Stearns [1/2]

STEARNS, variously spelled.

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Arms. Or, a chevron between three crosses flory sable. Crest, a cock starling proper.” [*1]

This illustration, furnished by Henry A. Stearns, Lieutenant-Governor of Rhode Island, was originally taken from one belonging to the Manning family, descendants of Isaac Stearns.

“It is the same as that borne, by families of the name of Sterne in the counties of Bucks, Cambridge, Hertford, and Norfolk, England; the same also as that borne by Richard

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Allice Abbott

Daughter of Lieut. Edward Stearns.
Married Moses Abbott, 2nd Stephen Lane.

v. pp. 34 Gen. Biog.

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Sterne, Archbishop of York, who was descended from the Sternes of Nottinghamshire. It is probable that all the families of the name of Stearns in the United States are descended from three early immigrants, — viz., Isaac, or Charles, who settled in Watertown, or Nathaniel, who settled in Dedham.” — Bond. [*2]

Isaac,^1 came to this country in 1630, probably with Gov. Winthrop, and settled in Watertown, near Mount Auburn. He was made freeman May 18, 1631, which is the earliest date of any such admission. (Bond.) [*2] He d. June 19, 1671; wife Mary d. April 2, 1677. Of their several ch. Isaac,^2 the fourth, b. Jan. 6, 1632-3, m. Sarah Beers, and settled in Lexington in 1660. He d. 1676. Their son,^3 John, b. 1675, m. April 26, 1699, Mary, or Mercy Davis of Concord. He is mentioned as a land owner in the description of the southern boundary of the town of Bedford in 1729. His dwelling was south of that known as Stephen Davis’ estate. (See Homesteads.) [*3] He d. June 14, 1734, and is recorded thus:

“Father of Zachariah, Eleazer, and Benjamin Stearns.”

From his will is the following:

“Bequeath to my daughter Mercy Kendal all the right I have in a Molatto girl named Mary, now living with me.” [*4]

Zachariah, son of John,^3 was a petitioner from the Concord side for the incorporation of Bedford, and was established in a home here. He m. Sarah, and had 6 ch. All soon disappear from the town.

John,^2 son of Isaac,^1 was a purchaser of the Dudley farm. One of his portions was fifty acres in the southwest corner, bounded by the river and Winthrop farm, which became the permanent Stearns homestead. He was probably born in Watertown in 1631, and became one of the earliest inhabitants of Billerica. He m. Sarah Mixer of Watertown. She d. June, 1656, the first death in Billerica, except an infant of Henry Jefts. He m. 2d, 1656, Mary Lathrop of Barnstable. He d. Mar. 5, 1668-9. His son, John,^3 b. “2d week” May, 1654, was either the first or second child born in Billerica.

John,^3 m. Elizabeth Bigelow of Watertown, who d. April 18, 1694; he m. 2d, Joanna, widow of Jacob Parker, and dau. of Thomas Call of Malden. He d. Oct. 26, 1728; she d. Dec. 4, 1737. Their son, John,^4 b. Nov. 25, 1686.

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John Stearns

m. Esther Johnson, dau. of Edward of Woburn, gr.-dau. of William Johnson, Esq., and great gr.-dau. of Capt. Edward Johnson, author of “Wonder Working Providence of Zion’s Savior in New England.” [*5] They had several ch., of whom Bond says four settled in Lovewell, Me., where the father d. aged 86. [*6][*7] His son, Josiah,^5 b. Jan. 20, 1731-2, m. Sarah, dau. of Uriah Abbott of Bedford. Their son, Samuel,^6 became the fourth minister of Bedford, q.v. John Stearns^4 deeded land, in Mar. 1762, to his son, Edward,^5 — the mill yard. This joined other real estate known as the Lieut. Edward Stearns homestead, which was set off to Bedford in 1766.

