THE TOWN OF BRAINTREE
LOCATION AND BOUNDARIES -- SURFACE AND DRAINAGE -- FIRST WHITE MEN -- BRAINTREE INCORPORATED -- PETITION OF 1645 -- NEW BRAINTREE -- THE PRECINCTS -- THE FIRST MILL -- TOWN HALL -- SOLDIERS' MONUMENT -- WATERWORKS -- ELECTRIC LIGHT WORKS -- FIRE DEPARTMENT -- POST OFFICES -- A FEW FIRST THINGS -- BRAINTREE IN 1917 -- TOWN OFFICERS.
The Town of Braintree, situated in the eastern part of Norfolk County, was incorporated by act of the General Court on May 13, 1640. As originally established, it embraced the present towns of Braintree, Quincy, Randolph and Holbrook. Quincy was set off on February 22, 1792, and Randolph (which included Holbrook) on March 9, 1793, reducing Braintree to its present dimensions. On the north it is bounded by the Town of Quincy; on the east by Weymouth; on the south by Randolph and Holbrook, and on the west by Quincy and Randolph.
SURFACE AND DRAINAGE
In common with other portions of Norfolk County, Braintree has a generally rolling surface, though the elevations here are not so large as those in some of the adjacent towns. The north fork of the Monatiquot River crosses the western boundary at the northeast corner of Randolph and flows in a southeasterly direction. The south fork forms part of the dividing line between Braintree and Randolph. A short distance south of South Braintree the two unite and from that point the main stream follows a northeasterly course to the Weymouth Fore River. Great Pond is situated between the forks of the Monatiquot, on the line between Braintree and Randolph; Little Pond is near the center of the town, and in the southern part is a small body of water called Cranberry Pond. The waters of all these ponds finally reach the Monatiquot through small streams.
FIRST WHITE MEN
In September, 1621, an expedition of thirteen men, under command of Capt. Miles Standish, came up the coast from Plymouth in a large sailboat, entered Boston Harbor and landed on Squantum Head, in what is now the Town of Quincy. These were the first Englishmen to set foot upon the soil of this part of Norfolk County. They made no attempt to found a settlement but "returned in safety to Plymouth, full of admiration of the noble harbor and the fair country surrounding it, which they had then for the first time seen, and wishing they had been there seated."
Thomas Morton, with a company of about thirty men, came to Mount Wollaston in June, 1622, and made a feeble effort to establish a plantation. He soon afterward returned to England, but came back to America as a member of Captain Wollaston's company of-adventurers in June, 1625. This company established a settlement at Mount Wollaston (then so named after the leader of the expedition), building several houses and laying out a plantation. The severe winter that followed seems to have been enough for Captain Wollaston, who left there early in 1626 and went to Virginia. Those who remained came under the leadership of Morton, who was afterward arrested and sent to England, charged with selling liquors and fire-arms to the Indians in violation of the royal proclamation. (See the chapter on Quincy for a further account of Morton's doings).
After the expulsion of Morton, the Neponset River was for several years the southern border of the settlements about Boston. But in May, 1634, the General Court ordered "that Boston shall have convenient enlargement at Mount Wollaston, to be set out by four different men, who shall draw a plot thereof and present it to the General Court, when it shall be confirmed." The report of the "four different men" was confirmed by the General Court the following September. By this arrangement large tracts of land were given to certain people of Boston, most of whom held their lands for speculation, but a few came and established their homes south of the Neponset, and from 1634 dates the first permanent settlement of Braintree. Some five years later considerable dissatisfaction arose on account of the non-resident land owners, and the following covenant was agreed upon as a settlement of the question:
"It is agreed with our neighbors of Mount Wollaston, viz.: William Cheesebrooke, Alexander Winchester, Rich: Wright, James Penniman, i. e. in the name of the rest (for whom they undertooke) that they should give to Boston 4 shs the acre for 2 acr of the 7 ac formerly granted to divers men of Boston upon expectation that they should have continued still with us; and 33 the ac for every acre which hath bene or shallbee granted to any other who are not inhabitants of Boston, and that, in consideration hereof and after the said potions of money shallbee paid to the towne treasurer, all ye said lands shallbee free from any towne rates or charges to Boston: & upon the tearms and alsoe from all county rates assessed with Boston, but to bee rated by the Court by its selfe: Provided that this order shall not extend to any more or other lands than such as shall make payment of the said rates so agreed upon of the 4s and 3s the ac; & upon the former consideration there is granted to the Mount all that Rockye Ground lying between the Fresh Brook & Mr. Coddington brooke adjoyning to Mr. Hough's farme & from the West Corner of that farme to the south west corner of Mr. Hutchinson's farme to be reserved & used in common for ever by the Inhabitants & landholers there: together with an other parcell of Rockie ground near Knights Neek which was left out of the third company of lots excepting all such ground lying among or near these said Rockye grounds formerly granted in lots to particular Persons."
