Saturday, March 29, 2008

Very Ancient History

Roxbury Puddingstone is the bedrock of Jamaica Plain. Anywhere you see a rock outcrop, you can expect it to be of the famous conglomerate. Churches, walls and foundations have been made of it throughout the community, with much of it probably coming from either the site or very nearby. In looking for an online source of information on our state rock, I came upon this entry from an old book. For anyone with questions about Roxbury Puddingstone, I think that's the best you'll get without going to a good library.

Just to clarify: Roxbury Puddingstone may be glacial in origin, but it is not the product of the (relatively) recent ice ages that shaped the surface of modern Massachusetts. This is some very old rock - recent sources date it to 500 million years - that's Precambrian for you geologists and paleontologists.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Welcome To The Slaughterhouse

This segment of an 1858 map shows a slaughter house at the end of a lane between Centre street and Chestnut avenue. Look just to the right of center on the map.

It's really not as ominous as it sounds. Jamaica Plain was a farming community, and it did have at least one slaughterhouse over the years. The second short entry notes a fire at the slaughterhouse of Mr Goldsmith, and his name show up at the top of the above-mentioned lane on the map. The first article is dated 35 years before this map was published. The reference to the estate of Dr. Warren suggests that the site is the same, as Dr Warren lived near where Green street was later laid out.

Addendum: I just noticed that a Goldsmith place is now located right about where the lane to the slaughterhouse is shown on this map. I'm not familiar with Goldsmith place, and wouldn't have remembered the name unless I looked at a current map. It looks like the slaughterhouse would have been between the end of Goldsmith place and Enfield street. I hope there are no vegans living there now - they'd probably be haunted by nightmares and never know why.

Do you suppose there are any cow bones in the ground where the old slaughterhouse was located? I'd bet some digging in the right place would find some, if they weren't all found when the streets were laid out and houses built.

Columbian Centinel November 5, 1823

On Monday, Nov. 24, at 3 o'clock, P.M. two lots of Land, on Jamaica Plain, opposite the seat of John Hubbard, Esq. and adjoining the estate of the late Doct. Warren, being a donation given in care to the trustees of Eliot School, by the late Mrs. Abigail Brewer. One lot of about fifteen acres is bounded on the Main Road, about eighteen rods, being licensed for, and having a Slaughter house thereon. An opportunity now offers to young men who wish to establish themselves in that business, that does not often occur. This lot of Land is superior in quality, having two living springs that have never failed, and an interval that bears two crops a year without dressing.

The other lot contains about five acres, adjoining the river upland and meadow. Conditions liberal, made known at time of sale. For particulars inquire of

Committee of Sales

Jos Curtis,
Paul Gore,
Benj. T. Williams,

Roxbury, Nov 3, 1823

New Hampshire Sentinel December 27, 1849


On Friday night, shortly after ten o'clock, the slaughterhouse of Mr Goldsmith, Jamaica Plain, was discovered to be on fire, and was mostly consumed. It was the work of an incendiary.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Susan E. Tracy - Occupational Therapy Pioneer

Susan E. Tracy is credited with being the first to train nurses in occupational therapy in a series of lectures at the Adams-Nervine Asylum on Centre street in Jamaica Plain. Her 1906 lectures were followed by a 1910 book, Studies in invalid occupation: A method for nurses and attendants. During World War I, she trained nurses in occupational therapy to work with returning disabled soldiers.

Kansas City Times June 1, 1918

To Teach Crippled Soldiers.

Detroit Women Nurses Will Educate Maimed Fighters.

From the Detroit News.

Preparation for the task of re-educating United States soldiers disabled in the war has begun in Detroit with the organization of a school in invalid occupation to train pupil nurses for work in the government reconstruction hospitals for maimed soldiers.

Miss Susan E. Tracy, director of the experiment station of invalid occupation, at Jamaica Plain, near Boston, has been engaged by the Detroit Community Union to train a class of fifty Detroit nurses for the work of teaching crippled soldiers simple trades by which they may make a living even though confined to their beds or wheel chairs for the remainder of their lives.

"Even though confined to their beds for life, soldiers may be taught to manufacture small articles of furniture, and clothing, from the sale of which they can easily make enough money to support themselves," Miss Tracy says. "After this war the task of re-educating maimed soldiers will be one of the greatest problems with which this country will have to contend. Enough nurses should be trained so that no time will be lost in teaching our crippled boys how to be independent and busy."

The articles which disabled American soldiers will be taught to manufacture, Miss Tracy says, are cane seats for chairs, bed slippers, tea trays, baskets, ladies' purses, pocketbooks, baby shoes, lamp shades, flower and plant stands, match scratchers, bill folders, leather caps, gloves and many other articles of clothing and furniture.


Unfortunately, I couldn't find a picture of Miss Tracy. If I read the Boston Directory of 1925 correctly, she lived on the grounds of the Adams-Nervine Asylum where she worked.

Jamaica Plain Station

Photo courtesy of Ebay

This post card comes from the Divided Back period (1907-1914) of postcard history, and this particular one was postmarked Feb. 20, 1908. We're looking south on the inbound side. You can see the layout of the stations and adjacent buildings here (upper right corner). At the far left, you see the mansard roof of a building owned by the Old Colony Railroad Co. To the far right, the houses you see are on either Everett or Call street.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Band Concert - 1877

Cadet bands were very popular during the post-Civil War years. They grew out of military bands, but became concert groups, performing light classical and popular music. The top band leaders and soloists were stars of their day, Perhaps this concert was an effort by the City of Boston to show the benefits of annexation. Then again, maybe it was just a concert.

Boston Daily Globe August 1, 1877

City Concert at Jamaica Plain.

The Boston Cadet Band will perform the following programme of music at the junction of Centre and South streets this evening:

1. March --- "Royal Trumpeter." ......................Voight
2. Fantasie --- "Musical Soiree." .......................Bosquet
3. Baritone Solo --- "Souvenir de Donizetti." .... Claus

Performed by J.U. Odell.

4. Waltzer--- "Spring Flowers." .................Bosquet
5. Selection --- "Girotle Girotla." .........,,,,. Mullaly
6. Cornet Solo --- "Cleopatra." .................. Demare

Performed by Walter Emerson.

7. Bridal March from "Lohengrin." ............... Wagner
8. Fantasie for Piccolo..................................De Carlo

Performed by August Damm.

9. Songs by Mendelsshon, arranged by J.B. Claus

10. Potpourri --- "Harvard." .................... Mullaly
11. Galop --- "Pleasure Party." ................. Strauss

Monday, March 24, 2008

History Repeats Itself

I've come up with two double drownings in Jamaica Pond. In this case, the victims are horses as well as men. Across the colonial and antebellum eras, history did repeat itself, first as tragedy, and then as Darwin Award entry.

New England Weekly Journal August 14, 1727

On Wedneſday last one Robert Sweedland, driving a Cart from this Place to Mr. Stone's Farm at Roxbury, drove down to Jamaica Pond, ſo called, in order to give Drink to the Horſes, and the Horſes being eager for the Water, ran ſwiftly into the ſaid Pond, and there were Drowned, and the poor Man willing to do his utmoſt to ſave the Horſes, was himself likewiſe Drowned.

Essex Gazette July 19, 1839

Sunday morning, a young man named Henry Whalley, was swimming a horse in Jamaica Pond, Roxbury, in presence of nearly twenty persons. The horse was kept in the water a long time, and urged far out from the shore. Becoming exhausted he rolled partly over, and threw off the young man, who not being able so swim, seized the horse so violently about the neck, that it was difficult for the beast to keep his head above water. Finally he gave a plunge and threw the man off, who sunk; after swimming around a few seconds, the horse also sank, and both man and beast were drowned. The bodies of both were recovered in about twenty minutes, but life was extinct. --- Boston Gazette.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

David S. Greenough Makes A Purchase

David Stoddard Greenough was the father of David Stoddard Greenough, and ancestor of three additional David Stoddard Greenoughs in a row. D.S. Greenough the First came into possession of the house of Loyalist Commodore Joshua Loring after the Revolutionary War, the house surviving today as the Loring-Greenough house at the Soldier's Monument in Jamaica Plain.

