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Full text of "Glimpses of early Roxbury"

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GLIMPSES 

OF 

EARLY ROXBURY 




Glass : ___ 

Book_ 



GLIMPSES OF 
EARLY ROXBURT 



COMPILED BY 

THE "MARY WARREN " CHAPTER 

DAUGHTERS OF THE REVOLUTION 

IN THE COMMONWEALTH OF 

MASSACHUSETTS 

MDCCCCV 




PRINTED AT 

THE MERRYMOUNT PRESS 

BOSTON 



g,v 









FOREWORD 

THIS little book is designed to call at- 
tention to some of the historic places in 
Roxbury. 'The compilers acknowledge their ob- 
ligations to Drake's "Town of Roxbury" 
Shurtleff's " Topographical and Historical De- 
scription of Boston" Ellis's "History of Rox- 
bury Town" and other records, as well as to 
many Roxbury citizens who have kindly given 
information on various minor points. 



ROXBURY 

IN the year 1630 one of the small bands 
of English emigrants who came over 
with Winthrop settled "midway between 
Dorchester and Boston" at a place after- 
wards called Rocksbury or Rocksborough 
(now Roxbury). The name was no doubt 
taken from the high ledges of rock which 
ran for some distance through the town. 

William Pynchon was a leader in this 
first settlement. He was "a gentleman of 
learning and religion," but his views were 
considered somewhat heretical by the people 
of Boston. He was also a magistrate. Mr. 
Pynchon left Roxbury for Springfield in 
1636. 

In 1 63 1-2 there came to Roxbury more 
settlers from London and from the little 
town of Nazing twenty miles west of Lon- 
don. Foremost among them was John Eliot, 
and with him William Curtis, William Heath 
and others, all of whom were to become the 
fathers of the town. Isaac Heath, who was 
later ruling elder, came over in 1635. 

Roxbury in its early days was "a place 
of farms and gardens," and there was "good 
ground for corn and meadows for cattle." 

[ 5 ] 



GLIMPSES OF 

The inhabitants prided themselves on the 
raising of fine apples, pears and other small 
fruits. The Williams apple and the "Rox- 
bury Russeting" originated here. There 
were several grist-mills in the town, also a 
fulling-mill, and the tanning and dressing 
of leather was a valuable industry. 

The early settlers were men of substance 
and intelligence. The town possessed great 
natural advantages and was chosen as a 
place of residence by some of the promi- 
nent people of Boston. Nine of the early 
governors resided here. The Revolution- 
ary records of Roxbury and its historic as- 
sociations are also of much interest. 

Old Roxbury extended eight miles from 
east to west, and two miles from, north to 
south. It included West Roxbury, Jamaica 
Plain and a part of Brookline. Stony River 
took its rise in Muddy Pond and flowed 
across the town into Shallow Bay (Back 
Bay). Smelt Brook, which was much prized 
for its pure water, ran at the west of the 
ridge at Tommy's Rock, then across Wash- 
ington Street and Guild Row, and "lost it- 
self in the marshes" to the north of the 
town. Farther to the west Muddy River 
ran from Jamaica Pond in a tortuous course 
[ H 



EARLY ROXBURY 

and emptied into Shallow Bay. The whole 
length of the river may now be seen as a 
part of the beautiful park system of Bos- 
ton (River Way). 

The founding of a church was the first 
and strongest bond of union among the 
early settlers; so we find that in 1632 the 
church in Roxbury, having grown suffi- 
ciently large to separate from that in Dor- 
chester, started for itself, with Mr. Thomas 
Welde as senior pastor, and John Eliot 
as "teacher," or assistant pastor. Eliot 
came into full charge in 1641, having for 
his colleagues first, Samuel Danforth, and 
second, Nathaniel Walter. "The Roxbury 
ministry was noted for its great ability, 
eloquence, learning and piety." 

