Taft family

Ethnicity Primarily English
Current region New England United States
Place of origin Norwich, Norfolk, England
Members Alphonso Taft, William Howard Taft, Robert Alphonso Taft Sr., Charles Phelps Taft II, Robert Alphonso Taft Jr. Robert Alphonso Taft III
Connected families Taft family, Taft-Lippitt-Chafee family, Rowley
Estate Ohio compound

The Taft family of the United States hails from Cincinnati, Ohio, with historic origins in Massachusetts;[1] its members have served Ohio, Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island, Utah, and the United States in various positions such as Governor of Ohio, Governor of Rhode Island, U.S. Senator (two), U.S. Representative (two), Attorney General, Secretary of War (two), United States Secretary of Agriculture, President of the United States, and Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.


The first known ancestor of the Taft family is Robert Taft Sr. who was born about 1640 in England and died in 1725 in Mendon, Massachusetts. His wife Sarah was born in England, too; they married in 1668 in Braintree, Massachusetts. Robert Taft Sr. began a homestead in what is today Uxbridge and was then Mendon, Massachusetts, circa 1680. His son, Robert Taft Jr., was a member of the founding Board of Selectmen for the new town of Uxbridge in 1727. A branch of the Massachusetts Taft family descended from Daniel Taft Sr., son of Robert Taft Sr., born at Braintree, 1677–1761, died at Mendon. Daniel, a justice of the peace in Mendon, had a son Josiah Taft, later of Uxbridge,[2] who died in 1756. This branch of the Taft family claims America's first woman voter, Lydia Taft, and five generations of Massachusetts legislators and public servants beginning with Lydia's husband, Josiah Taft.[3]

The Tafts were very prominently represented as soldiers in the Revolutionary War, mostly in the New England states. Peter Rawson Taft I was born in Uxbridge in 1785 and moved to Townshend, Vermont circa 1800. He became a Vermont state legislator. He died in Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio. His son, Alphonso Taft, was born in Townshend, Vermont, and attended Yale University, where he founded the Skull and Bones society. He later was Secretary of War and Attorney General of the United States and the father of President William Howard Taft.[1] Elmshade in Massachusetts was the site of Taft family reunions such as in 1874.[4]


The American Taft family began with Robert Taft Sr. who immigrated to Braintree, Massachusetts circa, 1675. There was early settlement at Mendon, Massachusetts circa 1669 and again in 1680 at what was later Uxbridge, after the King Philip's War ended.[2] Robert's homestead was in western Mendon, in what later became Uxbridge, and his son was on the founding board of selectmen. In 1734, Benjamin Taft started an iron forge, in Uxbridge, where some of the earliest beginnings of America's industrial revolution began. Robert Sr.'s son, Daniel, a justice of the peace in Mendon had a son Josiah Taft, later of Uxbridge,[2] who died in 1756. Josiah's widow became "America's first woman voter", Lydia Chapin Taft, when she voted in three Uxbridge town meetings.[3] President George Washington visited Samuel Taft's Tavern in Uxbridge in 1789 on his "inaugural tour" of New England.[5] President William Howard Taft's grandfather, Peter Rawson Taft I, was born in Uxbridge in 1785.[6] The Hon. Bezaleel Taft Sr., Lydia's son, left a legacy of five generations or more of public service, including at least three generations in the state legislature of Tafts in Massachusetts.[7][8][9] [10] Ezra Taft Benson, Sr, a famous Mormon pioneer, lived here between 1817–1835, and married his first wife Pamela, of Northbridge, in 1832.[11] This family eventually became an American political dynasty

The first settler: Robert Taft Sr.

