Wednesday, October 29, 2008

More Jamaica Plain Business Men - 1888

The building with the mansard roof still standing on Green street is the former Pappineau livery stable.

A. Papineau, Hack Boarding and Livery Stable Keeper, Green Street, Jamaica Plain, near depot and Washington Street. There is not a better known establishment in Jamaica Plain than that conducted by Mr. A. Papineau on Green Street, near depot and Washington Street, for this gentleman has done business in the vicinity mentioned for a score of years, having inaugurated his enterprise in 1868. In December, 1870, Mr. Papineau removed to his present quarters which were built by him and which were fitted up expressly for the carrying on of his business in the best advantage. Some 21,000 feet of land is utilized and the building is three stories in height, the upper floor being used as a hall for entertainments, etc. The proprietor was born in Canada, but passed nearly all his early life in Vermont, to which state the family of which he was a member removed during the famous Canadian "Landlord Rebellion." The Papineaus were very prominently identified with those opposing the landlord laws, and finally removed from a country where they could not remain with respect. Mr. Papineau gives employment to five men and boards about 30 horses at his spacious stables. His charges for boarding are very reasonable and the animals are assured the best of care at all times. Carriages will be furnished for weddings, funerals and other occasions at the shortest possible notice, and the drivers will be found to be careful and experienced men who are both civil and attentive. Orders by telephone are given immediate attention, and particular credit should be given this establishment for the excellence of its livery service, speedy and stylish turnouts being supplied at any time and at prices as low as can be placed on such accommodations.

Cyrus White & Co., House-furnishing Goods, Hardware, Plumbing, Furnaces, Ranges, Stoves, Drain Pipe and Gas Fittings. Patentee and Manufacturer of White's "Tropic" Furnace, White's Block, Centre Street, Jamaica Plain. The enterprise conducted by Messers Cyrus White & Co., in White's Block, Centre Street, Jamaica Plain, is truly a representative one, and has reached its present leading position after 22 years of active and faithful service. Business was begun in 1866 in a small shop on the lot adjoining that occupied by the fine building now utilized. "White's Block" was erected by Mr. Cyrus White in 1872, and the present store first occupied during the same year, the business being carried on under the name of White & Mayo. The existing style was adopted about 13 years ago and the firm of Cyrus White & Co. is unquestionably one of the best known of any in the trade. Mr. White is a native of Mattapoisett, Mass., and is the patentee and manufacturer of the celebrated White's "Tropic" Furnace. This furnace not only supplies an abundant amount of heat with a small expenditure of coal, but has also made it very "warm" for its competitors, as it would be hard to find an apparatus of the kind that is at once as efficient and simple in its design and as thorough and durable in construction. This furnace is sold and put into working order for a very reasonable sum and those who are dissatisfied with their present arrangements would do well to investigate the merits of the firm at bottom prices, latest and most successful dealt in largely and gas-assistants being employed.

Alan Burke, House and Sign Painter. No. 207 Green Street, near Washington, Jamaica Plain. It is always a safe rule to follow in the placing of orders for work of any description, to employ the best skilled labor you can get at a reasonable price, for although the job you want done may not call for a great deal of skill, still it it better to have it carried out by those who know too much rather than those who know too little, and many annoying mistakes and delays would be avoided were this rule more generally followed. It holds as good in painting as in anything else, and hence we take pleasure in calling our readers' attention to the establishment conducted by Mr. Alan Burke, at No. 207 Green street, Jamaica Plain, for we can assure them that while they can entrust the most difficult orders to Mr. Burke and depend upon having these filled as they should be, they may be equally sure that all due attention and care will be given by him to work of the simplest character. He started in business in Jamaica Plain about thirty years ago, and now occupies premises at the above named address, covering an area of 25 x 50 feet, giving employment to eight experienced assistants. He manufactures an excellent Furniture Polish Renovator which he sells for twenty-five cents a bottle. Painting of all kinds especially house and sign will be done at short notice and at very moderate rates, and attention will be given to the durability of the work accomplished, as well as to its appearance, only the best materials being used and the greatest care exercised in their application.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Leading Business Men of Jamaica Plain - 1888

This will be the first of several posts featuring the Jamaica Plain entries in the 1888 book Leading Business Men of Back Bay, South End, Boston Highlands, Jamaica Plain and Dorchester. The book is a directory of businesses that must have paid for the pleasure of being extolled withing its pages. The entries can be a little generic and are definitely over the top, but that's advertising for you. We do get some information about the men and their businesses sprinkled within the puffery. I've posted stories about Mr. Goodnow's store on Centre street before, but I didn't know that he had two branch stores. Mr. Robinson's harness shop would have stood on Centre street very near today's post office. He lived at Walnut place -today's Cheshire st., off Green street. I've seen Mr. Ganter's name, but I didn't know he was German. Finally, Mr. Moore was one of many immigrants who came to Boston and Jamaica Plain from Nova Scotia. Canadians are often forgotten among the Irish and Italians when immigration in Boston is considered