As the Church was the centre of reli- 
gious and social life, so the meeting house 
was the centre around which the little town 
was built. For mutual protection all houses 
were by law to be within half a mile of 
the meeting house. We find therefore the 
places of early historic interest near "Meet- 
ing House Hill," sometimes Tory Hill, 
and now Eliot Square. Here on the present 
site of the "First Church in Roxbury" 
was built in 1632 the little meeting house 

[ 7 ] 



GLIMPSES OF 

where John Eliot, the Apostle to the In- 
dians, preached for nearly sixty years. It had 
a thatched roof, was unplastered, and had 
neither gallery, pew nor spire. The present 
building is the fifth erected here. The one 
standing during the Revolution was a con- 
stant target for the British cannon and 
was pierced through in many places. Dur- 
ing the siege of Boston it was used as a 
signal station. The vacant land in front of 
the meeting house, then called Roxbury 
Common, was the grand parade ground for 
the troops quartered near by, and was the 
place where the people came together on 
important occasions. Here the forces gath- 
ered on the alarm from Lexington in 1775. 
A number of memorial tablets have been 
placed in the present church.* 

* List of Memorial Tablets in First C lurch in Roxbury. 
John Eliot, Preacher of Church in Roxbury, 1 632-1 690. 
Samuel Danforth, Minister of First Church, 1 650-1 674. 
Nehemiah Walter, Minister of First Church, 1711-1776. 
Thomas Walter, Minister of First Church, 171 8-1 725. Oli- 
ver Peabody, Minister of First Church, 1 750-1 752. Na- 
thaniel Walter, Minister of Second Church, 1711-1776. 
Amos Adams, Minister of First Church, 175 3-1 775. George 
Putnam, Minister of First Church, 1830-1878. 

Thomas Dudley, b. 15805 d. 1653. Joseph Dudley, 
b. 1647; d. 1720. Paul Dudley, b. 16755 d. 1751. William 
Dudley, b. 16865 d. 1743. Charles K. Dillaway, b. 18045 d. 
1889. John Joseph May (b. 181 3; d. 1903) and his wife. 

[8] 



EARLY ROXBURY 

The country around was thinly settled 
and well wooded. In 1740 Paul Dudley 
writes : "A good fat bear was killed near our 
Meeting House Hill." 

On the northerly side of the Square, and 
still standing, is the parsonage built by the 
Reverend Oliver Peabody in 1750, and oc- 
cupied by his successors for about eighty 
years. A bronze tablet placed here by the 
Sons of the Revolution, Commonwealth 
of Massachusetts, June, 1905, reads: 

"This tablet marks the site of the house built by 
" the Rev. Oliver Peabody for the parsonage of 
" the First Church. Occupied by the Rev. Amos 
" Adams, patriot minister of the Church, Chap- 
" lain in the Continental Army, — Scribe of the 
" convention of ministers at Watertown, whose 
" appeal to the people was for war. The head- 
" quarters of Major General Thomas who re- 
" viewed the army in front of the house, and from 
" its dormer windows watched with his spyglass 
" the movements of the British at Charlestown. 
" For more than a century and a half the abode of 
" high ideals in learning, patriotism and right- 
" eousness." 

The house was later known as the Dillaway 
House , having been occupied by Mr. Charles 

John Felt Osgood, b. 18255c!. 1894. David Miller Hodgdon, 
b. 1 8295 d. 1894.. George William Wheelwright and his wife. 

[9] 



GLIMPSES OF 

K. Dillaway, for many years a much loved 
teacher in Roxbury. 

On this side of the Square, in front of the 
parsonage, ran the old Town Street, which 
extended in one direction to Brookline and 
in the other to the Boston line. This is now 
Roxbury Street. 6Y. Luke's Home, near by, 
occupies a house more than one hundred 
years old, and one of the earliest of the brick 
mansions of Roxbury. The Norfolk House, 
on the opposite side of the Square, stands 
on the site of the residence built by Joseph 
Ruggles. It was opened as a public house 
in 1826 by the Norfolk House Company, 
which at this time established also a line of 
coaches running hourly to and from Boston. 

The Taber House, not far from the 
Square (corner of Bartlett and Blanchard 
streets), was built in 1774 by Major John 
S. Spooner, who commanded the Roxbury 
Artillery Company. Afterwards it was owned 
by Captain William Lambert and then came 
into the possession of the Taber family who 
resided there. It is now "The Ladies' Unity 
Club Home for Aged People." The first 
meeting of the Roxbury Charitable Society 
was held in this house in 1794. 

