FITCH, Zachariah,^1 had forty acres of land set to him among the inhabitants of Lynn in 1638, when he was made a freeman. He removed to Lynn village (South Reading) in 1644. There were two others of the surname at about that time, Jeremy and Henry. They were all farmers. Zachariah was a deacon of the church in Reading. His residence was on “Fitch Hill.” In a centennial poem by Eaton written in 1844 is the following:—
“I further looked, and on the hill,
Where now the heirs of John Gould dwell,
Upon the western slope or pitch.
There lived old Zachariah Fitch.
His name he gave to hill and lane,
A name they both as yet retain.” [*1]
He d. June 9, 1662. In his will, dated May 3 of that year, he mentions wife Mary, sons Joseph, Benjamin, John, Jeremiah, Thomas, Samuel, and daughter Sarah, who m. John Wesson of Salem. Benjamin was executor. He requested in his will that Joseph and Benjamin should assist Samuel (then under age, 18 yrs.)
“to build a house on his lot on Bear Hill, 27 by 18 feet with 12-foot posts, and to clapboard and board it, and break up his land or so much of it as can be done by the time he becomes 22 years of age.”
His estate was appraised £431 7s. 6d.
Samuel^2 (youngest son of Zachariah and Mary), b. Mar. 6, 1645, m. April 23, 1673, Sarah, dau. of Job Lane. She d. Oct. 2, 1679. He m. 2d, July 26. 1681, Rebecca Merriam. He d. 1684, leaving h Samuel,^3 b. May 4, 1674, to whom he gave by will real estate, and
“I do leave as my will, if my brother Avery (Robert) doth (exhort?) to take my son Samuel and to teach him to wright and the trade of a smith, my will is that he shall live with him till 20 years old.”
Estate appraisal was £235 11s.
Samuel,^3 m. Mar. 20, 1695, Elizabeth Walker, dau. of Joseph. She d. Nov. 26, 1716. He m. 2d, Eunice Taylor. He d. April 4, 1742; she d. Aug. 27, 1767, aged 91. Ch. Sarah, b. and d. 1696. Sarah, b. May 4, 1698, m. Richard Hixon. Samuel,^4 b. Feb. 14, 1699, m. 1732, Joanna Kidder, settled in Westford, d. Jan. 1775. h Joseph,^4 b. Oct. 22, 1702. h Benjamin,^4 b. July 30, 1703. John,^4 b. Feb. 12, 1707-8, settled in Lunenburg 1728, and doubtless the one for whom Fitchburg was named. h Jeremiah,^4 b. (?). h Zachariah,^4 h. Feb. 13, 1712. By 2d wife, Elizabeth, b. Sept. 22, 1718, m. Joseph Mead. (For the homestead of Samuel Fitch^3 see Brookside.) [^1][*3] His will dated Nov. 13, 1741, gives wife Eunice west end of dwelling-house and cellar, and corn, rye, beef, pork and necessaries, to be provided by son Jeremiah, who was to have all at his mother’s decease, excepting legacies to other ch.
Joseph,^3 Capt. (see William W. Farrell Homestead), m. Jan. 31, 1731, Sarah Grimes of Lexington (first marriage
recorded in Bedford). [*3] She d. Jan. 22, 1750. He m. 2d, Mrs. Rachel Convers, widow of Joseph. He d. Feb. 7, 1769, and she m. John Page. Ch. Sarah, b. Mar. 25, 1732, bap. with her father, April 30, 1732, m. 1750, Josiah Crosby, settled in Amherst, now Milford, N.H., in 1753, on the Souhegan river. They were pioneers in the wilderness, where they founded a noted family. Molly, b. Oct. 16, 1737, m. Jonathan Blodgett. Susannah, b. July 26, 1743, m. Josiah Munroe. Joseph,^5 b. Oct. 2, 1746, settled at No. 2, N.H., [??] conveyed estate in 1769 to Joseph Converse, q.v. By 2d wife, h Thaddeus,^5 b. March 23, 1755.
