For several generation the family bearing the name of Filoon has live in Abington and North Bridgewater (now Brockton), where evidence of their thrift, solidity and respectability are manifest, and there also have lived the Bretty and Fullerton families, with which the more recent generations of the Filoons have been allied through marriage, the Brett family being one of the ancient families of the Old Colony and its progenitor an original proprietor of Bridgewater. This article is to particularly treat of the branch of the Filoon family to which belonged the late Veranus Filoon, who was long and prominently identified with the business and social circles of North Bridgewater and Brockton, and his son, the present Fred W. Filoon, who as his father’s successor is continuing the business with marked success, as well as the former’s brother, the present Henry H. Filoon, who has long been a leading and successful practicing dentist.
James Filoon, the American progenirot of this family, was born in County Armagh, Ireland from Scotland on account of religious persecution. As was compulsory as late as the year 1800, James Fillon served in the English army, but becoming dissatisfied with the life in the army he and his brother and another young man boarded a vessel bound for America as stowaways, arriving here in 1802. Upon his arrival in this country James Filoon settles in south Abington, Mass., where he lived for some years, later removing to Livermore, Maine, where he followed the occupation of farming. He was of an industrious nature, and possessing a quiet, unassuming manner was generally liked and esteemed by all who knew him. He was a man very religiously inclined, and both he and his wife were devout members of the Universalist church. James Filoon married Christiana Ann Burrell, of Abington, Mass. They both passed away in Livermore, Maine. To their union were born children as follows:
- Mary, Mrs. Fisher, died in Livermore
- James, Jr., was a successful farmer in Livermore, and died in Auburn, Maine
- John Williams is mentioned below
- Mehitable, who married a Mr. Young, died in Livermore
- Thaxter was successfully engaged in agricultural pursuits in Livermore, where he died
- Christina died in Main
John Williams Filoon, son of James and Christiana Ann (Burrell) Filoon, was born Nov. 20, 1811, in Abington (now Whitman), Mass., and was reared on his father’s farm, removing with his parents to Livermore, Maine, where he continued, at home, until he reached his majority. At the age of twenty-one years he returned to Massachusetts with his savings, which amounted to one hundred years he returned to Massachusetts with his savings, which amounted to one hundred dollars, and settled in Hanover, where he became engaged in farming. Later he located in his native town, Abington, were he became engaged in shoemaking, following that occupation for a number of years. In 1844 he came to North Bridgewater (now Brockton), where he continued at his trade, eventually opening a shop of his own on the north side of Crescent street, adjoining his home, and here he thus continued while rearing his family. Under his instruction all his boys were taught the art of shoemaking, they being given their time when they reached the age of nineteen year. A careful and painstaking mechanic, and on of more than ordinary ability, he was always in demand and found no difficulty in obtaining employment at his trade. Later in life he took charge of the estate of the late Chandler Sprague, where for several years he had general charge of the farming on the estate, and upon retiring from this position accepted a place in the factory of his son, the late Veranus Filoon, continuing this employed until he had reached the age of seventy-five years, when he retired from an active life.
Although a man who had decided views Mr. Filoon was liberal minded, and being of a genial and affable nature he retained the friendships be made and commanded the respect and esteem of all who knew him. After coming to North Bridgwater he joined the Central Methodist Episcopal Church, and continued a consistent member of the same until his death, which occurred in Brockton Aug. 18, 189″8, in the eighty-seventh year of his age. Mr. Filoon was a strong Antislavery advocate, and was active in giving assistance to the slaves who were secretly transported from New Bedford through North Bridgewater on their way to Canada.
