Sources for history of Universalist laypeople in New Bedford

From History of the Churches of New Bedford, New Bedford: E. Anthony & Sons, Printers, 1869, pp. 113-115.

“Jonathan Smith, Wm. Gates, Asa Peirce, Nathan Burgess, Lothrop Foster, Jr., Slocum Allen, Seth McFarlin, Reed Haskins, Bartlett Allen, James Mills, Caleb Thaxter, Wm. Bates, Stephen Spooner, Otis Manchester, Wright Brownell, Daniel Wadsworth, James Foster, Isaiah D. Foster, Sylvanus Churchill, and Dudley Davenport, were among the original members [of the first Universalist society which was organized in 1835].”

From History of Bristol County, Massachusetts: With Biographical Sketches of Many of Its Pioneers and Prominent Men, by Duane Hamilton Hurd, J. W. Lewis & Co., 1883; article on the history of Universalism in New Bedford “contributed by Hon. E. L. Barney”:

“John P. Knowles, G. L. Barney, Benjamin Alsey, Mr. Van Campen, John M. Foster, Benjamin F. Brownell, and others now dead have been the most prominent citizens and supporters of this church in the past, and still live and are interested in the society. New members have joined, such as John P. Knowles, Jr., H. M. Knowlton, A. G. Walker, and others, with many excellent ladies, and these all are the friends and supporters of the society. It is but simple justice to say that during all the past this church has maintained the doctrines of the early founders of Universalism in America, and fervently adhere to the fundamental doctrines of the Universalist denomination.

Hon. Edwin L. Barney

(Is he a Universalist? Or did he just contribute the article in Hurd’s History of Bristol County on the Universalists?)

According to the New Bedford Directory of 1859, he was a justice of the peace; Master in Chancery for the County; attorney and counsellor at law with an office at 17-1/2 Water St., member of the School Committee.

He is listed in a short obituary in the Yale Law Journal, April, 1897 (vol. vi no. 5), p. 293, as follows: “1849. Edwin L. Barney, of New Bedford, Mass., died recently. He was born in Swansea, Mass., in 1827. In 1847, after graduation from Brown, he entered the Yale Law School. In 1865 he was a senator in the Massachusetts legislature, and in 1870 was appointed by President Grant U. S. district attorney for the Western District of Texas. Afterwards Mr. Barney was the law partner of Gen. B. F. Butler, and when General Butler was governor of Massachusetts he was appointed judge advocate on his staff.”

Hosea M. Knowlton studied law with Edwin L. Barney, and was later partners with him.

John M. Foster

Listed as housewright in New Bedford Directory of 1859, living at 73 North St, business at 24 S. Second St.

John P. Knowles

In New Bedford Directory of 1859, John P. Knowles is listed as a director of the Mutual Marine Insurance Company; a principal, along with Joseph Knowles, in T. Knowles & Co., merchants, at 24 Union Street; house at 198 County Street. In Duane Hamilton Hurd’s History of Bristol County, Knowles is listed as one of the original directors when the Citizen’s National Bank was incorporated in 1875; and as on the board of managers of the Port Society.

Matilda Alden

From the Universalist Union for Saturday, December 26, 1840:

“UNIVERSALISM IN DEATH. Br. J. M. Spear, of New Bedford, Mass, notices through the Trumpet, a striking instance of the power of Universalism in death. It was in the person of a Miss Matilda Alden, who died in New Bedford, on the 1st inst. She was in the morning of life — but 22 years of age. At the early age of 15, she joined the Christian society in that place. — Soon after she went to reside with an uncle in Boston. The Sunday before the old Murray meeting house, Br. Streeter’s, was removed to give place to a new house, a year or two since, she heard Br. Streeter pray, which so operated upon her mind that she rested not till she was able to see Christ as the Savior of all. Two years since she was thrown from a carriage and received injuries from which she never recovered, but has lingered, enduring severe pains, till her death as above noted. But she has borne it all with unexampled patience, and died ‘rejoicing in the hope of meeting a ransomed world in the regions of immortal blessedness.’ Br. Spear closes his letter as follows :

“‘The Sunday before she died, I observed to her that it was frequently said that Universalists always renounced their faith on a dying bed. She replied, “I have not a doubt that I shall meet the whole world in peace. I love every body, and my heavenly Father loves them better than I do.” About an hour before she breathed her last, I asked her if her faith remained unchanged? She signified her assent. She was then unable to speak. Afterwards she distinctly said, pointing to her friends who stood weeping around her, “I shall not come back to you, but you will all, all, all come to me.” Indeed, my brother, when standing by her bed-side, I could truly say, “It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to the house of feasting.” It is “my heart’s desire and prayer to God” that when I leave this world, I may die like Matilda, and that my last end may be like her’s [sic].’  ”

Ebenezer Lathrop Foster

Listed in the New Bedford Directory of 1859 as a housewright, living at 104 Pleasant St.