The Massachusetts Historical Society has been nice enough to make available transcripts of papers found in the David Stoddard Greenough papers (direct links below). The first is a bill of sale, dated July 13, 1785, from John Mory to D.S. Greenough.The property being exchanged, for the sum of five pounds, is a mulatto boy, five years of age, named Dick. The boy, son of Mory's negro servant Binah, is assigned as a servant until his twenty-first birthday.

The next year, an agreement of indenture was filed,in which five Selectmen of the Town of Roxbury, acting... in loco parentis?... signed over the labor of Dick Mory, negro child, to David Stoddard Greenough, for the next fifteen years in exchange for room, board and training as a farmer.

Please read the two documents, here and here.

So what goes on here? The documents can be interpreted in more than one way. Slavery in Massachusetts had been effectively outlawed by a court decision in 1783, but it took several years for the decision to be followed in practice. In this case D.S. Greenough buys a five year old boy two years after the legal ruling on slavery, and the contract explicitly states that the boy's service is only assigned until he turns twenty-one. The indenture document also stipulates service until the twenty-first birthday, so it seems as if indenture, rather than life-long slavery was indented from the start.

Should we think of this as simply a way to get around the slavery ruling of 1783, and get a slave in fact, if not in name? That's what I thought at first. Then again, why a five year old boy? At that age, he's useless as a servant/worker, and you have to feed and cloth him until he's old enough to be of use around the house and farm. Given that indenture was still legal, why not just get yourself an able-bodied young man and put him to work immediately?

Buying a slave, or binding an indentured servant at the age of five makes no sense to me. What could lead to D.S. Greenough the First to taking on the expense of caring for a five year old boy? Could the agreement to take on the boy actually be considered in a positive light? I could imagine a story in which Mr Greenough takes on the boy to provide him a job and a home while he grows to adulthood. It's hard to justify the need for legal contracts under that scenario, but I still wouldn't rule it out.

Then there's another explanation. Binah, the mother of the boy Dick, is described in the first document as a negro. The boy is called a mulatto. The difference may not matter, but it does raise the question: who was the father? Hmmm.... Are you thinking what I'm thinking? It turns out that the Greenoughs only married in 1784, so an interesting possibility seems highly unlikely.

In the end, the mystery, such as it is, remains a mystery. David S. Greenough purchased a young boy to work as a servant until he reached his majority - that much we know. Why he did so remains a puzzle to me. The simple answer certainly my be the correct one. On the other hand, the loose ends implied by the language in the documents may complicate the story in ways that we cannot decipher. In school I was taught that indenture usually lasted for seven years, and that it was an agreement among adults. In this case, we have a child indentured until adulthhood by the town fathers. The details make the story a bit messy, but that's history.

Addendum: For a great look at slavery in Massachusetts and the other northern states, check out Slavery in the North. Definitely required reading.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Bussey Institute - Part II

It took a while, but I'm finally getting back to this second and final entry on the Bussey Institute. The first entry - here - included an article written in 1899 extolling the virtues of the agricultural and horticultural program at the Institute. Just nine years later, the undergraduate program described in the Globe article was shut down, and the Institute was reorganized as a graduate school that would focus on scientific research.

The new research institute featured two men who would become leaders in the effort to understand the mechanisms of inheritance. William Castle worked with mammals and Edward Murray East with plants at a time when the nature of inheritance was still very much a mystery. The work of Austrian monk Gregor Mendel in the mid-1800s had done much to unlock the mystery, but it was not recognized at the time. It wasn't until the turn of the century that multiple researchers came upon the same results Mendel did, and proper genetic research could begin. Thus, the new Bussey graduate program was begun just as a new science took hold, with faculty and students capable of playing a major role in new discoveries. Among the students who came to the Bussey Institute in its early days (1912-1915) was Sewall Wright, who became, with Englishmen R.A. Fisher and J.B.S. Haldane, one of the founding fathers of population genetics as it applies to evolutionary biology. A later student, and one better known to the general public - though not for his Bussey work - was Alfred Kinsey (1916-1919), who made an exacting study of gall wasps for his Ph.D.

The actual work done by the Bussey faculty and students is beyond the scope of this site, and would no doubt sit unread if I bothered typing it up. Suffice it to say that the Bussey evolved from a quaint agricultural school to a modern research institute in the early 1900s. As such, it would probably have disappeared from sight for the residents of Jamaica Plain. News of work done at the Institute would be carried by scientific journals and institutional publications, not newspapers, and they would only be read by other scientists in the same field.

By 1936, the program was closed, and the staff transferred to Cambridge. During the 20th century, the state purchased Bussey land for vaccine production and diagnostic testing laboratories, and in 1963 the entire grounds were purchased from Harvard, ending their connection to the land. A new hulking monstrosity was built in 1969, and the main building of the Institute was torn down in the early 1970s. Today, the Institute is probably remembered in more detail by students of the history of science than it is by Jamaica Plain residents.

Sources: Records of the Bussey Institution, Kinsey biography, Sewell Wright and Evolutionary Biology, by William B. Provine.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Kids And Guns

Here are two stories from early in the last century, both involving children and guns. The first has an element of humor, while the second is pure tragedy.

Boston Daily Globe March 19, 1913

Asks To Be Kept In Cell.

Jamaica Plain Boy, Held in Shooting Case, Escapes From Juvenile Home but Police Send Him Back.

Preferring a cell in the Jamaica Plain police station to the comparative liberty of a juvenile home in Wellesley, Charles A. Burrows, 14 years old, of 37 School st, Jamaica Plain, who was held in $3000 bonds on a charge of assault with a loaded revolver on Carl G.A. Danielson of 41 School st, Jamaica Plain, made his escape from the institution yesterday afternoon.

The boy was arrested Saturday evening and spent Sunday in the Jamaica Plain Police Station, where he became friendly with the patrolmen. He was given in charge of the State Board of Charity Monday and was sent to the Wellesley institution.

After dinner yesterday he was allowed with the other children to play on the grounds of the home, and eluding an attendant he walked in upon his astonished parents just as they had finished the evening meal. He said he had no intention of escaping the authorities, but told them he did not like Wellesley and was perfectly willing to return to a cell in the Jamaica Plain Station.

Accompanied by his mother, he walked to the station house, where he greeted the patrolmen like old friends and went to a cell with a smile of satisfaction.

Hardly had he reached the cell when a telephone message from Headquarters was received ordering that the boy be sent at once to meet a representative of the Wellesley institution. He was accordingly taken back.

While Burrows and the other boys were playing "Wild West" at Franklin Park, Danielson was shot in the abdomen and is now lying at the City Hospital in serious condition. Burrows admitted he shot the lad with a 22-caliber revolver which he had bought that morning, but insisted it was accidental.

June 24, 1916

Absolve Hickox Of Myers' Death

Acquitted of Charge of Manslaughter

Accidentally Fired Revolver in Jamaica Plain Store

Officer Pulsifer, Its Owner, Breaks Down in Court

George HIckox, who fired the shot from a policeman's revolver which killed 14-year-old Kenneth T. Myers in a store at 95 Boylston st, Jamaica Plain, on the evening of June 16, was freed of the charge of manslaughter by Judge Perrins in the West Roxbury court yesterday.

Patrolman Pulsifer of the Jamaica Plain station, who owned the weapon, broke down and wept during his testimony. Especially was he affected when the revolver was handed to him for a demonstration of how he handed it to Hickox before the accidental shooting.

Pulsifer had been telling of the incidents leading to the accident when his gaze rested on his revolver. Then he put out his hand and, taking the weapon, lowered his head, unable to continue his testimony for two minutes.

Patrolman Pulsifer told of going into the store where Hickox was clerk, and the conversation in which he was asked his opinion about a new revolver the clerk had in the rear of the store. Hickox expressed surprise when told that it was worth about $1.50, and to explain the small value Pulsifer brought out his own revolver to show the greater grip.

A few seconds after Hickox received the officer's weapon there was an explosion from the revolver. Pulsifer testified that Hickox was startled by the shot and asked him (Pulsifer) if he was hit, and receiving a negative reply, asked young Myers the same question.

The lad also said no and started for the door of the store, but grew faint. The officer caught him before he fell, carried him to a table in the rear of the store and gave him a drink of water. The boy asked what the matter was and Pulsifer said he told him he had been frightened and fainted. He said Hickox was much upset and exclaimed "Why did I take that into my hand?"

