Historical Trustees 11-20

Weston Lewis

Trustee of the Boston Public Library, 1868-1879. Born 1834 in Hingham, MA; died 1893 in East Pasadena, CA. Businessman and civil servant. A member of one of the oldest and respected families in Hingham, Weston Lewis began his business career in Boston at age sixteen and founded the dry goods company of Lewis, Brown & Company in 1860. Following his retirement from his company and resignation from the Board of Arbitration, he served as president of the Manufacturers' National Bank which prospered during his four-year tenure. Weston Lewis was a dutiful citizen: concurrent to his service on the Library's Board of Trustees, he was elected several terms to the Common Council, served as inspector of State prisons and later of State charities under Governor Washburn and was appointed by Mayor Gaston as one of the commissioners reporting on the annexation of Dorchester, West Roxbury and Charlestown by Boston. He would later become a member of the Board of Aldermen from the Eighth District and serve on many important committees. Weston Lewis participated in and supported a number of religious, philanthropic and literary movements, and was a founder of the Unitarian Club and of the Boston Merchants' Association. His passing was unexpected and many tributes were made in his memory by his associates in business and government.

Sources:

Professional and Industrial History of Suffolk County, Massachusetts. Boston: Boston History Company, 1894.

Wadlin, Horace G. The Public Library of the City of Boston: A History. Boston: Trustees of the Boston Public Library, 1911.

Whitehill, Walter Muir. Boston Public Library: A Centennial History. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1956.

Illustration: "Weston Lewis", J.A.J. Wilcox engraving appearing in Professional and Industrial History of Suffolk County, Massachusetts, vol. II, between pages 392-393.

George Putnam, D. D.

Trustee of the Boston Public Library, 1868-1877. Born 1807 in Sterling, MA; died 1878 in Roxbury. Clergyman. A graduate of Harvard University in 1826, George Putnam was invited to become an associate pastor to the Rev. Dr. Eliphalet Porter of the First Church of Roxbury while still attending Harvard Divinity School. At Dr. Porter’s passing, he became the Pastor of one of the oldest religious congregations in Massachusetts. A widely read student, he was considered a thoughtful, interesting and eloquent preacher with an ability to find the “master key” of a subject to reveal and examine its parts. Interested in public affairs, Dr. Putnam was a member of the 1853 constitutional convention and was elected to the Massachusetts Legislature, serving 2 years. He had a deeper interest in educational affairs and, besides his Library trusteeship, served on the school committee of Roxbury, as well as President of Trustees of Roxbury Latin School, of the Boston Young Men’s Christian Union and of the Fellowes Athenaeum. Following a long vacation in Europe, Dr. Putnam became ill after attending a winter meeting of the Corporation of Harvard College. Much beloved, his resignation from his pastoral office due to ill health was declined by an appreciative and supporting congregation that immediately elected an associate pastor to take on some of his duties. After a time Dr. Putnam stopped preaching, although he continued to participate in Sunday services. He died in his Roxbury home. Admirers made gifts to the Library in his memory: a painting of Dr. Putnam by Edgar Parker was commissioned by the Trustees of the Fellowes Athenaeum and a bust by R. L. Green.

Sources:
Thwing, Walter Eliot. History of the First Church in Roxbury, Massachusetts, 1630-1904. Boston: W. A. Butterfield, 1908.

Wadlin, Horace G. The Public Library of the City of Boston: A History. Boston: Trustees of the Boston Public Library, 1911.

Whitehill, Walter Muir. Boston Public Library: A Centennial History. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1956.

Edwin Percy Whipple

Trustee of the Boston Public Library, 1868-1870. Born 1819 in Gloucester, MA, and died 1886 in Boston. Essayist, author and lecturer. From his youth in Salem, MA, Edwin Whipple made his interest in literature and history a lifelong passion, writing for newspapers from age fourteen while working in finance. He continued to write newspaper articles after his transfer to a brokerage in Boston and attracted the notice of T. B. Macaulay as well as friends of the same literary interests. Upon leaving the brokerage, Edwin Whipple became the superintendent of the newsroom for the Merchants’ Exchange, during which tenure he published the 2-volume Essays and Reviews (1848-49) and Lectures on Subjects Connected with Literature and Life (1850). In 1860 he resigned his position at the Merchants’ Exchange to dedicate his time to writing and lecturing. Speaking at the height of the lyceum movement, Mr. Whipple spoke thoughtfully and imaginatively on his favored interests and his lectures were often rapidly compiled and published in book form. His tenure on the Board of Trustees witnessed and guided the growth and development of the young public library.

