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, 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.
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. Elmshade in Massachusetts was the site of Taft family reunions such as in 1874.
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. 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, who died in 1756. Josiah's widow became "America's first woman voter", Lydia Chapin Taft, when she voted in three Uxbridge town meetings. President George Washington visited Samuel Taft's Tavern in Uxbridge in 1789 on his "inaugural tour" of New England. President William Howard Taft's grandfather, Peter Rawson Taft I, was born in Uxbridge in 1785. 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.  Ezra Taft Benson, Sr, a famous Mormon pioneer, lived here between 1817–1835, and married his first wife Pamela, of Northbridge, in 1832. This family eventually became an American political dynasty
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. 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. President Taft, a champion for world peace and the only president to also serve as Chief Justice of the United States returned to Uxbridge for family reunions. 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." 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. President Taft stayed at the Samuel Taft tavern when he visited Uxbridge, as did George Washington 120 years earlier. The New York Times recorded President Taft's visits to his ancestral homes in Mendon and Uxbridge during his Presidency. 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.
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 Mormons religion. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
Benjamin Taft started the first iron forge in the Ironstone section of Uxbridge in 1734 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). 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. 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. 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.
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!". This story was repeated in a poem form by Mayor Chapin, at a famous Taft family reunion here,[where?] recorded in the Life of Alphonso Taft.