Soon after this covenant was made a petition of the residents was presented to the General Court asking that they might be incorporated into a separate town, and on May 13, 1640, the Court enacted the following: "The petition of the inhabitants of Mount Wollaston was voted & granted them to bee a town according to the agreement with Boston: Provided, that if they fulfill not the covenant made with Boston & hearto affixed, it shabee in the power of Boston to recover their due by action against the said inhabitants, or any of them, and the town is to be called Braintree."
The town was named after Braintree, in the County of Essex, England. At the time it was incorporated in 1640 the resident land owners, most of whom signed the petition, were as follows: Henry Adams, George Aldrich, Samuel Allen, Benjamin Albye, John Arnold, Gregory Belcher, Peter Brackett, James Clark, John Clark, Thomas Clark, John Dassett, William Davis, Francis Eliot, John French, Richard Hayward, Thomas Jewell, Benjamin Keayne, Stephen Kingsley, Henry Maudsley, John Merchant, Thomas Meakins, John Miles, Henry Neale, William Needham, John Pafflyn, Alexander Plumley, George Puffer, Abel Porter, William Potter, Robert Scott, George Sheppard,, Thomas Thayer, Edward Tinge, Henry Webb, George Wright and Richard Wright.
Samuel A. Bates says: "Previous to its incorporation Quincy was called Mount Wollaston and Braintree, Monoticut. It took its name from the river which flows through it, and which is spelled in so many different ways in the ancient records that it is uncertain which is the correct one. It is now written 'Monatiquot.' Holbrook and a part of Randolph (perhaps the whole) were called Cochato, sometimes Cocheco. In one instance Cochato was called Beersheba. Tradition says that Randolph was at one time called 'Scadding,' but I have never seen the name on the records."
PETITION OF 1645
A little while before Braintree was incorporated, Samuel Gorton came with a small company from England and founded a settlement in what is now Plymouth County. Gorton's religious teachings soon brought him into conflict with the colonial authorities. On November 3, 1643, it was ordered by the General Court "That Samuel Gorton shall bee confined to Charlestowne there to be set on worke and to weare such boults or irons as may hind'r his escape and to continue dureing the pleasure of the Co'rt: Provided that if hee shall breake his said confinem't or shall in the meane time either by speach or writeing publish declare or maintaine any of the blasphemes or abominable heresys wherew'th hee hath bene charged by the Generall Co'rt contained in either of the two bookes sent unto us by him or Randle Holden or shall reproach (or) repr've the churches of o'r Lord Jesus Christ in these United Colonies or the civill governm't or the publick ordinances of God therein (unless it bee by answer to some question ppounded to him in conference w'th any elder or with any other licensed to speake with him privately under the hand of one of the Assistants) that immediately upon accusation of any such writeing or speach hee shall by such Assistant to whom such accusation shallbee brought bee committed to prison till the next Co'rt of Assistants then and there to be tryed by a Jury whether hee hath so spoken or written and upon his conviction there of shallbee Condemed to death and Executed."
