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The Bay State Monthly – Volume 2, No. 3, December, 1884



The fame, character and prosperity of a city have often depended upon its merchants,—burghers they were once called to distinguish them from haughty princes and nobles. Through the enterprise of the common citizens, Venice, Genoa, Antwerp, and London have become famous, and have controlled the destinies of nations. New England, originally settled by sturdy and liberty-loving yeomen and free citizens of free English cities, was never a congenial home for the patrician, with inherited feudal privileges, but has welcomed the thrifty Pilgrim, the Puritan, the Scotch Covenanter, the French Huguenot, the Ironsides soldiers of the great Cromwell. The men and women of this fusion have shaped our civilization. New England gave its distinctive character to the American colonies, and finally to the nation. New England influences still breathe from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from the great lakes to Mexico; and Boston, still the focus of the New England idea, leads national movement and progress.

Perhaps one of the broadest of these influences—broadest inasmuch as it interpenetrates the life of our whole people—proceeds from the lifework of one of the merchants of Boston, known by his name and his work to the entire English speaking world: Daniel Lothrop, of the famous firm of D. Lothrop & Co., publishers—the people's publishing house. Mr. Lothrop is a good representative of this early New England fusion of race, temperament, fibre, conscience and brain. He is a direct descendant of John Lowthroppe, who, in the thirty-seventh year of Henry VIII. (1545), was a gentleman of quite extensive landed estates, both in Cherry Burton (four miles removed from Lowthorpe), and in various other parts of the country.

Lowthorpe is a small parish in the Wapentake of Dickering, in the East Riding of York, four and a half miles northeast from Great Driffield. It is a perpetual curacy in the archdeaconry of York. This parish gave name to the family of Lowthrop, Lothrop, or Lathrop. The Church, which was dedicated to St. Martin, and had for one of its chaplains, in the reign of Richard II., Robert de Louthorp, is now partly ruinated, the tower and chancel being almost entirely overgrown with ivy. It was a collegiate Church from 1333, and from the style of its architecture must have been built about the time of Edward III.

From this English John Lowthroppe the New England Lothrops have their origin:—

"It is one of the most ancient of all the famous New England families, whose blood in so many cases is better and purer than that of the so-called noble families in England. The family roll certainly shows a great deal of talent, and includes men who have proved widely influential and useful, both in the early and later periods. The pulpit has a strong representation. Educators are prominent. Soldiers prove that the family has never been wanting in courage. Lothrop missionaries have gone forth into foreign lands. The bankers are in the forefront. The publishers are represented. Art engraving has its exponent, and history has found at least one eminent student, while law and medicine are likewise indebted to this family, whose talent has been applied in every department of useful industry."1


I. Mark Lothrop, the pioneer, the grandson of John Lowthroppe and a relative of Rev. John Lothrop, settled in Salem, Mass., where he was received as an inhabitant January 11, 1643-4. He was living there in 1652. In 1656 he was living in Bridgewater, Mass., of which town he was one of the proprietors, and in which he was prominent for about twenty-five years. He died October 25, 1685.

II. Samuel Lothrop, born before 1660, married Sarah Downer, and lived in Bridgewater. His will was dated April 11, 1724.

III. Mark Lothrop, born in Bridgewater September 9, 1689; married March 29, 1722, Hannah Alden [Born February 1, 1696; died 1777]. She was the daughter of Deacon Joseph Alden of Bridgewater, and great grand-daughter of Honorable John and Priscilla (Mullins) Alden of Duxbury, of Mayflower fame. He settled in Easton, of which town he was one of the original proprietors. He was prominent in Church and town affairs.

IV. Jonathan Lothrop, born March 11, 1722-3; married April 13, 1746, Susannah, daughter of Solomon and Susannah (Edson) Johnson of Bridgewater. She was born in 1723. He was a Deacon of the Church, and a prominent man in the town. He died in 1771.

V. Solomon Lothrop, born February 9, 1761; married Mehitable, daughter of Cornelius White of Taunlon; settled in Easton, and later in Norton, where he died October 19, 1843. She died September 14, 1832, aged 73.

VI. Daniel Lothrop, born in Easton, January 9, 1801; married October 16, 1825, Sophia, daughter of Deacon Jeremiah Horne of Rochester, N.H. She died September 23, 1848, and he married (2) Mary E. Chamberlain. He settled in Rochester, N.H., and was one of the public men of the town. Of the strictest integrity, and possessing sterling qualities of mind and heart Mr. Lothrop was chosen to fill important offices of public trust in his town and state. He repeatedly represented his town in the Legislature, where his sound practical sense and clear wisdom were of much service, particularly in the formation of the Free Soil party, in which he was a bold defender of the rights of liberty to all men. He died May 31, 1870.

