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Full text of "[City documents, 1847-1867]"






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—No. 1. 



ADDRESS 



OF THE 



HON. LINUS B. COMINS, MAYOR, 



TO THE 



CITY COUNCIL OF ROXBURY, 

DELIVERED BEFORE THE 

TWO BRANCHES IN CONVENTION, 
JANUARY 2d, 1854. 




PRINTED BY ORDER OF THE CITY COUNCIL. 



R O X B U R Y : 
NORFOLK COUNTY JOURNAL PRESS 

1854. 



J J ' ^ J 



CITY OF ROXBURY. 



In Common Council, January 2, 1854. 
Ordered, That the Address of His Honor the Mayor, delivered before the 
two branches of the City Council, in Convention, this day, be printed for the 
use of the City Council. 

JOSHUA SEAVER, Clerk. 

In Board of Aldermen, January 2, 1854. 
Concurred. 

JOSEPH W. TUCKER, City Clerk. 



Gentlemen of the City Council : 

In accordance with the provisions of the City Charter, 
we have assembled for the purpose of organizing tlie Muni- 
cipal Government for the ensuing year. 

To me this appears a season well befitting the commence- 
ment of our municipal labors. The gate of time swings 
once more upon its hinges — a new year has commenced. 
Though in the dead of winter, with its frigid influences 
surrounding us — when all nature is without a charm — by 
a closer union of heart and of purpose, the genial current 
of good feeling flows spontaneously from man to man, from 
lip to lip, the welcome harbinger of brotherly love and 
harmonious action. 

The duties and responsibilities of the office, to which, by 
the generous sufl'rages of my fellow citizens, I have been 
elected, and which I have sworn to faithfully perform and 
discharge, are not wholly unknown to me. 

Although I have had no experience in the executive du- 
ties of the Chief Magistrate of our municipality, the asso- 
ciations connected with the room in which we are assembled 
though pleasant and agreeable in the main, warn me that 
the path of any one connected with the government of the 
city, is not wholly strewn with garlands and flowers. 

In entering upon the duties which are before me, I do not 
purpose any minute or extended review of the past, or to 
present to you such considerations, in regard to the especial 



4 MAYOR'S ADDRESS. [Jan- 

interest of the city, as the position I occupy may seem to 
suggest. Yon will not expect it from me, having for nearly 
five years had no connection with either branch of the 
government. The remarks I shall make at this time will 
be of a general character — reserving the privilege of con- 
forming to the requirements of the City Charter, by recom- 
mending such measures as in my opinion the interest, pros- 
perity, and progress of our city may require, as I become 
more familiar with the condition of its affairs, and have 
a more accurate knowledge of its wants. 

But few tov/ns in the Commonwealth have so much in- 
creased in population and wealth, within the last fifteen 
years, as Roxbury. Her present and future prospects are 
not surpassed by those of any city in the vicinity of the 
metropolis of New England. 

While I would urge upon you the importance of the 
strictest economy in all the expenditures of the city, I would 
recommend a policy in accordance with the age in which 
we live — liberal and progressive. As we reproach the 
past for not anticipating wants we now feel pressing so hard 
upon us, and which a few years ago could have been se- 
cured at an exceedingly small outlay compared with the 
present expense of even commencing radical improvements, 
let not future generations reproach us for even a greater 
dereliction of duty than those who have gone before us. 

Every citizen familiar with the localities of our city, 
must acknowledge with great pleasure the many substantial 
and permanent improvements which have been effected 
within our limits during the past few years. There are 
many improvements yet to commence, which can not fail to 
commend themselves to every member of the government, 
and which, however shrouded in darkness in their incipient 
stages, will, when completed, be warmly applauded by every 
citizen having the real Avelfare of the city at heart. The 
natural beauties and advantages of Roxbury for elegant 
residences are so well known and acknowledged, that noth- 
ing but a parsimonious policy can prevent her from being 



1854.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 1. 5 

what nature intended her to be — the most attractive of the 
many suburbs which surround the great commercial empo- 
rium of the Commonweahh. 

In discharging the labors incumbent upon ns, we are not 
to consult om' tastes and preferences, but to do our duty. 
Nothing contributes so much to the well being of a com- 
munity, as the administration of the laws. It is no part of 
the duty of the executive to judge of the merits of a law. 
If a statute of the State is impolitic and considered by the 
people oppressive, the General Court of the Commonwealth 
is the tribunal to which the people must look for amend- 
ment or repeal. The executive must enforce all laws as it 
finds them, taking care, however, that no fundamental 
principle is violated in so doing. 

The finances of the City, always a subject of great 
interest, are by no means, I am happy to say, in a condition 
to create alarm. 

