Archer Family of Fall River, MA

ARCHER (Fall River family). Through much of the nineteenth century the name opening this article was a most highly esteemed and respected one at Fall River, made so by the lives of the late Jason H. Archer, M. D., of the medical profession, and his son, the late John Jason Archer, Esq., for years one of the learned members of the Fall River bar.

The home at least for a time of this Fall River Archer family was in the nearby town of Wrentham, in Norfolk county, where lived Amos Archer, father of Dr. Jason H. Archer and grandfather of the late John Jason Archer, Esq. While the Wrentham vital records do not show the Archers among the town’s early inhabitants the Archers as a family were here in Massachusetts in its early Colonial period. One Samuel Archer (name spelled in the early Essex county records Arehard) was living in Salem as early as 1630, as on Oct, 19th of that year he took the freeman’s oath there. He was born between 1602 and 1615, and was a carpenter. He was a member of the First Church before 1636; was constable of the town in 1657; and marshal from 1654 until his decease. He died in December, 1667. His wife Susanna survived him, and married (second) Richard Hutchinson in October, 1668. His children, born in Salem, Mass., were:

  1. Hannah, born in Salem;
  2. Samuel, born in 1634-35, married Hannah Osgood, of Andover, and lived in 1632, married Matthew Dove, a planter of Salem, a house carpenter;
  3. John, born in 1638, married Bethiah Weeks, and lived in Salem, a cooper;
  4. Bethiah was baptized July 14, 1642.

There was also an early Archer family at Roxbury, the head of which was Henry Archer, who married in December, 1639, Elizabeth, daughter of John Stow. He removed to Ipswich. His children were:

  1. Rachel,
  2. John,
  3. Isaac and
  4. Theophilus, and maybe others.

There follows a brief account of the Wrentham-Fall River Archer family.
Dr. Jason H. Archer, son of Amos, was born in 179-, in Wrentham, Mass., and in that town passed his youth and prepared for college. Entering Brown University in 1812, he was graduated therefrom in 1816. Immediately after his graduation he began the study of medicine under the direction of the celebrated Dr. William Ingalls, of Boston, and after completing his studies soon settled in Fall River, where he became a successful practitioner and a leading citizen.

Dr. Archer took an active part in politics and public affairs. On the organization of the Massasoit Bank in 1846 he was elected its president and a director, relations he sustained to the bank until his removal from Fall River to Wrentham, in 1852. This bank became in later years the Massasoit National Bank. On his removal to Wrentham Dr. Archer became a director in the Wrentham Bank.

Dr. Archer married Jennette, daughter of Abraham and Ruth Bowen, and there were born to them children as follows:

  1. Amanda M., who died in 1904;
  2. Caroline A., who married Frederick H. Gee;
  3. Jennette F., who died in infancy; and
  4. John Jason.

Dr. Archer died at his home in Wrentham, Mass., in January, 1864. His wife survived him many years and died Jan. 19, 1883, in Fall River.

John Jason Archer, son of Dr. Jason H. and Jennette (Bowen) Archer, was born July 26, 1845, in Fall River, Mass., and here and in Wrentham, Mass., passed his early years. After due preparation for college he entered Brown University, from which institution he was graduated with the class of 1866. Soon after his graduation he was appointed an instructor in English literature in the Naval Academy at Annapolis. In something more than a year after entering upon his professional duties he was attacked with measles, which at the time were epidemic at the academy. Owing to the effect of this disease upon his eyes he was obliged to resign his position. Returning home, he not long thereafter took up the study of law, was admitted to the bar of Norfolk county, and soon thereafter located in its practice in Fall River. He became in time the senior member of the law firm of Archer & Jackson. Mr. Archer was prominent in educational affairs, and served as a member of the school committee. He received the appointment of associate justice.

Mr. Archer died at his home in Fall River, Mass., Oct. 31, 1882, when in the thirty-eighth year of his age. He was one of the most highly esteemed members of the local bar and

“in all the relations of life, as son, brother, wise and honest counselor, friend and good citizen, Mr. Archer has left a record that is equaled by few and seldom surpassed.”

The following preamble and resolutions on the death of Mr. Archer were adopted by the Bristol County bar, which met Nov. 1, 1882, to take action thereon:

“With unfeigned sorrow we assemble here today. The death of John J. Archer has removed from our bar one whose place cannot easily be filled. Intellectually and morally he had few, if any, superiors in our community. His scholarship was not only wide and varied, but also accurate and unpretentious. Thoroughly read in law and master of its fundamental principles, he was one of our safest and ablest counselors. No man had a keener sense of right or wrong, or stronger moral convictions. Upright in all his ways, he ever had a charitable word for the wrong-doer. His attainments commanded the respect, and his character the regard, of all who knew him.

“Realizing the worth of such a man, not only to our profession, which he dignified and adorned, but to the community at large, which he influenced and elevated;

“Resolved, That we, the members of the Fall River bar, most fully and keenly recognize the ability, worth and high character of our deceased brother, John J. Archer, and with feelings of mingled pride and sadness attest his many virtues, his professional attainments, and his upright life; that in him we have each lost a sympathizing friend, and one whose intercourse with us was ever marked by the greatest courtesy and kindness.

“A. J. Jennings,
“M. Read,
“H. K. Braley,

At a special session of the District court held before his Honor Judge Blaisdell, at which Mr. A. J. Jennings, on behalf of the members of the bar, presented the resolutions adopted at their meeting, Mr. Jennings, in a few remarks, said:

“My heart responds to every word in the resolutions. It is a day when a bar like this should rejoice when they can write words of truth, as these words are, about any man who has been a member of it. I think we have a right to have something bright mingled with our sadness, when we can point to such a man as a member of the bar here, as one who has chosen our profession, as one whose every act and thought has simply tended to elevate, to raise, it, in the respect and esteem of the community, and who gained for himself the love and respect of all his fellow members and the members of the community in which he lived.