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Edward Stearns

b. May 9, 1726, was the head of the family in Bedford. He m. May 9, 1755, Lucy, dau. of Thomas Wyman and

Rachel (Crosby), widow of Samuel Stearns. He d. June 11, 1793; she d. Nov. 28, 1802. (See epitaphs.) [*8] Ch. Lucy, b. Mar. 24, 1756, d. May 20, 176S. Solomon,^6 May 12, 1757. He was with his father at Concord, April 19, 1775, entered the army at Cambridge, and d. May 18, 1775. (See epitaph.) [*8] Rachel, b. Nov. 3, 1758, m. Dea. Moses Fitch of Bedford. Edward,^6 b. Jan. 10, 1761, d. May 24, 1768. Susanna, b. Dec. 19, 1762, m. Nehemiah Wyman of Medford. Had 10 ch. Alice, b. Aug. 13, 1764, m. Moses Abbott, Jr.; m. 2d, Stephen Lane, h Abner,^6 b. July, 9, 1766. Edward,^6 b. June 25, 1768, m. Polly Jones of Bradford, who d. June 28, 1796; m. 2d, Nabby, her sister. He d. May 1798, and she m. Rev. Ebenezer Hill of Monson, N.H. [^1][^2] h Elijah,^6 b. May 2, 1770. h Simeon,^6 b. April 17, 1772.

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Elijah Wyman Stearns.

Elijah,^6 son of Edward,^5 m. Dec. 30, 1802, Elizabeth (his cousin), dau. of Rev. Josiah Stearns of Epping, N.H. He d. April 10, 1831; she d. Sept. 25, 1862. (See Homesteads.) [*9] Ch. Edward,^7 b. and d. 1804. Edward Josiah^7 b. and d. 1806. Mary Elizabeth, b. Oct. 31, 1807, d. July 12, 1818. Edward Josiah,^7 b. Feb. 24, 1810, graduated at Harvard College (1833), an Episcopal clergyman and an author, d. July 1890. [^3] Elijah Wyman,^7 b. Jan. 8, 1813, graduated at Harvard College (1838), was a teacher for several years, and later a druggist in Bedford. George O.^7 b. Aug. 30, 1815, a dentist in New Haven, Conn. Samuel French,^7 b. April 25, 1818, was a dentist in Boston, d. 1889.

Simeon,^6 son of Edward,^5 m. Sally Cole. He d. April 17, 1846; she d. Mar. 8, 1863. Ch. Elbridge Wyman,^7 b. April 22, 1803, m. Dec. 17, 1836, Ruthy Wright. He d. Dec. 1, 1876; she d. Oct. 31, 1884. Lucy Minerva, b. Sept. 6, 1805, m. Ezekiel W. Preston, d. May 5, 1884. Sally Miranda, b. May 12, 1808, m. Stephen H. Nichols, d. June 6, 1848.

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Abner Stearns;

son of Edward,^5 m. May 1, 1797, Anna, dau. of Jonathan Hill, who d. Oct. 22, 1807; he m. 2d, June 30, 1808, Mrs. Anna Estabrooks, widow of John, and dau. of Thomas Russell of West Cambridge. He d. Dec. 11, 1838; she d. Nov. 29, 1839. They were first interred in the old burial-ground, and later removed to Shawshine Cemetery, where a sarcophagus has been erected by a grateful posterity.

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Ch. Abner,^7 b. April 1, 179S. Mary Ann, b. May 23, 1809, m. Jonas Monroe of Bedford. She was a prominent school teacher. h Edward Harrison,^7 b. Dec. 16, 1814. h George Sullivan,^7 b. May 17, 1816. h Albert Thomas,^7 b. April 23, 1821. h Henry Augustus,^7 b. Oct. 23, 1825.

Mrs. Anna Estabrooks had one son, John B., whose name was changed to Russell. He was b. in 1801, and d. Mar. 11, 1891, at Indianapolis. He began the seed business in the store now occupied by Joseph Breck & Sons, Boston, was later a publisher in that city, and afterwards managing editor of “The Cincinnati Gazette.” He was much interested in agriculture, was in that department at Washington for some years, and was a foundation member of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, in whose hall a portrait of him may be seen. He was founder of “The New England Farmer.”

