BROOKLINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY
ANNUAL MEETING, JANUARY 27, 1904
PUBLISHED BY THE SOCIETY
- President's Address
- Brookline Volunteer Fire Department
- Report of Clerk and Treasurer
- Report of Nominating Committee
- Additions to Library
- Charter of Corporation
- Officers and Committees for 1904
- List of Members
BROOKLINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY
THIRD ANNUAL MEETING.
The third annual meeting of the Brookline Historical Society was held in the G. A. R. Room, Town Hall, Brookline, Mass., on Wednesday, January 27, 1904, at 8 P. M., in accordance with a notice mailed to every member. President Rufus G. F. Candage was in the chair.
The records of the last monthly meetings were read by the clerk and approved.
The President then read his annual address.
Members of the Brookline Historical Society
Ladies and Gentlemen,- It is with pleasure that I meet and greet you on this third annual meeting of our Society and to thank one and all for the aid and support you have given in the year past to make the Society's success what it has been. I am pleased to report that the year past has been a prosperous one to the Society, and that our membership has slightly increased, it now being 152, a gain of six during the year. There have been added ten, one has died, and three have resigned. The death was that of William Emerson Cox, who became a life member soon after the incorporation of the Society. He was born in Boston in 1851, and came to Brookline in 1891, where he continued to reside until his death in November 1893, aged 52 years.
While Death has dealt leniently with our members, he has reaped a harvest of 300 persons in the town during 1903, 77 of whom had passed the allotted age of 70 years.
Of that number 21 were between 70 and 75; 24 were between 75 and 80; 19 between 80 and 85; 5 were between 85 and 90, and 8 were above 90.
Those ages speak well for the health conditions of the town, and recommend it as a place where length of days may reasonably be expected by those who reside within its limits and observe the ordinary rules which govern health. The eight persons who died in 1903, who had reached 90 years and upward were, Delia Holbrook, 91 years and 9 days; George R. Root, 90 years and 9 months; Albert L. Lincoln, 92 years; Georgia M. Webster, 94 years, 5 months and 1 day; Thomas Cahill, 92 years, 1 month and 19 days; Curtis Judson, 92 years, 7 months and 18 days; William Taffe, 93 years and 8 months; and Luther F. Beecher, 90 years, 8 months and II days.
The five between 85 and 90 years of age were, Katherine Miller, 87 years 8 months and 18 days; Martha E. W. Emerson, 86 years; Samuel Strong Lyon, 86 years, 2 months and 26 days; Hepseybeth F. Barker, 87 years and 25 days, and Martin Parry Kennard, 85 years, 3 months and 19 days. Those who were between 80 and 85 years of age were, James Elliot Cabot, 84 years, 9 months and 15 days; Delia O. Holbrook, 81 years, 6 months and 28 days; Cynthia Thompson, 80 years, 4 months and 13 days; Harris Harding Dimmock, 83 years, 6 months and 26 days; Mary Mealy, 80 years; Ward L. Foster, 80 years and 2 months; Ellen Sullivan, 84 years; Tirzah Snell Emerson, 84 years, 9 months and 15 days; William Foley, 83 years; Michael Fahey, 82 years; Catherine Holloran, 80 years; Ann Keefe, 80 years and 11 months; Margaret E. White, 80 years, 2 months and 21 days; Frederick Law Olmstead, 82 years; George G. Hook, 84 years, 11 months and 9 days; Nancy J. Thompson, 81 years, 5 months and 27 days; Susan Fuller, 81 years; Eliza O. Pierce, 82 years, 3 months and 12 days; Louis B. Schwarz, 82 years, 4 months and 27 days; and Thomas Denehy, 80 years.
Those who were between the ages of 75 and 80 were, Henry Harrington, 77 years, 1 month and 16 days; Alfred Bicknell, 78 years, 5 months and 20 days; Bridgett McManus, 79 years; Sarah Stone Crosby, 76 years, 8 months and 7 days; Martha B. Shackford, 77 years, 2 months and 16 days; Sarah B. Estabrook, 75 years, 5 months and 30 days; Sarah I. Rogers, 77 years; Elizabeth C. Hill, 75 years, 5 months and 2 days; Thomas Bartlett Hall, 78 years, 8 months and 3 days Annie M. Weis, 77 years, 7 months and 8 days; Nancy H. Watson, 76 years, 10 months and 5 days; Marcia E. Emery, 75 years, 11 months and 15 days; Rebecca White, 75 years and 5 months; James S. Savage, 75 years and 10 months; John McKey, 77 years, 10 months and 12 days; Martin Flanagan, 75 years; Anna L. Parker, 79 years, 10 months and 16 days; Harriet L. T. Wolcott, 78 years and 13 days; George H. Monroe, 77 years, 1 month and 18 days; Hugh Dunne, 76 years; Lois C. Waitman, 76 years, 5 months and 17 days; Margaret Roach, 75 years; and Horatio S. Burdett, 76 years, 3 months and 19 days.
Of those between 70 and 75, the most prominent were John W. Shapleigh, Charles U. Cotting, and Rear Admiral George E. Belknap, U. S. N., retired.
Hon. John W, Candler, a citizen of the town for many years, an ex-Representative to Congress, ex-Representative to the Massachusetts General Court, ex-President of the Boston Board of Trade, at one time active in Brookline town affairs, died at Providence, R. I., in 1903, aged 75 years. His funeral was held and largely attended at the First Parish Church, this town, with which he had long been identified.
PAPERS READ BEFORE THE SOCIETY
were eight during 1903, besides the President's Annual Address, and were as follows : -
February 25, "John and Hannah Goddard," by Rev. Wm. H. Lyon, D.D.
March 25, "The Times of the Bay State Province," by Rev. Anson Titus of Somerville, Mass.
April 22, "Jolin White of Muddy River," by Charles F. White of Brookline.
April 22, "Construction of the Mill Dam," by W. Tracy Eustis of Brookline.
May 27, "Recollections of Brookline," by Mrs. Henry V. Poor of Brookline.
October 28, "First Parish of Roxbury, etc.," by Rev. James DeNormandie of Roxbury.
November 18, "Brookline Volunteer Fire Department," by Edward W. Baker of Brookline.
December 23, "One Hundredth Anniversary of Blue Hill Academy, and Connection of its Trustees with Brookline and Boston," by R. G. F. Candage of Brookline.
PAPERS PRINTED BY THE SOCIETY
in 1903, were the Annual Proceedings and President's Address for 1903; " The Goddard House, Warren St., Brookline, its Owners and Occupants," by Miss Julia Goddard; " The Sewall House," by Charles H. Stearns; " Recollections of Brookline," by Mrs. Henry V. Poor; " Elhanan Winchester," by John Emory Hoar; " Portrait and Biographical Sketch of John Emory Hoar," by R. G. F. Candage; and "Brookline Village, 1865 to 1902, from notes of Martin Kingman."
Papers heretofore printed by the Society have been well received and complimented not only by its members, but by competent authority, and have been the means of bringing the Society's work prominently before citizens of the town and the public.
It will be the aim of the Society's officers in the coming year to continue publishing at least a part of the papers read before it.
THE SOCIETY'S LIBRARY
has been increased in the past year by gifts of books and pamphlets, and by the gift of a bookcase to keep them in, from our fellow member, Mr. W. Tracy Eustis, who has also been a liberal donor of books to the library itself. The bookcase has been placed in a room below this, in the Town Hall, where the books it contains can be conveniently consulted, and to the collection it is confidently expected other additions will be made during the present year.
THE FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY OF THE FOUNDING
of St. Paul's Church, Brookline, occurred in 1899, and on December 2, 1900, Rev. Leonard Kip Storrs, D.D., its rector, preached an historical sermon to the people of his Parish upon his twenty-five years of labor among them. In 1902 he preached an historical sermon on the fiftieth year of the consecration of the church edifice, which, with his twenty-fifth annual sermon has been printed in pamphlet form and is a valuable contribution to the church history of the town.
THE SEVENTY-FIFTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE BAPTIST CHURCH
of Brookline, was celebrated June 5, 1903, by exercises in the meeting-house of appropriate character, including an historical address by the president of this Society, on " The Town in 1828 and Changes that have since taken place"; "An Account of the Past Deacons," by George Brooks, Esq., the senior deacon of the church; and " Some of the Women of the Church," by Miss Henrietta A. Nevers. A dinner was served in the Town Hall, at which Rev. Avery A. Shaw, the pastor, presided, and short addresses were made by former pastors, by Rev. Leonard K. Storrs, D.D., of St. Paul's Church of Brookline; by Rev. Wm. H. Lyon, D.D., of the First Church, Brookline; by Rev. Reuen Thomas, D.D., of Harvard Church, Brookline; and others, which were highly enjoyed.
On Sunday, June 7, 1903, Rev. A. A. Shaw, the pastor, preached an historical sermon, taking for his subject "Our Heritage and Our Responsibility." The sermon and exercises were interesting to the large audience in attendance, and as an historical occurrence in the town, worthy of record by this Society. A report of the addresses and sermon in the church has been printed by the committee on the celebration, a copy of which may be found in the library of this Society.
