It's hard for me to keep in mind the importance of horses in the second half of the 19th century. On one hand, most people couldn't afford to keep a horse. The feed, outfitting and housing would cost too much. On the other hand, all freight moved between train depot and destination on horse-drawn wagons. Horses pulled the carriages, omnibuses and streetcars that carried passengers between outlying districts and the city. And their upkeep provided many jobs in carriage making, livery, harness making, and all the other associated professions.
On top of it all, they were a source of pride. Like today's sports car, SUV and luxury car owners, many horse owners must have enjoyed showing off their animals. Here we have even a local priest getting in on the fun.
Boston Daily Globe July 30, 1888
Jamaica Plain Horses
Some of the More Rapid Flyers in Ward 22
The question "What good is a boat if you have no water to sail it in?" might be easily transformed to embrace the ideas held by some of the horse owners in some of the crowded outskirts of the city of Boston, who have not facilities for trying their flyers. But in Jamaica Plain, never. It is sometimes a wonder that with such hard and straight streets and excellent drives, equal in some portions of the ward to a trotting park, that there should not be more fancy steppers than are related in this article.
Among the fast steppers about town is a black driving horse owned by Daniel A. Brown, but admired by every one.
Thomas M. Dolan in his home of leisure stirs up the roadbed with a fast gray gelding.
Dr H.H. Gage drives a speedy brown horse.
Dr. A.A. Eayis(sp?) has a well-formed bay horse which can complete the mile circuit in 2:50.
Rev. Thomas Maguiness, pastor of St.Thomas parish, is aided in going his fatherly rounds among his numerous parishoners by a very fast bay horse.
Dr. Austin Peters drives a fast and promising black colt.
E.I. Driscoll is the proud owner of a fine golden sorrel horse.
J.R. Fallon possesses a sorrel gelding called Rufus, which is acknowledged to be a fast stepper.
M.D. Ayers' bay does not often take second place while on the road.
John R. Alley the brewer, may be soon on the street with a fast brown horse, not, however, in the rear.
Charles Bohn(Bolin?) has a very speedy bay mare.
C.R. Ayer has a good-looking brown mare that gets over the ground in a manner that makes some of the fast ones hustle.
B.R. Weld drives a bay horse about town.
In the upper portion of the ward, William Sanders, proprietor of the Rockland House, easily takes the prize for fast horses. He has a speedy roan gelding, Accident, which has shown good time in the Norfolk Trotting park, doing a mile in 2:35. He has also a young chestnut mare, Mist, which has done a pretty fast mile on the Readville track. A large brown horse which he owns as also done complimentary work as a speeder.