Abner Stearns was about nine years of age at the opening of the Revolution. He and brother, Solomon, sleeping by his side, were awakened at an early hour of April 19, 1775, by their father, Lieutenant Edward, who announced that the British were coming. Lieutenant Edward and his oldest son, Solomon, joined the Bedford company of militia, and were early at Concord. There is a well-authenticated family tradition that the father was in military authority in the latter part of the day, after the death of Capt. Jonathan Wilson. The tradition is strengthened by the fact that Stearns and Wilson married half sisters. The officers of the Minute Men not being commissioned, it is reasonable to suppose that family relations were to be considered in this emergency. Father and son reported at Cambridge on the following day; the former soon returned to his family, and the latter remained on duty, sickened, and died May 18. (See epitaph and p. 66.) [*8]

Abner and the other members of the family who remained at home, on the east bank of the Concord River, distinctly heard the reports of the musketry during the engagement, as they were wafted down the stream on the breeze of that April morning. He often entertained his family in after life with descriptions of his feelings on that day, and of the activity of each member, old enough for service, in the preparation of food for the army, in running bullets, and making cartridges. Rachel, Susanna, and Alice, daughters in the family, aged respectively 16, 13, and 11, shared in the labors of that day during the absence of father and brother at Concord.

This experience early developed an inherited military taste, and he became prominent in the militia of the state. He was commissioned as ensign of the Bedford company, Oct. 17, 1793. The signature of Samuel Adams is upon the commission. [*10] He was made captain of the company June 8, 1797, and resigned July 20, 1799. These and many other military papers are treasured by his grandsons. Among them are “General Orders,” dated May 1, 1798, from headquarters, Roxbury, Mass., and signed by William Donnison, adjutant-general. This was when the country was full of excitement because of threatened war with France.

Although Mr. Stearns enjoyed but limited advantages for education, his inquiring mind and perseverance en-bled him to acquire much general and practical knowledge, and he became the peer of many whose early advantages had been superior to his. He was a mechanical genius, and of an inventive turn of mind. The experiments that resulted in a machine for splitting leather were

perfected by him, and the first one ever used was made in a room in his dwelling-house; and the patent credited to Major Samuel Parker is in a large degree due to the skill of Abner Stearns. In 1805 he removed to West Cambridge (Arlington), bought land, and started a woolen factory, which he sold to John Tufts in 1808. He then bought another lot about one-third of a mile above his former purchase, and created a water power by digging a canal half a mile long, an enterprise almost unprecedented at that time. Here he established a thrifty business in wool carding. A grist-mill was soon added, and later altered to one for grinding mineral substances and making yellow ochre for paint. He also ran a machine for preparing dye-woods. In 1811 he erected a large building over the brook, where he manufactured machines for splitting leather, churns of a peculiar construction, and various kinds of agricultural implements. Among other inventions he perfected one for dyeing silk, which has been extensively used. In this same building he had a fulling-mill, and a spinning jenny of seventy-two spindles. The yarn was made into broadcloth, and the business was remunerative until the close of the 1812 war, when importation ruined this domestic industry. A patent right issued to him, bearing the signatures of President James Munroe and Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, is among the family treasures. [^4]

In 1816 he returned to his old home. His dwelling-house, mill, and other property, were in Billerica, but on the Bedford line; and a part of the Stearns homestead, and all public interests of the family, were identified with the people of this town. He was classed among the most enterprising, intellectual, and public spirited citizens. The impression made in the mechanical arts and upon the business world, by Capt. Abner Stearns and his family, is of national repute. Through all of the vicissitudes of business life they have never lost an interest in this town, and many of its public and private enterprises have been aided by the representatives of Capt. Abner Stearns. [*11]

Mr. Stearns’ children all had a thirst for knowledge, and were encouraged to obtain it. The only daughter enjoyed the advantages of Bradford Academy, and became a teacher of enviable reputation. The sons enjoyed a partial course in English at the academy in Andover. Edward H. and Albert T. were there at the same time. They often made the journey of fifteen miles, between home and school, on foot; and while there worked to pay their expenses in part, some of the labor consisting of planing pitch-pine boards which had been floated down the Merrimac River, and were sandy and uneven in thickness. The elder brother made six cents per hour, and the younger four cents. Albert T. planed, by hand, all of the hard-pine boards for the floors of two of the buildings used for lodging-rooms. The expense of board here was reduced, at one time during their course of study, to ninety cents per week. It afforded the simple necessities only, but these young men, and others who endured such privations in order to secure the advantages of mental training, have made enduring impressions in the world.

