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BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY
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City Document. — JYo. 1.
Hon. SAMUEL WALKER, Mayor,
CITY COUNCIL OF EOXBURY
DELIVERED BEFORE THE
TWO BRANCHES IN CONVENTION,
JANUARY 5th, 1852.
PRINTED BY ORDER OF THE CITY COUNCIL.
THOMAS PRINCE::::::CITY PRINTER.
CITY OF ROXBURY.
In Common Council, January 5, 1852.
Ordered, That the Address of His Honor the Mayor, delivered before the
•two branches of the City Council in convention, be printed for the use of the
Passed and sent up for concurrence.
JOSHUA SEAVER, Clerk.
In Board of Aldermen, January 5, 1852.
JOSEPH W. TUCKER, City Clerk.
Gentlemen on the Board of Aldermen
and Common Council :
There are times when circumstances arise which make
certain actions appear in the light of imperative duties. It
was at such a time and under such circumstances that I
was induced to accept the responsible office to which the
City Council thought proper to elect me in August last.
By the sudden death of our late and ever to be lamented
Chief Magistrate, the Hon. H. A. S. Dearborn, it became
necessary that the vacancy should be immediately filled,
and as the choice fell upon me, I felt that however inade-
quate I might be to fill the situation, I was not at liberty to
decline the honor conferred. The suffrages of the people
have again called me to this honorable position, by which
I am encouraged to hope that I have not altogether failed in
my endeavors to serve my fellow citizens. I have never,
for one moment, indulged the thought that I could fill with
eclat the office once occupied by my talented, learned and
eloquent predecessors. All I can hope to bring to the ser-
vice of the city, is an honest intention to co-operate with
you, gentlemen, in the various duties assigned to us, and to
promise faithfully to carry out, whatever shall be done by
our united deliberations for the welfare of the city. Our
success will greatly depend upon our mutual endeavors to
sustain and aid each other in a prudent, economical, but en-
ergetic administration. We have been elected for this pur-
pose, and I feel assured that I shall have your hearty sup-
port and co-operation.
4 MAYOR'S ADDRESS. [Jan.
The amount of the ordinary city debt at this time is
J128,387 05, of which sum $82,410 40 has been created
the past year for the following purposes :
For Dearborn School House, $15,000 00
For Buildings at Brook Farm, 9,000 00
For Land corner Heath and Washington sts., 13,644 45
For Land on Tremont and Orange streets, 33,000 00
For West Roxbury in payment for its portion
of public property, 11,765 95
The public property, not immediately required for the
uses of the city, and that may be disposed of whenever the
City Council shall think it to be for the interest of the city
to do so, is estimated at $118,163 71, (which is thought to
be a very low valuation for the same,) leaving a balance,
or city debt of $10,213 34.
In bringing to your notice the Schools of our city, in
which we have all so deep an interest, I am happy to refer
you to the Annual Report of the School Committee, which
represents them as being in a very satisfactory condition.
In this report the opinion is expressed, after careful compar-
ison with several schools of the same grade in Boston, that
Roxbury falls not a whit behind her neighboring city, in
giving to the children of her citizens the advantages of a
thorough English education. It would seem, that during
the past year, the teachers employed in the schools have la-
bored with commendable zeal, not only to impart the most
accurate instruction, but, at the same time, to maintain the
most perfect discipline, which is evident to every one on en-
tering the school room ; and it gives me. pleasure to state
that this discipline has been secured but with an occasional
resort to corporeal punishment, and in some of the classes it
has not been resorted to once during the year. Such results
establish beyond controversy the excellence of the system
adopted in our schools, and the skill with which it has been
The increasing demands for school accommodations,
have obliged the School Committee to ask of the city au-
1852.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 1. 5
thorities the erection of another Grammar School House.
It gives me pleasure to state, that during the past year this
request has been promptly complied with "by the City Coun-
cil, and that, on a large lot of land, in the vicinity of Davis
street, in Ward One, has been erected, and is now nearly
ready for occupancy, a substantial and beautiful edifice,
bearing the name of the lamented Dearborn, under whose
auspices it was undertaken, and thus joining, with the
grateful memory of coming generations, the history of him,
who, while in the service of the city, sought only its pros-
A Principal for the Dearborn School, I understand, has
been selected, under whose care it will soon go into opera-
tion, with every prospect of success.