On May 2, 1837, Mr. Filoon married Mary Fullerton, daughter of Noah Fullerton, of Aldington, who was a descendant of several of New England’s historic old families. She was born March 9, 1818, and died in Brockton June 29, 1880, aged sixty-two years. To this union were born the following children:
- John Williams, Jr., born Dec. 19, 1837, in Abington, was a soldier in the Civil war, being a member of Company D, 9th New York Volunteers, and was killed at the battle of Winchester, Va., Sept. 19, 1864 (he was unmarried)
- Veranus, born April 25, 1841, is mentioned below
- Henry Harrison, born April 4, 1843, is mentioned below
- Martha Jane, born Oct. 21, 1846, in North Bridgewater, was married there to Samuel J. Wade, and died in Brockton, May 8, 1908
- Mary Adeline, born Jan. 27, 1850, married Alvin Phillips, of Easton, Mass., and died in Brockton, March 16, 1901
- Frank Wendell, born Jan. 28, 1853, died April 14, 1872, aged nineteen years
- Lizzie Emma, born Sept. 2, 1859, married George A. Dow, of Brockton, where they reside
Veranus Filoon, son of the late John Williams and Mary (Fullerton) Filoon, was born April 25, 1841, in Abington (now Whitman), Mass. When he was about four years of age his parents removed to the town of North Bridgewater, the son accompanying the family hither, and this point, now the city of Brockton, continued to be his place of residence and field of operations from that time until his death. Until the age of sixteen years he attended the public schools of North Bridgewater, devoting his spare moments during this time to assisting his father in making shoes, continuing with him until he had reached the age of nineteen years, when his father gave him his time. He was then employed at needlemaking for a year or more, and for a period during the years 1860 and 1861 worked at the same occupation in Richmond, Va., where he was located at the time of the breaking out of the Civil war. Returning to North Bridgewater he again took up the trade of shoemaking which he followed until the last year of the war, when he offered his services to his country in its struggle to maintain the Union of the States, enlisting at Readville, Mass., July 8, 1864, as a member of Company C, 60th Regiment, Massachusetts V. M.; he served until the expiration of his term of enlistment, Nov. 30th of that year. Upon his return from the war he again engaged in the shoe industry, in North Bridgewater, on June 27, 1865, entering the employ of Keith & Packard, which firm was composed of the late Aberdeen Keith and Davis S. Packard, and engaged in the manufacture of boot counters. Mr. Filoon continued in the employ of this firm, which was dissolved in 1876 and was succeeded by the firm of D. S. Packard & Co., of which latter firm Mr. Filoon became the junior member on July 1, 1880. In 1886 the manufacture of shoe counters was added to the business, and during the succeeding years this firm built up a very extensive trade, which now extends all over the United States, their product being well and favorably known in all shoe manufacturing centers in this country. At that time, in the middle eighties, Mr. Filoon gave his attention to the buying of materials and also to the selling of their product. In 1895 Mr. Packard retired from active business, and Mr. Filoon purchased his interests in the concern, continuing to conduct it alone for a period of about two years under the same firm style, when he admitted his son, Fred Williams Filoon, into partnership. In 1900 the firm name was changed to V. & F. W. Filoon, and the leather business was added, which has since become an important branch of the business of this well known house. The business was conducted under that firm name until the death of Mr. Veranus Filoon, which occurred July 4, 1905, since which time it has been continued by his son, the present Fred W. Filoon, as a close corporation.
Mr. Filoon was a prominent and active member of long standing in the Masonic organization, and had been honored in the several bodies to which he belonged. . He was a member of Paul Revere Lodge, A. F. & A. M.; Satucket Chapter, R. A. M., of which he was a past high priest; Brockton Council, R. & S. M., of which he was a charter member and in which he bore the distinction of being the first thrice illustrious master; and Bay State Commandery, Knights Templar, of Brockton, of which he was a past eminent commander. He was also a charter member of the Commercial Club of Brockton, and was a member of the building committee which had charge of the erection of the present commodious club house at the corner of North Main and Spring streets.
He also held membership in Fletcher Webster Post, No. 13, G. A. R., of Brockton. Although a stanch Republican in his political views, Mr. Filoon never cared for public office, preferring to devote his undivided attention to his extensive business interests.
