Documentary History of American Water-works

Introduction Historical Background Chronology Geography Biography Technology Ownership and Financing General Bibliography
New England States Massachusetts Boston Jamaica Pond Aqueduct

Jamaica Pond Aqueduct

On June 16, 1794, Luther Emes submitted a petition to the Massachusetts House of Representatives praying to be incorporated to supply water to the City of Boston.  At a Boston town meeting the following meeting Emes received no objection to his plan, assuming that certain safeguards were included in the act.  The incorporation was approved by Governor Samuel Adams on February 17, 1795.

Luther Emes (sometimes Eames or Emms) had been born in Sudbury, Massachusetts on April 9, 1760 and served with a regiment from that town during the Revolutionary War.  After the war he moved to Keene, New Hampshire, where he was a Major in the New Hampshire Militia and Coroner for Cheshire County.  He is believed to have built an aqueduct that was operating in Keene by 1793 and another one in Lansingburgh, New York that was completed by the end of 1795.  His two fellow incorporators were Nathan Bond (1754-1816), a Boston merchant, and William Page (1749-1810), a New Hampshire lawyer and physician who would later build locks around Bellows Falls, Vermont. Emes ran the Rising Sun Tavern on Summer Street in Boston for many years and died there in 1827.

After the charter was granted, the first meeting was called by local Justice of the Peace James Sullivan, who would later be president of the company and governor of Massachusetts.  The meeting was held on July 17, 1795 the Bunch of Grapes Tavern in Boston, which had formerly been owned by John Marston, who had sold the Jamaica Pond water rights to the new corporation and was listed as a proprietor in place of William Page.  Page moved from Charleston, New Hampshire to Bellows Falls, Vermont in June, 1796 and appears to have ended his connection with the Aqueduct project as his name does not appear in any further records.

James Sullivan was appointed president; Nathan Bond, treasurer, Loammi Baldwin (I), Charles Bulfinch, Joseph Ward, Charles Vaughan and Luther Eames, directors.

The company advertised for wood logs in November of 1795, and for laying 15 miles of pipes the following March.  In September, 1796, the company advertised that they would be installing pipes on "both sides of the main-street ... until they reach Pleasant-street."  By October local newspapers were reporting that "the aqueduct in our vicinity is prosecuting with vigour."  The Aqueduct Company prepared rules and regulations for selling water on November 4, 1797, but it appears that all was not going well with the installation of the pipes.

In nearby Plymouth, Caleb Leach was nearing completion on the aqueduct for that community and in August, 1797 he advertised in a Boston newspaper offering his "Patent machinery for boring and finishing conduit pipes," in which the auger was fixed and the log was rotated to drill a hole.  This machinery caught the interest of the Boston aqueduct proprietors, and by early December they had purchased the rights to use the machine in Middlesex, Essex, and Suffolk counties in Massachusetts.  In January, 1798 Leach published a longer advertisement in Albany (where Benjamon Prescott was then building an aqueduct) that not only mentioned the nearly completed Plymouth aqueduct, but that he had also been used in "relaying the Boston aqueduct, which having been laid on the usual  plan had (owing to leaks and long distance) immediately failed, but now is found to be perfectly tight and good."  It is not appear that this advertisement was published in Boston.    

On November 4, 1797, the Aqueduct Corporation established "Rules and Regulations, for the Distribution of Water from the Aqueduct," including the following rates:
Mansion houses or families will be divided into three classes.  The first, having five persons, or a less number will pay eight dollars per annum.  The second, having six or a number less than twelve, will pay ten.  The third having twelve or more persons will pay twelve dollars.
Each contractor for a west india store, will pay from eight to sixteen dollars per annum, as may be agreed with the Agent.
When a mansion house and west india store shall be under the same roof, occupied by the same person, and water drawn from the same tubes, for the use of both, the contractor will pay for such extra use a sum not less than four, nor more than sixteen dollars per annum, as may be agreed on with the Agent.
For Taverns and Manufactories, applications will be made through the Agent to the President and Directors, who are authorized to establish rates for those an all other uses, not specially provided for.

On December 18, 1797, Sullivan wrote a long letter to Doctor Benjamin Smith Barton in Philadelphia about the progress of the Boston project and its potential application to Philadelphia.  The letter was printed in The Weekly Magazine in June 1798 and reprinted in several other newspapers.

