same day was sworn on the grand jury; 1652, chosen on coroner’s jury; 1653, January, sailed on expedition to “fight at Manhattoes” but, as peace was declared, he soon returned to his family.
He had married, Jan. 4, 1648, Deborah, daughter of Arthur Howland of Marshfield, entered into their faith of Friends or Quakers, and, with them, paid the penalty for “holding Quaker meetings” and “entertayneing foreign Friends.” Arthur Howland removed to Dartmouth from Marshfield, also his brother Henry; they were brothers of John Howland of the Mayflower, and were both English Quakers, coming in the James in 1623.
In spite of difficulties, John Smith prospered, and was assigned “a house, messuage and garden spot on ye north side of North Street, Plymouth, which he exchanged with Edward Doty Jr., son of his former master, for lands in Apponeganset, Dartmouth.” I have copy of Plymouth record of this deed, dated Oct. 6. 1665, and he probably took possession then. He was already recorded as having an “interest” in Apponegansett in 1663, and his final holdings equaled “1,200 acres or more.” The corporate existence of Dartmouth dates from 1664. There were 34 whole “shares” originally divided into three “divisions” of 800-500-500 acres each, “and had lots of land left.” The land sold to John Smith by Edward Doty was “two seavenths, or two parts of seaven, of a whole share, with all and singular the woods, waters, meadow lands, immunities, appurtenances and proffits whatsoever.” On this land he built his home on what is known on the old maps as “Smith’s Neck, lying south of Rock-a-dunder Road.” Why this locality still holds his name is apparent from the fact that the title to nearly all that strip of land, for most of the time since 1665, has been held in the name of Smith.
The Old Homestead Hill meadow burial place dates from Jan. 17, 1692, the day of the burial of John Smith. His will, of which I have a copy, was probated at Taunton, Jan. 26th, 1694. In this burial place are laid seven successive generations of his descendants, and one of the eighth generation is now in possession.
He married, 2nd, Ruhamah Kirby, and was the father of thirteen children. There are no records of any public service by him in Dartmouth before 1672, when he was appointed surveyor of highways. Meanwhile, he had built his home, cleared his farm and cultivated it, and had endured all the privations and dangers of a pioneer, the perils of savage warfare and persecution for “conscience sake.” On March 4, 1663, he was appointed “Leeftenant” of a company raised for protection against the Indians. The record of Plymouth court on this date says he was the first man to receive a military commission, and also a civil commission from the governor and court in and for the township of Plymouth. He was on duty when the Indian war broke out in Dartmouth, June, 1665. He was later among those appointed to distribute funds raised for relief of sufferers after the Indian war.
Drake’s History says: “They (the Indians) burnt nearly thirty houses in Dartmouth, killing many people after a barbarous manner.” Increase Mather’s account says: “Dartmouth did they burn with fire and barbarously murdered both men and women,” and gives harrowing details of torture and scalping. Ellis’s History says: “Those who escaped the tomahawk and scalping knife fled to the garrisons for protection.” The inhabitants of Apponagansett probably took refuge in the Russell garrison about a mile above the mouth of the river; the cellars are still clearly defined, indicating that the house was about twenty feet square, with an “ell” on the south about ten feet square. Dartmouth was not called upon for soldiers by the Plymouth authorities during King Philip’s War, because of the maintenance of the garrisons by the settlers, and for several years after peace had been declared, the town was exempted from taxation.
The practical organization of the township of Dartmouth dates from its first town meeting, May 22, 1674. After its destruction in 1675 and the return of the settlers to their farms, John Smith was appointed, 1675, “viewer of fences” to establish boundaries. At a town meeting held June 20th, 1678, the first that finds record after the attack, the term of release from taxation, three years, having expired, John Smith, John Russell and Peleg Shearman were chosen as “raters.” This record is on the second page of the oldest original records of Dartmouth now in existence. The functions of the town were fully resumed in 1679, and a full list of officials was chosen. The township seems now to have settled into a permanent organization, and its steady development is seen from the existing records. At a town meeting in 1684, John Smith and twelve others “took the oath of fidelity, or freeman’s oath.” He was then 66 years old, and no other public record of him is found before his death in 1692. In his will, dated June 8th, 1691, only six months before his death, John Smith appoints his wife and his oldest son, Deliverance, as executors. This son took the freeman’s oath at the same time as his father, in 1684, and appears to have been his successor as head of the family. John Smith having, according to his will “given and conveyed” portions of his land to his five daughters, added for each “one cow and two ewe sheep”—all stock remaining to be “managed and maintained” for his wife by their sons Judah and Gershom Smith. The homestead and all “movables” were given to said wife for her life, and these two sons evidently remained there, or near, until her death. Then the will divided all “undevised” lands among his six sons, with ten acres to an orphan grandson. He remained firm in the Quaker faith, rendering it faithful service, and all his children and grandchildren were equally loyal to it.
(2) Gershom Smith, 2nd son of John Smith, born___. Married Rebecca Ripley, June 6, 1695. Died April 3, 1718.
I find few records of this ancestor, and he only survived his father sixteen years. He lived on land at Smith’s Neck, inherited by him, but the final survey was not made until 1710, when the “propriators” of Dartmouth were compelled by a court decree “to make a complete distribution of all lands.” The portion at the end of the “point” was given to oldest son Hezekiah; north of this were farms of Gershom and Judah; the records say “these were parts of the homestead of their father, John Smith, as early as 1672, when he was surveyor of the town.” Gershom evidently was a faithful “Friend,” but did not live to bear such testimony to his faith as his brothers who outlived him and entered upon their struggle against “Church and State” after the Indian war, before the Revolution, true descendants of the men of whom it was said, “They did not fear the Indian, if they could only escape the Puritan.”
(3) Jonathan Smith, son of Gershom and Rebecca Ripley, was born May 15, 1706. Married Phebe Russell.
(4) Jonathan Jr., born April 18, 1727. Married Sylvia, daughter of Barnabas and Rebekah Howland, March 11, 1748. I have certified copy of marriage certificate signed in Friends’ meeting by 32 relatives and friends. He was a blacksmith, and the first of the family, I find, who lived in New Bedford. There is a record of his house, a low one-story building, built and occupied at the “North End,” on N. Second Street, about 1772. His shop stood near. Jonathan Jr., was born in Apponagansett, and probably served his apprenticeship in the “Bloomery” established by Jas. and Henry Leonard and Ralph Leonard at Raynham, or at the branch of Captain Jas. Leonard at the site of N. Easton village, which was opened in 1723 and became well known later as the Eliphalet Leonard forge. The latter, before 1771, built a forge on land deeded to him in 1765. It is claimed that here steel was first made in this country, also that firearms were made here before and during the Revolution. At Furnace Village in a forge started in 1751, owned by Samuel Leonard and others of Taunton, cannon were made for the army of the Revolution. Jonathan Smith Jr. was a skilled workman in this branch of his trade, and from him was transmitted to his son Abraham the exceptional mechanical gifts which have been inherited by several generations of his descendants.
Jonathan Jr. died Oct. 27th, 1792, aged 65.
Sylvia Howland, his wife, died___, 1822, aged 90.
(5) Abraham Smith, son of Jonathan Jr. and Sylvia Smith, the subject of this record, born March 20, 1747, died March 24, 1826, aged 79 years. Married Zerviah Ricketson, Oct. 6, 1769. They had 19 children, the largest family ever raised in Dartmouth.
I add here records of two other sons of John (1)—as being illustrative of the history of their generation.
(1) John, (2) Deliverance Smith, oldest son of John, was executor of his father’s will and evidently his successor as head of the family. There is record of land “surveyed and set off” to him by Her Majesty’s commissioners, 5 mo. 25, 1711. This was in addition to that inherited from his father which included the homestead now in possession of the 8th generation; the record says there were “two divisions, 1600 acres, with allowance for swamps and afterwards more lands.” There are nineteen items of record in the proceeding of the Dartmouth town meeting concerning Deliverance Smith, in regard to his services in surveying, town matters, and building of Apponegansett meeting house. The longest one records his imprisonment in Bristol County jail, because he could not, for conscience sake, assess the sum of £60 annexed to the queen’s tax, for the support of a hireling ministry. “Friends, having sympathized with him in his sufferings, do appoint his brother Judah Smith and Benj. Howland to procure a hand to manage said Delv. Smith’s business whilst he is a prisoner on acc’t of trouble and Friends, and to engage him his wages, and the Monthly meeting to reimburse the same.” A later entry records the payment of this money. A local historian says, “By a freak of fate, he was committed to a jail which had been built in part with money collected by his father, John Smith.”
He was a steadfast and consistent member of the Quaker faith of his parents and grandparents, and in his generation bore frequent “testimony” to his religious belief. In 1709 he was impressed for military service in Canada, refused and was taken with others before Governor Dudley and discharged. He had ten children, whose descendants are well represented in the Tucker and Crapo families of the county. He died June 20, 1729, and was buried in the Old Homestead hill burial place at Smith’s Neck.
Eliashub Smith. (2), 4th son of John. (1) born.
A share of Dartmouth lands given June 20, 1684, to Henry Tucker of Milton, “to build a grist mill” was inherited by his son Abm. Who sold “land and all mill interests” to Eliashub Smith, son of John Smith; deed dated May 4, 1707. The records say, “he was a young man, and from that time the place was called ‘Smith’s Mills,’ and it still retains the name.” “He married Dinah Allen in Friends’ meeting, June 24, 1704. His steady habits and the Society of Friends helped him to prosperity in his business for 60 years, and, having become aged, he turned the mills over to his son, Joseph, having faithfully served his day and generation.”
(1) William Ricketson came to Dartmouth from Portsmouth, R.I., in 1684. Records, recently printed, prove that he resided and operated a mill in Portsmouth in the years 1682-1683, and his deeds of the Dartmouth farm are dated 1684; his house, still standing, was built by him personally and probably in that year. This house is fully described in papers published by this Society; and a picture of it is hung in this building; one competent historian calls it “a magnificent house, a palace for those days; the workmanship and material of the chimney and the mantelpiece (which is now a valued possession of this Society) proclaim the builder a master in his trade.” He established a saw mill on the Westport River nearby, where he doubtless prepared the material for his house.
He married Elizabeth, daughter of Adam Mott of Rhode Island, and died March 1, 1691. She survived him many years and married again.
(2) Jonathan, son of William and Elizabeth, died Oct. 16, 1768, aged 80 years, 7 months. Married Abigail Howland, who died Jan. 15, 1769.
(3) John, son of Jonathan and Abigail, died May 8, 1794, aged 74. Married Phebe Russell, who died Nov. 3, 1770.
(4) Zerviah, daughter of John and Phebe Russell, born Jan. 21. 1751, died Dec. 29. 1817.
“I have enjoyed through life the advantage of being, in the true sense, ‘well born.’ My parents were good and wise, honorable and honored, sound in body and mind.”
Frances Power Cobbe.
Abraham Smith, born March 30, 1747, died March 24, 1826.
Zerviah Ricketson, born Jan. 21, 1751, died Dec. 29, 1817.
Married Oct. 6. 1769, and had 19 children:
1. Asa, born May 24, 1770; married Oct. 18, 1792; died Feb. 24, 1849.
2. Elihu, born Aug. 9, 1771; married March 10, 1801; died Oct. 3, 1825.
3. Obed, born Nov. 22. 1772; married May 14, 1797; died April 17, 1831.
4. Phebe, born Oct. 27. 1773; married Oct. 18, 1795; died June 2. 1855.
5. Sylvia, born Dec. 5, 1774; died October, 1775.
6. Stephen, born Oct. 25, 1776; married Sept. 21, 1814; died April 23, 1854.
7. Rufus, born Feb. 23, 1778; died July 20, 1779.
8. Mary, born July 9, 1779; married Feb. 28, 1805; died June 26, 1855.
9. Judith, born April 4, 1781; died July 17, 1786.
10. Thomas, born Jan. 30, 1783; died Jan. 5. 1785.
11. Zerviah, born May 28, 1784; married June 17, 1808; died Dec. 5, 1857.
12. Abigail, born May 1, 1786; married May 4, 1826; died March 9, 1863.
13. Abraham Jr., born Jan. 3, 1788; died Dec. 24, 1811.
14. Rebecca, born June 5, 1789; married Feb. 18, 1808; died Dec. 26, 1873.
15. Sarah, born Sept. 30, 1790; died May 26, 1877.
16. Isaac, born July 26, 1792; married Jan. 6, 1837; died July 31, 1860.
17. Elizabeth, born Dec. 27, 1793; married Jan. 21, 1825; died April 7, 1881.
18. Deborah, born Feb. 12, 1796; married Nov. 1, 1821; died May 1, 1879.
19. Lydia, born Sept. 2, 1797; married Dec. 5, 1821; died Jan. 1, 1872.
Of these, four daughters and three sons left children.