Abner, the oldest child, only one by the first wife, and the namesake of his father, ran the mill at the homestead for a while, and then went to Bennington, Vt., and later to Texas, where he died. He was engaged at both locations in the business of a machinist. He m. Mary Dresser of Vermont, who, with a son and daughter, survived him.

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Edward H Stearns

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Geo. S. Stearns

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Edward Harrison,^7 took a course of three years at Andover, after which he taught school at Provincetown, making the journey to the cape in a schooner. He then went to Covington, Ky., and spent a season, and later started the business of wool carding, having conducted the business of the home farm after the death of his parents, and had a farm in Stoneham in the meantime. He increased his manufacturing business by adding a planing-mill and general wood-working establishment. This was all destroyed by fire, when he erected a set of fire-proof buildings. He was next found in Cincinnati, O., engaged in inventing, improving, and manufacturing saw-mill machinery. His business next called him to Hamilton, O., after which he bought lands in Erie, Penn., and started large manufacturing industries. When facilities for travelling were most primitive, he made personal visits to all states in which there were lumbering camps, to introduce machinery of his patent and manufacture, which for the relief of manual labor was of inestimable value.

The inventive genius of the father was an inheritance with this son. He was credited with thirty patents which were the outcome of his own mind. As is very often the case, unprincipled men sought to obtain his honors by infringing upon his patents, and he was known to stand in defence of his own rights, in the court house, until he fainted from exhaustion. The fame of this son, who began life by experimenting in an obscure saw-mill in Bedford, has spread throughout the land. The Stearns Manufacturing Company, of Erie, Penn., of which Edward Harrison Stearns was the founder, is the largest establishment of the kind in the West, and is known throughout the world. Previous to his career saw-mill machinery was very poor, and through his efforts a complete revolution was made in the lumber manufacture.

Mr. Stearns was an ardent abolitionist, having imbibed the spirit when at Andover, and from the beginning of the anti-slavery movement was a prominent champion of the cause. Religiously he was of the faith of Emanuel Swedenborg, was prominent in establishing a church where that faith was taught, and the chief financial supporter. His energy and public spirit made him a leader in the different places of his residence, where he always enjoyed the confidence of his associates.

He married Harriet C. Raymond of Charlestown, Mass., and had no children. His death occurred August, 1880.

George Sullivan,^7 when eighteen years old, went West, after pursuing a short course of study at Andover. It then required two weeks to make the journey to Alton, Ill., which can now be made in twenty-four hours. He was at Alton two years, engaged in the milling business, after which he spent some time in Kentucky, at farming and nursery business, on the Licking River. From there he went to Lawrenceburg, Ind., and started the lumber business. In the year 1840 he was at Cincinnati engaged in printing and stereotyping. He stereotyped the first copy of the Mormon Bible. He experimented in the manufacture of printers’ ink, and became the leading manufacturer of that article in the West. In 1849 he bought his brother Henry’s interest in the wadding business, and the two lines were thereafter merged in one. It thus appears that George S. and Henry A. were the founders of this firm, which is one of the oldest manufacturing concerns in Cincinnati. Mr. Stearns, with his sons and others, started the lumber business in Lockland, O., about the year 1880, where they built large mills.

While this was being successfully prosecuted, he engaged in several other manufacturing enterprises, the last being with his brother, Henry A. (each of whom were representatives of their respective companies), in the erection of the mills of the Dominion Wadding Company, at Montreal, Can., of which a son of each is in charge.

Mr. Stearns built a fine residence at Wyoming, O., where he died in 1889. He was modest and retiring in his nature, and was never persuaded to accept any political or public office. He was possessed of rare judgment, and was successful in life in the best way. He was generous, and always ready to help others. Among the many objects of his benevolence was the Trinitarian Congregational society of Bedford, which his father had helped in forming, and the church connected with it, in which he had learned those principles that predominated during his entire life. He contributed liberally towards rebuilding the meeting-house, in 1886, which his father had assisted in erecting more than a half century earlier. While always greatly interested in church work, and an abundant giver in the support of the gospel, he kept himself in the background. He had but little to say about religious matters, but his life was a constant application of Christianity. Through humbling himself he became exalted. He was a founder of the Presbyterian church of Wyoming, O., an elder, trustee, and large contributor to its support.