In those early days the usual pleasure 

[ 10] 



EARLY ROXBURY 

drive from Boston was "round the 
Square/' that is, through Roxbury Street, 
round the Meeting House, through the 
lane now Bartlett Street, and back through 
Dudley and Eustis streets. 

South of the Norfolk House,andona hill 
west of Highland Street, stood in Revolu- 
tionary days Roxbury High Fort. It was a 
stronghold of importance, enclosing a space 
twelve rods square, having heavy bastions 
at each corner. A stand-pipe for the water- 
works was erecled here in 1 869, and though 
now disused is a picturesque feature in the 
landscape. A tablet marks the spot where 
the old fort stood. 

On the westerly side of the Square, near 
the corner of Centre Street, stands the Part- 
ing Stone ', ere&ed by Paul Dudley in 1744, 
marked on one side "To Cambridge and 
Watertown," on the other, "To Dedham 
and Rhode Island." Here the troops 
passed on their way to Lexington. 

Starting from the Parting Stone, going 
west from the Meeting House, we come to 
the site of the Grist-Mill^ on Stony River, 
built in 1639 on the site now occupied by 
the station of the New York, New Haven 
& Hartford Railroad. The locality was 

[ » ] 



GLIMPSES OF 

called Pierpont Village, from the name of 
the family who owned the mill for more 
than a century. 

The road to Cambridge and Worcester 
led up the hill from the grist-mill, towards 
Brookline. Brinley Place, on the right, was an 
estate of historic interest. It was modelled 
after one belonging to the family in Eng- 
land, and was beautifully laid out with trees 
and flowers. The house was built by Colo- 
nel Francis Brinley in 1723 and was most 
elegantly furnished. In 1809 the property 
came into the possession of General Henry 
Dearborn* who resided there. The Ursu- 

* General Henry Dearborn began life as a physician; 
was Captain in Stark's regiment ; was at Bunker Hill; 
served in the expedition against Quebec and was made 
prisoner; was exchanged, made Major and later Colonel 
of a New Hampshire regiment; was appointed Major 
General, 1795. He was Secretary of War under Jef- 
ferson and member of Congress for several years ; also 
Minister to Portugal. Late in life he resided at tl?e 
Brinley house, Roxbury. 

General H. A. S. Dearborn, son of the above, lived 
in Roxbury; was Collector of the Port of Boston and 
Representative ; Adjutant-General of the Massachusetts 
Militia; Mayor of Roxbury, 1847-185 1. He was first 
president of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society and 
was the chief promoter of Mount Auburn and Forest 
Hills cemeteries. 

[ "] 



EARLY ROXBURY 

line sisters, whose convent at Mount Bene- 
dict, Somerville, was burned by a mob of 
fanatics in 1834, occupied the Brinley 
house for a time. The Redemptorist Fa- 
thers bought the place in 1869 and founded 
the present Mission Church. 

On what is now Huntington Avenue, 
near the corner of Kempton Street, stood 
for nearly two centuries the old Crafts 
House , bearing the date 1709 on the chim- 
ney. Griffin Crafts was the founder of the 
family in New England, of whom six 
generations have lived in this house. 

Farther on the road towards Brookline 
was the Punch Bowl Tavern^ standing 
where Lyceum Hall now is. The Tavern 
was a well-known stopping-place for the 
travellers along the road. On its sign was 
painted a huge punch-bowl overhung by 
a lemon tree, and the locality was called 
Punch Bowl Village. This, including 
Parker Hill and Heath Street, was known 
as Roxbury Precincl. The old tavern with 
its adjacent buildings was taken down in 

1833- 

Starting again from the Parting Stone, 
we go through Centre Street, in early days 
called the "The Road to Dedham and 

[ 13 ] 



GLIMPSES OF 

Rhode Island." The Wyman farm was on 
the left, containing sixty acres, and on the 
right, the Perkins and Curtis estates which 
bordered on Jamaica Pond. The old Curtis 
Homestead, built in 1639, was on what is 
now Lamartine Street. Joseph Curtis was 
a stanch patriot at the time of the 
Revolution. 

