BROOKLINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY
ANNUAL MEETING, JANUARY 23, 1907
PUBLISHED BY THE SOCIETY
BROOKLINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY
SIXTH ANNUAL MEETING.
The sixth annual meeting of the Brookline Historical Society was held in the G. A. R. Room, Town Hall, Brookline, Mass., on Wednesday, January 23, 1907, 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 annual and 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,-Time strides on unimpaired in energy and with unerring regularity,
"Onward ever, halting never in his pace,"
and with his march we have reached the sixth annual meeting of our Society and here meet to elect officers for the year 1907, and to briefly consider events which have passed into history.
The year 1906 was memorable in occurrences which will be handed down in history to future generations, the destruction of San Francisco and Valparaiso by earthquake and fire, with the loss of hundreds of lives and millions of property, being among the most noticeable. It was the most appalling calamity that ever took place in America, and awakened a wider sympathy than any other known in ancient or modern times, and demonstrates that human sympathy and generous aid in time of great emergencies and need are at this age not confined by national boundaries or races, but are worldwide, making of all peoples one family, and uniting them in the bonds of brotherhood.
The foregoing had scarcely been written when the world was again startled by news flashed over the wires that Jamaica, still nearer our homes, had suffered in like manner on January 14, 1907, and that the city of Kingston had been by earthquake and fire destroyed, with great loss of life and property, and that United States war vessels under command of Admiral Davis had been ordered from Cuba and were on the way to Kingston to render any needed assistance. Just how great was the loss of lives and property is not known at this writing, but it is acknowledged to be very great, as details will doubtless confirm.
Your President extends thanks to officers, committees and members of the Society for aid given him in the discharge of his duties in the year past, and for all efforts put forth for the advancement and growth the Society has attained. Through these efforts the Society has accomplished good work, and by their continuance more will be accomplished in the year upon which we have entered and in other years yet to come.
EIGHT PAPERS HAVE BEEN READ
before the Society in the past year. In January, the President's Annual Address; in February, "The Myth of Mary Chilton," by Samuel Arthur Bent; in March, "Reminiscences of the War of the Rebellion," by Charles F. Read, prepared by E. F. Reed; in April, "Up the Amazon and Madeira Rivers," by Franklin A. Snow; in May, "Reminiscences of the Old Readville Camp," by Augustus S. Lovett, Commander of C. L. Chandler Post 143, G. A. R., of Brookline; in October, " Personal Experiences in Rebel Prisons," by William Finney, member of G. A. R., Post 143; in November, "A Short History of Pierce Hall and Personal Reminiscences Connected Therewith," by Charles H. Stearns, Vice-President of this Society; in December, "The Old Worcester Turnpike, or Boston to Worcester by Packhorse, Stagecoach and Trolley," by Edward Wild Baker, Secretary of the Society.
THE PUBLICATIONS OF THE SOCIETY
in the past year consisted of the Proceedings, the President's Annual Address, "The Old Walnut street Burying Ground," a paper read before the Society in December, 1901, by the Clerk, Edward Wild Baker, etc., all in one volume.
THE MEMBERSHIP OF THE SOCIETY
In 1905 was 153, and additions in 1906 were 36, carrying the number to 189. Five deaths occurred during 1906, and there were 22 lapses and withdrawals, leaving a net gain of 11, and the present number at 162.
The special effort made during the past year to increase the membership was successful, and as a result a net gain of 11 was made, two of whom were Benefactors, paying $50 each as membership fees, and three Life Members, at $25 each.
It is to be hoped that the present year will witness as good if not better results, which ought to be easy of accomplishment in a town of 25,000 people. Let each of us try to bring in a member, and thus double our membership roll by the end of the year.
Every resident, whether native or born elsewhere, owes to the town of his domicile something that will forward the town's and his own interest. That can be done to some extent by joining this Society, thus helping to make it strong and a power in an historical sense. There are many persons, doubtless, who would be glad to join if the subject-matter and its advantages were set before them by an interested member. Try it, and see what the result will be. No one knows until the trial has been made.
THE FIVE DECEASED MEMBERS
were, first, Miss Lucy S. Davis, a native of the town and a descendant of early settlers. She was the daughter of Robert Sharp and Mary Shannon Davis. She died in Brookline, where she had always resided, on May 19, 1906. She became a member of the Society at its formation in 1901, and showed much interest in it by attending its meetings until declining health prevented. She was retiring and unassuming in her demeanor, though always interested in her native town and in the affairs of life. The second name upon the roll was that of
WILLIAM TRACY EUSTIS,
born on Prince street, Boston, September 29, 1822; died at his home on Beacon street, Brookline, October 11,1906, aged 84 years and 12 days. He was seventh in line of descent from William Eustis of Rumney Marsh, now Chelsea, Mass., who was residing there in 1659, through William2
, Joseph, Joseph4
; and Joseph6
, the latter born June 13, 1794. His mother was Eleanor St. Barbe Eustis, daughter of Nicholas, and granddaughter of Nicholas Tracy of Newburyport; she was born June 13, I799. The Tracy family to which she belonged came to New England from Wexford, Ireland, date not ascertained.
William Tracy Eustis first attended school in the basement of Hollis street Church, Boston, now Hollis street Theatre, and continued in the public schools of that city until 1835, when he removed to Portland, Me., where he finished his school education in 1840. Upon leaving school he was employed in the millinery business; later by the house of Cartwright & Thayer in the commission business; still later he was with Sturtevant, Baker & Ahearn in the refining and sale of oil, and lastly with Governor Henry J. Gardner and Col. J. W. Wolcott in note brokerage and other financial matters. He married Martha Gilbert Dutton, daughter of Henry Worthington Dutton, founder of the Boston Evening Transcript, who bore him two sons and five daughters; one of the latter died in infancy, the others survive. Mrs. Eustis died June 26, 1900, in her 72d year.
Mr. Eustis upon retiring from business devoted his leisure to the study of genealogy and history, and had written genealogies of his family and of families of his friends, in which he accomplished much creditable work. He was a member of the First Corps of Cadets, and a member of the Independent Corps of Cadets Veteran Association. He was stationed for a time during the late Civil War at Fort Warren in Boston Harbor. He was a member of the Old Schoolboys of Boston, and of the Bostonian Society. He was familiar with the history of his native city by study and by observation, and was interested in it to the end of his life. In 1886 he was elected a resident member of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, and for the twenty years of his connection therewith devoted much time and labor to its interests. He was a member of the committee on the reorganization of the society in 1893; was twelve years a member of its committee on finance, 1893 to 1904; three years on the library committee, and liberally donated money for the purchase of books, from which seventy-eight volumes were added to the library by purchase in the last few years. He also offered $1,000 to the building fund for a new building; was nine years a member of the council, and in these and in other ways showed his interest in the work of the society.
Mr. Eustis removed from Boston to Brookline in 1894, and here continued his residence up to the time of his death. When this Society was organized in 1901 he became a member and, through his influence, also five of his children. He took a deep interest in the Society from the first. He presented it a bookcase and about a hundred volumes of books, was punctual in attendance at its meetings, prepared and read papers before it, served upon its committees, and always had a good word to speak in its behalf.
In his death the Society lost a benefactor, its members a valued friend whose example is worthy of commendation and emulation, and this memorial of him deserves an abiding place upon the Society's records.
FREDERICK THAYER STEVENS,
a member of this Society, and third on the roll of deaths for the year past, died at his home, 39 Columbia road, Brookline, October 13, 1906, aged 67 years. He was born in Boston, and educated in the schools of that city, where he continued to reside until his removal to Brookline in 1901. He was engaged in banking and was for some years cashier of the Globe National Bank of Boston, continuing such until its failure by the reckless speculations of its president. He became a member of this Society in 1903, took an interest in its meetings and in historical affairs generally. He was an affable, gentlemanly person, and well liked by all with whom he came in business or social contact.
WILLIAM LIONEL BAKER
was the fourth member of this Society to pass away from life, which occurred at No.6 Columbia road, Brookline, November 2, 1906, at the early age of 31 years 2 months and 21 days. He was born in Syracuse, N. Y., in 1875, and there received his education. He came to Brookline upon leaving school, studied law, and was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar, before which he practiced, and had gained a growing reputation. He was a member of Bethhoron Lodge of Masons, and its senior deacon at the time of his death. He was of a sunny disposition, and easily won and held the friendship of persons with whom he came in contact. He was elected a member of this Society in 1902, and although he had no time to give to it, he was interested in its objects and had a pleasant word to say in its behalf.
JOHN FRANK PERRY,
a member of this Society, was the fifth to fall before the destroyer in 1906. He died December 5, 1906, at Hotel Lenox in Boston, where he and his family had engaged rooms for the winter. He was born in New Bedford, Mass., July 23, 1850, and was 56 years 4 months and 12 days old at the time of his death. He was educated in the Friends' School of his native city, and became a resident of Brookline in 1891. He was interested in politics and active in town, county, state and national affairs as a Republican, and had many friends. He became a member of this Society in 1902, and although not active in its affairs was interested in its welfare and maintenance.
THE WHOLE NUMBER OF DEATHS
reported in the town for 1906 was 367, of which 310 died within the town limits and 57 elsewhere; an increase of 22 over the previous year. Of that 367 there were 36 males and 57 females who had passed the limit of three score and ten. There were 35 who were between 70 and 75; 26 who were between 75 and 80; 15 between 80 and 85; 11 between 85 and 90; and 6 were upwards of 90.
Those above 90 were Ann Deveny, 90; Sarah A. Harris, 91 years and 5 months; Nathaniel D. Whitney, 90; Reuben H. Andrews, 92 ; Daniel H. Holland, 96; and Marantha A. Libby, 97 years 3 months and 10 days; -three males and three females. Of the 93 who were over three score and ten, 62 per cent were females and 38 per cent males, with a combined age of 556 years and 8 months, and an average age of 92 years 9 months and 10 days. Of the 93 persons above 70, their combined age was 7570 years 11 months and 4 days, an average of 81 years 4 months and 26 3/4 days, if my computations be correct.
CHANGES OCCUR IN THE TOWN
from year to year and must continue to take place; some attract the attention of residents, such as the building of a block, house, or other structure observed with the eye, and the death of friends and acquaintances, but even they pass unnoticed in the lapse of time. Many seemingly minor changes occur which pass unseen or unheeded, and leave no impression upon the mind of even the observant citizen, but when enumerated surprise us all. Some of these changes are made apparent by the study of statistics, and by the comparison of one period with another.
FIRST LET US TAKE THE POPULATION
of Brookline for the year 1875 and compare it with that of 1905. In the former year the State census gave the town 6675, and in the latter approximately 25,000, showing an increase nearly fourfold. That gives one standard of comparison; now let us take the voting lists. In 1876 there were 1185 registered voters in town, and in 1906 there were 4436, an increase of 3251, or nearly fourfold. Of the 4436 in 1906 there remained on the list of those registered in 1876 only 162, showing that 1023 had been dropped, and 4274 had been added between those two dates! The person who voted on both dates, by study of lists found 161 beside himself who were at the election in 1876, and 4274 unknown to him on the former occasion, provided all voted at the elections named. The inference is that 1023 had died, or perhaps a few were still living elsewhere, while more than four times as many had become voters by arriving at voting age or having moved into town.
The older citizen and voter from study of these figures would doubtless be surprised, feel more or less lonely in his new alignment and realize he was living in a place of change, and likely to continue in changes.