Frank Ganter & Co. Dealers in Provisions, Butter and Poultry; Manufacturers of Sausages, Smoked Hams, etc., Boylston Station, Jamaica Plain, Mass. The important influence exerted by the food upon the health is becoming more and more generally recognized every day, and it may well be said that the poorest economy is that which tends to stint or cheapen the food supply. Mr. Frank Ganter of Boylston Station, Jamaica Plain, is one of the most active and enterprising provision dealers to be found in this vicinity, and we can confidently assure our readers that they may place their orders with him and rely upon having them filled without delay and at the lowest market rates. Mr Ganter and his partner, Joseph Wittenauer, are both natives of Baden, Germany, and are members of the Royal Arcanum. Mr. Ganter established the present enterprise in September, 1872. Mr. Wittenauer entered the firm in 1885. The store occupied is 22 x 70 feet is size, and the building was erected in 1887 by Mr. Ganter. It also contains another store, and up stairs are six commodious suites of six rooms and bath each. The store is one of the handsomest we have seen, and embraces a very large stock of Meats, Butter, Poultry and Provisions in general. Mr. Ganter also manufactures Sausages, Smoked Hams, etc. There are six efficient and courteous assistants in attendance, and all callers will be served promptly and politely.

T.W. Robinson, Harness maker and Carriage Trimmer Collars made a specialty and Trunks Repaired, 657 Centre Street, Jamaica Plain. Honestly made articles are none too common nowadays, we are sorry to say, and even in the manufacture of such important commodities as harnesses, methods are practiced by certain makers that cannot but affect their goods injuriously. To make a strong, light and durable harness the best stock must be used, and as such stock costs money, unscrupulous parties employ inferior grades, and palm off dangerous productions on their customers as articles that are first class in every respect. We say dangerous productions and mean just what we say, for no one at all acquainted with the tremendous strains brought on harness, will deny that the one of poor stock may result in breakage and consequent loss of life and property. But happily there are honestly-made harness to be had at reasonable figures if they are looked for in the right place, and one of the best of these places is that conducted by Mr. T.W. Robinson on Centre Street. Visitors to this establishment will find a choice selection of goods to choose from, not confined to harness alone but including horse-furnishings of various descriptions. Mr. Robinson is prepared to make harness to order and to fully guarantee it as regards to both strength and durability. Although using uniformly reliable stock he does not put his prices away beyond the reach of common folks but supplies a trustworthy article at a most reasonable figure.

J.B. Moore, Dealer in First class Provisions, Centre Street, Jamaica Plain. The strictly first-class provision stores of Jamaica Plain are not so numerous as they might be, but still there are enough of them if they can but be found, to supply every customer, and one of the very best of them is that of which Mr. J.B. Moore is the proprietor located on Centre street. This establishment was founded December 1857, and has steadily gained in popularity and patronage until its present prosperous position was attained. A store is occupied measuring 29 x 30 feet, and the stock carried is such as to go far to explain why people like to trade with this house. Provisions of every description are included in the stock handled such as meats, vegetables, fruits, also poultry and game in their seasons, which are supplied in quantities as suit customers. Employment is given to three assistants and every patron is given such prompt and polite attention that this of itself would go far to build up the popularity enjoyed. All of the various goods dealt in are fully warranted to prove as represented, and while more attention is paid to quality than to quantity, still the prices are always as low as the state of the market will permit. Mr. Moore is a native of Nova Scotia, well and favorably esteemed in this community. He is a member of the Odd Fellows, Good Templars and Legion of Honor.

J.W. Goodnow, Baker and Confectioner, Ices of every Variety, a Specialty, 719 Centre Street, Jamaica Plain, and 137 Warren Street, Boston Highlands. Twenty years is a long time to be sure, but even in twenty years there are very few who succeed in building up such a business in the baking and confectionery line as is carried on by Mr. J.W. Goodnow, who began operations in 1868. The secrets of this gentleman's success are no secrets after all, for it is evident to the least observing that the reputation held by him has been honestly gained by hard and intelligent work, and that any one who can produce such uniformly superior goods and offer each complete accommodations to his customer, will achieve equal success. But this, of course, is not an easy thing to do, and Mr. Goodnow has no reason to anticipate his present claim to a leading position being seriously disputed. He is a native of Vermont, and is connected with the Free Masons, Odd Fellows and Knights of Honor, and is known by reputation, at least to a large proportion of the residents of this vicinity. His main establishment is located at No. 730 Centre street, Jamaica Plain, but he has one branch store No. 65 Boylston street, in the same section of the city, and another at No. 137 Warren street, Boston Highlands. The Jamaica Plain store is about 25 x 40 feet in dimensions, and gives employment to twenty-two assistants, offering at each store fresh and desirable at low prices. Bread, cake and pastry, fine confectionery fresh daily (made on the premises) and all the articles handled by a first-class bakery can be purchased at these establishments at the lowest market rates, and a speciality is made of ices of every variety, orders for which will be taken and the goods delivered with guarantee of satisfaction, a speciality is made of catering to weddings, parties, etc. None but the choicest materials are used by Mr. Goodnow, and the high reputation of his products for purity and excellence of flavor is richly and honestly deserved.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Codman Estate Becomes Union Avenue

