Skip to main content

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

See other formats


3 9999 06660 786 



.Kb *635l .2 






Digitized by tine Internet Arciiive 

in 2010 witii funding from 

Boston Public Library 

City Document^^jVo. 1. 

ADDRESS •*'63S^/-'^ 

OF TUE I '-^ 





JANUARY 5,/l857;. 


R O X B U R Y : 


j^ X 




In Board of Aldermen, Jan. 5, IS57. 
Ordered, That two thousand copies of the Address of His Honor the Mayor 
be printed for the use of the City Council, and for distribution to the citizens. 

Sent down for concurrence. JOSEPH W. TUCKER, City Clerk. 

In Common Council Jan. 5, 1S57. 
Concurred. JOSHUA SEAVER, Clerk. 



Gentlemen of the City Council : 

Another year is added to the records of time. The 
city autliorities, so lately assembled in these halls, to 
consult together on the subject of the public good, have 
passed away. A new government has been formed, and 
you, gentlemen, selected by our fellow citizens, to watch 
over the interests of all, comprising the City Council 
for 1857, having taken the oaths of office, have entered 
upon your serious and responsible trusts. 

Allow me gentlemen, to congratulate you on the 
blessings, which by the kind mercies of a Divine Power, 
have been extended to our city, during the past 
year. Order has been preserved in our midst ; the laws 
have been respected ; crime has hardly kept pace with 
our growing population ; our city is rapidly increasing 
in wealth ; and the solid advantages which are offered 
good citizens to take up their residence among us, are 
not surpassed, if they are equalled in any of the neigh- 
boring cities or towns, and are multiplying every year. 

A political whirlwind has recently passed over our 
whole country. Parties have been arrayed against 
each other, with a depth of feeling and firmness of 
purpose, which hardly has a parallel in our history. 
The elements which have so recently been warring, 
are hardly hushed, even now, and it is not surprising 
that some tinge of party feeling should have mingled 


with the late municipal election. You represent, gen- 
tlemen, the various political parties, as well as the 
local interests of the city. Nevertheless, it is but rea- 
sonable to expect that party spirit will not be mani- 
fested in our deliberations, or allowed to enter these 
halls. A question can hardly arise, which should be, 
or can be, decided on party grounds. Our pathway is 
plain before us, not devious or winding, but straight 
and simple as an old fashioned turnpike ; and if in the 
performance of our duties we meet with obstructions, 
we must still go onward, climbing hills and crossing 
rivers, turning aside neither to the right nor the left, 
with one object in view, to overcome all obstacles to 
the prosperity of Roxbury and the true interest of its 


One of the first enquiries of an intelligent stranger, 
on removing to a new place of residence, is, " what is 
the condition of the public schools 1 " If he has a 
family, he is deeply interested in the reply ; for, in this 
age there are few persons, whatever may be their con- 
dition in life, who are not desirous of conferring the 
blessings of a good education on their children. 

The authorities of Roxbury have nothing to re- 
proach themselves with in this respect. The average 
amount expended annually for several years past, on 
the various descriptions of schools in this city, has ex- 
ceeded one fourth part of the Avhole public expendi- 
tures. The amount appropriated for schools for the 
present financial year, ending May 1, 1857, including 
^5,000 for a new school house, was ^39,700, all of 

1857.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 1. 5 

which will undoubtedly be expended, while the whole 
amount of the annual appropriations for city uses, was 
125,360 dollars. 

The money appropriated to the instruction of chil- 
dren is expended under the direction of the Board of 
School Committee, elected by the people, and chosen 
for this responsible trust in consequence of the inter- 
est they feel in the cause of education, and their fit- 
ness for the office ; and thus we have a sufficient guar- 
anty that this money is judiciously expended. In- 
deed, the high character of the schools in this city, 
where children of all ages and both sexes may be 
taught the diiferent branches of education, from the 
elementary principles to the various higher studies in 
English letters, is an illustration of the excellence of 
the system which is carried out at such an expense. 

In addition to this, there is a Latin school, where 
those studies are taught which are required as pre- 
paratory to entering any of the colleges of the United 
States, which school, free of all expense, is open to the 
sons of every citizen of Roxbury, who will avail him- 
self of its advantages. 

As the population increases, it is found necessary to 
increase the means of education for children, and hard- 
ly a year passes without the necessity of adding to the 
number of school houses. During the year 1856, a 
handsome substantial brick edifice, for a Primary 
School, was erected on land belonging to the city on 
Winthrop street, and this is found to be hardly suffi- 
cient to accommodate all who apply for admission. 

The school house on Munroe street has been de- 


stroyecl by fire, and the primary school house on Cen- 
tre street, near West Roxbury, with the land on which 
it stands, has been sold. This will, in all probability, 
render an appropriation necessary by the present city 
government, for supplying the deficiences thus cre- 
ated in the accommodations, and for providing for at 
least the average increase of scholars during the year. 

On an examination of the census returns for several 
years past, it is found that the number of children in 
Roxbury, between the ages of five and fifteen in 1852, 
was 3145, while in 1856 the number of children be- 
tween those ages, was 3964, showing an increase of 
819 in four years, or an average rate of 200 in a single 
year. It would also seem that there is a growing dis- 
position on the part of foreigners to allow their chil- 
dren to attend the public schools of their adopted 

Money judiciously expended for the education of 
the young, for furnishing practical instruction to the 
children of all classes, is well expended. It tends to 
make useful citizens, good men and good women. — 
This is one of the debts which we have inherited from 
our fathers, and which, with usurious interest, we OAve 
to posterity; and it should be paid promptly and 


The Legislature of 1851, aware of the importance 

of spreading knowledge among the people, passed an 

act authorising the government of any city or town, to 

establish a library for the use of the citizens by appro- 

1857.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 1. 7 

priating certain sums, corresponding with the number 
of rateable polls, for the establishment, increase and 
maintenance of such an institution. 

