COL. JOHN JAY WHIPPLE. For nearly fifty years the name of Whipple has been one of Brockton citizenship, representing a family here of substance and exceptional prominence in the community. Reference is made to the late Ferdinand Whipple and his son, the present Hon. John Jay Whipple, who together and in turn have been among Brockton’s successful business men, the son having figured conspicuously in public affairs, filling most of the offices within the gift of his fellow citizens, among other honors having been four times elected to the mayoralty of the city of Brockton.
The Whipple family is one long prominent in the country, the earlier generations having been conspicuous in Rhode Island’s Colonial period, it being a Rhode Island family.
John Whipple, the progenitor of the Whipples in question, is of record at Dorchester, Mass. as early as 1632. He received a grant of land there in 1637. He and his wife, whose Christian name was Sarah, united with the church there in 1641, and the following of their children were all baptized in Dorchester between the years 1640 and 1656 inclusive:
- John, born in 1640
- Sarah, born in 1642
- Samuel, born in 1644
- Eleazer, born in 1646
- Mary, born in 1648
- William, born in 1652
- Benjamin, born in 1654
- David, born in 1656
The father sold his homestead and lands in 1658 and removed to Providence, R. I., where he was received as a purchaser July 27, 1659; and in the division of lands made Feb. 19, 1665, had lot No. 45. He took the oath of allegiance in the year following, 1666. He was chosen deputy to the General Court that year and again in 1669, 1670, 1672, 1674, 1676 and 1677. His death occurred May 16, 1685. His wife died in 1666. After their removal to Providence the children born to them were:
- Joseph, born in 1662
- Jonathan, born in 1664
Of the sons of John Whipple, John Whipple (2) lived in Providence and was particularly active and prominent in public affairs. He was town treasurer in 1668 and 1683; was town clerk in 1670-71-72, 1678 and 1681; was deputy in 1670, 1681-82, 1684, 1686 and 1690; was a member of the town council in 1671, 1681-82 and 1687; was assistant in 1677-78-79-80. Mr. Whipple was twice married, first to Mary Olney and second to Rebecca Scott, both of whom were of families of prominence in the Colony. Samuel, Eleazer and Joseph Whipple, sons of the first John, all represented their town – Providence – in the Colonial Assembly. All of the sons of the settler married, and all excepting David, who later became a resident of Rehoboth, Mass., lived in Providence. It should be borne in mind, however, that ancient Providence comprised territory out of which later came a number of the towns of that part of the State – Providence county. Of the sons of the settler, Col. Joseph Whipple, who married Alice Smith and lived in Providence, was a merchant, and especially prominent in public life. He was deputy much of the time between 1698 and 1728, was a member of the town council the greater part of the time between 1703 and 1729, was assistant in 1714, and colonel of the regiment of militia.
From this Rhode Island stock of Whipples sprang the late Ferdinand Whipple alluded to in the foregoing, he himself being of Rhode Island birth; while his wife, who was formerly Hannah Sweet, a native of Richmond, N. H., was likely of earlier Rhode Island antecedents. She was born June 7, 1813, the daughter of Jonathan and Jerusha (Jillson) Sweet and granddaughter of Jonathan Sweet and his wife Amy (Brown), he removing to Richmond, N. H., not far from the year 1762, probably from Smithfield, Rhode Island.
Eleazer Whipple, son of John and Sarah, born in 1646, married Jan. 26, 1669, Alice Angell, born in 1649, daughter of Thomas Angell. He was a housewright and lived in Providence. He was deputy in 1693 and 1701. He died Aug. 25, 1719, and his wife died Aug. 13, 1743. Their children were:
- Alice, born June 3, 1675
- Elizabeth, born in 1680
- Job, born in 1684
- James, born in 1686
Daniel Whipple, son of Eleazer, married Mary, and their children of what is now Cumberland town record were:
- Daniel, born Aug. 19, 1716
- Joseph, born Aug. 24, 1718
- Eleazer, who died in 1720, aged three years
- Mary, born Dec. 3, 1724
Joseph Whipple, born Aug. 24, 1718, son of Daniel and Mary, married Sarah, and their children of Cumberland town record were:
- Sarah, born Dec. 26, 1741
- Gideon, born Jan. 30, 1744 (died in May, 1752)
- Sible, born Aug. 18, 1746
- Amos, born Feb. 3, 1749 (died in May, 1752)
- Leah, born July 5, 1751
- Rachel, born July 5, 1751 (died in May, 1752)
- Asa, born Jan. 6, 1754
Asa Whipple, son of Joseph and Sarah, born Jan. 6, 1754, married Aug. 1, 1773, Silvia, daughter of Nathan Staples, and their children were:
- Prusia, who died young
- Ezekiel, who died young
Lewis Whipple, son of Asa, married Feb. 2, 1812, Judith, daughter of John Paine (deceased), of Smithfield, R. I., and they had two sons, Ferdinand, who is mentioned below, and Lewis, Jr., who died in Woonsocket, Rhode Island.
