Jonathan Stone.

Address of Jonathan Stone, Mayor of Charlestown, to the City Council, January 6, 1873 online

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Online LibraryJonathan StoneAddress of Jonathan Stone, Mayor of Charlestown, to the City Council, January 6, 1873 → online text (page 1 of 2)
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JANUARY 6, 1873.



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JANUARY 6, 1873.






We are here assembled to organize our Municipal Government
for 1873. The year just terminated has been one of general
prosperity to our citizens ; it has left no monuments of desola-
tion within our border like those that now mark our sister city,
where but recently stood the business palaces of merchant princ-
es the stately warehouses of architectural beauty that were
the pride and the ornament of the metropolis of our State.
But notwithstanding the outward signs are not here, yet a large
number of our citizens were sufferers by that great calamity,
and some to the extent of the accumulations of years of toil,
industry and frugality. May all such be encouraged to start
anew with redoubled energy on the road to prosperity, and may
their efforts be crowned with more than ordinary success, and
may the close of the year upon which we have just entered
find all our constituents in a better, happier and more prosperous
condition than at its commencement.

This is the twenty-seventh inaugural ceremony in our city.
We have this day received the official robes of municipal office
and of honor, and have taken an oath to perform faithfully all
the duties incumbent upon us ; may we be duly sensible of the
importance of this solemn obligation. Pardon me, gentlemen,
if I refer to some of our duties and responsibilities.

I regret to believe that there is a very general feeling in the
community that offices of the present day are often filled with
those who seek them, either for the honor of the position, or

the profit to be derived therefrom, and that those who seek them
for the honor care little for the duties, while those who seek them
for profit care for nothing but to fmther their own selfish in-
terests. It is under the management of such rulers that our
republican form of government is becoming distasteful to many
of our best citizens.

I beg of you, each and ever}' one, that you will so perform your
duties as to dispel all such belief and distrust, and that when
our term of service is ended we shall so have discharged them
as to meet the approbation of all reasonable citizens, and feel
within our hearts an honest conviction of having performed to
the best of our ability all the duties and obligations this day

I therefore counsel you to examine carefully all matters that
may come before you ; act not hastily in your appropriations,
but give to each subject the consideration its importance de-
mands, remembering that the prudent, careful man is more certain
of success than the reckless ; and, above all, remember that you
are disbursing the people's money, of which you should be more
careful and prudent than of your own. It may be said that a man
has a right to do as he pleases with his own, but when he be-
comes a public servant, intrusted with the public treasure, its
reckless or extravagant use becomes an abuse of trust, and he is
liable to censure if not to penalties.

We have a very small, compact city ; our public squares are
in good condition, and the condition of our streets, schools, fire
department and sewers will compare favorably with other cities
in the Commonwealth. Our water works are paying a surplus
over running expenses and interest on the cost, and, with good
management by our city officials, what is there to prevent the
finances of our city from being in a flourishing and prosperous
condition. I hope and trust that our debt will not hereafter be
increased, except it be for extraordinary expenditures. By annu-
ally paying our current expenses, and placing a respectable sum
to the credit of the sinking fund, our city's debt would be gradu-
ally diminished.

I will now call your attention to some of the various depart-
ments of the city, one of the most important of which is our


Education this word opens to the mind a vast field of
thought ; upon it depends everything for good or evil all our
moral, social, political and religious relations are shaped by the
education we receive in early life. Our public schools instruct us
in the theoretical, while the practical part is learned outside ; and
parents sadly err when they expect their children to receive all
the teaching in our schools necessary to fit them for the varied
pursuits and vocations of practical life.

The duties of parents cannot be transferred to others ; they
must themselves, by precept and by example, teach at home the
lessons of veneration, love, respect for truth, habits of sobriety,
honesty, industry and economy. Thus, and thus alone, can the
moral education keep pace with the intellectual, and the heart as
well as the head be fitted for the duties of mature years. When
education at home and education at school combine, and in the
right direction, we may expect to see the rising generation be-
come useful citizens, and the appropriations so Uberally made for
our schools prove one of our best investments.