This was rather severe upon one who sought to exercise that religious liberty for which the Pilgrims and Puritans exiled themselves from their native land, but it had the effect of breaking up Gorton's settlement. Not long after Gorton was confined at Charlestown, pursuant to the above order, the General Court ordered him to be banished from Massachusetts and he sought a refuge in Rhode Island, some of those who came with him from England accompanying him to that colony. In 1645 a petition was presented to the authorities by some of the inhabitants of Braintree, asking for permission to begin a new plantation "where Gorton and his companie had erected two or more houses."
Those who signed the petition were: Christopher Adams, Henry Adams, Sr., Henry Adams, Jr., John Adams, Samuel Adams, Thomas Adams, George Aldridge, Thomas Barrett, Richard Brackett, Deodatus Curtis, Francis Eliot, William Ellice, Thomas Flatman, John French, John Caring, Humfry Grigs, John Hastings, Nathaniel Herman, Stephen Kingsley, Henry Maudsley, Thomas Meakins, Robert Quelues, John Shepard, Daniel Shode, Edward Sparlden. William Vaysey, Arthur Waring, Thomas Waterman, Christopher Webb, John Wheateley, Thomas Wilmet and Nicholas Woode, "They beeing about twenty of the thirty-two subscribers freemen."
The petition was dated October 7, 1645, and a few days later it was denied by Mr. Browne, one of the commissioners of the United Colonies, who gave as his reason therefor that the place was in Plymouth and that the Massachusetts Bay Colony had no jurisdiction. Thus ended the first effort of the people of Braintree to acquire more territory.
By 1666 practically all of the land in the town available for cultivation had been allotted to settlers. Early in October of that year the inhabitants presented to the General Court a petition "to grant unto us a quantity of six thousand acres of land in some place so as may be a relief to the inhabitants of this Towne which we hope will be according to God & no detriment to any other Township."
On October 11, 1666, the General Court voted that "In answer to the petition of the Inhabitants of Braintree, the Court on Consideration of the reasons therein expressed judge meet to grant unto them six thousand acres of Land in some place, limited to one place, not prejudicing any plantation or particular grant."
A committee of the citizens selected a tract lying between Braintree and Plymouth, but the General Court refused to confirm the selection. On March 31, 1670, the selectmen of the town appointed a deputy to bring the matter before the General Court. The personnel of that body had changed materially since the petition had been allowed four years before, and the Court saw "no cause to grant the petition." There the matter rested for more than forty years. At the town meeting on March 2, 1713, Peter Adams, John Cleverly, Nehemiah Hayden, Nathaniel Hubbard and Joseph Neall were elected selectmen. These men immediately set in motion the machinery to obtain the grant of 6,000 acres allowed by the General Court in 1666. First they ascertained that the claim of the town was still valid, and then the question was submitted to a town meeting on June 8, 1713. At that meeting the action of the selectmen was approved, and it was voted "That Captain Chapin, Peter Webb and Joseph Crosby be a committee tofind & lay out the six thousand acres of land formerly granted by the Honoured Court to this Town & to do what is needful to be done about the same in ye space of one year & shall have for their so doing Thirty Pounds if the thing be effected otherwise nothing. And if Captain Chapin should refuse to go then Captain Mills to be joyn'd to ye other two."
The committee visited several localities where the land had not all been parceled out to actual settlers, and finally selected a tract in the western part of Worcester County. The tract soon afterward became known as "Braintree Farms." In 1751 it was included in and gave name to the Town of New Braintree. It was so far away that only a few of the inhabitants of Braintree went there to settle and the land was divided into lots and sold, the proceeds being divided among the precincts—that portion of the town now comprising Quincy being known as the North Precinct, Braintree proper, the Middle Precinct, and Randolph and Holbrook, the South Precinct.
It may be of interest to the reader to know something of the manner in which the town was divided into three precincts. The original Braintree settlement was along the shores of the bay and on the upland and in the valleys in the immediate vicinity. In February, 1640, only about three months before the incorporation of Braintree as a separate town, a grant of land on the Monatiquot River was made to John Collins, who was probably the first actual settler in that locality. By slow degrees the population worked its way back from the shores of the bay into the interior.
