Eleazer Johnson Bispham, 1804-1892

No. 15060 Eleazer Johnson Bispham

From American Series of Popular Biographies. Massachusetts Edition.  This Volume Contains Biographical Sketches of Representative Citizens of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  (Boston: Graves & Steinbarger, 1891)

ELEAZER JOHNSON BISPHAM, for many years a well-known and highly respected citizen of Milton Lower Mills, Dorchester, was born in Dorchester, September 17, 1804, son of Eleazer and Jerusha (Leeds) Bispham.  The family is of English origin.  “The majority of the Bisphams in the United States,” it is said in a book relating to the history of the family, “are descended from two brothers, Benjamin and Joshua,” who settled in New Jersey before the middle of the eighteenth century.  Of his own branch, the subject of this sketch stated in a letter, dated September 1, 1871, that he had no information going further back than his grandfather, Thomas Bispham, of Charlestown, Mass., who was born in 1723, and died in Charlestown in 1771.  He was a ship-master sailing from Boston in the employ of Eleazer Johnson, a merchant of Boston, or possibly Newburyport, whose daughter Elizabeth he married.  Thomas Bispham had three sons–Thomas, Jr., who died unmarried; William, who settled in Charlestown; Eleazer, the father above-named, who settled in Dorchester–and a daughter Catherine.  Thomas, third, son of William, settled at Natick.

Eleazer Johnson Bispham was educated in the public schools of Dorchester and Milton, his teacher at one time being Jesse Pierce, father of Henry L. Pierce and of Edward L. Pierce, the author of the Life of Charles Sumner.  At about the age of seventeen he began to be self-supporting, working in different stores and for some time as clerk for a Mr. Leeds, of Boston.  Then coming to Milton Lower Mills, he established a dry-goods store about 1822 or 1823, which he carried on successfully until about 1852.  In 1848 he was appointed cashier of the old Dorchester and Milton Bank, subsequently known as the Blue Hill Bank, and still later as the Blue Hill National Bank, and held that position until March 1, 1876.  In the year last named he became president of the bank, and so remained till his death, which occurred November 10, 1892.  Prominent in local politics, he served nearly ten years as Selectman, was a member of the Dorchester School Committee, and was twice elected to the Legislature, besides being otherwise active in town affairs.  He took a prominent part in the celebration of the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the settlement of Dorchester, held in 1855.  His success in life he owed mainly to his own foresight, enterprise, and habits of industry, and he might not only be appropriately called a “self-made man,” but also one of sterling worth.

He was married on May 25, 1833, to Miss Mary Elizabeth Tolman, daughter of Robert Pierce and Mary (Walker) Tolman, of Dorchester.  Mr. Bispham and his wife were the parents of seven children.  Of these two died in infancy; Mary Walker, born July 14, 1835, is the wife of Sarell J. Willis, cashier of the Blue Hill National Bank of Dorchester (see preceding sketch); Eleazer W. died March 19, 1899, at the age of sixty-one, having been twice married; Elizabeth Tolman is the wife of Dr. J.M. Daly, of Dorchester; John F. Died in 1886; and Henry C. is a druggist in South Boston


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July 4, 2022

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