The appropriation last year, including the amount received
from the State, was $128,141.

The financial year not terminating until March next, the exact
amount that will be expended is not yet known ; but if we ex-
amine our official reports, and take the years 1866 and 1871, a
five year period, we find these facts and figures, which deserve
attention :

Expenditures for salaries, fuel and contingencies for our schools

for the financial year ending February, 1866 $58,562

Expense for same for the year ending February, 1871 io*>337

Average number of pupils attending schools March i, 1 866 4, 194

" " " " 1871 5,016

Increase of pupils, 20 per cent.

" expenditures, 73 per cent.

Money for this department must be liberally appropriated, and
should be judiciously and economically expended.

Our schoolhouses should be durably and conveniently con-
structed, avoiding all those " extras " which add largely to the

(fccpense, without adding to the convenience or comfort. During
the last year the Harvard grammer schoolhouse was completed
at a total cost of $130,285.60 ; cost of building, $92,000. Cam-
bridge has recently built a new schoolhouse, also called the Har-
vard, a very fine, substantial, good looking building, and which
will seat more scholars, and is in every way as good a building
as ours, at a cost of $56,000, showing there might have been
saved about $36,000 on this one building. We shall soon require
a new grammar schoolhouse in Ward Two, and when this is built,
and the old Winthrop remodelled into primary and intermediate
schools, I think we shall have all the large school buildings re-
quired for our limited territory.


Our public library is a source of pleasure to the reading com-
munity, and I trust it is also of profit, by imparting to the mind
valuable information and knowledge. Its usefulness depends
much upon the character of its books. An annual appropriation
for this institution has become a necessity, and, as it is in charge
of competent trustees, I do not doubt your appropriation will be
wisely expended.


Last year the fire department was changed from a volunteer,
or partially paid, to a paid department, so called. A large
amount of money was expended in the change, and an extra an-
nual appropriation of over $10,000 will be required to support
it. There is a doubt in the minds of many whether we shall ever
receive benefits equal to the additional cost. We had a very effi-
cient department under the old system, and it remains to be seen
whether it is to be improved under the new.

Total number of alarms last year 49

" amount of loss by fire $76,965

" insurance 61,735

Net loss $i 5,230

The apparatus used consists of two steam fire engines, four
hose carriages, one hook and ladder truck, all in good order.

The department consists of steamer's company, 15 men ; 4 hose
companies, 13 men each, 52 men ; hook and ladder com-
pany, 23 men ; chief and 4 assistant engineers and i spare dri-
ver 96 men in all. For further information concerning the de-
partment I refer you to the engineers' annual report.


Few cities in this Commonwealth can claim a more healthy
locality or a less percentage of mortality than ours. The whole
number of deaths during the past year was 769 ; of these 17 were
at the State Prison, 8 were accidental, and 39 died of small pox.


This loathsome disease is making us a visit it reaches all
localities and all classes. The highest number of cases at any
one time during the year was 70, at the present time 36, showing
it to be on the decrease. It may be necessary to procure a com-
fortable building in some place remote from other dwellings,
where the worst cases may be carried and comfortably cared for
without the exposure of others. I hope you will give the mat-
ter such attention as its importance demands, not in any way
creating excitement or undue alarm, but by studying the best
mode of treating it, and then pursue the course your judgment
dictates. I am fully satisfied that the most effectual remedy is
thorough vaccination, and I consider any one who neglects or
refuses to be vaccinated guilty of great injustice to himself and
to the community in which he resides.


Our police department is represented to be in good condition,
and its force efficient, all of which I have no reason to doubt
The increase in the expenses of this department for the last six
years has been very great.