Abraham Smith served his apprenticeship in his father’s blacksmith shop and married when 22 years old. About 1770, he built and occupied a house on North Water Street and a shop on north side of Center Street, a few rods east of North Water Street, in sight of the present building of Old Dartmouth Society. In the rooms of this Society hangs a picture of this forge, painted from memory by Wm. A. Wall in 1815. This shop was burned in the destruction of the town by the British in 1778 and rebuilt on the same spot. According to the old city maps, he acquired title to this land in 1770. In 1772 he held the title to land on North Second Street, north of Mill Street, where his father, Jonathan Jr., lived, and had built a home; and again in 1773 he bought land on Middle Street, near Water Street, and, in 1796, land for wharf at foot of that street, now covered by the bridge to Fairhaven. There his last home was built. He was known from the first as a skilled workman, and “forging,” in those days, included all the highest grades of iron work, muskets, tools, as well as the heavier chains, anchors and fixtures for the shipyards, then beginning to turn out the largest vessels of those days. His was the largest forge of the growing town, and in time he trained there his own six sons and thirteen apprentices, sons of friends and neighbors. He soon became a ship owner, and at the beginning of the Revolution his name appears among “owners of vessels ordered not to leave the colony” (as privateers), but this restriction was revoked by orders issued by General Washington, in 1775. In that year he gave bonds, as part owner, for brig Kezia “bound on a whaling voyage.” Although a firm and consistent Quaker, he promptly joined those who definitely resisted the policies of Great Britain and the Massachusetts “loyalists” before the Revolution, and was chosen on a town committee appointed July 18, 1774, to obtain “the sense of the meeting on the public situation.” This committee reported that they were “grieved at the necessity of doing anything unfriendly to Great Britain, but resolved not to purchase goods made in Great Britain or Ireland, or any foreign teas, etc.” As a further result of this meeting, a committee was appointed to attend the 1st County congress, held at Taunton, Sept. 26, 1774, and on Jan. 7th, 1775, in town meeting, according to the advice of this congress, a committee of correspondence of twenty-one persons was appointed, and Abraham Smith was among the number. At this first congress in Taunton, delegates were chosen to the First Provincial congress to be convened at Worcester, Oct. 5, 1774. In spite of great opposition, two later Provincial congresses were held, with John Hancock as president. At the time of the first congress, in Worcester, a convention of blacksmiths was held there by 43 members of the craft. They resolved “not to do any blacksmith work for the Tories” and requested “all artificers to call meetings of their crafts and adopt like measures.” Committees of the later congresses advised the raising of a continental army and reported the number of militia available, stores of ammunition, etc., then held at Concord, but a “great lack of fire-arms,” and sent out a call for “artificers of Massachusetts” to come to Boston and manufacture them for the troops of which Washington took command in 1775. At this time Abraham Smith, with several apprentices, was working hard to support his family of five small children. Until I discovered this “call,” printed in a small local history of Worcester County, none of his descendants ever knew why he suddenly left his home, “located” near Boston, and began making the needed weapons. It was a personal call to him, which he followed, much to the surprise and distress of his relatives and his fellow members in the Friends meeting. It is not known how long he remained there, but the record of the Dartmouth meeting, dated 8 mo. 26, 1 776, of which I have a certified copy, says:“We are informed that Abraham Smith hath been assisting or fitting warlike implements, also paid money toward building a fort, and hath been Laboured with by friends and Rather Justified s’d conduct—therefore we appoint our friends Caleb Russell, John Williams, William Mosher and Joseph Tucker Jr. to Labour further with s’d Smith, and make report next mo. meeting.” At said meeting, 9 mo. 16, 1776, the record says, “The greater part of the Committee, appointed to labour with Abm. Smith, Report that they have Discharged themselves in that matter, and s’d Smith Justified his conduct therein; therefore Samuel Smith is appointed to Draw a Testimony against him and bring to next mo. meeting, Caleb Russell is appointed to Inform him thereof and Report to next mo. meeting.” The record of meeting, 12 mo., 1776, says: “The clerk reports he hath Read the testimony against Abraham Smith, as ordered Last mo. meeting, —s’d paper is as followeth:
“Whereas Abraham Smith having made Profession with us, and under the care of this meeting, But has so far Departed from the way of Truth and the Testimony thereof as to be found in joining with, & measurably supporting of war, or preparation for the same, particularly the s’d Smith hath paid money toward building of a fort, & also in fitting some warlike Implements,—and having been Tenderly Laboured with by friends to Desist from and Condemn s’d conduct —but our Labour therein not obtaining the Desired Effect, But he still Justifying the same, this meeting, therefore, being concerned for the maintaining our Testimony, against all outward wars & fighting, and preparation for the same, do give this forth as a testimony against him, hereby disowning him, the s’d A. Smith from being a member of our society, & from under the care of this meeting, until by unfeigned Repentance & Return from the Error of his ways, he shall be Restored to the way of truth.
“Given forth & signed on behalf of our mo. meeting held in Dartmouth, 21st 10 mo. 1776.
“William Anthony Jr., Clerk.”
There is no record of his having “repented,” but his name is later recorded as a member of the meeting. On his return from his loyal work in Boston, he continued his trade and fulfilled many duties as a good citizen. In June, 1778, he was one of the signers to a petition to the general court, asking for the division of the town, also for better military protection, representing that “the harbor on Acushnet River is the only one between Cape Cod & North Carolina in control of Americans, and there are 50 vessels there that need protection.” As a consequence, Col. Crafts was ordered to New Bedford with 50 men and 4 field pieces, in orders of Col. Edward Pope. A few months later the town was burned by the British, and all wharves and shipping burned. With his forge destroyed, his business ruined, and with a family of six children to support (the oldest was then ten years old), he was obliged to apply for an “apportionment” “from the sum of £1,200 allowed by the Commonwealth to the sufferers at New Bedford.” I find on record that my great, great grandfather, Samuel Hawes of Acushnet, whose property escaped destruction, was one of those appointed to distribute this money. Gradually re-establishing his business, during the re-building of the town, he again prospered, and in 1796 was appointed one of the first fire wardens, holding the office six years. During the next ten years he was an indomitable worker, and then gave up the forge to his remaining sons, who in turn left it in other hands, and all finally left New Bedford to seek their fortunes elsewhere. In 1806 he was appointed the second postmaster of New Bedford, and held the office for 20 years, in the homestead on Middle Street, built in 1794.
(4). Zerviah Ricketson, daughter of John and Phebe, was born Jan. 21, 1751, and died Dec. 29. 1817. She married Abraham Smith, Oct. 6, 1769, when 18 years old, and was the mother of his nineteen children. She was a woman of such marked personality and character that numberless reminiscences of her have been recalled and preserved by her contemporaries and her children, and I find it difficult to set down those handed down to me so as to give an adequate picture of her which her descendants may long “delight to honor.” Reared in the strictest Quaker faith, she remained, like her husband, a firm “Friend,” retaining, as he did, the “plain dress and plain speech” of the sect. All of their grown children became members of the New Bedford meeting, and even a few who married “out of meeting,” of whom my grandmother was one, always retained the familiar dress and speech.
Her married life of 48 years began in the trying days before the Revolution, and when her husband left her for his patriotic labors in Boston, in 1776, she was only 25 years old and the mother of five children, one having died in infancy in 1774. She was all her life, first and last, the “House Mother,” fully answering to the words of the motto I have chosen, “Good and wise, strong in body and mind,” and was exactly of the contemporaneous type described in these words by Harriet Beecher Stowe in one of her pictures of New England life:
“She was one of the much admired class who, in the speech of New England, have ‘faculty’—a gift which among that shrewd people commands more esteem than beauty, riches, learning or any other worldly endowment. ‘Faculty’ is Yankee for ‘savoir faire’ and the opposite virtue to shiftlessness. To her who has faculty, nothing shall be impossible; she who hath faculty is never in a hurry, never behind-hand, with time enough in the afternoons to hem muslin capstrings, and read the latest book.”
As the eldest daughters became old enough to watch the young children, she formed a daily habit of retiring, after the noon day dinner, to a quiet room in the attic, for an hour’s rest. Here was her rocking chair and a table to which all the books and local and foreign papers that came into the house eventually found their way. For half an hour she enjoyed these, then laid her head against the high-backed chair and slept for another half hour. One of her daughters told me, “She was never disturbed there, no matter what happened to the baby or the rest of the household; at the end of the hour she appeared again, took up her duties, and was always the last to go to bed.”
She was very systematic in the training of her children and the care of her home, which was always simply furnished, scrupulously neat and very home-like, in spite of what would now seem a rather bare look. My great grandmother Tallman, a contemporary, said of her, “She was considered by all to be the smartest woman in New Bedford. She was a beautiful needlewoman and trained her daughters well in this accomplishment,” and they knit all the stockings in the family. My grandmother said, “when young, I could knit a man’s sock in a day and evening, in addition to my other work.” I have pieces of linen used in the early days of the old homestead, and of the wedding sheets of the oldest daughter, married in 1795, but I do not know whether this or any other weaving was done there, though I think they spun their own yarn, and every one of them was an expert knitter to the end of their days, even those who became blind.
She continued active in all household duties until her death in her 67th year, as the result of a fall. While carrying a pail into the cellar, she fell on the stone steps, striking on her head and side and cutting her face with the glass of her spectacles. In a few days lockjaw developed, and after a week of agony she was released from life. I have a pathetic letter written by her daughter Lydia, giving all details of this tragedy. Three unmarried daughters and one son were with her, three married ones were living near, and kind neighbors faithfully watched her, though several fainted from the strain. Her husband never left her side, and for some time after her death was in a half paralyzed state. The letter says: ‘She was in so good health when attacked that she resisted the disease a long time, and it is considered the worst case on record here.” She was conscious at times, and said, “This has been a pleasant house always and a good home, but I am resigned to leave it.” The letter adds: “It was a cruel end to a long and useful life.”
The house on Middle Street, built by Abraham Smith in 1794, was a typical New England home, until his death there in 1826. From my childhood I have eagerly listened to stories of the life there recounted by his children and my mother, his granddaughter. As late as 1881, in my own home in New Jersey, where she died, aged 87, their daughter Elizabeth (No. 17), the last to marry from the old home, repeated many details that I had heard from my mother.
The house was of wood, two and a half stories, standing on the street, with a meadow in the rear. The eastern end overlooked the present Water Street, beyond which the grass sloped to the water’s edge with an unobstructed view of Fairhaven. A cart track led down to the wharf belonging to Abraham Smith at the foot of Mill Street, and the children went swimming and fishing there. Until the bridge was built in 1796, there were no buildings south on the shore side of Water Street as far as Center Street and the wharf in front of the present building of Old Dartmouth Historical Society. The blacksmith shop on Center Street was plainly seen, and the workers there were summoned to their meals by a horn. At times some of the apprentices whose homes were beyond the town formed part of the family. Over this large household the capable mother ruled well. It was the universal testimony of her contemporaries that she was “the smartest woman that ever lived in New Bedford.” My grandmother, Mary Tallman Hawes, said, “Though she always had a baby in her arms, none of the others were ever seen ragged or dirty, and the house was always orderly and the food good and plentiful.” One of the daughters told of her mother’s habit of tucking the baby under her arm, between daylight and dark each day, and, with a soft cloth, wiping off the inside window panes: the outside was well polished by the older daughters, who were as systematically and thoroughly trained in household duties as were their brothers at the forge. All had every advantage of “schooling” that was possible at that day. My grandmother, Rebecca (No. 14), drew for me a pleasant verbal picture of herself and five others being made ready for school by an elder sister: “We were all strong healthy children, with fair skins and round heads with hair cut closely, Quaker fashion; some of us, who were inclined to curls, greatly resented being so closely cropped. Each one, boy or girl, after being washed and brushed, went to a pile of clean sleeveless aprons, called ‘tyers,’ with strings at back of neck and waist; they were of three sizes, well made of strong blue and white or brown and white cotton. I remember choosing my size, tying the top strings, wiggling my head through, and then ‘backing up’ to my sister for the lower strings to be tied. These were worn over strong colored garments, woolen in winter, and were taken off when we were made ready for supper at night. The babies were always dressed in white until old enough to walk, and the girls, as they grew up, made all these little dresses and white dresses for themselves, in addition to other housework: as long as I can remember, we had strong Indian women to do the washing and heavy work; the rule was that we could have as many white dresses as we would make and iron.”
My mother, of the next generation, remembered going daily to the homestead and seeing five of these aunts busy with the ironing, with twenty of these lawn dresses hung up in the pleasant kitchen, the result of their morning’s work. They were made severely plain, low neck, short sleeves, with narrow, short skirts, beautifully made and of fine imported lawn. I have no account of the clothing of the sons but know that it was strong and good, of a Quaker plainness. During their minority they did all the outside work of the household under their mother’s direction, as faithfully as that of the forge with their father. It is no exaggeration to say that it was a wonderful family, strong, handsome, good tempered and happy descendants of good New England stock. I personally remember 12 of them, including the oldest and youngest, and from my childhood saw much of them for fifty years. They were full of strong family feeling and always proud of their parents and of each other, a trait inherited by the next generation. The highest praise they could bestow upon any of the descendants of any generation, was to say they were “Smithy,” and this meant an inheritance of the virtues, traits and capabilities of Abraham and Zerviah Smith.
As the children outgrew the simple schools available, Abraham Smith gradually established an evening school in his own home. After supper, all who were old enough to sit up after sun-down were gathered around a big table where they were joined by the apprentices. Abraham Smith had a strong thirst for learning, and studied for and with his children, sending to Cambridge for books on astronomy and higher mathematics, and owned the first Algebra ever brought to New Bedford. Already an expert and skilled workman, he trained his apprentices, including the six sons, as far as he could lead them in physics and mathematics. He insisted on the daughters studying navigation and astronomy, saying: “It will stretch their brains.” No other home in the town possessed so many good books. I have inherited leather bound volumes of old English poets from which all were required to read aloud in turn at the evening lessons, and every newspaper, foreign or local, that could be had was read and re-read by both parents and children. It was this training of “an open mind” that led all the sons in succession to make their homes elsewhere.
