November 27, 2009

Oliver Ditson

Oliver Ditson (1811-1888) was one of this country’s most successful music publishers in the Victorian period. The Oliver Ditson Company in Boston was to publish "a wider variety of music, music journals, and music education books than had ever before been available." "Jingle Bells" was first published by Oliver Ditson in Boston in 1857 and the lively holiday tune became one of the most popular songs ever heard at Christmas time. During the American Civil War, Ditson released a number of popular songs, including the "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "Tenting on the Old Camp Ground." Following Ditson’s death, his music publishing company continued unabated until it was purchased by Theodore Presser in Philadelphia. The Theodore Presser Company acquired the Oliver Ditson Company in 1931. Through this acquisition, Presser can trace its origins to 1783, when Batelle's Book Store (later the Oliver Ditson Company), began a music publishing business in Boston. The monumental and impressive St John the Evangelist was sculpted by Thomas Ball (1819-1911) in 1873 and placed on the Ditson Family Lot on Rhododendron Path. Ball was a well known sculptor and his equestrian statue of General George Washington was erected in 1869 in the Boston Public Garden, facing the Commonwealth Avenue Mall.

November 25, 2009

Father of Shingle Style Architecture

William Ralph Emerson was a noted architect in Boston a century ago. He extolled the virtue of the "Shingle Style" of architecture, which had a direct reflection on the First Period of American architecture, but also with a touch of the exuberance and pomp of late Victorian architecture. In the period between 1865 and 1917, he made important contributions to architecture. It was said in his profession as an architect, he had won a high place, and that his designs of buildings were of great refinement, especially in country houses which are found throughout the Boston area and in Maine.
William Ralph Emerson (1833-1917) was the son of William and Olive Bourne Emerson, and was raised in Alton, Illinois. As a young man he came to Boston to live with his uncle George Emerson, whose home was on Pemberton Square in Boston, and where he trained as an architect in the office of Jonathan Preston (1801-1888.) In 1857, Emerson and Preston formed an architectural partnership which lasted four years; in 1864 he partnered with Carl Fehmer (1864-1873) and they continued as partners for nine years.
William Ralph Emerson initially designed in the classical revival style, of which his Post Office and Courthouse in Portland, Maine were important early examples. However by 1875 he was designing impressive structures that embraced Victorian elements such as the "Stick Style" and the beginnings of the "Shingle Style," among them the Massachusetts Homeopathic Hospital (1875) and the Boston Art Club (1881) in the South End and the Back Bay of Boston respectively. In 1871 Emerson, with Carl Fehmer, designed the impressive Receiving Tomb at Forest Hills Cemetery. The Receiving Tomb was said in Boston Illustrated in 1872 to be “the finest receiving-tomb in any cemetery in the country… and is built in the Gothic style of architecture in Concord granite.” The portico is of white Concord granite with an oak ceiling, and its floor paved with French encaustic tiles. However it was said that "country houses were his specialty, and many of the more noteworthy at Bar Harbor and Newport were designed by him." Emerson's first wife was Katherine Mears, who was the mother of the Harvard educated architect Ralph Lincoln Emerson, and his second wife was Sylvia Hathaway Watson, the daughter of Robert Sedgwick Watson of Milton.
Though Emerson was part of the city and its greater metropolis, he designed impressive residences in Milton, among the "The Pines," the home of The Misses Forbes and which was considered the premier "Stick Style" house, the Eustis and Tileston Estates, houses on Adams Street on Milton Hill and his own house on Randolph Avenue in Milton. With over five decades as an independent architect, William Ralph Emerson maintained a well connected Boston base with memberships in the American Institute of Architects, the Boston Society of Architects, the Boston Athenaeum and the Union Club. He was erudite, educated and well informed. He "lived on the gentler side of life, with books and art and the higher interests of his city, and Boston owes him much."
William Ralph Emerson was buried on Brook Path at Forest Hills Cemetery but no monument has yet been erected to mark the resting place of the "Father of Shingle Style Architecture."