The annual current expenses of the City — including the 
interest on the City Debt — amount to about $95,000. 
The amount of the liabilities of the City at this time, is 
$189,110.40. The City Treasurer holds notes receivable to 
the amount of $19,840.24 ; leaving a City Debt of $169,- 
270.16; of which sum $82,410.40 was created in 1851, and 
$47,700 in 1852. This large increase of more than $130,- 
000, in a period of two years, was to some extent, necessary 
and indispensable. But the largest item of this debt was 
caused by the " Stony Brook land purchase." The amount 
of this purchase, including expenses on the same, as made 
up to Feb. 1st, 1853, is $84,202 ; of which sales have 
recently been made and settled for, to the amount of 
$15,027.77. The estimated value of this purchase remain- 
ing unsold, is $26,000; leaving a deficit or loss on the 
purchase, of $43,174.23, exclusive of interest. 

The available property of the City is valued at about 
$125,000. It will be a question for your early consideration, 
whether a portion of the City Debt shall not be liquidated 
by a sale of such public property as can be judiciously 
disposed of. 



6 MAYOR'S ADDRESS. [Jan. 

The subject of popular education will naturally receive 
your earnest and most careful consideration. There is no 
subject upon which you will be called to act, and for which 
large appropriations will be required, second in importance 
to our Public Schools. No censure too great — no reproach 
too withering can fall upon us, if we neglect this sacred 
trust. 

The utility of the New England system of Education is 
fast developing itself to the civilized world. So irresistable 
is the love of educating the youth of our country, implanted 
within the human breast, that a young woman in a sister 
State, braves the walls of a felon's cell rather than omit this 
christian calling. 

In respect to education, Roxbury has always maintained 
a high position among her sister cities. The interior man- 
agement of our schools is placed by law, under the super- 
vision of a Committee chosen as an independent Board. 
For a statement in detail of their condition, I must refer 
you to the report of the School Committee which will be 
soon laid before you. 

In several cities in Massachusetts and in the adjacent 
States, the office of Superintendent of Schools has been 
established. Wherever the experiment has been tried, 
there has been but one opinion in regard to the necessity of 
this office, in the economy and efficiency of school adminis- 
tration. Should the School Committee press this subject 
upon your attention, I trust it will receive a favorable con- 
sideration. 

The permanent establishment of evening schools for 
adults, is an object highly worthy of your attention. These 
schools have done a vast amount of good, wherever they 
have been commenced and fostered. In some of the cities 
of New England and New York, they take their rank 
among the permanent institutions. The class of persons 
who attend them is that which it most interests the City to 
enlighten and instruct. They are those for whom in my 
opinion a school system should be maintained. They are 
those whose youth has been neglected, and whose time for 



854.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 1. 7 

preparation for the duties of life is short. The time for their 
education at our day schools has passed. They have 
arrived at the verge of manhood or womanhood, almost 
entirely ignorant of the simplest knowledge necessary to 
enable them faithfully and well to discharge their duties 
as good citizens. By their want of instruction they are 
cut off from many of the avenues to wealth and com- 
fort, and from many of the incentives to an honorable, 
healthy and useful ambition. Many of them, ignorant of 
reading, or without any love for it, pass their time, when 
not employed at labor, in places and among companions 
little calculated to contribute to the elevation of their char- 
acters or the welfare of the City. 

To meet what seemed a positive necessity, our worthy 
City Missionary, five years ago, opened an evening school 
for such as have been referred to. The school was crowded, 
and many were unable to be accommodated. The expenses 
were mainly defrayed by private contributions, for the first 
year, — the City providing a room, warming and light- 
ing the same for the use of the school. The public have 
every year become more fully convinced of the advantages 
of evening schools, and the City Council has gradually 
increased the appropriation therefor. Still the school can 
not accommodate all who would come. With its present 
means it cannot be kept up during the winter for more than 
two evenings in the week. The scholars would be glad to 
attend four or five, and would progress much more rapidly 
and the morals and good order of the community would be 
much advanced thereby. If two schools, one at the Point 
and one near Tremont Street, were established for four 
nights of each week, from November to April, I am confi- 
dent that it would greatly subserve the best interests of the 
City. 

Our highways are in their usual good condition. Many 
improvements have recently been made in grading and 
straightening our principal streets, and in constructing 
sidewalks. I recommend that the liberal policy which has 
marked the administration of our immediate predecessors in 
this department be continued. 



8 MAYOR'S ADDRESS. [Jan. 

A Gas Company has recently been organized within our 
City. I trust you will at an early day make arrangements 
with the company for lighting our Streets and Public 
Buildings. 

