John Washburn, first of the name here, was an early settler in New England, and was a resident of Duxbury, Mass., before 1632, in which year he had an action in court against Edward Doten. He was named in the assessment of taxes in 1633, and in 1634 bought a place from Edward Bonparse known as “Eagle’s Nest.” He and his two sons, John and Philip, were included with those able to bear arms in 1643. He and his son John were original proprietors of Bridgewater, and they with the son Philip settled in the town as early as 1665. He died in Bridgewater before 1670.
The Keith family is one of the oldest of southeastern Massachusetts. Its founder in America was Rev. James Keith, born in 1644, who came to America, landing in Boston in 1662. He became minister of the Bridgewater Church, where he administered to the spiritual needs of the people for half a century. He died July 23, 1719. He was twice married. His first wife was Susannah Edson, daughter of Deacon Samuel Edson.
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.
Daniel Waldo Field, an extensive shoe manufacturer of Brockton, Mass., and one of the founders and for a number of years president, of the Clark-Hudson Company, shoe jobbers, of Boston and New York, is a citizen of whom Brockton is justly proud. Besides establishing a large and prosperous industry which has brought plenty and content into many a workingman’s home, he has given largely to philanthropic enterprises, some of which actually owe their existence to his generosity. He was born in Brockton, Feb. 18, 1856, son of William L. and Mary D. (Holmes) Field.
EMBERT HOWARD, long one of the most successful business men of Brockton, of which city he is also one of the foremost citizens, is a worthy representative of a family which has historic identity with the earliest settling of New England. For two hundred and sixty and more years the family bearing this name has dwelt in the Bridgewaters and in the region of country thereabouts, the posterity of John Haward, who was one of the early settlers of Duxbury, Mass. The genealogy following traces the line in chronological order from this immigrant ancestor.
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
The Washburn name in this country is a distinguished one. Perhaps it is as yet only a tradition that John Washburn, the ancestor of the Washburns here considered, was he who first served as secretary of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Several governors of our States have borne the Washburn name and at one and the same time four of the name occupied seats in the United States Congress. And the branch of the Massachusetts Washburns seated in Middleboro and vicinity have borne no small part in the annals of the Old Colony and later Commonwealth. Capt. Amos Washburn was in command of a company in the American Revolution; one of his sons, a graduate of Harvard, was a talented lawyer at Middleboro; Edward Washburn, brother of Capt. Amos, was another patriot in the Continental army; and his son, Gen. Abiel Washburn, was one of the leading men of his time in Middleboro, the acknowledged leader of the Federal party, and for thirty-six years held commissions through the different grades of office in the State militia; while Luther, Cyrus and the late Bradford Sumner Washburn, in turn, were substantial citizens of the town, and the latter’s son, Judge Nathan Washburn, lawyer and present Justice of the Courts of Plymouth county, is giving a good account of himself.
The Pierce families of this country are and have long been very numerous. Early in the settlement of New England came representatives from England, most of them not related, so far as now known. Among them were Abraham, of Plymouth, 1623, who became one of the original purchasers of Bridgewater in 1645; Daniel, of Newbury, blacksmith, who came from Ipswich, County of Suffolk, in 1634, aged twenty-three years; John, of Dorchester, mariner from Stepney, Middlesex, before 1631; another John, of Dorchester and Boston; John, of Watertown, 1638; Capt. Michael, of Hingham and Scituate; Richard, of Portsmouth, R. I.; Robert, of Dorchester; Thomas, of Charlestown, who was admitted to the church there in 1634; and Capt. William, of Boston, who was a distinguished shipmaster of his time.
CHASE (Fall River family). The Chase family here considered is strictly speaking a Massachusetts-Rhode Island one, springing as it does from the early Roxbury Yarmouth family, a later generation of which located in Portsmouth, R. I. In the third generation from the immigrant ancestor through Joseph Chase, who located in Swansea, Mass., and Benjamin, who settled in Portsmouth, R. I., have descended the Chases who have come from those respective localities. And both branches have shared largely in the commercial and industrial life of this section of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. From the Portsmouth branch came the late Borden Chase,