America's first woman voter and her descendants

A Presidential visit

November 8, 1789.
Being informed that you have given my name to one of your sons, and called another after Mrs. Washington's family, and being moreover very much pleased with the modest and innocent looks of your two daughters, Patty and Polly, I do for these reasons send each of these girls a piece of chintz; and to Patty, who bears the name of Mrs.Washington, and who waited more upon us than Polly did, I send five guineas, with which she may buy herself any little ornament she may want, or she may dispose of them in any other manner more agreeable to herself. As I do not give these things with a view to having it talked of, or even to its being known, the less there is said about the matter the better you will please me; but, that I may be sure the chintz and money have got safe to hand, let Patty, who I dare say is equal to it, write me a line informing me thereof, directed to 'The President of the United States at New York.' I wish you and your family well, and am,
etc. Yours,
George Washington
Letter to Mr. Samuel Taft, written from Hartford, Connecticut on November 8, 1789[5]

Mendon-Uxbridge connections to the Ohio Tafts, Presidential ancestors

President William Howard Taft's grandfather, Peter Rawson Taft I, was born in Uxbridge in 1785 and grew up there. His father Aaron moved to Townshend, Vermont, because of the difficult economy, when he was fifteen. The story is told that Peter Rawson walked a cow all the way from Uxbridge to Townshend, a distance of well over 100 miles. The "Aaron Taft house" is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Peter Rawson Taft I became a Vermont legislator and eventually died in Hamilton County, Cincinnati, Ohio.[9][13] Peter Rawson Taft's son, Alphonso Taft, founded Skull and Bones at Yale, served as U.S. Secretary of War, and his son William Howard became the U.S. President. The ancestry of U.S. presidents traces to Uxbridge and Mendon more than once, including both presidents bearing the last name Bush.[14] President Taft, a champion for world peace and the only president to also serve as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court returned to Uxbridge for family reunions.[1][7][15] He remarked as he stepped off the train there on April 3, 1905, "Uxbridge,... I think I have more relatives here than in any town in America."[7] Young William Howard Taft had made other trips to Uxbridge, and Bezaleel Taft, Jr's home, "Elmshade", in his earlier years. It was at "Elmshade" that young William Howard Taft likely heard his father, Alphonso Taft, proudly deliver an oratory on the Taft family history and the family's roots in Uxbridge, and Mendon, circa 1874.[1][7] President Taft stayed at the Samuel Taft tavern when he visited Uxbridge, as did George Washington 120 years earlier.[7][15] The New York Times recorded President Taft's visits to his ancestral homes in Mendon and Uxbridge during his Presidency.[15] William Howard Taft, as a young boy, spent a number of summers in the Blackstone Valley in Millbury, Massachusetts, and even attended schools for at least a term in that nearby town.

A Mormon apostle

Ezra T. Benson (to distinguish him from his famous great-grandson, Ezra Taft Benson), a Mendon and Uxbridge native, is famous as a key early apostle of the LDS Church, the Mormons. His own autobiography states that he lived in Uxbridge between 1817–1835, or about 17 years, after his mother, Chloe Taft and father, John Benson, moved to a farm there.[16] Young Ezra married Pamela Andrus, of Northbridge, on January 1, 1832, at Uxbridge. He had moved in with his family in an Uxbridge center Hotel in 1827. He and Pamela lived here in the 1830s, had children, and had a child who died, which is recorded in the Uxbridge Vital Records.[17] He later managed and owned the hotel in Uxbridge Center before investing in a cotton mill at Holland, Massachusetts. He moved to Holland Mass in 1835.[16] He later moved to Illinois, and became a Mormon apostle. Ezra joined the LDS Church at Quincy, Illinois in 1840, entered plural marriages, marrying seven more wives after Pamela. He was called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles by Brigham Young in 1846, a high post within the LDS Church. He had eight wives and 32 children.[11] He was a Missionary to the Sandwich Islands, also known as Hawaii. He served as a Representative to the Utah Territorial Assembly. He died in Ogden, Utah, in 1869.

Tafts in the Blackstone Valley's industrialization

Benjamin Taft started the first iron forge in the Ironstone section of Uxbridge in 1734[7] There was good quality "bog iron ore" here. Caleb Handy added a triphammer, and scythes and guns were manufactured here before 1800. The Taft family continued to be instrumental in the early industrialization of the Blackstone Valley including mills built by a 4th generation descendent of Robert Taft I, the son of Deborah Taft, Daniel Day in 1810, and his son in law, Luke Taft (1825) and Luke's son, Moses Taft in (1852).[7] These woolen mills, some of the first to use power looms, and satinets, ran 24/7 during the Civil War producing cloth for U.S. military uniforms.[7] The 1814 Rivulet Mill Complex was established at North Uxbridge by Chandler Taft. In 1855, 2.5 Million yards of cloth was produced in the mills of Uxbridge.[18] Uxbridge is the center of the Blackstone Valley, the earliest industrialized region in the United States. It is part of the John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor. Samuel Slater, who built his mill in (1790), at Pawtucket, Rhode Island, on the Blackstone River, was credited by President Andrew Jackson as the father of America's industrial revolution.