The following tribute of respect is from the pen of the widely known editor of “The Cincinnati Commercial Gazette,” Hon. Richard Smith: —

“The late George S. Stearns, who was called to his rest on Sunday evening [Nov. 24, 1889], deserves more than a passing notice, as all who knew him will cheerfully and sorrowfully concede. Away back in the early forties the firm of Stearns & Foster was organized in Cincinnati, and it has continued, growing with its growth, and even expanding far beyond its limit. It has proved a firm of solid industry, honorable and conservative enterprise, and unspotted integrity. It never compromised its obligations. In all the years of its history it paid dollar for dollar. Now death comes to break this old firm, the oldest in the city, and the last, we think, of the firms that had an existence back of 1850.

But we are to speak of the deceased. He was a useful citizen. He understood his business, and he kept to it very closely. He was a success, but his success did not spoil him. Evidently he was not made to be spoiled. He did not figure as a statesman, and therefore his reputation is not as widespread as it might be; but within his circle he had a great reputation that was deserved and will follow him. He was a rich man, but he has left something better than gold to those who now mourn his death.

It may truly be said of Mr. Stearns that he was a lovely man. He was just in all things, harsh in nothing; benevolent in all things, stingy in nothing. He did good right along through life. In this respect he was largely his own administrator, and has left a good example which may well be held up as worthy of imitation.

Mr. Stearns did not rust out either. He loved honorable labor, and he died in the harness.

All this is said, not for the dead, but the living. Multitudes will mourn the death and revere the memory of George S. Stearns.”

He m. May 30, 1844, Amelia, dau. of William Stephenson, who came from England, and d. Nor. 24, 1889. Ch.

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h George Herbert,^8 b. Mar. 14, 1845. h Edwin Russell,^8 b. Jan. 10, 1847. h Alfred Monroe,^8 b. Jan. 29, 1849. Anna Russell, b. April 7, 1851, d. May 13, 1852. Helen Foster, b. Jan. 12, 1853, m. Jan. 19, 1882, Josiah Dwight, had 2 ch.; the youngest, Anna Dwight, d. May 1, 1891. [^5] Amelia George, b. June 5, 1855, m. Mar. 25, 1879, Rufus Alan Cowing, have 4 ch. h William Stephenson,^8 b. April 10, 1857. h Harold English,^8 b. July 21, 1859. Arthur Harrison,^8 b. July 24, 1861, d. Mar. 27, 1880.

George Herbert,^8 m. April 15, 1874, Isabella M. Weld of Boston. Ch. Minot Weld,^9 b. Aug. 20, 1876. Mabel Weld, b. Oct. 18, 1877. Gordon Weld,^9 b. Nov. 20, 1880.

Edwin Russell,^8 m. June 14, 1883, Luella Evans. Ch. Dorothy Amelia, b. Dec. 28, 1885. Evans Foster,^9 b. Oct. 9, 1889. George,^9 b. Oct. 14, 1891. [^6]

Alfred Monroe,^8 Yale College (1870), m. April 18, 1872, Elizabeth Palmer. Ch. Greta, b. Jan. 9, 1875. Clayton Palmer,^9 b. June 24, 1879.

William Stephenson,^8 m. June 22, 1881, Mecia Lena Stout. Ch. Margaret Rose, b. May 31, 1882, d. Oct. 14, 1885. Lucy Stephenson, b. Mar. 1, 1886. Harriet, b. Aug. 19, 1889.

Harold English,^8 m. June 4, 1884, Lela Eleanor Curtis. Ch. Katharine Curtis, b. Mar. 5, 1888.