Some of the cities and towns in the State have 
availed themselves of this privilege. In New Bedford 
a " Free Public Library" was established in 1852, by 
an appropriation of 1500 dollars at the outset. This 
was a pioneer institution, the first of the kind in this 
country, or it is believed, in any other. An old Social 
Library, which had been supported by subscription, 
was incorporated with it, and indeed served as its 
foundation, and added to its value. 

The sums expended for this Library since its com- 
mencement, have not exceeded, I believe, two thous- 
and dollars a year. It now numbers some ten thous- 
and volumes, which, under proper regulations, are ac- 
cessible to all classes of citizens, and which are read, 
consulted, and studied to an extent that can hardly 
be conceived. 

The Trustees of this Library consist of three per- 
sons, chosen by the City Council in Convention annu- 
ally, together with the Mayor, President of the Com- 
mon Council, and Chairman of the Committee on Pub- 
lic Instruction. The testimony of this Board of Trus- 
tees, every year has been of the strongest and most 
decided character in favor of the public benefits de- 
rived from the Institution. The following is the lan- 
guage used in 1854, and endorsed by the Trustees of 
the succeeding year: 

" Its reputable and profitable support demands but 
a small pecuniary outlay, and it is confidently believed 


that from no portion of our annual appropriations of 
an equal amount, will the people derive more satisfac- 
tory and enduring advantages." 

I would suggest for the consideration of the Author- 
ities of Roxbury, whether the time will not soon ar- 
rive, perhaps it has already arrived, when under the 
authority of the Act of the Legislature to which I 
have already alluded, some preliminary steps, at least, 
may not be taken towards the establishment of a 
Free Public Library, by which the citizens of Rox- 
bury will be enabled to secure similar blessings to those 
which are showered so freely upon the neighboring 
City of Boston, upon New Bedford, and some other 
cities and towns in the Commonwealth. 

The Roxbury AthenEeum, as is known to you all, is 
an institution of great value. It contains upwards of 
six thousand volumes, besides pamphlets and periodi- 
cals, almost innumerable. A large number of the 
bound volumes are standard works of a popular char- 
acter, and would furnish an admkable and solid basis 
for a Free Public Library. 

The benefits of this excellent institution are neces- 
sarily circumscribed, it being supported principally 
by subscriptions and assessments. It now languishes 
for want of funds. Under these circumstances, it is 
hardly unreasonable to suppose that some, satisfacto- 
ry arrangement might be made with the proprietors of 
the Roxbury Atheneeum, by which the city, on certain 
conditions^ might be put in possession of this valuable 
collection of books, to be used as a nucleus around 
which to build up a large Free Public Library, that 

1857.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 1. 9 

would be an honor and an ornament to the city, giving 
inestimable advantages to the citizens, and at the same 
time secure to the present proprietors of the Athenae- 
um, much greater advantages than they now enjoy. 


In this age when litigation seems to be almost a 
characteristic trait among the people of New Eng- 
land, and while our city is progressing in wealth and 
population, it can hardly be expected that suits 
brought against the government for various objects, 
or preferred against individuals or corporations by 
the city authorities, can diminish in number or im- 

Several cases in which Roxbury is a party, are now 
before our courts of law. Some of these cases are of 
considerable moment — some have originated in events 
which have recently taken place, while others have 
their origin in claims of long standing and doubtful 
foundation, which after being allowed to sleep for 
years, are now brought ^forward, and must be de- 

It will thus be seen that while the expenses of the 
city are in this way increased, the duties of the City 
Solicitor are many, and of a laborious description. 
As legal adviser of the government, he is not only 
often called upon to give opinions on important ques- 
tions, draw up all legal documents relating to trans- 
actions in real estate or other matters, but to institute 
suits, defend those brought against the city, and 


investigate facts and act as counsel in every case in 
which the city may be a party. 

The legal suits in which Roxbury has the most 
valuable interest at stake, are the claims urged by 
the Commonwealth and the "Water Power Company 
to a tract of land in the Back Bay, amounting to 
seventy-two acres, and over which the right of Rox- 
bury to exercise municipal jurisdiction has never been 
disputed. Measures, I am happy to say, are in train 
for a final decision of this question, which has been 
for years before the legal tribunals in some shape. 
Able counsel have been employed in conjunction 
with the City Solicitor, to defend the interests of Rox- 
bury, and it is expected that action will be taken in 
our courts in February next, which will lead to an 
immediate and final settlement, and terminate an ex- 
pensive and protracted series of legal proceedings. 

It is believed by those who have investigated the 
rights of Roxbury and West Roxbury, that the claim 
by any other parties to this piece of land, the value 
of which, even at the low estimate of ten cents a 
square foot, must be at least three hundred thousand 
dollars, is altogether unfounded; and will not be, 
and cannot be, established in a court of justice. 