November 18, 2009

“If I ever do take up charity, I intend to do it, and not half do it”

Amelia Peabody (1890-1984) was a noted sculptor having studied under Charles Grafly at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and with such important artists as Bela Pratt and Edmund Tarbell, as well as in New York City and Paris. She commissioned a solar studio in her home and would sculpt her whole adult life. Her impressive work was exhibited widely, including at the New York World’s Fair (1939 and 1940), the Whitney Museum of Art, and locally at the Boston Athenaeum.
Amelia Peabody was the daughter of Gertrude Bayley Peabody (1859-1937) and Frank Everett Peabody (1856-1918,) who was graduated in 1877 from Massachusetts Insitute of Technology. Her grandfather Francis Peabody was associated with the banking house John E. Thayer & Brother with his brother Oliver White Peabody, and in 1865, Francis Peabody, Henry Purkitt Kidder, and Oliver White Peabody formed Kidder, Peabody & Co., and later her father was to become a partner. She was said to have “created a life-long reputation in her own right, not only for her artistry, but also for her philanthropy, patronage of the arts, civic leadership, love of animals, and equestrian pursuits.” She created two charitable foundations that after her death continue her benevolence to a wide spectrum of worthy charities.
Following World War I, Amelia Peabody began buying farmland in Dover, Massachusetts, where she was to devote herself to horse riding and animal husbandry. Over the next six decades, she acquired adjoining parcels of land, eventually forming an eight hundred acre estate that she called "Mill Farm" where she generously invited the public to share her many agricultural and conservation interests. Miss Peabody developed bridle paths throughout the lands she acquired for both herself and the Norfolk Hunt Club. By the end of World War II, she had acquired a herd of Hereford cattle and a number of Yorkshire pigs, the best specimens of which she entered in livestock shows throughout the region. Her immensely popular “Field days” for pig farmers and cattle breeders were frequently held at her farm. For many years, she was the Chairman of the Arts and Skills Service of the American Red Cross, which promoted art therapy for wounded servicemen during World War II, and continued to promote art therapy for hospital patients of all kinds after the War.
The Peabody Lot is set in a dense grove of evergreen trees at the junction of Lime and Chestnut Avenues, and is marked by a huge Roxbury puddingstone boulder with the family name unobtrusively carved on the front.

November 17, 2009

Ten Times Ten Is One

Edward Everett Hale (1822-1909) was pastor of the South Congregational Church in Boston’s South End from 1856 to 1899. A graduate of Harvard College, class of 1839, Hale was the son of Nathan Hale, proprietor and editor of the Boston Daily Advertiser and the nephew of the great nineteenth century orator Edward Everett. Hale married Emily Baldwin Perkins in 1852.
Hale is probably best known as the author of A Man Without a Country which was published in 1863, and did much to strengthen the Union cause during the Civil War; in this book, as in some of his other non-romantic tales, he employed a minute realism which led his readers to suppose the narrative a record of fact rather than of historical fiction. His portrait was painted by his son Philip Leslie Hale (1865-1931) who is also buried in the family lot at Forest Hills Cemetery, along with his artist wife Lillian Clark Westcott Hale and their prolific authoress daughter Anna Westcott ("Nancy") Hale Hardin Wertenbaker Bowers. Combining a forceful personality, organizing genius, and liberal practical theology, Hale was active in raising the tone of American life for half a century. He had a deep and avbiding interest in the anti-slavery movement, as well as popular education, and the working-man's home. In addition to his long service as a minister, Hale was also an assistant editor of the Boston Daily Advertiser and edited the Christian Examiner, Old and New (which he assisted in founding in 1869 and which merged with Scribner's in 1875), Lend a Hand (which he founded in 1886 and which merged with the Charities Review in 1897), and the Lend a Hand Record. One of his charming two volume history of Boston and its personmages was Memories of a Hundred Years (1902.) He was also the prolific author or editor of more than sixty books, among them fiction, travel, sermons, biography and history.
In regards to his longstanding motto "Ten Times Ten Is One," Reverend Hale once said, "I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. What I can do, I should do and, with the help of God, I will do." This motto was first enunciated in 1869 in his Lowell Institure lectures which extolled "Look up and not down, look forward and not back, look out and not in, and lend a hand." This challenging motto was the basis for the formation of Lend-a-Hand Clubs, Look-up Legions and Harry Wadsworth Clubs for young people.

In 1903 he became Chaplain of the United States Senate, and lived in Washington, D.C.
The Hale Family monument is on Ageratum Path.