THE TAX LISTS OF THE TOWN
show that in the year 1876, the centennial year of our nation, there were 1786 persons assessed a poll tax, and that in 1906 there were assessed 6910, an increase of 5034, or nearly fourfold. The value of personal property assessed in 1876 was $10,686,300, and in 1906 it was $28,918,700, an increase of $18,232,400, or about one and three-fourths. The value of real property in 1876 was $16,804,000, and in 1906, $69,363,900, an increase of $52,559,90, or about two and thirty-five hundredths. The total value in 1876 was $27,490,300, and in 1906, $93,282,300, an increase of $65,792,000, or about two and four-tenths.
BROOKLINE BEING A NEARBY SUBURB
of Boston, in the line of that city's overflow of population, within easy and convenient distance by steam and trolley, its fine streets, sidewalks, schools, water, police, town government and low rates of taxation, all have contributed to the changes we have been considering. And though the old residents may lament that the town has lost its former rural charm; that apartments and apartment hotels have robbed it of its former desirability as a place of residence; that its population is not what it used to be, -the changes have come and are to march on until its streets in the future will be faced with continuous blocks of buildings, become metropolitan in character and indistinguishable from the neighboring city in external appearance, even if it preserves its municipal independence, as most good citizens of the present hope it may. Regret such changes as one may, it seems inevitable for them to occur, and all must bow and accept them with grace, the current being too strong to be stemmed or turned aside.
We of this Society have no disposition to find fault with occurring changes. We note them as a part of the town's history, and welcome old residents and later comers to join our organization and aid us in our work.
THE BICENTENARY OF THE TOWN.
This Society was instrumental in calling attention to the bicentenary of the town's incorporation, in having a committee appointed to formulate a plan of the celebration and to carry it into execution, also in procuring an appropriation for it. The anniversary was observed with appropriate exercises, and a balance of the appropriation amounting to over $1,500 remained unexpended. The committee sought to secure about half of the unexpended balance by re-appropriation, to publish the report of the exercises. There was an article in the warrant for the annual March meeting of the town in 1906 which was favorably reported upon by the committee on articles in the warrant, but which failed of passage by a small majority vote; and there the matter rested so far as action on the part of the town was concerned.
Some members of this Society and others interested have secured a guaranty fund with the hope of publishing the proceedings in a volume of about 250 pages, bound in cloth, at $2.50 per copy, limited to subscribers. No extra copies will be printed, and persons desirous of possessing the work can secure the same by filling out subscription blanks for the copies they wish and forwarding same to the committee at an early date, paying for the copies upon delivery. Those who do not receive blanks through the mail can procure them upon application to the committee which will shortly be announced in the papers of the town.
The book will contain the opening address of the Chairman, Moses Williams, Esq.; the address of Hon. Henry Cabot Lodge, United States Senator from Massachusetts, orator of the day; the exercises and address for the school children of the town; the dedication of the bowlder and tablet to the signers of the petition for the town's incorporation, etc.; extracts from the Sunday sermons preached in the churches of the town bearing upon the subject; the exercises, toasts, and speeches at the dinner in the Town Hall concluding the celebration; orders of exercises; programs, menus, illustrations, etc., such as the committee on publication may deem advisable.
The volume will be printed on durable paper, and will be a unique memorial of the celebration, worthy of the occasion and of preservation, and also worthy of being handed down to future generations. While the publication will be in charge of a committee of members of this Society and possibly others, the Society will in no way be responsible for its financial success, that being covered by the subscriptions and guaranty. The work, it is believed, will be a credit to its sponsors, and become more and more valuable as time rolls on. "Historical Sketches of Brookline," by Miss Woods, published at $3 per copy, now brings $12 to $15, when copies can be had, and there is reason to believe that this volume in the lapse of years will command approximate prices, especially as no copies will be for sale outside of subscribers.
The publication of this book is in the line of work for which this Society was organized in accordance with its charter -"the study of Brookline history, the collection and preservation of its antiquities, the maintenance of a library, and the publication of information relating to the same as shall be deemed expedient." In this work all good citizens of the town are cordially invited to assist, and to become members of the Society.
THE DEVOTION HOUSE
which we hoped to secure for the home of our Society and a depository for our antiquities, that they might be placed on exhibition for the benefit of the public, remains in the condition described a year ago. It is in the custody and care of the Selectmen, who have given us no intimation that they desire even an interview with this and the patriotic societies of the town, which petitioned more than a year ago to have it put in order and placed in their charge at a nominal rental. We hope yet to secure it, and by the united action of members of this and of the other societies we may at some time in the future. I would recommend that such action be taken, and if done with united purpose, feel that the Selectmen and the town might give it into our custody for the purposes named.
THIS SOCIETY IN THE SIX YEARS
of its existence has accomplished commendable work along the lines for which it was chartered, in papers read before it, in its publications containing historic data, in historic manuscripts, books, and antiquities collected, some of which for lack of a building or rooms in which to make them available, are now stored, and should be placed where they could be seen and made available by the Society, in an historic building or rooms under its own control and custody.
Let us all work actively and harmoniously together to bring that about,and cease not in the present nor in the future in our efforts to advance the Society's interests until the Society shall be acknowledged an ideal one among the many in this old, historic Commonwealth founded by our Pilgrim and Puritan ancestors, and having its home in this old, historic, idealistic, and beautiful town Of Brookline.
A SHORT HISTORY OF PIERCE HALL WITH SOME PERSONAL RECOLLECTIONS.
Read at Meeting of Brookline Historical Society, November, 1906.
The action of the First Parish during the past summer, in very materially altering and repairing Pierce Hall (so called), and recently the destruction of the parish house by fire, and the almost miraculous escape of Pierce Hall, which adjoined the parish house, from the devouring element, have brought the old building prominently before the citizens of the town, and it was thought that some account of what is now a historic building, and some personal reminiscences of it might be interesting to our society; and the following rather brief and, from the limited time since the fire, rather crude account has been prepared from such data as the writer could gather and the records could show.
The building was originally designed and built for a town hall, and also for a district school, to take the place of the old brick school. Until 1825, the town meetings were held either in the meetinghouse, which was owned and maintained by the town, or in the brick schoolhouse which stood on the triangular plot of ground just north of the meetinghouse, -the spot which one year ago was crowded by the people of the town, including the schoolchildren, gathered to dedicate the stone and tablet there erected to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the town. I say either the one place or the other, for it is an amusing distinction that our fathers drew between religious worship and secular transactions, in that while it was deemed sacrilegious to have artificial heat in the meetinghouse -no matter how severe the wintry winds,-if the town meeting was called on a very cold day an adjournment was made to the brick schoolhouse, which had a stove in it. It is interesting to note the reluctance of the town to authorize the expense of the new building, and the vacillation as shown by the contradictory votes on the subject.
The first reference we find to a possible new building was at the town meeting held April 5, 1824, when it was voted "that the selectmen Thomas W. Sumner, Ebenezer Heath and Joshua C. Clark be a committee to examine the state of the brick schoolhouse and report at the May meeting the probable expense of repairing it and erecting a New House of brick, Wood and Stone." These three were representative men and frequent reference to them is found in the town records. They all lived to a good old age, and I remember them well. Thomas W. Sumner lived in the old wooden house which stood so long on Warren street, on the spot where Mr. Hunt now lives. It is the same house where of old Jeremy Gridley lived, a paper on whose life our President wrote not long ago. A fine picture of the house was given in the records of our Society. His garden took in what are now the estates of Mrs. Poor and Mr. Townsend. He was a retired Boston merchant, a kindly gentleman and a good citizen. Ebenezer Heath lived in the house now occupied by the Misses Dana on Heath street. He was a farmer and his farm took in the beautiful hill west of the old reservoir. Joshua C. Clark, or Deacon Clark, as he was generally known, lived in the house on Warren street now occupied by the Olmsteds. He was a farmer, his land being part of that covered by the reservoir, and extending south of Dudley He was a most excellent citizen.
On May 3d, the following action was taken: voted, "That the Brick schoolhouse be not repaired"; also voted, "that Mr. Sumner be employed to draft a plan of a one-story building to accommodate the Town"; also voted, "that the Selectmen be required to call a meeting on Monday next to see whether the Town will build a schoolhouse." The schoolhouse rather than the townhouse was the all-essential thing. Then, on May 10th, the inhabitants of the town having been duly warned, a town meeting was held to consider the subject. Deacon John Robinson was chosen Moderator.
Deacon Robinson was a most estimable citizen, and was called upon in almost every emergency in which the town found itself. He lived on Washington street near the gas holder, just south of Beacon street, and was a tanner by trade. He was a selectman for thirty-four years; represented the town in the General Court for many years; was a moderator at town meetings, and indeed held almost every office in the power of the town to bestow. He died in 1854, at an advanced age. It may be interesting to state that I recently had the pleasure of shaking hands with Deacon Robinson's great-great-grandson, a lad of eighteen or nineteen years.
At the meeting mentioned it was voted "that the town build a two-story building, the basement to be entirely above ground"; voted, "that the building be of wood 48 x 28 feet"; voted, "that the committee to build be the same who were appointed on the expediency of repairing the Brick School House"; voted, "that Mr. Richard Sullivan be added to the committee." (Mr. Sullivan lived just above the meetinghouse, where Mrs. Bowditch afterwards lived. He was a retired Boston merchant, and made several gifts to the meetinghouse.) Voted, "to reconsider the vote for building of wood, so far as to give the committee the power to build the basement of stone if they think advisable that the building be of stone"; voted, "that the Town Treasurer be empowered to borrow what money is necessary to erect the building voted above."
Evidently the town proceeded forthwith to erect the building, for at a meeting called November 29th, it was voted "that the selectmen be a committee to dispose of the Brick Schoolhouse at auction when they think proper." In consequence they (the Selectmen) appointed the next Friday, the 3d day of December, at 2 p. m., "at which time the building was sold with a few useless logs for about one hundred and forty-eight dollars." My grandfather bought some of the bricks, which probably were put into the house which he was then building, and which stands today on Stearns road. Thus ended the old schoolhouse which had stood for so many years, marking the centre of the town; the school of the infamous Master Adams. Miss Woods speaks of Mr. Ebenezer Heath planting an elm tree on the spot where the door of the brick school stood.
Miss Woods has this in her "Sketches of Brookline": "After the close of the second war with England, the town began to grow more rapidly. Several gentlemen came here and built fine houses and there was a general increase of prosperity. The subject of building a townhouse began to be discussed, but met with considerable opposition from old citizens who thought the old schoolhouse had been good enough for them and their fathers, and ought to suffice for the coming generations.
"However, the more enterprising carried their point at last, so far as to get a vote to build a townhouse. The next thing to be considered was the place and the material. The brothers John and Lewis Tappan, and Mr. Joseph Sewall had built stone houses, and it was proposed to build a stone townhouse.' This was opposed of course, as unnecessary extravagance, by the men who thought the old schoolhouse was good enough. But once more enterprise triumphed, and the building was decided upon, as well as the location. This was the origin of the building known as the old stone schoolhouse, still standing next to the Unitarian Church.
January 1, 1825. -Saturday evening the new Town Hall was dedicated by prayer and sacred music. The new building with the Town Hall above and the District School below was now complete.
January 3, 1825.-A town meeting was held, at which the town voted "a unanimous vote of thanks to Deacon John Robinson for the valuable present of a chandelier for the use of the Town Hall, and that the same be placed on the Town Records." No further allusion to the building occurs in the town records until a meeting called April 27, 1834, when a committee was appointed to separate the land occupied by the meetinghouse from that occupied by the townhouse -the occasion being the dissolution of the town and parish. At that time the town owned quite a piece of land to the east of the town house, which was subsequently sold to Ignatius Sargent.