During the past year, propositions were made by a 
committee appointed by the last legislature, to drain 
that portion of the lands in Roxbury, lying between 
the Providence Railroad and Washington street, by 
causing the right of flowage over those lands to be 
abandoned, and constructing a large sewer, com- 
mencing near the tide mills, occupied by Mr. Parker, 

1857.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 1. 11 

running parallel to Tremont street a certain distance ; 
thence off in the direction of the Mill Dam into 
Charles E^iver. But the Joint Special Committee to 
whom this subject was referred on the part of this 
government, was unwilling to abandon the right of 
drainage now claimed by the city, for uncertain ad- 
vantages mdefinitely stated, coupled with a condition 
that Eoxbury should also build and keep in repair a^ 
portion of a large sewer through lands, over which 
it has no municipal jurisdiction. 

There is reason to believe that the " right of flow- 
age," which was originally granted to a corporation 
for especial purposes, is now of little value to that 
company, and there can be no doubt that the right 
of flowage from the full basin over the low lands 
and marshes in Roxbury, near the boundary line, and 
between the Providence Railroad and Washington 
street, can be, comparatively, of no advantage what- 
ever to the Mill Dam Corporation; while on the 
other hand, a large tract of territory, nearly all level 
with high water mark, being constantly drenched 
with sea water, is rendered useless, which might be 
easily drained through the empty basin, its natural 
channel, and from its proximity to Boston, become 
exceedingly valuable for manufacturing and other 
purposes. It may be worthy of your consideration 
whether an application for legislative interference to 
remove this unfortunate barrier to the improvement 
of this section of the city may not be advisable. 




It is a gratifying fact that during the year which 
has just passed away, the' health of the inhabitants 
has been remarkably preserved. No epidemic scourge 
has passed through our territory, carrying desolation 
into families, and spreading alarm and terror. It is 
one of the duties of a municipal government to look 
after the health of the citizens, and in a populous 
and rapidly growing city, constant attention is neces- 
sary to prevent the growth or establishment of nui- 
sances, and to remove, so far as it can be done, any 
causes of impurities in the atmosphere, which may 
tend to engender disease, or even affect injuriously 
the comfort and convenience of the people. 

The City Government last year found it necessary 
to provide means for carrying off the stagnant surface 
water, and draining the cellars, sinks, &c., in Cabot 
street, with a view to the preservation of health. Eor 
this object a timber drain or sewer, a thousand feet 
in length, with cesspools at regular distances, was 
constructed, partly at the expense of abuttors, and 
seems to have effected the important object for which 
it was intended, and has largely added to the advan- 
tages in that portion of the City. 

It cannot be long ere a regular system of drainage 
by means of common sewers, will be imperatively 
required for the health and convenience of the resi- 
dents. As the population increases, and dwelling- 

1857.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 1. 13 

houses multiply, built on small lots of land, cesspools 
and other similar expedients resorted to in lieu of a 
regular system of drainage, must continue to increase 
and saturate the soil, impregnating our wells with 
impurities, destructive to comfort and health. 

While on this subject, I will more particularly 
refer to two parts of the city, disconnected with each 
other, where nuisances, 'par excellence, in the shape 
of stagnant and impure waters, exist, and have ex- 
isted for years, in the midst of a dense population, 
and become more intolerable with each succeeding 
year ; and where in the opinion of medical men, in 
case an epidemic like the cholera or yellow fever 
should visit this section of the country, the cases of 
mortality could not be otherwise than exceedingly 

I allude in the one case, to that well-known por- 
tion of the lands and flats, overflowed at times by 
the waters of Stony Brook, lying between Factory 
street and the culvert constructed by the city ; and in 
the other case, to that portion of our territory, 
adjoining the Boston boundary line near Northamp- 
ton street, which is situated below high water mark, 
and is the receptacle of almost every thing which is 
impure and unwholesome. 

As it is easier to prevent an evil, the approach of 
which is foreseen, than to provide a remedy, I would 
urge upon the members of the City Government, the 
propriety of considering the expediency of adopting 
some judicious and well considered measures, which 
will tend directly or indirectly to the extinction, or 


at least the diminution of these pools of filth — these 
laboratories of disease. 

I cannot dismiss this subject of nuisances Avithout 
alluding to the Roxbury Color and Chemical Works, 
in Ward Four. An investigation by a joint special 
committee of the City Government, during the past 
year, resulted in the declared belief that these works 
should be regarded as a nuisance of a highly offen- 
sive character. The case was laid before the attorney 
for the Commonwealth in this District, and a bill of 
indictment was found by the Grand Jury. The case 
will probably be tried at the next term of the courts, 
and it is hoped and expected that the facts will be so 
laid before the jury, as to enable them to return a 
righteous verdict. We can ask for nothing more. 
The City Solicitor was instructed by the late govern- 
ment to give such aid to the attorney for the Com- 
monwealth, as may be desirable, in preparing the 
case and submitting it to the jury. 


Among the advantages of a good government, 
may be included an efficient Police to enforce the 
City Ordinances and to extend protection to persons 
and property. The system now established and in 
operation, appears to work remarkably well. During 
the past year but few crimes of magnitude have been 
committed, and in almost every such case, the perpe- 
trators have been arrested and brought to justice, 
which has established for our city a reputation, that 
is a terror to evil doers. 

1857.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 1. 15 

This fact is a gratifying one, especially at a time 
when our laws are exceedingly mild, and, owing to 
the frequent exercise of the pardoning power in 
compliance with the exactions of a morbid philan- 
thropy, there seems to be no certainty of punishment 
for crimen the best if not the only mode in the pres- 
ent state of society, to secure protection for our prop- 
erty and our lives. 