The regard that our Municipal Government has ever
manifested for the cause of Education, will doubtless be
continued, and thus enable us to sustain the reputation that
Roxbury has so proudly enjoyed, since the days of Eliot, of
being ever forward in furnishing the means of instruction
for her children.
It is under this conviction that I am induced to bring to
your notice the importance of taking early measures for
adding to our present system, advantages that will, more
nearly than any we now possess, meet the demand which
the State has upon us for the establishment of a High School.
I submit whether the arrangement entered into with the
Trustees of the Latin School, to provide instruction in all the
branches required in a High School, in consideration of the
payment of $500 annually by the city, meets fully the pur-
pose contemplated. It may therefore be well to consider
whether any more satisfactory arrangement can be made
with the Trustees of the Latin School, on the payment even
of a larger sum, enabling them to employ an additional in-
structor ; or whether it would not be wise to fit up, for the
present, a room in the Dearborn School House, and employ
at a suitable salary, a competent teacher to instruct in all
the branches usually taught in a High School. At present
we have eighteen school houses, containing thirty schools,
at which are instructed 2543 pupils, by fifty-two teachers.
6 MAYOR'S ADDRESS. [Jan.
During the past year, our Highways have been greatly
improved. The moneys appropriated for them have been
judiciously expended. Since the organization of the City
Government, many miles of sidewalks have been con-
structed ; and during the past year, probably greater im-
provements have been made than during any other year
since our present organization. Flagging stones have been
placed across many of our streets, where they have been
deemed necessary. The want of suitable materials for our
streets and highways has long been felt ; and in the month
of October last, I brought the subject to the attention of the
Government, and a large gravel hill, containing upwards of
eight acres, was purchased at the corner of Heath and
Washington streets. Materials, such as gravel, loom, sand,
stone, clay, paving stones, &c, in ample quantities, will be
found there, all of which are needed for the uses of the
city ; and it is believed that the land, after the materials
shall have been removed, will be worth to the city more
than the cost and interest.
I respectfully recommend that still further improvements
in our highways and sidewalks be made, wherever it may
be necessary, and the grades and lines of our streets, where
it is not already done, be established and more accurately
A liberal policy has ever prevailed in this city in regard
to sidewalks. In the first year of our organization (1846)
it was decided, that wherever the abuttors would furnish
edgestones, the Board of Aldermen would cause them to be
set, and the sidewalk constructed at the expense of the
city. Under this regulation miles of excellent sidewalks
have been made.
It is believed that this course is much more satisfactory
to our citizens, than that the Government should compel the
construction of sidewalks, and assess the expense thereof
upon abutting estates, which in many cases, especially upon
estates with extensive fronts, would be exceedingly onerous
and oppressive. The policy adopted has worked well gen-
erally, and if our citizens will co-operate with the Govern-
ment in advancing these improvements, it will not be many
1852.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 1. 7
years before our sidewalks will be fully equal to the best in
any city or town in our Commonwealth ; and I express the
hope, that you will use the influence which you possess, not
only as members of the Government, but as citizens in ad-
vancing improvements of this character.
The fourteenth section of our City Charter gives authority
to the City Council, " to cause Drains and Common Sewers
to be laid down through any streets or private lands, paying
the owners such damage as they may sustain thereby ; and
to require all persons to pay a reasonable sum for the priv-
ilege of opening any drain into said public drain or common
sewer." At some future time, and perhaps at no very dis-
tant day, sewers will be required for the accommodation of
our increasing population. When the time shall have come,
that these shall be deemed indispensable, they can readily
be constructed, as nature has provided us with ample outlets
to the sea, of which no earthly power can deprive us.