On January 19, 1643, the Town of Boston granted to John Winthrop and his associates 3,000 acres of land on the Monatiquot, "to be laid out next adjoining and most convenient for their said iron works." The "said iron works" thus referred to consisted of a company formed about that time under the name of the "Company Undertakers of the Iron Works," for the purpose of establishing a foundry somewhere in the colony of Massachusetts. The works were built on the Monatiquot River and stimulated immigration to that part of the Town of Braintree, though as early as 1658 a few adventurous settlers had established claims as far west and south as the present Randolph line, on the old road to Taunton. One of these settlers was John Moore, who located upon a tract of 600 acres between the Monatiquot River and the Great Pond. This tract was known as the "Moore Farm" for more than two centuries, and that portion of the river forming part of its boundary was called "Moore's Farm River," in memory of the first settler upon its banks.
Now, it should be borne in mind that during the early settlement of Massachusetts, the church and the town government were inseparable, remaining so in fact, to some degree at least, until after the adoption of the revised constitution in 1820, which made a complete separation of the church and state. About thirty five years after John Moore and his associates settled in the southwestern part of the town, a sentiment grew up among them that they were entitled to a more convenient place for holding religious services, as some of them were compelled to go several miles to attend public worship. No organized effort was made, however, to establish another church until about 1690. The movement was opposed by the inhabitants of the northern portion of the town and a bitter feud grew up between the different sections. Little can be learned of the dispute from the records, but one John Marshall, who lived in the north end, left a diary in which were some caustic criticisms of certain persons living in the southern part, "who acted in a disorderly manner and withdrew from the Lord's table." The contention went on until 1706, when the members of the congregation living in the southern part built a new meeting house at the corner of Elm and Washington streets. Concerning this meeting house Samuel A. Bates says: "That it was built legally no one claimed, but its founders did claim that might had deprived them of their just rights, the opposers of the new movement being composed of the most influential citizens of the town, at the head of whom stood the Hon. Edmund Quincy, one of the leaders of government in the colony."
Notwithstanding the influential opposition, the builders of the meeting house went ahead, and on September 10, 1707, Rev. Hugh Adams was installed as pastor. The north end continued its objections and the members of the new congregation petitioned the legal authorities to be set off as a distinct precinct, or parish, to be called "the South Precinct in Braintree." The petition was granted on condition that they continued to pay their proportion of the expense of supporting the old society, which was levied upon them in the form of a tax, and also to pay for their own pastor, the money for which was raised by subscription. On November 3, 1708, a town meeting was held "to fix upon a suitable and reasonable line of division, and that said line be lovingly agreed upon and settled, if it may be." There were some who still opposed the division of the town, but after some discussion it was voted that Edmund Quincy and Nehemiah Hay den be appointed a committee to agree upon a line and present the matter to the General Court, then in session, asking that the southern part of the town be set off as a separate precinct. This was done two days later, hence the South Precinct came legally into existence on November 5, 1708. Among those who were especially active in bringing about the establishment of the new precinct were: Joseph Allen, Samuel Bass, Samuel French, Nehemiah Hayden,, Caleb Hobart, Samuel Niles, Jr., Ebenezer Thayer and Samuel White.
After the division of the church and the organization of the South Precinct, the original Braintree settlement appears in the records as the North Precinct, which was set off as the Town of Quincy in 1792. The records of a town meeting held on November 17, 1727, show clearly that there were then but the two precincts. The first mention of the Middle Precinct is in the minutes of the town meeting held on March 4, 1728. This would indicate that the precinct was established some time between those two dates, but the writer has been unable to find any account of the manner in which it was created.
THE FIRST MILL
One of the first acts of a town meeting was to grant to Richard Wright the privilege of building a mill. On May 1, 1641, it was ordered by a town meeting "That their shall noe other mill be built in the plantation without the consent of Richard Right or his heires so long as the mill remains in ther hands which was built by the said Richard Right, unless it evidently appear that the sd mill will not serve the plantation & that he or they will not built another in convenient time."