This prompt arrest of bold and hardened criminals, 
wath the absence of scenes of strife and violence in 
our streets, and the good order and respect for the 
laws, which so generally prevails, furnish conclusive 
evidence in favor of the activity and vigilance of the 
City Marshal and his assistants, in the performance 
of their arduous and most important duties. It may 
not at this time be expedient to make any change in 
the general features of the police system that will 
add to the expense, excepting to consider the pro- 
priety of increasing .the number of night watchmen, 
to keep pace with the growing extent and population 
of the city. 

The value of the Police Court which has been in 
operation more than a year and a half, has by this 
time been pretty thoroughly tested. It does not add 
to the expenses of the city, and appears to have 
equalled the expectations of those by whom it was 
established. It undoubtedly possesses advantages 
over the old system of administering justice in crimi- 
nal cases, by securing promptness and uniformity of 
action, which must operate also, in some degree, to 
deter rogues from the commission of crime. 


It is shown by the reports of the City Marshal, 
that Intemperance is one of the chief offences com- 
mitted against the laws during the year 1856. Of 
747 cases of arrest, 291 were in consequence of 
drunkenness. It is likely that this was also the 
direct or indirect agent in causing many of the viola- 
tions of law recorded under other names. It is 
unfortunate for the peace and good order of the more 
populous cities and towns in the Commonwealth, that 
there is now no provision on the statute book which 
can be brought practically to bear against this evil — 
and it is devoutly to be wished that the Legislature, 
at the approaching session, will enact some laws in 
relation to this subject, which by their wisdom and 
good sense as well as stringency, will commend them- 
selves to the approbation of all good and intelligent 
men, and which will mitigate, if not entirely abolish 
the evils connected with intemperance. 


The subject of Pauperism is one of deep interest to 
every tax-paying citizen, and indeed to every person 
possessing a kind and humane heart. " The poor ye 
have always with you," is an assurance of Divine 
authority — and in every community, civilized or sav- 
age, provision is made for their support. It must be 
gratifying to know that while with us, the appropri- 
ations for this object are comparatively moderate, our 
Aims-House establishment is in excellent condition. 
Our poor, but few in number, are well provided for, 
have enjoyed generally good health through the year, 

1857.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 1. 17 

and are furnished with all proper requisites for 

The establishment of the State Aims-Houses has 
removed a portion of the care and responsibility from 
the Overseers of the Poor in various cities and towns, 
by providing for the relief and support of State 
Paupers. Nevertheless, many cases occur in our 
city, especially during the winter season, which re- 
quire investigation, and in some cases, immediate 

The duties of an Overseer of the Poor, are by no 
means of a light and easy character. He requires a 
knowledge of human nature, firmness, decision, prac- 
tical good sense, united with a benevolent disposition. 
There is a demand upon his time to investigate sus- 
picious cases, which cannot always be well spared 
from other business. It will also be recollected that 
the important services which he renders in his official 
capacity are altogether gratuitous, and in certain 
Wards of the city, are becoming more onerous and 
difficult with each succeeding year. 

In view of these circumstances, it may well become 
you, gentlemen, to consider if any different system, 
or improvement on the present system, can be adopt- 
ed, which, while it will lesson the duties of the Over- 
seers of the Poor, will secure advantages to the city, 
and prove beneficial to the poor themselves. 

In some other places in this Commonwealth, where 

the population is dense, the Overseers of the Poor 

exercise only supervisory duties. A secretary or 

agent is appointed, whose province it is to attend to 



all applications for relief, investigate all such, cases of 
pauperism as the interest of the city may require, and 
keep a full record of every transaction, with such 
circumstances as may be valuable to refer to here- 

The advantages of such a system, must be obvious. 
There is less liability to imposition where all the 
business is attended to by one individual — the relief 
is more uniform and discriminating — cases of disputed 
residence or identity are more carefully and easily 
investigated, and notwithstanding the expense of a 
moderate compensation to the agent, the system is 
pronounced decidedly more economical than that 
which is generally adopted. The plan I have de- 
scribed, has been in operation in Charlestown for 
several years, and I am assured that it meets the 
decided approbation of the city authorities. 


In a city like this, where the dwelling-houses are 
almost entirely of wood, and clustered together in a 
manner to cause the most alarming apprehensions in 
the event of a fire during a high wind, or extremely 
cold weather, the value of a well organized and effi- 
cient Fire Department cannot be over-estimated. 

It is hardly necessary to state that the Fire Depart- 
ment of Roxbury, which for years has borne a high 
character for activity and efficiency, was probably 
never in a better condition than now. The policy of 
the government has been to furnish the Department 
with good materials and means for extinguishing fires. 

1857.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 1. 19 

and by proper indulgencies, encourage the enrolment 
of active and responsible men, who may be relied on 
in times of difficulty and danger, as members of the 

In carrying this policy into practical operation, the 
Chief Engineer and his assistants have ably seconded 
the efforts of the City Council. The regulations have 
been of a character calculated to elevate the condition 
of the Department, and add to its respectability as 
well as its efficiency. 

According to the report of the Chief Engineer, the 
whole amount of property destroyed by fire during 
the year 1856, was 35,680 dollars— 12,000 dollars of 
which was caused by the destruction of the ropewalk 
near Plymouth street. The amount of insurance on 
property destroyed, was 17,340 dollars. 