VII. Daniel Lothrop, son of Daniel and Sophia (Horne) Lothrop, was born in Rochester, N.H., August 11, 1831.

"On the maternal side Mr. Lothrop is descended from William Horne, of Horne's Hill, in Dover, who held his exposed position in the Indian wars, and whose estate has been in the family name from 1662 until the present generation; but he was killed in the massacre of June 28, 1689. Through the Horne line, also, came descent from Rev. Joseph Hull, minister at Durham in 1662, a graduate at the University at Cambridge, England; from John Ham, of Dover; from the emigrant John Heard, and others of like vigorous stock. It was his ancestress, Elizabeth (Hull) Heard, whom the old historians call a "brave gentlewoman," who held her garrison house, the frontier fort in Dover in the Indian wars, and successfully defended it in the massacre of 1689. The father of the subject of this sketch was a man of sterling qualities, strong in mind and will, but commanding love as well as respect. The mother was a woman of outward beauty and beauty of soul alike; with high ideals and reverent conscientiousness. Her influence over her boys was life-long. The home was a centre of intelligent intercourse, a sample of the simplicity but earnestness of many of the best New Hampshire homesteads."3

Descended, as is here evident, from men and women accustomed to govern, legislate, protect, guide and represent the people, it is not surprising to find the Lothrops of the present day of this branch standing in high places, shaping affairs, and devising fresh and far-reaching measures for the general good.

Daniel Lothrop was the youngest of the three sons of Daniel and Sophia Home Lothrop. The family residence was on Haven's Hill, in Rochester, and it was an ideal home in its laws, influences and pleasures. Under the guidance of the wise and gentle mother young Daniel developed in a sound body a mind intent on lofty aims, even in childhood, and a character early distinguished for sturdy uprightness. Here, too, on the farm was instilled into him the faith of his fathers, brought through many generations, and he openly acknowledged his allegiance to an Evangelical Church at the age of eleven.

As a boy Daniel is remembered as possessing a retentive and singularly accurate memory; as very studious, seeking eagerly for knowledge, and rapidly absorbing it. His intuitive mastery of the relations of numbers, his grasp of the values and mysteries of the higher mathematics, was early remarkable. It might be reasonably expected of the child of seven who was brought down from the primary benches and lifted up to the blackboard to demonstrate a difficult problem in cube root to the big boys and girls of the upper class that he should make rapid and masterful business combinations in later life.

At the age of fourteen he was sufficiently advanced in his studies to enter college, but judicious friends restrained him in order that his physique might be brought up to his intellectual growth, and presently circumstances diverted the boy from his immediate educational aspirations and thrust him into the arena of business:—the world may have lost a lawyer, a clergyman, a physician, or an engineer, but by this change in his youthful plans it certainly has gained a great publisher—a man whose influence in literature is extended, and who, by his powerful individuality, his executive force, and his originating brain has accomplished a literary revolution.

To understand the business career of Daniel Lothrop it will be necessary to trace the origin and progress of the firm of D. Lothrop and Company. On reaching his decision to remain out of college for a year he assumed charge of the drug store, then recently opened by his eldest brother, James E. Lothrop, who, desiring to attend medical lectures in Philadelphia, confidently invited his brother Daniel to carry on the business during his absence.

"He urged the young boy to take charge of the store, promising as an extra inducement an equal division as to profits, and that the firm should read 'D. Lothrop & Co.' This last was too much for our ambitious lad. When five years of age he had scratched on a piece of tin these magic words, opening to fame and honor, 'D. Lothrop & Co.,' nailing the embryo sign against the door of his play house. How then could he resist, now, at fourteen? And why not spend the vacation in this manner? And so the sign was made and put up, and thus began the house of 'D. Lothrop & Co.,' the name of which is spoken as a household word wherever the English language is used, and whose publications are loved in more than one of the royal families of Europe."4

The drug store became very lucrative. The classical drill which had been received by the young druggist was of great advantage to him, his thorough knowledge of Latin was of immediate service, and his skill and care and knowledge was widely recognized and respected. The store became his college, where his affection for books soon led him to introduce them as an adjunct to his business.