The school at that time in the new building was, as I have said, one of the district schools of the town, and was used as such until 1843, when the High School was first established. The hall was used as a town hall, and was also let for various purposes. I have heard my parents tell of singing schools, Lyceum lectures, and temperance lectures being held there; indeed, it was until 1840, when Lyceum Hall in the village was built, the only room of its kind in the town. Miss Woods speaks of the Lyceum lectures, and of a prize offered by one of the citizens to the young person who could best commit to memory and write out one of the lectures. The prize was won by Miss Sarah Clark, daughter of Deacon Clark, and who died but a few years ago.
The High School was organized August 17, 1843, -a rather singular date for beginning a school, but my earliest remembrance of summer vacations was three weeks in August, and the above date was evidently the beginning of the fall term. The first master of the school was Mr. Benjamin H. Rhodes, a graduate of Brown University, who resigned the position after four years of service. He had for a time as an assistant Mr. James Pierce, a relative of Dr. Pierce. He was a graduate of Harvard, and afterwards studied for the ministry, but before he had an opportunity to preach his health failed him and a voyage to Europe was prescribed; he died on the voyage and was buried at sea. Mr. Rhodes, of whom I have no recollection, had the respect and love of his pupils. He went from Brookline to assume the post of librarian of Redwood Library, Newport.
In 1845 the second Town Hall was built on or near the spot occupied by the present Hall. The dedicatory address by Dr. Pierce was almost a complete history of the town up to that date. The address was published and it is a most interesting account of the growth of the town. It has been frequently consulted and quoted, as Dr. Pierce was known far and wide as a faithful and conscientious historian. After this time the old building was used exclusively for school purposes, the girls occupying the upper story and the boys the lower. My first introduction to the school was in the spring of 1848, when having attained my eleventh birthday I was considered fit to enter the High School, age rather than ability being the test of entrance. At that time Mr. Hezekiah Shailer had succeeded Mr. Rhodes, and he was the master during the four years of my attendance there. He was a brother of Rev. William H. Shailer of the Baptist Church. Mr. Shailer was a believer in the old adage, "spare the rod and spoil the child," but he was on the whole a faithful, conscientious teacher, and had the respect of his scholars. The boys occupied the lower story, and a most dismal, damp and dark room it was. The building had no cellar and was placed Iowan the ground. The windows were small and the whole atmosphere of the place was depressing. The upper floor was occupied by the girls and was a light, cheerful room, and it was a great boon to the boys when the whole school gathered
there, or when they went there to recite.
The female teachers, as I remember them, were Miss Harding, who was transferred from the intermediate school; Miss Annie Ware, an older sister of Mr. Charles P. Ware of this town. She afterwards married Dr. Frederic Winsor of Winchester, and is still living, a widow, in Weston. Miss Taber was another teacher. She was a daughter of E. Taber of Roxbury, a famous clock maker of the old time. We have in our house one of his tall clocks, which must be at least seventy-five years old and is still ticking away. Miss Taber died a few years ago. Miss Emily Ripley was for a time a teacher in the school. She married the Rev. James Reid, Swedenborgian minister of Boston, and is still living.
Among the scholars were Spencer Richardson, the senior partner of Richardson, Hill & Co.; Roscoe Deane, a brilliant fellow, who studied law, but was addicted to taking morphine and died in early manhood; William Philbrick, a brother of Edward S. Philbrick, who lived in the old stone house on Walnut street; David Wilder, a brother of Burt Wilder, Professor at Cornell; Edward Thayer, a son of Seth Thayer, who for many years kept a store in Brookline; Walter Wild, a younger brother of Gen. Edward Wild; William Ventris, a relative of Mr. Shailer and who lived with him while at school. He became a Baptist minister and married Miss Murdock, also a scholar of the school. He came from Connecticut and introduced a game called Haddam Fox: after a newly fallen snow, he would mark out a large circle in the adjoining field, with radii to the center, and he (Ventris) was the fox, and the whole school as hounds would chase up and down these paths, with a penalty for the one who cut across.
Mr. Shailer used to open the school with prayer, kneeling down on the platform, resting his hands on a chair, facing the school. He seemed to have his eyes closed, but woe to the boy who would presume to take advantage of the situation; for, the prayer ended, the culprit would be called forthwith to the desk to receive his punishment: such were his occult (?) powers. He was paying attention while master of the school to Miss Jane Griggs, a daughter of Deacon Griggs, and a sister of Deacon Thomas Griggs of Washington street, and I remember a grammatical exercise one day in which occurred the sentence to be corrected, "Jane and I was invited," which caused a titter among the scholars and a blush on Mr. Shailer. After they were married they lived in a house on Corey Hill, directly behind Mr. Mitton's house, and which was pulled down a few years ago to make room for his stable. Mr. Shailer resigned in 1853 or '54, and went to New York, where he engaged in the book business. He died some years ago. His death was quite tragic: he owned a farm in Connecticut, and while stowing away hay in his barn one summer's day a thunderstorm came up suddenly, and the lightning struck the barn, and Mr. Shailer was instantly killed. His widow still lives in Brookline, over eighty years old.
I have spoken of the rather cheerless condition of the schoolhouse. It was not an architectural success, inside or out, -dull, gray, with no opening towards the street except a heavy solid door, a rather narrow window above, and a little round hole under the ridgepole; it was not unlike a tomb, a resemblance which was heightened by the two square recessed slabs of stone on either side of the door, as if ready to receive a " sacred to the memory of."
But if the schoolroom was cheerless, what shall I say about the recesses and the meetings before and after school. What an ideal playground! The whole meetinghouse lot was ours, and indeed the whole neighborhood for that matter. What glorious times climbing the hill behind the meetinghouse: the rocks, the trees, the glorious sunshine and the delightful views from the hilltop were ours to enjoy, and in boy fashion we did enjoy them, and the recollection of the good times often comes back to me as I go by the place now. In rainy weather we had the whole range of horse sheds, only separated from each other by a piece of timber, and here was our gymnasium all ready for us, without a cent of expense to the town. This in the summer season; in the winter what grand coasts! Often on our double-runners, beginning at the top of the hill beyond the church and ending on Cypress street where Boylston street crosses it; no police interference forbidding coasting in the streets in those days. Directly opposite the school was Mr. Sumner's land. On what is now Mr. Townsend's lawn was a cherry tree, which he gave to the boys,-generous, and at the same time politic old gentleman, for no better protectors to his garden could be found than his loyal friends the schoolboys. I attended the High School four years, leaving in 1852. Mr. Shailer continued as teacher about a year longer. After he left, the school had several masters of short duration of service, and the morale suffered materially, and quite a number of the parents took their children from the school and sent them to private schools. In 1854 Mr. John E. Horr was appointed to the post, and the school began at once to improve. It is not necessary that I should give any account of his stewardship, for it is but recently that he was taken from us, leaving an enviable record as a teacher and a citizen.
In 1856 the High School building at the corner of Prospect and School streets was opened and the old building was abandoned for a while. Mr. Horr in his report on the occupation of the new schoolhouse says: "Nor are we slow to remember our improved facilities: we have emerged from those low-browed arches of stone, and from damp and darksome cells to the more genial influences of solar light and wholesome air."
On the 25th of May, 1857, a new school called the South Primary was opened in the old building. The School Committee report says: "The requisite alterations in the heating plant and fixtures of the building have been effective: and a comfortable room meets all the necessities of the school for the present."
There certainly was room enough for improvement! Miss Adelaide Pope was the first teacher. She was a sister of Col. Albert A. Pope of bicycle and automobile fame. In the School Committee report of 1860-61, it reads: "Early in the year it was found necessary to place an assistant in the South Primary," etc., and Miss Ellen Hedge, a daughter of Rev. Dr. Hedge, was appointed. The report goes on: "While on the subject of this school (the old stone schoolhouse on Walnut street) it is well to call the attention of the town to the fact that there is not a foot of playground belonging to it: and your committee has been memorialized by citizens dwelling in that neighborhood on the subject of the great inconvenience to which they are subjected from this cause. It certainly is not just that the children from any part of the town should be forced to be a nuisance: yet from the necessity of the case they are so in this instance. Except into the street, they can scarcely step out of the schoolhouse without becoming trespassers on the property of some one." But the building continued to be used as a primary school until 1868, when the present Boylston Primary schoolhouse was built. Among the teachers in the old building was Miss Eliza Kenrick, aunt of the Messrs. Kenrick of our village. She afterwards married Capt. Asa Smith, and with him made several voyages around the world. In 1869 the building was sold to Edward Atkinson and Nathaniel G. Chapin for $1,000, and this terminates its ownership by the town. The building continued to be used as a school, private of course, and a number of different teachers were employed.
Mr. Atkinson, some years after, proceeded to make quite extensive changes in the building, adding a large wooden structure in the rear. The size of the old hall was about doubled an d was really made quite attractive, a new chimney was built, giving cosy fireplaces, and the lower story of the original building used entirely for dressing rooms.
Mr. Atkinson bought the place more especially for a place to have his own children educated, and also for an opportunity for others to come in, and under the care of Miss Rideoute the school became very popular. Miss Seamans, who afterward married Mr. Andrews, the architect, was Miss Rideoute's assistant; other teachers were employed and the school had a large attendance. After Mr. Atkinson's children got beyond the school age, his interest in the building waned, and about 1887 or '88 the school was closed. The old hall was now in the market for sale, and the First Parish, feeling it might be for their advantage to own the building so near its meetinghouse, bought it from Mr. Atkinson in March, 1890. Since that time it has been known as Pierce Hall, a name given to it in memory of Dr. Pierce, for fifty years the minister of the Parish, and also a resident of the parsonage opposite. It has been used by the Parish for social purposes, and also by the public in various ways: it has been a favorite place for private theatricals, having a stage and dressing-rooms, and many an enjoyable evening has been spent there in comedies, farces and charades. About a year ago it was found that the sills of the building had decayed so much as to cause a settlement of the Hall, and temporary props were put in during the past winter. Then came the project of a new parish house, and the plans adopted included the repairing and enlarging of the old hall. The parish house had just been completed and Pierce Hall nearly so, when the fire came, destroying the former and badly damaging the church, and the hall was saved only by the heroic efforts of the firemen. It has now been finished and is used by the Parish for Sunday services during the repairing of the meetinghouse.
The hall has been practically rebuilt, excepting the original stone walls. It has been lengthened, giving additional seating space, the ceiling has been removed, and the old roof timbers encased, a new and commodious stage built, and an entire renewal of dressing rooms, heating plant, etc. Since the Parish has owned the hall, it has been from time to time considered whether it were worth while to keep the old building standing. It has constantly required a considerable amount of repairs, and some members of the Parish have advocated tearing it down; but now with its renovation and its connection with the parish house it will doubtless stand for many a day, and at least celebrate its one hundredth birthday, which is not many years distant.
CHARLES H. STEARNS.
BROOKLINE, November, 1906.
In the summer of 1906, a few enthusiastic golfers planned a day's play at the Worcester Golf Club, and one beautiful summer morning we assembled in Village Square, Brookline. Here the old wooden building easterly from the Engine House, called "Whyte's Block," reminds us by its name that it was on this spot that John White of Muddy River built his house in the long ago days of Massachusetts Bay Colony.
We boarded the open electric car marked "Wellesley, Natick, Framingham and Worcester" at almost the identical spot where, years ago, we would have climbed into a great, lumbering, four or six-horse coach. Probably in those days we would have preceded our departure by drinking a mug of cider or flip, or perhaps a little spiced wine, in the tap room of the old Punch Bowl Tavern, which stood on the northerly side of the square, and whose hospitable doors were always open under the sign of the Bowl and Lemon Tree.