THE OLD BAPTIST CHURCH AND PARSONAGE
built in 1828, are both yet standing, the latter next to the present church on the south. It was first used as a chapel, afterwards as a parsonage, and then was sold, and has for many years been a private dwelling.
The old meeting-house stands in a conspicuous place on the corner of Harvard street and Harvard Square, shorn of a part of its original proportions by the widening of Harvard street, and at this time is an unprepossessing sight to the beholder.
The late widening of Harvard street from School street to Harvard Square, not yet fully completed, and in places unsightly, which was deemed to be necessary to accommodate the trolley cars and other travel, marks an era in the improvement of the centre of the town.
THE BROOKLINE NATIONAL BANK BUILDING
opposite the old meeting-house on the corner of Kent and Harvard streets was remodeled and finished in 1903. In it are now located the spacious quarters of the bank, a large and convenient Post Office -so superior to anything the town has ever before had that 'tis worthy of special mention the Chronicle press and office, the beautifully fitted and furnished rooms of Beth-Horon Lodge of Freemasons, and other rooms and offices. In its changed and improved condition it is a conspicuous structure, centrally located, convenient for all who have business to transact therein, a credit to the town, and satisfactory to those who use and patronize the business interests therein centered.
which has stood on that prominent location on the corner of Beacon and Powell streets for nearly sixty years, has been demolished, and it deserves a few words of notice by this Society before all traces of its existence have been extinguished, and its being and history shall have been forgotten.
David Sears, at one time a prominent and opulent merchant of Boston, was, fifty or sixty years ago, one of the largest landholders in Brookline. He owned more than a hundred acres of land, a part of which was known as the Sewall farm.
One of the loveliest sights of that large estate was a hill and grove of beautiful oaks, on what is now Beacon street and which bordered on Powell and Freeman streets, three miles from the State House in Boston.
On the most elevated spot of that undulating and charming estate, there was until 1845 to be seen the ruins of an ancient Indian fort, alluded to by Rev. John Pierce, D.D., in his printed address at the dedication of the (then) new Town Hall, delivered in October, 1845.
Mr. William Amory, a merchant of Boston, married Anna, daughter of David Sears, and that spot of hill and dale, grove and meadow, of about twenty-five acres, was given to the bride and the fine mansion-house was built on or near the site of the Indian fort.
William Amory was a gentleman of the old school, tall, graceful, exceedingly courteous and polite, dignified yet always approachable by his neighbors. He was a cousin of the late James S. Amory, who lived for many years in a charming, low-roofed cottage on what is now the Schlesinger place, Warren street.
Mr. William Amory spent his summers in his new home on Powell street, and his winters in his house on Beacon Hill, Boston, adjoining the home of his father-in-law; the latter for many years has been the home of the Somerset Club.
A great deal of time and money was spent by Mr. Amory upon his Brookline home. What is now the beautiful meadow east of the house was formerly known as the " Cedar Swamp," an almost impenetrable thicket of bushes and briers.
The grove had been thinned from time to time, but always kept its sylvan appearance. The avenue to and from the house was along what is now Powell street, winding its way among the trees, and following the ridge of land in graceful curves. That was long before Beacon street was laid out and built, and the way out from the grounds was through Freeman and Pleasant streets.
Mr. Amory died in 1888, aged 84; his widow in 1895, aged 82. His sons, William and Charles, continued to live in the house until about 1890, when they removed to Boston, and the place has since been leased to tenants.
In the summer of 1903 the town bought a portion of the meadow for a park. The land has been laid out for a street to be built from Freeman street to Beacon street, nearly parallel with Powell street, the Amory heirs retaining the front on Beacon street between the Park and Powell streets. The town's purchase was about eight acres, which includes a part of Hall's Pond, the dreaded hole and terror of youngsters, who believed it to be bottomless.
Shortly after that sale to the town, the owners of the rest of the estate began cutting down the trees and leveling the beautiful hill, and the larger part, at this writing, has been cut down. The house has been demolished, the grove has gone, and little of its former beauty now remains.
To the thousands who on electric cars have ridden past it on Beacon street in summer, the green meadow, sparkling waters of the pond, and graceful, spreading branches of the trees of the grove, have been a refreshing sight, quite in contrast with narrow lots and brick blocks of the neighboring city, and the changed conditions will be lamented by such and by all lovers of natural scenery.
But such changes have been going on in the town for some years and must necessarily continue, however much the fact may be deplored, until Brookline shall have lost all or nearly all of its pristine beauty.
The widening of Beacon, Harvard, Washington and Boylston streets, and the laying out of new streets and ways, have changed the rural features of the town which are fast becoming metropolitan. In a score of years past, brick blocks, apartment houses, family hotels and modern dwellings have been built, and present a striking contrast to the former modest houses surrounded with trees and ample grounds of the past, and have robbed the town of its old-time rural appearance and beauty.
THE CHARLES STEARNS HOUSE AND PAUL DUDLEY MILESTONE.
The Stearns house was built by Charles Stearns, Sen., grandfather of the vice-president of this Society, in 1825. It stood upon its original foundation until 1903, nearly 80 years, and was then moved from the corner of Sewall avenue and Stearns road, to make way for a modern apartment house, to No. 34 north side of Stearns road and opposite Littell road, and set upon a new foundation, put in order for a dwelling, and there it is hoped it may remain undisturbed for another 80 years.
The door-step of that house, supposed to have been in use as such, from its building in 1825, was none other than a Paul Dudley milestone, once occupying a site on the easterly side of the " Old Cambridge Road," now Harvard street, in the year of the date upon its face " 1729." As a door-step it was placed face down, probably at the time the house was built, and there remained until all traces of its once having been a milestone had been lost.
Many years ago in making repairs to the house, the stone was taken up and its origin was revealed. (See paper read before this Society by Charles H. Stearns, on the ''Old Sewall House.") It was restored to its original location on the east side of Harvard street.
In 1902, on the corner of Harvard street and Stearns road, where the milestone stood, an apartment house was projected, and the stone being in the way of the cellar, it was removed by the lot owner to Marion street, with the intention of building it into the wall of the new building. That fact coming to the attention of this Society, through it, notice was brought to the Selectmen of the town, who had the stone transferred to the Town Hall, where it lay in safety for nearly a year. During 1903, through the efforts of this Society, and the action of the Selectmen, consent of the Harvard Church was obtained, and it was re-set opposite to its old site, in the grounds of the church, where it is to be hoped it may evermore remain. Could the old stone narrate an account of some of the scenes that have transpired in the town since 1729, one at least would doubtless have been the march of Washington's army along the "Old Cambridge Road," on March 17, 1776, to the tune of "St. Patrick's Day in the Morning," the watchword and countersign being " St. Patrick," to take possession of Boston, that day evacuated by the British forces, and now annually celebrated as Evacuation Day in that city.
CHANGES IN POPULATION AND VALUES.
In the year 1883 there were only 1,280 dwellings in the town, while in 1903 there were 3,515; showing an increase of 2,235, or 275 per cent. Nor do these figures tell the whole story, for in 1883, the 1,280 dwellings were nearly all for one family each, while in 1903 a large number were apartments, tenements, and family hotels, accommodating many families.
In 1883 the number of polls assessed in the town was 2,201, in 1903 they had increased to 6,134; 3,930 more than in 1883, or an increase of 250 per cent. Personal property assessed in 1883 amounted to $10,898,300, in 1903 it was $27,207,100; an increase of $16,308,800, or about 250 per cent.
Real estate assessed in 1883 amounted to $14,924,600, and in 1903 it was $59,965,800; an increase of a little over 400 per cent. Real estate values in that period were swelled by the value of the 2,235 new buildings, which was a large sum, and by the increased value of land upon which they stand, with the general rise in land values in the town.
In 1883 the estimated population of the town was 9,270, and in 1903 at 25,000; an increase of 15,730, or 280 per cent. The total taxable value of all property of the town in 1883 was $25,822,900, which in 1903 had risen to $87,172,900, or an increase of about 235 per cent.
These figures conclusively exhibit at a glance the great changes that have taken place in Brookline during the past twenty years, and from which reasonable deductions may fairly be made in forecasting its conditions in 1923, twenty years from now.
THE BOSTON AND WORCESTER STREET RAILWAY
began running its trolley cars in 1903. They first ran from the Brookline and Newton line on Boylston street, through Newton to Wellesley and Natick, and later the line was completed and put in operation to South Framingham, to Westboro, and finally all the way to Worcester. A few months after the opening, the eastern terminus of the route was shifted to Brookline Village Square, and later through the town to Park Square, Boston, over tracks of the Boston Elevated Railway Co. That completed the route between Boston and Worcester, the cars running through the lower end of Washington street, and the entire length of Boylston street in Brookline, closely following the route of the old Boston and Worcester turnpike, laid out in 1808. The route enables passengers to be transported between the two cities in about two and a quarter hours, at fares of 40 cents, and to intermediate stations in proportionate time and at proportionate rate of fares.
