The Perkins family is one of long and honorable standing in America, being one of the oldest in New England, where it is first found of record in Hampton – then in Massachusetts, now in New Hampshire. This family has numbered among its members men who have been prominent in the learned professions as well as in the business and financial circles of this country. This article is to particularly treat of that branch of the family through which descended the late John Perkins, of Bridgewater, of which town his ancestors were early settlers, and where he was actively identified with the iron manufacturing industry for a number of years. The ancestral line of this branch of the family is here given in chronological order from the first American settler.
Abraham Perkins, born in 1611, came from Newent, County of Gloucester, England, to America, and appears in New England in 1638, as one of the first settlers of Hampton, where he was made a freeman May 31, 1640. Mr. Perkins was a man of good education, an excellent penman, and was much employed in town business. He died Aug. 31, 1683, at the age of seventy-two years, his widow Mary passing away May 29, 1706, aged eighty-eight years. In his will, dated Aug. 22, 1683, and probated Sept. 18, 1683, he names his wife, Mary, and sons Jonathan, Humphrey, James, Luke and David. To the last two he gave but five shillings each, as they had already had their shares. An old family Bible still preserved among his descendants gives the birth dates of eleven of his thirteen children, who were as follows:
- Mary, born Sept. 2, 1639
- Abraham,. Jr., born Sept. 2, 1639
- Luke, born in 1640-41
- Humphrey, born Jan. 22, 1642
- James, born April 11, 1644
- Timothy, born Oct. 5, 1646
- James (2), born Oct. 5, 1647
- Jonathan, born May 30, 1650
- David, born Feb. 28, 1653
- Abigail, born April 2, 1655
- Timothy (2), born June 26, 1657
- Sarah, born July 26, 1659
- Humphrey (2), born May 17, 1661
David Perkins, son of Abraham, born Feb. 28, 1653, came from Beverly, Mass., and settled in South Bridgewater before 1683. He was the first representative of the latter town in the General Court at Boston, after the union of the two Colonies in 1692, being representative in 1692-94-96-1704-05-06. He built the first mill in Bridgewater, which he established in 1694, and which stood where Lazell, Perkins & Company later built their iron mill. He lived on the Boston road, near the works. He was twice married, by his first marriage having two children, Nathan and Thomas. In 1699 he married (second) Martha Howard, daughter of John, Jr., and Sarah (Latham) Howard, and granddaughter of John Howard, who came from England and settled first at Duxbury, Mass., later becoming one of the first settlers of ancient Bridgewater, in 1651, where he was a man of great influence in the new plantation, and was one of the first military officers of the town. To David and Martha (Howard) Perkins were born the following children:
- John, born in 1700
- Mary, born in 1702, who married Gideon Washburn
- Martha, born in 1704, who married Dr. Joseph Byram
- Elizabeth, born in 1707, who married Solomon Leonard
- Susanna, born in 1709, who married Samuel Allen
- David, Jr., born in 1711
- Jonathan, born in 1714
- Abraham, born in 1716
- Sarah, who married Jabez Carver
The mother of these children died in 1735, and the father passed away in 1736, at the age of eighty-three years.
David Perkins, Jr., son of David, was born in the town of Bridgewater, in 1711. In 1738 he married Alice Leach, daughter of John and Susanna (White) Leach, she a direct descendant in the fifth generation of Lawrence Leach, a native of England, born in 1589, who came to New England as one of the “planters” with Rev. Francis Higginson, in 1629, and who was a man of repute in England; it is said he descended from John LeLeche, surgeon to King Edward III. To David and Alice (Leach) Perkins were born the following children:
- David, born in 1739
- Zephaniah, born in 1742
- John, born in 1746
- Robert, born in 1750
- Asa, born in 1754
Asa Perkins, son of David, was born Oct. 6, 1754, in Bridgewater, where his life was spent. He married Fear Morse, who was born in 1766, and died Oct. 8, 1853. That he participated in the Revolutionary war is shown by a certificate dated “Camp at Cambridge, June 18, 1775,” and signed by Capt. Seth Murray, certifying the said Perkins and others belonging to his company, Colonel Woodbridge’s regiment, to be in need of cartridge boxes, for which he promised to be accountable.