November 15, 2009

Madame Hepzibah Clarke Swan

Hepzibah Clarke Swan (1757–1825) was a wealthy and well connected heiress who was among the most cosmopolitan, intelligent, and erudite of ladies in Federal Boston. Madame Swan was said to be charismatic, not least because of her wealth but also in good measure because of her effusive personal charm. With her close friend Sarah Wentworth Aprthorp Morton, they founded the Sans Souci Club in Boston, which revelled without regret! Her estranged husband, James Swan, who lived out his adult life in splendour in a Paris debtors prison, also sat for his portrait that was painted by Gilbert Stuart. She was to commission a portrait of her longtime companion, General Henry Jackson (1747-1809) who is also buried in the family lot at Forest Hills Cemetery. But while this sophisticated and charming doyenne of Boston society was said to enjoyed the rapt attention of many, she was also said to be a pendant to no one man in particular, neither in her long and eventful life nor in her soignee portrait. The Swan Family sandstone obelisk is located on Lilac Path and was originally erected in a secluded area of the Swan Estate on Dudley Street in Dorchester, Massachusetts where her companion General Henry Jackson, and later Madame Swan, was interred. Charles Bulfinch had designed her elegant Parisian inspired country house in Dorchester (as well of that of SArah Morton's who was also Bulfinch's cousin) and though she kept a town house on Franklin Place in Boston, it was a favorite resort for family and friends and where she entertained the Marquis de La Fayette on his triumphal tour of the Unuted States on the fiftieth anniversary of the American Revolution. In 1872, with the sale of the estate and the encroachment of development after Dorchester had been annexed to the city of Boston in 1870, the obelisk and the bodies were removed by the family to Forest Hills Cemetery. The development of Woodward Park had been laid out through the once elegant grounds, and her descendants lived on Beacon Hill and Milton. In front of the sandstone obelisk is a large white marble urn that marks the graves of her daughter and grandchildren, members of the Sargent Family.

November 14, 2009

The Barron of Wall Street

Clarence Walker Barron (1855-1928) is considered one of the most influential figures in the history of Dow Jones & Company. As a career newsman he was described as a "short, rotund powerhouse," but he died holding the posts of president of Dow Jones and de facto manager of The Wall Street Journal.
He is appropriately considered the founder of modern financial journalism.

Barron was graduated from Boston English High School in 1873. He was married to Jessie M. Waldron in 1900 and would adopted her daughters, Jane and Martha, and they lived at 334 Beacon Street in Boston's Back Bay. He was generous to charity and endowed the Clarke School for the Deaf with two million dollars. Jessie Waldron Barron died in 1918 and his adopted daughter Jane Barron married Hugh Bancroft in 1907, and Martha Barron married Henry Wendell Endicott, heir apparent to the Endicott Shoe Company. Barron worked at a number of newspapers throughout his life, including the Boston Daily News and the Boston Evening Transcript. He founded the Boston News Bureau in 1887 and the Philadelphia News Bureau in 1897, supplying much needed financial news to brokers.
In March 1903, Barron purchased Dow Jones & Company, following the death of co-founder Charles Dow. In 1912, he became president, and had control of The Wall Street Journal. Barron was renowned for pushing for deep scrutiny of corporate financial records, and is thus considered the founder of modern financial journalism. Barron's personal credo, which he supposedly urged the Journal to print and to closely follow, was that "The Wall Street Journal must stand for what is best in Wall Street." He was to expanded the reach of his publishing empire by merging his two news bureaus into what was to become known as Dow Jones. By 1920, he had expanded the daily circulation of The Wall Street Journal from 7,000 to 18,750, and over 50,000 by 1930. He also worked hard to modernize operations by introducing modern printing presses and expanding the reporting corps.