When the post office was established in this house (1806), it became an historical spot. There were still two sons and seven daughters living there, the youngest nine years old. It is of these young girls that Daniel Ricketson gives us a glimpse in his New Bedford of the Past. Describing the home, still standing, of his father, Joseph Ricketson, on Union Street at the end of Seventh Street, with its high posts at the gateway shaded by tall syringas and fine trees, he adds an account of an old fashioned tea party in the pleasant Quaker home, and says, “By four o’clock the company has assembled, the great sofa as well as the chairs are filled. On the former I remember to have seen some half dozen or more sisters, cousins of my father, all dressed in their neat white Quaker gowns, and of marked beauty. Somewhat later came the husbands of some of them—quite a number, however, were still unmarried.” The supper in the “keeping room,” which he further describes, was often returned in kind by the hospitable Zerviah, when the daughters waited on the guests, and the entertainment of the capable hostess did not suffer in comparison, although the details were simpler.
Of all the furniture of the old home, I know of but one piece that has been preserved, a chair with broad seat, low rounded back and curved mahogany arms, which now stands in my own home, inherited from a daughter who took it away at her marriage, and dated by her “1789.”
Of the two sons left at home in 1806, the oldest went to New York in 1810 and the other was lost at sea in 1811. Two daughters married in 1808, leaving five daughters with the parents for many years. The house was always a center of interest for young people, and the establishment of the post office there brought “all the rest of the town,” (as someone said of it) to its open door. The entire outfit of the post office was located in a small back room and it was said, “When the mail arrived, on the stage, the postmaster would call out the names of those for whom he had letters, and, if present, they would claim their mail. This was before the advent of envelope or stamp and postage was generally paid by the recipient.” The same writer says: “I well remember the old postmaster, Abraham Smith, who was a tall man, advanced in years, with his large iron-bowed spectacles and green flannel cap.” He was extremely neat in person and exact in all the details of his office, wrote a handsome, round, “Quaker” hand, as it was called, and I have several long monthly records of mails, copies of deeds, etc., with his signature. My mother, as a child, loved to “haunt” this room on her daily visits to the house, and began very early to enjoy the foreign papers and books of many kinds to be found nowhere else in the town. The ship’s mails, too, were of special interest, including the always pathetic collection of letters, never claimed, from sailors who never returned. In 1814, on the appointment of my grandfather, John Hawes, as Collector, the custom house was established in the southwest room of this house adjoining the post office, and for twelve years all the principal business interests of the town centered there. Merchants, captains, sailors, foreigners, mechanics of every trade, and even the vagrants, sought business advice or help from these two good, practical, upright men, who entertained a firm friendship the rest of their lives. My mother (who afterward married his son) has thus described the Collector: “He was very different looking from the old postmaster in his Quaker garb, and I remember him well as he drove up to the door in his yellow colored chaise from Acushnet, a stout built, comfortable looking personage, dressed in bottle green broadcloth and buff vest, ruffled shirt and a beaver hat.”
Among his papers I found, four years ago, all the receipted quarterly bills for the “rent” of Custom house for 10 years, 1814-24, which read, “Rec’d of John Hawes in full for rent of office for the Quarter ending 4th inst. $9.00. Abraham Smith.” And yet, during that time, New Bedford was one of the busiest sea ports on the coast!
The sad and sudden death of Zerviah Smith in 1817 was the first heavy shadow to fall upon this good old home, and her husband never entirely recovered from the shock, though he survived her nine years and had the faithful care of his two remaining daughters. The death of his friend the collector in 1824, and the removal of the custom house elsewhere, was another shock to him. He gradually gave up his post office duties to his oldest son Asa (who had returned to New Bedford) and later to his son-in-law, Richard Williams, who succeeded him in office. His grandchildren remembered him, at the last, as a gentle, cheerful old man, sitting by the fire, “life’s duty done” and waiting for the end, which came March 24, 1826.
The home passed into other hands, was surrounded by larger buildings and finally used for business purposes; but instead of sinking, as some of the neighboring buildings did, to the shabbiness of a dilapidated tenement house, it was its rare good fortune to be included in the site acquired by the city for the pleasant Bridge Park of the present day. The thousands of travelers who cross by trolley the fine bridge from Fairhaven, pass over the old wharf and lane, through the beautiful grass and between the flower beds that mark the exact site of this home built 116 years ago, and so long filled with the best type of the New England life of its day,—a fitting and beautiful and lasting monument, for which their descendants should be sincerely grateful.
II-“THE NINETEEN” Asa Smith.
No. 1. Oldest child of Abraham and Zerviah Smith was born May 24th, 1770. Died Feb. 24th, 1849, aged 79. Married Oct. 18, 1792 (1) Meribah Russell, daughter of Seth and Mary Russell. Died 1795. Married 1815, (2) Abby Haviland of New York, who died in 1818.
Asa Smith, after serving his apprenticeship with his father until 1791 and marrying in 1792, remained in New Bedford and was interested in business with his father-in-law, Seth Russell, and his son-in-law, George Tyson. In 1815 he went to New York, receiving certificate of removal to the New York Monthly Meeting, and the same year married (2nd) Abby Haviland, of an old Quaker family of New York. She died in 1818. He returned to New Bedford in 1822 and became assistant postmaster for the two last years of his father’s life. As the oldest son, he held the deed in 1st burying ground on Second Street. His only child, Mary, married George Tyson, of Baltimore, MD in 1822 and died in 1824, leaving an orphan daughter who remained with him the rest of his life. These two, after living at different times in the families of his brothers and sisters in Buffalo and Syracuse, finally settled in the home of his sister, Zerviah Smith Sawdey, who went to Conneaut, Ohio, in 1808. He died there in 1849, aged 79 years, after a rather uneventful life. I remember him well, both in Buffalo and on the Ohio farm where I visited in my childhood; a handsome, hale old man, retaining his Quaker speech, although disowned by the New Bedford meeting on leaving it twenty-five years before.
His granddaughter, Mary Tyson, married before his death, David Sawdey, adopted son of Zerviah Smith Sawdey. He died soon after and she then married Amos Giltner, a farmer of German stock, and with him began an overland journey to Denver. They were among the pioneer settlers of that city, where her two sons were born and her husband died. The history of her western journey, and later experiences in the mines, is the most striking which I find in the records of the later generations. They crossed the continent in a “prairie schooner,” driving their cattle and “watching out” for Indians, as did her Quaker Dartmouth ancestors 175 years before. For many years, after the postal service was established, she sent occasional interesting letters to relatives in the east, but I have not been able to find any of them. Her sons provided her with a simple, comfortable home in Denver, and then led the roving life of miners and prospectors but were never very successful. In 1893, when she was 78 years old, a relative visited her in Denver, and returned with much interesting history. She lived alone in a small wooden house, (a great contrast to the beautiful home of Seth Russell in New Bedford where she was born) and was one of the “first citizens” of the city, known by everyone and universally respected. She told how, at the first civic celebration of the city, she put up a tent back of her house, and served there a supper such as she had cooked on the plains, with the utensils she had carefully preserved. I think she also had the original wagon and much of its outfit. It was one of the most interesting exhibits of the occasion and was repeated in later years. She was very intelligent and gave a thrilling account of her journey; one item was of her making biscuits of flour and the water of the soda springs in the alkali region of Colorado, and she used the same water for the “soda biscuits” of her suppers in the tent.
When Charles Kingsley, of England, and his daughter Rose made a second visit to this country and went to Denver, he visited her and, at his request, was given a prairie supper. He pronounced her “the smartest and most interesting woman he had seen in America,” and she showed, with pride, many letters from Mr. Kingsley and his daughter, after their return to England. Her sons were in Cripple Creek in 1893, and she spoke well of them. She died in 1895; when in Cripple Creek in 1904, I tried to find some trace of them, without success. The “trail” of this first of the nineteen children vanishes in the Rocky Mountains, near Pike’s Peak!
No. 2. Elihu Smith, second son of Abraham and Zerviah Smith. Born Aug. 9, 1771. Died Oct. 3, 1825, aged 44. Married (1) Mary Slocum of New Bedford, March 10, 1801. Married (2) Catherine Farrington. Nov. 10, 1814.
She was of an old Quaker New York family, and I remember her and her home in Catherine Street, New York, when I was very young, but she had then been a widow many years.
Elihu Smith served his apprenticeship with his father at the “Forge,” as it was called, until of age in 1792, and seems to have remained in New Bedford some years, where he married, and his first four children were born there. He had seven children, four by his first wife and three by the second. The oldest died in infancy; the others I have known personally. Two sons and one daughter married; none of these are living, but they have many descendants, of three generations, still living in New York. Elihu Smith received a certificate of removal for “himself and family” from the New Bedford to the New York Monthly Meeting August, 1810, in which year he removed to New York. He was the first of Abraham Smith’s sons to settle there, and was followed, in time, by all the others, to whom he was a helpful “elder brother.” He made several voyages to Europe as captain in the merchant service, and was prosperous, but none of his descendants have any record of his business interests. His grandson is in possession of a handsome gold watch purchased in London and used by him more than one hundred years ago. Although he and his wife kept firmly to the Quaker faith and a comparatively quiet and simple life, their New York home was a handsome and dignified one and impressed me much as a child, and I think I was rather afraid of “Aunt Catherine,” a stately woman in Quaker dress, who was very deaf.
My mother told me that Elihu was a personal friend of Robert Fulton and interested in some of his projects; like many of Abraham Smith’s sons, he had a strong leaning towards mechanics, which may account for this association. He died in 1825, aged only 44 years; his children were all quite young, which may be the reason that so little is known of him by his descendants.
His oldest son died in infancy. His second son, John T. S. (Slocum) Smith (he always wrote it in full to distinguish himself from others of the name) was a worthy representative of his generation. He was born in New Bedford. Nov. 2, 1805, and died in New York, aged ___ years. I remember him best in the last years of his life, a handsome, intelligent, vigorous old gentleman with snow-white hair and full beard. When he visited my mother, a somewhat younger cousin, I always enjoyed hearing them recall the old days, and to me they seemed very “Smithy” representatives of our New England Quaker stock. His son, Dr. Thomas Franklin Smith, sends me this data: “He received a simple common school education, and married when quite young a daughter of Thomas Franklin, of New York; later formed a partnership with his brother-in-law, Morris Franklin, and carried on a brokerage business under the firm name of Franklin & Smith. When this was dissolved, he became an expert accountant for several years. He was always very much interested in the study of chemistry and was constantly experimenting with chemicals and making chemical analyses. At last there came a time, while he was attending to the books of the pioneers of homeopathic physicians in New York, Drs. John F. Gray and A. Gerald Hull,—that they suggested he should go into the manufacture of homeopathic medicines, as there were none to be procured at that time except those that were imported from Germany by Mr. William Radde, a German bookseller. Upon the urgent and repeated requests of these two physicians, he finally decided to follow their advice, and in the 1843-1844 he opened a pharmacy in the basement of a private house at No. 512 Broadway, between Broome and Spring Streets; his stock in trade consisted of about fifty vials of medicine which he had prepared himself and which were arranged along on the wainscoting of the room; that was the beginning of his ‘Smith’s Homeopathic Pharmacy’ which was continued by his son, Dr. Henry M. Smith, and is now conducted by the latter’s son, Carroll Dunham Smith. John T. S. Smith was the first person to manufacture homeopathic medicine in this country, and afterward received a diploma from the New York Homeopathic Medical College, as a doctor of medicine.”
Two of his sons became homeopathic physicians; the oldest, Henry Mitchell Smith, who continued his pharmacy, stood high in his profession and was secretary of the commission for the erection of the fine Hahnneman monument in Washington. He died March, 1901, and left three sons and one daughter, Mrs. Gertrude Smith Tabor of Helena, Montana. The sons remained in New York, all married there. One died in 1909, leaving no children. Henry Smith’s widow lives in New York with his eldest son, Carroll, who has three children. The third son, Julian Pierce, has one son, Haviland Smith. These are of the fifth generation from Abraham Smith.
Dr. Thomas Franklin Smith, younger son of John T. S., is a practicing homeopathic physician in New York and has been for twenty years treasurer of the American Institute of Homeopathy. He has five children living, and four grandchildren of the fifth generation.
Elizabeth Mitchell Smith, daughter of Elihu and Mary Slocum Smith, was born in New Bedford, Feb. 13, 1806, and married Richard Mott, a brother of James Mott, whose wife was the celebrated Quaker preacher, Lucretia Mott. They lived at one time in Buffalo, N. Y., afterwards in Rochester, N. Y., and finally settled in Toledo, Ohio, where she died of consumption, In ___, and was buried in Rochester. She left two daughters, Mary and Anna C. The oldest died ___, of consumption; the other outlived her father, who was a representative citizen for many years. He served two terms in the United States Senate and was well known as the “Quaker member from Ohio.” His Quaker principles made him a firm friend of all the anti-slavery- reformers of that day, and he stood next to Charles Sumner when he was struck down in the Senate chamber by Senator Brooks, and was the first to assist him. He was a successful, upright business man and founder and president of the Savings Bank & Trust Co. of Toledo. His daughter, Anna Caroline Mott, granddaughter of Elihu, presided over his beautiful home as long as he lived. He was active in mind and body to the end and left to his daughter a large fortune which she used wisely and well, and at her death in 1902 left a will distributing it according to his wishes, including many of her Smith relatives. She never married, and with her ended that line of Elihu Smith’s descendants.
