BROOKLINE HISTORICAL PUBLICATION SOCIETY
PUBLICATIONS NO. 1.

A LETTER FROM REBECCA BOYLSTON1 TO EDWARD BOYLSTON
Brookline, March 5, 1810.


Mr. Edward Boylston, Springfield.

Respected Uncle,— It is so long since you heard from us, at least by letter, that I presume you will scarcely recollect your niece, who now addresses you, & who improves this opportunity of writing with the greatest pleasure. Miss Stebbins2 who will be the bearer of this letter has resided in Brookline for some time, & is very much esteemed, she has kept an excellent school, & we expect her to return in a few weeks to stay the summer, when she returns I shall hope to recieve a long particular letter from you, or some of my cousins. We used to hear from you frequently when cousin Richard was in Boston, but it is now a long time since we heard from any of you. We have not heard from uncle Caleb neither, for several years. Aunt Mary has resided with us for the last ten years, & is as well as I ever knew a person of her age her memory is good, & for the two last summers she has been more rational than she used to be, she frequently speaks of you & wonders we do not hear oftener, she would be very much gratified to recieve particular information concerning you, which I hope we shall very soon. We frequently hear from Mrs. Mirick she that was Betsy Davis, I have been once to Princeton to visit her, I assure you she is very well settled, she has an excellent husband & every thing to make her happy, she has no children, but I believe she is perfectly contented. You have undoubtedly heard of the death of Capt. Joshua Walker3, as he has been dead a year last December, his last voyuges were unfortunate, he lost all the property he had before acquired, & has left a widow & two little children quite destitute, his sister Mary or rather Mrs. Miles has taken his eldest child for her own, as she has no daughter. Mrs. Miles keeps one of the first boarding [houses] in town & gets a very genteel living, she has one son married, her second son, Richard a very enterprizing youth, at the early age of twenty went master of a vessel but died on his passage home, she has still four at home. Mrs. Richardson has a very likely family of children. The eldest, Nicholas is in business with his father, the second, Thomas is settled in the state of Pennsylvania the third William is in business in Virginia Susan the only daughter is at home their fourth son Dudley was a most amiable youth 19 years old who died about a year ago last November in a consumption Mrs Richardson desired me when I wrote to you to give you her best respects Dudley Walker has lately bought a large farm at Milton & has moved there he has a family of seven children & has buried one Edward Walker lives in Boston has six children & has buried one he has not been very succesful in business but gets a comfortable living Thus my dear uncle I have endeavored to give you some little account of our cousins as far as I know as to aunt Seavers children I believe they are all living but Nancy but I seldom see or hear from them they are scattered at a distance from each other None of them in affluent circumstances but all of them comfortable As to Brookline uncle within a few years it is very much altered I think you would scarcely recollect any part of it Where the Meting house stood is now a cultivated garden & the parsonage house handsomely fitted up On the hill opposite the school house on the left hand going to our house there is an elegant meting house4 said by many to be the handsomest in the state, we are likewise blest with a minister5 whom we all love & revere. A turnpike road leading from Worcester to Boston, has been cut through the center of the town, it came within a few rods of our land but was neither an injury nor benefit. Several elegant houses have been erected one on the spot where aunt Davises6 stood, & five within sight of it. Mr. John Heath's house, and Mr. Winchesters are almost the only ones that remain as they were, but they alas! are changed in the most essential points for the owners are no more, Mr. & Mrs. Heath7 & Mr. & Mrs. Winchester have been some time, & their places are supplied by their children. Mr. & Mrs. Goddard8 are still living monuments of piety & goodness they often enquire particularly after you. Doctor Aspinwall9 is still an active physician, & has a son just beginning to practice equally as promising as his father. I can assure you uncle, the present generation now rising up in Brookline promise to be as usful and as respectable as their fathers. And now uncle I will tell you the alteration at the place of your birth, as well as my own. You will doubtless think by this time the house must be very old & uncomfortable; it was so much so as to make it impossible to repair it to any advantage, we moved out of it in october, the house was taken entirely down & a new one erected which was to have been done in May, it was nearly finished & we were anticipating our return home; when by means of the carpenders having a light there in the evening it took fire on the 21 of february & was entirely consumed in a few hours. The loss falls upon the carpender, but the dissapointment on our part is very great, as we shall not return back now for several months. Brookline people are remarkable for assisting the unfortunate, & they are now affording every assistance to the worthy carpender whose winters work was thus in a few hours entirely burnt up. You may wonder perhaps that my mother at her advanced state of life should undertake to build a house but I can assure you she has no care about it We have a particular friend who builds the house10 & who will take care of the farm for the future and not only the farm; but who will undertake a still more difficult task; to take care of me. You know uncle I have neither father nor brother & you will not blame me for chusing a guardian; especially if I make a wise choice which I hope & believe I have. By this time I believe you are completly tired of this long letter, I did not at first intend to be so particular, but if I am tedeious must beg you to forgive me. I should admire to go to Springfield & if it were not quite so far, I should think more about it, I have so few relations, I should like of all things at least to know them all & with my cousins at Springfield I am quite a stranger. I would thank you, Sir, to remember me in the kindest manner to all your family, and tell them they have a cousin at Brookline who would be extreemly gratifieed to recieve a visit from any of them at any time But a letter by Miss Stebbins I shall depend upon Aunt sends abundance of love to you and wishes it were possible to see you but that is a favour she never expects my mother sends her respects to you likewise With every sentiment of duty and respect I remain your affectionate Neice.

Rebecca Boylston


[1] Rebecca Boylston was the daughter of Joshua and Abigail [Baker] Boylston and granddaughter of Dudley Boylston. She became the wife of Deacon Joshua C. Clark.

