Friday, January 30, 2009

Farmer Curley Goes A' Plowin'.

If you click on the image above, you may be able to see the famous shamrocks in the window shutters.

An earlier entry discussed the gardens of the boys of the Agassiz school during World War I. Here, we have the mayor encouraging victory gardens at his own home. Somehow, I suspect that James Michael didn't spend much time in his back yard after the picture above was taken.

Boston Daily Globe April 26, 1917


Plows Up a Lot Near His Home in Jamaica Plain Large Enough to Produce a Winter's Supply.

Dropping for a few hours the task of directing the affairs of Boston, the Mayor plowed up a lot next to his home in Jamaica Plain yesterday. Ever since the war was declared backyard gardens have occupied municipal attention. Mr Curley was an ardent supporter of the idea.

The Mayor's garden is in the rear of his beautiful residence and is a typical backyard institution. He made only one mistake in his job of plowing. He did not take off his collar. After a few minutes John C. Broadhead, supervisor of backyard gardens for the School Committee, happened to ride past just in time to see him pause, haul out a large handkerchief and begin tucking it around his neck.

Mr Broadhead roared out his greetings to his fellow-farmer and the Mayor's face expanded in a vast smile. James Junior is in for some healthy weeding this Summer, for the Mayor's garden plot is no 10 by 10 affair. The Mayor intends to raise enough produce to supply his Winter needs and the plot he plowed will give him plenty of room.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Central School Takes a Turn

The Central school - the "Old Agassiz." View from Burroughs street.

When I was a young sprout, the two Agassiz grammar schools sat on Burroughs street, just behind the buildings that fronted on Centre street. The building pictured above was called the "Old Agassiz," although the words Central School were carved above the door that faced the alley way known as Burroughs place that appears on the left. To the right, you can see the back of the so-called New Agassiz, which faced out towards Brewer street to the right.

Previous entries have discussed the two Agassiz schools. The construction of the New Agassiz was discussed here. My particular interest in this entry is the older building, shown above. The retirement of a long time teacher at the Old Agassiz/Central school was celebrated in an earlier entry here. Mrs. Mary Stuart began teaching at the Central school in 1866, so we know the school is at least that old. The roof line of the building shows elements of the Italianate style - a wide overhang, horizontal returns at the bottom of both sides, and the brackets under the eaves. This fits the 1866 date, but how much earlier might the school have been built?

I've found Boston school system documents that gave the construction dates of schools, but no dates were recorded for Jamaica plain schools built before the annexation of the town of West Roxbury to the city of Boston. The map below shows the two schools together on the grounds in 1896. The new, larger school had been built in 1892.

The Agassiz and Central schools, 1896 (Bromley - the Boston Atlas)

This layout remained the same until the schools were torn down after being replace by a new school between Child street and Carolina avenue in the 1970s. If we go back to 1885, we can see the old Central school sitting alone on the property, and in a different location than that shown above.

Central school - 1884 (G.W. Bromley - JP Historical Society)

To go back further, we need to take a trip to the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds (before annexation in 1874, the towns of Roxbury and West Roxbury were in Norfolk County). In February of 1849, the City of Roxbury purchased 33,300 square feet of land at the corner of Brewer and Burroughs streets from the Trustees of the Eliot school (a discussion of the earlier history of the land can be seen here). In two years, Jamaica Plain would secede from Roxbury and become part of the town of West Roxbury, and the school planned for the site would become a West Roxbury school. The first time I find the Central school mentioned in a deed is 1865, so the school was built some time between those two dates. I suspect an early date, because money would not have been available during the Civil War. That would make the school 100 years old when I attended it in the early 1960s. Did they recognize the centennial of the old school when it came around, or had the city of Boston forgotten the building's Roxbury birth? I suspect the latter.

Having done as well as I can with the date of construction, let's go back to the location of the Central school. Clearly, when the new Agassiz school was built, the old Central school was moved towards Centre street. Notice that in order to fit both school building at the site, the city of Boston had purchased land from Mrs. Joel Seaver, extending the lot towards Centre street. There is one more thing to notice here. See the little rectangular extension coming out of the side of the Central school? In the 1884 map directly above it faces up towards Brewer street. In the 1896 map, that extension faces down towards Centre street. When they moved the Central school to accommodate the new Agassiz school in 1892, they not only moved the Central school, they also turned it 90 degrees!