Benjamin^4 (son of Samuel^3) bought the Bacon mill on the Shawshine, q.v., m. Feb. 28, 1732, Miriam Gray of Andover, and d. July 7, 1770. [^2] Ch. Hannah, b. Jan. 10, 1733, m. Aug. 1, 1751, David Tarbell. [^3] Miriam, b. Jan. 23, 1734-5, m. Sept. 11, 1778, Timothy Jaquith. Benjamin,^5 b. Jan. 6, 1736-7. Louis, b. Oct. 31, 1740, m. Nov. 21, 1776, Edward Powers. [*4] h David,^5 b. May 22, 1743. Lydia, d. young. Eunice, b. July 26, 1747, m. Daniel McNickole. Nathan,^5 d. young. Isaac,^5 b. May 18, 1752 (see epitaph). [*5] Nathan, b. May 13, 1755.
Jeremiah^4 (son of Samuel^3), m. Feb. 3, 1735-6, Elizabeth, dau. of Col. John and Catherine Lane. Ch. Samuel,^5 b. Nov. 9, 1736. Elizabeth, d. young. h Jeremiah,^5 b. Sept. 25, 1742. John and Matthew, twins, b. Aug. 14, 1745. John d. May 31, 1820; Matthew m. Aug. 25, 1774, Lydia Lane, and d. Aug. 3, 1811. Joanna, b. Feb. 29, 1747-8, m. Benjamin Tidd of Lexington. Pattie, b. July 14, 1750. Elizabeth, b. Aug. 7, 1752, d. Mar. 1, 1825. h Moses,^5 b. Mar. 3, 1755. All of the sons of Jeremiah^4, excepting Samuel, are recorded as in the war of the Revolution.
Zachariah,^4 m. Oct. 1, 1733, Elizabeth Grimes of Lexington; she d. Mar. 12, 1790. Ch. Zachariah,^5 b. April 1, 1734, m. Rebekah Davis, settled in Groton. William,^5 b. Feb. 19, 1735-6, killed in the French War. Elizabeth, b. Jan. 6, 1738-9, m. Samuel Lane. Jonas,^5 b. Feb. 3, 1740-1, settled in Groton. He was a man of great mechanical genius, especially in the art of clock making; all the movements of his clocks were made by his hands. These timepieces are still owned in Pepperell and Groton. A grandson and namesake inherited his mechanical aptitude. Masonic Temple, Fitchburg depot, and City Hall, in Boston, are monuments of his skill. Ebenezer, Esther, and Lucy d. young. Esther, b. Oct. 13, 1749, m. Nehemiah Lawrence. Ebenezer,^5 b. Aug. 5, 1751, was a Minute Man; removed to Rindge, N.H., in 1779; was duly “warned out,” but settled and became prominent. Lucy. b. July 6, 1753, m. Joseph Hill of Billerica. Sarah, b. Jan. 2, 1755. Phebe, b. Nov. 25, 1756, m. April 1, 1784, John Sprague. (See Homesteads.) [*3] Alles, b. Nov. 10, 1759, m. Henry Woods, Jr. Daniel,^5 b. Feb. 21, 1764, d. Oct. 12, 1843.
Thaddeus,^5 a Revolutionary pensioner, son of Joseph^4 and Mrs. Rachel Converse, m. Sept. 14, 1779, Mary, dau. of John Moore, Jr. and Mary Wheeler. Ch. Mary, b. Dec. 29, 1779, m. Oliver Reed. Sarah, b. Sept. 22, 1781. Joseph,^6 b. July 10, 1797, d. Dec. 30, 1830.
David,^5 son of Benjamin,^4 inherited the homestead and mill from his father. He m. April 3, 1770, Mary Fowle of Woburn. He d. July 27, 1813; she d. Sept. 19, 1829. Ch. Polly, b. Oct. 23, 1770, m. Benjamin Wheeler of Concord, N.H. Lydia, b. Dec. 7, 1772, m. Nathaniel Page. h David,^6 b. June 28, 1777. Isaac.^6 (See epitaph.) [*5]
Jeremiah,^5 son of Jeremiah,^4 m. April 19, 1770, Lydia Smith of Waltham. He d. Dec. 29, 1808; she d. Sept. 10,
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Louisa (Burnham) Fitch.
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Nathan Andrew Fitch.