Asa Perkins, Jr., son of Asa, was born June 6, 1793, in the town of Bridgewater, and there he resided all his life. He lived in the home on High street which was later occupied by his daughter, the late Mrs. Howard Sampson, who passed away Jan. 10, 1911. He was an iron worker in his youth, having a forge near his home. He later worked in the capacity of machinist for the firm of Lazell, Perkins & Company, whose plant later became the Bridgewater Iron Works. He was a man of an inventive turn of mind, and was an expert mechanic, often being called to New York and other points to fit up machines of intricate design for his employers. He followed his trade all his life, and at his death he was laid to rest in the Mount Prospect cemetery, at Bridgewater. In political faith he was an old-line Democrat. On Nov. 19, 1815, he married Huldah Ames Hayward, born in 1797, daughter of Timothy and Huldah (Ames) Hayward. She died at her home in Bridgewater, and was buried beside her husband in Mount Prospect cemetery. To Asa and Huldah Ames (Hayward) Perkins were born eight children, as follows:
- Hannah, born June 26, 1816, who married Howard Sampson
- Asa, born Feb. 10, 1819, who married Lucia T. Willis
- Isaac, born Feb. 1, 1822, who married Jane Greenwood
- John, born Nov. 7, 1824, who is mentioned below
- James, born Feb. 7, 1828, who is mentioned elsewhere in these volumes
- Howard, born July 23, 1830, who married Kate Hartwell
- Huldah, born Nov. 4, 1833, who resides in Bridgewater, unmarried
- Mary, born Sept. 19, 1836, who married (first) Capt. Ezra Goodspeed, and (second) Josiah L. Bassett.
John Perkins, son of Asa and Huldah Ames (Hayward) Perkins, was born in the town of Bridgewater Nov. 7, 1824. He grew to manhood in his native town, where he received his education in the district schools. In early life he learned the trade of machinist at the Lazell, Perkins & Company’s iron-works, where he was employed for several years, finally becoming foreman of the machine department of that establishment, in which capacity he continued until in 1869. In the latter year he accepted the responsible position of manager of the great iron-works of Wilder, Taylor & Co., at St. Paul, Minn., in which position he continued for a period of several years. Returning to Bridgewater, he there formed a partnership with his brother, Isaac Perkins, Louis Hayden, Thomas Broadhurst and Nathan Dunphey, they establishing the Union Machine Company, of which company Mr. Perkins became the manager. After conducting this business for some time it was sold, and Mr. Perkins then accepted a position at the Bridgewater Iron Works, where he continued employed for several years, when he was offered the position of superintendent of a machine shop at Nashua, N. H. Before he could accept the latter position, however, he was taken ill and died at his home on Main street, in Bridgewater, May 14, 1883; he was buried in the Mount Prospect cemetery. In political views Mr. Perkins was an old-line Democrat, but was in no sense a politician. During the Civil war he displayed his loyalty to the cause of the Union by doing a great deal in the way of recruiting, he being a member of the town committee appointed for that purpose.
In Providence, R. I., on Aug. 25, 1848, Mr. Perkins was married to Lucia W. Greenwood, daughter of Verres and Sally Morse (Willis) Greenwood. Mrs. Perkins was a direct descendant of Thomas Greenwood, who was born in 1643, and died in 1693, and was of Newton, Mass., where he was selectman from 1686 until his death in 1693. She survived her husband for a number of years, passing away at her home in Bridgewater June 21, 1909, in the eighty-fifth year of her age, the mother of four children, as follows:
- John W., who resides in Waltham, Mass.
- Lucia Emma, who married James B. Hudson, and passed away in August, 1907, in Brockton, Mass.
- Oscar C, who resides in Bridgewater
- Merritt G., who is a well known banker of Newark, New Jersey
Oscar C. Perkins, second son of the late John and Lucia W. (Greenwood) Perkins, was born in Bridgewater, Mass., Nov. 24, 1856, and in the public schools of his native town and Bridgewater Academy acquired his early educational training. When he was but thirteen years of age his parents removed to St. Paul, Minn., and in that city he continued his studies at school. Returning to his native town several years later, he there formed a partnership with his elder brother, John W., engaging in the express business, which they conducted for several years, later going to Waltham, Mass., where they were engaged in the same business. Retiring from the express business, Mr. Perkins again located in his native town, and for several years was engaged in the piano business, representing several of the well known piano manufacturing concerns, among them the Poole Piano Company, throughout Massachusetts and other sections of New England. Mr. Perkins resides on Main street, opposite the old Perkins family homestead in Bridgewater.