The "Grand Aqueduct" in Boston was completed in August, 1798 and received wide notice in newspapers.  The company expanded and improved the system, although it never enjoyed wide success.  In 1822 the company installed about one mile of 8 inch cast-iron pipe to replace wooden logs, and in 1840 installed a ten-inch cast-iron water main from Jamaica Pond to Bowdoin Square in 1840.  

Laommi Baldwin (II) reviewed the operation of the Aqueduct Corporation in 1834 and published two reports that provide a detailed description of their system, including a detailed map of the pipeline from Jamaica Pond:

After the city's Cochituate water system starting service in 1848, the Aqueduct Company's fortunes waned and after some negotiation it was sold to the city's water board on June 12, 1851 for $45,217.50.  The city didn't want to bother with serving customers in Roxbury but wouldn't sell the system to that city, but they did agree to sell it to a Roxbury group on November 1, 1856 for $32,000.  They formed the Jamaica Pond Aqueduct Company the following year.  The City of Roxbury was annexed by Boston in 1868 and the Boston Water Board purchased the system (again) in 1892.  


References  (Note:  These references only include those about the Jamaica Pond Aqueduct System, see the Cochituate page for other references after 1825.)
1794 Journal of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, Volume 15, May 1794 to Feb. 1795
Page 105: June 16, 1794  “A Petition of Luther Eames & others, praying to be incorporated for certain purposes herein mentioned, Read and Committed to Mr. Aspinwall, Mr. Bruce, & Mr. Carr.”  Thanks to Ms. Beth Carroll-Horrocks, Head of Special Collections of the Massachusetts State Library, for transcribing this reference.

1795 - (BTR 31:382) February 2, 1795 Boston town meeting
The Petition of Luther Eames and others relative to the introduction of fresh water into Boston was laid before the town in compliance with an order of the General Court : was read, whereupon, Voted. That the Town approve of the plan proposed in the Petition of Luther Eames and others, for the bringing fresh Water by subterranean Pipes into the Town of Boston, and have no objection to their being incorporated for that purpose, provided that in the Act of incorporation they are held to put the streets, which shall be opened for that purpose in as good repair as they were before, and that such other Guards and restrictions shall be made, as will secure the Town from injury by undertaking the Business.

1795 An Act for Incorporating Luther Eames and others into a society, for the purpose of bringing fresh water into the town of Boston by subterraneous pipes, February 17, 1795

1795 "Notice of meeting of the proprietors," Federal Orrery (Boston), July 20, 1795, Page 310.

1795 Columbian Centinel, November 4, 1795, Page 3
The subscribers being appointed Agents to the corporation, for bringing Fresh Water into Boston, by subterraneous pipes, give public notice; that they are ready to receive proposals, for contracts, for any persons, who may be inclined to supply them with Hard pine Logs, for that purpose; about two thirds of the Logs, must be from twelve to fifteen inches in diameter, at the least end; and in length, about fifteen feet.  The residue, from six to nine inches, in diameter, at the least end, and nearly of the same Length.
They must all be straight, very sound, and cut in the winter season.
James Sullivan, Josiah Knapp, Nathan Bond. N.B. Those persons, who may be inclined to make proposals, must deliver them in before the first day of January next.   Nov 4.

1796 Columbian Centinel, February 13, 1796, Page 3
Take Notice!  The Boston Aqueduct Corporation, propose to contract for conveying Water, in subterraneous Pipes, to the extent of 15 miles.  The Agents to the Corporation, will receive Proposals from any persons that may be inclined to contract for that business; of any part thereof, until the 20th March next.
The Proposals must be forwarded, sealed in, and they must contain the lowest price, by the rod, for boring, fixing, and placing logs of the size of 12, 13, 14, and 15 inches in diameter, at the least end -- bored and smoothed with a smoother of 4 1/2 inches in diameter, two logs to be placed in one ditch, and so sunk as to have the upper part of the logs three feet below the common level of the ground, and covered in a close and solid manner; and the price of preparing and placing logs of the size 8, 9, and 10 inches in diameter, at the least end, having a bore of 3 inches.  Also, The price for completing works in manner aforesaid, with small timber, having a bore of 1 1/2 inch in diameter.  One log to be laid in a ditch.  Likewise, The price of the several kinds of work, where pavements are to be taken up and replaced in Boston.
The Logs to be furnished by the Corporation.  Any person being desirous to make proposals, may be shewn the route, in which the logs are to be laid, by applying to either of the Agents in Boston, or information will be given respecting the same, to any person, by applying to L. Emes, of Keene, state of New-Hampshire.
James Sullivan, Nathan Bond, Josiah Knapp.  Boston, Feb 13, 1796