Until the town line was reached, just beyond Hammond street, the car kept the rate of speed to which we are accustomed within city limits, but, after reaching the open country in Newton and beyond, the speed increased to express train rate and we whirled along smoothly and so rapidly that about two hours after leaving Brookline we reached the square in Worcester.
It was a most delightful ride in the fresh morning air, through beautiful scenery of hill, valley and meadow, amid surroundings of great interest, both on account of their present significance and historical associations. The return trip was under the light of a clear, bright moon, and, if anything, was more pleasurable than the outward journey in the morning. The next week the same party took another ride in the same way as far as Framingham, where the day was spent at the Framingham Country Club, whose grounds are opposite one of the recently completed basins of the great Metropolitan Water Supply system, and whose club house, directly on the line of the car route, is the old Josiah Temple house, built in 1693 by Caleb Bridges, and adapted in a most artistic manner to its present use.
These trips brought vividly to the writer's recollection an outing which he enjoyed with a schoolboy companion sometime in the seventies, when, with a horse and buggy, we drove from Brookline to Worcester, taking two days for the trip, with stop-over at Westborough, which was reached late in the afternoon of the first day. After spending some weeks on a farm a few miles beyond Worcester, we drove back to Brookline.
Going and coming we kept to the old turnpike road, which the trolley cars now follow, and, boy-like, we went prepared for adventures with highwaymen and possible savage beasts. But the journey was lacking all such excitements, and gave us only the experiences of a drive along a quiet, little-used, and in. some places almost forgotten country road, narrow and grass-grown for long stretches, over-shadowed by the foliage of the low-bending trees and bordered by vines and wild flowers.
The contrast in the manner of travelling, and the great changes along the road which have taken place in the last thirty years, emphasize the fact that the extension and improvement of the means and methods of travelling are the most important factors in the growth and development, not only of the termini served, but of all the intermediate country, and every town between Worcester and Boston has waxed or waned in its growth and progress according to its facilities far transportation.
The celebration of anniversaries teaches us history, and centennial anniversaries certainly deserve observance. It is therefore fitting at this time to attempt to tell the story of the old turnpike road, which was constructed one hundred years ago under authority of the Massachusetts General Court, which, by Act of March, 1806, incorporated the proprietors of the Boston and Worcester Turnpike. The road was not known by the name of Boylston street until it was so named in 1841, in honor of the Boylston family which lived opposite the present Reservoir site and was prominently identified with the town's early history.
Before the white man settled on Shawmut, as the old peninsula of Boston was called, the Indians had their paths or trails westward through the wilderness between the Bay and their settlements on the inland lakes and streams in the Connecticut Valley and beyond.
When the Wabbaquassets came from what is now Woodstock, Connecticut, with sacks of Indian corn for the nearly starved colonists in the fall after Governor Winthrop arrived (1630), they travelled to and fro by one of their trails which no doubt had been frequently travelled before and was easily followed by what were to them well known landmarks.
The earliest English travellers westward, so far as known, were John Oldham, Samuel Hall and two others who, in 1633, started for Connecticut to look for a good place for a new settlement, as if anywhere within twenty miles of Boston was not new enough in 1633!
Knowing of the trail used by the Indians three years earlier, they followed it from Watertown, because they realized it would be the easiest line of travel; would strike the fording or crossing places of streams, avoid bad swamps, and, what was of equal if not greater importance, would take them by the Indian villages scattered along the route, where they could obtain food and lodging.
Other pioneers started out by the same route, and little by little the original trail became recognized as an established line of travel. Followed by larger parties and by those who took their families, their horses and cattle, the faintly marked path became deeply worn and clearly defined. It was known as "the way to Connecticut," and the early records of grants of land in what are today Wayland, Sudbury, Marlborough, and other towns specify areas of more or less acres along the "Connecticut Path," as it was designated, which, after it became still more broadly marked, was named the" Connecticut Road."
In what is now Wayland, formerly a part of Sudbury, the old path forked. The northern branch, passing through Marlborough, Worcester, and Brookfield, was known as the" Bay Path," and extended straight to the Connecticut River and the settlement of Agawam, now the City of Springfield.
It would be presumption for the writer to attempt to give any description of these wilderness paths -the only lines of communication for the early colonists between the widely scattered settlements,-when the description as given by J. G. Holland in his story of Old Agawam, under the title of "The Bay Path," is available for quotation:
" The principal communication with the eastern settlement was by a path marked by trees a portion of the distance, and by slight clearings of brush and thicket for the remainder. No stream was bridged, no hill graded, and no marsh drained. The path led through woods which bore the marks of centuries, over barren hills that had been licked by the Indians' hounds of fire, and along the banks of streams in which the seine had never been dragged. The path was known as 'the Bay Path' or the path to the Bay, and received its name in the same manner as the multitudinous 'old Bay-roads' that lead to Boston from every quarter of Massachusetts. It was wonderful what a powerful interest was attached to the Bay Path. It was the channel through which laws were communicated, through which flowed news from distant friends, and through which came loving letters and messages. It was the vaulted passage along which echoed the voices from across the ocean, and through which, like low-toned thunder, rolled the din of the great world. That rough thread of soil, chopped by the blades of a hundred streams, was a bond that radiated at each terminus into a thousand fibres of love and interest, and hope and memory."
It was the one way left open through which the sweet tide of sympathy might flow. Every rod had been prayed over by friends on the journey and friends at home.
"The Bay Path was charmed ground-a precious passage,-and during the spring, the summer and the early autumn, hardly a settler at Agawam went out of doors, or changed his position in the fields, or looked up from his labor, or rested on his paddle upon the bosom of the river, without turning his eyes to the point at which the Path opened from the brow of the wooded hill upon the east, where now the bell of the huge arsenal tells hourly of the coming of a stranger along the path of time. And when some worn and weary man came in sight, upon his half-starved horse, or two or three pedestrians, bending beneath their packs, and swinging their sturdy staves, we're seen approaching, the village was astir from one end to the other.
"And when one of the settlers started forth upon the journey to the Bay, with his burden of letters and messages, and his numberless commissions for petty purchases, the event was one well known to every individual, and the adventurer received the benefit of public prayer for the prosperity of his passage and the safety of his return."
From the Massachusetts Colony records we learn that in August, 1633, at a Court holden at Boston, "It is agreed that there shall be a sufficient Cart-bridge made in some convenient place over Muddy River," etc.
In March, 1634, at a Court holden at Newe Towne, "It is ordered that Rich. Dumer and John Johnson shall build a sufficient cartbridge over Muddy River before the next General Court and that Boston, Rocksburry, Dorchester, Newtowne and Watertown shall equally contribute to it."
The charge for this bridge was £15 3s. 6d., and in 1640 it was thus apportioned: Boston £6, Roxbury £5, Dorchester £1 7S.3d., Watertown £1 7S. 11d., Cambridge £1 17S. 11d.
According to the old Boston records, March 16, 1640, " William Colbron and Jacob Ellyott are appointed to layout the highways at Muddy River towards Cambridge." This is the first reference to any definite road or highway in the hamlet of Muddy River.
Miss Woods (page 308) says the highway of 1640 "was laid out and trees spotted along the old Indian trail as far as the falls of the Charles River and through Reservoir Lane to Nonantum, where there was an Indian Village." This was probably the local connection between the Muddy River" sufficient cart-bridge" and the Connecticut Path where it crossed the river at Watertown. At the best it did nothing but more clearly indicate the path used by the Indians, so that those unskilled in woodcraft could follow it with little or no difficulty.
In the Boston records for 1657 we read:
"Notice given both to Watertown and Cambridge that they might depute some to joyne with ours deputed to layout a highway from Muddy River to Watertown Mill, and upon the 21st of the 2nd month it was (by partys deputed by sd towns) performed, the sd way is four rods in breadth and directed by markt trees."
This was a real highway, and was what is today our Washington street in Brookline, and its continuation through Brighton and Newton to the Watertown bridge at the falls.
Probably there was no agitation for speed regulations along this "four rod highway directed by marked trees"; the problems of sidewalks and street watering bothered nobody; but the association for good roads must have been an active force, because we read in 1661, "It is ordered yt ye surveyors att Muddy River shall forthwyth repayre ye highway to Watertown Mill which is defective."
From this time on this road was used by all those travelling east or west between Roxbury, Dorchester or Boston and Watertown or beyond to Worcester, and gradually became recognized as the principal highway by the different towns through which it passed and in which it was known as the "Connecticut Road."
In 1643 the Sudbury records designate it as the highway from Watertown to Mr. Dunster's farm and as such it was formally laid out in 1649. In 1674 Framingham laid out the old path or road as the highway to Nobscot and beyond, and a new cart bridge was built across the Sudbury River to take the place of the old horse bridge, which was ever afterwards known as the" New Bridge."
With the growth of the Colony the travel in both directions grew heavier and heavier, and in the progress of time what had been a path through forest and across clearing, faintly traced by the soft moccasins of the Indians, developed into what was termed "The King's Highway." After the Revolution, it lost its royal title, and is commonly referred to in the records as "the great road" or the" post road from New York to Boston."
Perhaps the best reference to the ancient highway can be quoted from Bond's History of Watertown:
"The road extending westward from the Mill was at first sometimes called the country road, but it has been much more commonly known as the Sudbury road since the planting of that town (1639). It was the country road and it is often designated as such in deed, inventories, etc. It is now Main street and retains this name through Waltham to Weston. It is said that for a long time there was more travel on it than any road in the colonies. It was the great thoroughfare from Boston and its vicinity, passing over Boston Neck through Roxbury, Brookline, New Cambridge (Newton), and over Mill Bridge i-thence westward through Watertown, Waltham, Weston to the western part of the Colony, to Connecticut, New York and the Southern Colonies. Some of this travel was diverted by the building of the Cambridge bridge, and still more by the' Worcester Turnpike.' "
As a necessity supplied creates another want, so the development of the old road by constant travel in both directions created the demand for stopping places at convenient points, where refreshment and lodging for man and beast could be obtained. The "ordinary" of colonial days, as it was then called, and the" tavern" of later periods, supplied the wants of travellers from Boston to all outlying points and distant places.
Many an interesting anecdote or story could be told of the part the old taverns along the great road to Worcester played in local history, in the early Indian Wars, and later in the Revolutionary period, to say nothing of their facilities and furnishings as places of entertainment for the ordinary traveler.
Some of the early laws regulating the old inns, ordinaries or taverns, make interesting reading today. To mention only a few particulars:-the law provided that "all public houses shall be on or near the high streets, roads and places of great resort"; innholders were required to be furnished with suitable provisions for the refreshment and entertainment of strangers and travellers, pasturing, stableroom, hay and provender for horses, on pain of being deprived of their license; and "no licensed person shall sell oats for more than one penny the quart" ; taverners were forbidden to have or keep in or about their houses, out-houses, yards, gardens or places to them belonging, any dice, cards, tables, bowls, shuffleboard, billiards, coyts, cales, logats or any other implements used in gaming.