Caroline, Jane and Maria Smith, younger daughters of Elihu, all died unmarried, the latter in 1896. She made her home in the family of her brother, Thomas Smith, and remained a member of the New York Monthly Meeting.
Thomas T. Smith, youngest son of Elihu Smith and Catherine Farrington, was born July 5, 1820. He married Sarah B. Cromwell, June 10, 1848, a member of an old Quaker family of Brooklyn, and both remained members of the Society of Friends, and their children, William, Alice and Percy, were reared in that faith.
Thomas T. Smith died August 4th, 1883. His three children are still living, also four grandchildren and one great grandchild.
No. 3. Third son of Abraham and Zerviah, born Nov. 2, 1772, died April 7, 1831, aged 59.
Married May 14, 1797, Mary Thorn of New York, and they had eleven children. Four sons, Stephen, Abraham, Robert Fulton and Fulton died young; another son, Edward L., was lost at sea in the wreck of the packet ship Albion, off Kinsdale, Ireland, April 22nd, 1821, aged 18 years. The youngest child, Amelia, died unmarried in 1845, aged 22 years.
Obed Smith, like his brother Elihu, was for a time interested in foreign trade in New York. I do not find the date of his going there, but it was probably before his marriage there in 1797, and he lived there until his death 34 years after. On March 27, 1819, he was appointed port warden of the city of New York, and held the office for twelve years. He was also a personal friend of Robert Fulton, two of his infant sons bearing that name in succession. He was always an active, intelligent citizen, but no records of his later years have been preserved by his descendants.
The two oldest surviving sons went to live in Buffalo, N. Y., where many Smith relatives had already settled.
(1) Archibald Minthorne Cock Smith, married Beulah, granddaughter of General Grainger, a Revolutionary officer, and they had six children. He was for many years secretary of the Etna Insurance Co. at Buffalo, and was killed while on duty at a fire. There are now living three children, and several grandchildren and great grandchildren of Archibald Smith.
(2) William Cock Smith, married his cousin Hannah Smith; they had no children but adopted a niece who died childless, and their line is extinct.
(3) Ann Burke Dodge Smith, twin sister of Archibald, married John Rudderow of Jersey City. She survived him many years and lived to be 90 years old. She left three daughters and several grandchildren and great grandchildren.
No. 4. First daughter of Abraham and Zerviah. Born Oct. 27, 1773. Died June 2, 1855, aged 82. Married Russell Davis, Oct. 8, 1795. They had no children.
As the oldest daughter, and the mother’s first helper in the household, it is safe to say she was greatly missed when she married at 22 and went to a home of her own, leaving eleven brothers and sisters at home. This is the largest number I find in the family at one time.
April 26, 1817, a removal certificate was given to Russell Davis and family to Sandwich, Mass., from New Bedford. December, 1820, another removal certificate was given her by the same. She returned January, 1832. She removed again March, 1836, and again returned to New Bedford, May, 1848, after the death of her husband in 1846. Although I must have seen her in my childhood, I only remember her distinctly when she was nearly eighty years old.
Russell Davis was the son of James and Patience Russell, grandson of Joseph Russell and cousin of Wm. T. Russell. The History of Barnstable County says: “The Friends had no approved minister before Russell Davis. About 1819 he moved from New Bedford to South Yarmouth; having a remarkable gift in the ministry, in discerning and addressing the ‘states’ of individuals and meetings. With but little human learning, and regarded as inferior in manner and appearance, he was often enabled, both in public and private, to reveal to individuals their thoughts and spiritual conditions, to their own astonishment. He became a true seer and such was the general confidence in his declarations as being from the true source of authorized ministry, that the attendance of the Yarmouth meeting grew, in his day, to its greatest number.”
Most of his life, after 1820, was passed in this ministry. I have no record of his personality, except this, in Daniel Ricketson’s book: “William Wall says, Russell Davis frequently, after stating a proposition and saying ‘It is so,” adds, ‘It is so because it is so, —and because it is so, it is so.'”
He died in South Yarmouth in 1847, aged 75. Phebe Smith Davis died in South Yarmouth in 1855, aged 82, and her line is now extinct.
No. 5. Born Dec. 5, 1774, died October, 1775, aged 10 months.
No. 6. Fourth son of Abraham and Zerviah. Born Oct. 25, 1776, died April 23, 1854 (78). Married (1) Sarah J. Alsop, Sept. 21, 1814. Married (2) Rosanna Baker, November, 1838, the adopted daughter of General Philip Van Courtlandt. By his second wife he had one daughter.
Stephen served a faithful apprenticeship to his father until he was of age, in 1797. His daughter, now the only surviving granddaughter of Abraham and Zerviah, sends me many items of his life. Always having a great desire for learning, after leaving school for his trade at twelve years old, he afterward, in addition to obtaining a good English education, studied French with refugees from the French Revolution then living in New Bedford and Nantucket, reciting to them in the evening. His French books, during the day time, laid in a glass-covered frame by his forge, and he kept up his studies while at his work. The day of his majority he said to his father, “I have served thee faithfully, but I shall never be a blacksmith, and I wish to see what I can do.” It was afterward written, truthfully, of him, “When he went to try his fortunes in New York, his only capital was an unexceptional character for integrity and a degree of intelligence not often attained by young men of that age, even with the best opportunities; he always sought after knowledge with the utmost perseverance and determination.”
The older brothers had married and still lived in New Bedford and the youngest of the nineteen was only a few months old when Stephen went to New York, in 1797. Times were hard, and, like hundreds of others, he could find no place. Nothing daunted, he went into the counting room of Minturn & Chapman, at that time one of the largest shipping houses in the city, and asked the consent of the proprietors to stay there a while and work for nothing. He soon became so useful that he was promoted to a position of great responsibility, and became an inmate of the household of Benjamin G. Minturn, senior proprietor of the establishment. In this position he is said to have “enjoyed intimate social relations with, and the most perfect confidence of, many of the first business men of New York City.” He was handsome and well developed physically, and in spite of his plain Quaker dress and speech, had a natural ease and grace in his bearing, unusual at that time. He was soon sent to Europe in charge of important interests in England and France, by the Rotches and others, his good knowledge of the French language being of special value to them. On his return, his old employers, Minturn & Chapman, sent him as supercargo of one of their ships to India, and in this capacity he was engaged for several years. One of his younger sisters who, as a child, visited him and the older brothers then settled in New York, told me in her old age, “He was handsome and good. I remember well how he was made much of by French officers and merchants he had met abroad, who were visiting New York, to whom he showed much attention. I recall, especially, a trip to Little Falls, near Paterson, N. J., in a stage with four horses; his party was made up of these gentlemen, but I, the only child, was his special guest,—it was a great event for me.” At one time when in Portsmouth, England, his eagerness for information led him so frequently into public offices, the government storehouses and dock yards, and his enquiries were so many and curious that he became an object of suspicion, was seized as a French spy and thrown into prison; his references to the American consul and prominent merchants, however, secured his immediate release. He was also in England during the bread riots of 1808.
After accumulating some property, he embarked with others on a venture of a cargo of “India goods” for the Mediterranean, going himself as supercargo, as well as joint owner. Owing to the rapacity of the “great European robber,” Napoleon, this undertaking proved a failure. He had no sooner anchored his vessel in the Bay of Naples than it was seized, under the famous Berlin and Milan decrees, the vessel and cargo confiscated, and the officers arrested and marched off to Boulogne. Vessel and cargo proved an entire loss. The owners, after many years, received dividends from the “spoliation claims,” amounting in his case to less than twenty dollars for the loss of $10,000.
Giving up foreign business after this, he commenced the manufacture of salt from sea water at South Yarmouth, Mass., where the windmill and salt covers stood for many years. The business there, at first very profitable, was rendered of little or no value by a reduction of the duty on foreign salt. He then turned his attention to the “Salines” of central New York State, in 1812, and during a residence of several years at Syracuse, N. Y., married, in 1814, and again in 1838. He later obtained a charter from the New York legislature for a company for the manufacture of salt by solar evaporation. Returning to New Bedford, he interested Wm. Rotch Jr., Samuel Rodman, Samuel Arnold and others in the project. They sent him to Syracuse in 1821, (with “unlimited credit on New York City”) where he built vats and established the Onandaga Solar Salt Co., “according to his own judgment.” This was the beginning of a strong and prosperous business, still a leading one at Syracuse. For more than thirty years he was an “honorable and honored” citizen. Forming a life-long friendship with all the well known Quaker abolitionists of central New York,—Gerrit Smith, Myron Holley, Samuel J. May, and, through them with William Lloyd Garrison, Lucretia Mott and others, he early “espoused the cause of the slave” and his home became a noted station on the “underground railway” between the south and Canada. He had built a handsome stone house, still standing, on Lafayette Square, Syracuse, one of the finest then in the city, in the style of those built in New Bedford about that time. I remember visiting there when young, and being taken to the basement and shown the rooms where fugitives were sheltered and the supplies of warm clothing kept in readiness, made by his family and friends. I also remember being a little disappointed that there were no “sufferers” there at the time, but many hundreds were helped and protected and sent safely over the border, furnished with funds to establish themselves “in freedom.” He was well known, and almost revered, by the colored people of Syracuse, and until his death was called “Uncle Stephen” by them all. His was a home of boundless hospitality; he was very clannish and fond of his kin, and a widowed and unmarried sister were long members of his family. It was always the stopping place for all relatives passing east or west, first by canal and then by the first railroad in New York State. He became blind several years before his death, but his declining years were peaceful, calm and cheerful. His death was a public loss, and in the memorial words of his friend and fellow worker, Mr. May, “His unswerving integrity and irreproachable morals have rendered him proverbial for honor and rectitude, while his unpretending and kindly manners have endeared him to all. Showing no signs of dread or fear, he has passed on,”
No. 7. Fifth son of Abraham and Zerviah. Born Feb. 23, 1778, died July 20, 1779, aged 17 months.
No. 8. Third daughter of Abraham and Zerviah. Born July 9, 1779, died June 26, 1855, aged 76. Married Daniel W. Taber Feb. 28, 1805. They had five children. Daniel Taber was a merchant from Portland, Maine. He failed in business there and a few months after their marriage, Mary Taber received removal certificate to the Falmouth monthly meeting. In an old family letter from New Bedford, without date, I find: “Daniel Taber has gone to New York to go Second Mate with Elihu (his brother-in-law) to Cape of Good Hope and India.” His family seemed to have moved back and forth from Falmouth to New Bedford, and he may have been absent on this and other voyages until his death in 1822, aged 44.
Mary Taber removed again June, 1816; a certificate from Falmouth to her and two children was given July, 1822, and again when she removed to Buffalo, N. Y., Aug. 1835. In 1830, her oldest child, Phebe Davis Taber, married Charles Howland of New Bedford, and after her death the next child, Elizabeth Smith Taber, became Charles Howland’s second wife. Another daughter, Zerviah, aged 4 years, died in April, 1814.
Mary Taber, her third daughter. Mary Russell Taber, and her only son, William Daniel Taber, moved to Buffalo in 1835 with Elizabeth and Charles Howland, and all remained members of one family through life. By this time there was quite a colony of New Bedford Smith descendants in that city, headed by Isaac S. Smith, No. 16, who settled there in 1822, and including Archibald Smith and William Smith, sons of Obed Smith, No. 3. and their families. A year later they were joined by my parents (my mother was a daughter of Rebecca, No. 14), and still later by the daughter of Elihu Smith, No. 2, with her husband, Richard Mott, and two daughters. All these families formed a center of the New England element which strongly influenced the growth and development of the city. I remember well the Thanksgiving dinners and family teas of those days, when sometimes as many as thirty of our “kin” were gathered together. All the elder ones kept alive the customs and speech of Friends.
Mary Smith Taber was a fine representative of her generation whom I remember well. As head of the family, she passed a long and useful life, dying in Buffalo, aged 78 years.
Elizabeth and Charles Howland had four children, Theodore, Charles Jr., Marcus and Anna, wife of Wm. R. Bramhall of Washington, D. C, still living but without children. The widow and children of Charles Jr. are also still living in Windsor, Canada, opposite Detroit, Michigan. Theodore died unmarried, also Marcus, who was for many years in the U. S. Quartermaster’s department.
Mary Taber and her daughter, Mrs. Howland, were widely known and valued in Buffalo, were among the founders of the orphan asylum and always “forward in good works.” Mrs. Howland was, later, a valuable worker in the Buffalo branch of the sanitary commission during the Civil War, both in word and deed. She died in Washington, D. C.
Mary Russell Taber kept for many years the first private school in Buffalo and was my first teacher. She died unmarried.
Wm. Daniel Taber died in Buffalo, 1904, unmarried.
No. 9. Fourth daughter of Abraham and Zerviah. Born April 4, 1781. Died July 17, 1786, aged five years.
No. 10. Fifth son of Abraham and Zerviah. Born Jan. 30, 1783. Died Jan. 5, 1785, aged 2 years.