The scarcity of water in certain locations has ever 
been an evil, which it has been the endeavor of the 
government for a series of years to overcome, and 
which has been partly accomplished by the appropri- 
ation of a sum annually for the construction of reser- 
voirs in carefully selected locations. The Cochituate 
"Water Board, last spring, very kindly granted an 
application of the government for the insertion of a 
hydrant into the main pipe near Texas Avenue on 
Tremont street, to be used only in cases of fire, and 
which in a neighborhood where so many large wooden 
buildings are crowded together, might under certain 
circumstances be of essential service. It is expected 
that early in the spring, arrangements will be made, 
by which other portions of the same street will be 


supplied from the same source with the means of ex- 
tinguishing- fires. 

It is gratifying to learn that one or more enter- 
prising citizens of Roxbury have become the propri- 
etors of the Jamaica Pond Aqueduct, with a view to 
distribute its contents, wherever it may be wanted. 
This will not only be the means of furnishing pure 
soft water to the inhabitants of a very considerable 
portion of the city, but will also, it is expected, when 
proper arrangements can be effected, furnish material 
aid in cases of fire. 

It is greatly to be wished that a disposition would 
be manifested among owners of real estate to encour- 
age the construction of stores and dwelling houses of 
brick or stone. 

It may not be expedient at this time to establish 
restrictions in regard to the construction of dwelling 
houses ; but if the force of public opinion could be 
brought to bear upon the subject, it might prove of 
great advantage. In the meantime the propriety of 
substituting some more incombustible material than 
wood for dwellmg houses, must soon become manifest 
to builders, from the increasing rates of insurance, 
which will of course be exacted to correspond with 
the increasing risk. 

Before concluding my remarks on this subject, I 
would recommend for the consideration of the City 
Council, the adoption of proper measures for pre- 
venting parts of dwelling houses from being perverted 
from their original uses, and occupied as store cellars 
or chambers for the reception of hay, shavings or 

1857.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 1. 21 

other combustible materials, thus endangering life 
and property. 

WAYS, &c. 

Among the most important public expenditures in 
a city like Roxbury, is that for repairing, widening 
and unproving the streets and sidewalks. There is 
no improvement which attracts more attention, or the 
advantages of which are more readily acknowledged, 
than those which accrue from a liberal but judicious 
expenditure for such objects. 

Those persons who can recollect the state of the 
public highways, crossings and sidewalks in Roxbury 
ten years ago, must be aware of the almost magical 
changes which have been made since that period. 
Many new streets have been laid out and accepted by 
the city ; others have been widened, and all have 
been improved. 

Notwithstanding the large sums expended for these 
objects in years previous, it was found necessary 
during the present financial year to apply a liberal 
amount to the repairs and improvement of the streets. 
The calls :fi:om various sections of the city were 
pressing and numerous, and a large amount of work 
has been accomplished in a manner the most solid 
and enduring ; and which, while it gives invaluable 
advantages to the city, reflects credit on the judgment 
and fidelity of the Commissioner of Streets. 

During the past season a considerable degree of 
attention has been given to the improvement of side- 


walks, the repairs of drains, the opening of culverts, 
and laying of crossing stones. During that period, 
four new culverts crossing the streets have been con- 
structed ; twenty culverts have been thoroughly 
cleared out and repaired ; seventeen block crossings 
have been laid for the accommodation of pedestrians ; 
3,451 square yards of gutter have been paved, and 
11,607 feet of curb-stones laid. These curb-stones in 
every case, with a single exception of seventy-five 
feet, have been voluntarily applied for, or laid with 
the understood approbation or consent of the abut- 
ters. At this time there are applications on file for 
edgestones to be laid in important parts of the city, 
amounting to some thousand feet, which owing to the 
want of funds, and the lateness of the season, could 
not be granted. 

In consequence of the inundating rains during the 
summer, on more than one occasion, the sidewalks, 
culverts, gutters and highways, have sufiered much 
damage, which could be repaired only at an expense 
of nearly two thousand dollars. 

Although all the reasonable calls for repairs or 
improvements in our streets may not have been re- 
sponded to, and a portion of the work which it was 
calculated to finish, has been deferred to another 
season, yet the expenses during the year for repairing 
highways and sidewalks and widening streets, will 
perhaps exceed by four or five thousand dollars, the 
whole amount appropriated for these objects, 16,000 

It has seldom occurred, when even extraordinary 

1857.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 1. 23 

care and economy have been observed, that the ex- 
penditures for repairs of highways, widening streets, 
&c., have not exceeded the original appropriations in 
a greater or less degree. In the season of 1855, the 
amount appropriated for these purposes, was 16,000 
dollars, while the actual cost to the city of repairs to 
highways, sidewalks, &c., was 29,284 dollars, and 
the cost of widening streets, &c., was 30,000 dollars, 
making a total of 59,000 dollars for those objects. 
This excess over the appropriation, was caused by 
the vddening of Washington street and other im- 
provements which were not anticipated at the com- 
mencement of the financial year, but from which the 
city has undoubtedly reaped great advantages. 

It is difficult to perceive how the appropriations 
for these objects during the next financial year can 
be stinted or reduced ; especially as the demand for 
expensive improvements is more pressing every suc- 
ceeding year, and as it is more than probable that 
additions will be made to our public highways, that* 
will require a considerable and immediate outlay. I 
allude more particularly to the Norfolk and Bristol 

An act was adopted by the last Legislature, abol- 
ishing the tolls, and releasing the Corporation from 
all further obligation to keep that avenue in repair. 
Subsequently a petition from citizens of Roxbury and 
West Eoxbury was laid before the County Commis- 
sioners, asking that a county road or highway should 
be laid out, extending from Shawmut Avenue in 
Boston through the northerly part of Roxbury to the 


Turnpike, and along the Norfolk and Bristol Turn- 
pike to West Roxbury and Dedham, The Commis- 
sioners attended to the subject of the petition, care- 
fully examined the localities, and the proposed routes 
between the terminus of the Turnpike at the corner 
of Bartlett street and Shawmut Avenue. The City 
Government favored the petition, on the ground that 
such an avenue as was asked for, would be a great 
advantage to Roxbury, and not to Roxbury alone, 
but to various other towns in Noi-folk County, and to 
the public generally ; and that it was therefore just 
and proper that the County should bear the usual 
share of the expense. 