This mill figured prominently in the town's history for more than a quarter of a century. On April 30, 1662, a case came before a Country Court held in Boston, in which the parties to the action were as follows: "Thomas ffaxon, Senr Peter Brackit & Moses Paine in the behalfe of the Towne of Brantrey Plaintiff vs Thomas Gatliffe of the sd Towne Defendant." In this action the defendant was charged with "Treaspassing vpon the Townes right in lands that is or hath bine flowed by the mill pond by mowing grass and chalenging it as his owne propriety; as alsa treaspassing vpon the Towne's common in fencing in part of it & vpon the townes highway by his building fencing & digging holes according to attachment dat: 23 2d mo 1662."
It seems that Gatliffe showed to the satisfaction of the court that he had acted within his rights in "treaspassing" as charged, and the case was settled by the plaintiffs and defendant entering into the following agreement:
"Whereas a p'cell of land aboute twenty years Sine was granted vnto Richard Wright by ye Towne of boston for the encorigement and furtheranc of a water mill at Brantrey wch said mill & pond together with other estate hath been solde by the said Wright vnto major Gibbins & by him vnto Symon Lynde and by the said Lynd assigned to Thomas Gatleiffe who now dwelleth (on) & posesseth the same & Wheras sundry differences are arisen concerning ye mill pond & flowing therof by reason of divers apprehensions how & for what end ye sd pond was granted therfore so it is that I Thomas Gatliffe- of Brantrey miller doe herby owne & declare that I doe fully apreehend & adjudge that ye sayd mill and pond & flowing thereof was at first granted for such an end and purpose as that ye Towne of Brantrey might be served & accommodated therby and as it hath ben hitherto so improved & at this time it is so: I declare and promise by gods assistance that I my heires & assignes shall so improved the said pond & noe wayes seeke to cast downe or demolish the same to the Frustrateing of ye Townes accomodations as wel as my owne particuler proffit by grinding.
"And we Thomas ffaxon, Sr., Peter Brackitt and Moses Paine, part of the Selectmen of Brantrey and as chosen & apointed by ye Towne of Brantrey to end and settle the differences about ye said pond doe also herby in o'r owne name & and in the name of ye Towne of Brantrey declare & owne that we also aprehend & Judge that the formentioned mill pond was granted as aforsaid for & to such an end & purpose as is above exprest and doe herby for us and o'r successors of ye Towne of Brantrey declare and promise that neither wee nor they shall or will seeke to interrupt hinder or molest the said Thomas Gatlieffe his heires or assignes for or touching ye sd mill pond or ye flowing therof or any wayes seeke to demolish the same but on ye contrary gladly cherrish & countenanc the mainlening & upholding the same for the ends and purposes aformentioned for wch it was granted."
The agreement was signed by all the plaintiffs and the defendant, and was witnessed by Richard Brackett and Richard Cook. The settlement of this suit left Thomas Gatliffe in peaceable possession of the mill property and for a number of years thereafter he ground the town's corn. Twelve years later the mill question again came before a town meeting. The records for January 20, 1674, contain the following entry:
"Ther being a legal Towne meeting of the inhabitants meet to consider of some proposalls made to the Towne by Leut John Holbrook & Christopher Webb about the mill being wholly demolished by fire there was chosen Capt Rich Brackit Deacon Base (Bass) Edm Quinsey Robert Tweles & Joseph Crosby by the Towne for a committee to heare and consider and to act for themselfes & the Towne of Brantrey's behalfe."
On the 22nd the committee reported that the original grant to Richard Wright and the contract with Thomas Gatliffe had been duly considered, in connection with the proposals of Lieutenant Holbrook and Christopher Webb, and closed the report with this statement: "We agree that the custom of the Towne is ingagded to this mill while wel supplyed & vsed Therefore we account him an offender that doe make vse of any River that is not perticuler propriety to grind for the Inhabitants." Thus the monopoly granted to Richard Wright thirty-five years before was maintained and this mill remained for some years longer the only one authorize.d by the town.