No. 11. Fifth daughter of Abraham and Zerviah. Born May 28, 1784. Died Dec. 2, 1847, aged 63 years. Married David Sawdey, June 17, 1808. They had no children. She was the third daughter to leave the home, a younger sister having married a few months before. She was then 22 years old, and after being disowned by the New Bedford meeting for “marrying out of meeting,” she and her young husband removed immediately to New Hartford, Oneida Co., N. Y., and later to a farm near Conneaut, Ohio, which is now within the state line of Pennsylvania. Here they successfully carried on a large farm, and she and her husband were valuable pioneers in what was then almost a wilderness. She was always, from her girlhood, considered one of “the smartest of the girls,” and in her isolated life developed a strong character. She was the first of her family to settle in the Far West, as it was then called. After her brothers and other relatives settled in Buffalo, comparatively near her, they made her frequent visits, and I remember going there when young, by steamer to Conneaut, and then in a big wagon drawn by fine horses of their own raising. This was the first time I had ever seen a flock of sheep, and they had many. I remember her as a large, handsome, fair woman, then nearly sixty years old, in Quaker dress, active in her dairy and housework, and with very cheerful, attractive ways. She was quoted as authority on many things by her neighbors, which she attributed to her “good Yankee-Quaker training.” In middle life, she and her husband adopted an orphan boy who was given to them by his dying mother whom they had befriended. Before Zerviah’s death, her brother Asa (No. 1) came to make his home with her. His granddaughter later married this adopted son, David Jr., who died soon after. David Sawdey Sr., married a second time and had one son of the same name, now a lawyer in Erie. Pa.
Zerviah Smith died in 1847 and her line is now extinct.
No. 12. Sixth daughter of Abraham and Zerviah. Born May 1, 1786. Died Dec. 5, 1863, aged 77 years. Married Robert Wing of Yarmouth, May 4, 1826. They had no children.
She was the last of the married daughters to leave the home, where she was the head of the family after the sad death of her mother in 1817, caring faithfully for her father in his declining years. Two months after his death, when forty years old, she married Robert Wing, then a widower with one daughter, and went to his home in South Yarmouth, where he was a boat builder. He was a “Friend” and she carried with her a certificate of removal to the Sandwich meeting of which he was a member. She made frequent visits to New Bedford and was a favorite sister with the younger ones of her family whom she “mothered” so long. She was bright and witty, very capable in her home, famous as a cook, and an authority among her neighbors. I recall a story told of her in cholera times. When riding alone in a chaise on a lonely road on the Cape, she was stopped by a man who said his wife was very ill. On entering the house she found her in a state of collapse from cholera. Sending the man with the chaise for the doctor, she took the case in hand. The fire was low in the fireplace, so she pulled out the hot bricks from the back of the chimney, tore her flannel skirt in strips and rolling the bricks in them, piled them around the cold body. Then, making a fire, she boiled water, made hot tea from herbs she found in the kitchen, which she forced down the patient’s throat, and kept hot, wet flannels on her feet. She soon revived and when the doctor arrived with other remedies, he said her life was already saved.
Robert Wing died in 1856, aged 73, and his wife afterwards made her home with his daughter, Mrs. Steere of Providence. After the death of Mr. Steere, Abigail Wing, being over seventy years old and blind, removed to New Bedford and became a member of the family of her sister, Mrs. Rebecca Smith Williams, where, in the devoted care of her nieces, she passed several peaceful, happy years, active in mind and body. She died suddenly while dressing herself and talking with her niece. She closed her eyes, simply ceased breathing and passed on, aged 77 years.
Her line is now extinct.
Abraham Smith Jr.
No. 13. Abraham Smith Jr., born Jan. 3rd, 1788, died at sea, Dec. 24, 1811, aged 23.
I recall but one record of this son; my grandmother, Rebecca, No. 14, less than two years younger, said of him. “He was my playmate and was good and handsome. He was a great loss to me and to our father.”
No. 14. Seventh daughter of Abraham and Zerviah. Born June 5. 1789. Died Dec. 26, 1873, aged 84. Married Richard Williams, Feb. 18, 1808. They had 13 children.
Rebecca Smith married at eighteen and lived all her life long in New Bedford. She was one of the fairest of the “sofa-full” of cousins of which Daniel Ricketson has written, and rather a pet with the older brothers and sisters and her aunt Rebecca Ricketson, wife of Daniel Ricketson Sr., for whom she was named, who claimed her as a daughter, having none of his own. She spent much time with them and was much attached to their sons, who regarded her almost as a sister. It is already set down in the annals of this society how the handsome Richard Williams came from Taunton in 1806 and took board with my great grandparents, William and Elizabeth Tallman, in the house still standing on the southeast corner of Union Street and the present Acushnet Avenue, and directly across from the home of Friend Ricketson, where the pretty Rebecca passed most of her time. Friend Elizabeth Tallman gave him the corner second story room, so that he could “keep an eye” on the young Quakeress, my grandmother. She never told me whether she had the corresponding room on the opposite corner, but she did tell me of her wedding, when she married the handsome Richard, who was not a “Friend.” There was no other objection to the union, but this one was rather a trial to her parents and kindred of that faith. As they could not be married in meeting, these relatives were not present, but her cousin, Joseph Ricketson Sr., and his wife, Lucy Howland, offered their home on Union Street for the ceremony, which took place in the parlor described so pleasantly at the tea party where she sat on the sofa with her five sisters some years before. They were a handsome couple; she, small, very fair and dressed in a Quaker gown of white India mull of plainest make, with no ornament, not even a flower; and he, six feet tall, arrayed in a blue coat with brass buttons, white satin vest and ruffled shirt brought from London for the occasion. The portrait of him copied for the post office likeness was taken in London in this dress. The young couple began housekeeping at Padanaram, in a house still standing, where their two oldest children were born. In 1811 they moved to New Bedford, to a house still standing on Spring Street, north of Fourth. About 1816 they bought and moved into the house on Third Street near Bedford, which was their home for nearly thirty years, and where their last eight children and myself, their oldest grandchild, were born. This good home, which I knew well, was a worthy successor, in its generation, to the Revolutionary homestead of Abraham and Zerviah Smith, and there was constant daily intercourse between them. My mother was rather a precocious child, and was made much of by her many aunts living at the homestead, and from her I heard many descriptions of it, as well as of her own home with its large happy family of strong, bright girls and boys. Six of these girls grew to womanhood and were handsome and intelligent representatives of their generation.
Richard Williams passed many years in the foreign merchant service, principally between New York and London. His longest voyage was in 1811, around Cape Horn to the Pacific coast, first to lower California, and then north to the present site of San Francisco. It is said that his was the first merchant vessel from an Atlantic port to enter the Golden Gate. Nine of this family lived to maturity and seven of them gradually left for other homes. In 1824 Richard Williams gave up his sea-faring life and became assistant to his father-in-law, Abraham Smith, and afterward his successor in the post office until 1840. He died suddenly in 1845, aged 63, while on a visit to the farm in Taunton where he was born, leaving one son and three unmarried daughters in the home. In 1851 Rebecca Williams, his widow, built a house on Cottage Street near Hawthorne, and lived there, with her two last unmarried daughters, until her death. She retained possession of the house on Third street and in her will left it to these two daughters, and afterward to be sold and the proceeds divided among her grandchildren, which was done in 1892, this house, having been in the possession of the family 76 years. Before building her last house, she made a long visit to her oldest son in Michigan, and later spent a year with her oldest daughter near Boston. From that time until her death she did not leave New Bedford; hers was a happy, tranquil old age, with three of her daughters near her. She had, in a large measure, the broad mind of her parents and brothers and while very quiet in manner, was a faithful executive mother to her large family, and always fond of reading. Her early training in navigation, with her brothers, interested her in astronomy, which was always to her an absorbing study. Her grandchildren enjoyed her and learned much from her. One of the younger ones, returning from a visit to her, said to her mother, “I didn’t know my grandmother knew so much,” to which came the answer, “If you ever know as much as your grandmother does, you will do well.” Her mind was clear and strong to the end, and the day before her death, after a short illness, she lay with, closed eyes and repeated page after page of Paradise Lost, which she had memorized from frequent reading in the evening school of her father in the old homestead, almost 80 years before. At her death in 1873 there were living five daughters and her youngest son.
No. 15. Eighth daughter of Abraham and Zerviah. Born Sept. 30, 1790. Died May 26, 1877, aged 87 years. Unmarried.
She remained in the homestead until, after the death of her father in 1826, the household was scattered. She then lived with several of her married brothers and sisters in New Bedford until August, 1836, she received a removal certificate from the New Bedford meeting and went to Syracuse, N. Y., where she lived for many years in the family of her brother Stephen. From there she went to Buffalo, where the family colony was large, and on to Ohio, a roving but welcome guest in the homes of all her kin, including mine. She retained the plain dress, speech and faith of Friends; was intelligent, capable, witty and cheerful, and an interesting type of spinster, the only one in this large family. When more than 80 years old, she became blind. She was then living with her youngest sister, Mrs. Savage, in Syracuse, but longing for the associations of her birthplace, she returned to New Bedford to the home of her nieces, the daughters of her sister, Rebecca Williams. Mrs. Williams and Mrs. Abigail Wing, her sisters, had passed on from this home not long before, and she lived there, cheery and well, for six years. During this time she fell and broke her hip, but became again able to walk for three years after. She was found asleep one pleasant May morning, “the sleep that knows no waking,” and is buried in the family lot in New Bedford.
Isaac Slocum Smith.
No. 16. Born July 26, 1792. Died July 31, 1860. Married Mrs. Olivia Congdon Rudd in 1837. They had no children.
The youngest son of Abraham and Zerviah Smith worked as an apprentice to his father until near his majority, and was always fond of books and the study of higher branches of mechanics. He left New Bedford for New York in June, 1812, receiving a removal certificate from the New Bedford meeting and was for some years in the employ of his older brothers in New York. In 1813, soon after his majority, he went as supercargo from New York to Lisbon, Portugal, and, leaving the vessel there, traveled in France, returning home via England. While at the home of the consul at Lisbon, he was much Interested in two other guests of the family, a lady and her beautiful little daughter, of whom he grew very fond, the mother showed much interest in his descriptions of his home life in America. Many years after, he was pleased to discover in the child he had often tended on his knee, Eugenie, empress of France and wife of Napoleon 3rd. All his reminiscences of this travel in Europe were, in later years, of intense interest to his family, including myself, who lived near him in Buffalo in my childhood. The interest of his brothers in Europe was more strictly commercial, but his broader mind seems to have absorbed much of historical, scientific and artistic interest, and his later studies in all these lines gained him the family title of “The Encyclopedia.” To him I always went as a child when I wanted to “know why,” which pleased him very much. He would say, “Sit down here at my desk, and I will explain so you will never forget it,” and I never did! His small library of standard encyclopedias, scientific and historical books, was the first and best one in his generation of the family. Before visiting Europe he had followed the example of his brother Stephen twenty years before and studied the French language, and most of the books used in his future engineering work were in that language.
About the year 1822, when he was thirty years old, he went to Buffalo, N. Y., then beginning to be “colonized” by many New England families. Here he became senior partner of the firm of Smith & Macy (John B. Macy of Nantucket) “forwarding merchants.” Buffalo was fast becoming one of the largest ports in the United States; all merchandise and passengers arriving from the east by the Erie Canal were there transferred to sail and steam craft for the West, a very indefinite term then. There was no Chicago, and I think the limit of trade was at Detroit. He soon took a leading place in the development of the city, and was made the first secretary of the Western Insurance Co. of Buffalo in 1825. He was the unsuccessful candidate of a Workingman’s party for governor of the state in 1830. In 1831 he was one of a committee of citizens to promote the construction of a railroad to Buffalo. He was the first alderman of the first ward of Buffalo, elected May 28, 1832, and was re-elected in 1834. During ten years of practical business and public services, he steadily pursued his study of mechanical engineering, and in 1832 was appointed as superintendent of the building of the lighthouse on the end of the breakwater at the entrance to Buffalo harbor which stands today unsurpassed as a piece of masonry, from foundation up. Exposed to the fierce storms and heavy ice drifting toward the mouth of the Niagara River, it is now 77 years old and firm as the rock on which it was built. The People’s Magazine, published 1834, in Boston, has a picture of this lighthouse and “a copy of the original sketch of its construction, by Isaac S. Smith, superintendent.” This is a minute description of all details of his work, beginning 15 feet below water at the end of the mole or breakwater extending 1,500 feet from the shore. I remember going into this lighthouse with him, as a child, when he was overseeing repairs to the outer wall of the mole after the record gale of 1845, and being much interested in the “basement” of the tower, which had stone walls seven feet thick and formed an “oil vault.” My father then held the government contract for furnishing all the lighthouses on the lakes with New Bedford refined sperm oil, “the only oil that would not freeze.” Isaac Smith was always satisfied with, and proud of, this work, saying, “This is my monument; no one need ever trouble to give me another.” Continuing in different business interests for many years, in 1856 he again contracted for the building of a second lighthouse about a mile northwest of the old one, on a ledge of rocks at the mouth of the Niagara River, directly in the middle of the fierce current there. This contract was based on the government survey of the ledge, which he proved incorrect; a new survey was necessary, and the contract was carried out and lighthouse built, where it still stands on the spot he selected. This involved a large extra expenditure, for which he sent in a claim to the government. This claim was held up in Congress for several years, but was finally paid before his death in 1860. Thus he has two lasting monuments of his own building, both witnesses to his mechanical skill obtained at the forge, and his unvarying thoroughness in everything he did.