In 1921, he founded the Dow Jones Financial Journal, Barron's National Financial Weekly, which was later to be renamed Barrons Magazine and he served as its first editor. He priced the financial magazine issues at ten cents and immediately saw circulation surge to 30,000 by 1926, with high popularity among investors and financiers. Barron was a prolific writer and published a large number of books, among them The Boston Stock Exchange (1893,) Federal Reserve Act (1914,) The Audacious War (1915,) The Mexican Problem (1917,) War Finance, As Viewed From the Roof of the World in Switzerland (1919,) Peace Finance (1920,) Lord's Money (1922,) Twenty-Eight Essays on the Federal Reserve Act and My Creed. The Barrons and their daughter Martha Barron Endicott and her husband H. Wendell Endicott share a large family lot on Milton Hill at Forest Hills Cemetery.
After his death, Barron's myriad responsibilities were split between his son-in-law Hugh Bancroft, who became president of Dow Jones & Company, and his friend Kenneth C. Hogate, who became the managing editor of the Wall Street Journal. The Bancroft Family remained the majority shareholder of Dow Jones until 2007 when Rupert Murdock's News Corporation won the support of 32 percent of the Dow Jones voting shares controlled by the Bancroft family, which was enough to ensure a comfortable margin of victory. In his book My Creed, Clarence Walker Barron expounded upon his thoughts:

I believe in service. I believe in the laws, in the happiness, in the mutuality of service. I know no other happiness, I know no other laws. There is no other happiness; there are no other laws. In The Wall Street Journal, I have sought to create a service. I have striven for a creation so founded in principles that it can live as a service—live so long as it abides in the laws of that service. I believe there is no higher service from government, from society, from journalism than the protection and upbuilding of the savings of the people. Savings in the United States may become investments, when guided by financial knowledge, more readily than in any other country of the world. Wall Street steadily improves and increases its service to the whole country by reflecting the true position of American and world investments. The Wall Street Journal must stand for the best that is in Wall Street and reflect that which is best in United States finance. Its motto is: "The Truth in its proper use."

"The Lamplighter"

The concept of social reform and personal responsibility for the benefit of the less fortunate was a great factor in the behavior of many ninteenth century Bostonians, and no person was more aware of this than Miss Maria Susanna Cummins (1827-1866.)
Born in Salem, Massachusetts, she was a daughter of Maria Kittredge Cummins and the Honorable David Cummins, a well respected judge of the court of common pleas of Norfolk County. Educated at the exclusive Mrs. Charles Sedgwick's Young Ladies School in Lenox, she returned to her family home in Dorchester after her "finishing." The Cumminses were a well to do family of social standing, education and wealth, and they had moved to Dorchester's Meeting House Hill in the 1840s. They had purchased the former "Turk's Head Tavern" (later the site of St. Peter's School) on Bowdoin Street, an eighteenth century tavern that had been converted to a dwelling of large proportions which was needed as Judge Cummins had eight children. Once the Cumminses had settled, they began to attend the First Parish Church on Meeting House Hill, and Maria Cummins began to teach Sunday School at the church, where the first Sunday School class had been formed in 1822, and which was one of the first Unitarian classes in the Boston area. Under the direction of William Taylor Adams (whose nom de plum was "Oliver Optic,") Miss Cummins led a defined and religious life, devoting herself to her students. It was in 1850 that she undertook a novel to please her neices, the daughters of Edmund Pitt and Helen Cummins Tileston. Tileston was a cofounder with Mark Hollingsworth of the Tileston & Hollingsworth Paper Mill on the Neponset River. He was also a founder in 1843, the year of his marriage, of the Dorchester Historical & Antiquarian Society that survived until 1907 when it merged with the New England Historic and Genealogical Society. Florence, Grace and Katherine Tileston were doted upon by their aunt, and with the publication in 1854 of her book The Lamplighter, were obviously flattered by her attentions. Published anonymously, one reviewer called it "one of the most original and natural narratives," and the premise of the book was of a child lost in infancy, rescued from a cruel woman by an old lamplighter, adopted by a blind woman, and later discovered by her well-to-do father. The book was an immediate best-seller and a cultural phenomenon. Said to be second in sales only to Harriet Beecher Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin," published two years earlier, it reportedly sold 20,000 copies in twenty days and 65,000 copies in five months. The success of "The Lamplighter" was not limited to America, for it sold over 100,000 copies in Britain alone. At least thirteen British firms published the novel, often in multiple editions. It was to be translated into several different languages, including French, German, and Dutch, and it continued to sell well into the twentieth century.
In the period between 1857 and her death in 1866, Maria Cummins was also the author of "Mabel Vaughan" in 1857, "El Fureidis" in 1860, "Haunted Hearts" in 1864 and "Little Gerty" in 1869. She also contributed numerous articles to the "Atlantic Monthly." All of her books were of a semi-religious and benevolent aspect, and were well received by her avid readers. Of a deeply religious nature herself, Maria Cummins had joined the First Parish Church in 1864, over twenty years after she began attending divine services. She was buried from the church in 1866, and was interred in the family lot at Forest Hills Cemetery.