The country through which the cars of the line pass proved attractive to many excursionists and pleasure seekers, in addition to the regular patrons of the route, who, during the summer took advantage of it for a holiday or outing to escape the close atmosphere of the city, and to enjoy the scenery and purer air of the country. The line started under favorable conditions and immediately became popular with the masses, and bids fair to be successful, and an accommodation to a large portion of the travelling public in its vicinity.
THE COVERED RESERVOIR
built upon Fisher Hill by the town in 1903, for the improvement of our supply of pure water, has been completed at a cost of $75,000. It is built wholly of concrete, and is one of a few of its kind in existence. It was planned to hold 7,000,000 gallons, and with it added to our water supply system, it is not too much to say that Brookline now has a water supply and system second to none in the country.
THE 2OOTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE INCORPORATION
of Brookline as a Town, will occur on November 13 (o. s.), 1905. In furtherance of a proper celebration of that occasion, this Society should lend its efforts, in fact take the initiative, by petitioning the Selectmen to insert an article in the warrant for the annual town meeting in March of the present year, " To see if the town will appoint a committee of 25 or more citizens, a part of whom to be ladies, to take into consideration this subject, arrange a programme, estimate the expense, suggest as to the manner of raising the necessary funds to carry out the celebration, and report in print to the town at a meeting not later than the annual meeting in March, 1905."
There can be no doubt but that the citizens desire the town to properly and wisely celebrate that important event, and it is none too soon to take the subject up by the appointment of a committee such as is here suggested. In order to make such a celebration worthy of the town and of the occasion, care and time should be devoted to the study of how it should be done to insure success with a reasonable outlay.
The duty of said committee would be one of investigation and recommendation, and upon its report the town would be in position to act advisedly and understandingly.
There is a large field of labor and usefulness for the occupation of this Society in the town and community. It has the stand to do what can reasonably be expected of it, and thus far it has done well. But should we feel satisfied with what it has accomplished and relax our individual efforts? For one, I am satisfied that such a course would neither meet with approbation, nor be deemed wise. Therefore, let us strengthen the Society where it may be found to be weak and needy.
Let us add to its membership, for there must be many persons in this town of 25,000 people, who would be glad to join if the subject were properly brought to their notice. Let us strive to add to the books in our library until we shall have accumulated a valuable collection, in which the local biographer and historian may find a source of information such as he may desire, near at home.
Let each, as he may be able to do so, prepare a paper on some Brookline ancestor of his, or upon some historical event, to be read before the Society, and be printed for future reference. And not the least of all, let us speak of the work of the Society to those not now identified with it, that they may become interested in it.
That the Society may become what is earnestly desired, a centre of usefulness, and a repository of historical data connected with the town in which we live and which it is both a duty and privilege to honor, let us carry cheerfully forward the work set before us, in confidence and love, and in the faith that results will justify work undertaken in that spirit.
The harvest is waiting to be gathered by this Society, and there is need of harvesters and gleaners, willing to work, not for immediate reward but for the good of their fellow men, who shall reap the reward of their labors when the worker's life shall have ceased.
Every member of this and other historical societies should be a harvester and gleaner, and if he gathers and stores but a single fact of importance, he has aided the organization of which he is a member, and has made the world his debtor. One tiny coral zoophyte did not build up the huge submarine mountain from ocean depths, and uprear its surface crown to become in time a fertile island. That was the work of myriads of zoophytes and of ages of time, and yet the work of the one was important in that undertaking.
And so in the work of this Society the need is, aid and cooperation of all its members, and knowing them, I feel sure of their aid and cooperation.
Read before the Brookline Historical Society Nov. 18, 1903, by Edward W. Baker.
From classical mythology we learn that fire was brought to the earth by Prometheus, who stole it from the gods, lighting his torch at the chariot of the sun. Since that day in the long, long ago, all men in all ages have been more or less devout fire-worshippers. We in the twentieth century worship with both gratitude and fear - gratitude for its benefits and comforts, especially when on winter nights we are cozily ensconced with a favorite author before the blazing hearth - fear, when startled by the clanging alarm bells we dread that terrible power for devastation and death possessed by no other element in greater degree.
Because of this power of destruction, the step from fire-worshipping to fire-fighting is only a short one, and the story of the fire-fighting organizations of our fathers and grandfathers is not without interest.
To attempt to tell in a short hour the story of the volunteer fire department of Brookline for the first hundred years of its existence is difficult, not because there is not enough to tell, but because there is so much which can be told, that the limit of time must make the story only disjointed and fragmentary. To give simply an enumeration of the fires in Brookline which could be compiled from existing records would be unsatisfactory; a much more interesting phase of the subject is a study of the fire-fighting organizations and their workings as characteristics of those periods in our town's history which such organizations represent. The uniformed salaried fire department of 1904 consists of forty-two officers and men, twelve pieces of modern apparatus with necessary horses, located in seven buildings in different parts of the town. This force is supplemented by forty-three paid call men, the whole requiring nearly $70,000 for annual maintenance.
The first fire department organization identified with the town in 1784 consisted of a volunteer company of eight men, two of whom were officers, equipped with a piece of apparatus such as now would hardly suffice to properly sprinkle our lawns.
What the municipal expenses of those days may have been is not known, but certainly they were nothing extravagant. The first recorded assumption of the cost of fighting fire on the part of Brookline was in March, 1795, when the town voted, "To pay one-half the expense of the repairs of the fire engine in futer." This was followed in 1797 by another vote, "That this town will bear one-half the expense of the new wagon for conveying the fire engine."
No further town action is recorded until 1829, although an engine company was organized, and a fire-engine located in Punch Bowl Village as early as 1787, at which date the village was partly Brookline and partly Roxbury.
During the century preceding 1787, we know of eight serious fires within the town.
No bells rang, no whistles blew, probably no alarm of any kind was given for the first recorded fire in Brookline, when on a cold and blustering night, with strong northwest wind, March 26th, 1688, " three Indian children being left alone in a wigwam at Muddy River, the wigwam fell on fire, and burned them so that they all died." This record comes to us in Sewall's Diary, and to us of today the thought of Indian wigwams in Brookline seems even less familiar than the fabled theft by Prometheus.
In September, 1768, the large dwelling house of Isaac Gardner, Esq., together with the great part of the household goods for a family of eighteen, was consumed, the loss approximating £5,000 Old Tenor. Although Brookline at that time contained only about fifty families, £100 lawful money was raised by subscription, to assist Mr. Gardner in rebuilding:
In 1774, June 8th, the house occupied by the Rev. Joseph Jackson and owned by Samuel Croft was burned, and a principal part of his library was saved only by the aid and direction given by Dr. Aspinwall.
The hand bucket was the only means of fighting fire in those days, and when a fire started, the loss was usually serious, the property saved consisting of only what the family, with the help of the nearest neighbors, was able to move out.
Not even a regiment of our great-grandfathers, equipped with the old leather fire-buckets, would be as effective as the small company of trained firemen of today, with a modern steam fire-engine capable of throwing thousands of gallons of water each minute through several lines of hose.
The Roxbury volunteer fire department was always noted for its promptitude, skill, and efficiency. In 1784, the first fire-engine was located on Roxbury street, opposite Warren street, the site of the old Grey Hound Tavern, and in 1787 a new fire-engine was located in Punch Bowl Village, as Brookline Village was then called. The members of this first fire-engine company were John Ward, Isaac Davis, Joseph Davenport, Joseph Crehore, James Pierce, Samuel Barry, Capt. Belcher Hancock, and Lieut. William Blossom. Of these names only that of Joseph Davenport appears in the Brookline records of that date, and the others were presumably all Roxbury men.
The first public recognition of the Punch Bowl Village company came in 1794 at the great fire in Boston, July 30th. Mr. How's ropewalk near Milk street, with about thirty-six houses, barns, out-buildings and stores, was burned, and the Selectmen of Boston published in the newspapers an " acknowledgment of the very timely and efficient aid by their brethren of the several towns in the vicinity with their fire-engines and their personal services at the distressing fire of yesterday," etc. " The towns from which engines were brought to the fire were Cambridge, Charlestown, Roxbury, Milton, Brookline, and Watertown."
This public recognition, and the hope of future glory, was possibly the immediate incentive for the town of Brookline to vote in 1795 to assume one-half the expenses, after enjoying the protection of the engine and its company for eight years.
The general direction of fire-fighting was under "firewards," so called, elected by the town at the annual town meetings in March.
In 1788, Brookline elected Col. Aspinwall and Lieut. Croft, and in 1870 Willard Y. Gross, Thos. S. Pettengill, Patrick H. Cusick, and Henry M. Hall qualified for the office. Many well known citizens served in the position in the years intervening. The functions and duties of fi rewards were set forth in the Laws of 1791 as follows:-
" Firewards shall have for a distinguishing badge of their office a staff of five feet long, painted red, and headed with a bright brass spire, six inches long.