At his death in Syracuse, where he passed the last years of his life, Rev. S. J. May said of him, “His integrity was instinctive, was earnest, constant and unswerving. He was scrupulously exact and solicitously just and fair in all his dealings, unbendingly devoted to his own idea of truth and right. He was favored in his early training, and was left, through his Quaker parentage, unhindered, if not directly encouraged, toward independence in thought. Character he accounted the all-substantial possession in this world and every other; to the end he showed fortitude and good cheer, and his death was calm and brave.”
No. 17. Ninth daughter of Abraham and Zerviah. Born Dec. 27, 1793. Died April 7, 1881. Married Wing Russell of New Bedford Jan. 1, 1825. They had three children.
Elizabeth Smith was the last child married from the old homestead, the year before the death of her father and the breaking up of the family. She was then 32 years old and had been one of the “faithful ones” since the death of her mother nine years before. Wing Russell, son of Perry and Sybil Winslow Russell, was an apothecary. Their first home was on Third Street, south of Union, and he had, in addition to his shop on Water Street, a manufactory of “Prussian Blue” on William Street, on the site of the present Y. M. C. A. building. Their three children were born in New Bedford, the youngest, Stephen Smith Russell, dying in infancy. Dec. 27, 1834, a removal certificate was given Wing Russell and family to the Hamburgh Meeting, near Buffalo, N. Y., and they removed, with their two children, to join the Smith colony there. He formed a business partnership with my father under the firm name of Russell & Hawes, forwarding merchants, but his health soon failed and he died in New Bedford in 1844, aged only 41 years, and was buried there. Elizabeth Smith Russell then made her home for many years with her brother Stephen in Syracuse, and on the marriage of her only daughter to Wells D. Walbridge of Buffalo, again removed with her to that city in 1848, where she lived many years. Her daughter then removing to California and Idaho, where her husband had mining interests, she remained with her son at his home in Erie, Pa., until 1872, when she joined Mr. and Mrs. Walbridge and their only son in Napa, Cal., going the same year to San Francisco, where she celebrated her 80th birthday. Although so far from the rest of her family, it was made a festival occasion by a large gathering of new friends, many of whom had never seen so old a person, and none had ever seen the Quaker dress worn. She was very handsome, her hair as white as her Quaker cap and handkerchief. Her birthday cake with its wreath of flowers, its eighty candles and eighty gold dollars set into the edge of the frosting, was the first one ever seen in San Francisco. She retained always the fair complexion of her youth. She was the sister, then about 10 years old, who visited Stephen Smith in N. Y., and the French officers she met there pronounced her the most beautiful “jeune fille” they had ever seen, in her simple white Quaker gown with neck and arms uncovered. In 1879 the family returned to New York City, where her son-in-law died suddenly the next year. She was not happy in her city life, and although perfectly well physically, her memory failed somewhat and she longed for the “open air,” as she said; so they came to our home in New Jersey, to her great delight, and she said, “I know I shall be happy here.” After a happy week, with all her senses normal, she complained one bright morning of a tired feeling, [lay] down on the couch and fell asleep instantly. The joy of the change had snapped the frail thread and ended a varied life of 87 years. Her only daughter, Lydia Russell Walbridge, then joined her son Russell D. Walbridge (born in 1849) in the Hawaiian Islands, where for many years he had charge of a large sugar plantation on the island of Maui. He was the second great grandson of Abraham Smith to enter the Troy Polytechnic Institute as the youngest member of his class and to graduate at the head of it. During his course there he took a year’s leave and joined his father, who was superintendent of a silver mine at Boise City, Idaho. Returning to finish his course at Troy, he then spent several years as a mining engineer at Tucson, Colorado, going from there to Maui. In Honolulu he married Berenice Parke, and after a visit to the Atlantic coast returned to Honolulu where his only son, Russell Parke Walbridge, was born in 1905. Russell D. died in ___. His son early showed a talent for his father’s profession, but while arrangements were being made for his education in New England, to prepare him for the Troy Institute, he died suddenly, from the effects of a fall, aged ten years.
For this boy of the fourth generation from Abraham Smith, had been saved all the most valuable relics and records which are here tonight, including a certified copy of apprenticeship and deed of land of John Smith in Plymouth and many other certified records, from the Old Dartmouth Friends Meeting. This is the longest record, in time and items, that I have found. I have made it as complete as possible because I have inherited all these treasures. That line of Elizabeth’s descendants is now extinct.
Robert Wing Russell, only son of Elizabeth S. Russell, was born Oct. 12, 1832, was educated in Syracuse and Buffalo, and later became cashier of the First National Bank of Erie. He married the daughter of Wm. H. Curry, president of the Bank, and died at Utica, New York, in 1907, leaving three daughters and one son. There are now living four grandchildren and two great grandchildren of Elizabeth Smith Russell.
No. 18. Tenth daughter of Abraham and Zerviah. Born Feb. 12, 1796. Died May 1st, 1879, aged 83 years. Married Joseph Taber Nov. 21, 1821. They had five children.
Deborah Smith, as one of the youngest of the family, remained at the homestead four years after the death of her mother, marrying when 21 years old. Joseph Taber was the only son of Francis and Lydia Russell Taber, and all were esteemed and lifelong members of the New Bedford Friends Meeting. He was early apprenticed to his father as a “pump and block maker” in his red-painted shop on Front Street near Union, and continued the business successfully for many years. He lived all his life in New Bedford and a full record of his family was kept by his son Edward S. Taber. I recall one story told of him which made an impression on my childish mind. In the first year of his apprenticeship he spoiled by careless measurements several pieces of the valuable “lignum vitae” of which the blocks for the rigging of vessels were made, and for a time had a habit of measuring and re-measuring the wood anxiously, to be “sure” before cutting it. One day he realized that this was not the way to make an exact workman, and he resolved to never make but one measure, and that an exact one, and to remember that one. He kept to this rule through life, and said, “I didn’t spoil much wood after that.” I wish to gratefully record that to this day I have tried to practice this rule.
They were among the few of Abraham Smith’s family who never left New Bedford. Their first home was ___ and in 1831 they built and moved into “the new house” on Fourth Street where they lived forty-eight years and where they celebrated their golden wedding in 1871. From her childhood Deborah Smith developed an individual talent before unknown in the family. In one of his addresses President Wood of this Society speaks of “Art suffering from the cooling and quieting winds of Dartmouth Quakerism” and Deborah’s first attempts were discouraged and she felt the full force of their influence. Her father, while insisting on good penmanship for all his children, had no taste or sympathy for what, to him, in his strong struggle for education, seemed a “vanity.” While still young, her brother Stephen brought her from Europe the first colored picture she had ever seen, and, “wonder of wonders,” a paint box and brushes. I believe this picture is now in the possession of a granddaughter who inherited her talent. In fear and trembling, she took them to the attic, lest they should be condemned, and hid them behind a piece of furniture near the low window under the eaves; when she could steal away unobserved, she would sit on the floor, copy with pencil and then color any picture she could find in the household library—and they were very few—and also perfected herself in the writing and printing, which later became a really wonderful accomplishment. I do not know how soon she ventured to bring forth her work to the light of day, but I have here specimens of her work in colors and in ink dated in 1812 when she was 16 years old and presented to her sisters. These are drawn with the pen and carefully colored; the details are many of them equal to the finest etchings of the present day. After her marriage, her skill is shown in many “Albums,” one made as a wedding gift to her youngest sister in 1821, and in the marking of the household linen of several generations; the whole wedding linen of her nieces and children showed her patient work. I, myself, of a later generation, used to carry my new pocket handkerchiefs and choose a design for each from her little book of patterns. She used quill pens and made them herself, and her lines were as true as those of the best engraving tools of the present day. She also drew designs for many beautiful white quilts. I am the proud possessor of one made for my mother on her marriage. It was in the frame six months, the design of one side being first drawn by her and then quilted by herself and sisters, who came every week with their thimbles and put in the tiny stitches to which they had been trained in the homestead; then it was “rolled and ready for next marking.” None of the younger ones were allowed to touch it. There are specimens of her pen work on fine cambric, from classical pictures, that are worthily framed and treasured by her descendants. With no instruction whatever from others, she later made oil portraits of her two daughters who died, aged 18 and 14.
Not long before his death she made a small pencil sketch of her father, and one, from memory, of her mother, of which small photographs were made several years after. When the present post office was built in 1893, and it was decided to place pictures of all the postmasters in one of its rooms, an enlarged copy of this likeness was made by a great granddaughter of Deborah Taber and presented to the city by Edwrd S. Taber, his grandson. As no portrait of the first postmaster, William Tobey, could be found, this picture of Abraham Smith hangs at the head of the line, followed by that of Richard Williams, his son-in-law and successor in office, who held the position for 14 years. It is an instance of the irony of fate that this portrait owes its existence to the loving skill of the daughter, whose talent he discouraged, and to her granddaughter who inherits her talent for art.
Deborah Taber rarely left New Bedford, except for visits “on the Cape.” In her last days, her senses were keen but her memory failed, and she passed on quietly in her 84th year.
Edward Smith Taber, her only son, born March, 15, 1826, died _____, remained a worthy citizen of New Bedford through life. He was an active, successful business man and president of the Morse Twist Drill Co., with which he was connected at his death. He married Emily H. Allen of New Bedford and they had three children and five grandchildren, all now living. A grandson inherits the artistic talent of his great grandmother and has just entered himself at the Ecole des Beaux Arts at Paris for study, a decided advance from her “perch” by the attic window of the old homestead.
Caroline Smith Taber, born Feb. 3, 1824, died ____. Married Samuel Morgan of Albany, N. Y., in ____, and later moved to Toledo, Ohio, where she died aged __. They had three children. The eldest daughter, Caroline, has been for several years teacher of drawing in the public schools of Toledo. She studied for several years in the art classes of New York City and as a pupil of William Chase, another striking advance from the old homestead attic.
There are now living 4 grandchildren, 4 great grandchildren and 1 great great grandchild of Deborah Smith.
Lydia Potter Smith.
No. 19. Eleventh daughter and last child of Abraham and Zerviah. Born Sept. 2, 1797. Died Jan. 1st, 1872, aged 75 years. Married Joseph Savage Nov. 5, 1821, and on Dec. 26, 1822, received removal certificate from New Bedford to Bridgewater, Oneida County, N. Y., where they first made their home. They soon removed to Syracuse, where Stephen Smith had just settled and where they were joined many years later by Isaac Smith.
Joseph Savage was interested in both the salt and ice business of Syracuse, and they lived there 49 years. After her death, he made his home on Staten Island, where he died.
While Lydia Savage did not fulfill the English theory of the youngest of a family having exceptional ability, she was very “Smithy” according to the Yankee estimate. She had no children, but was always a helpful member of the community where she lived so long, and an active co-worker with Stephen Smith in his Anti-Slavery service. She did not retain the plain dress and speech of Friends, and was fond of pictures and music, and all good modern literature and poetry. When I last saw her in her home during the Civil War, she was taking lessons on the piano so as to be able to play the accompaniment to the Star Spangled Banner, which I was asked to do daily during my visit, she leading the song,—a nineteenth century survival of the spirit which led her father to sacrifice his Quaker membership in 1776. As she had no children, I have given her picture and the original certificate of her marriage to this society for preservation.
III—THIRTEEN CHILDREN OF REBECCA SMITH WILLIAMS
The thirteen children of Richard and Rebecca Smith Williams were born in New Bedford, and as this is the largest family of its generation in descent from Abraham and Zerviah Smith, and none of them are now living, I give a full record of them here.
No. 1. Joseph Ricketson Williams, oldest son and child of Rebecca Ricketson Williams, was born November 14th, 1808, and died June 15th, 1861. He was educated at the Friends Academy in New Bedford and entered Harvard College in 1826, the first descendant of Abraham Smith to have a college education. Graduating in 1830, he and his oldest sister, Lucy Ricketson Williams, started on a journey west, visited Niagara Falls, and went by steamer and stages to visit their aunt Zerviah Sawdy in northwest Pennsylvania. A letter to her father tells of their going on horseback to the Ohio state line and “galloping a mile into Ohio,” never expecting to enter the state again. The accounts of this journey given by these two bright young people were long of great interest to the New Bedford families. One old Indian woman, however, a servant in the family, refused to be impressed; she said, “Huh! Miss Lucy make a great fuss over Niagara Falls; I guess she never see Mashpee Mill dam!”
Joseph Williams then entered the law office of “Honest” John Davis of Worcester, who with his wife, a sister of George Bancroft, the historian, became very much attached to him and appreciated his exceptional abilities. He then formed a law partnership with John H. Clifford of New Bedford, afterward Governor, but, his health failing, he went south in a sailing vessel, landing at St. Augustine, Florida, where he passed the winter, and purchasing a saddle horse there, rode home leisurely to New Bedford, arriving June 1st, 1835. His bronchial trouble still made it impossible for him to live on the seacoast, and finally he reluctantly gave up his chosen profession, for which he was well fitted, and in 1835 removed to Toledo, Ohio, where he started and named the Toledo Blade, still a leading Republican paper of the state, in partnership with Pierre M. Irving, a nephew of Washington Irving. In 1839 he removed to Constantine, Michigan, where, with his brother Richard Williams, he built and carried on for several years a successful flour mill. Here he established a village on New England principles, and became the most prominent man in the county. He built and owned the Tavern and made it a “temperance centre” from the first, delivered instructive lectures in it and encouraged “assemblys,” with dancing and refreshments free for all; the only restrictions were “no liquor and no shirtsleeves,” and he always attended these dances with his family and guests. He became much interested in the planting of the first orchards in the state, and taking grafts from the fine orchards of Erie and Genesee Counties in New York State, he traveled far on horseback through southern Michigan, grafting trees and encouraging and instructing the eastern pioneers who at that time were rapidly settling the State. For many years he wrote and spoke ably in regard to agriculture and political interests, and twice received the nomination of Republican senator for his district against Lewis Cass, afterwards governor. In 1844 he married Sarah Langdon of Buffalo, a grandniece of John Langdon, the Revolutionary governor of New Hampshire, and in 1853 returned to Toledo, Ohio, bought the Toledo Blade establishment and took editorial charge of it. Competent authority states: “Under his management the Blade became, from the first, the advocate of Republican-Free Soil principles. It was entirely independent and uncompromising and did more to inaugurate the Republican party in Ohio than all the other papers in the state. During his editorial career of three years, he had completely Republicanized the northwestern district of Ohio.”