Apprentices, servants or negroes were not allowed to have any manner of drink except with their master's special order, and no inhabitant of the town where the inn was located, or from any other town, except travellers or persons upon business or extraordinary occasions, was to be permitted to sit drinking or tippling for more than the space of one hour. Taverners were strictly forbidden to entertain Pedlars, particularly if they were selling indigo or feathers, and no drinking or tippling was to be permitted after nine o'clock in the night. Singing, fiddling, piping or any other Musick, dancing or revelling were not by law to be suffered or exercised in any tavern. If the Inn-holder saw fit to give credit, the law passed in 1726 said that all above ten shillings should be forfeited, and action to recover any such debt was barred. All these and many more regulations were intended to carry out the declaration of the law-makers of long ago,-that, "Forasmuch as the ancient, true and principal use of inns, taverns, ale-houses, victualling houses and other houses for common entertainment, is for the Receipt, relief and lodging of travellers and strangers and the refreshment of persons upon lawful business, or for the necessary supply of the wants of such poor persons as are not able by greater quantities to make their provision of victuals and are not intended for the entertainment of lewd or idle people to spend or consume their money or time there,-therefore, "Be it enacted, etc."
Each tavern or inn was also required to have a sign affixed to the house or in some conspicuous place near the same, and if for any reason the license was revoked then the sign should at once be taken down.
The tavern was usually the only public place in town -except the meeting house on the days of worship -where the people were accustomed to congregate. Therefore the publishment board, the pillory, the stocks, and all other features of public interest centered about the tavern. If any amusement came into town or was arranged for by local citizens, it was at or near the tavern if possible. For example, this advertisement appeared in the Boston Evening Post of January 11, 1773:
"This is to give notice that there will be a Bear and a number of turkeys set up as a mark next Thursday Before noon at the Punch Bowl Tavern in Brookline."
There were two other taverns in Brookline, besides the Punch Bowl. Dana's Tavern stood facing the present Harvard square, approximately where Rhodes Brothers' store now is. It was burned in 1816 (Woods, p. 49-51). Richards Tavern, or Richards Hotel, as it was sometimes called, was built by Elhanan Winchester, Sr., father of the famous preacher, about 1770, with the assistance of his brethren of the" New Lights," as they were called. It was a large house and had a good-sized hall or room for their meetings. The house passed through the possession of Ebenezer and Joseph White to Ebenezer Richards, who kept it as a public house. It faced Heath street, near where Hammond street now crosses. The Worcester turnpike passed close by and just to the rear of the house, where was located one of the turnpike gates with the toll house for the gate-keeper.
It continued as a tavern until about 1830. It then passed to Henry Pettes of Boston, and afterwards was owned by Mark W. Sheafe of Portsmouth. As the Sheafe House it is shown on the town map of 1844 and 1855. The old house is still standing, and a photograph taken in 1904 accompanies this paper.
Miss Woods gives quite a full account of the old Punch Bowl Tavern, which was kept as a public house from previous to 1740 to 1839. The Brookline Selectmen held their meetings either at Dana's or the Punch Bowl. The Town Treasurer's cash book shows that from 1787 to 1800 the patronage was given Dana. After William Laughton became the landlord at the Punch Bowl in 1800 or 1801, he evidently secured the business. Payments were usually made annually for the previous year's meetings.
To quote several entries in the cash book:
May 14, 1799-Pd. Jonathan Dana pr order Jan. 1799 for entertaining the Selectmen from 28 December 1797 to the 4th December 1798 -Fifteen meetings £18.25
1800-Pd. Jonathan Dana for entertaining the Selectmen while transacting the Business of the town at his house from 3d Jan. 1799 to 7th March 1800, £5.3.9.
1803-To cash pd the Selectmens expenses at Mr. Laughton's Tavern for one year endg March 1803 $11.42.
It must have been a busy place in front of the old tavern in Punch Bowl Village with all the through travel from the towns to the west. We can imagine the crowd of the idle, the curious, the news-gatherers and those with some definite purpose gathered about the tavern, in tap room and on the benches outside, watching for what was the event of the day, the coming, stopping and driving away of the New York stages.
But we must leave the old taverns, which were hospitable and comfortable, with their landlords, who were the newsmongers of the community, and, in many cases, the most prominent and influential men in the town, and get back to the road from Boston
By this time more or less regular communication had been established. Post riders first travelled the road on horseback with the mail stowed in their saddlebags, and the post riders were in turn succeeded by mail and stagecoaches. Lincoln's History of Worcester, published in 1836, tells the story quite completely, from which the following abstracts are taken:
Prior to 1755 a letter from Boston to Philadelphia took three weeks. In that year (1755) great reforms accelerated the speed, so that only fifteen days were required. The first stage line was advertised in the Boston Evening Post, July 6, 1772, as from New York to Boston by J. & N. Brown, whose announcement read, "Gentlemen and ladies who choose this new, useful and expensive undertaking may depend upon good usage and that the coach will always put up at houses on the road where the best entertainment is provided." These coaches were scheduled to take thirteen days from New York to Boston.
But the line of the Messrs. Brown did not continue until the Revolution. In 1774 there was a post once a week between Hartford and Boston, through Worcester, by post riders who took six days for the trip.
In 1783 was established the first stage line which succeeded and continued until the days of railroads. Levi Pease and Reuben Sikes, then of Somers, Ct., and Suffield, Ct., respectively, began business October 20, 1783, and announced that they had furnished themselves "with two convenient wagons." One of these wagons left Boston at the" Sign of the Lamb" every Monday morning, stopped for the night at Martin's in Northborough, and the next day passed through Worcester and so beyond to Hartford, taking four days for the trip. The other wagon left Hartford for Boston at the same time and stopped at the same taverns en route. Passengers were carried at 4d. per mile. After a discouraging beginning, the line soon grew popular and profitable, and the proprietors did their best to please the public by increasing the speed and giving more accommodations. In 1786 the running time in summer had been reduced so much that a traveler could leave Boston Monday morning and reach New York the following Thursday evening, so that, as the advertisement reads, "by this unparalleled speed, a merchant may go from Boston to New York and return again in less than ten days, which is truly wonderful," and adds further for the information of the travelling public, "it is the most convenient and expeditious way of travelling that can be had in America, and in order to render it the cheapest, the price is lowered from 4d. to 3d. per mile, with liberties to passengers to take 14 pounds of baggage."
With the steady and profitable growth of their business, Pease and Sikes constantly improved their equipment from the "convenient wagon" with its pair of half-starved horses, to the palatial (Concord) stage coach with its great leather braces and springs, with seats inside and out, its team of four or six powerful and well-fed roadsters, all of which, together with improvements in the way of better roads, left nothing to be desired in the way of travelling facilities; or, to use the exact words of the historian of 1836, "the speed of travelling and its facilities were increased almost beyond measure."
For over one hundred and fifty years the "great road" was the trunk line to Worcester, but the zenith of its glory was reached just one hundred years ago, when, so far as" rapid transit" was concerned, it was rendered quite out of date by the building of the Worcester Turnpike in 1806 and 1807.
It was supposed that this turnpike would give the maximum speed in the minimum time because it was laid out on the simple mathematical principle that a straight line is the shortest distance between two points. The turnpike engineers paid little attention to grades, and seemingly forgot that the actual distance travelled may be as long over a hill as around its base, to say nothing of the greater effort to the traveler climbing up one side and holding back when going down on the other.
Turnpikes had been built in other states and in various parts of Massachusetts before the Worcester Turnpike was proposed. The first one in the country, it is believed, was from Alexandria, Virginia, to the lower Shenandoah. In Massachusetts, the Act of June 11, 1796, incorporated a turnpike from Western (now Warren) to Scott's Tavern in Palmer, and in the following decade the General Court passed many acts incorporating turnpikes in different parts of the state. During this period each incorporation was authorized by a special act which detailed the conditions of laying out, the rates of toll and all other particulars.
In 1805, Chapter 125 was passed, which was entitled "An Act defining the general Powers and Duties of Turnpike Corporations," and when the Worcester Turnpike was incorporated the following year (1806), it was under the provisions of this general act.
The principal provisions of this act required the route proposed for any turnpike to be viewed by a committee at the expense of the petitioners -perhaps an old-time junket,-public notice of the proposed route had to be advertised in the county papers; the corporation was liable for land damages, but was given authority to purchase and hold lands over which to make the road. Every such road had to be not less than four rods wide and the travelled part of same not less than twenty-five feet in any part. No gate could be erected on any county or town road previously established, and no gates on the turnpike itself where full toll was demanded could be erected, except said gate was ten miles distant from any other turnpike gate on the same road, unless otherwise specifically provided.
The proprietors were authorized to demand and receive at gates where full rates were charged, the following tolls:
- For each coach, chariot, phaeton or other four-wheel spring carriage drawn by two horses -25C., and 2C. for each additional horse.
- For every wagon drawn by two horses -1OC., and 2C. for each additional horse.
- For every cart or wagon drawn by two oxen-10C and if by more than two, 12 1-2C.
- For every curricle -15C.
- For every chaise, chair, sulkey, or other carriage for pleasure, drawn by one horse -12 1-2C.
- For every cart, wagon or truck drawn by one horse -6 1-4C. each.
- For every man and horse -4C. For every sleigh or sled drawn by two oxen or horses -8c., and 1C. for each additional ox or horse.
- For all horses, mules or neat cattle led or driven besides those in teams or carriages -1C. each.
- Swine or sheep -3C. by the dozen.
In case the carts or wagons had wheels with fellies or tires six inches broad or more, the rates were half what otherwise would be charged.
Certain exemptions were made by which no tolls could be demanded from foot travellers; from those driving to or from their usual place of public worship; from those passing on military duty; or from those living in the town where the gate was located, unless they were going beyond the limits of the town: and one could also go without charge to and from the grist mill, or on the common and ordinary business of family concerns.
The proprietors were not entitled to demand toll at any gate unless there was erected in some conspicuous place, exposed to view, a signboard with the rates of toll fairly and legibly written or printed in capital letters.
The earliest map of Brookline, drawn in 1728 to find the center of the town, so as to locate the schoolhouse, shows only the Cambridge road, the Newton road (Watertown) and the Sherburn road. Of the three, the last is generally believed to be the oldest, dating from as early as 1640, when laid out by Eliot and Colbron.
In June, 1658, a highway was laid out "through land of Jno. White att Muddy River and so by Thos. Gardners land to the farm of Isaac Stedman," and later in the same year Ensign Jno. Hull, Jos. Cotton, Mr. Jacob Sheafe, Thos. Lake and Wm. Davis declared it to be the town's highway and further that "ye other way in ye law is hereby relinquished." This 1658 laying out was the old Sherburn Road, and took the place of the highway of 1640 which preceeded it, although probably on the same general lines. The Sherburn road is frequently referred to later as the "old road," Jno. White's land was in our present Village Square and westerly. Thomas Gardner's land was where is now the corner of Boylston street and Sumner road, and in 1806 was the property of Benjamin Goddard. Isaac Stedman's farm was at the corner of Heath and Hammond streets, and later was owned by Elhanan Winchester and Ebenezer Richards.
Jackson's History of Newton mentions the existence of this road from Boston (Brookline) bounds through the farms of Wiswall and Haynes and other small plots to the wading place across the Charles River at the Upper Falls, as early as 1671, and on the map showing Newton in 1700, this road is marked as the" Sherborn and Boston Road."
In the Brookline records of 1713 and 1715, it was called the "roadway leading to Roxbury," and also "the Country road that leadeth from Roxbury to Newton through Brookline along by Leftenant Gardner's House."
Chapter 67, Massachusetts Acts of 1806, incorporated the Worcester Turnpike and authorized Aaron Davis, Luther Richardson, Samuel Wells, Charles Davis and William H. Sumner, Esquire, to layout a turnpike from Roxbury to Worcester, "commencing at or near Roxbury street and running near the house of Stephen Higginson, Jr., in Brookline, thence near Mitchell's Tavern in Newton, thence crossing Charles River near General Elliott's Mills and running near the house of Enoch Fiske in Needham (this part of Needham is now Wellesley), thence to the Neck of the Ponds, so called, in Natick; thence near the house of Jonathan Rugg in Framingham; thence near the house of Deacon Chamberlain in Southborough; thence near Furbush's Tavern in Westborough; thence near the house of Jonathan Harrington in Shrewsbury; thence crossing Shrewsbury pond and running north of Bladder pond to the street in Worcester near the Court House; with power to erect four toll gates thereon, at such places, not being on any old road, as the committee appointed by the Act shall determine."
