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City Document — No. 8. 




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In Board op Aldermen, March 24, 1856. 

Petition of Samuel M. Phillips and 52 others, praying that the 
nuisance caused by the "Roxbury Color and Chemical Company," may 
be abated. 

And also the petition of Charles Ellis and 50 others, for the same 

Read and referred to the Mayor and Alderman Ward. 

Sent down for concurrence. 

JOSEPH W. TUCKER, City Clerk. 

In Common Council, March 24, 1856. 
Concurred. And Messrs. Nute, Lewis, and Pike added. 


In Board op Aldermen, April 28, 1856, 
Report read and accepted, and Order passed. Sent down for concur- 

JOSEPH W. TUCKER, City Clerk. 

In Common Council, May 5, 1856. 
Report and Order read, and, upon motion of Mr. Nichols, laid on 
the table, and twelve hundred copies ordered to be printed and distrib- 
uted to the citizens of Roxbury. 



In Board of Aldermen, April 28, 1856. 

The Special Joint Committee, to whom were referred the 
petitions of Charles Ellis and others, and Samuel Mo 
Phillips and others, have attended to the duty assigned 
them, and respectfully ask leave to submit the following 


The petitions referred to the Committee bear the names 
of a large number of tax-paying citizens of Roxbury, who 
complain of the character of the manufactures carried on by 
the Roxbury Color and Chemical Manufactory, and pray that 
the City Government would take measures for its removal* 
Petitions coming from such a numerous and respectable 
body of citizens, and bearing on their front, as it were, the 
stamp of public opinion, and asking the aid of the munici- 
pal authorities to remove from the heart of the city a 
long-established Corporation, which has embarked a large 
capital in a certain branch of manufactures, are entitled to 
the serious and deliberate consideration of the City Gov- 
ernment,— and the Committee have engaged in their work 
of investigating the facts, with a strong desire to elicit the 
truth, and, so far as may be connected with their limited 
sphere of duty, do justice to all parties. 

The Committee have held a number of meetings, and 
have listened to the evidence voluntarily produced by the 
petitioners on the one side, and the Directors of the Com- 
pany on the other. They have visited the works, and 


every facility has been allowed them to examine into the 
character of the manufactures ; and their enquiries have 
been readily replied to by the persons in charge of the es- 

It appears that the Roxbury Color and Chemical Com- 
pany was incorporated in 1826, with a capital of $50,000, 
and soon after established in its present location, which 
was then mostly surrounded by land in an uncultivated 
state. The quantity of land now belonging to the Com- 
pany is between three and four acres, and the value of the 
whole property is estimated at about $80,000. The prin- 
cipal chemical manufactures carried on, appear to have 
consisted of Sulphuric Acid, Muriatic Acid, Nitric Acid, 
Nitrate of Lead, and Alum. Other chemical preparations 
have at different times engaged the attention of the Com- 
pany, as the manufacture of Prussian Blue, and the smelt- 
ing of Copper ; but the effects were so decidedly offensive 
that they were soon discontinued, and for a number of 
years it is believed that the manufactures have been con- 
fined to the articles first enumerated. The noxious gases 
which escape from the works, during the process of man- 
ufacture, and which become incorporated with the atmos- 
phere, to the injury and inconvenience of the neighborhood, 
and the depressing effect upon property consequent thereon, 
seem to be the principal causes of complaint on the part of 
the petitioners. 

A great mass of evidence has been adduced to show 
that these gases, or exhalations, from the Chemical Works, 
are of an exceedingly unpleasant character — that they 
are conveyed by the wind to a great distance, in some 
cases nearly a mile — - that they are offensive to the olfac- 
tories — tend to destroy the comfort of persons residing 
in the neighborhood, and are annoying to strangers who 
visit that vicinity, — that the effect produced on the physi- 
cal system is often distressing, causing a severe cough and 
irritation of the bronchial apparatus, and a stricture of the 

CITY DOCUMENT. — No. 8. 5 

chest, especially in persons of delicate constitutions; or 
otherwise suffering from indisposition, — and that, conse- 
quently, the effect is prejudicial not only to the conveni- 
ence, peace of mind, and comfort of the inhabitants, but 
also to their health. It likewise appears from the testi- 
mony of many witnesses, that the nature of these gases is 
so generally offensive and disagreeable, as to deter per- 
sons from purchasing property, or locating in a neighbor^ 
hood, which, in other respects, possesses many advantages ) 
and that this manufactory thus acts as a check and a draw^ 
back on the value of estates in that vicinity. 