On Sept. 24, 1863, Mr. Filoon was united in marriage with Sarah Adelaide Brett, daughter of David and Caroline E. (Freeman) Brett, of North Bridgewater. Mrs. Filoon, who was a devoted and loving wife and mother, and whose love for her husband found expression in her devotion to her family, survived her husband, passing away in Brockton Aug. 15, 1909. Mrs. Filoon was descended from historic old New England ancestry on both maternal and paternal sides, her mother, Caroline E. Freeman, daughter of Christopher and Elizabeth (Meade) Freeman, having traced her ancestry to Colonial times through the Meade family of Boston. On the paternal side Mrs. Filoon was a direct descendant in the eighth generation from William Brett, who came to Duxbury, Mass., in 1645, from Kent, England, and later became one of the original proprietors of the ancient town of Bridgewater, locating in what is now West Bridgewater. He was an elder in the church, and often, when Rev. James Keith was sick, he preached to the people. He, a leading man not only in church but also in town affairs, was often representative to the General Court of the Colony. The Christian name of his wife was Margaret, and they had six children, through whom have descended probably all bearing the name of Brett in this country. From this William Brett the lineage of Mrs. Filoon is through
- Nathaniel and Sarah (Hayward) Brett
- Seth and Sarah (Alden) Brett
- Samuel and Hannah (Packard) Brett
- Isaac and Priscilla (Jackson) Brett
- Joseph and Olive (Beal) Brett
- David and Caroline E. (Freeman) Brett
In this lineage it will be noted that through the marriage of the Bretts into other early New England families Mrs. Filoon was also descended from Samuel Packard, who with his wife and child came from Windham, England, in the ship “Diligence,” and settled in Hingham, Mass., in 1638, later becoming an early settler of West Bridgewater, and through whom have descended probably all those bearing the name of Packard in this country; and as well from John Alden and Priscilla Mullens, of the “Mayflower,” 1620, whose courtship has been immortalized in Longfellow’s poem. To Mr. and Mrs. Veranus Filoon were born the following children:
- Mabel Adelaide
- a son who died in infancy
- Fred Williams, mentioned below
- Helen Martha
In the death of Veranus Filoon, which occurred July 4, 1905, at his home, No. 114 Prospect street, Brockton, that city lost one of its prominent citizens and successful business men. His death was the result of three successive shocks. Mr. Filoon was in every sense of the word a self-made man. Endowed with remarkable energy and business tact, with a good constitution and vigorous health, he devoted him-self to as many hours of service as he required of his employees, and prosperity crowned his efforts. He was of a generous, noble nature, commending himself not only to his business associates and others whom he met in a business way by his practical wisdom, ability, trustworthy judgment and upright honesty of purpose, but also to the general public by those more general qualities of character which go to make a complete manhood, and which are well calculated to secure the confidence and regard of all classes. His habits were largely domestic and he took much delight in making his home cheerful, pleasant and happy, and in it he found his enjoyment, leaving a memory which is cherished and honored by his children.
Feed Williams Filoon, only son of the late Veranus and Sarah Adelaide (Brett) Filoon, was born Sept. 26, 1870, in North Bridgewater (now Brockton), and acquired his educational training in the public schools and the high school of his native city. After leaving school he became a clerk in the office of Bouve. Crawford & Co., shoe manufacturers of Brockton, in which capacity he continued for a period of about five years. In 1892 he entered the employ of the firm of D. S. Packard & Co., manufacturers of shoe counters, of which firm his father, the late Veranus Filoon, was the junior member. In 1897 he was admitted to partnership in this business, of which his father was then the sole proprietor. In 1900 this firm name was changed from D. S. Packard & Co. to V. & F. W. Filoon, at which time the firm also became dealers in sole leather of all kinds, and under this firm name the business was carried on until after the death, in 1905, of Mr. Veranus Filoon, when it was incorporated under the laws of Massachusetts as the V. & F. W. Filoon Company, with a capital stock of $100,000, of which Fred W. Filoon is the president and treasurer. This concern is engaged in the manufacture of shoe counters of all kinds and as well as dealers in sole leather, giving employment to from 150 to 200 hands. The product has a ready market in every shoe manufacturing center in this country.