In the records of the Court of Common Pleas for Norfolk County is the report of Bezabeel Taft, Nicholas Tillinghast and Silas Robinson, the committee under the Act of Incorporation to layout the Worcester Turnpike. This report is technical, full of references to soakes, and piles of stones, small oaks or crotched apple trees, but lacks -what would be of greatest interest today the names of the owners of the lands through which it was laid out, except in a few instances.
Until 1844, that part of Brookline between Pearl street and the Parkway belonged to the town of Roxbury. This portion of the old road, and as far as the Newton line, is described as follows, omitting the technicalities:
Beginning with the paved street near the brick school house in Roxbury we located said Turnpike over the old road,-the same being four rods wide, till it comes to the easterly end of Ebenezer Crafts' faced wall in front of his dwelling house, and on the southerly side of said road, thence * * * * * by William Wyman's land to A stake near the S. E. corner of an old dwelling house, thence to a stake at the easterly side of said Wyman's front yard, near the south east corner of said yard, thence through the said Wyman's front yard and out at the westerly side thereof near a small elm tree; then on the old road by the Punch Bowl Tavern in said Roxbury and Brookline and to the northeasterly corner of the dwelling house and store of Thomas White on the southerly side of said turnpike road; then from said corner to a heap of stones on Walley's Hill, thence by "various stakes and stones" by Col. Hammond's land to a bound where the location of said turnpike road commences at the town of Newton in the county of Middlesex, etc.
From a study of the old valuation and tax lists of Brookline from 1796 to 1808, the following were probably those from whom land was taken when the Turnpike was laid out:
Thomas White, White and Sumner, Eliphalet Spurr, George W. Stearns, Samuel Slack, Widow Elizabeth Davis, Thomas Walley, Samuel Clark, Widow Partridge, John Goddard, Benjamin Goddard (no poll in 1809), David Hyslop, Esq., John Lucas, Esq., William Ackers, Ebenezer Heath, Jonathan Mason, Esq., Benjamin White, Ebenezer Richards and Jonathan Hammond.
The Turnpike location followed the "old road" from the brick schoolhouse in Roxbury to the Punch Bowl Tavern, but after the committee had stopped and refreshed themselves for awhile with Landlord Laughton they must have become decidedly optimistic, for they paid no further attention to the" old road" which had served the public for a hundred and fifty years between Boston and the Upper Falls in Newton.
They paid attention to nothing but the compass, and, standing under the sign of the Lemon Tree and Punch Bowl, they laid the line a few degrees south of west and began to drive stakes and run lines straight away for Richards' Tavern, regardless of the steep grades over Walley's Hill.
As they began to climb the slope of this hill, they crossed the "New Lane", as it was called (now Cypress street), which was laid out in 1720 and 1721, as"a way for the North End inhabitants to go to the meeting house." On the other side of the hill they struck the old Sherburn road in front of Benjamin Goddard's land and absorbed it into the turnpike as far as Ackers corner, in accordance with the written agreement made with the town. At Ackers corner the old road was abandoned again, as the compass pointed straight for the high hill belonging to the Hon. Jonathan Mason, (now Lyman's Hill,) and to go around instead of over a hill was not to be thought of. From Ackers corner the road to Little Cambridge (now Chestnut Hill avenue) had been staked out in 1796 over lands of John Lucas and Isaac S. Gardner.
Down grade from Mason's Hill, the pike soon came in sight of Richards' Tavern, which stood facing the old Sherburn road. At this point there branched to the right an old highway, which long before 1700 extended through the lands of Vincent Druce and various members of the Hammond family towards Watertown. This old highway, which was called Cross street in the Brookline records and map of 1844, has been known as Hammond street since 1855.
With fresh courage imbibed with the hospitable welcome of Landlord Richards, who foresaw the great prospective increase to the patronage of his house, and with his words of encouragement to urge them on, the committee took another look at their compasses and started into the thick woods, across the swamps near the great pond belonging to Col. Hammond, over hills and through meadows straight for the river at the point where the Indian fish weirs and wading places existed before ever Boston was settled, and to which the Sherburn road came by a more circuitous route.
Drake's Roxbury (page 304) says:
"Roxbury street, laid out in 1652, was in 1663 described as 'the highway from the upper end of the lane towards the meeting house, and so down by the old mill and so forward to Muddy River.' It was also called the highway to Dedham, then the Cambridge Road, afterwards the Worcester Turnpike, and later as Washington and Tremont streets."
This portion of the original laying out was discontinued as a turnpike by Chapter 76, Acts of 1826 (Feb. I5, 1826), which provided -"That from and after the passage of this Act, so much of the location of the Worcester Turnpike as was over the old road, or ancient highway, in the town of Roxbury, be discontinued and annulled; and that the easterly end of said turnpike shall hereafter be at the arch, in Brookline, where said turnpike leaves the ancient highway; provided the said turnpike corporation pay to the town of Roxbury the sum of $250.00 on or before the first day of May next. "The Arch in Brookline" where said Turnpike leaves the ancient highway," stood at where now is Burns' blacksmith shop, at the corner of Washington, High and Boylston streets.
Referring to the points specified in the legislative act which authorized the turnpike laying out:
Stephen Higginson, Jr.'s
, house was on Heath street, near the corner of Pound Lane. His father gave the bell when the new meeting house was built in 1806.
in Newton was located at the present junction of Centre and Boylston streets in Newton Highlands. The landlord was Edward Mitchell, who went from Brookline and kept this tavern which had formerly been owned by Lieut. John Marean (d. 1788), who probably was of the old family who lived both sides of the line between Brookline and Newton in the early days.
General Elliott's Mills
. (From Smith's History of Newton.) In 1768 Simon Elliott, a tobacconist of Boston, purchased about 35 acres of land with dwelling house, barn, malt house, and the saw-mill, fulling-mill, grist mill, and eel-weir, which were already established. He erected snuff mills in addition to the other industries and it is said "that the business carried on here in the manufacture of snuff and tobacco was the most extensive in that line in New England."
Elliott's son, Simon, a Major-General in the Militia of Suffolk County, (who died in 1810,) was very active in the business in Newton and hence the name- "General Elliott's Mills." In 1814, the property, including screw factory, wire mill, four snuff mills, annealing shop, etc., was sold to the " Elliott Mfg. Co." In 1799, the Newton Iron Works Company purchased from Bixby, who owned just below the falls, and erected a rolling mill in 1800. In 1809, a new factory was added to manufacture cut nails, and this building was afterwards used as a paper mill. In 1813, a 3000 spindle cotton mill was built, which was burned in 1850.
In 1809, the Worcester Turnpike passed directly by the nail and rolling mill, bridging the river at that point.
. (From History of Worcester County, 1889.) Very early in its history we find references to various inns and taverns in Westborough. The house now standing near the corner of the Turnpike and Lyman street, the old Forbush Tavern, seems to have been the first one which in any sense was like our ideas of a tavern. This was already built when the turnpike was run so near it that it was almost at the door, and was immediately utilized as a place to change horses, rest and feed passengers, get and deliver mails. The stages with their two, four or six horses and rumbling wheels rushed up and down the steep hills. The usual number of passengers in one of these coaches was four and the fare, Boston to Worcester, was $2.00 .
The Neck of the Ponds in Natick means Lake Cochituate
. (From Temple's History of Framingham.) " This pond (Cochituate) originally presented the appearance of two bodies of water united by a narrow strait. This strait was an Indian fording place and fishing place, and by dumping in large quantities of small stones the early settlers made a passable roadway." From this lake, which took its name from the Indian village located on it, the water was taken for the supply of Boston in 1846.
was what was later named Lake Quinsigamond.
-The other places and persons mentioned in the laying out were all well known in their day, and are referred to in the local histories of the respective towns.
The first meeting of the incorporators of the turnpike was held October 30, 1806, at Concert Hall in Boston, east corner of Court and Hanover streets. The stock consisted of six hundred shares of the par value of $250 -a small amount of money to build forty miles of road.
The building of an air line road from Boston to Worcester brought a new era to all the country tributary to it, and what it meant to the towns along the line is well told by a few quotations from some of the local histories.
From Lincoln's History of Worcester (1836):
"The Turnpike to Boston going out from the north end of the village went through a considerable eminence by a deep cutting, passed a deep valley on a lofty embankment, ascended the steep slope of Millstone Hill, crossed Quinsigamond on a floating bridge (the floating bridge crossing Lake Quinsigamond sank on September 19,1817, and it was soon after replaced by a more substantial structure), and climbed to some of the highest elevations of the country it traversed, when inconsiderable circuit would have given a better and less costly route. These undertakings (turnpikes), of great convenience and utility in the period of their construction, have been more beneficial to the public than the proprietors."
From Temple's Framingham:
"The old stage road between Worcester and Boston was via Northboro', Marlboro', So. Sudbury, Weston, Waltham. The new road (The Worcester Turnpike) considerably shortened the distance between Boston and Worcester. The steep hills kept off the teaming of heavy merchandise, but a stage route was at once established, and as Framingham was the central point for changing horses and making repairs, it gave a great impetus to local business. The through travel rapidly increased -and the promptness of the service made this the favorite route, so that for a long term of years not less than seventeen stages passed through this town (Framingham) daily. From 18I0 to 1835, the stageman's horn was a signal as common and well known as the engineer's whistle of today."
From the History of Westborough:
"An event that was for a time of great importance was the building of the Boston and Worcester Turnpike. It took its course, like all the turnpikes of that period, in a bee line towards its point of destination, passing over all the hills and scorning all the obstacles. Its coming made the era of the stage coach and wayside inn. Scores of coaches used to rattle by in a single day along the great through line, and the bustle and excitement at the parting places was great. It brought the outside world with all its news and budgets past the little towns that had lived without it so long."
The morals of the community one hundred years ago, so far as honesty goes, were no better than they are in the present generation. We often think we have made a great saving if in some way we are overlooked when the conductor collects the fares in a crowded car, and few of us, I fear, put ourselves out to see that the railway company gets every nickel to which it is entitled. Human nature is much the same in all generations, and the law passed in 1809 (Chap. 71), is sufficient commentary on the tendency of the church-going New Englander in the first years of the last century.
"Whereas the Worcester Turnpike road as the same is now located and made, makes such intersections of various old roads, over which the same crosses and passes, as to render it easy at all times for persons to travel on the same a greater part of the way, and by turning off on said old roads, near the several places assigned to receive toll, to avoid the payment of the same; and whereas there are several portions of said turnpike road, over which there would be great travel, provided the said corporation were authorized to erect gates subdividing the toll established in and by their act or incorporation, which would be a great saving and convenience to many people who wish to travel on certain portions of said turnpike if it could be done without paying full fare .... Be it enacted," etc.
By which authority was given for such sub-division of toll, with the necessary gates and signs, but no more toll could be taken in the whole, on any ten miles, than provided by the original act.
