Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.
Issue link: http://wellesleywestonmagazine.epubxp.com/i/506487
Until the late 19th century, jobs like fighting fires, keeping the peace, and maintaining roads were done by Weston residents working as volunteers or paid hourly. Today, professional fire, police, and public works departments protect life and property and pro- vide essential services to the community. In its recent exhibit Ready, Willing, and Able: History of Weston Fire, Police, and DPW, the Weston Historical Society explored the history of this important transition. fires were all too common in late 19th century Weston. James Case's first house on Wellesley Street was destroyed in 1882 by a fire from an overheated furnace. Cinders from wood-burning train engines caused frequent brushfires and a fire that destroyed the Silver Hill train station. In 1885, a kerosene lantern overturned during a drunken brawl set fire to a large boarding house on Summer Street used by contractors constructing Stony Brook Reservoir. One man died. To fight these fires, Weston relied on volunteers equipped with "two old fire hooks," sometimes aided by a "steamer" from Waltham. Petty theft was also a problem. Items in the Waltham Daily Free Press Tribune record boys and automobilists stealing fruit, tramps milking cows dry, and thieves stealing pullets, bicycles, carriages, blankets, and clothing off clotheslines. But as in the case of fire fighting, the town had no official police department. Each year, respected residents were appointed as constables or special police, often serving without pay. In 1890, these time-honored methods for dealing with fires and crime came under scrutiny. That year, Daniel Lamson, whose farm- house was located in the town center, wrote a letter to the selectmen complaining: "There is rampant in the center of town a spirit of hud- dlism (sic)." He protested that residents could not go peaceably to the post office or library without being harassed, even in broad daylight, adding, "Stones are thrown, windows broken, property injured. . . sign boards. . . defaced, broken & in some instance utterly destroyed & car- 80 W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e | s u m m e r 2 0 1 5 PA M E L A W. F O X , P R E S I D E N T, W E S T O N H I S T O R I C A L S O C I E T Y writer H I S T O R I C A L I M A G E R Y C O U R T E S Y O F W E S T O N H I S T O R I C A L S O C I E T Y Ready , Willin g , & Able A History of Weston Fire, Police, and DPW B A C K G R O U N D B Y B E T H F U R M A N