When I was a child, I was puzzled why the school entrance faced the back of the buildings that fronted on Centre street. A back alley hardly seemed an appropriate location for a school entrance. So why did they turn the Central school around? There is no mention of the Central school in the Boston Globe article that described the construction of the Agassiz. It is my considered speculation - that's a guess - that when the new Agassiz school was built, with its entrance on Brewer street, the old Central school was built, it was turned 180 degrees so that in case of fire in the new building, the Central school could be evacuated away from the fire. A look at the top picture shows that the fire escape of the Central school faced towards the Agassiz, but that was added during a fire safety movement after the Agassiz were built.

This entry was motivated by two questions. First, when was the Central school built. That's a standard sort of question for any building, and I tracked it down as well as I could. The position of the school is another matter. It was only with the online availability of the Bromley fire insurance maps that I was able to notice that the building seemed to have been turned around at some point. There is no mention of the Central school in the Boston Globe article announcing the new Agassiz school, but the available evidence certainly suggests that teams of horses were used to move the old school to make way for the new Agassiz, and to spin it 180 degrees at the same time. Imagine the people coming out to see their old Roxbury grammar school turned backwards to prepare for the construction of a new, improved Boston school. Both schools are gone now, and perhaps only those of us who remember them can be fascinated at the thought of that big brick building turning to face an alley-way, making way for for a new, "modern" building.

Addendum: Commenter "Anonymous" informs us of the following:

The Central School building was built by the City of Roxbury in 1849. In 1871 this building was remodelled and 2 rooms added. On Oct. 27, 1885 the Central School was renamed in honor of Louis Agassiz. The building was moved a short distance June 1892 for construction of the New Agassiz Grammar School.(Annual report of the City of Boston School Committee 1902)

I had assumed that the Central school didn't change names until the new Agassiz was built. The name comes from the scientist Louis Agassiz, who came from Switzerland to work at Harvard, and who gave public lectures at the old West Roxbury Village Hall, which sat very near the school on Thomas street. His daughter, Pauline Agassiz Shaw, lived across Jamaica Pond on Perkins street.

Addendum #2: from the Emancipator and Republican, January 26, 1849:

The new and commodious school house recently erected by the City of Roxbury, at the corner of Burroughs and Brewer streets, Jamaica Plain, for the Central School, was dedicated on Tuesday afternoon, January 16, with appropriate and interesting exercises.

Norfolk County deeds: 185:116 - 2/21/1849 Trustees of the Eliot School to the City of Roxbury.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Italianate Houses In Jamaica Plain

Italianate villa - design by Andrew Jackson Downing.

When I put up the first slide show of Jamaica Plain houses, I didn't post any information, so I'll say something about the Italianate style here. The Gothic and Italianate styles both came to the United States from Britain. Through plan books like those of Andrew Jackson Downing, architects and housewrights were introduced to the elements of the Italianate style, with some builders using the books as an influence, and others copying designs from the books directly.

British travellers to northern Italy had taken home with them an appreciation of the rambling villas they saw in towns and villages. These houses had flat or low sloping roofs, wide eaves, and generations of additions cobbled on to the original simple house. Some had square towers added, and many had brackets under the eaves of the roof. This villa style became very popular in the United States, but is rare in Jamaica Plain.

Italianate architecture came to Jamaica Plain more often through the adaptations of Downing and other producers of design books. Downing created house designs for three classes of buyers, the well to do, the middle class, and farmers. The style he promoted for entry-level buyers was a gable-front L- or T-shaped house, with a more vertically sloped roof than the classic Italianate villa design, but present in Downing's cottage drawings. The roof brackets are always there, sometimes in pairs, as well as moulded window surrounds. This is what is most commonly seen in Jamaica Plain. Houses with 2 1/2 floors, gable ends facing the street, sometimes with an L wing on the back are found on Lamartine, Myrtle, Newbern, Holbrook streets and Atherton place among others. The Italianate style is seen in the double houses at Warren square, and two classic examples with square towers sit opposite each other near the top of Myrtle street (all displayed in the slide show).

Drawings above taken from: Cottage Residences, Andrew Jackson Downing.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Mystery House

New York Public Library - Digital Gallery. (click on photo to enlarge).