Mr. Filoon, like his father, is an active member of the Masonic bodies, holding membership in Paul Revere Lodge, A. F. & A. M.; Satucket Chapter, R. A. M.; Brockton Council, R. & S. M.; and Bay State Commandery, Knights Templar, of Brockton. He is also a member of the Commercial Club, which numbers among its membership the leading business and professional men of the city. He is also identified with one of the city’s leading financial institutions, being a director of the Brockton National Bank. In political faith he is a Republican, but his strict attention to his increasing business interests prohibits him from taking an active part in political affairs.
Although among the younger business men of Brockton, Mr. Filoon possesses pronounced business acumen, and, notwithstanding the fact that in assuming the sole management of the business of V. & F. W. Filoon he took charge of what had been for many years a successful business enterprise, he has greatly increased the volume of business done by the concern.
On Oct. 22, 1902, Mr. Filoon was united in marriage to Mary Helen Whipple, daughter of Col. John J. and Helen Otis (Howard) Whipple, of Brockton, and this union has been blessed with one son, John Whipple Filoon, who was born June 13, 1906, in Brockton.
Henry Harrison Filoon, son of the late John Williams and Mary (Fullerton) Filoon, was born April 4, 1843, in South Abington (now Whitman), Mass., his parents removing to North Bridgewater (now Brockton) when he was about one year old. His educational training was begun in the district school of the latter town, where he attended the Sprague school, in that part of the town known as Factory Village. Leaving school at the age of fourteen years, he then took up shoemaking with his father, with whom he continued until he was nineteen years of age. Being of a studious nature, he had kept up his studies after leaving school, and having as associates several young men who were attending Prof. Sereno D. Hunt’s Academy he purchased textbooks in line with the studies pursued by them. About this time he, in company with several other young men of his age, engaged Prof. Alfred Laws, who was one of the first principals of the high school, to give them evening instruction, and while his days were devoted to shoemaking with his father, his evenings and spare moments were devoted to study. After leaving his father’s service he went to work on boots for Webster Spear, in whose employ he remained several months. As there was at that time a very great demand for army handmade shoes, he accepted employment sewing these shoes for Cyrus Kingman and Emerson Kingman, remaining in their employ several months. Before the Civil war had closed a change had taken place in the making of shoes, the many small shops in which three or four workmen would make the shoes and return them to the factories ready for the market giving way to the larger factories, where the shoes were manufactured in greater numbers and much more speedily, each workman having his special work to do on the shoes. For a time Mr. Filoon was employed in the factory of the late David Howard, on Linden street, but the strain of the gang work and rush in the larger factory soon proved too strenuous for him, and in the summer of 1863 he went to Raynham, Mass., where he found employment in a smaller factory, remaining there until the following winter. In January, 1864, he returned to North Bridgewater, where he went to work on shoe knives in the employ of Webster Brothers, in whose employ he continued for a period of about two years. During the summer of 1865 he was offered the opportunity of learning dentistry by the late Dr. George R. Whitney, who was then located in the building which stood on Main street, where now stands the Goldthwaite building, and on Jan. 2, 1866, he entered Dr. Whitney’s office under a three years’ contract. He continued in the latter’s office until in May, 1867, when on account of ill health Dr. Whitney was compelled to retire for a time and Mr. Filoon then went to New Bedford, entering the office of Dr. C. Gr. Davis, on May 20, 1867. There he continued his studies in dentistry for one year, on May 20th of the following year returning to the office of Dr. Whitney, at North Bridgewater, the latter having regained his health. After several months he formed a partnership with Dr. Whitney, which association continued for one year. In April, 1871, Dr. Filoon opened an office on his own account for the practice of his chosen profession, locating in the building at the corner of Main and High streets, where now stands the “Metropolitan Hotel” building. Here he remained until in July, 1872, when upon the completion of Clark’s block, at the corner of Main and Centre streets, he removed his office thereto, and at this location continued successfully engaged in the practice of his profession until 1892, when he sold out to Dr. Charles E. Foster. On Sept. 1, 1892, Dr. Filoon formed a partnership with Charles E. Johnson, under the firm name of Johnson & Filoon, and engaged in the leather business.