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1823. Ch. Alford and two Lydias d. young. h Jeremiah,^6 b. May 14, 1778. h Almon,^6 b. Aug. 8. 1780. Amos,^6 b. July 26, 1782. John,^6 b. Feb. 6, 1785, d. Feb 2, 1820. h Alford,^6 b. Aug. 2, 1786. Jeremiah Fitch^5 was sergeant in the company of militia of Bedford in 1775. (See Stone Croft Farm, Chap. XXXIV.) [*3]
Moses,^5 son of Jeremiah,^4 m. Nov. 14, 1782, Rachel, dau. of Edward and Lucy Stearns. He d. Oct. 12, 1825; she d. May 23, 1817. Ch. Solomon,^6 b. Nov. 8, 1783, settled in Littleton, N.H., had large family. Lucy, b. July 17, 1785, m. John Page. h Moses,^6 b. Mar. 28, 1787. Elijah,^6 b. Jan. 10, 1790, settled in Boston. He d. Mar. 7, 1840, leaving a family. Rachel, b. Nov. 30, 1791, m. Joseph Brown. h Joel,^6 b. June 12, 1794. Nathan, d. young. Moses Fitch^5 was at Concord, entered the Continental army, was wounded at the battle of White Plains, N.Y., and was a pensioner. He was deacon from Jan. 10, 1805, till death. He, with son Joel and daughter Rachel (Fitch) Brown, are honored by a memorial window in the meeting-house of the Trinitarian Congregational society (a gift of their descendants). [*6]
David^6 continued the family possession of the mill and homestead. He m. Nov. 12, 1799, Hannah Proctor, d. Dec. 22, 1803; 2d, Jan. 8, 1805, Olive Simonds, d. Sept. 20, 1858; 3d, Mrs. Susan Adams of Billerica. He d. May 24, 1860. Ch. h David,^7 b. Feb. 20, 1802; Hannah Proctor, b. Dec. 10, 1803, m. Dr. Bela Gardner, q.v., d. Jan. 20, 1844. By 2d wife, Mary Fowle, d. an infant. Mary Fowle, b. May 29, 1807, m. Benjamin F. Hartwell. h Abel,^7 b. April 25, 1809. h Nathan,^7 b. Feb. 13, 1811. Jonathan Simonds,^7 d. young. Martha Simonds, b. May 29, 1817, m. Nathan O. Reed. Olive, b. April 24, 1820, m. May 23, 1854, Robert A. Cook, d. May 29, 1891, at Sackville, N.B. Isaac^7 and Lucy, twins, b, Dec. 23, 1824; Isaac d. Feb. 13, 1825; Lucy d. May 5, 1854. Mary Fowle (Fitch) Hartwell received from her father the homestead in the centre of the town, which she continued in the family possession by deed of gift to her daughter, Mary Alzina (Hartwell) Fletcher.
Jeremiah,^6 m. May 10, 1804, Mary Rand of Chelmsford. * He d. July 10, 1840; she d. Mar. 3, 1840. Ch. two named Caroline Matilda d. young. Caroline Matilda, b. Sept. 1, 1808. Jeremiah George,^7 b. Feb. 19, 1810, Harvard College 1831, d. Feb. 25, 1845. Mary Rand, b. Aug. 30, 1813, m. April 7, 1841, John Henry Jenks, d. June 13, 1881, had 6 children, four of whom survived her. The author is happy to insert here a biographical sketch prepared, at his request, by Rev. Henry Fitch Jenks.
Jeremiah Fitch, the eldest son of Jeremiah, Jr., and Lydia (Smith) Fitch, was born in Bedford, May 14, 1778. He received the common education of a country town. His father wished him to devote himself to farming, and as an inducement offered him the paternal farm; but, being of an enterprising spirit, and not having any inclination to agricultural pursuits, nor finding any other occupation which it was possible for him to follow in the town congenial, he left Bedford, at the age of fourteen, and came to Charlestown, with a capital of twenty cents, and, unaided by any one, set himself to procure employment.