Capt. Joseph Harriman of Station 13 told of first hearing of the shooting when informed by Medical Examiner McGrath, on the morning of June 17, of the bullet hole in the boy's body. Then Pulsifer and Hickox were sent for, and the officer's story was substantially that of his testimony on the stand.

Charl Schleich, aged 10, of 1 Jess st, who was in the store at the time of the shooting and was sent after a doctor, also testified, corroborating the facts as told by the principal witnesses.

Then Hickox went to the stand, and his story agreed with that of Pulsifer, that the shot was purely accidental.

Hickox was represented by Sewell C. Brackett, who argued that as his client had never fired a shot before in his life and was unfamiliar with firearms, his finger naturally went to the trigger, and in turning it over the shot was accidentally fired. Capt Harriman, who, with Inspector Greavey of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, conducted the prosecution, made no arguments.

Judge Perrins, in summing up, said that the case was one of the "didn't know it was loaded" variety, and that the whole affair was simply a regrettable incident. As far as had been shown, he stated, there was absolutely no malice or evil intent in the affair and he ordered HIckox freed.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Tonsorial Cartel Strikes Jamaica Plain

How is it that it took 45 years to go from 35 to 50 cents for a boys' haircut, but a loaf of bread goes up 25 cents in a week today? This is why I cut my own hair.

Boston Daily Globe April 27, 1920

Barbers Raise Prices In Roxbury, Jamaica Plain

Beginning Saturday, haircuts in Roxbury, Jamaica Plain and Forest Hills are to be 50 cents, shaves 30 cents and children's haircuts 35 cents. More than 1(?) master barbers of those sections, meeting in Columbus Hall, Centre st and Columbus av, last night, voted unanimously in favor of the increase.

A permanent organization, to be known as the Roxbury, Jamaica Plain and Forest Hills Master Barbers' Association, was planned. Dominick Scordino of Jamaica Plain was elected temporary chairman; Joseph Rando of Roxbury, clerk and Thomas Sullivan of Jamaica Plain, treasurer.

John C. Gore And The Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society

I've posted a few enlightening but depressing slavery entries recently, so it's good to be able to add a positive entry to the mix. Here we meet John C. Gore, of the Roxbury Gores, one of whom was later memorialized by Paul Gore street in Jamaica Plain. This Gore was evidently an abolitionist, and a religious man as well. His effort to contribute to church and cause together came to nought, and so he chose the cause as the greater good.

Deed of John C. Gore.

At a special meeting of the Board of Managers of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, held in Boston at the Society's Room, Dec. 29, 1841 --- Ellis Gray Loring stated that John C. Gore, Esquire, of Jamaica Plain, had presented to the society a piece of land, valued at about six hundred dollars, by a deed in the following words: ---

Whereas, John C. Gore, of Roxbury, in the county of Norfolk, and Commonwealth of Massachusetts, having learned that certain individuals residing in or near that part of said Roxbury, called Jamaica Plain, were desirous of forming a Baptist Church, and erecting a house of public worship in that place; and having also ascertained that the piece of ground hereinafter described, would be deemed a suitable location therefor, did, in a letter dated on the fifteenth day of May last, offer to make to the said new Baptist Society a free gift of the said piece of ground for the erection of a meeting-house thereon:--- adding to his letter the following request or reservation:

"The only favor I ask in return is, that they (the new Society) will permit this building to be used twelve times in a year of a week day, and not of a Sunday, (for five years from the date of the opening of the house for religious services,) by the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, who will appoint a responsible person, not personally disagreeable to the Baptist Society, to lecture therein, in order that the cruelties and villainies practiced towards twenty-seven hundred thousand human beings, by a nation who call themselves Christians, and profess to be the most free and enlightened on the earth, may be exposed: after the expiration of which five years, the whole property will remain vested in the Baptist Society, without condition, hindrance, or agreement of any kind."

And whereas the said Gore subsequently received from the Clerk of said new Society a reply to his offer, in the following words:

"Mr J.C. Gore: Sir,-- At a meeting of individuals interested in forming a Baptist Church at this part of the town, your communication, offering a lot of land as the site of the contemplated meeting-house, was read, and referred to a committee specially appointed to consider the same. The committee met for this purpose on Monday evening last, and, after due deliberation,

"Voted, That, although they regard with kindness Mr. Gore's offer, yet under all circumstances in the case, it is inexpedient to accept the same, with the reservations and conditions named by him."

Now, therefore, I, John C. Gore, above named, although painfully and reluctantly convinced not by this only, but by numberless similar instances, that the American Church, professedly dedicated to One who came to proclaim deliverance to the captive, and liberty to them that are bruised, is, as a body criminally indifferent to the wrongs and sufferings of the Slave, and in virtual alliance with Slavery, am yet desirous of making my proffered and rejected gift in some suitable way available to the cause of the true religion, which includes justice and mercy towards our fellow-man.

And for this purpose, I do hereby, in consideration of the premises, grant and convey unto Francis Jackson, Henry G. Chapman and Ellis Gray Loring, of the city of Boston, Esquires, and members of the Board of Managers of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, a parcel of land in Burroughs-Street, in Jamaica Plain, in said Roxbury, containing three quarters of an acre, more or less, and bounded as follows: Starting from the land of Nathaniel Seaver, on Burroughs-Street, and running on Burroughs-Street, north 37 degrees west, 134 feet; thence turning and running on land of John E. Williams, south 59 1-4 degrees west, 229 feet, 6 inches; thence turning and running on land of John Ashton, south 34 1-4 degrees east, 134 feet 4 inches; thence turning and running north 53 degrees east 234 feet 9 inches, on land of Nathaniel Seaver to Burroughs street, at the point of starting.

With all the privileges and appurtenances thereof: being the same conveyed to me by the deed of Cyrus Josselyn, dated April 3d, 1840, and recorded with Norfolk Deeds Lib. 128, Fol. 60.

To have and to hold the above granted premises to the said Jackson, Chapman and Loring, the survivors and survivor of them and his heirs and assigns to his and their use, but in trust, nevertheless, to make the said property, or its proceeds, instrumental at their discretion, and in any way they may think proper, in promoting the cause of the immediate and unconditional abolition of American Slavery.

In testimony whereof, I, the said John C. Gore, and also Mary Gore, my wife, who executes these presents in token of her releasing all right to dower in the premises, and of her hearty concurrence in this may act, have hereunto set our hands and seals this eighth day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty.

John C. Gore
Mary Gore

Source: Annual Report and Proceedings: by the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

John Hancock Slept Here

John Hancock, Library of Congress image.

As told in this JP Historical Society article, John Hancock lived, for a time, on Centre street in Jamaica Plain. The house referred to in the article sat approximately where Aldworth street now meets Centre street, a short way from the Soldier's Monument. The advertisement below, however, suggests that a Mrs Noble possessed the house between the Hancock family and Nathaniel Curtis, a later owner. Mr Gray's Meeting-House refers to the church at the corner of Centre and Eliot streets - at that time the only church in Jamaica Plain. Many of the real estate advertisements of the time used the same reference to locate Jamaica Plain properties for potential buyers.

Boston Daily Advertiser July 13, 1822

Elegant Country Seat.

To be sold, the House, Out Buildings and Land, containing six acres, formerly occupied by the late Mrs Noble, situate(sic) on Jamaica Plains, near the Rev. Mr. Gray's Meeting-House. The house was built in the most thorough manner, by John Hancock, Esq. and possesses every convenience. The stable is also large and commodious. The buildings are all in excellent order; - and there are a great variety of most excellent fruit trees on the premises. It is presented that no situation in the vicinity of Boston can be more desirable for a gentleman's country residence. Inquire at this office.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Sophia G. Hayden, Architect.

Woman's Building of the Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893

I do believe I've unearthed a Jamaica Plain woman of note who is as yet unrecognized. Miss Sophia G. Hayden entered a contest to design the Woman's Building at the great Columbian Exposition of 1893, and damned if she didn't win! Miss Hayden was a Boston girl, and living on Forest Hills street in Jamaica Plain at the time of the competition. I can't trace her to any other address in Boston, and she disappears from any online record with this accomplishment, but given the nature of her success - and her job at the Eliot School - I think that it is reasonable to include her in the JP Hall of Remembrance.