From the incorporation of the town in 1640 to 1730 the town meetings were held in the North Precinct meeting house. For the following twenty years they were held alternately in that building and the meeting house in the Middle Precinct. From 1750 to the building of the town hall on the corner of Washington and Union streets in 1830 they were held in the Middle Precinct meeting house. The first meeting in the town hall was held on March 1, 1830. That hall was sold in 1858 to private parties, who removed it to Taylor Street and converted it into two dwelling houses.
On February 11, 1851, was probated the will of Josiah French, a native of Braintree and a man who had been active in promoting the interests of the town. The will was dated March 19, 1845, and contained the following provision: "I give and devise to the Town of Braintree, in the County of Norfolk, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, a certain piece of mowing and tillage land lying situate in said Braintree, containing five acres, more or less, and bounded as follows: Easterly on Washington Street, northerly on land of Capt. Ralph Arnold, southerly on town land, and westerly on land of Peter Dyer. To have and to hold the same to the said Town of Braintree forever, to be used and occupied by the said town as a common or common field for companies and buildings for town or public business, but no private dwelling houses or buildings whatever to be placed on said premises, but to be forever French's common, except the wood I give my wife."
Mr. French died on January 1, 1851, and after his will was probated the town had to defend a lawsuit before it obtained possession of the property. The case was finally settled in favor of the town and immediately afterward it was decided to erect a new town hall upon the tract, which is situated near the geographical center of the town. The new building was completed in 1858, when the old hall was sold, as already stated. The hall erected in 1858 was used for town meetings and the transaction of public business until its destruction by fire, when the present handsome and commodious structure was erected upon the same site. Braintree now has one of the finest and best appointed town halls in the State of Massachusetts. It is of brick, stone and steel and is as nearly fireproof as human ingenuity can devise. On the main floor are the town offices and a large hall, capable of seating about one thousand people. On the second floor is a hall for the Grand Army of the Republic and rooms used for various purposes. The basement contains the heating plant and storage vaults. It was completed in 1912 and cost about ninety thousand dollars.
On French's Common is also situated the public library, and between the library building and the town hall stands the soldiers' monument, which was dedicated on June 17, 1874.
Early in the year 1865 a meeting of citizens was held in the town hall to consider the subject of erecting a suitable memorial to the Braintree soldiers who sacrificed their lives in defense of the Union. As a means of raising the necessary funds it was decided to hold a fair, a project in which the women of the town joined and about fourteen hundred dollars were thus realized. With this fund as a nucleus a canvass for subscriptions was commenced. Harvey White left the monument fund a legacy of $500, which with the sum raised by the fair and the subscriptions paid in was placed at interest until such time as the money was needed to pay for a memorial.
In 1867 another meeting was held, at which F. A. Hobart, Asa French, Horace Abercrombie, Levi W. Hobart, E. W. Arnold, Jason G. Howard, Edward Avery, Alva Morrison and Edward Potter were appointed a committee "to procure plans and estimates for a suitable memorial." Mr. Howard and Mr. Potter removed from the town before anything definite was done by the committee, and their places were filled by James T. Stevens and William M. Richards. Several designs were submitted to the committee and on June 27, 1873, the town voted "That the soldiers' monument committee be instructed to erect upon some portion of the town land, near the town house, a statue cut in granite, after a model submitted by Messrs. Batterson & Canfield of Hartford, Connecticut, with a pedestal designed by H. & J. E. Billings, architects of Boston, at a cost not exceeding five thousand dollars above the foundation."
On the front of the pedestal is the inscription: "The Town of Braintree builds this monument in grateful remembrance of the brave men whose names it bears." On the reverse is the simple inscription—"Dying they Triumphed," and on the north and south sides are the names of the forty-six Braintree soldiers who fell in action or died while in the service of the United States. The pedestal is surmounted by a life-sized statue of an infantry soldier, standing with his musket "at rest," carved in Westerly granite. The total cost of the monument was $6,466.26 of which sum the town appropriated $3,628.07.