A number of loyalists had fine country 
seats in Jamaica Plain. Their estates were 
confiscated at the opening of the War and 
the Provincial troops were quartered there. 
Among these loyalists may be mentioned 
Sir William Pepperell (the younger), Gov- 
ernor Bernard and Commodore Loring. 
The Loring House was near the corner of 
Centre and South streets. The Benjamin 
Hallowell House, built in 1 73 8, is still stand- 
ing and in good preservation, on the corner 
of Centre and Boylston streets. "It was 
used during the siege of Boston, by the pa- 
triot forces as a hospital for the camp at 
Roxbury." 

The old Peacock Tavern on Centre Street, 
corner of what is now Allandale Street, was 
a well-known inn during Revolutionary 
times. It was kept by Lemuel Child, "who 
led the Minute Company of the Third 
[ H] 



EARLY ROXBURY 

Parish in the Lexington Battle." Later 
Samuel Adams, while he was governor, 
resided here. 

The residence of John Parker, a wealthy 
and enterprising citizen, was on the summit 
of Parker Hill, or Great Hill, as it was first 
called. Parker Street, which passes the foot 
of the hill, was called "The Way to the 
Landing Place and the Tide Mill." This 
mill was where Stony River emptied into 
the Back Bay. The landing-place was town 
property, and considerable business was 
carried on there. 

In 1 82 1 the Roxbury Mill Corporation 
built the Mill-dam to confine the waters of 
the Charles River Basin, hoping to use the 
mill power commercially. The power was a 
failure, but the road over the Mill-dam, 
which connected the foot of Boston Com- 
mon with Sewall's Point in Brookline, was 
the second opened from Boston. 

The Heath Farm* of fifty-four acres, lay 

* Major General William Heath commanded the Boston 
Artillery in 1770. He lived in Roxbury and was often 
moderator at town meetings. He zvas Representative to the 
Provincial Congress in 1774 > t0 °k temporary command on 
the igth of April; was made Major General in 1775 and 
served under Washington till the close of the Revolution; 
returned to Roxbury and was chosen delegate to the Con- 

[ '5 ] 



GLIMPSES OF 

to the south of Parker Hill. It remained in 
the possession of the family for several gen- 
erations. Captain Joseph Heath and Major 
General William Heath are known to have 
had residences here. The Gore Homestead was 
at the foot of Parker Hill near the railroad 
crossing on Tremont Street. The Lowell 
House was just beyond Hog's bridge,* on 
the right of Centre Street. 

On returning again to Eliot Square, and 
going in a northerly direction, down Rox- 
bury Street, we come to that part of the 
town where resided many of the prominent 
people of early Roxbury. Here, on the cor- 
ner of Vernon Street was Elder Heath's 
farm, and opposite, that of Samuel Hag- 
born. On the latter estate afterwards lived 
the stanch and fearless Robert Calef,f who 

vention which adopted the Federal Constitution ; was 
Judge of Probate for Norfolk County until his death 
(1814). There is a monument to his memory in Forest 
Hills Cemetery. 

Captain Joseph Heath served in the colonial wars, 
and was aclive in Roxbury in early Revolutionary days. 
* Hog's Bridge. Patty Williams a young woman of un- 
usual physical strength is said to have thrown a large hog 
over the bridge — hence the name. 

t Robert Calef was grandfather of Mary Stevens who 
was the mother of General Joseph Warren. 

[ 16] 



EARLY ROXBURY 

strenuously opposed the prevailing belief in 
witchcraft. Opposite Vernon Street, at a 
very early date, was the famous Greyhound 
'Tavern. Situated on the only road out of 
Boston, this tavern was a favorite resort for 
sleighing parties in the winter where good 
cheer was afforded for man and beast. Po- 
litical meetings were also held here. After 
the tavern was taken down, the first Fire 
Engine House in Roxbury was located on 
this spot in 1784. 

The estate now occupied by Bacon s store> 
corner of Ruggles and Washington streets, 
was once the property of Edwin Dorr, and 
was bought by Major Bosson, a Revolution- 
ary veteran who opened a general store 
here, where "our grandmothers" really 
"traded;" for we find in the day-book of 
the business of one hundred years ago, the 
names of many prominent families in Rox- 
bury. William Bacon took the business 
in 1814. 