This house looked familiar, but I have to confess that I had to put some concentrated brain power to work to figure out where I had seen it. . It's still around, so where is it? No cheating if you know already.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Baseball On Jamaica Pond

Winter days beget winter memories. There was a time when Jamaica Pond was a winter resource, and not just drive-by scenery for busy motorists. I'll let anyone so interested delve into the identities of the players listed below, but I'll recognize at least two. The name George Wright might be familiar - a public golf course is named after him in Hyde Park. Wright was one of the earliest baseball stars, and managed the Boston Red Stockings to several championships. After leaving baseball, he ran a sporting goods store in Boston, and laid out the golf course at Franklin Park. The Gen. Dixwell whose invitation is noted was quite another cat. He was a well-to-do gentleman and a baseball fanatic of a type of whom we would well recognize today. "General" Dixwell kept statistics of games and players, and kept three adjoining seats at the South End grounds, the better to support his portly frame. He was a celebrity in his own right, often quoted in the Boston newspapers, and a suitable guest for this extrordinary game.

Boston Daily Globe Jan 5, 1893


Game Will be Played on the Jamaica Pond Today.

Many Well-Known Professional Players Will Participate.

College and Interscholastic Leagues Will Also be Represented.

There will be a game of base ball on Jamaica Pond this afternoon at 3 o'clock. The players will wear skates and all the implements used in a regular game will be brought into service.

The idea of playing base ball on ice is not entirely new, having been tried several years ago on this same pond, when fully 5000 people witnessed an interesting contest between two nines composed of prominent players.

Today it is proposed that the scheme be tried again and with the ice in such splendid condition and with a small army of well-known players, all eager to lend a hand, the contest should be well worth witnessing.

The diamond will be laid out according to the lines suggested by THE GLOBE three weeks ago, which, if adopted, promises to increase batting. The pitcher will be put back to the centre of the diamond, as suggested in that same article.

The men will be allowed to overskate their bases, simply touching them as they pass, and other changes in the rules likely to be adopted at the next meeting of the national league, will be tried for the first time.

The teams will be composed of 10 players each and two well-known enthusiasts of the national game have been invited to act as umpires.

In order to keep the crowd off the playing surface and give everybody a good opportunity to see the game at the same time, a number of police officers will be on hand.

In this game will appear some of the brightest and most popular stars connected with the national league, the college league, the interscholastic league, as well as such well-known retired players as George Wright, John Morrill, Tim Murnano, John Manning, Harry Schafer, Tom Bond, Murtie Hackett and others.

Harvard College will be represented by some of the following ball players, who are also clever skaters: "Jack" Highlands, "Slugger" Mason, "Joe" Upton, "Andy" Highlands, F.H. Hovey, "Bernie" Trafford, "Al" Dickinson, John Corbett, "Wrenny" Paine, "Dick" Bullard, Jack Hayes, "Fred" Paul and others.

In the interscholastic league such well-known players as "Bob" Stevenson of Hopkinson, Tom More of Cambridge, George Close of Cambridge, Second Baseman Tobey and Left Fielder Goodridge of Cambridge, both of whom are brilliant polo players; "Hart" Hayes of Boston Latin, who has recently joined that school; Third Baseman Beal of Boston Latin, I.S. Clark of English high and Leo Ware of Roxbury Latin.

Some of the professional players who will play are Arthur Clarkson, Miah Murray, Tim Keefe, Arthur Irwin, John Irwin, Ed Crane, Fred Doe, Tom Cotter, Jim Canavan, Billy Murray, Hugh Duffy, Mike Slattery and George Haddock.

Gen. Dixwell has been invited to see the game.

Most of the boys will take the 2.20 train from the Providence station, as the game will begin on time.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Incorporators

John G. Hales, 1832 - annotated by Fred Seaver (BPL). (click to enlarge)

The map segment shown above is part of John G. Hales' 1832 map of the town of Roxbury. It was used by Mr. Fred Seaver to show the locations of houses of the founders of the Third Meeting House of Roxbury, now First Unitarian Church of Jamaica Plain (see below for numbered names). The branch of the Seaver family that included Fred was one of the leading families of Jamaica Plain. The story of the Seaver general store is told on the JP Historical Society web site here. Of immediate interest is the information provided by Fred, who was in a position to know and pass on details of Jamaica Plain history otherwise lost to us.