It cost for the year ending February. 1866 $15,100

<8?i 4L733

1872 42,063


It will be your duty to look into the condition of this depart-
ment and see if there cannot be made some retrenchment, with-
out impairing the force required for the preservation of order
and the protection of our citizens. The whole force now consists
of one chief, one captain, one lieutenant, two truant officers and
31 policemen -36 in all. The whole number of committals to
the station the last year was 1956 ; of these 379 were for lodgings
only, 810 for drunkenness, and 767 for other offences; 619 were
before the Police Court and fined or imprisoned, 241 committed
to the House of Correction, and 24 to the State Asylum at Wor-

The Chief of Police suggest the appointment of two more
day officers, making seven in all, and making them all truant
officers, thereby dispensing with the two specials. This change
would make the force more efficient, by having the services of all
the men full time, while the present specials are only on duty
about two-thirds of the time. The suggestion is worthy of con-


The inmates of the almshouse on the first of January, 1872,
numbered 48 ; admitted during the year 46, 36 as lodgers, 3
under sentence, and 2 births, making a total for the year of 135.
Discharged 76, died 9, leaving the present number 50, of whom
14 are chargeable to other cities and towns, 9 serving out sen-
tence or at work for their board, and 27 a legal charge upon the
city. The general health for persons of this class has been good.
The deaths were of those far advanced in age, or of impaired
health when admitted. The superintendent and matron have
fully sustained their reputation in making this house a Home for
its inmates, so far as any institution of this kind can be made a
home. The whole number of families receiving outside assist-
ance was 553 ; of this number 177 are chargeable to other cities
and towns ; 237 have no legal settlement in the State, leaving
139 entitled to support from this city. Up to October i, 1872,
we have paid $2,172.71 for support of 21 persons in the insane
hospitals ; 3 died during the year, leaving the present number
1 8. The appropriation for the support of the poor for 1872 was

$12,000, of which $6,057.48 is unexpended, probably sufficient
for the present financial year.

As the law now stands, any soldier who served one year or
more in the late war, as part of the quota of any city or town,
has a legal claim on that city or town for support in case of des-
titution or want. I am informed that we have no accurate list of
those who filled our quota. I think such a list should be pre-
pared that could be used for either practical or historical pur-
poses, as necessity or convenience may require.


To judge from the amount of money expended upon our
streets for the last three years they should be in a most perfect
condition. Reports show that there was paid on street accounts
for paving, grading, cleaning and repairing, after deducting
credits for sidewalk assessments, the following amounts :

For the year ending February, 1870 $61,433 59

1871 141,818 58

1872 "9.IS7 59

The financial year ending 1871 shows an expenditure upon
our streets of $141,818, or a much larger amount than the entire
appropriation for municipal expenses for the year 1861 ; and for
the year 1872 of $119,157. These amounts do not include one
dollar which was expended on laying out and widening streets,
expenditures which were in about the same ratio ; but to deter-
mine the amount from the printed reports, with awards, credits for
betterments, abatements, &c., &c., carried along from year to
year, would require the skill of a very competent accountant I
therefore confine my illustrations and comparisons to such items
as are apparent to any one making the examination. Suppose
we go back ten years and make some examination for precisely
the same items of expense for streets, and what is the result :

For the year ending February, 1862, they cost $10,751




Total $146,890


It thus appears that for the eight years from 1862 to 1869 in-
clusive it cost but $5,072 more than for the single year of 1871 !
Has the city had a fair equivalent for this large expenditure since
1870, and if not, who is accountable for the waste? It would
seem that a reform in this department is imperatively de-
manded, and should be commenced without delay. I suggest
that a suitable place be prepared on the city's lot at the junction
of Elm with Medford street, and that the city purchase and de-
posit upon it all paving material required, and have the work of
paving done by men employed by the day, until such time as
sufficient competition for this kind of work appears in the mar-
ket to give assurance that the city can contract for it at fair
paying prices. In this item a large saving ought to be made.