Opposite Bacon's store on Washington 
Street, Aaron and Simon Willard made the 
clocks which gained such well deserved re- 
putation. Aaron Willard came to Boston 
at the age of sixteen "as a fifer in a Grafton 
regiment." 

1 '7 ] 



GLIMPSES OF 

Near the corner of Eustis Street was the 
large store of Aaron and Charles Davis. 

There were a number of smaller taverns 
along Washington Street at various times : 
the Horn of Plenty, corner of Ruggles and 
Washington streets ; the Old Red Tavern, in 
the Diamond Block; and the Ball and Pin, 
near Eustis Street. 

Gilbert Stuart, the portrait painter, lived 
for many years in a house on Roxbury Street, 
just beyond Shawmut Avenue. At Eustis 
Street was the first defensive work con- 
structed by the Americans in 1775, and 
called the Burying Ground Redoubt. 

During the Revolution James Howe's 
Bakery, on the site of the present Blue Store, 
supplied the American soldiers with bread. 

The Neck began at Arnold Street, and was 
more than a mile in length. The narrowest 
part was at Dover Street, having a dam on 
either side to prevent the overflow of the 
tides. I nearly days a fortification was erected 
here to protect the town of Boston against 
the Indians. The practice of shooting game 
on the marshes, having been the cause of 
some accidents to pedestrians, was forbid- 
den by action of the General Court in 1701. 
The way was wild and lonely and at times 

[ '8 ] 



EARLY ROXBURY 

dangerous to travellers, as highway robberies 
were not infrequent. Drake says there were 
but eighteen buildings between Dover Street 
and the Roxbury line in 1794. For some 
years the gallows erected near Maiden Street 
was a grim landmark for travellers along 
the road. 

George's Tavern,at first called the " King's 
Arms," was at Lenox Street. In 1721 the 
General Court met there during the preva- 
lence of smallpox in Boston. 

At Lenox Street, also, was in Revolution- 
ary times the advance fortification of the 
American forces, it being the highest point 
on the road between Boston and Roxbury. 
Here the soldiers of the Continental Army, 
many of them Roxbury men, " held the pass 
out of Boston," while that city was occupied 
by the British troops. In later days (1820) 
the Washington Hotel was on Washington 
Street, a little above Lenox Street. In 1 807 
the City Hotel, corner of Washington and 
Zeigler streets, was kept by George Zeigler. 

Eustis Street was originally called "The 
Road to Dorchester." It was laid out in 
1662, and named for Governor Eustis in 
1825. 

The old Eustis Street Burying Ground, 
[ '9] 



GLIMPSES OF 

corner of Eustis and Washington streets, 
is one of the oldest in New England. The 
first interment was made there in 1633. 
Here lie the remains of John Eliot and 
other early ministers of the town; Robert 
Calef; Governors Thomas and Joseph Dud- 
ley; Chief Justice Paul Dudley, and the an- 
cestors of many well-known Roxbury fami- 
lies. A tablet to the memory of General 
Greaton* has been placed here by the 
Massachusetts Society of the Sons of the 
American Revolution. The place is well 
worth a visit. The burying ground is usually 
open to visitors every Saturday and Sun- 
day afternoon during the summer. 

A short distance from the cemetery, on 
Eustis Street, was the landing-place of the 
Canal. This canal was built in 1775, from 
Lamb's Dam, near Northampton Street, to 
secure an easy way of transferring merchan- 

* General John Greaton was an aclive patriot and "a 
Revolutionary hero of well-known fame" He was chosen 
Lieutenant in the first Roxbury Company of Minute 
Men. He served under General Washington at Trenton 
and at Princeton. Remaining until the close of the war, 
he then returned to Roxbury, but the severe hardships he 
had endured in military service had so undermined his 
health that he died soon afterwards, 1783. He was made 
Colonel in 1776 and Brigadier-General in 1783. 

[ *>] 



EARLY ROXBURY 

dise to and from Roxbury. It was not a 
paying investment and was finally filled up. 

On the opposite side of the street was 
the Training Field, of seven acres, and as 
early as 1731 a training here was a weekly 
occurrence. 