Thus was he when a mere boy launched on a successful business career. His energy, since proved inexhaustible, soon began to open outward. When about seventeen his attention was attracted to the village of Newmarket as a desirable location for a drug store, and he seized an opportunity to hire a store and stock it. His executive and financial ability were strikingly honored in this venture. Having it in successful operation, he called the second brother, John C. Lothrop, who about this time was admitted to the firm, and left him in charge of the new establishment, while he started a similar store at Meredith Bridge, now called Laconia. The firm now consisted of the three brothers.

"These three brothers have presented a most remarkable spirit of family union. Remarkable in that there was none of the drifting away from each other into perilous friendships and moneyed ventures. They held firmly to each other with a trust beyond words. The simple word of each was as good as a bond. And as early as possible they entered into an agreement that all three should combine fortunes, and, though keeping distinct kinds of business, should share equal profits under the firm name of 'D. Lothrop & Co.' For thirty-six years, through all the stress and strain of business life in this rushing age, their loyalty has been preserved strong and pure. Without a question or a doubt, there has been an absolute unity of interests, although James E., President of the Cocheco Bank, and Mayor of the city of Dover, is in one city, John C. in another, and Daniel in still another, and each having the particular direction of the business which his enterprise and sagacity has made extensive and profitable."5

In 1850 occurred a point of fresh and important departure. The stock of books held by Elijah Wadleigh, who had conducted a large and flourishing book store in Dover, N.H., was purchased. Mr. Lothrop enlarged the business, built up a good jobbing trade, and also quietly experimented in publishing. The bookstore under his management also became something more than a commercial success: it grew to be the centre for the bright and educated people of the town, a favorite meeting place of men and women alive to the questions of the day.

Now, arrived at the vigor of young manhood, Mr. Lothrop's aims and high reaches began their more open unfoldment. He rapidly extended the business into new and wide fields. He established branch stores at Berwick, Portsmouth, Amesbury, and other places. In each of these establishments books were prominently handled. While thus immediately busy, Mr. Lothrop began his "studies" for his ultimate work. He did not enter the publishing field without long surveys of investigation, comparison and reflection. In need of that kind of vacation we call "change of work and scene," Mr. Lothrop planned a western trip. The bookstores in the various large cities on the route were sedulously visited, and the tastes and the demands of the book trade were carefully studied from many standpoints.

The vast possibilities of the Great West caught his attention and he hastened to grasp his opportunities. At St. Peter, in Minnesota, he was welcomed and resolved to locate. They needed such men as Mr. Lothrop to help build the new town into a city. The opening of the St. Peter store was characteristic of its young proprietor.

The extreme cold of October and November, 1856, prevented, by the early freezing of the Upper Mississippi, the arrival of his goods. Having contracted with the St. Peter company to erect a building, and open his store on the first day of December, Mr. Lothrop, thinking that the goods might have come as far as some landing place below St. Paul, went down several hundred miles along the shore visiting the different landing places. Failing to find them he bought the entire closing-out stock of a drug store at St. Paul, and other goods necessary to a complete fitting of his store, had them loaded, and with several large teams started for St. Peter. The same day a blinding snow storm set in, making it extremely difficult to find the right road, or indeed any road at all, so that five days were spent in making a journey that in good weather could have been accomplished in two. When within a mile of St. Peter the Minnesota river was to be crossed, and it was feared the ice would not bear the heavy teams; all was unloaded and moved on small sledges across the river, and the drug store was opened on the day agreed upon. The papers of that section made special mention of this achievement, saying that it deserved honorable record, and that with such business enterprise the prosperity of Minnesota Valley was assured.

He afterwards opened a banking house in St. Peter, of which his uncle, Dr. Jeremiah Horne, was cashier; and in the book and drug store he placed one of his clerks from the East, Mr. B.F. Paul, who is now one of the wealthiest men of the Minnesota Valley. He also established two other stores in the same section of country.

Various elements of good generalship came into play during Mr. Lothrop's occupancy of this new field, not only in directing his extensive business combinations in prosperous times, but in guiding all his interests through the financial panic of 1857 and 1858. By the failure of other houses and the change of capital from St. Peter to St. Paul, Mr. Lothrop was a heavy loser, but by incessant labor and foresight he squarely met each complication, promptly paid each liability in full. But now he broke in health. The strain upon him had been intense, and when all was well the tension relaxed, and making his accustomed visit East to attend to his business interests in New


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The Bay State Monthly. Volume 2, No. 3, December, 1884

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