" On notice of a fire, they shall immediately repair to the place (taking their badges with them), and vigorously exert themselves to extinguish and prevent the spreading of the fire, and for the pulling down or blowing up of any house, or any other services relating thereto as they may be directed by two or three of the chief civil or military officers of the town, to put a stop to the fire, and in removing household stuff, goods and merchandise out of any dwelling houses, store-houses, or other buildings actually on fire, or in danger thereof, in appointing guards to secure and take care of the same and to suppress all tumults and disorders -and due obedience is required to be yielded to them and each of them for that service on penalty of 40S.
" Note.--Persons who embezzle, carry away or conceal goods at such a time, and do not restore them, or give notice thereof to the owner, shall be deemed thieves and punished as such."
That the badges of office probably saw hard service we may gather from an item in the records of the early part of the last century covering the expense of "repainting the firestaffs." Miss Woods wrote in her "Historical Sketches
" : -
"The first engine-house of the Punch Bowl Village company was a little building 10 x 14, situated for several years at what is now the junction of Walnut street and Village lane. It was later moved to the lot between Walnut and High streets, the present site of Quinlan 's carriage shop, and was standing there as late as 1820. This company was called 'The Vigilant' and consisted of Jeremiah Lyon, Isaac Davis, Lemuel Foster, William H. Brown, Jerathmeel Davenport, James Leeds, Reuben Hunting, Reuben Smith, Silas Snow, Robert S. Davis, Senr. Caleb Clark, Moses Jones, Edward Hall, Samuel Slack, (?) Whiting."
The new wagon purchased by vote of the town in 1797 must have been for the old engine first mentioned, in 1787 - at least nothing is intimated to the contrary- but this engine, so called, was probably little more than a box, equipped with force-pumps and a brake for working them. The water had to be brought in buckets and poured into the box, from which the pumps forced it through a pipe attached to the body of the engine, as the use of hose was not then introduced.
But the old machine was well built, and was worth $30 in 1828, when it was sold, and a new fire-engine, built by Thayer, was purchased for $400. The purchase price for the new engine was raised by popular subscription, the citizens of Brookline contributing $325 and those of Roxbury $150; and it was the intention of the subscribers that the engine should be for the use and benefit of both towns, without reserving claim of individual interest.
The balance of the amount subscribed, with the $30 received from the sale of the old machine, was expended in building a new engine-house, which was located over the brook where Washington street crossed it, approximately where B. W. Neal's store now stands.
With a new engine and a new house, the company attached to the Roxbury and Brookline Engine, the "Norfolk" as it was named, organized in 1829; and with this company the real story of the Brookline fire department begins, although for some years later the " Norfolk " was listed as " No. 7 " of the Roxbury department at Punch Bowl Village. The "Norfolk" was not a suction engine, although it did use hose in place of the old style pipe, and in April, 1829, Brookline appropriated $50 for the purpose of aiding jointly with Roxbury in providing buckets and hose.
The Engine Company in those days had as prominent a place in the community as a social factor as it did as a fire-fighting organization, and the old " Vigilants " and " Norfolks " no doubt assembled more often in the hospitable tap room of the old Punch Bowl Tavern nearby, than they did in the engine house, in which there was room enough only to run the engine out and in.
The Engine Company was to its members what libraries, reading rooms, lectures, clubs, lodges, and historical societies are to us today, and, if we could only refer to them, the old account books of the Punch Bowl would give us many interesting side-lights on the doings of the organization attached to the Roxbury and Brookline Engine. The old tavern at the fork of the roads from Boston to Cambridge, Watertown, and Sherborn attracted the wayfarers from all directions, both going and coming, who stopped for rest and refreshment for man and beast. Although the strictly local patronage was not great in volume, it was no doubt constant, and the members of the Engine Company, individually or collectively, were ever welcome guests. The heart of the genial landlord must have been saddened by the sudden change in policy, brought about by some unexplained cause but of sufficient influence to bring about this action by the Engine Company, recorded under date of April 6, 1829 : -
" Voted, that the custom heretofore in practice of giving entertainments be abolished."
In the same year another vote was recorded which is certainly unique :
" Voted, That on cloudy days when the sun at its setting cannot be seen, that its setting be determined by time as given by J, Davenport's clock and the Farmer's Almanack."
This certainly was a most complete confession of faith in things terrestrial, with the assumption that things celestial must accommodate themselves thereto.
Mr. Davenport, or " Jerry " as he was universally known, was a most popular resident of the Village. He was thoroughly identified with all local interests, and later held responsible town offices, being a Selectman for a number of years.
The records of the " Norfolk " Engine Company begin with the year 1829, and three volumes of manuscript now preserved in the Town Clerk's office give us the details of the Fire Department history to the year 1865.
Next to the engine itself, it would seem from reading these volumes that the most important factor in the company's equipment for fire-fighting was the company's constitution and by-laws. No less than a dozen formidable compositions are spread at length on the records, to say nothing of revisions, amendments, and repeals.
The companies usually organized or re-organized annually, and in only a very few instances does a newly organized company consider the constitution of its predecessors good enough to be adopted without change.
The first constitution recorded, was approved by the Selectmen of Roxbury in 1831, with the following preamble: -
"We, the subscribers, impressed with a sense of duty we owe to ourselves and the public to take every possible measure to protect ourselves and them from the alarming ravages made by fire, do for that purpose form a company to be attached to the Roxbury and Brookline Engine, etc."
" Article I. That the company shall be distinguished by the name of the Norfolk Engine Company."
The following articles specify the duties of the officers, and the obligations and privileges of the members. Article XL, perhaps, being the most interesting.
" Article XL Any person who may wish to become a member of the company must be proposed by some member of the company, and may be balloted for, and if a majority of the members present vote in his favor he shall be entitled to all the privileges of the company by signing the by-laws and paying to the treasurer the sum of one dollar."
Eighty or more signatures are subscribed to this first record of organization in 1829-1830, among which we select Lemuel Foster, Caleb Clark, Jeremiah Davenport, Moses Jones, William H. Brown, Silas Snow, Jeremiah Lyon, John G. Stearns, Clark Haynes, Stephen S. C. Jones, Thomas Seaverns, Henry S. Ward, Daniel L. Perry, Franklin Gerry, Abraham H. Lambert, and Moses Withington.
Miss Woods gives an account of a contest between the new "Norfolk " company and the other companies in the Roxbury department, and probably this is what is referred to in the company's records, which read as follows : -
" 1829, Oct. 4. The company met at two o'clock, thence repaired to Wait's Mill to meet the Roxbury engines under the direction of the Fire Department for exercise and improvement, and returned at sun-setting."
"Voted, That the thanks of the Company be presented to Mr. Davenport for his kind and protecting attention to the company at the exhibition and trial of power."
In 1831, the Punch Bowl department was augmented by a new piece of apparatus, a much needed hook and ladder. This piece of apparatus did not much resemble the fine three-horse truck of 1903, but the company voted to purchase a ladder and case at a cost of $8.25, and that it be located in front of the Punch Bowl Tavern stable, also a fire hook at a reasonable cost; and it was made the duty of every member to forbid any person taking out the ladder except at fires. A committee of two from the company, and one from the people at large, was also appointed " to procure a sucktion and bell for the engine."
In 1832 the company voted to sell a collar and hames, and appropriate the proceeds for the treasurer to purchase a trunk large enough to hold the records and bills. The bills have disappeared, but the records are still preserved by reason of this thoughtfulness. In 1832 the Brookline members petitioned the Selectmen for a remission of poll taxes in consideration of their services as firemen. In 1833 the important item of record was the fire at Mr. G. F. Thayer's schoolhouse. In 1834, the company began to feel that the little house was no longer adequate to the needs of the department, and in February of that year a committee was appointed " to petition the Selectmen to enlarge the house and have a kettle." This kettle was probably to be used in preparing the ever popular chowders which were always a principal feature of the company's hospitalities.
Perhaps the Selectmen did not give the petition sufficient consideration, perhaps the kettle was not large enough, per26 haps there were other reasons, but the resignations followed each other rapidly, without any applications to correspond to keep up the membership, and finally, in June, 1834, the records read : -
" Voted, to disband ourselves from the company; accordingly Clark Haynes, Moses B. Mcintosh, Stephen S. C. Jones, Charles N. Ford, Samuel Craft, Jr. and Henry May left the company."
A new company organized without delay, adopted a constitution, but kept no records, until it also disbanded in April, 1835- E. W. Stone, Reuben Hunting, and Isaac Thayer formulated a new constitution, and it was approved by Charles Stearns, Jr., Daniel Sanderson, and Abijah W. Goddard, Selectmen of Brookline.
This 1835 company, while still "distinguished" by the name of the Norfolk Engine Company, ignored the previous interest of the town of Roxbury as part owner of the engine, and adopted a " Constitution of the Engine Company attached to the Brookline Engine." This 1835 company chose Isaac Thayer foreman, Caleb Clark assistant foreman, and Elisha Stone clerk; and these officers were instructed " to wait on the gentlemen in Roxbury who were the year past attached to the volunteer company and request them to become members of the present Brookline company." Elisha Stone was appointed bell-ringer to the company in case of fire.