Dudley Street was originally laid out 
from what is now Guild Row to Eustis 
Street and was named for the Dudley* 
family. The Dudley Estate extended west 
nearly to the Meeting House, the boun- 
dary being Smelt Brook. The Dudley man- 
sion stood opposite Guild Row. There lived 
Governors Thomas and Joseph Dudley 
and Chief Justice Paul Dudley. In 18 10 
Colonel Joseph Dudley gave a portion of 
his land as a site for a Town House. A town 
meeting was first held there in 1 8 1 1 . It was 
afterwards known as City Hall, and was 
taken down in 1873 to make room for the 

* Thomas Dudley came over in 1630 as Deputy Gov- 
ernor and afterwards settled in Roxbury. He was a man 
of strong and determined char a tier, was four times Gov- 
ernor, and thirteen times Deputy Governor. His son 
Joseph Dudley filled many offices of honor and trust and 
was Governor of Massachusetts fro?n 1702 to 171 5. Paul 
Dudley, son of Governor Joseph Dudley, was a Grand 
Chief Justice whose career was one of dignity and power. 
He ere tied a number of milestones in Roxbury. 

[ 21 ] 



GLIMPSES OF 

Dudley School building. The first Univer- 
salist Church, where Hosea Ballou, 2d,once 
preached, was afterwards built on the site of 
the Dudley House. Kenilworth Street, just 
opposite, was named for the estate of the 
Dudleys in England. 

Near by was the first building occupied 
by the Roxbury Free School. This school 
was established in 1645, and afterwards 
became the Roxbury Latin School. The 
early settlers "pledged their houses and 
farms in its support." Among these were 
the Apostle Eliot, Samuel Hagbourne, 
Elder Isaac Heath and Samuel May. 
Roxbury was reputed to have "furnished 
more scholars than any town of its big- 
ness." In 1742 the school was removed 
to the brick schoolhouse, now standing at 
2347 Washington Street, — formerly Guild 
Row, — and to Kearsarge Avenue in 1834. 

Just back of the Peoples Bank stood 
John Eliot's house. His estate of two and 
one half acres extended east to Winslow 
Street, the lower part of present Warren 
Street running across his lot. Preacher of the 
Church in Roxbury for nearly sixty years; 
zealous in his efforts to Christianize the 
Indians, translating the Bible into their 

[ " l 



EARLY ROXBURY 

language; one of the founders of the Rox- 
bury Free School, also of the school in 
Jamaica Plain which bears his name, he was, 
as the tablet to his memory reads, "in zeal 
equal to St. Paul, in charity to St. Francis." 

Beyond Eliot's place, toward the east, 
were many fine estates, notably those of 
Deacon Parke, who came over in 1630, 
and Robert Williams, whose grandson, 
Dr. Williams, was an excellent physician 
and a prominent citizen. The latter built 
on what is now Dearborn Street the first 
brick mansion in Roxbury, afterwards 
known as the Davis House. 

Magazine Street, leading from Dudley 
Street near St. Patrick's Church, was laid 
out in 1662, and was called Powder House 
Lane because it led to the powder maga- 
zine. This magazine was owned by the 
State, and was on Pine Island, now a part of 
the mainland. 

The building on Dudley Street now 
occupied by the Little Sisters of the Poor 
was once the residence of Thomas Brewer. 
It later came into the possession of Enoch 
Bartlett, whose name has become associated 
with the delicious Bartlett pear which was 
first cultivated here. 

[23 ] 



GLIMPSES OF 

Perhaps the most noted of the old 
houses still standing in Roxbury is the 
Governor Shirley House, on what is now Shir- 
ley Street. It was built by this very popu- 
lar governor about 1750, and afterwards 
owned and occupied by Governor Eustis. 
Here were entertained Washington, La- 
fayette, Franklin, Daniel Webster and 
other celebrated men. The house was a 
barrack for our soldiers in 1775. Though 
at present rented in tenements, it still 
retains some of its old-time grandeur. 

Washington Street south of Dudley 
Street, once known as the Dedham Turn- 
pike, was originally a cart path leading to 
MacCarty's farm. On the left, extending 
to what is now St. James Street, was the 
estate of Isaac Morrill; this afterwards be- 
longed to the Stevens family.* A portion 
of it was sold to Judge Auchmuty, whose 
son built on the corner of Cliff and Wash- 
ington streets the fine old mansion well re- 
membered by Roxbury citizens as the resi- 
dence of Mr. Charles F. Bradford. It was a 
noted rendezvous for the Tories in the 
neighborhood in Revolutionary days, and 

*The mother of General Joseph Warren belonged to this 
family. 