Our Fire Department is under good discipline, is orderly,
active and efficient. The system adopted the last year has
worked well. Whenever called into service the duties are
performed in a manner which reflects great credit upon the
officers and men. The department I may say, fully meets
the expectations of our citizens, and the moneys appropri-
ated for its support have been economically and judiciously
There are now attached to the department five engines,
one hook and ladder company, one hose company ; all with
necessary apparatus, and one hundred and seventy-one men.
is believed this force will be sufficient for many years to
come. There are twenty reservoirs, located in different
parts of the city, of capacities varying from fifteen thousand
to thirty thousand gallons each ; also nine hydrants, four of
which are located along the line of the Cochituate pipes on
Washington and Tremont streets, and five upon Mount
Warren, which are supplied from the reservoir in that lo-
cality. A due regard for the protection of the property of
our fellow-citizens requires that an ample supply of water
should be at the command of the department when called
into service, and the City Council have wisely provided for
8 MAYOR'S ADDRESS. [Jan.
the construction of reservoirs, in different parts of the city,
within the last five years. I invite your attention to this
subject at this time, and should you be of the opinion that
further protection is required by additional reservoirs, you
will doubtless cause them to be located and constructed.
An active and vigilant Police is indispensable in all com-
munities similar to ours. I am gratified to say that this de-
partment has been well managed under our efficient City
Marshal, who together with the officers under him, have
been vigilant in searching out and bringing to justice offen-
ders against the laws.
There are one hundred and twenty-five street lamps, (one
hundred and fifteen of oil and ten of gas,) belonging to the
city, which are lighted and kept in repair. It was expected
that during the past year the Gas Company would have ex-
tended their pipes beyond Guild Hall, their present termina-
tion, but this has not been done. It is understood, how-
ever, that they may be extended early in the spring, which
will enable us to have an additional number of gas lights.
The Cemetery at Forest Hills continues to prosper.
Within the past year some one hundred lots have been dis-
posed of, and various improvements made about the grounds.
The debt of the Cemetery is kept separately from the ordi-
nary city debt, and provision is made for the payment of
the same by the proceeds of the sales of lots and rights of
burial, which are paid into the City Treasury, and kept
separate from any other funds of the city, and subject to the
order of the Commissioners.
The people of this city owe a debt of gratitude to the late
Gen. Dearborn, for the exquisite taste displayed by him in
arranging, ornamenting and embellishing the grounds. His
remains now repose in the very spot selected and set apart
by himself; and during the present year a suitable monu-
ment will be erected to his memory from the free-will offer-
ings of his fellow citizens.
The increasing expenses for the support of the Poor, led
the City Council to purchase the Brook Farm, in West Rox-
bury, (then within our borders,) for the purpose of locating
the Almshouse establishment upon it ; believing that it
1852.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 1. 9
would be for the best interest of the city, as well as of the in-
mates, that the establishment should be located upon a farm.
The farm has been improved since its purchase, under the
direction of the Superintendent of the establishment; and
the able bodied inmates and children have been temporarily
located there. New and convenient buildings have been
completed and are now occupied permanently by the in-
mates, and the old establishment in Highland street vacated.
There can be no reasonable doubt, that with a proper econ-
omy and a judicious management of affairs, the change will
be a beneficial one to the city in a pecuniary point of view,
while full and varied employment can be found at all times
for the inmates who are able to perform labor.
An examination of the "Pauper Abstract," discloses the
fact that Roxbury has supported, for a long time, more than
its share of State paupers. In the year 1S50, Roxbury sup-
ported more State paupers than Cambridge, Charlestown,
Chelsea, Brookline, Dorchester, and Dedham combined.
This may be accounted for doubtless in some measure from
the fact that our establishment, when in Highland street,
was easier of access, and more convenient, for the large
number of foreign paupers that almost daily arrive at Boston,
than the establishments of the towns just named, not even
excepting that of Boston. It is believed that this disparity
in numbers will not exist in future.
The attention of the City Council has been repeatedly
called by petition, within three or four years past, to the
condition of Stony Brook, in the vicinity of Ruggles street.
It was represented that a nuisance existed there which was
dangerous to the public health ; and an order was introduced
requesting the opinion of the consulting Physicians as to
the present condition of the Brook near that locality, so tar
as it related to or affected the public health.