The first move toward supplying the Town of Braintree with water for domestic purposes and for extinguishing fires was made on March 26, 1884, when the Legislature passed an act incorporating the Braintree Water Supply Company. In the act N. E. Hollis, Benjamin F. Dyer, George D. Willis, James T. Stevens, A. S. Morrison, Samuel W. Hollis and Ebenezer Denton were named as the incorporators of the company, and they, their "associates, successors and assigns," were authorized to make a contract with the Quincy Water Company for a supply of water for the Town of Braintree.
This act was repealed by the act of June 3, 1886, which incorporated a new Water Supply Company in the name of Francis A. Hobart, William Wheeler, Joseph E. Manning, E. W. Arnold, Benjamin F. Dyer and Charles F. Parks, "their associates and successors." The new company was given the privilege of taking the waters, "or so much thereof as may be necessary," of Great Pond, situated in the towns of Braintree and Randolph, "and the waters of any spring or artesian or driven wells within the Town of Braintree, and the water rights connected therewith, except the property known as the Monatiquot spring, so called, in South Braintree," etc.
The capital stock of the company, as authorized by the act,-was not to exceed $100,000, and Section 10 provided: "That the said Town of Braintree shall have the right, at any time during the continuance of the charter hereby granted, to purchase the franchise, corporate property and all rights and privileges of said corporation, at a price which may be mutually agreed upon between said corporation and the said town," etc., and by Section n the town was authorized to issue bonds to an amount not exceeding $100,000 to pay for the same, or to provide for annual payments which should not extend beyond the life of the charter.
By the act of May 20, 1891, the town was authorized to issue bonds to the amount of $50,000, or notes or scrip to that amount, "to complete the purchase of the waterworks of the Braintree Water Supply Company." The act also authorized the town to take certain lands on the borders of Little Pond, in order to obtain an additional water supply. Under the provisions of this act, the Braintree Waterworks became the property of the town. Since that time additional bonds and notes have been authorized for the purpose of extending the mains, purchasing new pumping machinery and otherwise improving the plant. At the close of the year 1916 the total amount of water bonds and notes outstanding was $276,000. For the redemption of these bonds there was at the same time an accumulated sinking fund of $229,810.04, leaving a net indebtedness on the waterworks of $46,189.96. According to the report of W. E. Maybury, superintendent of the works, there were a little over forty-six miles of mains, and the income for the year from the sale of water and making connections was $32,347.46.
ELECTRIC LIGHT WORKS
The Braintree municipal lighting plant was established in 1893. Of the bonds issued on April 5, 1893, to pay for construction, the amount outstanding on December, 31, 1916, was $16,500, practically offset by a sinking fund of $15,866.92. At the close of the year 1916 the service included 725 street lights, for which the town paid $6,282, and 1,600 private customers. According to the report of the town treasurer, the total income of the plant was $41,890.94. During the year nearly fifteen thousand dollars were expended in the purchase of new machinery, making the estimated value of the equipment at the close of the year over one hundred thousand dollars. Few towns in the state have a better lighting system than Braintree, and the cost of light to the consumer is much lower than in many of the large cities. F. B. Lawrence, manager of the municipal lighting department, closes his report for 1916 by saying: "Prices on pole-line, hardware, poles, wire and fuel have increased considerably over 1915, yet our manufacturing cost has been well within our income. With increased business and greater generating efficiency, we expect to make an even better showing for the coming year."
Protection against fire was a subject that early claimed the attention of the people of Braintree. On January 11, 1644, a town meeting "Ordered that evry (house) holder in this towne shall by the first day of March next insuing shall have a Ladder of his to stand up against his Chimney to secure them & the towne from fire or else shall be lyable to pay what penalty the towne's men shall impose one them."
That was the beginning of Braintree's fire protection system. The ladders were followed by the old-time "bucket brigade," in which all the citizens within call formed a line between the burning building and the nearest available water supply and passed pails of water from hand to hand, the last man at the end of the line dashing the water upon the fire. Then the hand engine and the company of volunteer firemen came into use. This was a decided improvement upon the bucket brigade, but it was far short of the present modern system of fighting fires.
