BROOKLINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY
ANNUAL MEETING, JANUARY 29, 1924
PUBLISHED BY THE SOCIETY
Committee on Papers and Publications.
Charles F. White.
Charles F. Read.
Edward Baker, The President, ex officio
BROOKLINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY
TWENTY-THIRD ANNUAL MEETING.
The twenty-third annual meeting of the Brookline
Historical Society was held in the Edward Devotion House, Brookline, on January 29, 1924, at 8 p. m., President William O. Comstock in the chair.
Members of the Brookline Historical Society and Friends
It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to this twenty-third anniversary of the Society's birthday, though by our charter the actual day will be the twenty-ninth of next April, as on that day, in 1901, Secretary William M. Olin signed the document for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Our present membership is as follows:
Annual members: 156
Life members: 25
We welcome the thirteen new members who have joined the Society during the past year, and hope that more will join this year.
During 1923 there have been two resignations and nine deaths of our members. The deaths were as follows:
Miss Eadith de C. Heath, died February 16, l923.
David Blakeley Hoar, died March 8.
Mrs. William R. McKey. died April 30.
Levi C. Willcutt, died June 2.
Alfred D. Chandler, died August 26 .
Dr. Everett M. Bowker, died September 8.
Miss Maria C. Hook, died October 5.
Mrs. Margaret Griggs Waite, died October 15.
Alfonso Scott Harris, died December 29.
Miss Eadith de C. Heath was the daughter of the late Charles Henry Heath, and for their family, one of the oldest in Brookline, both Heath Street and Heath Hill were named. Miss Heath was most helpful in civic and welfare work; and she was a member of the First Parish Church and of the Hannah Goddard Chapter, D. A. R. Her brother, Charles Heath, lives in Virginia. Miss Heath died at the age of sixty-one years. Our member, Mr. Crafts, a relative of hers, speaks of her as a most courageous, helpful, and lovely lady.
David Blakeley Hoar Jived his entire life in Brookline. His father was the beloved principal of the High School for thirty-four years. Blakely, as he was generally called, graduated at Harvard and at the Harvard Law School, and was a lawyer in Boston. He was much interested in Brookline, and a member of the Tree Planting Committee for many years. He was greatly interested in historical matters, and was secretary of the Thursday Club. He died at the age of sixty-six years.
Mrs. William R. McKey was a widow and lived on Stearns Road for at least twenty-five years. She died at eighty-six years of age.
Levi L. Willicutt came with his parents to Brookline in 1881. His father bought the house at the corner of Harvard Street and Longwood Avenue, and lived there the rest of his life. Levi L. Willicutt and his father were in the roofing business. He was fifty-eight years old when he died.
Alfred D. Chandler was one of the best known and respected citizens of Brookline, where he was born and had always lived. He was son of Theophilus Chandler, who was a lawyer and who built the large house on Washington Street, Brookline, that was used after the World War for several years as a convalescent hospital for wounded soldiers. Mr. Alfred Chandler was a lawyer much interested in corporation laws. He inaugurated several important changes in our town government, notably the system of serial bonds for the town loans, and the representative town-meetings. He had five sons 7 and a daughter, and all of his sons enlisted in the war. He had been on the Board of Selectmen and was a faithful member of our town meetings, where he will be greatly missed.
Dr. Everett M. Bowker was the youngest son of Watts H. Bowker, who came to Brookline from Machias, Maine, was in the building and contracting business, a selectman. and a county commissioner. Dr. Everett M. Bowker had also been a member of the Board of Selectmen and of the School Committee. At the time of his death he was a commissioner of Norfolk County, and a practicing physician. He died at the age of fifty-eight years.
Miss Maria C. Hook was a daughter of Mr. Hook, the organ builder of Hook and Hastings of Roxbury, and later of Weston. Mr. Hook bought a place on Newton Street where Hiss Hook lived until it was recently sold to Xlrs, Scars, who has built a larger house there. Miss Hook then lived at 31 Cypress Street until she died, aged sixty-nine years.
Mrs. Margaret Griggs Waite had always lived in Brookline and was a daughter of Thomas B. Griggs and granddaughter of Thomas Griggs. Both her father and grandfather Griggs were large owners of real estate and each lived to be nearly one hundred years old. Mrs. Waite was the widow of Harry W. Waite, who died two years ago. She died at the age of sixty-eight and had always lived near the home of her ancestors. She left a son and a daughter and will be greatly missed.
Alfonso Scott Harris was one of our active members and greatly liked by us all. He was a native of Salem, a soldier in the Civil War, and was a member of several patriotic societies. He was much interested in our society and will be long remembered. He was seventy-six years of age.