To read about the Woman's Building and its exhibits, go here and here.

The Daily Inter Ocean March 27, 1891

Two Boston Girls.

They Take First and Second Prize for Designs for the Woman's Fair Building.

Boston, Mass., March 26. --- Special Telegram.

Much interest was aroused in Boston this morning when the announcement was made that two Boston girls had won the first and second prizes for architectural designs for the woman's building at the World's Fair. Both are young, both are industrious, and both are Technology girls. Miss Sophia G. Hayden, who took the first prize, is a girl in her early twenties, who came from the Roxbury High School to the Institute of Technology and took the complete four years's course, graduating with the class of 1800. Her home is Forest Hills street, Jamaica Plain, and she is teacher of mechanical drawing in the Eliot School. She is a quite reserved young woman, gifted with tremendous perseverance and fondness for her work. She made her designs at home, working in her own room in hours before and after her work of teaching drawing. When the telegram announcing her success came this morning, she was almost as much surprised as if she had not been in the competition, so little had the hope of the first prize been in her thoughts. She had certainly hoped to do fairly will, but the thousand dollar prize --- well, almost any girl would find her breath taken away by that. Miss Hayden, and also Miss Howe, (who took a two years special course at the institute) are among the few women who have studied architecture. Miss Rockfellow, a graduate of the class of 1888 is the only one before Miss Hayden to take the complete course in this department. French and German, mathematics and physics are required besides the solid work in architectural history, construction, heating, and sanitary science required for the work. Miss Louise Howe, who took the second prize, is a well-liked Cambridge girl. Her home is on Appleton street. She is a draughtswoman, now in the office of Allen & Kenway. Her work on her design was done at the institute. Before going for her two years special study in architecture she had been for four years at the museum of fine arts.

June 28, 1893

Modest Miss Hayden.

Honored by Her Sisters at the World's Fair.

Chicago, June 27 -- The reception tendered today by the board of lady managers to Miss Sophia G. Hayden of Boston, the architect of the woman's building at the World's fair, brought out a large number of friends of that talented and modest little woman.

Miss Hayden did not enter the assembly room until a large number of lady managers had been shown their seats, and when she did come she was escorted, evidently much against her will, to a seat of honor on the stage.

In all 200 women were present, a very large proportion of them being members of the board of lady managers. Miss Hayden was a young graduate of the school of technology in Boston, and this was her maiden effort.

Miss Hayden was introduced and gave a short address.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

And Another

Eleazer Weld was the last of his family to live in Weld Hall, on the grounds of the present Arnold Arboretum. He also seems to have lost something. There is no record of whether his property was returned to him.

Boston Evening Post February 6, 1769

Ran-away from the Subscriber,

of Roxbury, on Monday Morning the 30th of January last, a Negro Man Servant named Prince, about 18 Years of Age, and Five Feet High, well built, except small Legs; with one of his upper Fore Teeth broke nigh half way to his Gum, and a large Sear on his Belly occasioned by a Scald; talks good English: -- He carried off with him a blue Broadcloth Coat and Waistcoat, with plain yellow Metal Buttons, a double breasted striped Flannel Jacket, and a plain brown ditto, two Pair Leather Breeches, one Pair of white Yarn Stockings, one Pair of blue ditto, two Pair of Shoes, one of said Pair with Shoestrings, two striped Woolen Shirts, and a Felt Hat.

Whosoever shall take up said servant and bring his to me the Subscriber at Roxbury, or confine him, and notify the same, so that his master can have him, shall have FOUR DOLLARS Reward, and all necessary Charges paid, by me,

Eleazer Weld.

Roxbury, Feb 1st, 1769.

N.B. All Masters of Vessels, and Others, are hereby cautioned against harbouring, concealing, or carrying off said servent.

Speaks For Itself

Jamaica Plain, Roxbury Sept. 25, 1777

Continental Journal

Ten Dollars Reward.

Ran away from the Subscriber, a Negro Woman called Sarah, she is a short, thick wench about 30 years old, she is supposed to be harboured by some free negro in Boston , any person that will take her up and send her to Goal, or to the Subscriber shall have the above reward and all necessary charges.

Timothy Penny.

Friday, March 14, 2008

T.B. Kinraide And The Keely Motor

The home of T.B. Kinraide, Spring Park avenue.

John W. Keely - Inventor/Hoaxer par excellence.

Mr T.B. Kinraide of Jamaica Plain plays a relatively small part in this story, but the story itself was so notorious in its day that I figure he deserves his place in the Jamaica Plain Hall of Remembrance. The notoriety of the story belonged to a Mr John Worrell Keely of Philadelphia. Mr Keely was one of the grand frauds of late 19th century America, managing to keep investors on the hook for over 25 years with promises of new forms of energy, harnessed by his Keely motor. Although scientists and skeptics scoffed at his claims for years, his skill as a showman and the gullibility of the public was sufficient to keep the money coming until his death in 1898. Ironically, as Keely finished out his life of constant fraud, the Curies in France were busy discovering a source of power that would prove to be far more fantastic than anything Keely or any of his contemporaries could have imagined.

For the story of the Mr Keely and his amazing motor, go here and here. Our branch of the story beings with the death of Keely, and the shipping of his mysterious apparatus to Jamaica Plain.

Boston Daily Globe January 2, 1899

To Take Up Keely's Work. Laboratory of the Great Inventor Sent To This City.

The laboratory of the late John W. Keely of Philadelphia, the celebrated inventor, has been stripped of its mechanical devices and the most important of these have been sent to this city. They were forwarded to T. Burton Kinraide's laboratory in Jamaica Plain. Mr Kinraide is a man of wonderful genius and is practical in his ideas of application. He is all the time trying to discover or invent something new, but he does not try the impossible.

He was the friend of Keely, and when the great inventor was near the close of his life he summoned Mr Kinraide to his bedside and begged him to continue the investigations upon which he had devoted his thought, Mr Kinraide agreed to do what he could.

There is a mill full of fantastic machinery such as only the genius of an inventor could devise that had to be left in Philadelphia. Such of the machinery that did arrive in Boston came in an ordinary freight car a few days ago. It is in charge of Charles S. Hill, attorney for the Keely estate.

Mr Kinraide has accepted the machinery and will do is best to perfect the partial discoveries made by Keely. Just exactly what Keely expected to evolve cannot be stated, but he hoped to invent a motor that would run without the use of steam or electricity. He employed a force that is similar to electricity which he claims exists between all molecules of matter. He first discovered that he could disintegrate water by a simple vibration caused by notes of music or a common tuning fork. He found that a mighty force similar to electricity played between the atoms or molecules of all matter, moving them as the planets are moved; that when their motion was disturbed the atoms were broken up, and the power thus released became a new force of almost infinite capacity, according as it was developed, expanded or manipulated.

Keely's first machine, or engine, was called the hydro-pneumatic pulsating vacuo engine. It was constructed after many disappointments, and almost insurmountable difficulties. Explosion after explosion occurred, blowing the engine to fragments, so great was the half-harnessed power. On several occasions Keely was injured - nearly losing his life in the explosions.

And this mysterious power, called the ethereal force playing between molecules of water, was liberated by purely mechanical means.

During his experiments of 15 months he blew up a part of his workshop when the engines went to pieces, and the total expense was $60,000 before he got a machine strong enough to control the force contained in half a pint of water.

Finally, the queer-looking motor - a huge ball of iron like a spherical safe - was running at incredible speed, but it could not be geared by ordinary methods to machinery so that it would pump water, saw wood, or even kill the critics who ridiculed its claims.

With reference to the machinery that has been sent to inventor Kinraide, attorney Hill says:

"The machines are in Boston and none are left in the laboratory in Philadelphia. We have brought on all the engines of interest except the aerial navigator. That is a mammoth machine, weighing seven or eight tons. It never worked, although Mr Keely gave years of study to it. If he could not work it out, we did not think anybody else could.

"There are two vaporic guns, one large and one small. The large one was the one tested at Sandy Hook some years ago before Lieut Zalinski of the U.S. ordinance corps. Considerable excitement was occasioned by one remarkable feature of the test. Nineteen shots were fired, and the (?) showed more power than any that preceded it, which was apparently in defiance of all laws which had been supposed to govern the art of gunnery.