In 1856 he returned to Michigan, where he had retained his interests, to accept the presidency of the first agricultural college in the United States, at Lansing, Michigan. This college was the first to benefit by the United States grant of lands for educational purposes, and this land bill, usually called the Morrill bill after the member who presented it to congress, was really in spirit and substance original with Joseph R. Williams. Had he been elected to Congress and presented it himself to the government, it would have brought him deserved honor. A full account of his “work and words” in this connection was published in the proceedings of the Semi-Centennial celebration of the Michigan College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts held in 1907. In 1858 he was chosen state senator for St. Joseph’s County, and later Lieutenant Governor of Michigan and ex officio Speaker of the State Senate. In the winter of 1860 his health was so affected by his faithful political service that he was obliged to make a trip to Madeira. Knowing well the critical condition of the country, he was impatient to return, and against all advice was again in New England in April, a few days before the attack on Sumter. When Lincoln issued his first call for state troops, Governor Blair of Michigan was ill and Mr. Williams was acting Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the Senate. He went directly to Lansing, called an extra session of the legislature to raise the quota for Michigan, and, when assembled, opened it with a powerful patriotic speech. The business finished, he adjourned the session, returned to his home at Constantine, and within twenty-four hours died from a hemorrhage of the lungs, as truly a fighter as if he had fallen on the field of battle. The Rev. Robt. Collyer, of Chicago, held the service at his home in Michigan, and in a volume of his published sermons he speaks of this service and gives a fine tribute to the character and work of Mr. Williams. At his request, made long before his death, his body was brought to New Bedford and laid beside his parents; he said, “my exile will then be over.” His birthplace never had a more loyal or brilliant son; one who knew him well said to me lately. “He was a leading man in northern Ohio, and capable of great service, and could he have lived, would have taken first rank in the state.” He died in June, 1861, aged only 51 years, leaving three daughters. There are now living two daughters, six grandsons and one great grandchild of Joseph Ricketson Williams.
No. 2. Eliza Smith Williams, born July 8, 1810. Died Dec. 28, 1815.
No. 3. Lucy Ricketson Williams, born Aug. 2, 1812. Died Feb. 4, 1894.
Lucy R. Williams was born in a house still standing on Spring Street, near Fourth. She was educated at Friends Academy with her brother Joseph and was much like him in temperament and intelligence, but with a stronger constitution, and outlived him many years. Her father, being very fond of music, gave her one of the first pianos in New Bedford, where at that time there were but two others, one brought from France many years before by Rhoda, daughter of Captain Hayden (afterward Mrs. Roland R. Crocker), and the other belonging to her schoolmate, _____ Howland, afterward Mrs. Edward Mott Robinson. Edward L. White of Boston was their teacher, coming from Boston once a week for their lessons. The Howland piano was put in the third story of the old Gideon Howland house on Second Street, because that strict old Quaker utterly disapproved of it, and his daughter, getting little encouragement, made but small progress in using it, so Lucy Williams used to go often to the upper room and, with closed doors, play jigs and sing songs to a delighted group of schoolmates. In her own home her father accompanied her on the flute and young people gathered there to enjoy the music. So strong was the Quaker element at that time that she said, afterwards, “There were very few of my age who could turn a tune, and it was really the first home where the young people went to dance and sing.” Before her marriage, she made many visits in Worcester, where her brother studied law with Governor Davis, and among relatives in New York and Syracuse.
She married, June 1st, 1835, Samuel W. Hawes, youngest son of John Hawes of New Bedford, and I, their first child, was born in New Bedford in June, 1836. During that year they removed to Buffalo, New York, and were among the pioneer settlers of that city, then but a frontier town. There their son Richard Williams Hawes was born September, 1837. From the first, she was leader in her home and in the social life. Her husband was prosperous, their home a hospitable one and its doors always open to the innumerable friends and relatives journeying to and from New England. Charles A. Dana, then a resident of Buffalo, said of her, “By her genius and her beauty, she became a leader of society in that city, noted for the culture and refinement of its early citizens.” For thirty-four years they were identified with all the best interests and activities of Buffalo, broken only by a period of ten years, from 1850 to 1860, when for some time they lived near Boston, he being in business there with his brother, Wm. T. Hawes. In 1855, he bought the Potomska farm in Dartmouth, but sold it in 1857 on account of ill health, and they returned to Buffalo in 1859. At this time Mr. Hawes opened some of the first oil wells in Canada and Pennsylvania, and brought the first petroleum into Buffalo, where he manufactured refined oil for many years. During the Civil War Mrs. Hawes was an active worker in the Buffalo branch of the Sanitary Commission, and president of the Freedmen’s Aid society.
In 1870 they removed with their children and two grandchildren to Ho-Ho-Kus, N. J., near New York. In that city he continued in business until his death in 1882. Lucy Williams Hawes became at this time a frequent contributor to the New York Sun, furnishing material for a column of “Sunbeams” for several years. She later wrote interesting historical pamphlets on Buffalo and Lewiston, Niagara County, which were published by the Buffalo Historical society; also several articles in Kate Fields Washington, of which Miss Field said, “These sparkling sketches, written at the age of 80 years, command a terse and vigorous style which younger writers might imitate with profit.”
All her life she was an untiring correspondent, whose letters were welcomed by several generations and in many lands. She survived her husband twelve years and died at Ho-Ho-Kus, N. J., in 1894, in her 82nd year, with all her faculties strong and keen to the end.
No. 4. Rebecca Smith Williams Jr., born June 25th, 1814. Died Oct. 8th, 1893, aged 79 years. Oct. 8, 1835, she married Lawrence Grinnell, son of Cornelius Grinnell of New Bedford. Mrs. Grinnell passed all her long life in New Bedford, where her beautiful and hospitable home will long be remembered. To her great beauty was added a practical executive ability that made her always among the helpful women of the city. At the beginning of the Civil War she was chosen first president of the New Bedford branch of the Sanitary Commission. The day after the departure of the first New Bedford company for Washington she assembled her family and neighbors in her home and cut out the first shirts that were sent to them. I was one of the workers there when Mr. Grinnell came in with the telegram that the troops had been fired upon in Baltimore. This branch did great work for the hospitals and nurses all through the war. Mrs. Joseph Delano later had charge of that work, but Mrs. Grinnell continued active in many ways as long as needed. In 1885 Mr. and Mrs. Grinnell celebrated their golden wedding, and eight years later, on their 58th wedding day, she passed away. Mr. Grinnell had become blind and physically helpless, and survived her only two months, dying Dec. 14, 1893. They had four children. Laura died in infancy. Frederick died Oct. 21st, 1905, aged 69. Mary Russell, died Oct. 11, 1872, aged 27. Richard Williams, married Norah Gardner of Providence, R. I., June 1874, died ____, leaving one son and two daughters.
No. 5. Richard Williams Jr., born Nov. 24, 1815. For many years was in business at Constantine with his brother, Joseph R. Williams, removing in 1858 to Buffalo, where he was interested in flouring mills. He married Anna, daughter of Eben Osborn of Sandusky, who survives him. At one time he spent several years in London, England, in charge of American milling machinery interests. He died at Buffalo in 188_. They had no children.
No. 6. Zerviah Smith Williams, died of consumption July 25, 1833, aged 15 years.
No. 7. Lemuel Tallman Williams, died May 22, 1822, aged 2 1/2 years.
No. 8. Eliza Smith Williams, born May 1st, 1821. Married Josias S. Coggeshall, 1846.
They moved to Constantine, Mich., where they lived with her brother, Joseph R. Williams, for some years. Mr. Coggeshall went to California in 1850, his wife following him two years after. Their children were: Laura Grinnell Coggeshall, born in New Bedford, died in Toledo, Ohio; Frank Coggeshall, born in New Bedford, died in New Bedford; Annie Williams Coggeshall, born in San Francisco. Mr. and Mrs. Coggeshall remained in California until his death, in February, 1890. Soon after, she returned with her two daughters to New Bedford to the homestead on Cottage street which she had inherited from her mother and unmarried sisters. The climate not agreeing with her, after her life on the Pacific coast, she removed to Toledo, Ohio, in 1891, where she died Jan. 13, 1892, followed by both of her daughters, who were unmarried.
No. 9. Maria Williams, born Feb. 10, 1824, died Aug. 15, 1890, aged 66.
Maria Williams, the oldest unmarried daughter, passed her whole life in New Bedford. After her father’s’ death in 1845, when she was 21 years old, she took her place as the head of the household, and devoted herself to the care of her widowed mother and invalid sister, and later to two blind and childless aunts. Of the six “Williams sisters,” considered in their generation the handsomest family group in New Bedford, she was one of marked personality. In spite of many attempts to induce her to preside over other homes, she preferred what was, in her, a life of single “blessedness.” She was always active in helpful ways, was one of those who started and managed for several years the “ragged schools” or sewing classes which were held in the public schools on Saturday afternoons, and was an untiring worker in all the patriotic and hospital work of the Sanitary Commission during the Civil War. Her loving care endeared her to her nieces and nephews, and many called for her to be with them in their last hours. A motherless daughter of her youngest brother, put in her charge when three years old, was a loving daughter to her for many years, and her early death, soon after her father’s, broke the last link which held the faithful “maiden aunt” to life. She closed her home and spent some time with Mr. and Mrs. Grinnell, who needed her care, but she died before them, after a short illness.
No. 10. Sybil Tisdale Williams, born April 18, 1825, died Oct. [20, 1877].
Sybil Williams, like her sisters, was educated in Friends Academy, married Thomas Bennett Jr., of Fairhaven, and lived all her life in New Bedford, where, like her older sisters, she was prominent and helpful in all social and philanthropic work. She had a buoyant, cheery temperament which gave an added charm to her beauty, and a friendly, kind manner which remains a pleasant memory to all who knew her. In 1872 Mr. and Mrs. Bennett moved to the mansion of John Avery Parker on County Street, where they resided the rest of their lives. For nearly thirty years, Mr. Bennett was superintendent and agent of Wamsutta Mills. They had two children, Williams and Clara Bennett. The early death of their son was a shock from which neither of them ever recovered. Mrs. Bennett died two years later, Oct. 20th, 1877, her husband surviving her until March, 1898. Their only daughter is still living in the family homestead of her grandfather, Captain Thomas Bennett, in Fairhaven.
No. 11. Lemuel Williams, born Dec. 26, 1826, died July 9, 1828.
No. 12. George Williams, born Nov. 28, 1828, died Dec. 1887.
George Williams, the fifth and youngest son, was but 18 years old at the time of his father’s death, and was the first son to follow the “call of the sea” which had appealed so often to his ancestors. He made two voyages “before the mast” before entering the service of Grinnell & Minturn, of New York, where he remained until 1860 as first officer, and later as Captain. He served on many of the famous California “clippers,” and was one of the officers who took the Flying Cloud on her record-breaking trip around Cape Horn. For many years he made annual trips to China. At one time, on the death of the Captain at Canton, he brought home the ship and a cargo worth over a million dollars, through one of the stormiest voyages ever known. For some weeks the gales drove them back from the Atlantic coast, and three times they drifted back into the Gulf Stream, to thaw out the sails and rigging. They were six weeks overdue, and with food and clothing giving out. The carpet was taken from the cabin to make jackets for the crew, and finally the ship was safely anchored in New York harbor.
On the breaking out of the Civil War, which put an end for a time to the trade with China, he entered the United States Volunteer Navy, and was afterward transferred to the United States revenue cutter service, where he remained until his death. He was stationed for three years in New Bedford harbor, and also served six years on the Pacific coast, including two trips to Alaska. He was intensely patriotic, and said, “I have carried the American flag around the world many times, and into some port of nearly every country on the globe, and I have never seen anything handsomer, nor that I loved any better.”
He married, March 5, 1861, Marion Boughton Lloyd, of Niagara County, N. Y., who died March 29, 1866. They had one daughter, Marion, who married Eliot D. Stetson of New Bedford, March, 1887.
George Williams died suddenly in New Bedford while spending a vacation there, and his daughter, died childless March 12, 1888, the last of her line.
No. 13. Abby Smith Williams, born Oct. 4, 1830, died Dec. 31, 1883.
