Monday, February 18, 2008

Jamaica Plain Men Build Boston's First Subway

Boston Daily Globe March 27, 1895

Looking Over Ground.

Transit Commission on the Subway's Route.

Jones & Meehan Not Likely to Begin Work for a Few Days.

Sketches of the Two Contractors for the First Section.

The members of the Boston transit commission, Mr Davis, one of its engineers, Jones and Meehan, who will build the first section of the subway, and Superintendent Doogue of the public grounds went carefully over the ground on the Tremont and Boylston st malls of the common and public garden yesterday, noting the position of the trees.

The ground will not be opened for a few days, as Jones & Meehan are not quite ready to begin work. No public ceremony will mark the event. Sightseers will be kept at a distance by a fence, and, in the words of Sec Beal, "the whole matter will be conducted with republican simplicity." The men who are building the subway are interesting local characters. They are residents of the West Robury district, Michael Meehan and J. Edwin Jones, the former a practical mechanic, the latter an accomplished engineer. Mr Jones was superintendent of streets under Mayor Hart and Mr Meehan was his deptuy. If one were to believe the politicians the order was reversed, but that is political talk, not transit.

Mr Meehan was born in Ireland, June 20, 1840, and came to this country when 15 years old. The same ship that brought him landed his brother, Patrick, who today is one of the strongest financial men in Boston, and one of the richest in Jamaica Plain. Patrick takes a brotherly interest in Michael and is always ready to help him in business enterprises.

Michael Meehan served before the mast in the union navy in the war. After the war he became a contractor. He was an active young democrat, and was secretary of the democratic state committee in 78 and 79. In 84 and 85 he was elected superintendent of streets, but was removed for political and personal differences by Mayor O'Brien. Since then Mr Meehan has acted with the republicans.

J. Edwin Jones was once a civil engineer and surveyor. Early in his life he took a course in the engineering school of Harvard university, and then entered the office of the civil engineer at the U.S. navy yard, Portsmouth, N.H. At the end of two years he became assistant engineer to what was then the European & North American railway, having charge of the line between Bangor and Oldtown in the state of Maine. After a service of two years, he, in 1868, accepted the position of assistant engineer in the bureau of sewers, Croton aqueduct department, city of New York, where he acquired valuable knowledge in the theory and practice of the construction of sewers.

In 1870 Mr Jones came to the city of Boston as assistant to the then city surveyor, Thomas W. Davis, and made a survey of the city of Roxbury, and in 1874 he took charge of the suryey of the West Roxbury district, which had then but recently been annexed to the city.

On the completion of the survey of the West Roxbury district, in 1879, he opened an office in Jamaica Plain, and in connection therewith made surveys of the Muddy river improvement and the Arnold Arboretum, and a topographical survey of Franklin park for the late city engineer, Henry M. Wightman. Mr Jones has been interested with R.S. Barrows, editor and publisher of the West Roxbury News. He is also engaged in the general practice of a civil engineer and surveyor at the same place, and has a large business. He is a member of the Masonic fraternity, being connected with Eliot lodge of Jamaica Plain, F. and A.M., and also of the ancient order of United Workmen, and Knights of Honor. In politics Mr Jones is a republican.

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