In political faith Mr. Perkins is an independent. His fraternal connections are with Fellowship Lodge, A. F. & A. M., and with Pioneer Lodge, No. 183, I. O. O. F., both of Bridgewater.
On April 4, 1888, Mr. Perkins was united in marriage at Bridgewater, to Alice F. Barney, who was born in Freetown, Mass., daughter of Cyrenus and Abby T. Barney. Mr. and Mrs. Perkins have no children.
Mereitt G. Perkins, youngest son of the late John and Lucia W. (Greenwood) Perkins, was born in Bridgewater, Mass., Nov. 9, 1864. He received his early educational training in the public schools of his native town, and also attended the Bridgewater Academy, from which he was graduated in 1882. He then became a student in a private school in Boston, finally entering Coleman’s business college at Newark, N. J., from which he was graduated in 1883. After leaving the latter institution of learning he spent about a year in traveling through the South and Southwest, in August, 1884, returning to Newark, where he accepted the position of bookkeeper in the Franklin Savings Institution, which responsible position of trust he continued to fill until 1891, when he was elected a director and secretary of that financial institution. After eleven years service in that capacity Mr. Perkins was elected to the position of president of the institution, in 1902, being the youngest bank president in the State of New Jersey at the time. Mr. Perkins has continued at the head of the Franklin Savings Institution to the present time, giving universal satisfaction, and he has by close application to the details of banking affairs not only made a substantial place for himself in the financial world, but has attained a degree of personal esteem which speaks well for his integrity of character as well as for his ability and natural business acumen. Mr. Perkins also has various other important business connections, among them being a director of the Merchants’ National Bank of Newark; a director of the Newark Fire Insurance Company, which was founded in 1810; a director of the Knoxville Gas Company, of Knoxville, Tenn.; vice president of the A. P. Smith Manufacturing Company, of New Jersey; president of the Standard Temperature Regulator Company, of New York; and president of the Neptune Meter Company, of New York, who are the largest manufacturers of water meters in the world. In May, 1909, he was also elected to the vice presidency of the New Jersey Savings Banks’ Association, and on May 17, 1911, was elected president of that association.
Fraternally Mr. Perkins is a prominent and active member of the Masonic organization of the highest degree, holding membership in Kane Lodge, No. 55, A. F. & A. M., of Newark; and the New Jersey Consistory, of Jersey City (thirty-second degree). For several years he has been president of the Scottish Rite Association of New Jersey, and during his administration as president of this association the handsome Masonic Temple at Jersey City was erected. In September, 1909, Mr. Perkins was elected to the thirty-third and last degree of Masonry by the Supreme Council, A. A. Scottish Rite, Freemasonry, at Boston, Mass. He was also one of the charter members of Salaam Temple, A. A. O. N. M. S., of Newark. In addition to his fraternal connections, Mr. Perkins is a member of the New Jersey Society of Mayflower Descendants; a member of the New Jersey Society, Sons of the American Revolution; a member of the New Jersey Society of Founders and Patriots of America; and of the New Jersey Society of Colonial Wars. He is also a member of various social organizations, among them being the Engineers’ Club, of New York City; the Essex Club, of Newark; and the Jersey City Club, of Jersey City. Mr. Perkins takes a deep interest in historic matters and is marked in his devotion to his native town and State and the early history pertaining thereto. He numbers among his forbears many of the early settlers of this Commonwealth, as well as being descended from “Mayflower” stock through Francis Cooke and Mary Chilton.
Politically he is a stanch supporter of the principles of the Republican party, but his numerous business interests have prevented him from taking an active interest in political affairs.
On Oct. 27, 1890, Mr. Perkins was united in marriage with Matilda Drake Riker, who was born in Newark, New Jersey, daughter of the late Robert Price Riker, a well known manufacturer of New York, and four children have been born to bless this happy union, namely:
- Edna H., born Aug. 26, 1891
- Mildred E., born Jan. 6, 1894
- Beatrice L., born Aug. 21, 1895
- Robert M., born July 11, 1898
Mr. Perkins’s numerous important connections of a business, financial, social and philanthropic nature, and his success in the management of these interests, show him to be a man of the broadest nature, and one who might achieve success in almost any line of work. He is a man of rounded personality, combining in a high degree character, culture, perseverance, tact and ability. Whatever have been his honors, he has borne them modestly; he is affable and cordial in manner, and void of formality, except that of course essential to command respect. His untiring energy and recognized ability have attained for him a position of prominence and influence in the community in which practically the whole of his active business life has been spent, and where he has risen to the position of president of one of the city’s leading financial institutions.