I 24 ] 



EARLY ROXBURY 

was confiscated in 1779. It became the pro- 
perty of Increase Sumner, afterward Gov- 
ernor of Massachusetts. Farther on was the 
farm of Abijah Seaver. 

Tommy's Rock, the high land near the 
junction of what is now Regent and Cir- 
cuit streets, was a favorite resort on account 
of the fine view which it afforded of the 
surrounding country. "Rocky Pasture," as 
it was sometimes called, abounded in wild 
flowers. Some friendly Indians camped 
there for many summers, which was an added 
attraction to the place. 

Walnut Avenue, anciently called "The 
Way to the Great Lotts" and afterwards 
" Back Street," was for many years a charm- 
ing country road. It was sometimes called 
"Barberry Lane." A century ago it con- 
tained but six houses. The old Williams 
Homestead stood at the corner of what is now 
Ruthven Street but has been recently taken 
down. Before the Revolution there were two 
grist-mills near the corner of what is now 
Warren Street and Walnut Avenue. The 
mills were owned by Joseph Clewly, and 
that locality was known as Clewly s Corner. 

Warren Street was laid out in 1633 and 
was called " the way to Braintree," or " Up- 

[ 25 ] 



GLIMPSES OF 

per Road to Dorchester," and later, "The 
Plymouth Road." The part north of Dud- 
ley Street was given by several citizens to 
the town in 171 2 and was called the New 
Lane. In 1825 the name was changed to 
Warren Street. The junction of Warren 
and Dudley streets was formerly called 
T)ove's Corner. 

The small space now bounded by Dud- 
ley and Warren streets and Harrison Ave- 
nue, and filled with shops, was two hundred 
years ago known as Gardiner* s Green, being 
owned by Peter Gardiner, who had here a 
garden and nursery. 

On the corner of what is now Glenwood 
Street was a house built by Dr. Jonathan 
Davies in 1781. The house was moved 
back and is still standing on Glenwood 
Street. Extending from what is now War- 
ren Place to Moreland Street was the War- 
ren Farm, containing seven acres. There 
were many valuable fruit trees on the place, 
one hundred and twenty-three of which 
were cut down to make defences during the 
siege of Boston. The JVarren House was 
built in 1720 by Joseph Warren, grand- 
father of General Joseph Warren. During 
the siege troops were quartered at this 

[ 26] 



EARLY ROXBURY 

place. The stone house which now stands 
on the site of the old homestead was built in 
1846 by Dr. John C. Warren. Two tablets 
with suitable inscriptions are placed on the 
front of the building. 

General Joseph Warren was born in the 
old house in 1741. He graduated at Har- 
vard, and taught school in Roxbury and 
was a successful physician in Boston. Dur- 
ing the Revolutionary period he was Presi- 
dent of the Provincial Congress of Massa- 
chusetts, Chairman of the Committee of 
Public Safety, and a few days before his 
death was made Major General by the 
Massachusetts Congress. He was a&ive in 
the battles of Lexington and Bunker Hill, 
but declining the command offered him at 
the latter battle he took his place among 
the soldiers and was killed. A handsome 
bronze statue has been erecled to his mem- 
ory in Joseph Warren Square. On the ped- 
estal is the following inscription: 

"Joseph Warren, 1 741-1775. Physician, Orator, 
Patriot. Killed at Bunker Hill, 17 June, 1775." 

and below, his own words : 

"When liberty is the prize, who would shun the 
warfare ? Who would stoop to waste a coward 
thought on life ?" 

[v ] 



GLIMPSES OF 

Kearsarge Avenue, which runs through a 
portion of the Warren estate, was called 
Mt. Vernon Place. Rear Admiral Winslow, 
a hero of the Civil War, lived here nearly 
thirty years. A tablet to his memory in 
Forest Hills Cemetery reads: 
"He conduced the memorable sea-fight in command 
of the U, S. ship i Kearsarge 1 in the English Chan- 
nel^ June 19, 1864." 