November 11, 2009

New England's First Crematorium

The Massachusetts Cremation Society opened a crematorium on Walk Hill Street in 1893, which was financed by local cremation societies. This was a radical, and highly controversial topic in late Victorian Boston and was widely covered in both the local and national press. The building was designed by local architect Ludvig Sandoe Ipsen (1840-1920) and built of Roxbury felsite in the classical style; a later addition, designed by Thomas Fox and Edward Gale, was built in 1905 with a basement columbaria. The first cremation in New England took place here in 1893, and was that of Lucy Stone (1818-1893) a well known Bostonian who had been the first Massachusetts woman to be graduated from college (Oberlin in 1838,) the first woman in the United States to retain her maiden name after her marriage (to Henrey Browne Blackwell in 1855) and the first woman editor of a newspaper ("The Woman's Journal" in Boston.) In 1925, Forest Hills Cemetery acquired the crematory, and since that time has almost tripled its size. Dr. James Read Chadwick (1844-1905) was the first president of the Massachusetts Cremation Society. A graduate of Harvard College and of the Harvard Medical School, he served as president of the American Gynecological Society, the Dorchester Medical Society and as an officer and librarian of the Boston Medical Library. Two decades after the death of Dr. Read, the crematory was sold to Forest Hills Cemetery, which has operated it since that time.

November 10, 2009

Simon Willard: Master Clockmaker

“Time was when it was a requisite to have one of Willard’s clocks…as it is now to have a piano forte.”
[1856 biography on Willard]

Simon Willard is considered one of the finest clock makers in American history. His tall clocks were made by hand, and placed in impressive “Roxbury cases” as well as his patent timepieces, commonly known as banjo clocks, which were prized possessions when new, and which are today coveted by families who inherited them as well as by collectors alike.

Simon Willard (1753-1848) was the seventh son of Benjamin and Sarah Brooks Willard, and was raised on a farm in Grafton where he and three of his brothers, Benjamin, Aaron and Ephraim became clock makers; Simon Willard was apprenticed at the age of thirteen to Mr. Morris in Grafton, learning his trade as a clockmaker. During the Revolution, he served in the Grafton Militia Company under Captain Aaron Kimball and was a “Minuteman” who responded to the Lexington alarm. In 1775, he married Hannah Willard, his first cousin, who died in childbirth the next year; his second wife was Mary Bird Leeds (1763-1823,) the daughter of Edward and Mary Starr Bird of Dorchester, and the widow of Richard Leeds, by whom he had eleven children.

Willard along with his brother Aaron Willard moved to Roxbury in 1780, to a small wood framed house at 2196 Roxbury (now Washington) Street, which led to “the Neck” the only land route into Boston and a prime location for his business. He lived and worked “At the Sign of the New Clock,” a large clock that projected from the building and became a prominent landmark and his “habits of industry, and the intense study of his art, left him but little time for attention to matters of public interest.” As a clockmaker, and an ingenious inventor, he patented in 1784 a clock jack that was used for roasting meat by rotation. In 1802 his “Willard Patent Timepiece” was recorded, and in 1819 his patent for an alarm clock was recorded; he also invented the machinery for the revolving lights for lighthouses. However, his skill as a hand maker of clocks was unrivaled and led to his being appointed, for fifty years, as Keeper of the Clocks at Harvard College, and commissions for a clock in the United States Capitol, the University of Virginia as well as gallery clocks (Roxbury Meetinghouse and the Second Church in Dorchester) as well as numerous turret clocks throughout New England. He retired in 1839 after seven decades of success with a name that had become synonymous with high quality timepieces and where he “passed his time in his family and shop; for the enjoyment of which ‘age withered not his powers.”