1796 Columbian Centinel, April 20, 1796, Page 2.
In Keene, in the state of New-Hampshire, The House and Farm on which I now live; containing 20 acres with out-houses, within 50 rods of the Meeting-House and Court-House, being as good land as any in the county of Cheshire, lying in a square form, 40 rods on the Main street, well watered by nature in the lots, and by subterraneous pipes at the house and barn, and by a good well in the kitchen.
For further particulars, inquire of the Subscriber, on the premises, or at the White-Horse-Tavern, Boston.  April 13  Luther Emes

1796 An Act for giving a new appellation to a corporation in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety-five, for bringing fresh water into Boston by subterraneous pipes. June 10, 1796. Renamed "The Aqueduct Corporation,"

1796 Boston Price-Current, September 15, 1796, Page 3  aqueduct pavement, brick sidewalk

1796 Columbian Centinel, November 19, 1796, Page 2
IMPROVEMENTS IN BOSTON
The Aqueduct now constructing to supply the houses and shipping in this metropolis with pure water, will be a great advantage to the citizen--it may save half the expence in soap, and half the labour in washing, and the ease with which the linen is washed may make another savings in the wear of it during this operation nearly equal to both the above.  The additional security from fire is another circumstance of great importance.  But the most interesting consideration and important benefit, is its tendency to increase the means to preserve HEALTH.  Every one who knows how essential pure water is to the preservation of health, will consider it estimable in this view, and it enters into all our food and drink.  All philosophers and physicians agree in the opinion that health depends most essentially on the purity of this element.  It is also observed, that well water continually grows worse in cities, by the constant accumulation of matter which soaks into the earth; hence it is that all well water in old cities becomes extremely unwholesome, and thereby greatly increases the bills of mortality.  This important fact has long been notorious in Europe and Asia, and hence it is that every effort has been made and an immense expense, to supply their cities with water from distant fountains.--To have it pure and plenty in great cities, by every way increasing the means of cleanliness, as well as by rendering the system of nutrition more wholesome, must be the highest consequence to prevent putrid and pestilential fevers, and other fatal diseases.--It is observed in Europe that as they increase their attention to this object, their cities are less afflicted with fatal sickness--And the health of seamen is equally benefitted by the best water during their voyages.
Boston will be the first large city in the United States thus accommodated.

1797 Columbian Centinel, August 16, 1797, Page 3
Leach's patent Machinery for Boring and Finishing Conduit pipes.
In this Machinery, the Logs revolve in a mill of a simple construction, while the Augers remain fixed; and by Tolls of a new construction, applied to the ends of the logs while in motion, they expeditiously tapers and rimed, so as to be accurately joined and to remain perfectly tight.  The Augers are on an improved plan, and effectually detect and expose any crack or defect in the Logs.  Many advantages in point of accuracy and dispatch, and been found to attend the use of this Machinery.  It has been successfully applied this summer, in constructing the Aqueduct at Plymouth, which the subscribe has nearly completed, to the approbation of those who have viewed it, and to the entire satisfaction of the Proprietors.
The Patentee will make and vend his Machines, and dispose of licenses for the use of the same, on application being made to him at Plymouth.
Plymouth, Aug 16.  Caleb Leach

1797 Massachusetts Mercury, December 5, 1797, Page 3
Leach's Patent Machine, for boring logs.
This Machine (simple in its construction) can, at a small expense, be made to operate by Water, or by a Horse.  It will bore smooth, true, and quick; and as the Log turns round, two men, having the proper tools (one at each end) prepare the log for laying.  By the adoption of this made of boring and fixing logs for an Aqueduct, much money can be saved, the work made more durable, and a larger quantity of water supplied, in a given time, owing to the peculiar smoothness of the water passage.  In addition to these, the Patentee hath made several improvements in the mode of laying Pipes.
For the privilege of using this Machinery, or any part separately, in the Counties of Suffolk, Middlesex, or Essex, application must be made to Nathan Bond, Agent to the purchasers of the Patent Right, Opposite the Mall N.B. The Machinery, or the Augers of any size, ready made, may be had by applying as above.  Dec. 5.

