WILLIAM C[AUDWELL]. PLUNKETT 1799-1884
From Proceedings, Page 1884-114:
"The death of R.W. Wm. C. Plunkett removes from this Commonwealth, and from the Fraternity, one so largely connected with all the interests of both, that we feel fully justified in presenting a more complete and full tribute than is usually paid to our dead. At the time of his decease he was in his. eighty-fifth year. He long stood as a representative man, a type of the successful man, the high-minded, courteous gentleman, the Christian, — one of the few left, here or elsewhere, to keep in mind that peculiar, and peculiarly dignified, manhood which New England is proud to have produced in the last years of the previous century and the first years of the present. Of such a life it is fitting that we should take some special notice. R.W. Wm. C. Plunkett was the first-born of a family of four brothers and three sisters, all of whom have passed away, except one sister now living in Adams. Taken as the record of a single family of brothers, that which three of them have left is unusual even among; our best New England families. They were ail men of remarkable business capacity, of great forethought, and possessed of far-reaching minds. They were all successful accumulators of wealth, and firm supporters of moral and religious interests. They were men who gained the confidence of the communities in which they lived; public men, honored with public trusts. The subject of this memoir, besides very many minor tokens of confidence bestowed in his own town, was called upon repeatedly to represent the people in the lower House of the Legislature, and once in the State Senate ; the latter in the year 1840. He was elected Lieutenant-Governor in 1854, with Emory Washburn as Governor. He served his State in the Executive Council and in the Constitutional Convention of 1853. By his high moral qualifications he reached a social position to which but few men ever attain. The ancestral sources and early influences which have moulded such lives never lose their interest to those who understand the importance of right beginnings. R.W. Wm. C. Plunkett was born in very humble circumstances. His father, Patrick Plunkett, came to this country from Wicklow County, Ireland, in 1795, and soon after settled in the town of Lenox, Berkshire County, where a small farm of twenty acres was purchased, the dwelling-house thereon being a log-cabin. In this General Plunkett was born; but the thrift of the parents enabled them afterwards to build a more commodious dwelling, which now stands on the original homestead.
The family's record in Berkshire County makes it unnecessary to trace the lineage back to its reputed connection, by no very distant remove, with the line of Plunketts which, in the old home, was represented from 1764 to 1854 by William Conyngham Plunkett, Lord Chancellor of Ireland. The years of General Plunkett's minority were largely spent in labors upon the home farm, and all his earnings during this time went into the family fund. At the age of twenty years he commenced the journey of life for himself, which, at first, was rough and rugged; but, with a man of his will-power and indomitable courage, no obstacle was too great for him to overcome, and so, step by step, his progress was onward and upward. The greater achievements of manhood are born out of childhood and youth. These achievements in the case of General Plunkett are before the public. From a small beginning, by an industry indefatigable, by an honesty unswerving, by a pertinacity almost proverbial, by a courtesy quite remarkable, a breadth of mind entirely exceptional, he, as a business man, went from strength to strength, enlarging judiciously, yet boldly, his operations as a manufacturer and capitalist, until. for many years he stood in this regard among the foremost men of Western Massachusetts. His progress was scarcely interrupted by a reverse; he never failed, and never compromised, but was active and successful in business even to the last. No adequate picture can be given here of the social relations of General Plunkett. They were varied and extended, in his more active, years, to a degree which caused him to be recognized as a central figure in Berkshire County. His. position as a manufacturer; his intimate relation to all town enterprises; his deep interest in the material, moral and religious welfare of those around him; his wide-spread political activity, — brought him into contact with all classes of people, the high and low, rich and poor, the ignorant and the learned, the worldly and the religious. He acquired a thorough knowledge of men. He judged them with discrimination. He was a leader among them. He was courteous and refined in his bearing, — a true gentleman; kindly, entertaining, benevolent. In his relations to the public he was openhanded and open-hearted; a supporter, by word and deed and material wealth, of all good enterprises, public works, morals and religion. On moral questions he was always on the side of purity and right. He was strictly temperate. His liberality will not soon be forgotten. To his church he was the pillar of wisdom and strength to the end.
The Masonic history of General Plunkett is so far obscured, by reason of the loss of the records of the Lodge in which he was made a Mason, that after diligent inquiries, and every possible effort which the committee could make to gather important facts relating to it, we are obliged to submit this report with a very brief sketch of it. We are informed that he was made a Mason in Mystic Lodge, in the town of Lanesboro, Mass. It appears that the hall in which they held their meetings was burned, and in this fire their records were lost.. After this disaster the Lodge was removed to Pittsfield.
After General Plunkett removed to Adams we find, by the records of Lafayette Lodge, of North Adams, that he was a Charter Member of it, and often acted as W. M. He was elected Senior Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge of Mass. in the year 1854. He occasionally visited Berkshire Lodge, of Adams, and was always interested in its progress and welfare. In frequent conversations with one of your committee he manifested a deep interest in 'the progress of the Institution, not only in this Commonwealth, but elsewhere. At the time of his decease he was a member of Lafayette Lodge, though not an active one. He made frequent inquiries about his old associates in the Grand Lodge, and was always pleased to hear from them.
The subject of this memoir was born in Lenox, Mass., Oct. 23, 1799, and died in Adams, Jan. 19, 1884, aged 84 years, 2 months, 27 days.
ROBERT N. RICHMOND,