He appears to be the same Ebenezer L Foster who served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives for 10th Bristol County District in 1865.

Foster Genealogy, by Frederick Clifton Pierce (Chicago: printed by W.B. Conkey company, 1899), part 2.

“4754. EBENEZER LATHROP FOSTER (Ebenezer L., James, James, Chillingsworth, John, Thomas, Thomas), b. Rochester, Mass., Dec. 9, 1809 ; m., Oct. 29, 1833, Nancy Bryant Cushman, of Sandwich, b. July 15, 1817. Their home was in New Bedford, where he was a contractor and builder; was an active worker in the Universalist church. He d. July 9, 1879. Res., New Bedford, Mass.
“5342. i. HELEN TABER, b. Dec. 31, 1837; m., Jan. 20, 1856, John
Franklin Swift. Res., New Bedford…[3 children]
5342. ii. MARY RUGGLES, b. March 3, 1840; d. Dec. 22, 1860.
5343. iii. MARTHA CUSHMAN, b. Feb. 23. 1842; m., Dec. 15, 1864,
Frederic Allen Sweet. Res., Hyde Park, Mass… [3 children].”

Benjamin F. Brownell

Listed in the New Bedford Directory of 1859 with a warehouse at Union Store 5 N. Sixth St., house at 167 Union St.

Representative Men and Old Families of Southeastern Massachusetts, J.H. Beers & Co, 1912

“Benjamin F. Brownell, son of Holder Milk and Love (Baker) Brownell, was born Aug. 23, 1829, in Dartmouth, Mass. He acquired his education in the public schools of his native town and at Peirce Academy, Middleboro, Mass. He then engaged in school teaching himself, his field of labor for two winters being in the town of Westport, this State. He taught the school at Russell’s Mills in Dartmouth in the winter of 1849-50. In the last named year he located in New Bedford, which was ever afterward his home. On coming to New Bedford he entered the New England Protective Union grocery store as clerk. With this establishment, though its name in 1861 was changed to the Central Union Grocery, he continued through the rest of his business career, for only a little less than sixty years, and he was its treasurer for many years.

“Mr. Brownell, through his industrious habits and the careful management of his business affairs, became well-to-do. Not only did he become one of the substantial men of the community from a financial standpoint, but as a citizen in usefulness. During his active career at one time or another he was a director of the New Bedford Casket Company, a director of the New Bedford Safe Deposit & Trust Company, and was vice-president of the New Bedford Cooperative Bank. He was also a director of the Acushnet Cooperative Bank, which latter position he held at the time of his death. He served for a number of years as overseer of the poor, and was an alderman from his ward in 1885, 1886, 1889 and 1890.

“The religious faith of Mr. Brownell was that of the Universalist Church, and he was a prominent member of the church of that denomination in New Bedford. He was for eight years or more superintendent of the Sunday school of that church.

“On Jan. 17, 1853, Mr. Brownell married Harriet T. Ruggles, daughter of John and Sarah W. (Thompkins) Ruggles, and to them were born two children: Albion T., Aug. 31, 1853, died March 26, 1909; and Myron W., Nov. 14, 1860, the latter now connected with the ‘Parker House’ as representative of his father’s estate. Mrs. Harriet T. Brownell died Feb. 4, 1901, and on Sept. 22, 1902, Mr. Brownell married Deborah D. Ruggles, sister of his first wife. Mr. Brownell died Sept. I5, 1909, at his home in New Bedford.” [p. 1481]

Alfred Goldsmith Wilbor

Representative Men and Old Families of Southeastern Massachusetts, J.H. Beers & Co, 1912