"Probably the two machines will be set up and investigated some time this week. I doubt, however, if anyone will be admitted to see them. One of the conditions on which Mr Kinraide took up the work was that he was to be left entirely free from the necessity of showing the machines to curiosity seekers. If he should succeed in getting a practical machine, there would be a test before the stockholders, and then, in all probability a public one in some hall. Mr Keely worked 23 years and never got a practical machine. By that I mean an engine that he patented and put to commercial use.

"The directors of the Keely motor company understand that state of things fully. It is a matter of experiment with Mr Kinraide. He takes Mr Keely's principle as a new thing, and tries to work it out. He knows more about what Mr Keely thought and did in his laboratory than does any one else in the world. Socially, the two men were the closest friends, and if anybody can perfect the machine upon which Mr Keely labored it is Mr Kinraide.

January 4, 1899

Will Continue Keely's Work. T.B Kinraide of Jamaica Plain Has Most of the Late Inventor's Apparatus at His Home.

Most of the famous Keely machinery or apparatus with which the inventor of the Keely motor hoped to some day startle the world is now in Boston, at the home of Mr T.B. Kinraide, in Jamaica Plain. The machinery has not yet been unpacked, but it will be directly, and then Mr Kinraide will try to accomplish what Mr Keely was trying to accomplish when death snatched him from his workshop.

Hundreds of curious people have called at Mr Kinraids's home since it became known that he would continue the investigations and experiments that occupied the best part of Mr Keely's life.

Everyone wants to know what Mr Kinraide knows. Did Mr Keely leave with him the secret of his motor? Was there a secret to leave? When would the work be accomplished?

To all these questions Mr Kinraide has refused to answer.

"I have not," he said, "nor will I authorize any one to make any statement, in private or for publication that will in any way affect the value of the Keely motor company until I have completed my investigations of said motor."

To a reporter Mr Kinraide said he had known Mr Keely about 10 years. Being interested all his life in acoustics and electricity, Mr Kinraide went one day to Philadelphia to see and become acquainted with Mr Keely. He was attracted to the man, and a friendship sprung up, grew, and warmed to real affection.

Several weeks ago, when Mr Keely was stricken with sickness, Mr Kinraide went to Philadelphia, and while there he promised Mr Keely that in case of a serious termination of his sickness he would take up Mr Keely's work and endeavor to carry it to a successful conclusion.

"I am not in the pay of the directors of the company," said Mr Kinraide. "I am not a director, nor am I in any way connected with the company financially. I am interested in that kind of investigation, and I shall do all in my power to demonstrate within a year the merits of Mr Keely's conception. We should know very soon whether great things may be expected of it or not."

Asked if he had an opinion regarding the merits of the motor, Mr Kinraide said he would have to be excused from speculative discussion. He would apply himself diligently, and if the result warranted a meeting of the stockholders would be called and a public exhibition made.

He would not say whether Mr Keely disclosed the secret of the motor before dying, or whether such a secret were contained in papers left by Mr Keely. He did, however, admit that were there a secret he would be likely to know more about it than anyone else.

Mr Kinraide has been in sympathy with Mr Keely's work for several years, and being an experimenter himself to a considerable extent, he is probably better equipped than anyone else to take up and continue the work of Keely.

Mr Kinraide looks something like Kipling, only darker. He wears glasses and carries on his experiments in a completely equipped workshop on the first floor of his beautiful home on Spring Park av.

January 20, 1899

Not Wonderful. Philadelphia Conclusion Regarding Keely. Committee "Investigated" His Dismantled Shop. Found Evidence of Use of Compressed Air. C.S. Hill, Counsel for Mrs Keely, Not Alarmed. Does Not Think the Report Proves Anything.

Philadelphia, Jan 19 --- The press today publishes an article covering, with illustrations, more than a page, giving the details of an investigation made by that paper of the dismantled workshop of the late John W. Keely, which investigation, the Press contends, clearly proves the mysterious Keely motor to have been a delusion and deception, and that its alleged mysterious forces were the result of trickery.

[a long article continues]


This article, and others like it, gave the details of Keely's fraudulent machines. Hidden magnets, compressed air tubes, powerful springs and other mechanical devices provided the energy for Keely's harnessing of the "ether." Belts and pulleys from above and below his room transferred power to his apparatus, while observers watched with amazement. The description of the fraud go beyond any need of this site to elaborate. Our interest is in Jamaica Plain, and to Jamaica Plain we return.


May 7, 1899

Kinraide Gives It Up. Abandons All Connection With Keely Motor. He Dislikes the Noteriety that It Has Brought Him. All Machinery and Papers Will be Sent Back to Philadelphia.

The Keely motors and all the machinery and manuscripts left by the famous inventor that had been turned over to Mr T. Barton Kinraide of Jamaica Plain, will be sent back to Philadelphia.

Mr Kinraide, since the alleged exposure of duplicity in connection with the methods of Mr Keely, has done no work upon the mechanism in his possession and has abandoned all intention of doing anything further with them.

The alleged exposure was considered by Mr Kinraide to be a breach of confidence on the part of men who made it public, and consequently he decided to abandon all projected investigations. Mr Kinraide did not like the notoriety coming from his connection with the Keely Motors and he has decided to step down and out.

As a postscript:

February 12, 1899

Keely Victim's Wail.

They were vigorously raising the dust in Keely's famous laboratory. Pulling up carpets and loosening the boards, they eagerly sought for evidence of the inventor's rascality.

Finally, a shout arose. A small reservoir and two severed pipes were brought to light.

"Compressed air!" roared the finder.

A moment later another pipe appeared.

"Motor gas!" came a cry.

Still another pipe was disclosed.

"Stored up ether!" shrieked the discoverer.

But an aged Philadelphian stood by, and watched, with a lowering brow, as hole succeeded hole in the honeycombed floor.

And at every new opening he hoarsely muttered, "Not large enough, not large enough."

Presently a newspaper writer approached him.

"Pardon me, venerable sir," he politely said, "but may I ask why it is that every time a new opening is made in the floor you murmur, 'Not large enough'?"

"I say it, young man," replied the aged spectator, "because I am deeply anxious to discover the hole into which all my money went!"

And again that husky cry. "Not large enough, not large enough!" arose on the dusty air. (Cleveland Plain Dealer.)

A final postscript: Our Mr Kinraide was back in the news in 1920, this time in the matter of a personal scandal. His young wife sued for divorce, citing regular drunkenness, abuse, and a catalogue of curious behavior. The story says nothing about Jamaica Plain, so it makes little sense to copy it out in this forum, but it certainly reads like grand spectacle. As a taste, Mr Kinraide claimed that he had only married his wife - then sixteen years old - because he felt responsible for having earlier burned her with x-rays during one of his experiments! The unfortunate Mrs Kinraide got the kids and support, and Mr Kinraide disappears from the public eye.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Birth Of A Street

Walling, H.F. 1858. BPL

Prince street was one of the first to be added to the original Colonial Roxbury roads. Pond and Perkins streets, which it stretched between, are listed as being accepted in 1825, but both may have existed earlier. Prince street was cut through the property of Capt. John Prince on the edge of Jamaica Pond, and as such was one of the first properties in the section to be turned into a street lot with residences, a pattern that would be followed many times in the coming years. Jamaica Pond was already the home to gentlemen's estates, and the new street would allow the development of more.

The map segment above shows Prince street along the left side of the pond, 30 years after the petition shown below. The small squares are meant to show houses, but I wouldn't rely on their accuracy. Streets that most certainly should have houses on them show none.

Village Register and Norfolk County Advertiser June 12, 1828

To the County Commissioners for the County of Norfolk.