Codman Estate, Washington and Green sts., 1854.

The picture above show the portion of the Codman estate that was divided and sold in 1854. Washington street runs along the bottom, and Green street along the right side. Stony brook winds through the land, and the railroad tracks form the upper border. There are a few things to notice here. First, this is the origin of Union avenue, shown turning within the curve of the brook from Washington to Green streets. Second, there is a passageway running between lots 23 and 26 (click on the picture to see a larger version) from the new street (Union ave.) up towards the railroad tracks. I believe this is the same passageway that is shown on the adjoining Green street plan of the land of Samuel Goodrich. This passageway probably predated the railroad, and gave access to to Goodrich and Greenough land from the Turnpike (Washington st.).

Green street and the railroad tracks, 1837.

This segment of the earlier plan of the Goodrich/Green street development shows the upper left section of the Codman plan (under the name of trustee John Ashton), along with the area on the other side of the railroad tracks (note that Green street is called Willow on the drawing). You can see here how the passageway connected from today's Seaverns avenue and Elm street down and across the railroad right of way. The passageway was written into the deeds of the time, and was later ceded to the railroad company when Green street replaced its purpose.

Another thing to consider: in many places, Stony brook formed the boundry between early plots of land. When properties of many acres like the Codman and Goodrich estates bordered each other, the brook, and not a straight line, formed the boundry. As a result, when the district began to develop, strange curving lots of various sizes resulted.

The passageway mentioned above provides us with some interesting information as well. In the enlarged version it can be seen that the passageway was marked as being 20 feet wide. Which gives us a good estimate - and the only one I know of - of how wide the brook was in it's natural state. This was before any channelling or straightening had been done, so the brook was certainly more than a stream one could step over at this location. The full size picture also reveals a barn and cottage on lot 10, a nursery on lot 13, and a "large elm" on lot 14.

There is one other thing to add. Where the brook meets Green street, along lot 5 and near the final "t" in Green street, there is a small block drawn in, representing a building. On another, later surveyor's drawing of the area, that building, shown sitting with one corner directly on top of the brook, is labeled a carpenter's shop. I think we can guess that the carpenter was using the brook to power a saw. If so, this is the only example I know of the brook being used for power in Jamaica Plain. The stream that runs through the Arnold Arboretum at Hemlock Hill was once called Sawmil brook, but I have never found a reference for the actual location of the sawmill.

We can thank surveyor G.H. Nott for his careful work on drawing this plan.

The Boston Daily Atlas September 21, 1854

WHITWELL, - BROTHER & CO. Great Sale of BUILDING LOTS At Jamaica Plains,

On THURSDAY, Sept. 28, at 3 o'clock, P.M., on the premises.

Will be sold by public auction, thirty-four House Lots, varying in contents from nine thousand to twenty-five thousand feet, and one of eighty-seven thousand feet and upwards, at Jamaica Plain, bounding on Green street and Norfolk and Bristol turnpike; and within three minutes walk of Green street station, on the Boston and Providence Railroad, where trains stop several times a day.

The lots are beautifully situated in a quiet healthy locality within convenient distance of schools and churches, in the vicinity of an excellent neighborhood, and but ten minutes distance from the city by railroad.

They constitute a portion of the estate of the late Henry Codman, Esq., and offer a rare opportunity to persons desiring to build in the country.

Cars will leave the Boston and Prov. R.R. Depot at 2:45 P.M., on the day of sale, and free tickets, with (?) may be had on application to the auctioneers.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Samuel Goodrich - Defended

Samuel G. Goodrich, writer and Jamaica Plain resident, was one of the best known men of his day. Before his time, books for children were imported from England. Under the pseudonym Peter Parley, he became the first great children's writer in American literature. His work was so popular that it would be difficult to find a literate child in antebellum America who had not read a Parley story. Their old friend Peter Parley taught them their history and geography, filled with moral lessons along the way. Goodrich had a strong aversion to the Mother Goose rhymes (odd as it may seem to us) and had set about to provide children with a literature that was both educational and morally uplifting. His books were translated and read around the world, and he fought pirated versions of his works and the Parley name both here and abroad. As a publisher, he introduced many leading writers to the American public, including Nathaniel Hawthorne, whose short stories appeared in the Token, his annual magazine. While living in Jamaica Plain, he was encouraged to become active in Whig politics, and served in the Massachusetts house and senate. In this entry, we learn (if we didn't know already) that politics has always been a nasty business in America. Alas, there have never been good old days for us to look back on.

