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Officials in America
THIS town, before its incorporation in 1705, belonged to Boston, from which it was separated by a bay formed
by Charles river. Wood, the author of "New England's Prospect," in describing &ston and other places
in the vicinity, in 1633, says- "The inhabitants of this place, [Boston] for their enlargement, have taken
to themselves farm houses in a place called Muddy River, [Brookline] two miles from the town, where there is good
ground, large timber, and store of marsh land and meadow. In this place they keep their swine and other cattle
in the summer, whilst the corn is in the ground at Boston, and bring them to town in the winter." As early
as 1686, the inhabitants at Muddy River had obtained an order that said hamlet should thence forth be free from
paying taxes to the town of Boston, and to have the privilege of annually choosing three men to manage their affairs.
The conditions were, that they should bear their own expenses, erect a school-house, and maintain a reading and
writing master. After the overthrow of Andross, the town of Boston disannulled the above order, and rigorously
exercised over them all the authority they possessed. After some considerable opposition, a petition, signed by
32 freeholders. was presented to the legislature in 1705, for a separation from Boston. The petition was granted,
and the place was incorporated as a distinct town by ihe name of Brookline. "It is supposed that this name
was adopted from the circumstance that Smelt brook is a boundary between that town and Cambridge, and that another
brook, which falls into Muddy river, is a boundary between it and Roxbury."
The hills and woodlands of Brookline form a considerable part of the scenery presented to the view from the west
of Boston common. The town contains some of the finest country seats and best managed lands which adorn the environs
of Boston. It is 5 miles northerly from Dedham, and 5 W. of Boston. Population, 1,083. There are 2 churches, 1
Congregational and 1 Baptist. A direct communication with Boston is effected by the construction of an immense
mill dam, a mile and a half in length. and 100 feet in the widest and 50 feet in the narrowest part, built with
walls of stone, filled up compactly with gravel and other materials, at an enormous expense. It is water tight.
and raised three or four feet above high-water mark. This Western Avenue," as it is called, was opened for
passengers July 2, 1821. There was a splended ceremony on the occasion. A cavalcade of citizens, under the direction
of Adj. Gen. Wm. H. Sumner, at an early hour entered the town over the dam, and were welcomed on the Boston side
by the inhabitants. Several of the revolutionary forts may be traced in this town by some slight remains; and the
site of one of the ancient Indian forts, built by the natives before the settlement by the English, is yet discernible,
on what is called Sewall's farm.
Zabdiel Boylston, F. R. S., an eminent physician, was a native of this town, born in 1680, and died in this town
in 1766. He is distinguished as being the first who introduced the inoculation of the small-pox into America.
"The inoculation of small-pox was first performed in the English dominions in April, 1721, upon a daughter
of the celebrated Lady M. W. Montague, who had become acquainted with inoculation as practised by Turkish women,
during her residence in Constantinople.
"About this time Dr. Zabdiel Boylston, of Boston, was induced to adopt the same expedient, from reading an
account of inoculation, and made his first experiment by inoculating his only son and two negro servants, on the
27th of June, i721. Probably there never was greater Opposition to any measure of real public utility than was
exhibited. on this occasion. Dr. Boylston was execrated and persecuted as a murderer, assaulted in the streets,
and loaded with every species of abuse. His house was attacked with violence, so that neither himself nor his family
could feel secure in it. At one time he remained fourteen days in a secret apartment of his own. house, unknown
to any of his family except his wife. The enraged inhabitants patrolled the town in parties, with halters in their
hands, threatening to hang him on the nearest tree, and repeatedly entered his house in search of him during his
concealment. Such was the madness of the multitude, that, even after the excitement had in some measure subsided,
Dr. Boylston only ventured to visit his patients at midnight, and then in disguise. He had also to encounter violent
opposition from most of the members of his own profession, and notwithstanding he invited them all to visit his
patients, and judge for themselves, received nothing but threats and insults in reply. Indeed, many sober, pious
people were deliberately of opinion, when inoculation was first commenced, that, should any of his patients die,
the doctor ought to be capotally indicted. He was repeatedly summoned before the selectmen of Boston, and received
their reprehension. His only friends were Dr. Cotton Mather and other clergymen, most of whom became zealous advocates
for the new practice, and consequently drew upon themselves much odium from the populace. Some of them received
personal injury; others were insultel in the streets, and were hardly safe in their own dwellings nor were their
services acceptable on Sunday to their respective audiences.
A bill for prohibiting the practice of inoculation, under severe penalties, was brought before the legislature
of Massachusetts, and actually passed the house of rep resentatives, but some doubts existing in the senate, it
failed to become a law.
"Dr. Boylston lived to see the cause he espoused triumphant, and its utility generally appreciated. So prone
are mankind to vacillate from one extreme to the other that, on a subsequent appearance of the small-pox in Boston.
in the year 1792, the whole town was inoculated in three days, to appease the infatuation of the inhabitants respecting
the danger apprehended from this deadly pestilence. Persons were inoculated indiserimonately to the number of 9,152
and such was the hurry and confusion with which it was done, and such the impossibility of rendering proper assistance
and attention to so large a number, that 165 deaths were the consequence."
Historical Collections Relating to the
History and Antiquities of
Every town in Massachusetts with
By John Warner Barber.
Published by Warren Lazell.