In later life, following the death of his wife in 1823, Simon Willard lived successively with his children, first at the home of Simon Willard, Jr. in Boston, then at Edward and Sarah Brooks Willard Bird on Boston Street (now Columbia Road) adjacent to the Old North Burying Ground, and later with his daughter Mary, the wife of Caleb Hobart. The Hobarts lived in an old house, later known as the Ruggles House, near the corner of Canton Avenue and Ruggles Lane, and here Caleb Hobart (1768-1843) worked as a butcher dealing chiefly in mutton. Hobart, a very married man having two wives and a large family before he married Mary Willard, owned a large tract of land just west of his home that was referred to as “Golgotha,” as “it was used as a place to dispose of the refuse from his slaughter house.” Of course, Jesus was crucified at Mount Calvary, and Golgotha known as the “place of the skull.” However, this area of Columbine and Valley Roads in the now elegant Columbine neighborhood of Milton, where Hobart deposited the accumulated refuse of his slaughter house, was so called for the vast amount of bones dumped there.

In the mid 1840’s Mary Willard Hobart (1793-1855) had taken her father in to live with her, as she had become a widow in 1843. Simon Willard, then an elderly man, had unimpaired sight and hearing, was described by his grandson, Alexander Claxton Cary as being a “little figure sitting in his arm chair by the window in Aunt Mary’s room at Milton. He used to sit in this arm chair most all day, now and then taking a short pair of steps by which he could reach the clock in the room, and opening it would do some little thing to it probably from habit, rather than from any fixing the clock needed. This clock was one of his own Timepieces. ….My brother tells me that at Milton, Grandfather went to visit Gen. [Moses] Whitney one day, upon coming home, our man Elijah offered to help Grandfather out of team. “Don’t help me out, don’t help me out,” said Grandfather “they will think I am an old man.”

Indeed by the mid 1840’s, Simon Willard was an old man, a grand old man, and had a justifiable reputation that was hard to emulate, even by his successful apprentices and rivals. He died in 1848 at the home of Isaac and Julia Willard Cary in Boston and was buried in the Eustis Street Burial Ground in Roxbury. His daughter Mary Hobart later moved her parents' remains to her lot at Forest Hills Cemetery where a Gothic brownstone monument designed by Alpheus Cary marks his final resting place. As it said in his obituary in the Boston Daily Advertiser that “Mr. Willard, after his long dealings with Time, has now left him for eternity. Pease [sic] to his blameless and honest memory!”

November 7, 2009

New Book on Forest Hills Cemetery

SAVE THE DATE: Sunday November 15th at 4:00 PM

The launch of Anthony M. Sammarco's new book "Forest Hills Cemetery" will include a slide lecture and book signing at Forsyth Chapel, Forest Hills Cemetery, 95 Forest Hills Avenue, Jamaica Plain. The cover of this lavishly illustrated book is of the Receiving Tomb at Forest Hills Cemetery which was designed by William Ralph Emerson and Carl Fehmer, partners in the architectural firm of Emerson & Fehmer in Boston, and built in 1871 on Consecration Avenue near the Main Gate. The high style granite Victorian Gothic Revival building has underground crypts where burials could be securely held during winter months while awaiting burial, or for transport elsewhere. Opposite the Receiving Tomb is a magnificent oval garden that has been bedded out with specimen plants and perennials for well over a century, with a central decorative playing fountain that was added in 1878.

November 2, 2009

Jacob Wirth: Lager King

Jacob Wirth (1840-1892) was an immigrant from Kreuznach, Prussia who six years after he immigrated to America opened in 1868 his namesake Germanic beer-hall style restaurant on Stuart Street in Boston. Above the long mahogany bar is engraved the Latin motto “Suum Cuiqce” which literally translates “to each his own” and which aptly fits the character of this legendary restaurant. Jake Worth’s was operated by two generations of the family and has long been known for its delicious Sauerbraten and Weiner Schnitzel, and other traditional German style foods, as well as a wide selection of beers and lagers for every taste. The Jacob Wirth memorial Fame at Forest Hills Cemetery was sculpted by Adolph Robert Kraus and is located on a knoll overlooking Catalpa Avenue. This bronze monument is of a pensively draped allegorical female seated figure contemplating a cameo portrait of the famous restaurateur in the stele below. The monument was cleaned in 1997 through the generosity of the Fitzgerald Family, who had in 1975 bought the then century old Jacob Wirth Restaurant.