An opinion was given by the Physicians concluding —
" that they considered the present state of Stony Brook, near
Ruggles street, as decidedly prejudicial to the public health,
and demanding the immediate attention of the city authori-
ties." A resolution passed both branches requesting the
10 MAYOR'S ADDRESS. [Jan.
Board of Health " to take the matter into immediate consid-
eration, and to adopt such measures in relation to the same
as the preservation of the public health might demand."
The Board of Health immediately proceeded to examine
into the matter, by taking testimony, visiting the premises,
&c., and it was declared by them, " that Stony Brook be-
tween the Bridge on Tremont street and White's Mill, situ-
ated on Washington street, teas in a state of nuisance, and
injurious to the health of the inhabitants of the city, and it
was the duty of the Board to cause the said nuisance to be
abated forthwith?' 1 It was believed by the Board, that the
most effectual way of abating the nuisance, was to change
the course of the stream, commencing near the foot bridge
on Ruggles street T and continuing it in a more direct line to
the arches of the bridge on Tremont street, and filling up
the old channel or water course, and also the flats on both
sides of the same, and preventing in future the depositing of
animal or vegetable matter in the stream. To accomplish
this object more effectually, it became necessary for the city
to purchase a portion of the property lying between Tre-
mont and Ruggles streets, and northeast of the foot bridge.
The purchase has been made and contracts for building
the culverts, and filling up the lands and flats, have been
taken and the work commenced. The cost for building the
culverts and filling amounts to $17,582.
After the work shall have been accomplished, I respect-
fully recommend that (after reserving a portion of the terri-
tory for a Park or Public Square) the remainder be sold, and
the proceeds of the sale applied towards the liquidation of
the debt incurred in the purchase and making the improve-
ment, as suggested in the report of the Joint Special Com-
mittee, under whose direction the purchase and contracts
were made, and to whose report — City Doc. No. 11 — 1851 —
for further details and information your attention is respect-
fully directed. This great public improvement will not only
be beneficial to the neighborhood of Tremont and Ruggles
streets, but to the whole city ; and in connection with this
subject, I think it due to the Committee on Public Squares
1852.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 1. 11
to state, that in my opinion the people of this city are under
great obligations to them, for their untiring zeal, and for the
energy and ability they have displayed in accomplishing
this work ; and it gives me pleasure to add that these im-
provements will be completed without being a great burden
on the treasury of the city. The land which the city will
possess, it is thought, will be fully ecuial in value to the cost
of the undertaking.
I hold it to be the right, as well as the duty of the Board
of Health, to remove and abate all nuisances and sources of
filth, which affect the health or materially interfere with the
comfort of the inhabitants of this city ; and the Board would
fail to discharge their duty if they omitted to exercise the
powers vested in them by law, in removing or abating any
nuisance that is deemed to be prejudicial to the health of the
A bill was passed by the Legislature of this Common-
wealth on the 24th day of May last, setting off a portion of
the territory of this city, and incorporating the same into a
new town, under the name of " West Roxbury." The ter-
ritory set off embraces what was known as Wards 6, 7 and
8, and parts of Wards 4 and 5. It was provided in the act,
that the Brook Farm and the Cemetery at Forest Hills, both
within the territorial limits of the new town, §hall belong to
the City of Roxbury and be free from taxation, if the city
shall elect to take them and assume the liabilities for the
same. By an order of the City Council, passed June 30, the
City elected to take the property and assumed all liabilities
The dividing line between the City and the Town of
West Roxbury has been fixed and established, and suitable
stone monuments erected, under the direction of committees
appointed by the two Corporations.
A division of the public property has also been made by
appropriate committees appointed by the city and town for
that purpose, and vested with full powers.
By the terms of agreement, the real estate owned in com-
mon and situated within the territorial limits of W^est Rox-
bury, (except the Brook Farm and the Cemetery, at Forest
12 MAYOR'S ADDRESS. [Jan.
Hills,) to become the property of West Roxbury, at the
valuation, as appears upon page 53, City Document, No.
6, 1851. The real estate owned in common and situated
within the territorial limits of the City of Roxbury to be-
come the property of said city, at the valuation as appears
in the document and page before mentioned, (except the flats
in the empty basin of the Mill Dam,) subject to a deduction
of $10,000 from the valuation therein made, and the same
to be divided according to the valuation of the City, as made
by the assessors in May last.