Ferdinand Whipple, son of Lewis and Judith (Paine) Whipple, and father of Col. John Jay Whipple, was born Dec. 13, 1812, in Woonsocket, then Smithfield, R. I., where he spent the early years of his life. When about thirty years of age he removed with his family to Worcester, Mass., where he resided from 1842 to 1856, and while living there his son John Jay Whipple was born. From Worcester he removed to San Francisco, Cal, where he remained but a short time, when he returned to Massachusetts, and for about seven years lived in Hopkinton. In 1866 he removed to North Bridgewater (now Brockton), where in company with his son, under the firm name of J. J. Whipple & Co., he engaged in the grocery and drug business at the corner of Main and Franklin streets, in which business they continued with marked success for a period of about twenty-five years, at the end of that time disposing of the business, after which Mr. Whipple lived retired until his death, which occurred Feb. 12, 1901, when he was eighty-eight years, one month, twenty-nine days of age. Mr. Whipple was eminently unassuming, possessing a broad, genial and kindly personality, which attracted to him the warmest feelings of all who came within his circle of life.
Mr. Whipple married Hannah Sweet, and to this union were born the following children:
- Judith, who died in Brockton, unmarried
- Lewis, who died March 17, 1910, in San Francisco, Cal., where for fifty years he had been superintendent of the Wells, Fargo & Company’s express office
- Willis, who served as a soldier in the Civil war and was killed at Cold Harbor, June 3, 1864
- Mary, who married Emerson G. Gibson, of Hopkinton, Mass., and died in Marlboro, leaving one son, Willis Gibson, the latter of whom died in Brockton, and John Jay, who is mentioned below.
John Jay Whipple, son of Ferdinand and Hannah (Sweet) Whipple, was born Dec. 31, 1847, in Worcester, Mass. He acquired his early education in the public schools of Hopkinton and furthered it at the Hopkinton Academy, from which he was graduated. He was for a year thereafter employed as a clerk in the store of former Gov. William Claflin of that town. For a similar period he was a clerk in the drug store of Dr. W. D. Burdett, in Marlboro, Mass., with whom he learned the details of the drug business. This was his training for that line, for in December, 1866, he purchased a drug store in North Bridgewater (now Brockton) of S. F. Dearborn, and, associated with his father, conducted such business for a quarter of a century, under the firm style of J. J. Whipple & Co. Their business was located at the corner of Main and Franklin streets, where they continued until January, 1892, when they disposed of it to Colonel Whipple’s nephew, Willis Gibson. Colonel Whipple had become so absorbed in other business affairs that for some time before selling out the store in 1892 he gave it only a general supervision.
As the years passed Mr. Whipple developed such aptitude and fitness in business lines, showed such success in the conduct of his own affairs and had so grown in popularity, establishing such a reputation for straightforward and honorable dealing, that he won the confidence of the people, which brought him into larger business relations and public matters. For a period of years he was president of the Brockton Savings Bank, resigning that position to accept the presidency of the Wildey Savings Bank of Boston; upon the latter’s incorporation, in 1892, he was the prime mover in its organization, and has continued as its president ever since, this bank now . having deposits of nearly $9,000,000. He was one of the original incorporators of the Brockton National Bank, which was organized in 1880, and has been a member of the board of directors of that financial institution from that time to the present. He was one of the original incorporators of the Brockton, Bridgewater and Taunton Electric Street Railway Company, and of the Boston and Worcester Street Bailway Company, being still a director in the latter company, and for several years was director and president of the former; he has also been president of all of the electric lines between Brockton and the seaboard. Colonel Whipple is also president of the Brotherhood Accident Insurance Company of Boston. He is president of the Boston, Brockton and New York Canal Company, for which a charter has been obtained, its purpose being to construct a canal passing through Brockton, making a direct deep water route from Boston to New York.
The political affiliations of Mr. Whipple have been with the Republican party, in the councils of which he has long been most prominent and influential. His fellow-citizens have elected him to almost every town and city office within their gift. He was selectman and road surveyor for several years before the adoption of the city charter, and for eleven years was a member of the school committee. He was one of the original petitioners for the city charter in 1881. He has four times served the city of Brockton as its chief executive officer, in 1886-87 and 1894-95, having been solicited to become a candidate for mayor of the city by over fifteen hundred petitioners, and during his administration the grade crossings of the railroads with which the city had been afflicted were abolished and the present substantial elevated track system – constructed. His name is coupled with many of the measures and enterprises marking Brockton’s progress, including the introduction of pipe water and sewerage.