He soon secured a situation with Mr. Samuel Ruggles,
* Mary Rand was born at Chelmsford, whither her mother had gone from Boston, owing to the excitement in the latter town when occupied by the British. Her physician was Dr. Danforth, and she was helped away by his son Tom, who was a Tory. She carried with her a trunk of gold. The sentinel opposed her going, but Danforth interfered in her behalf with seeming roughness of manner, and said, “Oh, let the old woman go!”
and from that time relieved his father from all pecuniary responsibility for his support. By diligent attention to business, he won the confidence of his employers, and gradually rose to higher positions.
After a time he removed from Charlestown to Boston. When he became of age he was assisted to begin business for himself, but by the failure of his patrons he was involved in embarrassments, from which it took him a long time to extricate himself. His conduct under these circumstances, however, won him friends, who offered him capital and assistance. The offers were accepted, and diligence and carefulness secured him success. Prosperity followed his efforts, and he accumulated what for those days was a respectable fortune.
He first began business under the firm name of Nolan & Fitch, in 1799. Later he continued as an importer of dry goods under his own name, or that of Jeremiah Fitch & Co. He first occupied in Boston, in 1802, what was then 27 Cornhill (now Washington Street); in 1819 he removed to 5 Market Street (now Cornhill), and later, in 1826, after the great fire, to 38 and 40 Central Street. [*7]
He was always esteemed for straightforwardness and integrity in his dealings. For nearly twenty years he was a director of the Union Bank and of the Mercantile Marine Insurance Company. For many years he was a member of the Board of Health, retiring in 1821 to become a member of the last Board of Selectmen of the town of Boston; in 1824 he was a member of the Common Council, and in 1825 an overseer of the poor of the City of Boston.
He was an attendant at the church in Brattle Square, under the ministrations of Mr. Buckminster, Mr. Palfrey, and Mr. Lothrop, and long a member of the standing committee. During his service the old cannon ball which struck the Church during the siege of Boston and then had done duty for many years as a weight on the front gate of a neighboring residence, was by his instrumentality imbedded in the front of the edifice, where it so long remained, an object of interest not merely to strangers visiting the city, but to many now living who can well remember it.
He was hospitable to a high degree. Retaining the old farm which had been his father’s, he kept to the last his interest in his native town, and always welcomed to his city home his country friends and neighbors, and gladly did whatever he could for the benefit of the town. To the old church which he habitually attended he gave a clock and a pulpit Bible; and when the separation of the churches — which he greatly deplored — took place, he gave to the newly formed society, of which his old friend Rev. Samuel Stearns remained the minister, a piece of land an which to build the meeting-house. *
* Mr. Fitch’s benevolence was not of the post mortem kind, but he freely and quietly gave of his accumulating wealth during his life, his donations being frequently made by the hand of his friend and early pastor, Rev. Samuel Stearns, with whom there was a mutual understanding. The pastor’s notice was sufficient to bring relief in any case of need in the town. The spacious kitchen of the old Fitch Tavern was turned to a storehouse at the annual Thanksgiving season, and from it was dispensed that which brought cheer to many a widow’s home. When driving to his native town, Mr. Fitch often dropped packages of books at the schoolhouse door, and each pupil had a share. Souvenirs of these days, when books were rare and costly, are carefully treasured in many of the old homes of the present. Adults were not infrequently remembered. The author’s library contains a volume of the “Panoplist,” the Trinitarian organ during the religious controversy, in which is the following, written on the fly-leaf: “Presented by Jeremiah Fitch, and distributed, with a few other volumes, at his request, by Rev. Samuel
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The name of Pond Lane in Boston was changed to Bedford Street in compliment to him.
He was married in Boston, May 10, 1804, by Rev. William Emerson, pastor of First Church, to Mary, daughter of Robert Rand of Boston, and took up his residence in Hanover Street. Subsequently he lived in Cornhill (Washington Street), Portland Street, and Hamilton Place.
Mrs. Fitch was born Dec. 14, 1776, and died March 3, 1840, four months previous to his decease, which occurred at his residence, 1 Hamilton place, July 10, 1840. They were both buried nearly opposite their old residence in a tomb in the Granary Burying Ground.
Almon,^6 son of Jeremiah,^5 m. Mar. 28, 1814, Martha Wood. He d. Nov. 23, 1820; she d. May 27, 1873. Ch. Lydia S. b. May 14, 1815, m. Joseph Skinner, d. Nov, 3, 1857. Albert,^7 b. Feb. 14, 1817, lives in Lexington.