It is now understood that the Commissioners have 
declined to act immediately upon the petition, so far 
as to lay out a highway between the Turnpike and 
Shawmut Avenue, but have determined to lay out 
the Turnpike as a public highway, and will in the 
course of a few weeks proceed to fix the boundaries. 
• This road is known to be in a very bad, almost 
unsafe condition, and has for a long time required 
extensive repairs without receiving any ; and when 
properly laid out as a public highway, the labor and 
expense of putting it in repair, of making it of suffi- 
cient width, and keeping it in good condition, will be 
imposed upon the city. 

Nor is this all. That portion of Brush Hill Turn- 
pike, which is in the City of Roxbury, but which has 
been abandoned by the Corporation, and kept in 
repair by the abutters, has recently been laid out by 
the County Commissioners as a public highway, and 

1857.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 1. 25 

of a reasonable width, notwithstanding the wholesale 
encroachments of abutters, and will also come under 
the fostering care of this government. 

The streets of a city like Roxbury, can be more 
easily straightened and widened at a time like this, 
when it is comparatively in its infancy, than at a 
future period, when every lot of land may be occu- 
pied with buildings. And when opportunities are 
given for carrying into eiFect any such improvements 
at a reasonable expense, it would not be wise to neg- 
lect them. 

Increased facilities for communication between 
diiferent sections of the city will also greatly promote 
the convenience of the inhabitants and the general 
prosperity ; and any proper measures which may 
contribute to this end, should be encouraged and 

In this connection, I would direct the attention of 
the members of the City Council to a scheme for an 
improvement in a central part of the city, which has 
been discussed for years, and which appears to be 
greatly needed. I refer to the grading and repairing 
of Water street, and the extension of that street from 
the corner of Williams street to Washington street. 

That a public avenue — a convenient and commo- 
dious highway — ^leading from Washington to Tremont 
street, and which will also connect with Ruggles, 
Orange and Cabot streets, would be a benefit to the 
inhabitants generally, and would decidedly promote 
the public good, I believe will not be questioned. 
This work must in the ordinary course of events, be 


accomplished in a few years ; and it probably can 
never be effected at a more reasonable expense than 
now, and I would recommend it to the early and 
serious consideration of the City Government. 

Not only will additional means of communication 
between different parts of our own city prove bene- 
ficial to our citizens, but also increased facilities for 
communicating with the neighboring City of Boston, 
whose march is onward with a firm and unwavering 
step, and with whose interests and prosperity those 
of Roxbury are almost inseparably connected. And 
therefore it is to be regretted that any sufficient 
causes should have prevented the County Commis- 
sioners from constructing a broad highway from the 
corner of Bartlett and Dudley streets to Shawmut 
Avenue in Boston. This improvement, as I have 
already suggested, is required for the accommodation 
of other places in Norfolk County than Roxbury; 
and it is to be hoped that the subject will again 
attract the attention of the Commissioners, and that 
they will see the importance and propriety of laying 
out this route as a public highway. 

For the foregoing reason, the contemplated contin- 
uation of Albany street by the City of Boston along 
the " made land," parallel with the sea wall in the 
South Bay, with a view to form a junction with Davis 
and East streets in this city, should be regarded with 
a favorable eye, as fraught with advantages to Rox- 
bury ; and any proposition from the government of 
Boston, relating to the subject, will undoubtedly be 
met in a liberal spirit. 

1857.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 1. 27 

Other improvements of a similar character could 
be suggested, provided the condition of the Treasury 
would warrant the expenditures. Among them 
might be included the opening of an avenue from 
Dudley street to connect directly with Plymouth 
street, and thus open to the travel of Roxbury and 
the neighboring towns, a broad and direct route from 
Grove Hall in Dorchester to Harrison Avenue in 
Boston, a measure, which once consummated, would 
prove of great public benefit. 

The opening of the Metropolitan Eailroad, during 
the past year, is an event of importance ; indeed it is 
believed by many that it will form an era in the 
prosperity of E,oxbury. And while some still lo^e to 
dwell on the blessings and comforts of omnibuses, 
and while we all cherish a feeling of gratitude to the 
public spirited individual who introduced and estab- 
lished, and for many years continued that system of 
communication with our sister city, from which Rox- 
bury has reaped many advantages, yet there undoubt- 
edly is abundant reason for congratulation that the 
railroad has been carried into successful operation. 


The Forest Hills Cemetery, for the establishment 
of which we are indebted to the labors of a public 
officer, whose memory is dear to every citizen, has 
proved an honor and an advantage to the city. Under 
the judicious management of the Commissioners and 
the indefatigable Superintendent of the Grounds, it 
continues to go on and prosper, unfolding new beaU' 


ties every year, and proving tlie wisdom and propriety 
of that system, which by providing attractions of a 
rural and simple character for the last resting places 
of the dead, multiplies the pleasing associations, 
which their memories awaken in the living. 