During the administration of Gov. George D. Robinson, from 1884 to 1887, Mr. Whipple served on the personal staff of that executive as an aid-de-camp, with the rank of colonel. For two years Colonel Whipple served as a member of the State Republican central committee, during which time he was also secretary of that organization. He represented the city of Brockton in the Legislature of the State in 1885, and during that service was chairman of the committee on Water Supply, also served as clerk of the committee on Insurance, and reported on fifty-four bills, the largest number up to that time ever put through at one session. On July 1, 1873, he commissioned a justice of the peace, which commission he has ever since held. He served by appointment of Governor Ames for five years as State commissioner of pharmacy, and subsequently declined a reappointment tendered him by Governor Russell.
Fraternally Colonel Whipple is a prominent and influential member of various organizations. He has long been affiliated with the Masonic bodies, holding membership in Paul Revere Lodge, A. F. & A. M.; Satucket Chapter, K. A. M.; Brockton Council, K. & S. M.; Bay State Commandery, Knights Templar, of Brockton, and Aleppo Temple, A. A. O. N. M. S., of Boston. He was for a number of years a member of Massasoit Lodge, No. 69, later becoming a charter member of Electric Lodge, No. 204, of the I. O. O. P.; a member of the Grand Lodge, having been representative to the Sovereign Grand Lodge, at Toronto, Canada, in 1879, the only time a session was held outside the United States. He is also a trustee of the Odd Fellows’ Home of Massachusetts at Worcester, having been first elected to that office in 1887 for a term of one year, and was reelected in 1888, 1893, 1898, 1903, and 1908, each time for a term of five years, and in 1901 he was elected president of the board of trustees (to succeed William E. Ford, of Boston, who was the first president), which position he has since held. Colonel Whipple is the only original member of the first board of trustees left, and has always been actively identified with the Home and as maintenance.
In the Knights of Pythias organization he has been equally prominent, holding membership in Damocles Lodge, No. 16, of Brockton; is a past grand chancellor of the order (the first member from Brockton to hold that office), and was also supreme representative, having been a conspicuous figure in the councils of the organization during all the years he was active. He was one of the founders of the New England Order of Protection, and was for two years at the head of its Grand Lodge in the State, and for three years at the head of the Supreme Lodge. During these five years the lodge was increased by over ten thousand members, among them being the members of Mayflower Lodge, No. 4, of Brockton, which he organized, its membership including several hundred of the city’s leading citizens. He is also a member of the Ancient Order of United Workmen and of the Pilgrim Fathers.
Socially Colonel Whipple is an influential and valued member of the Commercial Club and of the Merchants’ and Manufacturers’ Club of Brockton, and for several years was a member of the New England Club of Boston. He was one of the earliest and most active members of the Unity Church (Unitarian), and for several years was chairman of the standing committee of the society, and was also a member of the building committee.
On June 22, 1869, Colonel Whipple was united in marriage to Helen Otis Howard, eldest daughter of the late Franklin Otis Howard, Esq., of Brockton, who was at one time a boot and shoe manufacturer of prominence in that busy shoe center, where he erected one of the finest residences in its day in the town, which stood on Main street on the present site of the Whipple-Freeman block. This union has been blessed with seven children, four of whom died young, the survivors being as follows:
- Mary Helen, who is the wife of Fred W. Filoon, a prominent and successful young business man of the city (they are the parents of one son, John Whipple Filoon)
- Edith Bell, who resides at home
- Howard Franklin, born June 22, 1886, who was graduated from Dartmouth College in 1908 and now holds an official position with the V. & F. W. Filoon Company of Brockton.
Mrs. Whipple is also a descendant of historic old New England ancestry, being a direct descendant in the eighth generation of John Howard, who came from England and settled at Duxbury, Mass., later becoming one of the original proprietors of the ancient town of Bridgewater in 1651, where he became a man of great influence and one of the first military officers of the new plantation, her line’ of descent being through:
- Ephraim and Mary (Keith) Howard
- Daniel and Damaris (Williams) Howard
- Barnabas and Mehitable (Packard) Howard
- Oliver and Susanna (Reynolds) Howard
- Otis and Reuma (Southworth) Howard
- Franklin Otis and Helen Matilda (Davis) Howard
Colonel Whipple has for many years exerted a most healthful influence in the business and financial circles of not only Brockton but elsewhere. Beyond the circle of his commercial life, moreover, he is a valuable and active factor in the community. There is no public enterprise, of the utility of which he is convinced, but receives his earnest support and encouragement. He is a shrewd, far-seeing business man, one whose support or opposition is distinctly felt, and of the type which has the courage to face censure when necessary, such condemnation turning to admiration and praise when time has shown the wisdom of his judgment. There is nothing vacillating about him, and when he acts he acts quickly, but with much decision. Generous and charitable in his impulses, plain, agreeable and unvarying in his social relations, the friends he makes are fast friends. In the person of Colonel Whipple the city of Brockton has a public-spirited citizen, one who has done much for the betterment and advancement of that thriving industrial center, and in whom a just pride can be felt.