Mayor Henry Chapin: an Uxbridge "Taft" story

In 1864, Judge Henry Chapin, a three-term Worcester Mayor, and Chief Judge, quoted a well known Uxbridge story as follows: A stranger came to town, met a new person and said, "Hello Mr. Taft". Mr. Taft said, "How did you know my name?" The stranger replied, "I presumed that you were a Taft, just like the other 12 Tafts I have just met!".[19] This story was repeated in a poem form by Mayor Chapin, at a famous Taft family reunion here, recorded in the Life of Alphonso Taft.[1]

Family tree

Prominent members of the Taft family include:

Robert Taft Sr.
Joseph Taft
Robert Taft Jr.
Daniel Taft Sr., Esq.

Descendants of Joseph Taft

  • Joseph Taft (1680–1747), son of Robert Taft Sr.
    • Peter Taft (1715–1783)
      • Aaron Taft (1743–1808)
        • Peter Rawson Taft I (1785–1867), member of the Vermont legislature
          • Alphonso Taft (1810–1891), U.S. secretary of war (1876), U.S. attorney general (1876–1877); married first to Fanny Phelps, and second to his cousin Louisa Maria Torrey (see below)
            • Charles Phelps Taft I (1843–1929), U.S. representative (1895–1897), publisher (The Cincinnati Times-Star), U.S. representative, owner of the Philadelphia Athletics from 1905 to 1913 and Chicago Cubs from 1914 to 1916
            • Peter Rawson Taft II (1846–1889), m. Annie Matilda Hulbert.
              • Hulbert Taft Sr.: (1878–1959), Publisher, associate editor, and reporter for the Cincinnati Times Star.
                • David Gibson Taft (1916–1962), Businessman, Vice-Chairman of the board of Taft Broadcasting Company. Served as Executive Vice President of Radio Cincinnati, Taft Broadcasting's predecessor. In 1955 he was made manager of WKRC-TV. WWII served as captain in the US Army and liaison officer for General Joe Stillwell.
                • Hulbert Taft Jr. (1907–1967), Broadcaster (Taft Broadcasting)
                  • Dudley S. Taft Sr. (born 1940): businessman, President and Board Chairman of Taft Broadcasting, Cinergy, Tribune Co.
                    • Dudley S. Taft Jr. (born 1966): Blues musician, Sweetwater guitarist, Second Coming guitarist, Dudley Taft Band, Co-wrote "Unknown Rider" for 1999 film The Sixth Sense
                    • Thomas Woodall Taft (born 1969): actor, writer, businessman, founder of Southern Star Interactive.
            • William Howard Taft I (1857–1930), U.S. president (1909–1913), U.S. chief justice (1921–1930), U.S. secretary of war (1904–1908)
              • Robert Alphonso Taft Sr. (1889–1953), U.S. senator from Ohio (1939–1953), three-time unsuccessful Presidential candidate (1940, 1948, 1952)
              • Charles Phelps Taft II (1897–1983), Charterite Cincinnati mayor (1955–1957), Cincinnati city council member (1938–1942), Hamilton County, Ohio, prosecutor (1927–1928), candidate for governor of Ohio (1952), candidate for Republican nomination for Ohio governor (1958)
                • Seth Chase Taft (1922–2013), candidate for Ohio Senate (1962); candidate for mayor of Cleveland, Ohio (1967); candidate for Republican nomination for governor of Ohio (1982)
                • Peter Rawson Taft III, United States Assistant Attorney General Department of Justice; married to Diana Todd
            • Henry Waters Taft (1859–1945), candidate for justice of New York Court of Appeals (1898); New York delegate to Republican National Convention (1920, 1924); named partner at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft (from 1919)
              • Walbridge Smith Taft (1885–1951), candidate for U.S. representative from New York
              • William Howard Taft II (1887–1952)
            • Horace Dutton Taft (1861–1943), author, founder of The Taft School in Watertown, Connecticut

Descendants of Robert Taft Jr.