On Sept. 7th, 1835, there was a fire at Mr. T. H. Perkins' house. At this fire the conduct of one of the firemen from Roxbury was such as to call for very severe condemnation on the part of the Brookline company, and a vote is recorded disapproving of his acts, and instructing the clerk to publish such vote in the Boston newspapers.
In 1836, a committee consisting of Stephen S. C. Jones, Isaac Thayer, and Marshall Stearns, was appointed to make arrangements and issue invitations at their discretion for a supper at the hotel in Brighton. At this supper the company were greatly delighted to receive from James Leeds, Esq., a complimentary letter enclosing a twenty-dollar bill.
Elisha Stone, clerk of the company, was presumably too, busy with his other duties as Collector of Taxes, Constable, Sexton, Undertaker, Bell-ringer, etc., etc., to give much attention or time to writing up the company's records, as only the very briefest notes are entered during his incumbency. In the next year, 1837, Charles Stearns, Jr., Artemas Newell Samuel A. Robinson, and Seth T. Thayer were among the new names in the company, and David S. Coolidge and Charles W. Tolman were leading hosemen.
The year 1839 marks an epoch in the history of the Brookline Fire Department. At a town meeting a committee was appointed "to see what the town will do with the fire engine."
This committee reported in substance that the old engine did not answer as a suction engine, that a new engine should be a suction engine so as to be more efficient when a supply of water could be availed of, and that Brookline ought to own an engine independent of Roxbury, because Brookline had the whole expense of maintenance, and had to attend to the fires in both towns.
The town endorsed the recommendations of the committee, and a new engine and apparatus was purchased of W. C. Hunneman & Co. for $900. The disposition of the old "Norfolk" was a matter of time. It was proposed to turn the old tub over to Roxbury, to be kept housed in Punch Bowl Village and manned by "a voluntary company," as an emergency company for both towns. No such company was formed, however, and as the engine was rapidly falling into bad condition, it was finally sold, together with ninety-seven feet of old hose and three hose joints, for $197.40, of which amount $50 was paid to Roxbury, and $147.40 retained by Brookline, in proportion to the original subscriptions in 1828.
In the days of the hand fire-engine, when the ambition of the young men of athletic instincts was to belong to the engine company and " run with the machine," great rivalry existed between different organizations and led to friendly but most spirited contests to be first at the fire and throw water the greatest distance. Whenever or wherever the light or smoke of a fire was discovered by day or by night, the boys turned out, manned the rope, and started off for a one, two, three, or five mile run. The Brookline company in one instance, so the record states, ran to Roxbury in response to an alarm given for the light of the moon rising behind the hill. As an example of this readiness to respond to alarms from a distance, it is recorded that there were about fifteen engines from neighboring towns at a fire in Brookline Village on the morning of May 12, 1845.
The introduction and distribution of water by aqueducts and hydrants, the invention and perfection of the steam fire engine, together with the establishing of permanent fire departments, have brought this spirit of rivalry under almost military training and discipline, and the area to be served by each piece of apparatus is carefully regulated so as to leave no spot unguarded.
With a new "up-to-date" suction engine, and a fresh constitution and by-laws, Brookline Engine Company No. 1 was organized in May, 1839. Among the thirty-nine signatures to the agreement or pledge for organization, some of those best known or remembered today are Thomas Seaverns, David S. Coolidge, George W. Stearns, James Bartlett, Samuel Clark, Seth T. Thayer, John Dustin, Augustus T. Newell, Abraham H. Lambert, Charles W. Tolman, William J. Griggs, and Charles Stearns, Jr.
It is interesting to learn from this company's records that the engine was present at a fire of Mr. Pettee's machine shop in Newton on November 25, 1839, and on December 14 of the same year also met at a fire of Mr. Foster's blacksmith shop in the Village. The Pettee Machine Works of Newton, and the blacksmith shop in the Village (now Nagle's) are still doing business at the old stands.
The social side of engine company life was very pronounced about this time, because there were few fires and the zeal and activity of the members had to seek some outlet. In 1841 Brookline No. 1 for the first time recorded, elected a steward, and one George Bell was chosen. Whether there was a difference of opinion in regard to this matter, or whether the steward's efforts were not conducive to harmony, is not known, but evidently something went wrong because on May 20th, 1842, the company voted unanimously to disband. This gave the constitution framers another chance, and their production is spread on the records with the following preamble :-
" From the acknowledged utility of an institution formed for the benefit of our fellow citizens, we, the undersigned, do form ourselves into an association by the name of Brookline Engine Company No. I; and being aware of the great importance of preserving order and giving method to our proceedings, we by our signatures do subject ourselves to the following Laws and Regulations for our government, that we may more effectually fulfill the object of our institution."
Among the signatures to this declaration of principles appear Oliver Whyte, Jr., John W. Blanchard, Charles Trowbridge, Horace Cousens, and Patrick Dillon. Hugh M. Sanborn was chosen foreman and Oliver Whyte, Jr., clerk.
July 4th, 1842, was a gala day for Brookline Engine Company No. I. At six o'clock in the morning they went to the Baptist meeting-house and worked the engine, then to the rear of Lyceum Hall and worked it again. After returning the engine to the house, they adjourned to the hall, and partook of a breakfast which had been provided through the generosity of friends and which was so highly appreciated by the members of the company that a card of thanks was published in the Boston papers.
Elaborate preparations for the annual supper of 1842 were made, and it was voted to invite Dr. Pierce and Rev. Mr. Shailer free of charge, and also to engage two or more glee singers. Forty-three subscribers agreed to pay one dollar each for a supper at the Cattle Fair Hotel (Brighton), all liquors, cigars, and amusements to be extra. As soon as so large an attendance was assured, the company " reconsidered the vote of invitation to the two reverend dispensers of the gospel," so the record reads, but the glee singers evidently were on hand when the celebration took place.
It was the custom to ring the church bell when an alarm of fire was to be given, and the bell on the Baptist Church was the one usually rung. The Baptist Church was then what is now known as Harvard Building, facing Harvard Square. It was erected in 1828 and used until the present church was built in 1859. The deacons and brethren, however, did not allow any interference with the services even for an alarm of fire, as is recorded in at least two instances.
To quote the record of the Clerk of January 20, 1843 : -
" An alarm of fire was given this eve at 1/2 past eight (I said alarm, it was not an alarm inasmuch as the bell did not ring, though the Co. did what they could towards it by hullooing). "
"There was an attempt to ring the bell, but the proprietors of the church (as there was a meeting in the vestry) dispatched their infatigable [?] sexton, Mr. Luther Seaverns, to allow no one to ring the bell. The fire was on the old Porter Estate in Cambridge near the Colleges.
"April 16, 1843. An alarm of fire was given this eve. Came from Roxbury. The proprietors of the Brookline Baptist Church Refused to allow the Bell to be rung because they had a meeting in the vestry, thereby refusing that the engine and company should help their Roxbury neighbors in case of fire."
In 1843 the Engine Company manifested much zeal in the cause of the Temperance Reform movement. This was shown principally by the acceptance of invitations and attendance at the anniversary exercises of the Roxbury Washington Total Abstinence Society, and the Jamaica Plain Total Abstinence Society. Brookline Engine Company was present at both these anniversary functions with considerable style and enthusiasm, which called forth the following from the Jamaica Plain Society :-
"Resolved, that the thanks of this society be extended to the Brookline Engine Company No. 1 for their attendance at the anniversary of our Society, and that we hail with pleasure the glorious example which they have set in uniting themselves in the great and glorious cause of temperance."
This being held up for an example was too much for the Engine Company, and at the next meeting after formally accepting the resolutions the company voted to disband.
Another organization immediately followed with James Bartlett, foreman; Thomas Seaverns, assistant foreman; James Morse, clerk; and during this regime the department met with a serious misfortune, as fully set forth in the records :-
"Sept. 12, 1843. Was called out to a fire which proved to be the engine house, which was totally consumed. Engine was saved, although in a ruinous condition, and the total loss of the hose carriage and hose attached,"
It was supposed that this fire was caused by somebody who was disgruntled over some personal slight, real or imagined, as the engine was so blocked that there was much delay and difficulty in getting it out of the house. Before the engine could be repaired, the company was called out on September 14th, and responded with the usual readiness to a request for assistance from Boston, for a great fire in which were burned ten buildings on Harrison avenue, and six buildings on Washington street. The company clerk records the event as follows :-
" Sept. 14. Was called out to a fire. Went a short distance when it was found to be in the city, and owing to the rapidity with which it was raging and the high state of the wind it was deemed advisable by a majority of the company to proceed, which was accordingly done and proved of great service to them."
No. 1 was sent to Hunneman for repairs, a substitute engine was supplied for emergencies, and a barn was utilized as a temporary engine house.
The Town Hall, now Pierce Hall, Walnut street, had been set apart for a High School, and in 1843, a committee consisting of Samuel Philbrick, Charles Stearns, Jr., Abijah W. Goddard, Daniel Sanderson, and Timothy Corey was appointed to consider the matter of a new Town Hall and a store-house for the engine.