I am happy to say we have as efficient, orderly and well 
disciplined Fire Department as can be found within the 
Commonwealth. Any appropriation expedient and necessary 
to maintain an organization so useful, and of such great 
consequence to a community so exposed by the close prox- 
imity and construction of its buildings as Roxbury, will 
meet my ready approval. 

The great immigration of foreigners to our shores in 
1847-8, and the prevalence of a malignant epidemic 
among them, filling our Alms House with an unusual 
number of paupers, caused the subject of the removal of 
this establishment to be investigated. The Special Com- 
mittee to which the question Avas submitted came to the 
conclusion that the interest of the City and the well being 
of the inmates of the institution would be promoted by its 
removal from its location on Highland Street, and located 
upon a farm at some more remote situation. "Brook Farm" 
was bought — its .present cost, including the original pur- 
chase, is not far from ^30,000. The poor of the City have 
been provided for at this new establishment during the last 
two years, apparently to the satisfaction of the department. 
The causes which led to the purchase and improvement of 
Brook Farm, have, in consequence of the general good 
health which has prevailed among immigrants thejast few 
years, and the ready and profitable employment found by 
them as they arrive, nearly ceased to exist. And when the 
buildings now being erected by the Commonwealth for the 
reception of State Paupers shall have been completed, and 
the State Paupers removed thereto. Brook Farm will be 
no longer required. The whole number of inmates of the 
establishment at the present time is 147. Of this number 
134 are State Paupers,- and will soon be removed to the 
State Alms House. Leaving only 13 in charge of the City. 
Surely we shall not require so large and expensive an 
establishment with so few paupers. 



1854.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 1. 9 

The health of the inmates is good. There is not a case 
of fever in the house, and not an inmate confined to the 
bed with any iiind of disease. 

Mr. Isaac H. Meserve, the ahle and gentlemanly Super- 
intendent, has been appointed by Governor Clifford. Super- 
intendent of the State Alms House at Tcwk&bnry. I 
congratulate the Slate upou securing tlie services of so able 
a man. Under the failliful ond vigilnnt superintendence of 
Mr. Meserve, Brook Farm has been brought nnder a high 
state of cultivation and improvcmmt, and would undoubt- 
edly sell, the coming season, for a sum equal if not above 
its cost, should you in your wisdom deem it expedient to 
dispose of it, and snpport the small ninnher of paupers left 
to our care, at a much less expensive establishment. 

By a judicious sale of Brook Farm and the estate on 
Highland Street, nearly one half of our City Debt could at 
once be liquidated; an object far more desirable to our 
citizens than experiments in agriculture. 

The principal features of our system of Police are de- 
scribed in "An Ordinance, authorizing the appointment and 
prescribing the duties of a City Marshal." It is made the 
duty of this officer, placed by law at the head of the Police, 
to preserve, by every means in I lis power, the public peace; 
and to prevent all riotous and disorderly proceedings. " He 
shall be vigilant to detect the breach of any law, by-law or 
ordinance. It shall also be his duty lo prosecute all offend- 
ers as soon as may be, and atte.id. in behalf of the City, 
;the trial of all offences which may be prosecuted ; and to 
use all lawful means for the effectual prosecution and final 
conviction of offenders." 

The usual quiet and good order which prevails within the 
limits of our City, leads me to the couclusion' that this de- 
partment has generally been well administered. Its effi- 
ciency, however, not only depends up)n the energy, faith- 
fuli:ess, and courtesy of iis officers, but upon the determined 
support they receive from the executive and its co-ordinate 
branch of the government. 

In a community so renowned for its love of order, as our 
2 



10 MAYOR'S ADDRESS. [Jan. 

beloved City, any force other than an ordinary Pohce, will 
seldom be called into requisition. But in large and popu- 
lous cities, on occasions of great excitement, more powerful 
and summary aid than civil authority is sometimes required. 
I can safely say that should such a melancholy occurrence 
take place within our borders, we have a volunteer militia 
company which has ever maintained a high character for 
military discipline and soldiery appearance, and which will 
form a powerful auxiliary branch of our Pohce. We should 
therefore, most cheerfully and liberally make any appropri- 
ation for their comfort and convenience, required by law or 
dictated by our sense of propriety. 

The subject of Public Squares has often been brought to 
the attention of the City Government by my predecessors. 
The lamented Dearborn, in his inaugural addresses of 1847- 
8, very forcibly and eloquently illustrates the great and 
growing importance of this subject. A Joint Special Com- 
mittee was appointed under an order of the City Council, 
August 4th, 1851, " to ascertain if any suitable parcels of 
land could be procured for one or more Public Squares." 
The report of that Committee is an able and interesting 
document. I trust you will not consider me as trespassing 
upon your patience if I quote from its pages: — "The Com- 
mittee have given this subject (Public Squares) a careful 
examination, and are now prepared to submit in part, the 
result of their deliberations. 