Descendants of Daniel Taft Sr.

Collins family

The related Collins family tree:

Lippitt family

The related Lippitt family tree:

Chafee family



  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Leonard, Lewis Alexander. "The Life of Alphonso Taft" by Google Books.Life of Alphonso Taft. Google Books. 1920. Retrieved 2007-11-25.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Crane, Ellery Bicknell (1907). Historic Homes and Institutions and Genealogical and Personal Memories of Worcester County, MA with a history of Worcester Society of Antiquity;. Chicago and New York: Lewis. p. 223.
  3. 1 2 3 4 "Uxbridge Breaks Tradition and Makes History: Lydia Chapin Taft, by Carol Masiello". Blackstone Daily. Retrieved 2007-09-23.
  4. "Walking Tour". Blackstone Daily. Retrieved 2007-10-23.
  5. 1 2 3 Chapin, Judge Henry (1881). Address Delivered at the Unitarian Church in Uxbridge, 1864. Worcester, MA: Charles Hamilton Press (Harvard Library; from Google Books). p. 172.
  6. "Descendants of Robert and Sarah Taft". rootsweb.com. Retrieved 2007-11-16.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 "Uxbridge Walking Tour". Blackstone Daily. Retrieved 2007-10-23.
  8. "Taft descendants". rootsweb. Retrieved 2007-10-10.
  9. 1 2 3 "Tafts Massachusetts Revolutionary War". rootsweb. Retrieved 2007-10-23.
  10. "Tafts Descendants 5". freepages. Retrieved 2007-10-23.
  11. 1 2 "Ezra T. Benson". gapages.com. Retrieved 2007-11-16.
  12. Marvin, Rev. Abijah Perkins (1879). History of Worcester County, Massachusetts, Embracing a Comprehensive History of the County from its earliest beginnings to the present time; Vol. lI. Boston, MA: CF Jewitt and Company. pp. 421–436.
  13. "History of Hamilton County". heritage pursuit. Retrieved 2007-10-15.
  14. "Ancestry of George W. Bush". William Addams Reitwiesner. Retrieved 2007-09-28.
  15. 1 2 3 "Taft visits Home of His Ancestors" (PDF). New York Times. 1910-08-20. Retrieved 2007-11-27.
  16. 1 2 "Early Saints". boap.org. Retrieved 2007-11-25.
  17. Mass., Uxbridge (1851). Vital Records of Uxbridge, Massachusetts to the Year 1850. Thomas Williams Baldwin. pp. 409,. Retrieved 2007-10-27.
  18. "MHC Reconnaissance Survey Town Report: Uxbridge; Report Date: 1984 Associated Regional Report: Central Massachusetts;" (PDF). Massachusetts Historical Commission;. 1984. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-12-02. Retrieved 2007-11-20.
  19. Chapin, Judge Henry (1881). Address Delivered at the Unitarian Church in Uxbridge; 1864. Worcester, Mass.: Charles Hamilton Press (Harvard Library; from Google Books).
  20. COLLINS, Ela - Biographical Information
  21. The Political Graveyard: Index to Politicians: Collins, U to Z
  22. The Political Graveyard: Index to Politicians: Linna to Littinsky
  23. http://www.nga.org/portal/site/nga/menuitem.29fab9fb4add37305ddcbeeb501010a0/?vgnextoid=e4fec2da2484b010VgnVCM1000001a01010aRCRD
  24. http://politicalgraveyard.com/families/1334.html
  25. "John Chafee (R) Senate - Rhode Island". The Washington Post.
  26. Our Campaigns - Candidate - Lincoln Chafee
  27. The Political Graveyard: Index to Politicians: Wilson, S to T
  28. The Political Graveyard: Index to Politicians: Herridge to Hespel
  29. Paul H. Douglas
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