I left the photo of the map above at full size, so you can click on the picture and see an enlarged and easily read version. Twenty-seven homes are located by number, showing the area from which the third parish drew its founding members. In today's terms, the parish extended from Hyde square (no. 10) to the border of Brookline (no. 2) and from Hemlock Hill in the Arnold Arboretum (no. 20) to Walnut avenue in Roxbury (nos. 23, 24). On the other hand, we don't see the Curtis homestead at Boylston street listed, so perhaps some of the people in the district continued to travel to the First Church at Eliot square in Roxbury proper.

Let's start looking closely at the map. The first thing we have to do is remember that this is an 1832 map, and shows streets that were not present at the time of the founding of the Third Parish (1760s). Centre and South streets were present, as well as Perkins, Day Heath, May streets. Burroughs Eliot and Prince streets were not present near Jamaica pond, and Washington street (originally the Dedham Turnpike) had not been laid out yet. Jamaica Plain was still an agricultural community, with farms and homes lining a few country roads. There were certainly other people living in the area at the time, but the location of these houses probably tells us a lot about the population of Jamaica Plain at the time.

Going down the list of names, we see some we should recognize immediately, and some we can identify with a little digging. Benjamin Pemberton (#1) married Susannah Faneuil, niece of Peter Faneuil of Boston's Faneuil Hall fame. He purchased an estate along Centre street from his brother-in-law Benjamin Fanueil, and shouldered much of the financial burden of founding the Third Parish in Jamaica Plain. He would later sell the property to Dr. John Warren, and it would later pass to Samuel G. Goodrich, also known as Peter Parley.

Edward Child (#2) is shown living along Pond street at the Brookline border. Pond street was known as the Newton road in the early 1800s, though it was only officially named as Pond street in 1825. The location of the Child house suggests that the road went back well into the 1700s.

John Morey (#4) is another matter. He has already been mentioned on this site. His farm was along Centre street and today's Arnold Arboretum.

Captain Lemuel Child (#5) would later serve with the Minutemen, leading a group of local men to fight the British as they retreated from Lexington. He had a farm along Centre street near today's Faulkner Hospital.

William Burroughs (#6) is shown living on Centre street, quite near the future location of the street that would bear his name. he is said to have laid out Burroughs street some time around 1800.

Isaac and Nathaniel Brewer (#7) are shown living at the same place as Captain Charles Brewer would live one hundred years later.

Eleazer and Nathaniel Weld (#8) lived on the estate granted to Joseph Weld by the town of Roxbury for his service in the Pequod War. The homestead was along South street, the property extending to Centre street and including much of today's Arnold Arboretum. In the Family Search online archive, I find an Eleazer Weld, born Feb. 20th, 1736 to Joseph and Martha Weld. There is also a Nathaniel Weld, born March 24st, 1739 to Ebenezer and Mary Weld. I haven't been able to satisfy myself that I have the two men I'm looking for, as I have not been able to cross-reference the two men's relationship. For now, I'll accept that the two named men did live on the Weld estate at the time, but it is entirely possible that Fred Seaver made mistakes in his effort, so I'll put off for now doing a grand Weld genealogy.

I believe the Withingtons (#10) ran an inn/tavern at today's Hyde square that served travellers on the highway from Boston to Dedham (as Centre street was called then).

Joshua Loring (#11) should need no introduction to residents of Jamaica Plain. Commodore Loring built his house at the beginning of South street, where it still stands today. The old farm house that stood on the land when he bought it was moved across the street, and served as the parsonage of the Third Church for a time. Tradition has it that the old farm house was later sold and moved down South street, and perhaps moved again still later. There is the possibility that the old house still stands today, covered in later additions and improvements. If so, it could be the oldest standing house in Jamaica Plain.

John Troutbeck (#13) was the first owner of Linden Hall, which sat at Centre and Pond streets. Reverend Troutbeck was assistant rector of the first Anglican church in Boston, and like that other loyalist, Joshua Loring, would emigrate to Great Britain during the Revolution.

If the name Scarborough (#16) rings a bell locally, it would be because Frederick Law Olmsted used the name of a former land owner when he designed Franklin Park. Scarboro Hill, and later Scarboro pond are near today's Morton street, and not far from number 16 on the map.

John Louder, father and son (#18), lived appropriately near to today's Louder's lane, a later road that was laid out to provide access to private lots off Centre street.