Respectfully represents, the Petition of the Subscribers, inhabitants of Jamaica Plain in Roxbury and its vicinity, and resident to the South of Jamaica Pond; that a new road or avenue leading from Jamaica Plain aforesaid to Brookline, is much wanted for the convenience of the inhabitants of that vicinity, and that an opportunity now presents, whereby the same may be obtained, at comparatively small expense -- inasmuch as John Prince Esq. through whose land the same will chiefly pass, is desirous to dispose of his estate, and will, we believe, willingly give the land, over which the same will pass, provided said contemplated road should be laid out in a direction, which he should designate, and of a width not exceeding two rods; that a new road beginning at a point on the Newton road, so called, on Jamaica Plain aforesaid, on said Prince's land, on the east side of his thorn hedge, being about six rods from his garden fence and summer house, and thence running northerly through the land of said Prince, and land of Mr Goddard, to the Brookline road which passes to the northward of said Pond, and terminating at a point on said Goddard's land, would shorten the distance probably one half between the respective Meeting House in Jamaica Plain and Brookline, thereby reducing very materially the distance between the towns in the southerly part of said County of Norfolk, and the town of Brighton in the County of Middlesex, a place of much resort on business, for the inhabitants residing in the Southern Section of our County; that an instance rarely presents of an equal saving in an equal distance; that said road will not be difficult to work and may be considered of common convenience and necessity:

They therefore pray that the route for said road may be viewed; the road located and made, and the expense thereof apportioned according to law, and as the judgement of said Commissioners may seem meet.

Roxbury, April 23, 1828.

David S. Greenough, Seth P. Whiting,
Joseph Curtis, Benjamin Weld,
William Winchester, Amos Holbrook,
Nathaniel Curtis, John James,
John Lowell, Ebenezer Sever, Jr.
Thomas B. Adams, John H. Davis,
Thomas Greenleaf, Michael Whittemore, Jr.
Benjamin P. Williams, Abner Childs,
Paul Gore, Joseph Arnold,
Joshua Seaver, Abijah Draper,

Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Norfolk, ss.

At a meeting of the County Commissioners for said County, May 13, 1828.

Upon the foregoing petition, the Commissioners give notice that they will meet at the house of John Prince, Esquire, in Roxbury, on Monday the twenty third day of June next, at ten o'clock A.M. and thence proceed to view the route over which said road is prayed for. And it is thereupon ordered, that the Petitioners cause an attested copy of their said petition with this notice and order thereon, to be served upon the Clerk of the town of Roxbury thirty days before the time appointed for said view, and also cause a like copy to be published three weeks successively in the Village Register, published in Dedham, the last publication to be fourteen days at least before said view, and also to post up in two or more public places in said Roxbury, like copies at least fourteen days prior to said view, that all persons and corporations interested for or against said Petition, may then and there appear and be heard as they see fit.

Jarius Ware, Clerk.

A true copy of the original petition on file, and order thereon. Attest,

Jarius Ware, Clerk.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Pigeon Wing Club

Several earlier entries have referred to groups holding dances. These articles have all been taken before the rise of the rise of swing dancing, and the "partner" dances that developed in the early-mid twentieth century. This article comes from the last quarter of the 19th century, when the old New England contra dances had been replaced by new styles. The Pigeon Wing name of the club refers to the Buck and Wing dances, predecessors of later tap dances. Unfortunately, my knowledge of American folk and popular dance history is limited to what I can find on the internet, and verbal descriptions of dances are of little help in understanding them.

The article posted below gives a nostalgic look back at traditional New England dance from a modern (1884), post-Civil War observer. Times had changed, but a Jamaica Plain dance club had decided to take the trouble to learn Grandpa's dances. Sound familiar? It's not so long ago that a swing dance craze was sweeping college campuses - what ever happened to that? Remarkably, Contra dancing has returned to Jamaica Plain in recent years.

Now that I think of it, I learned some kind of square dances in the basement of the Agassiz school as a child. I wonder if that was contra dancing we were doing - sounds similar.

Evening Bulletin March 24 1884

Old-fashioned Dancing in Boston.

The Pigeon Wing Club held its final assembly Wednesday evening on Chestnut avenue, Jamaica Plain. All winter its members have been indefatigably practicing the old-fashioned contra dances; they have placed the "new-fangled" steps, as our grandfathers would say, in a secondary position in the consideration, have scorned the Newport and the latest freaks of the waltz, have regarded with slight attention the schottische and the galop and have expressed a disdainful contempt of the light and frivolous german. But the effects of the partiality for reels and jigs and cotillions was seen Wednesday night in the perfection attained in the execution of most difficult maneuvers. The order of dances, fancifully illustrated with quaint dancing figures in old-time costume, contained the Chorus, Jig, Rory O'More, Money Musk, Virginia Red, College Hornpipe, and one or two modern dances, interspersed with jigs for variety. To modern eyes the sight of the dancers was most novel. Young and old took part, the latter entering into the spirit of the occasion with all possible zest and interest. What animation, vigor, enjoyment! It seems a pity that the old, gay dances should now be forgotten, for if revived they would give spice to the almost cloying sweetness of the waltz. "Chorus Jig" is announced and the music led by John Behr, the popular and skillful manager, strikes up an excruciatingly lively tune. Two long lines are formed down the parlors, ladies on one side, gentlemen on the other. The first complete salute. Attention!. The music gives the rapid time. "First couple down the outside and back. Down the center and back. Cast off. Turn contra corners. Balance and cross over." Terpsichore! What is all that? The contra corners seem complicated, but perceive. While the first lady turns the second gentleman the first gentleman is turning the third lady and vice versa. It must be danced to be understood; and then while the first couple is performing its evolutions, the second couple begins and does likewise, and the third couple, till all are dancing. The music tells you how with its absurd jigging. Everyone is entertained, old and young, till all pause breathless. Here is another dance, Rory O'More, with these changes: The two lines are formed. First couple cross over; down the outside below two and come up the center. Cross to place and, having cast off by going round the next lady or gentleman, balance first by giving right hand to partner and then left. Now is the chance for the pigeon-wing, most wonderful and difficult of balances. Turn contra corners. Balance again to place and begin again. The violin of Mr Behr is becoming uproarious:

Young Rory O'More courted Kathleen Bawn.
He was proud as a hawk and she as soft as the dawn.

The whole line of dancers is bowing and skipping and laughing and joking. The violin goes on unceasingly. "Be aisy," cried Kathleen. Some one cuts a pigeon-wing, and there is great applause. A very funny dance is "Pop goes the weasel." First couple go down outside, then down the centre: then join hands with the next lady letting her pass under the joined hands at the "Pop!" of the weasel; join hands to the next, and so continuously, one couple after the other, till the weasels are popping all down the line. Everyone is amused and joins in the chorus with enthusiasm. "Pop goes the weasel!"

But Money Musk, with its graceful curtsying forward, and pretty turns and merry runs, is the most popular of all contra dances. IN the quick vibrations of the peculiar music one sees in a memory picture the great barn frolic of the country. The barn floor is swept and polished, the grain and hay are bursting the bins and filling the loft, the musicians are scraping and twanging, the homely country folk in best attire are gathering in two long lines. Money Musk! There is a world of gaiety in the words. First couple give right hand and cross over. The lady swings in the center of the third gentleman and the lady, the first gentleman takes the same position between the second lady and gentleman, and the six forward and back. Then the first couple swing in the same way between the sides, the lady between the second and third gentlemen, and the gentleman between the opposite ladies. Forward and back, right and left. It is tedious to tell, but merry to dance. The picture of the old barn fades away, and we see instead of homely country surroundings the parlors of a suburb mansion, the embroidered satins, silks and laces, and the dress suits, and all the fashionable appointments of the Pigeon Wing Club, and instead of the fiddle the classically touched violin is reeling, the jigs, is turning the changes. -- Boston Journal, March 14th.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

What, No Condos?

They were still using the "long s" when these listings were published, so I substituted an "f" in place of "s" to give a taste of the typeface, although the two are not identical.

Boston Post Boy January 20, 1766

To be fold, a very convenient Dwelling Houfe on Jamaica Plain, near Jofhua Loring Efq; very fuitable for a Gentleman's Country Seat, with a handfome Garden, Coach Houfe, Stables and all other Conveniences, with about three Acres of good Land. Likewife a Lot of about ten Acre and a half of Wood Land near the Rev'd Mr. Walter's Meeting-Houfe; the Pay may be made eafy to the Purchafer, as good Security will be taken inftead of the Money.

Massachusetts Mercury March 30, 1798

Gentlemen Pleafe to take Notice


A country SEAT, equal, if not fuperiour to any other in this Commonwealth. The local and falubrious fituation of this Eftate is fuch that it needs only by viewed to be admired, being upon the banks of Jamaica Pond, only four and an half miles from State ftreet, Bofton.