*The present method of carting and paying for gravel used
upon our streets has proved very expensive, as well as discredit-
able to any party having control of the business, and should at
once be corrected. It is estimated that the cost for removal of
ashes and rubbish from the streets in 1872 was about $7,000.
If this estimate be correct, has this work been economically per-
formed? I find that in 1862 the same work was done by contract,
and that the amount paid was $850 ; in 1863, $900 ; in 1864, $1,-
ooo ; while in 1870 it cost over $7,000, without including what was
done by the city's teams. Under proper management there is
but little doubt that a large saving in this item can be made.

Medford street has become one of our most important business
streets ; a portion of it was paved last year, and an equal extent
should be paved each year until the whole is completed. Bun-
ker Hill street from Green down is unsafe for travel, owing to its
having too much crown. I would recommend that the sidewalk
and gutters be raised. School street from High to Main street
is in an unfinished state, and will require attention. Recent ex-
perience in the laying out of new and the widening of old streets
has been sufficiently expensive to teach us a lesson not easily

Some of the new streets have been laid out over vacant land
that required the streets in order to use the land to advantage,
and were therefore purely of a private nature, and yet the city
paid the full value for the land taken. Such was the case in the


extension of Monument street ; a street of only about 400 feet
in length costing for the land and grading over $12,000. Other
cases might be cited. There are grave doubts whether this and
similar streets, that have been laid out and paid for by the city,
are such as public necessity and convenience require.

The " betterment law " as it has been applied has been yery
expensive. There are but few instances where an attempt should
be made to enforce it, and in all such its provisions should be
strictly observed, so as to realize all anticipated benefits. Thus
far the law has proved a very expensive machine, as managed by
our authorities.


We seem to be unequally and unjustly burdened with expen-
sive bridges, which are five in number. We are required to pay
one half for the maintenance of the Charles River and Warren
bridges connecting us with Boston. For this charge the com-
missioners' requisition upon our treasury for the present financial
year amounted to $39,000, which was mainly expended on Warren
bridge [in widening and constructing a draw and piers, bulk-
heads, paving and general repairs, and its condition should now
be such as to require no further outlay upon it for many years to
come. Charles River bridge is reported to be in good condition,
except the draw, which has been a constant source of annoyance
and expense ever since it was built, as an experiment by inex-
perienced and unskilful hands.

Of the 3100 feet of Chelsea bridge it has been decreed that
Charlestown shall support 1921, or more than three-fifths. This
bridge is old and in a dilapidated condition, and will soon re-
quire rebuilding. The charter of the Mystic River Corporation
requires it to fill in and make solid the territory now enclosed
by its walls, within the next six years. Perhaps some equitable
arrangement can be made with the parties interested to have
that part under the bridge which includes about 1300 lineal feet
made solid by filling at an earlier day.

A new draw and piers have recently been constructed for
Maiden bridge. This bridge also requires very general repairs,
and it should be properly lighted. For its support this city pays
25 per cent, of the cost under the apportionment and order of the
County Commissioners.


A part of Prison Point bridge, so called, is a charge upon this
city, but I am not informed of any important repairs required
upon it.


Within the last two years there have been added to the con-
struction account of the water works the following items :

For a new engine and boilers $73,345 36

" enlargement of engine house and extension of grounds . . . 33,727 43
" new force main pipe 9,874 1 7

Total $i 16,947 96

The total cost of constructing water works to the present time
is $1,460,397.67. During the year a 16 inch main has been laid
in Canal street, from Mill to Richmond street, also mains in
other streets of this city and in the town of Everett, where 200
service pipes are already entered. The present pumping capac-
ity is equal to 18,000,000 gallons each twenty-four hours ; daily
consumption 6,000,000, showing ample pumping capacity until
the consumption is more than double the quantity at present used.