Sources:
Bolton, Charles K. "Edwin Percy Whipple (1819-1886)", Dictionary of American Biography Base Set. American Council of Learned Societies, 1928-1936. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. [Online database] Farmington Hills, MI: The Gale Group, 2003 at http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/BioRC via BPL Electronic Resources web page.

Wadlin, Horace G. The Public Library of the City of Boston: A History. Boston: Trustees of the Boston Public Library, 1911.

Whitehill, Walter Muir. Boston Public Library: A Centennial History. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1956.

Jarvis Dwight Braman

Trustee of the Boston Public Library, 1869-1872. Born 1825 in Cambridge and died 1888 in Boston. Real estate developer, soldier and politician. Educated in the Boston Latin and Chauncy Hall Schools, Jarvis Dwight Braman was active in the real estate business with particular interest in the Back Bay area. His realty development activities included presidencies of the Boston Water Power Company; of the various Boston Street Railway Companies; of the Eastern Railroad Company; of the Charles River Embankment Company; and of the Brookline Land Company. Prior to the outbreak of the Civil War, Mr. Braman was a major in the Massachusetts Rifle Battalion. Although he had raised a battalion to participate, Governor Andrew appointed him to his staff and, on the illness of General Marshall, served as the Paymaster-General for Massachusetts during the entire conflict. While serving as Paymaster-General, he established for the colored men serving in the Massachusetts regiments a free school which later was incorporated into the public school system as an evening school. Mr. Braman became a member of the Boston Common Council on his return to civilian life from 1865-1866 and was a member of the Board of Aldermen in 1867 and 1868. Concurrent to his trusteeship with the Library, Trustee Braman founded and planned the public park system in Boston. He was also a member of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company as a lieutenant, as well as a member of St. Andrew’s Royal Arch Chapter and of the Boston Commandery of the Knights Templar.

Sources:
Professional and Industrial History of Suffolk County, Massachusetts. Boston: Boston History Company, 1894.

Roberts, Oliver Ayer. History of the Military Company of the Massachusetts, now called The Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts, 1637-1888. Boston: Alfred Mudge & Son, 1901.

Wadlin, Horace G. The Public Library of the City of Boston: A History. Boston: Trustees of the Boston Public Library, 1911.

Whitehill, Walter Muir. Boston Public Library: A Centennial History. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1956.

George Stillman Hillard

Trustee of the Boston Public Library, 1872-1875. Born 1808 in Machias, ME; died 1879 in Brookline, MA. Attorney, legislator, author and editor. A graduate of Boston Latin School and later Harvard University, George Hillard studied law in Northampton, MA, Harvard Law School and the office of Charles P. Curtis of Boston. He was the editor of the Christian Register and of the Jurist early in his legal career. His service to Boston, Massachusetts, and the United States included becoming a representative on the Common Council, serving as member of the Senate and being appointed city solicitor. Mr. Hillard also served as the United States Attorney for several years before becoming the senior partner of the Hillard, Hyde and Dickinson law firm. His work for the library began during his councilman term when he participated in the committee responding to a donation of books from the City of Paris, one of the first gifts of books to the City of Boston that culminated in establishing a public library. In 1853, Mr. Hillard was appointed to the first Examining Committee of the Library, which made its first report that year. During his trusteeship, he assisted in the acquisition of the library of Thomas Pennant Barton for the Bates Hall collections. Following his term on the Board, George Hillard compiled and published the 1876 volume, Letter and Journals of George Ticknor, which documented much of his fellow trustee’s activities for the library.

Sources:
Professional and Industrial History of Suffolk County, Massachusetts. Boston: Boston History Company, 1894.

Wadlin, Horace G. The Public Library of the City of Boston: A History. Boston: Trustees of the Boston Public Library, 1911.

Whitehill, Walter Muir. Boston Public Library: A Centennial History. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1956.