Albert T.^7 after completing his hard-earned course of study at Andover, turned his attention to the farm and mill at his home. His mechanical taste was early manifested in the miniature saw and grist mills made by him, and put in operation in the stream running from the pond to the mill. At the age of eighteen he was employed by David Fitch, in his grist-mill on the Shawshine. In 1840 he worked for Luke Brooks of Cambridgeport. The following year found him at Waltham, in the dry goods trade, where he learned to cut clothing, both custom and ready-made, — the latter branch of the business being then in its infancy. He then spent a year in the grocery trade at West Cambridge (Arlington), the place of business being the Russell store of Revolutionary fame. It was rifled by the British soldiers on April 19, 1775. It is still in the family name. (The mother of the subject of this sketch was a Russell.) The young man was next found at the old mill of the homestead, and again back to Waltham, in the same store; and from there he carried goods over the country, thereby receiving the benefit of open air which his health demanded. Each of these experiments failed to satisfy the adventurous spirit and mechanical genius of the young man, and he turned his attention to carpentering, and carried on the lumber business together with building. He built a planing and saw mill in 1843-4, which he operated, in connection with a partner, until 1849, when the copartnership was dissolved, and he prospected for a while.

Mr. Stearns thought of establishing the lumber business at Cincinnati, O., but the appearance of cholera led him to return to his native state. He located at Neponset, and started the lumber business in a small way, which has developed into a large enterprise; and the A. T. Stearns Lumber Company, which includes father and sons, is known throughout the country. They have introduced the cypress lumber to New England, and developed a new feature of the lumber trade. In 1883 Mr. Stearns turned his attention to the cypress swamps of the South, and established a mill at Apalachicola, Fla., where the Cypress Lumber Company is under the personal super-

vision of the youngest son of the founder. Mr. Stearns has been identified with the growth of Neponset from a few scattering houses to its present prosperity, a period of forty years. Fire has caused him to build four mills on his site during this time. He has greatly increased his acreage by filling marsh lands. He has patented several of his new inventions which are in use at present. The experimental years of Mr. Stearns’ life gave him an insight to various branches of trade which has been helpful in the development of a self-reliant business man, whose integrity and benevolence give him an honored place in society.

He m. June 11, 1843, Salome Maynard of Sudbury, who d. Feb. 7, 1881. Ch. h Albert Henry,^8 b. Aug. 15, 1844. h Waldo Harrison,^8 b. Oct. 21, 1847. Francis Maynard,^8 b. Feb. 17, 1850, d. June 17, 1853. Anna Russell, b. Oct. 14, 1852, d. Dec 31, 1853. h Frederick Maynard,^8 b. Nov. 23, 1854. Salome, b. and d. Feb. 1859. Ardelle Augusta, b. Feb. 10, 1860, m. Frederick C. Moseley of Dorchester. Have 1 son.

Albert Henry,^8 m. Kate B. Dexter of Pawtucket, R.I. Ch. Albert Maynard,^9 b. Aug. 20, 1886. Henry Dexter,^9 b. Mar. 7, 1888. Albert Thomas,^9 b. April 22, 1890.

Waldo Harrison,^8 m. Iczenna Chesbro. Ch. Ralph Waldo,^9 b. Dec. 28, 1876. Maurice Harrison,^9 b. Oct. 1879. Donald Bancroft,^9 b. Sept. 1, 1882.

Frederick Maynard,^8 m. Julia Marland Ricker of Boston.

Henry Augustus,^7 was about twelve years of age when his parents died. His father, being desirous that he should have greater educational advantages than the district school afforded, made provision for his attending Phillips Academy, Andover, where he pursued an English course for two years, after which he was dependent upon his own resources. He supported himself by shoemaking and shop-keeping until he was twenty years of age, when he started for the West; and in 1846 he located in Cincinnati, O., and engaged with his half-brother, Mr. J. B. Russell, in the manufacture of cotton wadding. In 1848 he bought Mr. Russell’s interest, and disposed of it to Mr. S. C. Foster and formed the copartnership of Stearns & Foster. In 1849, the works having been twice destroyed by fire and rebuilt, he disposed of his interest to his brother, George Sullivan.