Amount of water rates for the year 1872 $202,000

Cost of maintenance $57,000

Interest to Dec. ist, 1872 74,453


Surplus $70,547

The increase derived from water rates over the cost of main-
tenance, improvement and interest on the debt must be applied
to the reduction of the debt, and cannot legally be used for any
other purpose. It thus appears that the surplus receipts for the
year 1872 amount to about $70,000, and these are likely to be
increased from year to year, and must be added to the sinking
fund for the extinguishment of the debt. As the works are re-
ported to be in excellent condition, with these surplus receipts,
that can be used for any extension or improvement necessaiy, I
cannot see why the construction account may not now be closed.

I understand the subject of drainage, to protect Mystic Pond
from any impurities, is under consideration by the water board,
and will receive that attention its importance demands. An ex-
amination of the report of the Mystic Water Board will give in
detail all the information desired in regard to the works.

I recommend for your consideration, and as a saving to the
city, that a building suitable for a carpenter's shop be erected on
the lot of land at the corner of Tufts and Medford streets, now
occupied in part by the water board, and that a carpenter, with
assistants if required, be employed to do the repairing and job-
bing on the city's buildings, also for the water board, or in
any department where such services are required. I find that
for the year ending February, 1872, over $6,000 was paid for
labor and stock used in repairs, not including any payments on
the water account, which would add largely to this amount, and
not including $447 paid for cesspool covers. By purchasing the
material, and employing a competent workman to use it to the
best advantage, I think a respectable saving of the city's money
would be the result.


It is as important to a city as to an individual to have a good
financial record. Ours is such that I have deferred it to the last,
and would now willingly pass over it unnoticed did I not consider
it incumbent upon me to call your attention to its magnitude.
Reports show that on March i, 1872, our water debt was $1,357,-
ooo. This amount has been increased the past year $103,000,
but, as has been previously shown, this debt, with our surplus
water receipts, is in a fair way to take care of itself.

By the estimate of the City Treasurer I find that the munici-
pal debt, so called because it does not include the water
debt, was, January I, 1873 $1,205,547 05

Deduct amount standing to credit of sinking fund 99.789 71

And we find the present municipal debt to be $1,105,757 34

Net municipal debt March i, 1870 668,353 47

Net increase in two years and ten months $437,403 87

It thus appears that in the last thirty-four months there has
been a net increase in our municipal debt of $437,403.87, or
equal to an increase of sixty-five per cent, on the entire accumu-
lations of all our municipal indebtedness from the day of the set-
tlement of this ancient town up to March ist, 1870, with all
our war expenses included. During this thirty-four months
period, has there been any diminution in favor of our citizens in
the amount of tax assessed ? Let us examine. It is said that

the valuation of property has been increased to nearly or quite
its full market value, and the rate of taxation has been as fol-

For the year 1870, rate $16.00 on $1000

" " 1871, " 15,20 " "

" " 1872, " 15,40 " "

While for twenty years prior to 1864, a period including three
years of the War of the Rebellion, when our extraordinary ex-
penses were large, the rate, with one year's exception, neveV
exceeded $10.00, and the average was but $9.00. The amount
raised by taxation during this thirty-four months period was as
follows :

For the year 1870, amount raised $463,495

" " 1871, " " 500,915

" " 1872, " " 556,213

Add increase of debt 437,403

Which makes $1,958,026

Deduct for 3 years State and County Tax 190,365

And we have an expenditure for municipal purposes only of $1,767,661

Do not the above figures show a very liberal assessment, and
has this amount been judiciously and economically expended ?
The recent emphatic verdict of the people in condemnation of
this record was decidedly in the negative. I have presented
you with the figures in gross, trusting that your committees will
take the different items of expense up in detail, and find wherein
there has been waste, extravagance or expenditures not warranted,
that such abuses may be hereafter avoided and REFORM com-
menced, that the financial account to be closed in February, 1874,
may exhibit a more satisfactory result.

In our city charter may be found this provision of law : " No
board or committee of the city council, or of either branch thereof,
shall make any contract on behalf of and binding upon the city,


Online LibraryJonathan StoneAddress of Jonathan Stone, Mayor of Charlestown, to the City Council, January 6, 1873 → online text (page 1 of 2)