Daniel Sargent Curtis

Trustee of the Boston Public Library, 1873-1875. Born 1825 in Boston and died 1908 in Venice, Italy. Lawyer and banker. A relation of artist John Singer Sargent and father of artist Ralph Wormeley Curtis, Daniel S. Curtis was a graduate of Harvard University in 1846 and of Harvard Law School in 1848. He was admitted to the Suffolk county bar in 1849. Mr. Curtis served on the board of directors of the Old Boston National Bank and later became an agent for the merchant banking firm of Brown, Shipley and Company of Liverpool and London. He generously donated volumes to the library’s collections during his trusteeship. Following his tenure as trustee, an unfortunate incident with a Boston judge led Mr. Curtis to move his family to Europe where he eventually acquired the Palazzo Barbaro on the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy. Here, the Curtises received many American expatriate guests and visitors, including Sargent, Isabella Stewart Gardner, Henry James, and Robert Browning. The palazzo inspired a number of artistic and literary works, and the Curtis family itself was the subject of Sargent’s An Interior in Venice (1898) here. Mr. Curtis died in Venice at the age of 83

Sources:
Honour, Hugh and John Fleming. Venetian Hours of Henry James, Whistler, and Sargent. Boston: Little, Brown, 1991.

Professional and Industrial History of Suffolk County, Massachusetts. Boston: Boston History Company, 1894.

Wadlin, Horace G. The Public Library of the City of Boston: A History. Boston: Trustees of the Boston Public Library, 1911.

Wallace, Natasha. "Portrait of Ralph Wormeley Curtis…", an electronic article at the John Singer Sargent (JSS) Virtual Gallery website, found at .

Whitehill, Walter Muir. Boston Public Library: A Centennial History. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1956.

Richard Frothingham, Jr.

Trustee of the Boston Public Library, 1875-1879. Born 1812 and died 1880 in Charlestown. Historian, editor, author and Democrat. Richard Frothingham, Jr. was descended from William Frothingham of Yorkshire, England, who became an inhabitant of the Massachusetts Bay colony in 1630. He attended several schools in Charlestown and Boston, developing early on a taste for reading; with money earned writing for a brush factory, he purchased an encyclopedia to continue his studies. Mr. Frothingham worked as a merchant’s clerk for several businesses before becoming—at age 22—clerk, agent and treasurer for the Middlesex Canal Company until its cease in 1860. Ever interested in his hometown, he studied its history and worked towards its support. Mr. Frothingham served with the town’s School and Finance Committees and, after his service as a member of the Massachusetts Legislature, was mayor of Charlestown between 1851 and 1853. He was an active participant in the state’s constitutional conventions and the National Democratic Conventions of 1852 and 1876. A trustee of the Charlestown Library since its establishment in 1861, he became a Boston library trustee after Charlestown’s annexation. Mr. Frothingham had a long writing career, contributing numerous articles on American history to various publications, as well as meticulously preparing histories of local note. Among his published works are The History of Charlestown (1845), The History of the Siege of Boston (1848), and Life and Times of Joseph Warren (1865). Prior to his final mayoral term, he acquired and became the managing editor of the Boston Post newspaper until 1865. For his literary achievements, he received honorary degrees from Harvard and Tufts Universities. Mr. Frothingham was a member of the New England Historic Genealogical Society and of the Massachusetts Historical Society, for which he served as treasurer for thirty years. He was also a welcome participant at local gatherings due to his affiliations with many other charitable and literary organizations. Although he recovered from a serious bout of pneumonia in 1879, Mr. Frothingham’s health gradually declined and the Charlestown community soon mourned the passing of its foremost member.

Sources:
Cutler, Rev. Samuel. “Necrology of New England Historic Genealogical Society: The Hon. Richard Frothingham, LL.D.”, New England Historic Genealogical Society Register, Volume 37, Number 148 (October 1883), pp. 414-415

Deane, Charles. “Memoir of the Hon. Richard Frothingham, LL.D.”, Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Volume 21 (Series 2, Volume 1) (1884-1885), pp. 381-393

Wadlin, Horace G. The Public Library of the City of Boston: A History. Boston: Trustees of the Boston Public Library, 1911.

Whitehill, Walter Muir. Boston Public Library: A Centennial History. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1956.