Although of great benefit to the travelling public, the Worcester turnpike did not prove a profitable enterprise to its proprietors, even with sub-divided tolls. It paid few dividends, never six per cent, and finally the whole capital involved was totally lost. After it had been travelled for say twenty years, it probably was not in the best of condition, for, at the town meeting in Brookline, March 5, 1827, Benjamin Goddard, Ebenezer Heath, and Elisha Penniman were appointed a committee to see that the contract between the town and the turnpike corporation was at all times fulfilled, and that the road generally, so far as it passed through Brookline, was kept in repair; and the said committee were given authority to prosecute for any breach of contract.
According to the County Commissioner's Records of 1832, a committee authorized by a legal meeting of the turnpike corporation petitioned "that that part of said turnpike between Kimball Tavern in Needham and the Punch Bowl Tavern in Brookline be laid out and established as a common and public highway, -that the incorporators were desirous of abandoning and relinquishing their franchise in that part of the turnpike road."
The Commissioners held several meetings at the Punch Bowl Tavern for the purpose of hearing all those interested, and viewing the location. At the meeting January 8, 1833, there was not a quorum and on March 6, 1833, no business was done because "the roads were so blocked with snow as rendered the location of said road difficult or impracticable."
Finally, on April 9, 1833, the Commissioners did adjudge that "common convenience and necessity require that the road should be laid out and established as a public and common highway," etc.
"Beginning at the northeasterly corner of the house and store formerly occupied by Thomas White and now occupied by George W. Stearns, the line runs 17 rods to a heap of stones in land of said Stearns; thence 201 rods 11 links to a heap of stones on Walley Hill; thence 31 rods to beginning of land of Benj. Goddard and so on to the intersection of a town road near the house of Ebenezer Heath, Esq." Beyond that point the abuttors mentioned are Ebenezer Guild, Esq., Ebenezer Richards, Jr., and Ebenezer Richards, Senior, at the boundary line between Brookline and Newton.
Except through the home lot of Benjamin Goddard, where it was "contracted to thirty feet as the side walls and fences now stand, " the road was laid out four rods wide, and the description sets forth specifically that the lines, courses and width of the road as laid out "correspond exactly with the lines, courses and width of the Worcester turnpike within the said termini, excepting through the land of said Goddard."
Brookline objected to this proposed laying out. The town did not fancy the idea of being burdened with the expense of keeping the road in good condition, to say nothing of the great amount of repairs which the committee of that day reported as absolutely necessary. As a result of this objection, after conferences and consultations a written agreement was made between the town and the turnpike corporation, whereby the latter was to pay $500 to be used in making the necessary repairs, and on these terms the town no longer opposed the laying out. (The original manuscripts of the agreement, the report of the committee and the notification of the County Commissioners' hearing are in the Town Clerk's Office.)
At the Brookline town meeting of March, 1837, the Highway appropriation was divided among the different highway districts. The Worcester turnpike from Newton line to the Brighton road near William Ackers' house was allowed nine per cent, and from said Brighton road to the eastern end sixteen per cent annually, or twenty-five per cent from the Village to Newton line.
Votes passed at the March meeting in 1838 throw a side light on the tendency of human nature to get all that it can for its own, even if it comes to boldly appropriating land for private purposes by fencing in the public highway.
"Whereas there are parts of the Turnpike road so called which are encroached upon by fences within the lines of said road as located by the Commissioners, and in some places where the travelling part would not be essentially injured with proper restrictions,-It is therefore Voted that the Selectmen be directed to remove all fences and other obstructions that now exist or may hereafter exist within the lines aforesaid, excepting where a railing is necessary for the security of Travellers,-in those cases, where the use of the lands between said railings and the lands adjoining may be of benefit to the owners of said lands, in such cases the Selectmen are Authorized and requested to grant license to said Owners to Occupy said lands, provided they will enter into a written agreement to erect such a railing where it is not already erected and keep the same in repair and also to keep in repair any railing which is already erected."
If these conditions were not observed, the Selectmen were to revoke the license and remove fences.
In 1839, a petition was presented to the County Commissioners by Jabez Fisher, 2d, and others, for certain changes in the side lines of the street near the lands of Benjamin Goddard, where, in 1833, the width was contracted to 30 feet.
Certain exchanges of land were made so as to straighten the line, as a result of which a strip on the southerly side of the road was discontinued -8 1/4 feet wide and 98 1/3 rods long, from the land of Thomas W. Sumner to the New Lane, so called.
In 1841, the proprietors of the turnpike petitioned to surrender their charter, and Chapter 62 of the Acts of 1841 accepted their petition, whereby after September 1st of that year all the turnpike road except such portions as had been laid out as town or county highways was discontinued, and the turnpike corporation formally discharged from all liability. The same act provided for a continuation of tolls over Long Pond Bridge (Lake Quinsigamond) provided it should be laid out as a highway by the towns of Shrewsbury and Worcester.
In the same year (1841), at the March town meeting a committee was appointed to name the streets and avenues in Brookline. The description and names of those at the time connected with the turnpike road were as follows:
- Road from Roxbury to Brighton -Washington street.
- Washington street to Mr. Fisher's corner -Cypress street.
- Worcester turnpike -Boylston street.
- From Post Office by Dr. Pierce's Church to Boylston street
- Walnut street. From Worcester turnpike or Boylston street by Mr. Heath's to Newton line -Heath street.
- Heath street to Boylston street by Mr. Penniman's-Pound street.
The description of Boylston street by Deacon Elijah F. Woodward of Newton, who completed the survey and made the drawings for the new town map in 1844, gives the following names of principal abuttors, and locates them very accurately.
BOYLSTON street. (1844.)
|From Newton line to the house of T. W. Wellington||56 1/2|
|thence to J. Clark's||8|
|to J. W. and S. Warren's||204|
|to Gen. Lyman's avenue||8|
|to Mrs. Penniman's||27|
|to Guide Post, junction of Heath and Boylston streets||59 1/2|
| || |
|From Guide Post to Acker's gate.||12|
|to Hammond's avenue.||17|
|to Hayden's gate||46|
|to Perkin's do||59|
|to Goddard's brook||20|
| || |
|From Brook to B. Goddard's lower gate||33|
|to F. Gerry's||18|
|to centre Cypress street||75|
| || |
|From C. street to Dr. Shurtleff's||36 2/5|
|to Artemas Newell's.||26 3/5|
|to Thomas Kendall's||3|
|to Hay scales||78|
|to Elm tree near junction of Boylston and Walnut streets ||8 3/5|
| ||126 3/5|
| || |
The total length of Boylston street was a little more than one sixth of the total length of all the streets in the town supported at public expense.
The name of what previously had been called Walley's Hill was changed about 1845. In that year Nathaniel Pulsifer requested the lowering of the road where it crosses "Bradley's Hill." The town acknowledged by vote that" an improvement of the roads in any part of the town is always a public benefit", and gave permission to Pulsifer and his associates to lower the road in the place described in his petition, provided the expense was defrayed by subscription, and the work was done under the direction and supervision of the Selectmen. The new name was given to the Hill out of respect to Capt. Benjamin Bradley, sexton, constable, collector of taxes, and in many ways a picturesque character, who ruled over the heterogeneous collection of little old wooden houses which he built on the hill, and which were removed about 1870.
During the period from 1833 to 1870 there were many changes in Brookline along the line of the turnpike road, made by the town in accordance with the votes passed in town meetings. There were widenings, relocations, changes in grade, and other improvements, but none changed essentially the original character of the road.
The Selectmen of the present day are struggling with the problem of what to do in Village Square. The town faced the same question in 1847, but under conditions decidedly different from those of today, as we learn from the report of a committee to consider and report on the claim of Samuel A. Walker to the land on which the hay scales were located, and his petition for the filling up of a portion of Boylston and Washington streets, which report contains the following:
"Walker purchased from the White estate situated at the corner of Boylston and Washington streets, a parcel of meadow land which he desired to prepare for building lots. To aid in the scheme he requested the town to remove the bank wall on Boylston street, and to the line of said Walker's land, and fill up and raise the intervening strip of land to a level with the present travelled part of said street. Also to widen the present travelled part of Washington street by building a new wall on the line of said Walker's meadow, and laying a bridge over the water course or brook now running between the front line of said meadow and the brook wall supporting the present elevation of the travelled part of said street."
The report of the committee gives this description of Village Square streets at that time:
"The present width of Boylston street from the railing on said bank wall to the fence on the other side being in the narrowest place about 50 feet, of which 38 feet have been graded for travelling and a water course, while the same street between Cypress street and Walley's Hill for a distance of two hundred paces, is only twenty-eight feet in width between railings."
"The width of Washington street opposite said Walker's meadow between the bank wall on the western side and the fence on the eastern side is 56 feet, and the length of the present water course or brook running on said street, between the bank wall and the line of said meadow to the stone bridge, is about 95 feet, over which a stone bridge will be required if said petition be granted."
The town adopted the majority report of the committee, which saw neither necessity nor expediency in granting the petition which would require an expenditure of several hundred dollars without adequate public benefit.
In building the Reservoir for Boston's water supply from Lake Cochituate, certain land was taken from the road as laid out by the County Commissioners. At the March town meeting, 1848, this question, and the equally important one of lowering the grade over Bradley Hill, was referred to a committee consisting of Benjamin Goddard, Charles Heath, James Bartlett and Jesse Bird, with authority to contract with the Boston Water Commissioners on certain conditions, one of which was that the finish of the top of the road through the excavation should be done with stone or chips of stone and gravel to the width of thirteen feet and the depth of twelve inches.
The grade of the road was reduced six feet, and was widened on the northerly side by building abutments of stone wall. The Water Commissioners paid $1000, private subscriptions $760, and the town appropriated $1,371.97 and agreed to hold the city harmless for the land taken from the road for the Reservoir.
In 1853, the street for a distance of 17 rods in front of Henry Lee's was widened, with a culvert, water course and new railing. In 1859, at the adjourned annual meeting a motion was offered to appropriate $8,000 for lowering the grade of Bradley's Hill, making and repairing Boylston street. This motion did not prevail, but was referred to the Selectmen for future report.
In 1860, the abutment wall in front of the estate of John S. Wright was relaid.
In 1862, the grade was improved along that part of the street opposite the estates of Francis and Francis K. Fisher, Charles Heath and Henry Lee.
In 1866, a petition was presented to the Selectmen by a large number of citizens praying that that part of Boylston street between Cypress street and the west line of the estate of Benjamin Goddard, which was included in the location of the street but had never been made use of, should be graded and occupied. The Selectmen reported in substance that if anything was to be done it should be well done, and recommended a lowering of the grade over Bradley Hill eight feet, and building the street to the full width to which the town was entitled by the record. This, however, required the building and rebuilding of heavy retaining walls. The necessary great expense, in view of the high prices of labor and the large debt of the town, both of which they hoped soon to see abated, caused the Selectmen to recommend the postponement of the improvement. At the annual meeting the next year, the necessary appropriation was made.
In accordance with the order of the County Commissioners, the street was relocated from Cypress street to the Newton line and widened to full width in front of Benjamin Goddard's estate in November, 1870, for which purpose the town appropriated twenty seven thousand dollars. To quote from the recorded location:
"The only abuttor to whom damages are awarded is to heirs of Benjamin Goddard- $762.82. No other sums are awarded for lands taken to widen said Boylston street, as the same already belong to said highway, having been included within the location of said Turnpike when it was laid out as a highway It being hereby noted that the walls and fences at the following points encroach upon the street as shown on said plan: viz., on lands of John A. Bird, heirs of William Bird, M. P. Kennard, Henry V. Poor, N. G. Chapin, Jabez Fisher, lands late of S. Rowland Hart, Mrs. Penniman, Theodore Lyman, R. S. Fay, John L. Sheriff, Hon. John Lowell, Morris Shea, Michael Barry and John Reardon."
