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(Note – This story was originally published in a History of Lowell, Massachusetts and has been edited for length and clarity.  Abram French is my 3rd G-Grandfather on my father’s side, he also has the distinction of having been a member of the Locofoco political party (fodder for a future story!)

Among the men who were prominently identified with the early history of Lowell, few are more entitled to be held in respectful remembrance than Mr. Abram French. Mr. French was the fifth in a family of eleven children. He was born in Billerica, Mass., Dec. 13, 1803, and died at Lowell, April 11, 1879. He was descended from Lieut. William French, who was born in England in 1604. He married in England, came to this country in the “Defense” in 1635, and died Nov. 20, 1681.  Read on to learn more about Abram!

From this ancestor the line of descent runs as follows:

• Jacob French was born Jan. 16, 1639-40, married Mary Champney, Sept. 20, 1665, and died May 20, 1713.
• William French was born July, 1668, married Sarah Danforth, May 22, 1695, and died Sept. 30, 1723.
• Ebenezer French was born Aug. 5, 1707, married Elizabeth Hill, Aug. 27, 1729, and died Dec. 31, 1791.
• Jesse French was born April 6, 1739, and married Abigail Jaquith, April 14, 1761.
• Luther French was born in Fitchburg, Sept. 25, 1767, married in Billerica Sarah Bowers, Aug. 28, 1796, and died in Lowell, March 15, 1846.

Mr. (Abram) French received his education in the public schools of his native town, and went out of school assisted his father in the work of the farm. At the age of 17, he went to Lexington, Mass., where he was employed in a general country store for a few years, after which he went into the dry goods business in East Lexington for himself. In 1835, he came to Lowell and was identified with business interests here for the greater part of his life.  Mr. French, in early manhood was a stanch Democrat, became a member of the Free Soil Party during the struggle between the north and south, and attended the Free Soil Convention at Buffalo in 1848. On the formation of the Republican Party he joined that party and remained a Republican till his death.  During the anti-slavery agitation he was active in the movement in Lowell, and was strongly in favor of abolition, and so deep was the impression of those trying times that his sympathy for the colored race remained always true and steadfast.  Though taking an active interest in public affairs, he never sought office. He was a member of the Common Council in 1852 and 1853, and afterward of the School Board for a number of years. He early joined the Free Masons, and was a member of Pilgrim Commandery of Knights Templar. He filled various positions of trust and was a Trustee of the City Institution for Savings, and a Director of the Lowell Mutual Fire Insurance Company for many years.

In religious belief he was a Unitarian from boyhood, and was a constant attendant at the Church of the First Unitarian Society of Lowell. Mr. French was twice married; first, on July 21, 1831, to Elizabeth Simonds, of Lexington, Mass., and second, on Nov. 20, 1855, to Alice Dean of Providence, R.I.  By his first wife he had: Charles A., born April 18, 1832; who married Elizabeth M. Holbrook, of Boston; Elizabeth, born July 7, 1834, who married Charles Darrow, of Boston; James O., born Jan. 5, 1838, who died in childhood; George W., born March 8, 1840, who married Jennie S. Hall, of Boston; and Horace E., born Feb. 24, 1843, who married Laura M. Foster, of Medford. By his second wife he had: Alice, born Sept. 3, 1856, who married Frederic P. Spalding, of Lowell; Gertrude, born Nov. 29, 1857; and Anna, born Sept. 20, 1859, both of whom died in childhood.

For many years he was a merchant tailor, occupying a building on Central Street, which he purchased from the Middlesex Mills Company in 1841. During his ownership the Appleton Bank was one of his tenants, several prominent professional men occupied offices in the building, and Mr. French’s store was a rendezvous for many men who afterwards rose to distinction in the Democratic Party. In 1849, he sold the building to the Appleton Bank, intending to remain as a tenant, but a long delay in rebuilding caused him to change his plans, and later he went into the retail clothing business, under the American House Hotel, from which he retired in 1868.

© David R. French and French in Name Only, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David French and French in Name Only with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.