George Bigelow Chase

Trustee of the Boston Public Library, 1876-1885. Born 1835 in Boston and died 1902 in Dedham. Shipping merchant, banker, writer and author. The son of a large ship owner, George Bigelow Chase graduated from Harvard College in 1856 and worked in his father’s Boston shipping office. He remained in the shipping business following his father’s death until 1868 when he became a director and transfer agent for the Rutland Railroad Company. Mr. Chase continued to be active in business and railroading, and served several years on the board of directors of the Columbian Bank. He retired from business in 1892 and traveled Europe for some years before settling in Dedham. Mr. Chase was active with many visiting committees at Harvard University and was a member of the Massachusetts Historical Society. He wrote memoirs related to the Chase, Lawrence and Bigelow families and was a frequent contributor to the press. During his membership on the Board, Trustee Chase acquired and donated to the Library in 1879 a library table formerly belonging to Antonio Panizzi, Principal Librarian of the British Museum. This table now stands in the Pompeiian Alcove on the second floor of the McKim Building.

Sources:
Memorial of the Harvard College Class of 1856, Prepared for the Fiftieth Anniversary of Graduation. Boston: George H. Ellis Company, 1906.

Professional and Industrial History of Suffolk County, Massachusetts. Boston: Boston History Company, 1894.

Wadlin, Horace G. The Public Library of the City of Boston: A History. Boston: Trustees of the Boston Public Library, 1911.

Whitehill, Walter Muir. Boston Public Library: A Centennial History. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1956.

Benjamin Franklin Thomas

Trustee of the Boston Public Library, 1877-1878. Born 1818 and died 1878 in Boston. Lawyer and congressman. Benjamin F. Thomas was a graduate of Brown University in 1830, studying law in Worcester where he was admitted to the bar in 1834. He served as a judge of probate in Worcester County and was appointed an associate justice of the Supreme Judicial Court, sitting on the bench between 1853 and 1859. Following his service as an associate justice, Benjamin Thomas set up a law practice in Boston and was a Representative for the Massachusetts Third District from 1861-1863. He was a trustee for just over a year before his death in September 1878.

Sources:
Kestenbaum, Lawrence. “Index of Politicians: Thomas, A to B”, The Politicial Graveyard: A Database of Historic Cemeteries [online database] at < http://politicalgraveyard.com/bio/thomas1.html >.
Professional and Industrial History of Suffolk County, Massachusetts. Boston: Boston History Company, 1894.

Wadlin, Horace G. The Public Library of the City of Boston: A History. Boston: Trustees of the Boston Public Library, 1911.

Whitehill, Walter Muir. Boston Public Library: A Centennial History. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1956.

Samuel Appleton Browne Abbott

Trustee of the Boston Public Library, 1879-1895. President of the Board of Trustees, 1888-1895. Lawyer and businessman. Born 1846 in Lowell, MA, and died 1931 in Italy. A graduate of Harvard University, Samuel Abbott studied law with his father, Josiah Gardner Abbott, and was admitted to the Boston bar in 1868. He was later admitted to the bar of the United States Supreme Court in 1875. During his legal career, he was also a board of directors member of several companies in Lewiston, ME, and in Lawrence, MA. Samuel Abbott’s dedicated service on the Board of Trustees for the Library included several years as acting Librarian and, as the only trustee of the original 1887 board empowered to oversee the project, coordinating with the architects the successful completion of the 8-year construction of the Copley Square library building. The 1895 unveiling of the newly installed murals by Abbey and Sargent was enthusiastically reported by the press, however, sensationalist criticism of the attendant reception permitted by President Abbott within the library led to his decision to resign from the Board in disgust. He became the first Director of the American Academy in Rome, serving from 1897 to 1903, and lived chiefly in Italy until his death.

Sources:
Professional and Industrial History of Suffolk County, Massachusetts. Boston: Boston History Company, 1894.

Bacon, Edwin M., Editor. Men of Progress: One Thousand Biographical Sketches and Portraits of Leaders in Business and Professional Life in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Boston: New England Magazine, 1896 .

Wadlin, Horace G. The Public Library of the City of Boston: A History. Boston: Trustees of the Boston Public Library, 1911.

Whitehill, Walter Muir. Boston Public Library: A Centennial History. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1956.

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