The number of lots sold the past season has been 
about 100. The whole number of lots now sold, is 
over 1100. The debt has been reduced about 3000 
dollars the past year. The whole debt is now 21,000 
dollars. It cannot be many years before the whole 
debt, originally 36,900 dollars, of this happily con- 
ceived and well managed institution, will be liqui- 
dated, as all moneys received in payment for lots, 
after deducting the actual expenses of the Cemetery, 
are to be devoted to that object. 


Towards the close of the year the subject of taking 
measures for the erection of a statue to the memory of 
General Joseph "Warren, near the spot on which he 
was born ui this city, was brought before the city 
Council, but was referred to the present City Govern- 
ment for further action. Any matters connected with 
the revolutionary struggles, cannot but be deeply in- 
teresting to every true citizen of this Republic ; and 
honors to the memory of those, who risked their 
lives, or nobly died in laying the comer-stone of our 
Independence, can never be ill bestowed. 

The extensive but regular fortification hastily con- 
structed in the early part of the revolutionary war on 

1857.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 1. 29 

the " Highlands of Roxbury," remains even now un- 
changed, excepting by the hand of Time. It still re- 
tains its angles and outlines with wonderful perfection. 
This old fortification, standing on one of the boldest 
heights of land, may be regarded not only as one of 
the most pleasant and interesting localities in the city, 
but as one of the most valuable relics of the revolu- 
tion itself. 

It is to be regretted that no means were adopted, 
when the lands on which it stands, were comparative- 
ly valueless, to secure it to the city or the Common- 

The memorials of the revolution are rapidly dimin- 
ishing. Those men who aided to achieve our Inde- 
pendence, have nearly all passed away. Even the 
old landmarks and heights, where our ancestors made 
a bold stand in behalf of the " rights of man," are 
levelled to the ground, or about to be swept away by 
the reckless hand of public improvement. An oppor- 
tunity now offers, which if neglected, will be lost for- 
ever, of securing to the city of Roxbury or to the Com- 
monwealth of Massachusetts, a spot, hallowed by the 
most sacred associations ; a memorial of the revolu- 
tion, far nobler than the most costly monument, and 
which should be kept by a grateful people uninjured, 
and in a condition to kindle in the hearts of visitors, 
a degree of patriotic zeal and devotion, equal at least 
to the religious fervor of the Mahomedan, who makes 
a pilgrimage to the distant shrine of the Prophet. 



The amount of moneys appropriated to defray the 
expenditures of the City of Roxbury for the financial 
year, ending May 1, 1856, was 98,365 dollars, to which 
if we add the appropriations for the State tax, 9,918 
dollars. County tax, 15,377 dollars, and overlayings 
in casting taxes, 3,547 dollars, we have the amount 
of taxation for that year, 127,216 dollars. 

But as I have intimated in my remarks on the sub- 
ject of repairing and widening streets, this amount 
fell short of the moneys really expended, a portion of 
which it became necessary to provide for during the 
present financial year. The whole amount actually 
expended, or for which the city was under obligations 
to provide, was 218,500 dollars. 

The amount appropriated for the city expenditures. 
State and County tax, &c. for the financial year, end- 
ing May 1, 1857, is gl56,354,60. This increased 
amount of the annual appropriation over former years, 
was rendered necessary by an addition of 10,000 dol- 
lars towards meeting the deficiences in the appropri- 
ations of the previous year ; an increase in the pay 
of the members of the Fire Department ; an increase 
in the accommodations required for our Public 
Schools, and corresponding increase in the means of 
instruction, besides an outlay of 5,000 dollars for 
a new Primary School House ; additional interest 
of 2,736 dollars, corresponding to the increase 
of the city debt, the previous year; increase of the 
State tax, 3,306 dollars ; and to the augmenta- 

1857.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 1. 31 

tion of the general wants of a city with a sound and 
healthy increase of wealth and population. 

In expending the moneys raised by taxation, it has 
been the wish of the City Government to have due re- 
gard to economy as well as to comfort and conven- 
ience. Owing to unlocked for circumstances, to some 
of which I have already alluded, it is expected that 
unless the general policy of the government should be 
changed, the necessary supply for the year, will fall 
short some six or seven thousand dollars of the amount 
originally appropriated ; and provision has been made 
by the last City Government for supplying a portion 
of the deficiency. 

The whole amount of the Public Debt on the 1st of 
May, 1856, was 261,865 dollars, 95 cents: on the 1st 
January 1857, it was 245,865 dollars, 65 cents. 

Some dificulty has occurred in consequence of set- 
ting edgestones in 1855 by the city authorities, with- 
out the request of the abutters, and charging them 
with the cost of the stones, under the sanction of the 
special act passed by the Legislature, March 26, 1855. 
While the City Government of last year felt under ob- 
ligations to pay the value of the curb-stones to those 
who furnished them, many of those persons whose 
lands abutted on the streets and sidewalks thus im- 
proved, demurred, and in some cases have refused to 
reimburse the city for the same. The bills have been 
put into the hands of the City Solicitor for collection, 
and suits have been, or will be immediately com- 
menced. The amount of these bills still unpaid on 
the first of January was 2,167 dollars, 41 cents. 


During the past year some dissatisfaction has been 
expressed in consequence of the rate of taxation, 
consequent on the liberal expenditure of moneys for 
the preservation of our institutions, and for desirable 
improvements in a flourishing city in a progressive 
age. It seems doubted by some whether we receive 
in exchange for our taxes, a full equivalent in per- 
sonal comforts and the increased value of our prop- 
erty. But it may well be questioned whether a 
niggardly policy will meet the wants of the city, or 
promote the interests of the people. 