John Keyes (#21) was also honored with an eponymous street name, but gave up the honor when the street was renamed for Corporal John J. McBride, who lost his life in France during the First World War. John Keyes was a tanner who lived along South street, as shown. When the Loring estate was sold, Keyes purchased the south most portion, the greater northern section going to Ann Doane, who would soon be Mrs. David S. Greenough, and the matriach of five generations of D.S. Greenoughs. This map, however, shows home sites before the Revolutionary War, and before the estate of the Loyalist Loring was sold. It appears as if Keyes well pre-dated the Greenoughs in the area, and is actually shown living on what would have been at the time the Loring estate. Sooo.... we have a puzzle here.

We have various Mays: Benjamin (#14), Lemuel (#17) and Ebenezer (#19). Benjamin (b. March 1, 1708 - d. Dec. 8, 1774) was a farmer, and is shown here living on Centre street at today's Pond street. Lemuel, (b. Feb. 20, 1738 - d. Nov. 19, 1805) the first son of Benjamin, served as a Lieutenant under Capt. Child in General Heath's regiment during the Revolutionary War. Ebenezer is shown living on Centre street near William Burroughs house. His first daughter, Susanna, married Daniel Starr, later to give his name to Starr lane just across Centre street. Makes sense - the Starrs lived somewhere off Centre street in the vicinity of Starr lane and Seaverns avenue.

Isaac Williams, George Woods, Edward Briggs, Ezra Davis, father and son, Lemuel Austin, John Williams, Joathan Williams, Jacob Davis, John Foster and Jonathan Payson are all unknown to me in any detail worth relating. I do know that the Williams family had farms in Roxbury, east of today's Washington street, which agrees with the location of their homes on Fred Seaver's map. Having these names will allow me to start looking for them, so perhaps they will reveal themselves at a later date.

1. Benjamin Pemberton
2. Edward Child
3. Isaac Williams
4. John Morey
5. Lemuel Child
6. William Burroughs
7. Isaac Brewer, Nathaniel Brewer
8. Eleazer Weld, Nathaniel Weld
9. George Woods
10. Abil Withington
11. Joshua Loring
12. William Pepperil
13. John Troutbeck
14. Benjamin May
15. Edward Briggs
16. Samuel Scarborough
17. Lemuel May
18 John Louder, John Louder, Jr.
19. Ebenezer May
20. Ezra Davis, Ezra Davis, Jr.
21. John Keyes
22. Lemuel Austin
23. John Williams
24. Jonathan Williams
25. Jacob Davis
26. John Foster
27. Jonathan Payson

The original Roxbury map, without Fred Seaver's annotations, can be seen here.

Source: The Founders and Incomporators ofthe Third Parish in Jamaica Plain; Who They Were and Where They Lived. Fred Seaver (Boston Public Library, Jamaica Plain branch).

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Mansard Roof Houses in Jamaica Plain

I just added another slide show to the site. It makes things a little busy, and perhaps too slow to load, so I'll think about rotating the three of them through one at a time. I tried to choose houses that gave the variety of house styles found under Mansard roofs. The Mansard style of roof came from France. It had a long history in France, but became popular in Paris during the Second Empire of Louis Napoleon (Napoleon III). The story is that in Paris, buildings were taxed on the basis of floors (storys) "under the roof." Since the Mansard style had one full floor within, and not under (below) the eaves of the sharply sloping roof, that top floor was not taxed. One would think that the French tax collectors would have seen through the ruse, but that is the story as it comes down to us.

The style moved to England in the 1850s, and to the United States a decade later. The classic exemplar of the style would be the Second Empire building. Generally designed by trained architects, a Second Empire house consists of a suite of stylistic elements - many shared with the Italianate style - topped off by a Mansard roof. To be clear, while all Second Empire houses have Mansard roofs, not all houses with Mansard roofs are Second Empire. Once builders learned to construct Mansard roofs, they began putting them on top of houses without the rest of the elaborate Second Empire stylistic elements. The houses in the slide show run the gamut from High Second Empire to worker's cottage. For a while during the early 1870s, it seems as if no newly constructed house in Jamaica Plain was safe from having a Mansard roof dropped on to it. Some older houses actually had Mansard roofs added to them, to keep them in the latest style. When we see a house dated from the early 1800s with a Mansard hat sitting on its head, we know the house has had some major reconstruction done.

You'll find beautiful restored Mansard houses on Sumner Hill, Chestnut avenue and Burroughs street, and rows of simple worker's homes on Seaverns avenue and Jess street. Although brick wasn't often used in Jamaica Plain, there are brick row houses on Greenough avenue and a lonely singleton on Rockview street (all of the above appear in the slide show).