Early in the spring of 1850 he turned his attention to California, with the many who were attracted to the Pacific borders at that time. His keen perception led him to the belief that a steam laundry was needed in that new and rapidly developing country. He purchased the required machinery at Cincinnati, and started with it down the Mississippi and over the Gulf of Mexico to Chagres, and then, after much labor, across the isthmus, the boiler being carried overland to Panama by detachments of men. He then took passage, with his freight, for San Francisco, in an old whaling vessel, which proved unseaworthy and came very near foundering. In the delay the provisions were exhausted, and all on board were allowed only four ounces of bread and a pint of water each per day. The craft floated about on the Pacific four months, and when Mr. Stearns reached his destination he was a physical wreck, and life was despaired of; but he rallied, set up his machinery, and successfully established the first steam laundry in California. After a time he sold his interest to his partner, and opened the largest restaurant in San Francisco at that time. He soon purchased an interest in a

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A. T. Stearns.

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steamboat, and ran the first regular steam ferry between San Francisco and the present city of Oakland. While a resident of San Francisco he witnessed the execution, by the vigilance committee, of numerous ruffians who had floated in there with the tide of immigration. For the next two years he was chiefly engaged in running a saw-mill, at San Jose, and keeping a store at Gilroy.

In the fall of 1853 he returned to Cincinnati, and resumed the manufacture of cotton wadding, with the old company, on a more extensive scale. His health necessitated a change in 1857, and he removed to Buffalo, N. Y., and started a new industry, — the manufacture of hardware. While here, with large investments, the disastrous financial period began, and Mr. Stearns saw his accumulations swept away. He sought to retrieve his fortune in Sangamon county, Ill., where he bought a tract of timber land, set up a saw-mill, and carried on a farm for three years.

The year 1861 found him at Pawtucket, R.I., associated with Darius Goff and others, in the manufacture of cotton wadding. The business has increased from a small beginning, through the energy of Mr. Stearns and his associates, until the Union Wadding Company has one of the largest and best equipped establishments of the kind in the world. Mr. Stearns has been the superintendent from the beginning. The Company has mills at Augusta, Ga., and Montreal, Can. Mr. Stearns’ son George is superintendent of the Southern mills, and his son Deshler, with a nephew, Harold E. Stearns of Ohio, are managers of the latter industry.

The inventive genius of the father, Capt. Abner Stearns, is well represented in his youngest son, the subject of this sketch. He has devised several contrivances which have been of great value in his business. He has also obtained a number of patents on cotton-gins, and on machinery for extracting oil from cotton waste and kindred substances. Another of his patents is the railway safety gate, so generally used in all parts of the country where there are rail-road crossings.

Mr. Stearns resides at Central Falls, R.I. He has filled many important positions of trust in the place of his residence, represented the town of Lincoln in both branches of the General Assembly, and was elected lieutenant-governor of Rhode Island in 1891. He is one of the trustees of the Franklin Savings Bank of Pawtucket, and was for two years president of the Pawtucket Business Men’s Association. He is the largest stockholder in the Kilby Manufacturing Company of Cleveland, O., the business being the manufacture of sugar-mills, paper-mills, steam engines, etc.; and he has a cattle ranch in New Mexico. Religiously, he followed in the footsteps of his parents, who were honored members of the Trinitarian Church of Bedford, and is a member of the Central Falls Congregational Church, of which he is a liberal supporter.

He m. June 26, 1856, Kate Falconer, of Hamilton, O. Ch. Deshler Falconer,^8 b. Aug. 7, 1857. George Russell,^8 b. Jan. 19, 1860. Walter Henry,^8 b. Jan. 3, 1862, m. June 5, 1890, Abbie Harris Razee. Kate Russell, b. July 21, 1864. Charles Falconer,^8 b. July 27, 1866, graduated from Amherst College in 1888. Henry Foster,^8 b. Mar. 3, 1868. Anna Russell, b. Jan. 4, 1873, d. Feb. 7, 1874. Caroline Cranston, b. Jan. 18, 1875.

It is noticeable in the family record of the last three sons of Capt. Abner Stearns and Anna Russell, that each had three daughters, and one of each trio was named Anna

Russell; and that each namesake of the grandmother died in infancy. Anna, dau. of Josiah Dwight and Helen Stearns, and gr.-dau. of George S. Stearns, d. May 1, 1891, while our MS. was in the hands of the printer. [^7]


Isaac^5 (Hon.), a soldier in the French war, magistrate and distinguished citizen of Billerica, became so generally identified with Bedford through his marriage, and that of his children, that he is introduced here. He m. Feb. 11, 1748, Sarah, dau. of Obed and Elizabeth Abbott of Bedford. He d. Mar. 23, 1808; she d. Jan. 9, 1815.