Alford,^6 son of Jeremiah,^5 m. June 4, 1818, Sally Reed. She d. Aug. 23, 1820; he d. June 22, 1852. Ch. Sally Reed, b. Feb. 19, 1820.
Amos,^6 son of Jeremiah,^5 m. April 7, 1813, Martha Starr of Roxbury, d. Dec. 14, 1826. Ch. Martha L. b. Feb. 5, 1814, m. Joseph W. Page. John A. d. in infancy. John A. b. Jan. 10, 1817.
Moses,^6 son of Moses,^5 m. Dec. 6, 1810, Polly Brown, d. Aug. 1, 1824. She m. 2d —— Brown, and settled in Michigan, d. about 1886. Ch. John Moses,^6 b. July 8, 1811, m. Catherine Bacon, settled in Michigan and became prominent.
Joel,^6 son of Moses,^5 m. Feb. 18, 1819, Susanna Hill. He d. Aug. 4, 1845; she d. Oct. 21, 1882. Ch. three d. young. Susanna, b. Feb. 8, 1827, grad. at Mt. Holyoke Sem. 1847, m. Joseph G. Marchant of Illinois, has a large family. Rachel Ann, b. Aug. 14, 1829, grad. at Mt. Holyoke Sem. 1849, m. David G. Rabb of Indiana, has a large family. Moses Josiah,^7 b. Aug. 24, 1834, studied at Lawrence Acad. Groton, m. Carrie E. Starr, settled in Chicago, Ill.; is the founder of the Fitch Paper Co., deacon of a church, and a man of wealth and influence. Delia Adelaide, b. May 17, 1840, d. Oct. 24, 1846. Joel Fitch^6 settled on the homestead, and later moved to the village and engaged in mercantile business, which he followed till death. He was a deacon of the Church of Christ from 1835 till death, a justice of the peace, and a man of prominence.
David,^7 son of David,^6 m. Mar. 31, 1825, Betsey Buttrick. He d. May 19, 1851; she d. Oct. 1, 1889. Ch. Betsey, b. June 26, 1826, m. Lorenzo Poor of Derry, N.H. Emily, b. Dec. 26, 1827, m. Henry F. Marshall of Pelham, N.H. David,^8 b. Mar. 3, 1832, m. Sarah Williams of Lexington, has 4 ch. Ann, b. Sept. 15, 1834, m. William S. Jordan of Woburn. John,^8 b. June 17, 1836, d. Sept. 4, 1855. Sarah, b. July 6, 1838, d. April 9, 1855. Abel,^8 b. May 10, 1840, m. Mrs. Thompson of Cambridge. Albert,^8 b. Nov. 18, 1842, was killed at battle of Chancellorsville in the Civil War in 1863. Helen, b. Mar. 29, 1846. [^4]
Stearns.” Early in this century there was but one newspaper subscribed for in the town, yet many homes were supplied with the current news by Mr. Fitch.
Miss Caroline M. Fitch possesses many of the commendable traits of character of her father. The same unostentatious benevolence has characterized her life. Early inventions for the relief of the bed-ridden were furnished by her, books were freely dispensed, and the Public Library is now a channel through which she scatters blessings to all ages. At the organization of the High School, in 1885, she gave one hundred volumes as a nucleus for a school library.
Abel,^7 son of David,^6 m. Oct. 6, 1835, Nancy Bacon, d. Oct. 16, 1839. She m. 2d Nathan O. Reed. Ch. Nancy Jane, b. Aug. 16, 1836, m. Joseph B. Lawrence. h Abel Porter,^8 b. Sept. 17, 1837. Henry Braniard, b. and d. 1839. [^5]
Nathan,^7 son of David,^6 was the fourth and last generation of the family to follow the business of a miller, m. Sept. 9, 1834, Louisa Burnham. He d. Mar. 21, 1890; she d. May 30, 1889. Ch. h Nathan Andrew,^8 b. Sept. 9, 1835. h Isaac Emerson,^8 b. Nov. 30, 1836. h Benjamin,^8 b. Sept. 30, 1838. h Silas,^8 b. Aug. 1, 1840. h Alamanzo,^8 b. Mar. 12, 1843. Marshall, b. Dec. 16, 1844, d. April 28, 1845. Martha, b. Oct. 28, 1846, m. Henry Davis of Somerville. Olive M. b. Oct. 2, 1848, m. George A. Hartwell. h David L. B.^8 b. Oct. 17, 1851. h Franklin P.,^8 b. Oct. 1855.