This partnership continued until Jan. 1, 1896, when they withdrew from the business. Dr. Filoon then engaged in the real estate and insurance business, in which he was interested for a year or two, when upon the death of Dr. Charles E. Foster, his successor in the dental business, he in 1899 purchased the business and again entered upon the practice of his profession. Shortly afterward he removed his dental parlors to the Times building, at the corner of Main and Pleasant streets, where he has since continued in the practice of dentistry, in which he has met with deserving success.
Fraternally Dr. Filoon is a member of various Masonic bodies, holding membership in Paul Revere Lodge, A. F. & A. M.; Satucket Chapter, R. A. M.; and Bay State Commandery, Knights Templar, of Brockton. He is one of the charter members of the Brockton Dental Society, organized in 1908, and was the first president of the society, holding that office for two years. He was also a member of the Commercial Club for a number of years, having been one of the original members. In political faith Dr. Filoon is a Democrat, and has served the city as a member of the common council from Ward Two – in 1895 and 1896. He also served as a trustee of the Brockton Public Library for a period of six years, from 1887 to 1893. Dr. Filoon is one of the original incorporators of the Brockton Savings Bank, which was incorporated in 1881. He is a member of the Brockton Country Club, and is fond of golf as a recreation. He is also a member of the Anti-Imperialistic League of Massachusetts, and was for many years a member of the Massachusetts Reform Club, with headquarters in Boston.
In early life Dr. Filoon was a member of the Central Methodist Episcopal Church, of Brockton, and for a time was a teacher in the Sunday school, but while at New Bedford, Mass., in the office of Dr. Davis, who was a Unitarian, he became imbued with the creed of Unitarianism and became much interested in the doctrines of that denomination as promulgated by Rev. William J. Potter, a very able Unitarian minister then in charge of the church at New Bedford, and whose services he attended occasionally. Upon returning to North Bridgewater Dr. Filoon found a growing class of Unitarians, and joining with them, he leased on his own responsibility, for a month, Satucket hall, where the first service of that denomination in the town was held, he furnishing the organ, choir and seats. Encouraged by the increasing attendance the first month, on May 1, 1881, the Church of the Unity was organized and the expenses of the first month assumed by the society. For three years the services of the church were held in Satucket hall, at the end of which time the society was able to erect its present church edifice on Warren avenue. Dr. Filoon has been distinctly influential in the church, of which he is an active and consistent member, and which he has served in various capacities with fidelity and faithfulness. He has been a member of the standing committee and clerk of the same for many years; has served as superintendent of the Sunday school at various times, and has been a teacher in the Sunday school since the organization of the church. For several years he has been president of the Plymouth and Bay Conference of the Unitarian Churches. He is also a life member of the American Unitarian Association, being the first member of that association made by the Brockton society.
On Sept. 6, 1871, Dr. Filoon was united in marriage to Catherine Howard Brett, daughter of Martin Luther and Catherine (Howard) Brett, of Easton, Mass. Mrs. Filoon is a descendant of several of New England’s earliest settled families, as well as being descended from “Mayflower” ancestry, numbered among whom are John Alden and Priscilla Mullins. To Dr. and Mrs. Filoon have been born three daughters, as follows:
- Alice Howard, who is the wife of Arthur Hayward Alger, of West Bridgewater
- Kate Harrison, who was a teacher of domestic science in the public schools of Washington, D. C, and is now engaged in the same profession at New Britain, Conn.
- Annie Mitchell, who is a trained nurse by profession, and resides at home with her parents
Dr. Filoon is courteous and affable in manner, generous in his impulses, and having been a student since his boyhood days is well versed on many topics. He is fond of good literature, his well selected library affording him ample opportunity for literary entertainment.