Through his grandmother, Huldah Ames Hayward, who became the wife of Asa Perkins, Mr. Perkins is also descended from another of the oldest and best known families of Massachusetts. The progenitor of this family, Thomas Hayward, came from England to New England, becoming one of the early settlers of Duxbury before 1638. In the early part of the eighteenth century many of the Haywards changed their name to Howard, the two names in all probability having been the same originally, as both have the same Norse origin. Among the distinguished descendants of this Hayward or Howard family may be mentioned William Howard Taft, president of the United States. The branch of the family through which Mr. Perkins descends is herewith given, in chronological order, as follows:
Thomas Hayward came from England in the same vessel with John Ames, and was of Duxbury before 1638, where he was made a freeman in 1646. He was one of the original proprietors and among the earliest settlers of the ancient town of Bridgewater. He died in 1681. His children were:
- Mary (who married Edward Mitchell)
- Martha (who married John Howard)
Nathaniel Hayward, son of Thomas, married Hannah Willis, daughter of Deacon John Willis, and they became the parents of seven or more children.
Nathaniel Hayward, Jr., eldest son of Nathaniel, was born in 1664, and he lived in that part of the town known as East Bridgewater. He married Elizabeth Curtis, and they were the parents of eleven children, four sons and seven daughters.
Timothy Hayward, youngest son of Nathaniel, Jr., was born in East Bridgewater in 1700. In 1730 he married Mary Davis, widow of Samuel Reed, and three sons were born of this marriage, namely:
- Timothy, born in 1732
- Ebenezer, born in 1734
- Daniel, born in 1740
Mr. Hayward married for his second wife Jael Peterson, a widow, who bore him two children, Mary and Ezra. After Mr. Hayward’s death his widow married Capt. Seth Alden.
Timothy Hayward (2), son of Timothy, was born in 1732. In 1767 he married Hannah Pratt, daughter of Solomon Pratt, and she died in 1795, leaving three children:
- Timothy, born in 1770
- Hannah, born in 1772, who married Nathaniel Perkins, Jr., in 1794
- Mary, who married Jonathan Hayward in 1795
Timothy Hayward (3), son of Timothy (2), born in 1770, married in 1792 Huldah Ames, daughter of Silvanus and Huldah (Johnson) Ames, the former a graduate of Cambridge, England, in 1767, and in 1773 rector of the Episcopal Church at Taunton, Mass., and who died in young manhood. His widow, Huldah, married John Willis; she was a daughter of Maj. Isaac and Mary (Willis) Johnson, and granddaughter of Capt. David Johnson. Maj. Isaac Johnson was a Patriot of the war of the Revolution, as the following record shows:
“Isaac Johnson, 1st major, 3d Plymouth county regiment, Massachusetts militia, list of officers commissioned Feb. 7, 1776, also official record of a ballot by the House of Representatives, dated May, 1776. Said Johnson chosen 1st major, 3d Plymouth county regiment, Massachusetts militia, in place of Simeon Cary, who declined to serve; appointment concurred in by council, May 2, 1776; reported commissioned May, 1776; also major, Lieut. Col. Jeremiah Hall’s regiment, list of officers of a regiment raised from Brig. Joseph Cushing’s Plymouth county brigade, and ordered to march to Bristol, R. I., as returned by Joseph Cushing to Major General Warren, dated Hanover, Mass., Dec. 26, 1776, said Johnson reported as second in command.”
The children born to Timothy (3) and Huldah (Ames) Hayward were as follows:
- Polly, born in 1792, who married in 1811 Isaac Pobes, and died before 1822
- Timothy, born in 1795
- Huldah Ames, born in 1797, who married in 1815 Asa Perkins
- Sally Willis, born in 1800, who married Simeon Perkins
- Sullivan, born in 1802.
Mrs. Huldah (Ames) Hayward died in 1807, and Mr. Hayward married (second) Mary Crooker Stetson in 1817. The children of this marriage were:
- Bethiah Stetson, born in 1817
- Mercutio, born in 1819
- Mary, born in 1822
- Nathan Stetson, born in 1824
- Hannah Pratt, born in 1827