[2] Miss Stebbins'school house, built about 1808; stood on the southwest corner of " New lane " now Cypress street, at its junction with the Turnpike now Boylston street. Mrs. Thomas Walley, an accomplished French lady, was interested to have it put up, wishing to secure for her daughters special teaching in embroidery, sampler working and water colors beside the customary school course of the day. Of late years the old building has been used as a hen and cow house by Dr. Shurtleff; it now stands on the west branch of Cameron street.
Two Rewards of Merit have been preserved and are reproduced by permission of Mrs. Henry F. Dana:

Miss Anna E. Heath has made such improvement, since she has been under Miss Stebbins' tuition that she has gained her high approbation.

Brookline, Nov. 2, 1811.
HONARARY CARD.

Miss Ann E. Heath has made great proficiency in all the branches of education to which she has attended, since she has been under Miss Stebbins' tuition.

Brookline, August 3d, 1812.
 

[3] Joshua Walker married Susanna, daughter of Dudley Boylston of Brookline; their daughters, Mrs. William Richardson of Boston and Mrs. Miles, were sisters of Capt. Joshua Walker.

[4] May 1802 a committee was chosen to examine "whether the meeting house is in a situation to enlarge How many new pews may be made". On hearing its report extensive repairs were voted in June but countermanded the following May 1803 settling for what outlay had been made to date. At a town meeting held 2 April 1804 it was Voted "That a reward of $500 be given to any person who may detect the villian or villians that attempted to burn the meeting house in this Town on the last evening. Voted to advertise the above reward in the Independent Chronicle and Columbian Centinel." On May 16th it was voted to replace the old building by a new one. A fresh site was chosen where the present or fourth building stands and, in April 1805, the corner-stone was laid. The architect was an Englishman, Mr. Peter Banner; during the following summer he was allowed the use of the brick school house in carrying out his work. Mr. John Robinson was chairman of the Committee and saw that each Surveyor of Highways worked out 2-7 of his Tax list on the meeting house plat. When completed the Church was 68 feet long and 64 feet wide, with a porch, and a spire rising 137 feet from the ground. There were 74 pews on the floor and 14 in the gallery. The pulpit and caps of the pews were made of Southern cherry wood, given by Stephen Higginson, Jr. His father gave a London bell weighing 1,000 lbs. The Town voted it should be inscribed with name of donor and date. Mr. Thomas Walley presented " an Elegant New Bible" valued at $36, Mr. David Hyslop provided a baptismal basin, Richard Sullivan, Esq., gave the money for the stone steps, and through the liberality of Mr. John Lucas a clock was purchased, which in 1873 was still serviceable and transferred to the old Town Hall. The entire cost came to about $20,193, and was assessed on the pews. At the Vendue, of which four notifications were to be posted up in different parts of the Town, the Town agreed the Pew should go to the highest Bidder being a freeholder or Inhabitant. All non-resident proprietors of Land and persons from Roxbury first Parish, living west of Muddy River to have equal rights by signifying their intentions to the Town Clerk (Stephen Sharp) on the day before the sale. No one was to buy more than one pew until all had had opportunity to purchase one. Each Deed to be recorded by Town Clerk. The ground floor pews were prized at a minimum of $160 and those in the Gallery at $110. The highest price recorded was $525 covering a bonus paid for choice. By a special vote no Pewholder was to make any alteration except in the Seat and Ledges below the railing. The fixing of hooks, cloakpins or any other thing to the walls or columns without consent of the Standing Committee was likewise forbidden. May 26, 1806, Voted "the Dedication of the New meeting house be on Wednesday the Eleventh day of June next — Devine worship to begin precisely at Three O'Clock, and the church and congregation of this Town will assemble at the said new meeting house for the purpose of Divine Worship on the next Sunday (June 15) and afterwards forever." The text at the Dedication was "In all places where I record my Name, I will come unto thee and I will bless thee." In 1894, "Acts and Laws Relating to Brookline" appeared, together with a map made in 1844 by E. F. Woodward; on its margin the churches of that date are given, among them Dr. Pierce's. This church, was followed by the third building; the corner-stone of which was laid in 1848. —Miss Woods' "Sketches of Brookline" and Town Records.

A pencil sketch of the church as it appeared about 1839, drawn by a member of Gambadella's drawing class, has been given to the Public Library by Dr. Augustine Shurtleff.

[5] Rev. John Pierce, minister in Brookline from 1797 to the time of his death in 1849.

[6] Sarah, daughter of Dudley Boylston, and wife of Samuel Davis, son of Nehemiah Davis.— Bradford Kingman.

[7]Mr John Heath a cousin of General William Heath married in 1738 Susanna Crafts of Roxbury In 1 760 they came to Brookline to live Mr Heath died in 1 804 aged 72 his wife in 1808 aged 70

[8] Mr John Goddard born in 1730 married for his second wife Hannah Seaver She died in 1821 and her husband in 1816 both at the age of 86

[9] Dr William Aspinwall Harvard 1764 married Susanna Gardner in 1776 He established three hospitals for inoculation against smallpox When vaccination was discovered he at once recognized its superiority over the earlier method and gave it his support He died in 1823 His son died in 1818 at the age of 34

[10] The house referred to was built by Nathaniel Murdock for the late Deacon Joshua C. Clark and his bride in 1810. Its present occupant is Mr. Frederick Law Olmsted. In March, 1801, the Surveyors of Roads were William Leverett, Jonathan Dana, Benjamin White, Caleb Craft, and Nathaniel Murdock. For many successive years Mr. Murdock was Surveyor of Wood and Lumber.