“Alfred Goldsmith Wilbor, son of Clarke [of Little Compton], grew to manhood in his native place and there attended school. He came to New Bedford during his teens and learned the trade of watchmaker with George Kelley, on Acushnet avenue. Later he started the jewelry business for himself, continuing in it for over half a century, at No. 199 Acushnet avenue. He had been associated in the flour business for some years with his father-in-law, Amasa Kelley, at the time of the latter’s death, in 1878, and subsequently conducted that business on his own account, carrying it on, as he did his jewelry business, until his death. His stores adjoined, his flour and grain establishment being at no. 197 Acushnet avenue. The trade was principally wholesale. Though in his seventieth year at the time of his death, which occurred Feb. 20, 1911, at his home, No. 228 Acushnet avenue, Mr. Wilbor was actively engaged in business to the last, being apparently in his usual health on Sunday, when stricken with apoplexy, and dying Monday night. He was buried in Rural cemetery. Mr. Wilbor was noted for his industrious and honorable life, his strict attention to all the duties of his business and other associations, his exemplary career in all the relations of life. He was a prominent and honored member of the Masonic fraternity…. In 1904 he attended the twenty-ninth triennial conclave of the Knights Templar in San Francisco, Cal., his wife accompanying him on that trip. For over forty years Mr. Wilbor was a member of the New Bedford Protecting Society, and was its oldest member at the time of his resignation, in 1908. His withdrawal was reluctantly accepted, and in recognition and appreciation of his long and faithful service in the organization he was permitted to retain his badge. He attended the Universalist Church and was a prominent member of the society. Public life had no attractions for him, and lie never took any part in such affairs, but he was nevertheless widely known, and his genial presence attracted hosts of friends.

“On Oct. 9, 1862, Mr. Wilbor married, in New Bedford, Louise Augusta Kelley, a native of Augusta, Maine, only child of Amasa and Louise (Lovejoy) Kelley, the former a well known flour and grain merchant of New Bedford, where he died Dec. 9, 1878. Mrs. Kelley died July 24, 1903, and they are buried in Rural cemetery. Mrs. Wilbor continues to live at the home in New Bedford built about 1860 by her father, at No. 228 Acushnet avenue. To Mr. and Mrs. Wilbor came one child, Herbert Clarke, born Aug. 20, 1863, who is now engaged as teller for the New Bedford Safe Deposit & Trust Company. He is a member of the school board of the city. He married Lula May Keith, daughter of the late Fred Keith, and they have had a family of five children, born as follows: Irma, March 5, 1891 (died Aug. 18, 1897); Alfred Parker, July 11, 1892; Walter Clarke, Aug. 5, 1894; Mar- jorie, Sept. 4, 1896; Lucille, Feb. 28, 1900.” [pp. 1401-1402]

Hosea Morrill Knowlton

Best known today as the prosecutor in the Lizzie Borden trial.

According to relevant numbers of the Universalist Register, H. M. Knowlton served as vice-president of the Universalist General Convention after 1900.

Our County and its People, a Descriptive and Biographical Record of Bristol County, Massachusetts, The Boston History Co., Boston, 1899:

“Knowlton, Hosea Morrill, was born in Durham, Me., May 20, 1847, and is the eldest son of Rev. Isaac Case Knowlton, D.D. and Mary S. Wellington, his wife. He is a direct descendant of Capt. William Knowlton, who sailed from London to Nova Scotia in 1623-4, but died en route, his widow and three sons, John, William and Thomas, continuing the voyage and finally settling in Ipswich, Mass. Mr. Knowlton’s ancestor is William, who served in King Philip’s war.

“Rev. Isaac Case Knowlton was born in Liberty, Me., September 6, 1819, and died at Acton, Mass., March 23, 1894. He was a self-educated man and spent fifty years in the ministry, receiving the degree of D.D. from Tufts College in 1889. Besides numerous articles published in magazines, etc., he was the author of a History of Calais, Maine, 1873, and Through the Shadows, 1885. His wife, Mary Smith Wellington, was descended from Kenelm Winslow, brother of Governor Winslow, and also from Thomas Smith, pastor of the First church in Portland, Me.