It also appears that complaints have, from time to time, 
been made of the offensive character of the Works, and 
attempts have been made to procure their removal, when 
the population in the direction of the manufactory was 
much less than now ; but all efforts have failed of success. 
The evils have increased during the last few years, and the 
petitioners now again come forward, and ask for the direct 
action, or the aid and influence of the City Council, towards 
the removal of an establishment which they regard as a nui- 
sance no longer to be endured. 

It is urged that this establishment has continued in its 
present location for a quarter of a century; that it has 
given employment to a large number of people, and that a 
removal will be attended by a great sacrifice of property; 
While the Committee believe that the true policy of the 
City Government is not only to protect, so far as may be, 
the rights of every citizen, but to encourage and cherish 
manufactures and the mechanic arts, the true sources of 
prosperity in a business community ; yet they conceive it 
to be a clearly established principle, that when^ under any 
circumstances, the character of a manufacture becomes a 
decided nuisance, the interests of the few should give place 
to the health and comfort of the many, and that the tide of 
prosperity should not be checked by the evil, but should 
bear it away. It is also evident that the fact of having 


been so long located in that particular spot, does not give 
the Company a right to remain there forever. The growth 
and prosperity of Roxbury have greatly increased since the 
Chemical Works were established, notwithstanding their 
objectionable character ; and these manufactures, which, in 
the earliest state of the enterprise, gave offence to compar- 
atively few individuals, have since become offensive to a 
large population. The location was selected by the Com- 
pany, doubtless, with regard to future results ; and with a 
full knowledge that the works were exposed to the risk 
of being removed, whenever the good of the public and 
the comfort of a large and thriving community required 
such removal. 

It has been urged that the tall chimney, constructed 
years ago, carries off nearly all the gases, and renders the 
works comparatively innoxious and inoffensive. The evi- 
dence, however, is conclusive that the chimney does not 
remedy the evil complained of for many years, and which 
it was hoped and expected would thus be removed. The 
gases and fumes from the various acids manufactured by 
the Company, must necessarily escape in large quantities 
through apertures in the slightly constructed buildings, and 
through ventilators and wooden chimneys — and those por- 
tions of these gases, which are carried off by the chimney, 
are wafted by the wind to a greater distance than before, 
and do not readily lose their noxious character on being 
mingled with the atmospheric air. 

By an act passed in 1855, the Board of Health of any 
city or town, may forbid the exercise of any trade or em- 
ployment, within its limits, which is a nuisance, or hurtful . 
to the inhabitants or their estates, dangerous to the public 
health, or the exercise of which is attended by noisome and 
injurious odors — provided the said act shall be adopted by 
such city or town. But in a case like the present, where 
a large capital is invested, and an important amount of 
property is at stake, and the works have been in operation 

CITY DOCUMENT. — No. 8. 7 

for a long period of time — and where, for obvious reasons, 
the testimony of numerous witnesses on oath can hardly be 
taken, and a thorough legal and scientific investigation had 
of all the facts connected with the manufactures carried on 
by the Company, and the precise effects produced by the 
gases arising therefrom, the Committee cannot recommend 
a resort to such summary measures as are authorised by 
the statute. ' 

But the Committee, believing, from the evidence which 
has been produced, that the existence of these works is a 
constant source of inconvenience and discomfort to many 
of the citizens of Roxbury, and the passers-by — 'that it is 
a nuisance, hurtful to the inhabitants — detrimental to the 
public health — is attended by noisome and offensive odors 
and exhalations — is injurious to the estates in the vicinity 
— and in certain cases a blight upon vegetation — a draw- 
back on the enjoyment of property — and as such, an ob- 
stacle to the prosperity of a large and otherwise valuable 
portion of the city, — are of opinion that measures should 
be taken to lay the subject before the proper legal tribu- 
nals, with a view to the abatement of said nuisance, and its 
entire and immediate removal, — and therefore recommend 
the adoption of an Order, which accompanies this Eeport. 