The Salem Gazette November 7, 1837

Norfolk County

Samuel G. Goodrich, Esq. the reputed author of Peter Parley's Tales, is one of the Whig candidates for the Senate from Norfolk; and we notice that the locos are driven to the desperate expedient of opposing him by attempting to ridicule him out of the field as Peter Parley. If it were the rising generation who were to be affected by their electioneering tricks, or if the boys were voters, we never should have heard of this objection to Mr. Goodrich, we are sure. In contempt of such reasoning, the children of Norfolk would rise en masse, and chair their old and tried friend Peter in the Senate, by acclamation, and all the children of all the land would have said amen.

Seriously, it appears to us that the Tories of Norfolk, in thus attempting to undervalue Mr. Goodrich, have made a singular mistake. The argument -- if argument there be -- is this: Mr. G. has written sundry books under the name of Peter Parley; many books we might more properly say, for there is hardly a subject on which youth have not been entertained and instructed by the productions of Peter Parley. These books have acquired unprecedented popularity, at home and abroad. They have been translated into various other languages, and are spreading every day wider and wider among the reading people of the world. At this moment, it is probable Parley has more readers than any other living author. All of his books are of a good moral tendency, and they are exerting an extensively beneficial influence by banishing Mother Goose's Melodies; and the host of other such silly and pernicious books, and creating in the minds of children a taste for solid and useful reading. And for this Mr. Goodrich is unfit to represent the county of Norfolk! And who are the men whose claims are urged in opposition? A.H. Everett, Abel Cushing and B.P. Williams, forsooth1

To our mind, the argument, fairly stated, runs thus: A man who may justly be regarded as a benefactor of the age -- who has, by persevering industry triumphed over the want of early education -- who has gained an honored name in both hemispheres -- who in the higher walks of literature has shown a capacity for success -- who as a legislator has acquitted himself very creditably (witness the slavery resolutions and the report on the license law of the last session) -- who has, in short, the talents to command success in whatever he undertakes -- he is disqualified for a Senator; while Mr. A.H. Everett, who has shown himself a faithless politician, who is by education as aristocrat, and in feeling haughty and proud -- Mr. Cushing, who is a thorough radical of the lowest order of political radicalism -- and Mr. Williams, who is a nonentity -- they are the men who we are told, are "a sure combination of talent, virtue, and patriotism." Will this argument commend itself to the good old democratic county of Norfolk

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Damn Those Redcoats!

J.G. Hales, 1819 (BPL).

On April 19th, 1775, the King's troops marched from Boston to Lexington, firing shots that began a revolution. Of course, the skirmishes between British troops and Minute Men in Lexington was just the end of a long beginning. From the pen of Edward Everett Hale come these words:

"All parties had had fair notice that the crisis was coming. On the 30th of March, by way of seeing how people would bear the presence of an army, and how the army would march after a winter's rest and rust, Earl Percy with five regiments marched out over Boston Neck, into the country. Boston People can trace him by walking out on Washington Street, where the sea-water then flowed on both sides, up the hill at Roxbury, on the right of the church, and heeding Gov. Dudley's parting-stone, which still stands, let them take Centre Street, "to Dedham and Rhode Island." Along that road to Jamaica Plain, Earl Percy marched, his drums and fifes playing "Yankee Doodle."The spring was very early. Some soldiers straggled, and trampled down gardens and fields that were planted, perhaps since last fall. From Jamaica Plain, Earl Percy led them across to Dorchester; and by Dorchester road they came home. Very indignant was the Provincial Congress and the committee of safety at this first "invasion" of the country; and all people guessed that Concord would be the point of the next "excursion," because at Concord was one of the largest deposits of stores which the Province of Massachusetts had collected in its preparations against the British empire."

So how did the troops get from Jamaica Plain to Dorchester? There was no Morton street until the 1850s. Records suggest that Walk Hill street was not laid out until 1802, but the acceptance of roads often came about long after informal use. The 1819 map above suggests the route. Centre street to South street, then south-east on on Walk Hill street, turning north-east on Canterbury street until reaching Brush Hill (now Blue Hill avenue), and north towards Boston.

Do they teach this to Jamaica Plain school children? They didn't when I was in school.

Source: Old and New, by Edward Everett Hale