William,^6 son of Isaac^5 and Elizabeth (Abbott), b. Aug. 4, 1752, m. Sept. 25, 1777, Betsey Davis of Bedford. [^8]

William,^7 son of William,^6 b. June 19, 1778, m. Feb. 12, 1801, Betsey, dau. of Thaddeus and Sarah Davis. He d. Sept. 19, 1823. She d. July 27, 1844. Ch. Horatio Davis,^8 b. Jan. 19, 1803. Selinda, b. Sept. 18, 1804, d. April 27, 1860. Matilda Caroline, d. young. h William Albert,^8 b. Oct. 12, 1809. Elizabeth Caroline, b. Dec. 9, 1811, d. June 8, 1888. Charles Blucher,^8 b. Aug. 16, 1814. Isaac Davis,^8 b. July 21, 1821, m. Sept. 16, 1857, Catherine L. Knight of Woburn, d. Oct. 30, 1882. Ch. Mary Kilburn, b. June 12, 1859, d. Nov. 1, 1877. Fannie Davis, b. May 5, 1867, m. Sept. 11, 1890. Frank E. Soles.

William Albert,^8 son of William,^7 m. April 3, 1834, Clarissa Tarbell. He d. Mar. 22, 1871; she d. Oct. 20, 1877. Ch. Henry Augustus,^9 b. Feb. 26, 1836, m. Sept. 3, 1857, Mary F. Williams, d. May 29, 1863. Emily Ann, b. Oct. 28, 1838, m. July 4, 1872, George A. Fuller. Samuel Wirt,^9 b. Sept. 28, 1841, d. in the Civil War (see p. 69). William Frederick,^9 b. Mar. 19, 1846, m. June 3, 1891, Helen A. White.

William Albert Stearns was a shoemaker by trade, and a man of prominence in town and church. (See town officers.) [*12] He was deacon of the Church of Christ, and clerk of the Trinitarian Congregational society connected with it, at the time of his death, which occurred at Lowell, in March, 1871, while he was serving as juror in the superior court.

Timothy,^6 son of Isaac,^5 b. Sept. 25, 1763, m. Nov. 1, 1787, Sarah, dau. of Jonathan Lane of Bedford. He d. Aug. 8, 1816; she d. June 13, 1849. Of his ch., Obed^7 b. Mar. 21, 1801, m. May 27, 1827, Mehitable Carleton, and settled on a farm in the south part of the town. They had Josiah Obed,^8 b. Oct. 17, 1830; Amos,^8 b. 1831, m. Oct. 1856, Mary A. Hartwell; Eckley.^8

Eckley Stearns^8 was deacon of the Congregational church in Woburn. He gave one of the Rose windows in Amherst College church as a memorial.




  1. May 1798, ∨ May, 1798,
  2. Monson, ∨ Munson,
  3. July 1890. ∨ July, 1890.
  4. Monroe ∨ Munroe
  5. d. May 1, ∨ d, May 1,
  6. [ line added ] [*13]
  7. MS. ∨ MSS.
  8. Isaac^5 ∨ Isacc^5


  1. “proper”: naturally-colored
  2. cf. Bond’s Genealogies of the . . . early settlers of Watertown (1856) pp 450-451
  3. cf. (in this work) p 97
  4. cf. Bond’s Genealogies of the . . . early settlers of Watertown (1856) p 454
  5. cf. A history of New-England (1654), as (much later) reprinted
    in Wonder-working providence of Sions saviour (1867)
  6. “Lovewell”: [ conceivably ] Fryeberg
  7. cf. Bond’s Genealogies of the . . . early settlers of Watertown (1856) p 459
    NB: Bond does not mention a “Lovewell”.
  8. cf. (in this work) p 90
  9. cf. (in this work) p 104
  10. cf. (in this work) II: p 46
  11. “vicissitudes”: ups and downs
  12. cf. (in this work) pp 63-64
  13. cf. (in this work) II: p 48
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