JOHN S. SLEEPER, Chairman. 

Citg of ^oniuxt* 

In Board op Aldermen, April 28, 1856. 

Ordered, That the Mayor be, and he hereby is instructed, to take 
such measures as in his opinion may be necessary or proper, to bring 
the subject matter of the nuisance, created and caused by the " Roxbury 
Color and Chemical Company," to the attention of the prosecuting 
officer of this District, with reference to procuring an indictment 

Sent down for concurrence. 

JOSEPH W. TUCKER, City Clerk. 




Qiiitm of fjje Jfire Jeprtmeni, 

JUNE 11, 1856. 



Engineer's Office, ) 
Roxbury, June 21, 1856. ? 


At a meeting of the Board of Engineers, last evening, it 
was voted, that a copy of your remarks to the Firemen, at 
City Hall, be requested for printing and distribution among 
the Department. 

I am, Very Respectfully, 

Your obedient servant, 


Secretary of the Board of Engineers. 

To Hon. J. S. Sleeper, 

Mayor, Roxbury. 

On Thursday, June Hth, a meeting Was held at the Ciif 
Hall — by invitation of the Mayor ; — of the Engineers of the 
Fire Department, and the Foremen of the several Companies. 
The Joint Committee on the Fire Department, and the Joint 
Committee on Public Property, were also present. The 
Mayor, after briefly stating to the officers of the Fire Depart-' 
ment his object in calling the meeting, proceeded to read 
some portions of the Ordinance of the City regulating the 
Fire Department, and then delivered the following 

Gentlemen : — I have thought proper to call 
y-otif attention to those portions of the Ordinance 
of the City, which prescribes rules for the order 
and discipline of the Fire Department, and which, 
being manifestly proper in themselves, and having 
been deliberately adopted with a view to the 
Welfare of the City, the citizens of Roxbury hate 
a right to expect will be strictly observed. 

It is hardly necessary, in the brief remarks 
Which I propose to make, to allude to the impor- 
tance of efficiency in the Fire Department of a 
City so densely populated as Eoxbury, and where 
Wooden buildings abound to a great extent. In 
order to preserve the efficiency of the Depart- 
ment, it is indispensable that the organization 


should be complete, and that harmony, regularity, 
and good order should prevail in every branch. 
To effect this, the officers of the Department — 
those elected by the City Council, and those elect- 
ed by the members of the different Companies — 
are expected to use their influence at all times, 
and their authority whenever it may become 
necessary, to preserve discipline, and strict obe- 
dience to the laws enacted by the City Govern- 
ment, for the proper regulation of the Fire De- 

Gentlemen : The responsibility of the respec- 
tive offices you hold, is great. You are vested 
with power, which must at times be exercised 
without restraint from any other Department of 
the Government. An important trust is reposed 
in you, and to your judgment, fidelity and energy 
in the discharge of your various tasks, the citi- 
zens of Roxbury have confided their property, 
and I had almost said, the lives of themselves and 
their families. 