The manfion Houfe is brick, and the other offices are of wood, and all built the last fummer, of the beft materials, and by the moft approved workmen in the State; and may be entered upon by the firft day of May. The elevation of the manfion Houfe is five feet, and an excellent Cellar under the whole. On the firft Floor is a handfome Hall, a large Dining Room, a Breakfaft Room, a Drawing Room, a Pantry, a Kitchen and Scullery. - On the fecond Floor is four large handfome Chambers, a Dreffing Room and Lobby. On the third Floor is two beautiful Chambers and a paffage way, leading to the top of the Houfe. - The Couch Houfe, wood-Houfe and Stables are all large and convenient; and the Gardens containing about five acres, with very little expenfe, may be made beautiful indeed.

Also, adjoining the above Premifes,

A large wooden manfion HOUSE, in good repair, which is occupied by three families, which are feperately and conveniently accomodated, and about three acres of Land.

This delightful fituation and valuable Eftate is now offered for Sale, on the following conditions, viz, - One third of hte purchafe Money muft be paid down, the other two thirds, if more convenient to the purchafer, may remain any number of years not exceeding ten; - Provided the intereft is punctually paid. An indifputable title will be given. For further particulars, pleafe to apply on the Premifes. March 30

Jamaica Plain's Plane

As described in this earlier entry, the team of W.C. Whittemore and Walter E. Hamm designed and built a biplane in Jamaica Plain that was flown by pilot Melvin W. Hodgdon in a contest sponsored by the Boston Globe. The grandson of Mr Whittemore has been kind enough to make these pictures of the plane available. If you compare the front of the plane in the upper picture with the picture from the Boston Globe in the earlier entry, you'll see they are identical.

This is hitting the jackpot! Now I have to find out exactly where the plane was built.

*** Success! I've just found a copy of the 1921 Boston Directory, and it lists Whittemore Hamm aeroplane mfg. at 130 Brookside avenue. The map above shows Jamaica Plain train station at the lower left, and across Green street the location of the building at 130 Brookside avenue, marked with a green star. Very cool - I never thought I'd find that one.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Sunnyside Kid

Philadelphia Inquirer November 25, 1906

Wanted To Be A Cowboy

Classical Boston Was Not Exciting Enough For This Youth

Boston, Nov. 24 --- "Whoopee," me for the plains and the glorious life of a free-booter," said Harold Carson, a 13-year-old lad, who lives at 12 Sunnyside street, Jamaica Plain, as he struck the Indian Territory, and, seeing a horse standing in front of a bar-room, saddled and bridled, he mounted in true cowboy style and made for the plain beyond.

"Harold" Carson didn't get far. The owner of the pony missed his steed and pretty soon a posse struck Harold's trail, and, despite explanations, he was lodged in jail, charged with horse stealing.

Carson, whose mind was filled with roseate views of the free and easy West, as depicted in the dime novel, left his home November 14, taking with him $40 and leaving a note saying that he had departed for parts unknown. He purchased a ticket for Denver Col. His money exhausted, when he struck Indian Territory, no doubt explains his present predicament.

Curse Of The Mummy's Corn

For the story of General Sumner, you can read the JP Historical Society article here. As far as the story below, it seems to have been common during the time, and a New York Times article of 1903 debunks it. Seeds can last quite a while if dried properly and protected from pests, but apparently the Mummy Corn story was a favorite of the 19th Century. File under "Cool if it was true."

The curse? I guess it's the curse of being scammed.

The Daily Evening Bulletin December 24, 1856

Egyptian, Or Mummy Corn. --- Perhaps the most wonderful and interesting specimens of the fruits of the earth in the Horticultural Exhibition recently closed was some Egyptian Corn, raised in the gardens of Gen. William H. Sumner, of Jamaica Plain, and kindly sent by him for exhibition, thus giving thousands an opportunity of seeing one of the greatest curiosities within our knowledge. The seed from which this corn was raised, was taken from the folds of cloth wrapped round a mummy three or four thousand years ago, and, wonderful as it may seem after being entombed for so many centuries, like a resurrection from the dead, it springs up in new life and vigor. It is undoubtedly the kind of grain for which Joseph's brethren went into the land of Egypt - the same "corn" of which the Bible speaks. It is luxuriant in its growth, and the heads resemble wheat, but are very much larger, forming in inverted conical clusters as large as the closed hand; the kernels are large and very sweet to the taste, and the stock and leaves are similar to our Indian corn. There seems to be no reason why it may not become a valuable addition to our cereal productions, and thanks are due to the gentlemen who are multiplying it and bringing it into notice. --- Boston Journal.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Bussey Institute - Part I

This is the first of a two-part look at the Bussey Instutite. Benjamin Bussey died in 1835, leaving both money and land for an agricultural school that was to be associated with Harvard university. It wasn't until the early 1870s that his heir had left the land and Harvard was able to build the planned institution. Thirty years later, this article described the program in terms only a public relations weasel could love. Agriculture had already moved west, made possible by the railroads and by wondrously fertile soils found in the Midwest. Farming was already a dying business in Massachusetts, and the era of the gentleman's estate was passing as well. Land grant colleges had already been established throughout the country, and agricultural experiment stations created to work with them. By the time this article was written with such enthusiasm, the need for an agricultural school at Harvard was long past. Very soon, the program would be shut down, and replaced with a new biological research center, more in tune with the science of the time, and no longer tied to the agricultural history of New England or the wishes of Benjamin Bussey.

In a side note, I remeber the handsome old stone building, and a few sheep or goats that were kept on the property into the mid-late 1960s. And I remember when the state built the concrete monstrosity for the State Laboratory - that's where they did your Wasserman test to determine whether you were fit to get married. That bare concrete box, sitting above the green of the arboretum, is something that every architect - and government bureaucrat - in the country should get a slap for before they design or approve their first building.

This is a long article, and more college catalog than newspaper article in its details, but I figured than someone more interested in the institution itself than in Jamaica Plain history might get something out of reading through to the end.

Boston Daily Globe September 17, 1899

Harvard Making Farmers.

Remarkable Picturesque School Known as Bussey Institution and Its Interesting Work in Turning Out Practical Farmers, Landscape Gardeners and Architects, and in Instructing the Heirs to Great Estates How to Manage and Improve Their Beautiful Property - Notable Men Who Have Been Students and Workers on This Unusual Farm.

On ground adjoining the Arnold arboretum in Jamaica Plain, within a stone's throw of Forest Hills station of the railroad that runs beside the line of street cars, is an unusually picturesque building, of Victorian Gothic architecture that suggests nothing so much as a convent or a monastery. It breathes an atmosphere of cloistral calm and isolation, and thousands of persons who have ridden, or wheeled, or walked by this mysterious-looking pile have peopled its inner corridors and chambers with persons who have sought this remoteness and seclusion for purposes of meditation and prayer.

As a matter of fact even those who have learned that it is only the Bussey Institution imperfectly apprehend the character of the place and of those who visit it. It is simply the school building of that department of Harvard university which teaches young men how to be accomplished and expert farmers.

The Bussey institution, in other words, is the "Harvard university school of agriculture and horticulture," and it is named after the man who left a large estate to endow this department.

Few people who think of the great Cambridge place of learning ever associate with it the kind of work that is here carried out. The sort of scholar that Harvard turns out is pictured by the imagination as a man more intimately acquainted with book than earth worms and as a great authority on syntax than soils. But from this institution have gone forth in the nearly 30 years of its existence scholars who knew more about crops than cryptograms and could speak more confidently about plowing than about Plutarch. The students in this department of Harvard, unlike those in other departments, have been only anxious to be, and to be known, as genuine farmers.

It has been very successful, however, in securing students from among city bred men, many of them well-born and wealthy, who intend either to establish themselves on farms or to occupy country seats, or to become landscape gardeners. Some of its students even in the short period that the department has been in existence have achieved great distinction as practical farmers,horticulturists and landscape gardeners. It was in this school that Charles Eliot, son of Pres Eliot of the university, acquired the foundation of that learning and skill that made him one of the most successful and distinguished landscape architects in the country. Here, too, have studied the sons of Fredrick Law Olmsted, who have been able to continue the great business left by their father and Mr Eliot.