All the personal property, including hay scales, hearses,
fire engines, hose carriages, ladder and bucket carriages,
stock and furniture at the Almshouse and Brook Farm,
furniture in the School Houses, City Hall, and personal pro-
perty of every description, to become the property of the
city or town having them in charge, without appraisement.
The city debt to be apportioned to the city and town, ac-
cording to the last city valuation made by the assessors in
May last, and no interest to be charged West Roxbury for
its portion of said debt, from the 24th of May, and as an
offset, the City of Roxbury is not to be charged with any
portion of the income or rent of any property assigned to it.
The Flats, so called, in the empty basin of the Mill Dam,
are to be under the sole control and jurisdiction of the city,
and the town of West Roxbury is to bear its proportion of
the expense in maintaining the title, removing trespasses,
&c, and to receive its proportion of any income that maybe
derived for the use of them.
West Roxbury, for its share of the property within our
limits, is to receive the scrip of the city, dated Dec. 1st, 1851,
and payable in seven and eight years, with interest semi-
annually. The amount of scrip issued for this purpose, is
$11,765 95. The necessary papers to carry into effect this
agreement, have been prepared and executed under orders
passed December 1st and 22d, 1851. Although our city
has been shorn of a large portion of its territory, our re-
maining Homestead comprises an area of about. 3000 acres,
which is about double that of Boston ; and while we regret
that the fair inheritance of our fathers has been divided,
1852.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 1. 13
and many of our friends and fellow citizens set off from us,
and while we still continue to believe that there were no
good reasons assigned for the act, let us hope that the new
town may be as prosperous as its most sanguine friends an-
The act establishing the City of Roxbury fixed the num-
ber of Aldermen at eight, and the number of the Common
Council at twenty-four. By the Act establishing the town
of West Roxbury, the number of Aldermen has been re-
duced to five, and the Common Council to fifteen. I re-
spectfully recommend that application be made to the next
General Court for an act authorizing the election of three
additional members of the Board of Aldermen, and one addi-
tional member from each Ward to the Common Council, the
present year, agreeably to an order passed December 22, 1851.
There is one subject, gentlemen, which has occupied the
attention of our fellow citizens of late, and which may not
be deemed inappropriate to introduce at this time.
I allude to the project of annexing this City to the City of
Boston, a project that has been seriously entertained by a
portion of our citizens.
Roxbury was incorporated in the year 1630, and is con-
sequently one of the oldest corporations in the country. For
a period of two hundred and twenty-one yea?s, our people
have enjoyed the rights and privileges of self government ;
they have for that period of time managed their own affairs
in their own way, and depended only on their own means
and their own resources ; they have always been at peace
with their neighbors, and have maintained a high character
among the towns of the Commonwealth. There is no
blemish upon the name of Roxbury. It has a history of
which its people need not be ashamed. And why should its
citizens surrender the rights and privileges they possess to
manage their own affairs in their own way, and by their
own means, merely to become the subjects* of another power,
and be governed by a Council not of their own choice ?
It may be said that annexation will be for our advantage
— that we shall have more expended upon our territory, and
for ourselves, than what we expend now.
14 MAYOR'S ADDRESS. [Jan.
If this is to be the case, then it would be unfair and unjust
to the people of Boston, to take their, wealth to supply our
wants and necessities — and degrading to ourselves, because
we should become a public charge upon Boston. In such a
humiliating position, I am sure the people of Roxbury will
never consent to be placed.
It has been stated that our property will increase in value
if we are annexed, and consequently we shall be able to
pay more taxes than we now do. I confess that I am una-
ble to see why our property would be worth more. That
our taxes would be increased I have not the slightest doubt.
That our valuation^ for the purpose of taxation, would be
changed, there cannot be a question. At this time there is
a vast difference between the valuation of property in the
two cities — that of Boston being 25 to 100 per cent, higher
than that of Roxbury. If our system of valuation should
be changed so as to conform with that of Boston, we should
present — to say the least — some $15,000,000 instead of
$10,000,000, and our rate of tax in order to levy the same
amount of money that was levied last year, would be some
some $4 25 on the thousand dollars, instead of $6 34, as
Should it be necessary for us to change or revise our sys-
tem of valuation, we can do that for ourselves, as well as
Boston can do it for us.