The members of the Fire Department are sup- 
posed and believed to be men, able from moral 
and physical qualifications, and willing, perhaps 
from a chivalric spirit as well as a sense of duty, 
to meet the risks and undergo the fatigues ordi- 
narily attendant on their important services. A 

certain sum is paid by the City Government to 
each individual, which is not intended as a com- 
pensation for their labors, but as an encourage- 
ment to their exertions, and an additional induce- 
ment to men of the right stamp and character 
to attach themselves to the several Companies. 
This pecuniary reward it is expected will be re- 
ceived by the individual members of each Compa- 
ny, and expended for their own particular use ; 
and it is hoped that no person will be received 
into any Company, who is not willing to perform, 
in person, all the duties requited of a fireman; 
who is irregular in his habits, or expects indul- 
gences which are not in strict accordance with 
the rules of good order and the laws of the City. 
Substantial men — men who can be identified and 
relied on in times of trial— are the men who are 
wanted, and should be encouraged to join the De- 
partment. The duties of a Fireman are of a kind 
that cannot well be executed by proxy. 

While it is desirable that the members of the 
Fire Department should be granted all the indul- 
gences which are reasonable, and may contribute 
to their gratification ; and while it may be unwise to 
check a wholesome spirit of emulation among the 
different Companies, or that feeling of self-respect 
and pride, which often stimulates to increased ex- 

ertion or nobler action, I would caution you, Gen- 
tlemen, against encouraging that spirit of rivalry 
between certain Companies, which is manifested 
by such trials of skill and contests for superiority^ 
as in other cities and towns has often led to 
insubordination. Such manifestations of rivalry 
are obviously improper in themselves ; cannot 
possibly serve any good purpose ; must injure 
the property of the City, and create an unhealthy 
excitement among the Firemen. In other places, 
they have bred animosity and ill-will between 
members of rival Companies, and caused serious 
disturbances of the peace. 

You are well aware, Gentlemen, that property 
belonging to the City, of an amount by no means 
inconsiderable, is placed in your hands. Over 
this property you have the chief control ; and it is 
expected that you will look after it with care 5 
allow it to be used, or exposed to injury, only 
when the occasion demands it ; and exercise 
prudence and economy in its management. What- 
ever may be necessary for the actual improve- 
ment, or for increasing the efficiency of the Fire 
Department, should be liberally and judiciously 
expended, while mere ornament, show, or extrav- 
agance, without corresponding utility, should be 
entirely discountenanced. 

And I may here remark, that the various En- 
gine Houses are intended for the reception and 
deposit of the Engines, and the Apparatus attach- 
ed to them, and also as suitable places for the 
transaction of business, or meetings for the regu- 
lation of the affairs of the respective Companies. 
It was never intended or expected that they 
should be used as lounging places for idlers, for 
convivial meetings, for frolics or carousals, either 
on a week day or on the Sabbath. Any tendency 
in that direction must inevitably tend to impair 
the discipline and demoralize the Department, and 
should be promptly rebuked and prohibited. Any 
members who claim or expect indulgences of that 
kind, should be dismissed forthwith. They are 
not the kind of men, who it is desirable should 
belong to any well-regulated Fire Department. 

In making these remarks, I wish it to be under^ 
stood that I do not mean to cast any reflections 
on the Fire Department of Roxbury, or persons 
now or heretofore connected with it, — for the 
excellence and skill of the Department are well 
known and acknowledged. My wish is that it 
may preserve the character for efficiency which it 
now enjoys, and, if it is capable of improvement, 
let it be improved ; and rendered, if possible, more 
efficient, and more worthy the confidence and re^- 

spect of all good citizens, than it now is or ever 
has been. 

And, Gentlemen, I trust that you will take the 
suggestions which I have just thrown out, and 
which have been dictated by a sense of duty, in 
good part. We are all servants of the people, 
and no apology is due for looking closely after 
the people's interests, or for striving to elevate 
the character of the City. It is expected that 
you, on your part, will cause the Ordinances of 
the City relating to the Fire Department to be 
strictly enforced, and that you will also use your 
authority to make such other regulations and 
rules as may seem to you judicious and proper. 
And you may rest assured that every thing in the 
power of the members of the City Council, either 
officially or as individuals, to aid or sustain you 
in the exercise of your duties, or make your ar- 
duous and responsible tasks more agreeable to 
yourselves or acceptable to the citizens, will be 
cheerfully done. 





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Every book must, under penalty of one dol- 
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