At least one professor in the university has been a student at the Bussey Institution, Robert T. Jackson, professor of paleontology.

Two men of wealth, sons of distinguished families, who have achieved much distinction in agriculture and horticulture are Gen Francis H. Appleton and Nathaniel Thayer Kidder. Gen Appleton, a Somerset club man, has been a successful practical farmer and has been president of the Massachusetts horticultural society and has added under his own direction to the beauty of the great Kidder estate in Milton. Both of these gentlemen were students of Harvard university school of agriculture.

Dr William H. Ruddick of South Boston is one of the well-known graduates of the institution. Like many other men, intending to enter a professional career, he chose a course in the agricultural school as a valuable adjunct to his other training.

Scattered throughout the commonwealth are prosperous farmers, some of them selectmen of their towns, who can say that they learned to be farmers at Harvard university.

The school has had students from Spain, Japan, Costa Rica, and other remote places. The Japanese and Costa Rican students took more than ordinary interest in the subjects that they studied. The Japanese students were able to satisfy their tremendous curiosity concerning American methods fo farming, so different in some ways from their own. The Costa Ricans were intensely interested because they were learning things about farming that would make their coffee and banana plantations, already extremely profitable, infinitely more valuable if conducted on the greatly improved plans which they had opportunity to study.

All these farmers - rich, poor, foreign and native - worked cheerfully side by side in that particularly democratic atmosphere that farming produces.

The degree that the school confers is not, of course, so valuable, financially, as some degrees that Harvard confers, but its value is increasing all the time. The students do not strive so earnestly for the mere degree, and many of them apparently care little for it. But they all thirst and hunger after knowledge, and that they acquire in abundance. While the school has been in active operation not much more than 25 years, it has turned out some scholars who, if they are not very famous now, are certain to be by and by. At least one former student is in the forestry department at Washington, another is close to the head of one of the greatest agricultural journals in the country, several are prosperous landscape gardeners and architects, and many are well-to-do teachers and professors, while the school has on its list of alumni several members of the richest and most conspicuous families in New England.

Gen Francis H.Appleton, by the way,enjoys the distinction of being the first regular student the school had.

It has been said before that this is a school for farmers and gardeners. It is exactly that, and the course of instruction with the methods of study are such as only persons who have a genuine farmer's love for the earth would care to undertake.

The theory and practice of farming is taught by an experienced practical farmer, who conducts a big farm of his own at Hingham, Mr Edmund Hersey. He is the superintendent of the Bussey farm of 200 acres, connected with the school, where practical demonstration is afforded of the use of fertilizers and farming tools and machines.

Instruction is given by lectures and recitations, and by practical exercises in the laboratories greenhouses and fields, every student being taught to make experiments, study specimens and observe for himself.

The aim of the teachers is to give the student a just idea of the principles upon which the arts of agriculture and horticulture depend; to teach him how to make intelligent use of the scientific literature which relates to these arts; and to enable him to put a proper estimate upon those kinds of evidence which are obtained by experiments and by the observation of natural objects. Examinations are held statedly to test the student's proficiency.

Mr Hersey lectures on such practical subject as the selection of farms for special purposes, soils best adapted to different crops, the location of farm buildings, the clearing land of rocks and stumps, the building of farm roads, the preparation and management of cranberry bogs, the selection of stock for farm purposes, with direction for breeding, the breeding and care of poultry, the construction of poultry houses, on how to compost manures and to save those waste materials of the farm which contain plant food, how to buy, mix and apply commercial fertilizers, and on the preparation of the soil for different crops, cultivation, harvesting and marketing of crops, fruit-growing and market gardening.

In the department of horticulture a graduate of the university, Mr Benj. M. Watson, lectures on the preparation of soils for horticultural and floricultural purposes, the management of plants, including methods of propagation, horticultural improvements, the methods of obtaining new varieties of vegetables, fruits and flowers, the arrangement and care of flower gardens, nurseries and orchards, the construction and care of greenhouses, plant cellars, pits, frames and hotbeds, the principles of landscape gardening, the value of trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants, for ornamental purposes. Practical greenhouse and garden work by the student supplements the lectures. Mr Watson is the son of a well-known nurseryman at Plymouth.

Students interested in the cultivation of trees and shrubs have the opportunity of seeing them grown in great variety and in large numbers for the Arnold arboretum, on grounds adjacent to the school.

In natural history, lectures are given by Mr E.W. Morse.The course is an introduction to the study of organic life. Plants and animals are contrasted. The cell and its significance, the different parts of living organisms and their uses, the physiology of plants and animals, the methods of recognizing weeds, grasses and other plants, and of destroying weeds, the structure and habit of insects, and the methods of combating those kinds which are injurious, the detection habits and prevention of smuts, rusts, blights and mildews, the relation of bacteria to dairying, the sanitation of farm buildings, heredity, variation and development, the domestication of plants and animals, and the derivation of improved varieties, cross-breeding and hybridizing and the influence of insects in fertilizing plants, are among the topics of study.

In agricultural chemistry, the dean of the school, Prof F.H. Storer, lectures on soil, air and water in their relations to the plant, the food of plants, manures, general and special, chemical principles of tillage, irrigation, systems of rotation and of special crops and farms, the food of animals, simple and mixed rations, the values of different kinds of fodders, of the means of determining fodder values, and of the methods of using fodders to the best advantage.

Laboratory instruction in chemical analysis is given to those students who wish it.

Instead of taking the full regular courses above described, which occupy the whole of the academic year, October to June, inclusive, short courses of instruction on a variety of subjects, included in the regular stated courses, may be selected by young men of ability and judgement who cannot afford to spare much time for advanced study. As examples of these short courses may be mentioned:

Lessons on market gardening and fruit growing, 10 weeks; lessons on the propagation of plants by seeds and cuttings, 8 weeks; lessons on budding and grafting, 2 weeks; lessons on pruning, 2 weeks; lessons on the principles of tillage, 5 weeks; lessons on artificial fertilizers, 8 weeks; lessons on farm manures and composts, 6 weeks; lessons on injurious insects, 6 weeks; lessons on injurious fungi and bacteria, including the management of milk, 6 weeks.

The regular exercises of the school are supplemented by excursions for studying farms, animals and dairies. Opportunity is found in this way to discuss the methods of managing milk farms and poultry farms, and to inspect recent improvements in the construction of farm buildings, and of buildings used for the preservation of meat, apples, pears, cranberries and other fruits. There are field lessons also for the better examination and comprehension of objects of agricultural natural history.

The farm connected with the school is devoted primarily to the production of hay, which is consumed on the farm by horses taken to board. Members of the school have constant opportunity to observe the methods of procedure by which the fertility of the fields is kept up. The instructor in agriculture explains the structure and operation of improved implements for preparing land for the growth of crops and for harvesting all kinds of farm products, and special effort are made to teach the student how to select tools and machines which are properly constructed and best adapted to do the desired work.

The regular fee is $150 a year, but for the special short courses, which are designed for hard-working farmers, a fee of only $8 is charged for 12 lessons in six weeks.

One of the picturesque scenes at the school is that of the class in horticulture, in the attire of farmers, working in the greenhouses on the grounds, grafting roots and leaves and propagating seeds.

It is to the scientific farmer such as this school produces that New England must look for the redemption of the abandoned farm. When the farmer who has done all that back-breaking effort can do to make the thankless soil of the worked-out farm produce something has failed, the scientific farmer, with his greater knowledge of chemistry and of the sciences that pertain to agriculture, steps in and forces the apparently barren field to yield a remunerative profit for his labor.

This, it is said, is what a school like Harvard's does for agriculture.

It enables the scientific student of agriculture actually to make two ears of corn grow where the farmer who has relied only on "elbow grease' has given up the task of trying to make even one grow, and this with less effort than the old system involved.

The secretary of agriculture has said that the sick fields of New England need doctors to administer to them the right kind of tonics, and that after proper treatment by skilled land physicians they will regain their lost health and fertility.

The medicine chest of this land doctor, such as Harvard's school produces, is filled with all kinds of fertilizers and recipes for diet and exercise that will be administered to the farms that are all run down, and are distinguished by that tired feeling, and in this medicine chest the agricultural sharps have great confidence.