The State valuation has recently been made and fixed
for the next ten years, and under that valuation the city of
Roxbury pays nearly one third of the whole county tax for
the county of Norfolk, and will be held to pay it until 1860,
or until a new valuation is made. The amount of county
tax paid by Roxbury the past year was $11,179 90.
It may well be questioned whether the Legislature would
consider it a matter of sound policy to take 15,000 inhabi-
tants from the county of Norfolk, with a population of
about 77,000, and a valuation of $47,000,000, and annex
them to the county of Suffolk, with a population of nearly
140,000, and a valuation of $217,000,000. But let us look
for a moment to the prosperity of Roxbury, and see the in-
1852.J CITY DOCUMENT.— No. I. 15
crease in population and wealth for the last ten years as
compared with other towns and cities in our vicinity :
The population of Roxbury by the census of 1S40 was 8,310
The population in 1850 was - - 18,316
Showing a gain of 10,006, or one hundred and twenty and
a quarter -per cent.
Only three towns in this Commonwealth, for the same
period of time, have gained so much, viz. : Chelsea, Milford
Charlestown in 1840 had 10,872 inhabitants. Charles-
town and Somerville together in 1850 had 19,043, showing
a gain of only seventy-Jive per cent.
Boston in 1840 had 83,970
" 1850 " - 138,78S
Showing a gain of sixty-five and a quarter per cent.
Cambridge in 1840 had - - - 8,127
_ " 1S50 "' - - 14,825
Showing a gain of eighty and a half per cent.
Brookline in 1840 had - 1.123
" 1850 " - - - 2,353
Showing a gain of one hundred and nine per cent.
Dorchester in 1840 had - 4,458
1850 " - - - 7,578
Showing a gain of seventy-five per cent.
Dedham in 1840 had - - 3,157
"■ 1850 "•--■•- 4,379
Only a little more than thirty-eight and a half per cent.
In valuation Roxbury has also increased greatly. The
following table will show the increase of Roxbury as com-
pared with other cities in our vicinity, according to the State
317 per cent.
In population and wealth then, gentlemen, Roxbury has
much more than kept pace with the towns and cities in our
I am unable to perceive what advantages we shall obtain
from annexation that we do not now enjoy, or cannot enjoy
16 MAYOR'S ADDRESS. [Jan.
in our present position. I believe that the people of this
city are capable of managing their own affairs, and provid-
ing for their own wants and necessities, and I do not believe
they are ready to surrender their independence and place
themselves and their interests under the guardianship of any
other people. I trust that so far as the people of this city
have a voice in the matter, they will not permit the name
of Roxbury to be blotted out from the map ; and that we
may long enjoy the rights and privileges inherited from our
fathers, and like them, worship the living God in safety and
in peace, at our own altars, under our own vine and fig-
tree, with none to molest us or make us afraid.
We all are aware of the many and great improvements
that have been effected within our borders since our muni-
cipal organization in 1846. Other improvements, I feel
assured, are required to. keep pace with the wants of the
community. It is our duty to meet, if not anticipate these
wants, and to carry forward such pther improvements as
the people and the best interests of the city may demand.
I am not one of those who feel it their duty to make a lavish
outlay for a distant future, for I hold that each succeeding
generation has its own share of improvements to add to
ours ; but I would not that the future should reproach us as
wanting in taste, or condemn us as parsimonious. I would
therefore recommend to your attention the improvements
now in progress, the widening of streets wherever the public
necessities may require', and placing them in the best condi-
tion, the construction of sidewalks, public squares, the
planting of shade trees, and many other things that will
doubtless present themselves to you in the discharge of your
In conclusion, gentlemen, I would invoke the continued
blessings of Him who ruleth over all, upon our city : and im-
plore the guidance of His wisdom to enable us to discharge,
in His fear, the various duties incumbent on us in such a
manner as shall be honorable to ourselves and acceptable .to
our fellow citizens.
Roxbury, Jan. 5th, 1852.