This action of the town was no doubt hastened by the impatience of the Engine Company, which adopted the following Preamble and Resolutions : -
"Nov. 14,1843. Whereas Owing to the inconveniences that the members of the Brookline Engine Company have been subjected to of late by the desolation of their engine house by fire and the long time that has elapsed since they have had any deposit for their engine save that of a Barn, and the prospect of a still longer time owing to the neglect of the officers of said town to take decisive action for said company, who are in duty bound to secure and protect all public property of said town, therefore,
"Resolved, That we as Members of Brookline Engine Company feel it a sense of duty which we owe to ourselves to adopt measures for the total annihilation of said fire department.
"Resolved, That in so doing we deem it our duty as freemen to be relieved from all duty as a fire department in a town where so little interest is manifested for their welfare.
"Resolved, That we do agree to disband and give up said Engine to the town, return the Book, etc., to the Selectmen of said Town."
"This is signed by twelve members of the disbanded company, evidently all that remained of the old guard after the temperance campaign of the year preceding.
The town was now facing a dilemma. The engine had come back from the builders in first class condition, but there was no company to take charge of it, no house to keep it in, and as the resolutions would have it, "no interest in the welfare of the department." The citizens of the town, however, faced the crisis and relieved the situation at once.
Forty-nine names were immediately secured to the following agreement :-
"The undersigned feeling desirous that the Brookline Fire Engine in case of fire may be in a condition to render all that service of which it is capable
" We do therefore cheerfully volunteer to render our best services, in case of fire in Brookline, or its immediate vicinity, until a more efficient and better organized Fire Department may be constituted.- Brookline, Nov. 24, 1843."
Among these, some of the names are those of Thomas Griggs, Otis and Moses Withington, Timothy Corey, Timothy Corey, Jr., F. Henry Corey, Edward Hall, Charles Wild, Daniel Sanderson, Samuel Philbrick, Isaac Dearborn, Jesse Bird, John Bird, George Gushing, Marshall Stearns, Benjamin B. Davis, E. R. Secomb, Harrison Fay, and others. At a public meeting, Dec. 1, 1843, at the Town House, Deacon Thomas Griggs was called to the chair, Otis Withington acted as secretary, and Henry S. Ward was chosen foreman, Seth F. Thayer assistant foreman, Marshall Stearns clerk, J. Davenport steward.
The newly organized company asked the Selectmen to prepare the essential constitution and by-laws, and passed a vote of thanks to be presented to the old company. At a subsequent meeting time was saved by adopting the old constitution, after which it was decided to provide runners for the engine, and horse power to draw it, and Caleb Clark was "appointed a committee to ring the bell of Dr. Pierce's Meeting House whenever he shall judge it necessary." This was the only company which did not organize from a most serious sense of duty to themselves and the community, but simply "cheerfully volunteered." After six months' existence, on July 1st, 1844, it was voted to give notice to the Selectmen that it would disband on the first Monday in August, at sunset. Under date of August 3d, however, the record says that the engine was drawn with great velocity to Jamaica Plain, for an alarm which appeared to be produced by the burning of some shavings.
To quote a curious note interpolated in the record :-
"This company disbanded without noise, nobody knows when, and the next we hear of any proceedings of the Fire Department in Brookline bears the date of Sept. 2, 1844. At this eventful era, a new and commodious Engine House having been built by the Town, a convention was held for the purpose of forming a new Engine Company, whose proceedings may be seen on turning over this leaf."
The commodious new house referred to was a two-story wooden building, still remembered by our older residents, erected on Washington street, the present site of Fire Department headquarters. There -was a difference of opinion as to accepting this location, many preferring the old location near the brook where the former house stood, but Seth T. Thayer offered the town 874 square feet of land for $100 for the purpose, which was accepted on the following condition, "Said lot of land to be used for the purpose of erecting thereon a building for an engine house to be used on said land as such exclusively." According to the Town Treasurer's reports, the land and building cost $2,901.41.
A public meeting was held in the new house on the evening of Sept. 2, 1844, at which an address was drawn up and signed as follows : -
" Officers of the Town :
" Sirs : Owing to the little interest that has been manifested during the past year by the young men of the town of Brookline as regards the Fire Department, those who are the Bone and Muscle of your town, and knowing her to have been but feebly manned by our much respected and aged Sires, and for the last two or three months no fire department at all in a town that has justly been termed the ' Garden of New England,' we could not but deem it our duty to unite ourselves together, providing the Town will give us suitable encouragement, once more to join ourselves together by subscribing our names to a paper, etc."
Thirty-nine of the " Bone and Muscle of the town " signed this address, and after the list was approved by the Selectmen the company organized with Alfred Tufts, foreman; Augustus Allen, assistant foreman; James Morse, clerk; Alfred Tufts, Moses Withington, and B. F. Baker, standing committee.
It was voted to procure a bell to be placed on top of the engine house and also a sign with the name of the engine for the front of the house. The "Bone and Muscle" also provided that twenty-five feet of rope additional be annexed to the engine. Among some of the new names in 1844 were Ephraim Church, Oliver Cousens, Edward A. Wild, Thomas Pettengill, Ansel Waterman, Joshua A. Little.
The clerk chosen failed to give satisfaction, and the vacancy caused by his resignation was filled by the election of Dr. Edward A. Wild.
"Ned Wild," afterwards Captain of Co. A, First Massachusetts Volunteers, and later Brigadier-General, gave to his duties as clerk of Brookline No. 1 the same ability and enthusiasm which he later in life manifested in wider fields. He served from November 11, 1844, until October 6, 1845, when he was given an honorable discharge on account of leaving town for the winter. The records during his incumbency make amusing and interesting reading and a few items may well be quoted : -
" Dec. 26, 1844. An alarm of fire from Charlestown about 1/4 before 9 P. M. The Company drew the engine 1/2 mile, and then, rather than be disappointed of their fun, playfully squirted at Lyceum Hall and over
the neighboring hickory pole.
"Jan. 29, 1845. The company met and drew the engine to the top of the hill in Roxbury. The fire was in Salem.
"Jan. 30, 1845. 1 o'clock A.M. A serious fire having been burning for some time in Roxbury, the Roxbury department at 1 o'clock this morning sent up for our aid with two horses. The company went and worked for a long time under very embarrassing and difficult circumstances; then they were supplied with refreshments by Roxbury No. 1.
"March 3, 1845. Voted, That a committee of three be appointed to keep an eye upon the officers of the town and assist them with their advice in case the town at their next meeting shall grant us better suction, &c.
"April 30, 1845. About 8 3/4 o'clock on Wednesday evening, a fire was seen in West Roxbury or Dorchester, about five miles distant. The company (without a horse) was the second to reach the spot. Returned at 12.
"May 10, 1845. Saturday afternoon about 3 o'clock an alarm came from Newton. The company ran to the top of Vengeance Hill and walked back.
"May 12, 1845. Monday morning at 8 1/4, the barn of Mr. Benjamin B. Davis, our townsman, was burnt, including pigs, hay, horse, carryall, etc. It was set on fire by an enraged beggar, who escaped, notwithstanding a vigorous pursuit by several patriotic individuals (one in particular). Half the houses in the Village were in danger of being set on fire by flying cinders. About 15 engines were here from the neighboring towns. Some companies were refreshed. The same evening (May 12) at 9 1/2, the house of Thos. A. Davis, present Mayor of Boston, in Linden place, was discovered to be on fire in the cellar (probably from carelessness). The engine was on the spot in an instant, but the fire was extinguished by hand. Damage small, being confined to hay, shavings, and nice rustin apples.
"Aug. 19, 1845. Tuesday noon at 2 o'clock an alarm of fire from some unknown land. The company ran to the railroad in Roxbury and found themselves no nearer the fire than at starting.
"Oct. 6, 1845. After the regular monthly meeting, the company proceeded to organize themselves as a militia company, and to drum up volunteers for the celebration of the defeat of Cornwallis, soon to be held. On the appointed day they proceeded to the battle field and showed their patriotism and valor and then dispersed and returned from their military to their civil duties.
E. A. W. Surgeon."
B. F. Baker succeeded Clerk Wild and served until May, 1846. During his incumbency, it is recorded that Brookline No. I did good service at the burning of the mills of the Roxbury Iron Co., when the loss was $100,000, and also gained much credit for their assistance at a fire on the Brook Farm, West Roxbury, at which they were handsomely entertained by the proprietors.
A large gang was required to work the old hand engine with success, and the population of Brookline sixty years ago was only 852 males and 830 females. To secure the necessary membership for the company, a canvasser was paid to circulate a paper for thirty-five or forty signatures in the spring of 1846, and his efforts brought a great deal of new life into the organization. Fifty members signed the constitution and started making history with a new record book. William K. Melcher, James M. Seamans, Reuben A. Chace, and Royal Woodward were signers of the roll in 1846, with G. H. Peck as foreman and Edward F. Brigden as clerk.