The Braintree fire department now consists of three stations—one in each precinct—equipped with the most approved apparatus. Each station is provided with a hose company and a hook and ladder company, and each is equipped with a combination motor truck. The total amount of appropriation for the support of the department in 1916 was $12,711.73, of which $3,529.75 was for the pay of firemen. According to the report of F. A. Tenney, chief of the department, sixty-three calls were answered during the year 1916. The total value of property involved was $94,800 and the actual loss was only a little over eleven thousand dollars—a recommendation of the department's efficiency.
When the United States postoffice department was established under the law of 1792, there were not more than eight or ten regular postoffices in Massachusetts. The office at Braintree—the first in the town—was established in February, 1825, with Asa French as postmaster. He kept the office in his house on Washington Street. The South Braintree postoffice was established on March 13, 1845, with Judson Stoddard as postmaster, and was at first located on the corner of Washington and Pearl streets. The United States Postal Guide for July, 1917, gives both of these offices as branches of the Boston postoffice.
A FEW FIRST THINGS
The first white child born in the town was Hannah Niles, a daughter of John and Jane Niles. She was born on February 12, 1636.
The first marriage was that of Henry Adams and Elizabeth Paine, which was solemnized on October 17, 1643.
The first recorded death was that of Mary Paine, whose burial occurred on June 2, 1643.
The first case of insanity was reported in 1651, when "In answer to the petition of John Heydon of Braintree, for relief in respect of his distracted childe," he was allowed five pounds per annum toward the charges of keeping the child, etc.
The first manilla paper ever manufactured was made at the Hollingsworth Paper Mills in Braintree in 1843.
The first church was organized on Sunday, September 16, 1639.
The first school mentioned in the records was taught in 1648 by Henry Flint, teacher of the First Church.
The first factory was the iron works, established on the Monatiquot River in 1643.
The first newspaper was published on June 5, 1875.
BRAINTREE OF TODAY
According to the United States census, the population of Braintree in 1910 was 8,066, and the state census of 1915 reported a population of 9,343, an increase of 1,277 in five years. The assessed valuation of property in 1916 was $9,780,179, an increase of $1,158,127 over the assessment of the preceding year. The total appropriations made by the annual town meeting of 1916 amounted to $195,268.73, of which $61,093 were for the support of the public schools, and $33,944 for the maintenance of streets and highways. From these liberal appropriations it can be readily seen that the people of Braintree believe in education and good roads. South Braintree has a bank, there are two weekly newspapers published in the town, excellent transportation facilities are afforded by the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railway and the electric lines that traverse the town, churches of various denominations are open to worshipers of all beliefs, the Thayer Academy, one of the leading educational institutions of Norfolk County is located in Braintree, the manufacturing interests are both varied and extensive, the last report of the State Bureau of Statistics giving reports from eighteen Braintree concerns having a combined capital of $3,299,047 and employing 2,000 people, and the mercantile establishments compare favorably with those in towns of similar size and population.
The principal town officers at the beginning of the year 1917 were as follows: George H. Holbrook, Henry M. Storm and B. H. Woodsom, selectmen, highway surveyors and overseers of the poor; Henry A. Monk, clerk; Otis B. Oakman, treasurer; Albion C. Drinkwater, Henry W. Mansfield and Henry M. Storm, assessors; Frank W. Couillard, Paul Monaghan and C. F. Tarbox, auditors; William C. Harrison, John Kelley and James T. Stevens, water commissioners and commissioners of sinking funds; Alexander T. Carson, Charles T. Crane and Norton W. Potter, municipal light board; Ann M. Brooks, Frederick C. Folsom, William W. Gallagher, Benjamin Hawes, Carrie F. Loring and Frank A. Reed, school committee; J. F. Kemp, Ray S. Hubbard and James H. Stedman, park commissioners; Frank A. Smith, tax collector; J. S. Hill, Fred A. Tenney, Frank O. Whitmarsh and the selectmen, engineers of the fire department; Jeremiah F. Gallivan, chief of police.
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