Friday, January 2, 2009

William Shepard, Wheelwright

Dedham Gazette March 27, 1818.

Journeyman Wheelwright

Wanted immediately, a journeyman at wheelwright business - one acquainted with light and heavy work. None but a good workman need apply. Inquire of

William Shepherd

Roxbury (Jamaica Plain) March 19, 1818.


Columbian Centinel February 10, 1822.

Chaise Stolen

A Canvas Top Chaise, painted black, the body green, and wheels and carriage black, one of the supports under the shaft, on the axle, carved and painted, the other not carved or painted, with all the Harnesses laying in it, was laying in front of the Wheelwright's shop of the subscriber on Jamaica Plain, in Roxbury, and was stolen between Thursday night and Friday morning, 27th Sept. A reward of Twenty Dollars will be paid for the recovery of the Chaise and conviction of the Thief, or one half for either, by WM SHEPHERD.

Roxbury 1st Oct 1822.

Before the coming of the automobile, the trades of blacksmith, wheelwright and carriage maker were the backbone of the transportation industry. Long after the first railroads were built, carriages were still necessary to carry people and freight from rail station to home and business. William Shepherd was a wheelwright in Jamaica Plain during the first half of the 19th century. From the articles above, we know that he had his own shop, with men working under him. Unfortunately, such advertisements rarely give addresses - apparently, the community was small enough that you could ask for William Shepherd and any local person could direct you to his shop. Luckily for us, there is another source of information.

From the Norfolk Registry of Deeds, we know that in September of 1822, Mr. Shepherd purchased three quarters of an acre plus 11 rods (11 rods being about 8% of an acre) of land on Centre street near Eliot street from the trustees of the Eliot School. Prior to that year, the trustees had rented land for income to support the school. In some cases, the people buying land from the Eliot School trustees already had houses on the land, so it may be that Mr. Shepherd already had a shop on the site when he purchased the land in 1822.

The deed for the purchase describes the boundaries as follows:

Southeast on the Great Road 90 feet, southwest on the land of David S. Greenough 424 feet, northwest on land of said trustees 84 feet, and northeast on land leased to Sarah Brewer 410 feet.

Such boundary descriptions can make locating the plot difficult to impossible, depending on the situation. Luckily for me, the deeds for the Greenough and Brewer land are also available, allowing me to generate a map of the properties, seen below.

Centre and Eliot streets, 1822 (Shepherd land border in blue). Click on map to see bigger view.

Centre street (formerly the main road, Highway to Dedham, or upper road) runs along the bottom, and Eliot street runs from lower left to upper right, past the Third Parish meeting house (the Unitarian church) and Eliot School. Four long plots were cut out of the Eliot School lands along Centre street. To the right, Thomas Davis and Sarah Brewer each leased land in 1814. In 1822, William Shepherd purchased the lot next to Sarah Brewer, and David S. Greenough bought the lot on the corner of Centre and Eliot streets. The Shepherd lot faced Centre street at the same place as today's AAA Appliance store (or the old First National supermrket, for the old-timers among us). Missing from the map above are Thomas and Hagar streets. In 1837, a deed mentions two un-named passageways that would become Thomas and Brewer streets. Hagar street would come much later. On this map, Thomas street would be located at the border of the Brewer and Davis lots, most likely through the Davis property. Notice that the back end of the four Centre street lots align with today's boundary line between the Unitarian church and the Eliot School properties along Eliot street. So today, walking along Eliot street, we can imagine - accurately - where theseCentre street lots stood in the 1820s.

Many deeds from the 19th century leave us wondering exactly where the plots were located. Most are defined by the names of adjoining owners, and few include angles taken at corners. Some are even "to the willow trees, thence turning north...," which was understood perfectly well at the time, but serves only to leave us in the dark today. In this case, we know exactly where the Shepherd lot was, and what business the owner was in.

As often happens, we also gain insight from the surrounding properties. In this case, Brewer is a familiar name. Tradition has it that the house now standing on the southeast corner of Brewer and Thomas street (25 Thomas st.) was the Brewer house, and was moved from Centre street to the current location some time in the past. The Sarah Brewer deed puts her at the exact spot, and makes this story entirely plausible. This is the same house owned by the Clough family for 50 years, as told in this recent entry.