Nathan Andrew,^8 m. 1859, Calista Tarbell of Rindge, N.H. Ch. Nellie Louisa, b. Dec. 23, 1860, m. 1882, Silas B. Fales. Henry Warren,^9 b. Jan. 25, 1866, m. 1890, Fontinelle A. Wilbur. Lucy Beatrice, b. April 16, 1876. Nathan A. Fitch^8 left his native town at the age of sixteen years, and engaged in the provision business in the city of Boston, which he still follows. His only advantages for early education were such as could be obtained at the district schools. In 1858 he became associated with the Baptist Bethel, devoted to the interests of seamen. He has been superintendent of the Sabbath school connected with that church thirty years, and a faithful friend of the sailors. He was a member of the Board of Aldermen of Somerville in 1883-4, and is prominent in the fraternities of Free Masons and Odd Fellows. He has followed the injunction, “Not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord,” and been abundantly prospered. [*8]
Isaac Emerson,^8 son of Nathan,^7 a carpenter, m. Mar. 27, 1861, Sarah C. Pearson. Ch. Bessey Ida, b. Nov. 16, 1863, m. Clinton De Witt Fox. Florence, b. 1869.
Benjamin,^8 a merchant in Boston, m. Martha S. Goodwin of Milton, N.H.; 2d, Elizabeth W. Shute of Boston. Ch. Mary Alice. Louis B. b. 1868, d. 1875. Nathan Goodwin.^9 Albert M. b. 1874, d. 1876. Arthur S.^9
Silas^8 m. Julia H. Rollins of Concord, N.H. Ch. Nellie.
Alamanzo,^8 a merchant, m. Annie M. Steinhilber. Ch. Mertie S. m. William H. Dowd. Wallace A.^9 Willie B.^9
David L. B.^8 son of Nathan,^7 a farmer, m. May 23, 1877, Lizzie Crother. Ch. David W.^9 b. Sept. 18, 1878. Edward B.^9 b. May 8, 1880. Walter F.^9 b. June 7, 1887.
Franklin P.,^8 son of Nathan,^7 a farmer at the mill homestead, m. June 22, 1879, Mary E. Hensley. Ch. Franklin P.^9 b. and d. 1880. Nathan H.^9 b. May 26, 1881. George A.^9 b. April 15, 1884.
Abel Porter,^8 son of Abel,^7 m. Mar. 30, 1865, Ellen A. Davis. Ch. Winfred Porter,^9 b. Aug. 3, 1870, was one of the first class that graduated from Bedford High School. Alice Maria, b. Jan. 5. 1872. Horace Wilbur,^9 b. and d. 1874. [^6]
- A. E. Brown’s “Genealogical register” (1891)
in History of the town of Bedford (II: pp 10-12)
- (For . . . Brookside.) ∨ For . . . Brookside.
- d. July 7, ∨ d, July 7,
- Ch. Hannah, ∨ Ch.. Hannah,
- 1846. ∨ 1846, d.
- Braniard, ∨ Braniard,,
- [ line removed ] [*9]
- cf. Eaton’s “Poem delivered at the Reading bi-centennial” (1844)
in his Genealogical history of the town of Reading (1874) p 430
- “on cow . . . and on pair”: one cow . . . and one pair
- cf. (in this work) pp 101-104
- “Louis”: [ (presumably) an error for ] Louisa
- cf. (in this work) p 84
- “the meeting-house”: now First Church of Christ: 25 Great Road
- “the great fire”: [ presumably ] the “great fire” of 1824
cf. Conwell’s History of the great fire in Boston (1873) p 44
NB: There was another large fire in Boston in 1825.
- cf. KJV’s Romans 12:11
- This section in fact ends with the line “(For French, see Homesteads.)”, but that line’s appearance here seems mistaken. (For further reading, see next section.)