“As far as my personal knowledge is concerned, the words of the resolution and its preamble express to myself the cordial relation in which he stood to me. I never heard from his lips any words except those of truth, of justice, of honesty. I never heard from his lips any words in which he sought to belittle other men; strong words he sometimes spoke against wrong and evil, but he always found there was some good in the man that committed the wrong.

“He seemed to be always looking for the best instead of for the worst, but always in the straight line of integrity, honesty and uprightness, and all his words and acts conformed to it. He was very sparing of his speech to those who swerved from the true path, and I Bay we should honor him for it, and should be proud of him for it.

“One of our younger members has been taken away and our ranks are broken, but I am glad we can assemble here and feel that the good acts done will live after him. His acts must still remain to exert their influence upon us who have seen his life, been impressed by his thoughts and works, to make us better and truer members of the profession. I submit to the court these resolutions and ask that they be spread upon its records.”

On seconding the resolution Mayor Braley said:

“It seems to me that it is fitting for the bar to pause a moment in its career of business, and take notice of the death of one of its members, Brother Archer. He delighted to make himself the master of law. He was a sound adviser, and was a legislator of this court for some time, and always presided with dignity, with impartiality, and with justice. In his intercourse with the members of the bar he was always pleasant, always cordial, and also strictly true. Whatever he said might be relied on, and in his death we lose a faithful friend.”

In accepting the resolution on behalf of the court Judge Blaisdell said:

“After hearing the eulogies pronounced by you, gentlemen of the bar, I can but say that the occasion of our meeting is a most unusual one. ‘A good man has fallen not simply a lawyer, not simply a neighbor or kind friend, but a good citizen, with all that that term implies. My words must be few after so much has been said. In the life of Mr. Archer, who has now passed on and gone before, we have a lesson for ourselves, a lesson for us to learn. He was a true man in all the relations of life. So far as I have knowledge of him, he was emphatically a true man. He never misled, never deceived, never permitted litigation for the sake of litigation.

“I can only say that I only know John Jason Archer to respect him. As one of the special justices of this court he discharged the duties with fidelity, with truthfulness, with high notion before him to always do justly between party and party, and was conscientious in the discharge of his duty. More than a lawyer, his character, as I understand it, is engraven today not only upon our memories here, but it is engraven in matters of education, of good example here in our community, going in and out before all as an upright man. When such a man passes away we may well pause in our ordinary proceedings of life to pay tribute to the fallen. Try and pay that tribute of respect which is due such a man. It is the pleasure of the court to order that these resolutions be enrolled upon the records of the court.”

Mrs. Jennette (Bowen) Archer was the daughter of Abraham Bowen and granddaughter of Nathan Bowen. Abraham Bowen was descended from an old and prominent Massachusetts family and he himself was one of Fall River’s most intelligent and useful citizens. He was for some eight years postmaster of Fall River, being the first to hold the office after the reestablishment of it here in 1816. The office was established in Fall River in 1811, but two years later it was removed to Steep Brook. In 1816 it, however, was again changed to Fall River. Mr. Bowen held the office some eight years, until the time of his death, when he was succeeded by his son, James G. Bowen. Mr. Bowen was one of the most prominent promoters of the Fall River Factory Corporation, which was one of the first two substantial cloth-making establishments of Fall River, the other being the Troy Company, and both started in 1813.

Caroline A. Archer, daughter of Dr. Jason H. Archer, married Frederick H. Gee, a native of New Hampshire, who has engaged in mercantile business in Wrentham, Mass., Providence, R. I., and Pittsfield, N. H., and since 1883 has resided in Fall River, Mass. To them was born one son, Frederic Archer Gee.

Frederic Archer Gee was born in Providence, R. I., March 20, 1860. His boyhood was passed in his grandfather Archer’s home in Wrentham, and there he attended school until 1876, when he came to Fall River and finished his schooling in the high school. For two years lie was employed in the office of the J. A. Bowen Coal Company, and then engaged in the coal business for himself at Globe Corners, in Fall River. Later he gave up this business to his father. For fifteen years, from 1889 to 1904, he served the city as truant officer. For many years Mr. Gee has engaged in the real estate business; in recent years he has remodeled the buildings on the corner of Rock and Bank streets, and has also built the “Archer,” an office building, and the “Frederic,” a store and bachelors’ apartment building, both on Rock street, and equipped with all modern improvements for the comfort and convenience of the occupants. Mr. Gee was one of the pioneers in the real estate business of Tampa, Fla. Outside of business affairs he is interested in yachting, and was one of the charter members of the Fall River Yacht Club. As a relaxation from business life he spends the summers at Christmas Cove, Maine.

On Feb. 3, 1891, Mr. Gee married Margaret Hapgood Hawkins, who was born July 28, 1867, daughter of Edwin M. and Margaret (Hapgood) Hawkins, and to them have been born two sons and one daughter:

  1. John Archer, born Oct. 25, 1894;
  2. Margaret, born Nov. 7, 1895; and
  3. Richard Hawkins, born Oct. 13, 1897.

Representative Men and Old Families of Southeastern Massachusetts: containing historical sketches of prominent and representative citizens and genealogical records of many of the old families. 3 Volumes. Beers & Chicago. 1912.

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