Our town treasurer, Mr. George H. Worthley, was not a member of the Brookline Historical Society, but we must speak of him here as an old resident and high officer of the town, who died during the past year. He came to Brookline in 1869, and was then the financial agent of Cyrus Wakefield and Company, afterwards the Wakefield Rattan Company. In July, 1884, he was appointed by the Selectmen to the office of town treasurer, to take the place of Moses Withington, who had resigned on account of ill health, after serving for thirty-five years. Mr. Worthley had been re-elected every year since 1884 and even on the day he suddenly died votes were cast for him, although we all knew he had passed away that morning. Mr. Worthley will be long remembered, not only for his faithful service to Brookline, but for his courtesy and kindness to all.
Arthur Weightman Spencer died September twentieth, 1923, aged forty-seven. Though not a member of this Society, his father has been a member for many years. Mr. Spencer was vice-president and director at the Riverdale Press and former editor of the Brookline Chronicle. He was born in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, the son of Charles A. W. Spencer and Dora A. W. Spencer. The family moved to Brookline in 1879. Mr. Spencer graduated at Harvard in 1898. after having been through the Brookline High School. Before being editor of the Brookline Chronicle he was with Charles Scribner and Sons in New York, and afterwards editor of Musical America in that city. Mr. Spencer studied science and law and wrote for magazines on both subjects. He was a member of the Harvard Club and Brookline Lodge, A. F. and A. M. One of his last works was the publishing of the Brookline Historical Society's report for 1923, and we owe much to his care in this and former publications of the Society.
We had during the year four meetings of the Society: one in the art gallery of our distinguished member, Mr. Desmond FitzGerald, on Washington Street, Brookline; and three at the Edward Devotion House. January 30, 1923, was the Annual Meeting held at the Edward Devotion House at 8 p. m., at which officers were elected, and your president, Mr. Charles H. Stearns, read his annual report. This report has been printed, together with "Publication Number Five" containing ten maps of Brookline, and a copy mailed to every member of this Society . At this meeting Mr. St earns resigned, and could not be persuaded to reconsider his resignation at the following meeting of the Board of Trustees in February.
At the February meeting of the Trustees Mr. Steams was elected president emeritus, to be confirmed by the Society; William O. Comstock, president; and Charles F. Read, vice president.
At the January meeting of the Society Mr. Baker gave a report in regard to the work which had been done by Mr. Charles F. White and himself looking to the publication of the series of maps prepared by Mr. Theodore F. Jones, and stated that the larger part of the cost would he met by individual subscriptions for that purpose. By vote the thanks of the Society were given to Mr. Baker and Mr. White. March 22, 1923. By the kind invitation of our member, Mr. Desmond FitzGerald, this meeting was held in the evening at his Art Gallery, 410 Washington Street, Brookline. A large number of members and guests were present, who had the great plea sure of seeing the pictures in the gallery and hearing Mr. FitzGerald's most interesting account of "Scenes in our National Parks." His description was illustrated by many beautiful colored lantern slides. A rising vote of thanks was given to Mr. FitzGerald for the courtesy of receiving and entertaining the Society.
Mr. Charles F. Read offered the following resolution, which was adopted unanimously by a rising vote:
, that the Brookline Historical Society, having learned with deep regret that Charles H. Stearns, its president for the past thirteen years, has declined re-election to the office, places upon its records its sincere appreciation of his faithful service during that time. A native of Brookline, he has passed his entire life in the historic house in which he was born. He has seen the town grow from a hamlet, largely of farms, to the commanding municipality which it is today.
No other citizen of the town knows so much of its history, and he has at all times imparted it to others.
On motion of Mr. Read it was voted:
That Mr. Charles H. Stearns be elected president emeritus of the Historical Society in appreciation of his faithful service as its president for the past thirteen years.
May 31. This meeting of the Society was at the Edward Devotion House at eight o'clock. The speaker of the evening was Charles H. Bangs, M. D., ex-president of the Massachusetts Society, Sons of the American Revolution, who read a most interesting paper entitled, "When the Puritan Came." A vote of thanks was extended to Dr. Bangs, and we all felt that we knew much more than we had of the early condition of this country, that was settled by the Puritan, and of the Indians at that time living in this state.
A motion by Mr. Read was passed, giving the best wishes of the Society to William O. Comstock as president, for a pleasant trip abroad and safe return in the fall, which was greatly appreciated.
Mr. Walter K. Watkins gave the Society a photograph of the late George H. Worthley, for thirty-eight years treasurer and collector of Brookline.
