The Rogers family, of which Mrs. David E. Harding is a member, is an old and prominent one of New England. She traces her descent from the martyr John Rogers, who was burned at the stake Oct. 14, 1555, at Smithfield, during the reign of Queen Mary. The first of the name in the old town of Norton was Benjamin Rogers, who married Oct. 8, 1761, Hannah Newcomb. He made his home in the town of Mansfield, and during the Revolutionary war enlisted and was appointed sergeant in Captain Williams’ company, Colonel Timothy Walker’s 22d regiment; muster roll dated Aug. 1, 1775; engaged May 2, 1775, service three months and seven days; also company’s return dated Oct. 6, 1775, also order for money in lieu of a bounty coat dated Roxbury Camp, Dec. 27, 1775.
Benjamin Rogers (2), son of Benjamin and Hannah (Newcomb) Rogers, was born in the town of Mansfield, where he was engaged in farming. Here he remained during his entire life and died. He was buried in the East Mansfield cemetery. He married Mary Blanchard, and their children were:
- Franklin, born Sept. 2, 1804, who died Sept. 3, 1808
- John, born Nov. 2, 1806
- Bethiah M.
John Rogers, son of Benjamin (2) and Mary (Blanchard) Rogers, was born Nov. 2, 1806, in Mansfield, Mass., where he attended school. He had a desire and taste for reading and study, and soon became possessed of large practical knowledge and culture necessary to a successful life and a wide influence. He began his career as a business man in the manufacture in a small way of straw goods, being among the first manufacturers of straw goods in the Mansfield region. At first he secured reliable hand-sewers in families and personally collected and sold his bonnets in New York, as was then the custom. He greatly prospered and in early life was enabled to retire with a sufficient and well-earned income, ample for his simple tastes and for the deeds of benevolence he so much enjoyed.
It has been foreshadowed above that Mr. Rogers became an extensive reader, especially of modern history and of literature that broadened him and gave him culture and refinement. His rare fitness – by both nature and self-training, his good judgment, and the success he made in business lines – for public duties and leadership in his community were soon apparent and recognized by his fellow citizens. He was a member of the Constitutional convention in 1853, of the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1855 and of the State Senate in 1856, and in all these positions he was on the side of every wise and valuable reform and was emphatically, both in office and in private, a strenuous advocate of Prohibition. On his refusal of future public service the public had such confidence in his judgment that his advice was widely sought and regarded and his aid was as widely rendered to every measure he believed to be for the good of the public. He became a member of the Sons of Temperance, a vigilant watchman against violations of the law, and a generous helper to lift up the victims of strong drink. His influence with young men was decided, and often decisive in favor of their total abstinence. His liberal contribution could always be counted upon to every good word and work. He was one of the first members of the Masonic lodge and made it the medium of many an untold gift and deed of helpfulness. No worthy cause ever went away begging from his always generous hand.
Though not uniting with the church, Mr. Rogers became a member of the orthodox Congregational Society soon after the organization, and was one of its most liberal subscribers in its early weakness, when helpers were few. Being an ardent lover of singing and a most excellent singer himself, he was the leader of its choir, and served it gratuitously so long as h$ felt able to perform its duties. He gave largely to the first organ in the church, and on the building of the house of worship, of which he bore the chief expense, he replaced the old organ by a large. and fine instrument, superior to any in the vicinity, and at his own expense. The fine toned bell of the church was also his gift. As was said of him in the sermon at his funeral: “He was a prompt and generous helper in every movement which he approved.” Families in need, sickness or trouble received always prompt aid from him, of which the public never knew, until his heart and hand were alike stopped by his sudden death, which occurred March 31, 1873, when he was aged sixty-six years, four months and twenty-nine days. He was buried in the Mansfield cemetery.
Mr. Rogers married Oct. 15, 1833, in Mansfield, Eliza A. Williams, born in Mansfield, daughter of Joseph Crocker and Sally (Grushee) Williams, and granddaughter of Rev. Simeon Williams, who for over half a century was minister of the South Weymouth Church at Weymouth, Mass. Mrs. Rogers descended from Richard Williams, one of the first settlers of Taunton, who married Frances Dighton, daughter of Dr. John Dighton, for whom the town of Dighton, Mass., was named. Richard Williams’s family traced their line back to the great Cromwell family of England, of which Oliver Cromwell was a member. Rev. Simeon Williams was a son of Simeon and Zepporah (Crane) Williams, grandson of John and Hannah (Robinson) Williams, and great-grandson of Nathaniel Williams, who married Elizabeth Rogers, of Duxbury, who was also a descendant of John Rogers, the martyr of Smithfield. Nathaniel Williams was the fifth child of Richard and Frances (Dighton) Williams. The children of John and Eliza A. (Williams) Rogers were:
- Ellen Maria, born April 6, 1835, married Rev. Jacob Ide, and both are deceased
- Frances Emeline, born May 13, 1837, married David E. Harding
- John Williams, born Dec. 20, 1839, resides in Mansfield
- Charlotte Gilmore died in young womanhood
Mrs. Rogers died Sept. 18, 1866, and was buried in Spring Brook cemetery at Mansfield. Mr. Rogers married (second) in 1867, Mary E. Gage, who is living in Mansfield.