“Hosea M. Knowlton’s early life was an itinerant one. He attended the High Schools of Oldtown and Bangor, Me., and Keene, N.H., and Powers Institute at Bernardston, Mass., and graduated from Tufts College in 1867. He studied one year in the Harvard Law School and was admitted to the bar in 1870. He shortly afterward opened an office in New Bedford, where he has practiced with eminent success. In 1872 he was appointed register in bankruptcy for the First District in Massachusetts, which office he held until it was abolished in 1878. He was a member of the New Bedford School Committee from 1874 to 1877, city solicitor in 1877, representative to the Legislature in 1876-77, state senator in 1878-79, and district attorney for the Southern District of Massachusetts from 1879 to January 1, 1894, when he resigned to take the office of attorney general of the State, to which position he was elected in the fall of 1893; he has been five times re-elected, an eloquent testimonial of his fitness for the trust, and is still in office. Mr. Knowlton was one of the incorporators and a member of he board of directors of the Edison Electric Light Co. of New Bedford until its consolidation with the New Bedford Gas Co. He has been a director of the Citizens’ National Bank of New Bedford since 1884; a trustee of Tufts College since 1878 and is now vice-president of its board; a trustee of St. Luke’s Hospital, New Bedford, since 1896; and has been a member of the Universalist Society since 1872, its treasurer since 1875, and the superintendent of its Sunday school since 1874. Mr. Knowlton is one of the ablest members of the Massachusetts bar, and as a citizen and public officer is universally respected and esteemed.

“On May 22, 1873, he married Miss Sylvia Bassett Almy, daughter of Benjamin and Sophia Almy. Mrs. Knowlton possesses those elements of character which distinguish her as a woman of marked intelligence and ability. She is a graduate of the New Bedford High School and Bridgewater Normal School, and taught school for a year before her marriage. She has been a member of the New Bedford School Committee for five years; has been a director of the New Bedford Choral Association six years and was its vice-president; has been vice-president of the Woman’s Club since its organization, secretary of the New Bedford Volunteer Aid Association, and is a visitor to St. Luke’s Hospital.

“Mr. And Mrs. Knowlton have seven children: John Wellington, Born February 28, 1874; Abby Almy, born March 30 1876; Frank Warren, born August 16, 1878; Edward Allen, born April 16, 1883; Helen Sophia, born August 1, 1885; Sylvia Prescott, born May 29, 1890; and Benjamin Almy, born June 13, 1892, all living.”

Encyclopedia of Massachusetts, Biographical–genealogical, William Richard Cutter, American Historical Society, 1916:

“Hon. Hosea Morrill Knowlton, son of Rev. Isaac Case Knowlton, was born at Durham, Maine, May 20, 1847. He attended the public schools, the academies at Oldtown and Bangor, Maine, and Powers Institute at Bernardston, Massachusetts. He entered Tufts College, from which he was graduated in 1867 with the degree of Bachelor of Arts. He entered Harvard Law School and received his degree there in 1870, being admitted to the bar in the same year and beginning the practice of his profession in New Bedford, Massachusetts. He took an active part in public affairs, and soon achieved a place of prominence in the community. From 1872 to 1876 he served the city on the school committee. He was appointed register of bankruptcy in 1874, and held that office until it was abolished by a change in the laws, two years later. He was city solicitor of New Bedford in 1875. He was a representative to the General Court in 1876 and 1877, and State Senator in 1878 and 1879. From 1879 to 1893 he was district attorney of the Southern District of Massachusetts. He was elected attorney-general of Massachusetts in 1894 and served by annual re-election until 1901. He was for many years one of the most prominent and trusted leaders of the Republican party in the Commonwealth. His learning, integrity, common sense and ability as a public speaker brought him in close touch with the people of the State. He stood high in his profession, ranking among the very foremost lawyers of the country. In later years he had his office at No. 50 State street, Boston. His untimely death at Marion, Massachusetts, December 18, 1902, cut short a very promising career. He was a member of the University Club, the Union Club, the Middlesex Club, the Wamsutta Club and the Oakley Country Club. He married, May 22, 1873, Sylvia Bassett Almy, born at New Bedford. Children, born at New Bedford: John Wellington. February 28, 1874; Abby Almy, March 30, 1876; Frank Warren, August 16, 1878; Edward Allen, of whom further ; Helen Sophia, August 1, 1885; Sylvia Prescott, May 29, 1890; Benjamin Almy, June 13, 1892.”

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