After the meeting, light refreshments were served and a social half-hour enjoyed .
November 13. The last regular meeting of the year was held at the Edward Devotion House at eight o'clock, presided over by President William O. Comstock.
The question of heating the Devotion House was discussed and the Treasurer submitted two estimates of cost. Mr. Baker also reported on the cost of the 750 copies of this year's publication of "Land Ownership in Brookline", with and without the annual report. The total cost was $671, of which $315 had been subscribed by individuals. Copies had been sent to all the members of the Society and the usual exchanges, leaving a sup ply on hand, which are being sold at $2.00 per copy. 11
A vote of thanks was extended to Mr. Charles F. White for his great interest and' work in connection with this publication of the "Land Ownership in Brookline," and the Society feels that without Mr. White's intimate knowledge of Brookline families, the publication would not have been the complete work that it now is.
Mr. Baker read interesting extracts from early Brookline records, showing how the present workings of the town compared with those of the former years. The meeting was held on the date of the beginning of Brookline as a town in 1705, before which time Brookline was a part of Boston. The President spoke of the earliest owners of large tracts of land in Brookline, before it became a town as shown on the first map of the Society's publication of this year, 1923. In this interesting series of maps, three are given of Brookline before it became a town.
On the first map the seven largest land owners were:
Captain William Tyng, owning 6OO acres.
William Hibbins, owning 300 acres.
Rev. John Cotton, owning 250 acres.
Thomas Leverett, owning 175 acres.
Thomas Oliver, owning 16O acres.
William Colcborne, owning 150 acres.
Griffith Bowen, owning 150 acres.
Captain William Tyng was treasurer of Massachusetts Bay Colony, 1640-44, captain of the Braintree Militia Company, and died January 18, 1852-3, leaving the largest estate in the country. He was an ancestor of Rev. William Brattle. His brother, Edward Tyng, was a merchant of Boston, whose daughter Hannah married Major-General Daniel Gookin, who was much connected with the early Indian wars in this vicinity.
William Hibbins, at one time one of the assistants of the colony, was a merchant of Boston in 1839, who came over in the Mary and John
in 1834, with his wife, Ann, and died in 1854. Soon after her husband's death his widow was condemned as a witch.
Of Rev. John Cotton, Savage says he was the most distinguished divine who came in the first age. He died in 1652. Thomas Leverett came from Boston, England, and died in 1650. His widow died October 16, 1656, and the Brookline land went to their son, Sir John Leverett, governor of this colony, 1673-79, whose daughter married Paul Dudley. There is much that can be learned of these and the three others who owned the seven largest tracts of land in Brookline, and of the other landowners of those days. A large field is open for research in regard to the English homes that these people came from, their ancestors, and how they lived. Much is being done in this research as the three-hundred year period is approaching since those earliest settlements.
There were four meetings during the year of the Bay State Historical League, of which this Society is a member, and the Society has been represented at all of them: January 6, at Chelsea, with the Cary House Association in the old Bellingham- Cary House, that once was the residence of Governor Bellingham; April 21, at Christ Church, Boston; June 30, at Wakefield, the annual meeting was held and your President Emeritus and Vice-President were present; October 27, at Swampscott, where the delegates went first to the Old Humphrey House that is being restored, and afterwards heard a very interesting paper by Dr. Bangs, past president of the Massachusetts Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.
The growth of Brookline in 1923 has been aided by the important town events of the year, which have continued the town's well-earned popularity. The present outlook is good for the coming year. We have extra copies of the publication containing the ten maps of Brookline in the successive periods of its growth, showing the land ownership, and all are requested to tell people of their value and that they can be bought at our treasurer's office, better known as the Town Clerk's office, in the Town Hall. These maps, with their description, combined with the record of the oldest cemetery of the town, that the Society published a few years ago, form a very complete survey of early Brookline people, with genealogical and historical matter not to be found elsewhere. Few towns, if any, have as full a record of growth shown as this Society has in its publications in regard to Brookline.
On the afternoon of Saturday, February 16, 1924, this Society will receive and entertain the Bay State Historical League at the Brookline High School, and all here present are cordially invited to attend the meeting. The subject of discussion will be the "Preparation and Publication of Maps by Historical Societies."
The last Brookline meeting of the league, of which we are a member, was held several years ago in the Devotion School. Our president emeritus, Mr. Charles H. Stearns, is a member of the Executive Committee of the Bay State Historical League, and our treasurer, Mr. Edward W. Baker, will speak at the coming meeting.
William O. Comstock.
Brookline, January 29, 1924.