For nearly two hundred and seventy-five years the Packard family has been one prominent and influential in New England, and it has become a most numerous family, too, many of whose members both at home and abroad have given a good account of themselves. Samuel Packard, the immigrant ancestor of this family, became one of the early settlers of the ancient town of Bridgewater, and all of the name who have gone from the Bridgewaters were probably descendants of his; in fact, nearly all of the name in this country can be traced to that place. The genealogical records following
SOULE (New Bedford family). The family bearing this name at New Bedford, Mass., is a branch of the Old Plymouth family, descending from George Soule, one of the “Mayflower” Pilgrims and a signer of the compact in 1620. The present head of the family is the Hon. Rufus Albertson Soule, citizen soldier, now collector of the port of New Bedford, who for many years has been a conspicuous figure in the business and political life of that place, a public servant of high and honorable service, one who as man, citizen and neighbor enjoys that popularity that comes to but few.
The name Keith has been a conspicuous one in the history of this Commonwealth since the first interior settlement was made, and the descendants of this time-honored family have been prominently identified with the development and growth of this community from the time of the ordination of the first minister of the settlement – Rev. James Keith, in 1664 – down to the present time, covering a period of nearly 250 years. This article is to treat particularly of the branch of descendants of Rev. James Keith to which belonged the late Simeon Cary Keith, who was an honored citizen of West Bridgewater, and his three sons, Warren R. Keith, who is president of the Independent Oil Company, of Brockton; Edward H. Keith, who is ex-mayor of the city of Brockton, and general inspector of the George E. Keith Company’s shoe factories; and S. Elliott Keith, who was a foreman in the extensive shoe manufacturing plant of the George E. Keith Company for a number of years and is now secretary of the Independent Oil Company. The ancestry of this branch of the family follows in chronological order.
EVERETT CLINTON HALL, wholesale grocer at Brockton, is one of that thriving city’s enterprising and progressive young business men, one who by his own efforts has risen to a position of affluence through his energy and ability to take the initiative combined with natural-born business acumen. Mr. Hall is a descendant of several of the earliest settled families of this Commonwealth, numbering among his ancestors several of the country’s most noted Pilgrims, among these being John Alden and Priscilla Mullins. The Hall family ancestry following is given in chronological order.
LYSANDER FRANKLIN GURNEY, late of Brockton, Plymouth Co., Mass., was a descendant of some of the earliest settlers of this section. Going back to the mother country, we find the following general information in “The Gurneys of Earlham” (two volumes, Hart, Mich., March 16, 1906).
The Norfolk Gurneys claim descent from the ancient Barons of Gournay in Normandy, where the curious Ports Ibert with many old towers of the walls and the twelfth century church of Saint Hildevert attest the wealth and power of its ancient lords. Several members of the House accompanied William the Conqueror to England, and fought at the battle of Hastings, after which the valor of the aged Hugh de Gurney III. was rewarded by the establishment of the English Barony of Gourney, held by tenure of military service and by large grants of land, so that he has left his name of Baron Gourney in Somerset and several other places in England. The story of the “House of Gourney” is told in a magnificent history by Daniel Gurney of Juncton Hall, near Norwich, County of Norfolk, England, which possesses historic interest and shows much antiquarian research.
Probably no name in the history of New Bedford brings more clearly or forcibly to mind a man of large affairs, of broad charity and generous impulse, of high purpose and of exemplary citizenship, than does that of the late William Watkins, whose long life in commercial and financial circles made him a part of the progress and development of this community. William Watkins, son of Capt. Thomas and Mary (Davis) Watkins, was born in the village of Westport Point, Mass., June 22, 1814. He attended the country schools until he reached the age of fourteen years…
Lysander Franklin Gurney, late of Brockton, Plymouth Co., Mass., was a descendant of some of the earliest settlers of this section. Going back to the mother country, we find the following general information in “The Gurneys of Earlham” (two volumes, Hart, Mich., March 16, 1906).
Horace Alden Keith, founder of the Brockton Webbing Company, one of the successful and thriving industries of Brockton, and one of that city’s enterprising and progressive business men, is a descendant on both his paternal and maternal sides of historic old New England ancestry. Mr. Keith was born in West Bridgewater May 25, 1862, eldest son of the late Henry Snell and Thalia (Alden) Keith. The ancestral line of the branch of the Keith family in this country to which Horace Alden Keith belongs, and which follows, is given in chronological order from the first American ancestor. Rev. James Keith, born in 1644, was educated in Aberdeen, Scotland (as tradition says at the expense of a maiden aunt), where he was graduated likely from Marischal College, his name appearing on the roll of 1657, said college having been founded by George, the fifth Earl of Keith Marischal, in 1593. At the age of eighteen years he emigrated to this country, arriving at Boston in 1662. He was introduced to the church at Bridgewater by Dr. Increase Mather, and became settled as the minister of the Bridgewater Church Feb. 18, 1664. Rev. James Keith passed away in West Bridgewater July 23, 1719, aged seventy-six years, having labored in the ministry of the town for fifty-six years.
Ellis Brett, president of the Plymouth County Trust Company, of Brockton, and one of that city’s honored and respected citizens, is a worthy representative of historic New England ancestry, the Brett family having resided in this community since the first settlement of the mother town of Bridgewater, from which the town of North Bridgewater (now Brockton) was set off. Mr. Brett was born in the latter town Oct. 23, 1840, only son of Ephraim and Ruth (Copeland) Brett. The early history of the Brett family in America begins with William Brett, who came to Duxbury, Mass., in 1645, from Kent, England, and later became one of the fifty-four original proprietors and first settlers of the town of ancient Bridgewater, settling in the West parish of the town. He was an elder in the church, and often when the Rev. James Keith, the first ordained pastor of the church there, was ill, Mr. Brett preached to the people. He was a leading man in both church and town affairs, and was deputy to the General Court from the date of the in-corporation of ancient Bridgewater in 1656 to 1661. That he was well educated and intelligent is manifest from a letter to Governor Winslow, still extant, and he was much esteemed by his brethren and often employed in their secular affairs. He died Dec. 17, 1681, aged sixty-three years
WILLIAM P. WHITMAN, president and treasurer of the well-known shoe manufacturing concern of the Whitman & Keith Company, of Brockton, and one of that city’s successful and progressive business men, as was his father before him, is a descendant of distinguished and historic New England ancestry. Mr. Whitman is a direct descendant of John Alden and Priscilla Mullins, of the “Mayflower,” 1620; of Rev. James Keith, the first ordained minister of Bridgewater; and of John Whitman, who settled in Weymouth, Mass., as early as 1638, from whom descended many persons eminent in professional life and otherwise, among them Dr. Marcus Whitman, who saved the vast territory of Oregon to the United States; Hon. Ezekiel Whitman, for many years chief justice of the Superior and Supreme courts of the State of Maine; and Hon. William E. Russell, twice governor of Massachusetts.