The youngest of the thirteen children, was in some respects the most remarkable of them all. A fall when she was four years old injured her spine and made her an invalid for life. Inheriting the strong physical and mental traits of her parents, and a cheerful, philosophical temperament, her life of over fifty years was an active, useful one, in spite of its limitations. She was taught in her own home, in a great measure self-taught, and was an intelligent, enthusiastic reader. She had a fine sense of humor and was a keen judge of all phases of life. Two years spent at the home of her brother in Michigan interested her much, and she made frequent visits to other relatives, but her last years were spent in the New Bedford homestead, with her mother, sister and niece. Her oldest brother said of her, “She was the peer of the best of us, and had the best brain,”—an illustration of the deduction of an English writer, quoted in the introduction to this paper, that the oldest and youngest of a large family have a greater likelihood of developing genius than any of the others.
It was my original intention to limit records to the grandchildren of Abraham and Zerviah Smith, but I decided later to include all members of lines now extinct, that those records may be closed to date. I now add four names of descendants of three successive generations, which I feel should be recorded here, as none of them are now living. They are marked illustrations of the survival of different phases and types of their New England ancestry.
(1) Frederick Grinnell was born in New Bedford, March 14, 1836, a son of the late Lawrence Grinnell, former collector of customs of the port of New Bedford, and Rebecca (S. Williams) Grinnell. On his father’s side he descended from an old French Huguenot family which [im]migrated to America in 1632 and settled first at Newport, and afterwards, toward the middle of the eighteenth century, at New Bedford. He attended the Friends Academy. In 1852 he entered the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute at Troy, N. Y., the youngest of his class, and the youngest who had ever entered at that time. At this institute he went through the three years’ engineering course, graduating in 1855 with high honors, his name being at the head of the list of over 60 students of his own year. The subject of his graduating theses had been for some years at the head of the list of difficult problems, and Mr. Grinnell was the first one to solve it correctly. Having finished his educational career, Mr. Grinnell began his active life in 1856 at the Jersey City Locomotive works, whence he passed, in 1860, to the Corliss Steam Engine Company of Providence, where his high ability in a short time secured him the position of treasurer and superintendent of the works. In 1865, however, he was induced to return to the Jersey City Locomotive works as general manager, and the fact that this concern was then leased by the Atlantic & Great Western Railroad led to his forming the acquaintance of Sir Morton Peto and Mr. Forbes, on whose express invitation he went to England for the purpose of inspecting the chief locomotive engineering and mechanical works in the United Kingdom. Some time afterwards, when the Atlantic & Great Western Railway company was leased by the Erie Company, Mr. Grinnell was offered the position of mechanical superintendent of the entire combined system.
Mr. Grinnell, however, notwithstanding his successful career as a railway engineer, decided to use his energies and inventive powers for his own benefit, and to that end he purchased, in 1869, an interest in the Providence Steam & Gas Pipe Company, a concern which had been founded in 1850. As engineer and manager of this company, he soon developed a large and successful business in the equipment of manufactories with all apparatus pertaining to the use of steam, water and gas, and, in addition, undertook large contracts for the building of towns’ gas works, and the laying of water mains.
It was his connection with this company that led Mr. Grinnell to develop a system of fire protection by means of perforated pipes attached to the ceilings of factory rooms, into any of which water could be turned by the opening of externally fixed valves. This device met with a good deal of favor at the time; but as its successful operation depended entirely on human agency, Mr. Grinnell was, by a natural process, led to the study of a system which would be independent of such agency, and absolutely automatic in its working. Numerous automatic devices aiming at the extinction of fire by the agency of its own heat had been previously patented, but every one of them had failed in practice, either through their habit of bursting when not wanted, or failing to open at the critical time. Mr. Grinnell, in 1881, patented his famous sensitive valve sprinkler, self-closing under water pressure. In 1881 Mr. Grinnell further improved the apparatus by the invention of the dry pipe system and other appliances for the equipment of properties where the water in the pipes would freeze.
With Mr. Grinnell’s wonderful mechanical genius were combined two other qualities—a lawyer’s appreciation of the application of principles to facts and a keen power of explanation of mechanical subjects, all of which stood him in good stead in the demonstration of the value of his invention, and in the tremendous litigation which occurred in regard to it. He was really his own patent solicitor and expert, and his ability in both capacities was responsible for his successful career.
In 1892 the leading concerns manufacturing automatic appliances in different sections of the United States were amalgamated by Mr. Grinnell into one large corporation, under the title of the General Fire Extinguisher Company. This company, of which he was the first president, has branch offices in all leading cities of America, and extensive works at Providence, Philadelphia and Warren, Ohio. The rights of the sprinkler and other patents for Europe were acquired by William Mather of England. Mr. Grinnell remained at the head of the American company up to the time of his death.
During his residence in Providence, Mr. Grinnell was married to Alice Almy, daughter of the late William Almy of New Bedford, in 1864. Of this marriage two children were born, a son who died at the age of four years, and a daughter, now the wife of Robert W. Taft of Providence, a director in the N. Y., N. H. & H. Railroad. Mrs. Grinnell died within a few years of her marriage.
In 1874 Mr. Grinnell was married to Miss Mary B. Page, a daughter of John H. W. Page. Mr. Page was principal of the Friends Academy from 1826 to 1829, afterwards studying law and being admitted to the bar in 1832. To Mr. and Mrs. Grinnell have been born four children, Russell Grinnell, whose wife, Rose Gifford, is a daughter of the late R. Swain Gifford, the artist; Lydia, now Mrs. John W. Knowles; Lawrence, who married Emily Rotch Severance, a granddaughter of Wm. J. Rotch of New Bedford, and has one son, Francis B., who married Elizabeth Merrihew Plummer, daughter of Leander A. Plummer, and had one son.
In 1894 Mr. and Mrs. Grinnell moved to this city, Mr. Grinnell having purchased the estate of his great uncle, Joseph Grinnell, on County Street, for a residence.
Throughout his life, Mr. Grinnell was an enthusiastic yachtsman, and took a prominent part in the sport of yachting. He was No. 5 among the original charter members of the New York Yacht club, and had served as a member of its regatta committee. He had also been a member of the New Bedford Yacht club for many years. Mr. Grinnell’s first boat was the Lydia, a small schooner. In 1889 he had built the steel schooner Quickstep. She was designed by Burgess, and was intended for a family cruising yacht, but developed great speed. She was not only invariably victorious in her own class, but on three occasions won special races against the finest schooners of the class above her. The Quickstep measures 65 feet on the water line, is constructed of steel, and was built in 1889 from the plans of the well known designer, Burgess. On account of the reputation which he gained in handling the Quickstep, Mr. Grinnell’s sailing master, Captain William Hansen, was selected to sail the Vigilant in the international races of 1893 for the America cup; but he returned to Mr. Grinnell the following season and remained with him up to the time of Captain Hansen’s death.
A few years later, tiring of the sport of sailing, and desiring a craft by which he could more quickly return to port at his pleasure, Mr. Grinnell in 1902 built the second Quickstep, a steamer, disposing of the schooner to New York people. The steamer was sold in 1905.
Small boat racing was another phase of yachting in which Mr. Grinnell was interested, and his son’s Herreshoff cruisers have been an active factor in the races of the New Bedford club.
Mr. Grinnell was interested in a large number of local corporations. He was a director in the Mechanics Bank, to which office he was elected a year after taking up his residence in this city; was a member of the board of investment of the New Bedford Institution for Savings; a director in the Wamsutta Mills Corporation. As one of the management of the Morse Twist Drill Company, Mr. Grinnell had much to do with the extension of that firm’s business; and he was also one of the heads of the Gorham Mfg. Co. He died Oct. 5, 1905, aged 69.
No. 2. Russell D. Walbridge, great grandson of Abraham Smith and grandson of Elizabeth Smith and Wing Russell, was born in Buffalo, N. Y., in 1849, and died at Honolulu, 1901, aged 52 years. Educated at private schools in Buffalo, he entered the Polytechnic school in Troy in 1862. This was just ten years after his cousin, Frederick Grinnell, had entered there; Russell Walbridge entered at the same age, both the youngest in their class. After one year’s study he went to Boise City, Idaho, where his father was in charge of a large silver mine, and spent a year in practical work as a mining engineer. He then returned to Troy and finished his course, graduating with honor. After more work with his father in California until 1883, he became chief engineer of mines at Tucson until 1885, when he went to Honolulu, and for several years was superintendent of a large sugar plantation on the island of Maui. It became the most successful one in the Hawaiian Islands.
He married Bernice Parke of Honolulu, and in 1899 returned to the east, preferring to work, he said, “in his own country.” He finally decided to return to Honolulu in 1900, and died suddenly in 1901, just as he was about to take charge of a plantation there.
No. 3. Williams Bennett, only son of Thomas and Sybil Williams Bennett, was born in New Bedford in 1859 and died Dec. 25, 1875, aged sixteen years.
Williams Bennett was educated in private schools of New Bedford and early showed his inheritance of great mechanical ability. When a mere child he spent much time in the workshop of the Wamsutta Mills, of which his father was the builder and superintendent. At twelve years he built and ran a small steam engine with which to work a small printing press, and published a very creditable small newspaper. In September, 1875, he entered the Polytechnic school at Troy, the youngest in his class, the same record in age and standing as that of Frederick Grinnell in 1852 and Russell Walbridge in 1862. The hope that he would repeat their honorable finish of the course was disappointed by his death, of typhoid fever, Dec. 25th, three months after his entrance.
No. 4. Franklin Smith Macomber, son of Alfred E. and Sarah Smith Macomber, born March 2, 1877, died Dec. 10, 1908.
Alfred E. Macomber is of Scotch descent, and was born in Bristol County, Mass.; his ancestors were “proprietors” in the Pilgrim Plymouth Colony as early as 1640.
Sarah Smith Macomber is daughter of John T. S. Smith, the homeopathic physician of New York, and a great granddaughter of Abraham Smith.
Franklin Smith Macomber was the most marked representative of his family branch in his day and generation. He was born in Toledo, Ohio, educated in the public schools, then entered Cornell University and took the law course, returning to Toledo in 1898 when 21 years old, and entering the real estate firm of his father. From his parents he inherited a strong, wise, humanitarian tendency which, through this business, soon developed in many practical ways. It was said of him:
“The scope of his vision and the philosophy and depth of his thought were unknown, except to those who knew the smiling young man best. He had a thorough knowledge and aptitude for architecture and civic engineering. He spent much time going over certain portions of the city, until he learned its possibilities, then placed his mental designs on paper for his own gratification. He took few into his confidence, preferring to wait until the time was ripe, to call the attention of the public with a backing of facts and figures. That his judgment in public improvement was wise was shown in the development of the district where he planted apartment houses and playgrounds; his motive was entirely unselfish and he sought no holdings in other districts that he was planning to regenerate.”
In 1903 he married Miss Annie Reynolds of Toledo, and they had one son. He was associated with every movement for the welfare of Toledo, and was the life and energy of the boards with which he became connected. In January, 1906, he was appointed a member of the Board of public safety, and the next year was elected its vice president. In all matters presented to the City Council he was invariably the spokesman for the safety Board, and matters pertaining to the elevation and efficiency of the police and fire departments occupied the major part of his time. He was in daily consultation with experts, gathering data and statistics to show the probable cost and benefits of improvements. He lent much assistance to the work of the Toledo newsboys, and with his brother, Irving E. Macomber, gave the use of a large tract of land to the Newsboys’ association for a playground, and a similar tract was appropriated for the use of the school board as a school garden. In the midst of all this strong, helpful work, he developed a trouble of the nose, which, after consultation with the best specialists, seemed to necessitate a slight operation. He went promptly and hopefully to a hospital, his heart action was tested, an anaesthetic administered, and in five minutes he was dead, and a whole city mourned his loss! The mayor issued an official proclamation and all public and private flags were lowered to half mast. The leading paper said: “Since the death of President McKinley, nothing has so shocked and shaken Toledo as the untimely passing of Franklin S. Macomber, city-saver.” On the Sunday after his death a public memorial service was held by the City Council. In a tender loving address, the Mayor spoke of his short but complete life, saying. “The record is far too short; it was not time for him to die.” Among many other tributes, I add only this from the president of the Labor Union:
“He was my friend; he was one of the very few men in his walk of life who appreciated the efforts of the workers. It would not be fitting for me to recount all he has done for labor, but he always prided himself on being at the service of those who toil. He was a many-sided man, who paid less attention to the individual than to the wants of the community. You can appeal to your rulers and plead with them to be kind and just, and implore your legislatures to treat you kindly, but these forces must bend their knees to men like Franklin Macomber.”
Surely he was “well born,” and he died when only thirty-one years old, “good and wise, honorable and honored.”
The descendants of Abraham and Zerviah Smith, now living, whom I have been able to trace and record, are: 1 grandchild, 22 great grandchildren, 24 great great grandchildren, 21 great great great grandchildren.
From some of my “forebears,” I have inherited a saying which has been used for more than one generation. When condemning the character of any one, it was said “He is poor timber, that will neither take polish nor hold nails!” I think we can say of the sturdy New England family tree, of which I have made this record of more than three hundred years of growth, that it has always been “good timber.” In its first century it held fast the “nails” of adversity, exile, torture, imprisonment and daily privation; in the second and third centuries its vigorous branches reached out to absorb the best elements of every possible gain in power and skill of both body and mind; and as I have lately traced the growth of its fourth century, I am proud to find many of good, firm grain, ready to take on the polish of the 20th century development and opportunity. I bequeath the recording of this to the family historian of 2010, for preservation by the “Old Dartmouth Historical Society.”