At the first meeting of this company it was decided to be inexpedient to go out of Brookline unless absolutely needed at some large fire in some of the adjoining towns. On the morning of July 4th, 1846, the company met at half past five o'clock, proceeded with the tub to the Village, played her out through three hundred feet of hose, then proceeded to the Orthodox meeting-house and played her out again, then returned to the engine house and sat down to breakfast prepared by friends of the company. During this year, and for the next few years, few alarms were given for fires in Brookline, and the company devoted nearly all its time to a strenuous social life. On the 7th of December, 1846, the Selectmen by vote were invited to partake of the company chowder.
" The company formed themselves into couples, proceeded down stairs, and after waiting some time the Fathers of the town arrived. The company arose and remained uncovered while they passed upstairs. The chowder was then attacked as though we were half starved- and such a chowder, as fit to his Majesty, the best ever made in Brookline."
The temperance question came to the front again in 1847, but alas for the company, the glorious example of the Washingtonian era was not followed. Trouble ensued and out of it the Fire Department gained much discredit, although the innocent majority no doubt suffered for the offensive minority. The immediate cause of the trouble was a small bill of $13.75 for refreshments furnished after a fire in the Village. These refreshments, so the records say, " were liquid, something carried in a bucket and which smelt very strong of brandy." This bill the Selectmen refused to approve, and this disapproval displeased a considerable number of the company. The Selectmen's account of the affair recites that the Engine Company met, and raised the flag half-mast, union down, evidently as a public demonstration of contempt and disrespect for the authority of the Selectmen.
The Selectmen at once enforced measures for discipline, discharging some of the members and putting new officers in charge. At the June meeting a long evening was spent in very acrimonious discussion by the company, which was becoming much heated and quite personal, when the gathering was broken up by an alarm of fire; the company manned the rope, ran as far as Jamaica Plain, returned to the house, and disbanded.
The Selectmen without delay took action officially and passed this order : -
" In view of the present deranged state of the Fire Department and the abandonment of the engine by the company for the current year, the town being without any adequate fire protection, the Selectmen appoint officers to serve the remainder of the year, and invite such young men, to the number of thirty-seven, who feel an interest in the public welfare to become members."
The officers appointed were George Stoddard foreman, George Peck assistant foreman, Oliver Whyte clerk.
This company of 1847 gave strict attention to the duty for which they were appointed, and the Selectmen published the following in January, 1848 :-
" The undersigned avail themselves of the opportunity of expressing their entire satisfaction with the management of the Fire Department under its present organization, and the disposition manifested by the officers and members of the company to attend to the necessary duties of firemen in a quiet and orderly manner, in accordance with the wishes and feelings of the inhabitants of the town, meets with their unqualified approbation."
The fires of 1848 resulted in serious loss, the "Green" house, Pleasant street, and the " Harris " house, Harvard street, both due to a lack of water, and it is a coincidence that immediately following these losses the present system of water supply was introduced into town by the laying of the Cochituate water supply pipes through Brookline to Boston. A hydrant was located in the Village and others along the line of the main on Boylston street.
The next year the Selectmen voted "to form a Hydrant company who are to have the whole charge of the hydrant at all fires, under the general supervision of the Selectmen, said company to consist of eight men." In 1849 the engine was thoroughly repaired and $30 of the company's funds were expended in ornamenting the engine, including the inscription of the new motto selected from many suggested : -
" OUR AIM THE PUBLIC GOOD."
The roll for 1850 shows Charles P. Trowbridge foreman, B. F. Baker second foreman, C. L. Palmer clerk; and among the members Alfred Kenrick, Dennis Driscoll, Daniel Duffley, Francis Henry Corey, Peter W. Pierce, George S. Gushing, and Reuben Chace.
The worst fire for some time occurred Sept. 30, 1850, the burning of Col. Perkins' house at one o'clock in the morning. The Engine Company did good work and later received a substantial present from Col. Perkins.
(Of the 1851 company some members are still living in Brookline : William K. Melcher, Terrence Gallagher, Michael Ouinlan, and Daniel Duflfley.)
During the years 1848-1851, there were quite a number of fires in Brookline, all evidently of incendiary origin, and the records of the Selectmen show a number of offers of rewards for the detection and conviction of the culprits.
Rewards offered specify fires at Higginson's, J. Howe's, T. W. Woodward's, William Dwight's, Gooding's, and E. L. Wetherell's. The town unanimously voted a reward of $1,000, and sundry persons were appointed and paid as special watchmen. J. Davenport supplied $14 worth of watchmen's rattlers and watch hooks.
Every member of the Fire Department became an amateur prototype of Sherlock Holmes, with the result that several arrests followed and at least one conviction. In 1852, Augustus Allen and A. H. Clapp received the reward of $200 for arresting one Thaxter Prouty, who was afterwards duly convicted of having set fire to Thomas N. Woodward's barn. By vote of the Selectmen June 7, 1852, J. Davenport was made a committee to procure a fire hook and ladder for the use of the Fire Department, and oilcloth suits for hosemen. The Hook and Ladder was purchased in 1855 at a cost of $200, and $30 was expended in repainting. This piece of apparatus was purchased from Roxbury, having been condemned for use in that department, and remained in the service of the Brookline department for nearly twenty years, but with no organized company to take charge of it. A company was organized in February, 1871, under the name of George H. Stone Hook and Ladder Co., and the old truck was exchanged as soon as possible thereafter for something more suitable.
The land and house for the Hook and Ladder truck was provided in 1855, at a cost of $1,694.41, and by vote of the Selectmen was put in charge of Reuben A. Chace.
The Catholic Church was seriously damaged by fire in 1855. The church was a large wooden building on Andem place where today is the Holtzer-Cabot Electric Co. The Engine Company did service deserving of great praise, not only saving the building from total destruction, but also a large amount of valuable property in the immediate vicinity. The efforts of the firemen were much handicapped by some miscreant who deliberately cut the leading hose of the engine, and after repairs had been made cut it again. For information as to the perpetrator of this offence the Selectmen offered a substantial reward, but no conviction ever followed.
Fire Department matters were practically at a standstill from 1855 to i860. For the greater part of the time there was no organized company, but the apparatus was kept in good condition for emergencies. In 1856 there were no fires, and in 1857 only two alarms and those of little consequence. In 1858 an attempt was made to organize a company, but of the names suggested not enough met the approval of the Selectmen. The Selectmen sent a communication to the would-be organizers which contained two votes that could not be misunderstood :-
"Voted, Not to approve the names sent in to the Board May 12th.
"Voted, That the remainder of those men who were approved be and are hereby honorably discharged from the company."
Among those who then received their honorable discharge from the company were B. W. Neal, William Stearns, P. S. Allen, Alonzo Bowman, and Charles H. Stearns. The Clerk of that day faithfully performed his duties, wrote out the full account of the meeting, and closed his record with this expression of personal disappointment :-
" Any person who will examine the foregoing records will be justified in concluding, at the present time, there is 'No Balm in Gilead.'"
In 1860 the Selectmen gave official approval to an organization to take charge of the department, with these officers : A. H. Waterman, H. Orcutt, and George H. Stearns, foreman and assistants, W. Y. Gross clerk, and D. T. Kenrick, T. S. Pettengill, B. W. Neal, D. B. Sawyer, and J. H. Woods, standing committee.
This company was called out at half past three in the morning of June 27, 1860, for the burning of a house in White place owned by S. A. Walker. At this fire the efficient clerk of the company was so severely injured as to disable him for weeks, and to show their appreciation of their fellow fireman the company formally voted to remit his fines incurred by absence, and subscribed liberally to a purse for his benefit.
There were a good many alarms for fires in 1860, but possibly the one of most interest, historically, was the one given at 8 p. M. on Nov. 12th. This alarm was caused by the ringing of the bell on the Unitarian meeting-house in honor of Lincoln's election, but the Engine Company turned out and ran as far as Boylston street before learning the true cause of the alarm.
By a vote passed August 5, 1862, the sum of two dollars was added to the amount due those members that had gone to the war, and in the September following W. Y. Gross was given an honorable discharge and presented with a revolver.
In 1864 the Selectmen's appreciation of the Engine Company's services was published in their annual report as follows :-
" By their activity and promptness they prevented a serious conflagration of Mr. Cusick's house on Washington street, and in this as in every instance did all they could in accordance with their motto, 'Our aim the public good.' "
The " Good Intent Hose Co." was organized in 1865, to take charge of the extra hose and of the hook and ladder. For the accommodation of this company and other additions to the department anticipated to be needed soon, the brick building now facing Village Square was built, on the so-called "Whyte lot," and was occupied in 1870.
With this step, so far in advance of anything preceding it, came the change in policy in regard to Fire Department management recommended by the Selectmen in their next year's annual report :-
"We therefore recommend the town to omit the choice of Firewards at the annual March meeting, and that the Selectmen appoint a Board of Engineers so that ' as with the growth of the town this department must naturally increase, its affairs can be economically administered and its efficiency promoted by being placed under its proper head.'"