1797 "A Letter, to Dr. Benjamin Smith Barton, on supplying the City of Philadelphia with Water. Boston, December 18, 1797" by James Sullivan, The Weekly Magazine, Volume 22, Number 22 (June 30, 1798)  This letter was reprinted in several newspapers.

1798 Albany Centinel, February 20, 1798, Page 3
Leach's Patent Machinery For forming Aqueducts, Boring Pumps, &c.
This Machinery having been successfully used in forming an Aqueduct for the town of Plymouth, Massachusetts, and in relaying the Boston Aqueduct, which having been laid upon the usual plan had (owing to the leaks and long distance) immediately failed, but now is found to be perfectly tight and good.  Said machinery having undergone the strictest scrutiny, and having performed now only to the highest satisfaction of those concerned, but to the approbation of all those who have been its operation; the patentee flatters himself that he may (without ostentation) recommend it to a generous public as an improvement in which their expectations will not be disappointed.
As a minute description of this machine with its apparatus would be too lengthy for an advertisement, the patentee only observes, that the whole is on a new and improved plan, as well as the tools for inserting cross joints, side and upright pipes, as those for boring and preparing the logs, which by this machine are bored perfectly central, the joints formed wholly of the heart of the timber, and of course the work is much stronger and more durable.
The patentee holds himself in readiness to undertake or grant licenses, and for the better satisfaction of those who may apply, has annexed the following advertisement:
Caleb Leach, Patentee.  Plymouth, January 18, 1798.  Leach's Patent Machine for Boring Logs
This Machine (simple in its construction) can, at a small expense, be made to operate by Water, or by a Horse.  It will bore smooth, true, and quick; and as the Log turns round, two men, having the proper tools (one at each end) prepare the log for laying.  By the adoption of this made of boring and fixing logs for an Aqueduct, much money can be saved, the work made more durable, and a larger quantity of water supplied, in a given time, owing to the peculiar smoothness of the water passage.  In addition to these, the Patentee hath made several improvements in the mode of laying Pipes.
For the privilege of using this Machinery, or any part separately, in the Counties of Suffolk, Middlesex, or Essex, application must be made to Nathan Bond, Agent to the purchasers of the Patent right.  Boston, December 5, 1798.

1798 Columbian Centinel, July 11, 1798, Page 3
Leach's Patent Boring Machine.
This is the best constructed Machine for preparing logs for an Aqueduct, that ever was invented.  It is now in operation upon the beach, West-end of new State-house, by means of horses.  It operates with more dispatch by water.  In each way it bores and fixes logs smoother, truer, and with more dispatch than any mode heretofore adopted.
The formation of the Augers is certainly new; a man can by hand, bore double the quantity, in a given time, that he could by the use of Common Augers.
Any persons being desirous to use the above described Machine, or any of its parts, within the counties of Suffolk, Middlesex, or Essex, must apply to the subscriber, being Agent to the purchasers of the Patent Right.   July 11.   Nathan Bond, Common-street.

1798 "Aqueduct Corporation Rules and Regulations adopted November 4th, 1797," Columbia Centinel, August 1, 1798, Page 3.

1800 "Recommendations of the Board of Health," Massachusetts Mercury, May 7, 1799, Page 1.
That a plentiful supply of fresh water be speedily conducted to the most convenient and suitable places in the various parts of the town.
Paul Revere, President

1803 An Act in addition to the Act, entitled, "An Act for incorporating Luther Eames and others into a society for the purpose of bringing fresh water into the town of Boston by subterraneous pipes,"  June 22, 1803

1809 Travels Through the Northern Parts of the United States, in the Years 1807 and 1808, Volume 2, by Edward Augustus Kendall
Page 259:  The Aqueduct Corporation, instituted in 1795, Supplies the village with excellent water, conveyed by pipes about six miles, from a pond, called Jamaica Pond, to the reservoir on Fort-Hill, and thence distributed through the principal streets.

1814 Dearborn's map of Boston The route of the Jamaica Pond Aqueduct is shown on this map.

1817 A topographical and historical description of Boston, from the first settlement of the town to the present period; with some account of its environs, by Charles Shaw
Pages 300-301: Aqueduct. The proprietors of the Boston Aqueduct were incorporated to bring water in subterraneous pipes from Jamaica Pond in Roxbury, to the town of Boston, by an Act of the Legislature, passed in February, 1795. Said Pond is about four miles from Boston, and there are four main logs from the pond to, and through, most of the principal streets. Two of said logs are of four inch tube, and two are three inches. The lateral pipes or logs are of one and an half inch tube; the four main logs, and all the branches connected with them, amount to about forty miles in length; they are laid in trenches from three to three and an half feet deep, which it is found is not deep enough to secure the water from frost in very severe winters. The main logs are generally of yellow heart pitch pine; the small logs are white pine. There are generally about eight hundred families supplied with water from the Aqueduct. The extreme frosts of the last winter, and some other circumstances which occurred, injured the work very considerably; but it is hoped that when some improvements which are contemplated are carried into effect, it will be competent to supply the inhabitants more generally.

