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.


  1. I currently live in the house once owned by "T.W. Robinson" on Cheshire street. I've been researching the house and Robinson.

    Will forward what I've found out about him to you when I get a moment.

    Thanks for posting this. Robinson and his family lived in this house a very long time. He had a son and they eventually moved from making horse harnesses to auto repair!

    Michelle Johnson

  2. Thanks for the info. It's interesting to see how businessmen moved from horse and buggy to autos.