An important theologian and President of Bowdoin College, Rev. Jesse Appleton often came into close contact with the nation's educational, financial, and political elites. The most remarkable feature of his life, however, may have been the knack that his family displayed for marrying well. His eldest daughter, Jane, became the wife of Franklin Pierce, and another daughter, Frances, married the theologian and Bowdoin professor, Alpheus Spring Packard. Three of Appleton's sisters-in-law were similarly well connected: Ellis Means married an important minister, Rev. Teppan; Mary Means became the wife of Senator Jeremiah Mason, a supporter of Daniel Webster; and Nancy Means married the exceedingly wealthy merchant and philanthropist, Amos Lawrence.
In 1832, Rev. Appleton's youngest daugher, Mary (d. 1883), followed in the family tradition by marrying John Aiken, an attorney from Lowell, Mass., an agent for the Tremont Mills, and a significant figure in the textile industry. The couple had five children -- Jane, John F., Sarah, Alfred, and Mary -- adding to the two children, William and Charles Augustus, that John had through a previous marriage to Harriet Adams. This marriage brought about the merger of two of the most powerful families in the region, further extending an already far flung network of family, educational, and political relationships. The family worked through this kinship network to further their interests. All of the Aiken children received good educations, with Charles and William attending Dartmouth, rather than Bowdoin.
Following the death of John Aiken, Mary moved from Lowell to live with her daughter Jennie, who had married Professor Francis H. Snow of the University of Kansas.