Our schools must be supported ; our highways 
must be repaired ; our Police must be vigilant ; our 
Fire Department must be well organized ; our poor 
must be maintained. Where then shall we retrench? 
Or shall we shut the gate on all improvements 1 Can 
it be that the advantages which are secured to us by 
these expenditures are not more than enough to 
counterbalance the difference of a dollar or two in a 
thousand in the contribution of an individual towards 
a continuance of these blessings ? 

Government is instituted for the protection of per- 
sons and property, and its expenses must be defrayed 
by taxation in some shape. Money — wealth — is sup- 
posed, how correctly it is not my province to say, to 
bring with it an increase of blessings, and it has ever 
been a general law among civilized nations that a 
citizen should contribute towards the expenses of a 
government, in proportion to his means. There can 
hardly be injustice in this ; and when undoubted 
benefits are guarantied by a good government, it is 

1857.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 1. 33 

indeed strange that any man should do otherwise 
than contribute cheeifully, voluntarily, the small 
amoimt in proportion to his worldly goods, which is 
required of him for a continuance or multiplication 
of such benefits. 

It can hardly be expected that any course of policy 
can be pursued by the present City Government, that 
will lessen the total expenses of the next financial 
year, or diminish the amount to be raised by taxation ; 
but as the wealth of Roxbury is increasing from year 
to year, and as during the past year a new impulse 
has been given to its prosperity from various causes, 
it is confidently hoped that the rate of taxation will 
be dimmished. This expectation, however, is founded 
on the assumption that no improvement of magnitude 
or importance will take place, which will require a 
considerable addition to the ordinary means of defray- 
ing the expenses of government. Otherwise, the 
taxation must be increased, or the cost of such im- 
provement go towards swelling the City Debt. 


A close and discriminating examination of every 
question, and especially those which involve the ex- 
penditure of money, is a duty which should never be 
neglected by the members of the City Government. 
An indiscriminate and lavish expenditure of moneys 
for uncertain objects or doubtful experiments, or for 
purposes not absolutely required for the public good, is 
always to be avoided. 

In deciding on public measures, every member 


should act for himself, as he alone must be held 
responsible for his acts, and cannot long shelter him- 
self behind an unsound and ill-regulated public 
opinion. The voice of the people should not be 
disregarded, and is always entitled to respect. But 
the most popular measures are not always the wisest, 
and it must sometimes be the case that your actions 
will be influenced by reasons highly satisfactory to 
yourselves, but which cannot be generally known, or 
explained in detail to others. Your motives may be 
misunderstood, but if you feel that you have acted 
right, you will never have cause for regret. 

That nation or community is best governed,, which 
appears to have no government, or in other words, 
where the machmery of government is so nicely ad- 
justed and so well kept in operation as to be invisible. 
The excellence of a legislative body is not to be tested 
by the number of its laws, as many believe, but by 
their wisdom ; and that body of lawmakers who sup- 
pose that their main object is to repeal or amend old 
laws and enact new ones, will hardly contribute much 
towards the well being of society. 

The last City Government of Roxbury has not 
much to answer for in this respect. While it is be- 
lieved that every member was aware of the import- 
ance of a strict and faithful performance of his official 
duties, and shrunk from no responsibility, not a 
single old ordinance was amended or repealed, and 
not a new ordinance was enacted. 

1857.] CITY DOCUMENT.— No. 1. 35 


The population of Roxbury is now about 20,000, 
and at the next general census it will probably 
amount to 25,000. The location of this city, sepa- 
rated only by an imaginary line from the " Great 
Metropolis " of New England, possesses many and 
singular advantages. With a liberal but judicious 
expenditure of money for well considered improve- 
ments — a healthy atmosphere — an intelligent and 
orderly population — most desirable sites for manufac- 
turing purposes, or for quiet residences; streets well 
lighted with gas ; an abundance of soft water, and a 
certain and rapid communication with the heart of 
Boston, by means of the Metropolitan Railroad, which 
appears thus far to have been well managed, with a 
view to the accommodation of the travelling public, 
and branches of which will soon be extended through 
our principal streets, our city possesses manifold 
attractions and advantages, of a character so solid and 
enduring, as cannot but urge it rapidly onward in the 
great race for improvement, and ensure for it a glo- 
rious career. 


Gentlemen, I have thus, and at the imminent risk 
of being considered tedious, attempted to give you an 
exposition of the present condition of the affairs of 
the city, and have unhesitatingly thrown out such 
suggestions as are the fruit of my experience in aid- 
ing to administer the government the past year. 


These subjects are of importance and interest to every 
citizen, as well as to every member of the City Gov- 

We have been elevated to the high honor of filling 
the places of worthy and wise men who have gone 
before us, in watching over and promoting the inter- 
ests of the city. We should imitate the wise acts, 
but take warning by the errors of our predecessors, 
and benefit by the lessons, good or bad, they have 
given us. Let us all remember that we act not only 
for the present good and prosperity of our city, but 
also for the good of those who come after us ; and 
that the welfare of the citizens of Roxbury half a 
century hence, may depend upon our actions now. 
They may have cause to censure our proceedings or 
to bless us for our doings. The responsibility which 
rests upon us is great, and should be met in a bold 
and independent spirit — never forgetting that a good 
and righteous conduct on the part of the government 
of a nation, a state or a city, will secure to the people 
the blessings of a Idnd Providence.