Not until the next century was the street seriously disturbed again, but in 1900, under authority of the vote of November 9th, 1899, passed at probably the largest meeting, exclusive of elections, the town has ever had for transacting public business, work was again begun on another, and let us hope the final, widening of the street from Cypress street to the Newton line, an improvement which required an appropriation of $300,000 for land damages and cost of construction.
History is the story of successions and the causes thereof.
As the Indian trail merged into the path and the path grew into the road, as the road became the" King's Highway" to be in turn succeeded by the straight-away turnpike, -so, in the evolution of transportation facilities, the turnpike, travelled night and day by the express stage-lines, filled its place in the history of that evolution, and, with some spasmodic resistance, succumbed before the iron horse, puffing and whistling along the steel-railed right of way.
Stagecoach and tavern days reached the high level of their development along the line from Boston to Worcester from 1830 to 1835, after which the once popular route took its place in history as the" Old Worcester Turnpike," its usefulness almost entirely taken away by the completion of the Boston and Worcester steam
In I831 and 1832, there were one hundred and six stagecoach lines running out of Boston in different directions, and time-tables of the various lines were published regularity. How many stage lines passed through Brookline, the writer cannot say definitely; but it was estimated that in 1831 the average amount of travelling between Boston and Worcester -the bulk of which passed through Brookline over the turnpike -was equal to 22,360 passages per annum, for which the lowest fare was two dollars and the shortest time six hours.
In 1905 the electric lines over almost the same route -exactly the same until some distance beyond Framingham -carried 10,279,303 paying passengers, of which 401,478 were through travellers between Boston and Worcester.
Radiating from Worcester, connecting with the Boston stages, were many other lines, and they continued for years before the steam railroads supplanted them. The owner of the most important of these radiating lines, with one hundred and fifty horses and controlling stage routes aggregating two hundred and eighty-six miles, was Ginery Twichell, who later resided in Brookline on Kent street, and became a member of Congress. He started as a postrider and stage-driver and gradually became one of the great men, not only in that business, but in the steam railroad business, which took its place. A lithograph was published in 1850 picturing a man galloping along the road in a driving snowstorm, entitled, "The unrivaled express rider Ginery Twichell, who rode from Worcester to Hartford, a distance of sixty miles, in three hours and twenty minutes through a deep snow January 23, 1846."
Although the many changes in Brookline have been noted, the turnpike road received little attention in the towns beyond after the proprietors surrendered the charter and it became a public highway. It suffered the usual vicissitudes of the ordinary country road and repairs were made only when necessary. Other roads which avoided the steep grades and long hard climbs made true the old saying that "the longest way round is the shortest way home."
There was little if any through travel, and except for short stretches through the populous sections of towns, it retained not a shadow of its former popularity. Moss-covered stone walls or dilapidated weather-beaten fences marked its bounds; with here and there a turnout to enable the thirsty horses or cattle to drink from some clear-watered brook which flowed lazily under the roadway. The quiet and peacefulness along the way was undisturbed except by the clatter of the bell on some cow's neck as she fed along the faintly marked side-path on the way to and from the nearby pasture.
For over fifty years, the old turnpike dozed and nodded in this sleepy sort of a way, until in the first years of the twentieth century its slumbers were disturbed by the sudden shock of the electric current, which, revolutionizing nearly every form of industry, has affected the problem of transportation in particular. Again the engineers and contractors covered the ground, and when they had finished their work the old road was so altered in appearance that never again can it be recognized, even by itself.
Today, the "broom-stick trains leave ye ancient highway in Brookline where the arch stands" for "the street in Worcester near the Court House" every half hour or less, and carry thousands of coach-loads of passengers at high' speed, without dust, cinders, or other similar discomfort. Every seat is an outside seat in pleasant summer weather, and in cold or stormy weather the easy-riding cars are well warmed and comfortably furnished. In 1906, we might repeat the words of the historian of seventy years ago, when he said in regard to the stage coach lines of 1836," the speed of travelling and its facilities have been increased almost beyond measure."
[Read before the Society December 26, 1906, by Edward W. Baker.]
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
, William M. Olin, Secretary of the Commonweath of
Massachusetts, Do hereby certify
, that said RUFUS GEORGE FREDERICK
CANDAGE, EDWARD WILD BAKER, JULIA GODDARD, JOHN EMORY
HOAR, HARRIET ALMA CUMMINGS, CHARLES HENRY STEARNS,
JAMES MACMASTERCODMAN, JR., CHARLES FRENCH READ, EDWIN
BIRCHARD Cox, WILLARD Y. GROSS, CHARLES KNOWLES BOLTON,
TAPPAN EUSTIS FRANCIS, DESMOND FITZGERALD, D. S. SANFORD,
and MARTHAA. 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
RUFUS G. F. CANDAGE, President.
Committee on Rooms
MRS. MARTHA A. KITTREDGE.
MISS JULIA GODDARD.
CHARLES H. STEARNS, Vice-Pres.
MRS. SUSAN V. GRIGGS.
CHARLES F. WHITE.
EDWARD W. BAKER, Clerk and Treasurer.
MISS JULIA GODDARD.
Committee on Papers
MRS. SUSAN VINING GRIGGS.
CHARLES H. STEARNS.
RUFUS G. F. CANDAGE, President, ex-officio
EDWARD W. BAKER, Clerk, ex-officio
MISS ELLEN CHASE.
Committee on Membership
CHARLES H. STEARNS.
CHARLES F. WHITE.
ALBERT A. FOLSOM.
Committee on Library
GEORGE S. MANN.
GEORGE F. DEARBORN.
WILLARD Y. GROSS.
CHARLES F. READ.
Committee on Finance
HENRY D. EUSTIS.
LUTHER M. MERRILL.
ALBERT A. FOLSOM.
JOHN H. SHERBURNE, JR.
JAMES M. CODMAN, JR.
Committee on Publications
CHARLES H. STEARNS.
RUFUS G. F. CANDAGE, President, ex-officio.
CHARLES F. READ.
FREDERICK L. GAY.
FRANKLIN W. HOBBS.
RUFUS G. F. CANDAGE, ex-officio
EDWARD W. BAKER, ex-officio
* Life members
||118 Mason terrace.
||90 Longwood avenue.
||Daniel Dulany (D.D.)
||47 Garrison road.
||Mrs. Tirzah S.
||81 Davis avenue.
||14 Hawthorn road.
||Mrs. Mary C.
||195 Davis avenue.
||II 1 Ivy street.
||Mrs. Edith C.
||II 1 Ivy street.
||29 Vernon street.
||Mrs. Alice Souther
||29 Vernon street.
||222 Summerstreet, Boston.
||43 Davis avenue.
||24 Kilsyth road.
||Benjamin S. (M.D.)
||432 Washington street.
||Mrs. Robert A.
||19 Colchester street.
||224 Aspinwall avenue.
||44 Harvard avenue.
||Rufus George Frederick
||20 Kent street.
||Mrs. Ella Marie
||20 Kent street.
||20 Kent street.
||217 Walnut street.
||4II Washington street.
||27 Chestnut Hill avenue.
||1546 Beacon street.
||Heman Lincoln (M.D.)
||Walter G. (M.D.)
||40 St. Paul street.
||Miss Mary C.
||63 Harvard avenue.
||11 Davis avenue.
||56 Thorndike street.
||54 Dudley street.
||72 Park street.
||25 Gardner road.
||Miss Ellen G.
||125 Buckminster road.
||15 Columbia street.
||Mrs. William Sumner
||173 Gardner road.
||187 Gardner road.
||16 Emerson street.
||125 Park street.
||Mrs. Ada Ripley
||Mrs. Ella Augusta
||Humboldt avenue, Roxbury.
||9 Kent street.
||683 Washington street.
||60 Longwood avenue.
||Miss Elizabeth M.
||1020 Beacon street.
||1020 Beacon street.
||93 Ivy street.
||Miss Mary S. B.
||1020 Beacon street.
||Mrs. Clara P.
||9 Prescott street.
||9 Prescott street.
||410 Washington street.
||J 5 Winthroproad.
||Mrs. Helen Burgess
||37 Auburn street.
||295 Pond avenue.
||23 Garrison road.
||Mrs. Julia E.
||23 Garrison road.
||Carleton S. (M.D.)
||26 Davis avenue.
||George H. (M.D.)
||295 Walnut street.
||Tappan Eustis (M.D.)
||35 Davis avenue.
||35 Cypress street.
||30 Francis street.
||42 Alton place.
||6 Commonwealth avenue, Boston ..
||73 Middlesex road, C. H.
||Mrs. Susan Vining
||555 Washington street.
||I I Holden street.
||Mrs. Susan M.
||I I Holden street.
||Mrs. Sarah E. M.
||440 Boylston street.
||81 Marion street.
||100 High street.
||78 Upland road.
||80 Winthrop road.
||Miss Maria C.
||Miss Harriet Augusta
||30 Warren street.
||Mrs. William D.
||30 Warren street.
||Mrs. Clarence W.
||101 St. Mary'sstreet.
||101 Summit avenue.
||71 Gorham avenue.
||Miss Helen Frances
||292 Kent street.
||394 Kent street.
||Mrs. Martha A.
||138 High street.
||Miss Augusta T.
||1049 Beacon street.
||Mrs. Sara White
||43 Harvard avenue.
||93 Pleasant street.
||54 Gardner road.
||Mrs. William E.
||54 Gardner road.
||1223 Beacon street.
||7 Auburn court.
||William Henry (D.D.)
||353 Walnut street.
||1760 Beacon street.
||2 I Fullerstreet.
||37 Harris street.
||123 Dean road.
||62 Green street.
||136 St. Paul street.
||24 Stearns road.
||Mrs. W. R.
||18 Stearns road.
||9 Regent circle.
||165 Fisher avenue.
||Mrs. Emma L.
||92 Marion street.
||Mrs. Eleanor T.
||I vy street.
||350 Tappan street.
||389 Walnut street.
||Miss Agnes Blake
||201 Buckminster road.
||Mrs. Lillie Oliver
||389 Walnut street.
||Mrs. Mary W.
||201 Buckminster road.
||1763 Beacon street.
||69 Longwood avenue.
||Georgia M. Whidden
||14 Elm street.
||Frederic Leopold Wm
||268 Walnut street.
||50 Kent street.
||George K. (M.D.)
||30 Irving street.
||William Cabot Gorham
||3 Parkman terrace.
||324 Tappan street.
||76 Longwood avenue.
||20 Edgehill road.
||262 Walnut street.
||523 Washington street.
||Charles A. W.
||I Harvard street.
||265 Harvard street.
||31 Pleasant street.
||43 Pleasant street.
||Mrs. Mary Louise
||39 Columbia street.
||Il2 High street.
||130 Aspinwall avenue.
||91 Babcock street.
||1015 Beacon street.
||Mrs. Robert T.
||1015 Beacon street.
||131 Sewall avenue.
||1668 Beacon street.
||23 Regent circle.
||I Perrin road.
||76 Walnut street.
||Mrs.Eliza Tilden Goddard
||220 Aspinwall avenue.
||128 Crafts road.
||Mrs. Louie D.
||93 Dean road.
||Howard 164Chestnut Hill avenue
||William Orne (D.D.)
||222 High street.
||519 Boylston street.
||9 Longwood avenue.
||35 Walnut place.
||Mrs. Elizabeth Whitney
||50 Edgehill road.
||204 Walnut street.
||Alfred 204 Walnut street.
||J. Henrl (M.D)
||39 Salisbury road.
||21 John street.
Ricker, Mrs. Emeline Carr Dorchester.
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.