The town adopted the recommendation and the first Board of Fire Engineers consisted of Alfred Kenrick, Jr., chairman, Reuben A. Chace, Henry Collins, Nicholas Watson, and J. Thomas Waterman clerk.
With the passing of the Firewards ends the story of the old volunteer organizations. The story of the department since 1871 should be told in an entirely different style, and certainly at some other time.
The committee appointed to nominate officers of the Society for 1904 made the following report : -
For Clerk and Treasurer,
Edward W. Baker.
Rufus G. F. Candage,
Miss Julia Goddard,
Mrs. J. C. Kittredge,
Charles H. Stearns,
Mrs. Susan V. Griggs,
Edward W. Baker.
George S. Mann,
Frank B. Thayer.
The report was accepted and it was voted to proceed to ballot. The ballot was taken and the candidates nominated were unanimously elected.
, That the Society print the President's annual address. Treasurer's report, by-laws, list of officers and members, and such papers as have been read before the Society as the Committee on Publications may select.
Edward W. Baker, Clerk
Commonwealth Of Massachusetts
Be it known
That whereas Rufus George Frederick Candage, Edward Wild Baker, Julia Goddard, John Emory Hoar, Harriet Alma Cummings, Charles Henry Stearns, James Macmaster Codman, Jr., Charles French Read, Edwin Birchard Cox, Willard Y. Gross, Charles Knowles Bolton, Tappan Eustis Francis, Desmond FitzGerald, D. S. Sanford, and Martha A. Kittredge have associated themselves with the intention of forming a corporation under the name of the
Brookline Historical Society
for the purpose of the study of the history of the town of Brookline, Massachusetts, its societies, organizations, families, individuals, and events, the collection and preservation of its antiquities, the establishment and maintenance of an historical library, and the publication from time to time of such information relating to the same as shall be deemed expedient, and have complied with the provisions of the statutes of this Commonwealth in such case made and provided, as appears from the certificate of the President, Treasurer, and Directors of said corporation, duly approved by the Commissioner of Corporations and recorded in this office;
C, William M. Olin, Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Ho Ijevcbg rertifg that said Rufus George Frederick Candage, Edward Wild Baker, Julia Goddard, John Emory Hoar, Harriet Alma Cummings, Charles Henry Stearns, James Macmaster Codman, Jr., Charles French Read, Edwin Birchard Cox, Willard Y. Gross, Charles Knowles Bolton, Tappan Eustis Francis, Desmond FitzGerald, D. S. Sanford, and Martha A. Kittredge, their associates and successors, are legally organized and established as and are hereby made an existing corporation under the name of the
Brookline Historical Society
with the powers, rights, and privileges, and subject to the limitations, duties, and restrictions, which by law appertain thereto.
my official signature hereunto subscribed, and the seal of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts hereunto affixed, this twenty-ninth day of April, in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and one.
WM. M. OLIN,
Secretary of the Commonwealth
BROOKLINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY
The name of this corporation shall be Brookline Historical Society.
The objects of this Society shall be the study of the history of the town of Brookline, Massachusetts, its societies, organizations, families, individuals, events; the collection and preservation of its antiquities, the establishment and maintenance of an historical library, and the publication from time to time of such information relating to the same as shall be deemed expedient.
Any person of moral character who shall be nominated and approved by the Board of Trustees may be elected to membership by ballot of two-thirds of the members present and voting thereon at any regular meeting of the Society. Each person so elected shall pay an admission fee of three dollars, and an annual assessment of two dollars; and any member who shall fail for two consecutive years to pay the annual assessment shall cease to be a member of this Society; provided, however, that any member who shall pay twenty-five dollars in anyone year may thereby become a Life member; and any member who shall pay fifty dollars in any one year may thereby become a Benefactor of the Society, and thereafter shall be free from all dues and assessments. The money received from Life members and Benefactors shall constitute a fund, of which not more than twenty per cent, together with the annual income there from, shall be spent in anyone year.
The Society may elect Honorary and Corresponding members in the manner in which annual members are elected, but they shall have no voice in the management of the Society, and shall not be subject to fee or assessment.
Certificates signed by the President and the Clerk may be issued to all persons who become Life members, and to Benefactors.
The officers of this Society shall be seven Trustees, a President, a Vice-President, a Secretary (who shall be Clerk of the Society and may also be elected to fill the office of Treasurer), and a Treasurer, who, together, shall constitute the Board of Trustees. The Trustees, Clerk, and Treasurer shall be chosen by ballot at the annual meeting in January, and shall hold office for one year, and until others are chosen and qualified in their stead. The President and Vice-President shall be chosen by the Board of Trustees from their number at their first meeting after their election, or at an adjournment thereof.
The annual meeting of this Society shall be held on the fourth Wednesday of January. Regular stated meetings shall be held on the fourth Wednesday of February, March, April, May, October, November, and December.
Special meetings may be called by order of the Board of Trustees. The Clerk shall notify each member by a written or printed notice sent through the mail postpaid at least three days before the time of meeting, or by publishing such notice in one or more newspapers published in Brookline.
At all meetings of the Society ten (10) members shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.
The meetings of the Board of Trustees shall be called by the Clerk at the request of the President, by giving each member personal or written notice, or by sending such notice by mail, postpaid, at least twenty-four hours before the time of such meeting; but meetings where all the Trustees are present may be held without' such notice. The President shall call meetings of the Board of Trustees at the request of any three members thereof. A majority of its members shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.
Vacancies in the offices of Trustees, Clerk, or Treasurer may be filled for the remainder of the term at any regular meeting of the Society by the vote of two-thirds of the members present and voting. In the absence of the Clerk at a meeting of the Society, a Clerk pro tempore shall be chosen.
At the monthly meeting in December, a Nominating Committee of three members shall be appointed by the presiding officer, who shall report at the annual meeting a list of candidates for the places to be filled.
The President, or in his absence the Vice-President, shall preside at all meetings of the Society. In the absence of those officers a President pro tempore shall be chosen.
DUTIES OF THE CLERK.
The Clerk shall be sworn to the faithful discharge of his duties. He shall notify members of all meetings of the Society, and shall keep an exact record of all the proceedings of the Society at its meetings.
He shall conduct the general correspondence of the Society and place on file all letters received. He shall enter the names of members in order in books or cards kept for that purpose, and issue certificates to Life members and to Benefactors. He shall have charge of such property in possession of the Society as may from time to time be delegated to him by the Board of Trustees. He shall acknowledge all loans or gifts made to the Society.
DUTIES OF THE TREASURER.
The Treasurer shall collect all moneys due the Society, and pay all bills against the Society when approved by the Board of Trustees. He shall keep a full account of receipts and expenditures in a book belonging to the Society, which shall always be open to the inspection of the Trustees; and at the annual meeting in January he shall make a written report of all his doings for the year preceding. The Treasurer shall give bonds in such sum, with surety, as the Trustees may fix, for the faithful discharge of his duties.
DUTIES AND POWERS OF TRUSTEES.
The Board of Trustees shall superintend the prudential and executive business of the Society, authorize all expenditures of money, fix all salaries, provide a common seal, receive and act upon all resignations and forfeitures of membership, and see that the by-laws are duly complied with. The Board of Trustees shall have full powers to hire, lease, or arrange for a suitable home for the Society, and to make all necessary rules and regulations required in the premises.
They shall make a report of their doings at the annual meeting of the Society.
They may from time to time appoint such sub-committees from their own number as they deem expedient.
In case of a vacancy in the office of Clerk or Treasurer they shall have power to choose the same pro tempore till the next meeting of the Society.
The President shall annually, in the month of January, appoint four standing committees, as follows :
Committee on Rooms.
A committee of three members, to be styled the "Committee on Rooms," to which shall be added the President and Clerk of the Society ex-officio, who shall have charge of all arrangements of the rooms (except books, manuscripts, and other objects appropriate to the library offered as gifts or loans), the hanging of pictures, and the general arrangements of the Society's collection in their department.
Committee on Papers.
A committee of three members, to be styled the" Committee on Papers," who shall have charge of the subjects of papers to be read, or other exercises of a profitable nature, at the monthly meetings of the Society.
Committee on Membership.
A committee of three or more members, to be styled the "Committee on Membership," whose duty it shall be to give information in regard to the purposes of the Society, and increase its membership.
Committee on Library.
A committee of three or more members, to be styled the" Committee on Library," who shall have charge of the arrangements of the library, including acceptance and rejection of books, manuscripts, and other objects tendered to the library, and the general arrangement of the Society's collections in that department.
These four committees shall perform their duties as above set forth under the general direction and supervision of the Board of Trustees. Vacancies that occur in any of these committees during their term of service shall be filled by the President.
The President shall annually, in the month of January, appoint two members, who, with the President, shall constitute the Committee on Finance, to examine from time to time the books and accounts of the Treasurer, to audit his accounts at the close of the
year, and to report upon the expediency of proposed expenditures of money.
These by-laws may be altered or amended at any regular meeting by a two-thirds vote of the members present, notice of the subject matter of the proposed alterations or amendments having been given at a previous meeting.