After the sinking of the cruiser Alabama 
by the Kearsarge he returned home, when 
the name of the street was changed in his 
honor. 

The Gray House, known to be over one 
hundred and twenty-five years old, stands 
on one corner of Joseph Warren Square. 

The oldest house now standing in Rox- 
bury is on Warren Street, corner of Tol- 
man Place, and was probably built in 1653. 
William Mead, who lived here, deeded the 
place to the Roxbury Grammar School in 
1683 and it was often occupied by its 
teachers in the olden time. The back part 
of the house has been remodelled but the 
front and the chimney are part of the old 
building. 

On the west side of the street, extending 
from the corner of Warren Street and Wal- 

[28 ] 



EARLY ROXBURY 

nut Avenue nearly to Bower Street, was the 
thirty-acre pasture belonging to the Apostle 
Eliot. The estate between Waverly and 
Clifford streets, now owned by Dr. Ken- 
nedy, was once a mulberry plantation. The 
house now standing here was built in 1764, 
and the timber in the frame was cut from 
the wood growing on the farm. 

May's Woods formerly covered the tract 
of land through which pass Woodbine, 
Edgewood, May wood and Savin streets. 
These woods were long a favorite resort 
for picnic parties. The Dove farm, next be- 
yond, had a large apple orchard next the 
street, and the old cider-mill stood for many 
years on the little eminence now Holborn 
Terrace. The Jonathan French House, on 
the other side of Warren Street (corner of 
Waban Street) is still standing, but has been 
turned about and moved nearer Warren 
Street. The Bugby Tavern was on the cor- 
ner of Crawford Street. 

The locality known as Grove Hall took its 
name from a mansion built there in 1800 
by Thomas Kilby Jones. In 1832 the house 
was enlarged and used as a summer hotel. 
Later it was occupied by Dr. Cullis who 
made it a consumptives' home. The present 

[ 29] 



EARLY ROXBURY 

buildings were built only a few years ago. 

Franklin Park, containing something 
more than five hundred acres and compris- 
ing fourteen farms, was taken by the city 
for a park in 1876, and the work of laying 
it out began a few years later. This section 
is historically interesting. The Indian Trail 
entered the park at a point nearly opposite 
Elm Hill Avenue, and ran in a southeasterly 
direction towards Milton and Plymouth, 
to which towns it led. Ralph Waldo Emer- 
son lived in a house standing near the top 
of the hill where the Overlook is. He once 
taught school in Roxbury in the stone build- 
ing on Dudley Street now occupied by the 
Roxbury Gas Company. The hill in the park 
where he lived is called Schoolmaster's Hill. 
In colonial times there was a signal station 
on one of the hills in the park, and one be- 
yond on Wellington Hill. 

Seaver Street, once called Long Crouch, 
was named in honor of Hon. Ebenezer 
Seaver whose farm covered a large area near 
Grove Hall. The house in which he lived, 
built in 172 1, is still standing near the cor- 
ner of Blue Hill Avenue and Cheney Street. 
Ebenezer Seaver served the town in various 
public capacities for more than forty years. 

1 30] 



SOME OF THE OLD LANDMARKS 
STILL TO BE SEEN IN ROXBURY 

Site of John Eliot's Church 

The Di I law ay House 

The Taber House 

Site of " Roxbury High Fort " 

The Hallowell House 

The Eustis Street Burying Ground 

The Old Brick Schoolhouse 

The Governor Shirley House 

Dr. Jonathan Davies House 

The Warren House 

The Mead House 

Paul Dudley s Milestones, still standing : 

i. The Parting Stone, see page n. z. On Centre Street, 
near Eliot Square, " Boston 3 m. 1 729." 3. On Centre Street, 
near Eliot Street, " 5 miles Boston Townhouse P. Dudley 
Esq r , 1735." 4- On Centre Street, near Allandale Street, 
"6 Mile[s] Boston 1735 P-D" 5- On Huntington Avenue 
near Parker Hill Avenue, " Boston 4 miles 1 729 P. DT 6. At 
Grove Hall, « B. 4. 1735 P. D." 



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LIBRARY OF CONGRESS 
111 Hill till III 




014 075 019