"They would recommend that a tract of land be purchas- 
ed in Ward 3, and a portion of the same be laid out as a 
Public Square. The tract of land proposed, is situated be- 
tween Tremont and Ruggles Streets, and north-east of a 
line commencing on Ruggles, near Yernon Street, to the 
foot bridge accross Stony Brook, thence across said bridge 
to Tremont Street. Containing, by measurement, seven 
acres, three-quarters, nine rods; or 342,800 feet. Four 
acres, twenty five and a half rods, or 181,000 feet, of which 
is upland, and three and one-half acres, and thirty-three 
rods, or 161,000, feet is water or flats covered with water." 

The purchase was made at an expense to the City of 



1854. CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 1. 11 

f 84,000. And it was universally supposed that the happy- 
event which had been so long foreshadowed, had arrived — 
that at least four acres of the purchase was to be converted 
into a Public Square. 

The Committee further said : — "After selling a portion 
of the property, say for instance, 139,200 feet, there will 
remain about 203,600 feet, or fotir and one-half acres, and 
txveniy-seven arid one-half rods of valuable land, for which 
the City will owe a debt of $9,162, making a cost of about 
four and a half cents fer foot. Now we believe that in a 
few years, the valuation of the property around that 
Square, will be nearly if not quite sufficient to pay the 
interest on the debt ; so that no burden will arise from it in 
that respect, and we are very certain, that if at any time in 
the next twenty years, our successors in office should come 
to the conclusion that it is not required for the public good 
that it should be kept open, the laud may be put into the 
market, and sold for the cost and interest at least, and pro- 
bably for a large profit." 

Why the result of this well intended effort to adorn our 
City with a Public Square, and to "turn deformity into beau- 
ty " has been so entirely different from what was anticipa- 
ted, I am not able to inform you. 

Let not the present government be swerved from its sense 
of duty and of justice, in consequence of the failure of our 
predecessors to accomplish that which they so much de- 
sired, and so sanguinely promised. 

Should a favorable opportunity present itself, the im- 
provement of which will yet secure our City the benefits of 
a PubHc Square, you will have my hearty co-operation in 
the undertaking. 

Our rural cemetery, " Forest Kills," has continued in 
prosperity, far above the expectations of its most sanguine 
friends. The original cost of the grounds was $36,894.67. 
In conformity to an act of the Legislature of the Common- 
wealth, passed at the request of the City' Council, the re- 
ceipts of the Cemetery must be appropriated and applied to 
the liquidation of this debt, and to improve and adorn the 



12 MAYOR'S ADDRESS. [Jan. 

grounds. Since the consecration of Forest Hills, in June 
1848, over seven hundred lots have been sold. The Com- 
missioners have had ample means from receipts from these 
sales to make thus far, all desirable improvements and em- 
bellishments, and liquidate over $7,000 of the debt. 

The beauties and avantages of this well chosen location, 
can not be described within the limited space appropriate 
for this occasion. Nature seems to have drawn most 
bountifully upon her exhaustless resources and lavishly 
bestowed her choicest gifts upon this hallowed spot. 

Gentlemen, I am aware of my v/ant of experience and of 
wisdom. Looking around within the circle of those with 
whom I am to be associated in the City Council, I see my 
seniors on every side — among you I see many personal 
friends : may I not ask your kind forbearance and indul* 
gence. And be assured, whatever of ability, zeal and 
energy I possess, I will not fail to bring to bear, in co-opera- 
tion with you upon the interest and welfare of our 
constituents. 

And may God, the gracious giver of all good, grant His 
blessings upon us, and upon our beloved City. 

LINUS B. COMINS. 
Roxhury^ Jan. 2, 1854. 



PUBLIC LIBRARY 



CITY OF BOSTOlSr 



ABBREVIATED REGULATIONS. 

One volume can be taken at a time from the 
Lower Hall, and one from the Bates Hall. 
Books can be kept out 14 days. 

A fine of 2 cents for each volume will be 
incurred for each day a book is detained more 
than 14 days. 

Any book detained more than a week be- 
yond the time limited, will be sent for at the 
expense of the delinquent. 

No book is to be lent out of the household 
of the borrower. 

The Library hours for the deliverj' and re- 
turn of books are from 10 o'clock, A. M., to 
8 o'clock, P. M., in the Lower Hall; and from 
10 o'clock, A. M., until one half hour before 
sunset in the Bates Hall. 

Every book must, under penalty of one dol- 
lar, be returned to the Library at such time 
in August as shaU be publicly announced. 

The card must be presented whenever a 
book is returned. For renewing a book the 
card must be presented, together with the 
book, or with the shelf-numbers of the book. 






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