1819 Plan of the Aqueduct From Jamaica Pond to Williams' Store ; Leechmere Point & Cambridge Port & Road to Colleges, (Boston Public Library, digitization in progress by Leventhal Map Center)

1822 Boston Weekly Report, No. 191, December 21, 1822, Page 202.
Boston Aqueduct Corporation, Oct. 7, 1822, 5 shares, $550 per sh.  The Auctioneer stated that the last year $20,000 had been expended in improvements and repairs; that the worse mile had been laid anew with 8 inch Iron pipe; that the Acqueduct had been extended to Front Street and some other parts of the City; that the probable cost of each share was $1500; that the whole property was divided into 100 shares on which a dividend has been made, averaging, with the single exception of last year, $56 per sh. and that there were now 700 customers averaging $15 per annum.

1827 Columbian Centinel (Boston), August 4, 1827, Page 2.
Aqueduct.  The Committee on the subject of the right of the City to use the waters of the Aqueduct Corporation, reported, that the City had the right to use such water in case of fire, free of expense, and recommended that the subject be referred to the Committee on Reservoirs, to consider the expediency of placing conduits thereto, in places remote from the Reservoirs.  The report was accepted, in concurrence.

1827 Boston Traveler, November 13, 1827, Page 3.
Deaths. On Sunday last, Major Luther Emmes, Age 78, a worthy soldier of the Revolution, who became disabled, and a legitimate pensioner, by the wounds he received while opposing the enemies of his country.

1829 National Aegis (Worcester), March 11, 1829, Page 3.
Died - In Lexington, Mr. Joseph Underwood, aged 80, of the remaining few who met the British on the plains of Lexington, on the ever memorable 19th of April 1775; and for many years superintendent of the Aqueduct Corporation in Boston.

1834 Communication to the City Council, on the subject of introducing water in the city, by Mayor Theodore Lyman, Jr., January 29, 1834.
Page 8:  The third and last source of supply of water is from the Boston Aqueduct Company.  This Company now furnishes about 1000 families at an annual cost of from 10 to 12 50-100 dollars.  The water is procured from Jamaica Pond, which could probably deliver a much larger quantity if artificial means were employed to raise the head.  Following the fire plugs, this water runs as far north and east a Congress and West Streets, and as far north and west as North Russell Street.  The water of Jamaica Pond is remarkably soft.
The Boston Aqueduct Company, moved by a laudable spirit of enterprize, commenced this undertaking at any early period and they have continued and sustained it with a degree of perseverance that has proved highly beneficial to a portion of the citizens.  It will, however, readily occur to the mind of every one that this Company just feel a deep interest in the settlement of a question, that cannot but materially affect the value of their property.
Page 24:  The Fire Department have now 29 plugs from the Jamaica Pond Aqueduct. 

1834 Report on the subject of introducing pure water into the city of Boston, by Laommi Baldwin.  October 1, 1834.  Baldwin's first report to the Boston Aqueduct Corporation, dated May 16, 1834, is included as Appendix A (pages 59-72).

1834 Plan of the Route of Pipes from Jamaica Pond, in Roxbury, to the Reservoir, at Boston, surveyed under direction of L. Baldwin, Civil Engineer. Drawn by W. S Ellison, May, 1834.

1835 Second report of Loammi Baldwin, engineer, made to a Committee of the Boston Aqueduct Corporation, January 19, 1835.

1835 Boston Daily Advertiser, October 19, 1835, Page 3.
Aqueduct Corporation. - An adjourned meeting of the Aqueduct Corporation will be held at their office, No. 8, City Hall, on Monday, Oct. 26th, at 11 o'clock. A.M. to determine upon the best mode of raising additional capital, to meet the cost of laying down a capacious cast iron main pipe, from Jamaica Pond into the city, so as to meet the increased demand of hte inhabitants for pure water - also to determine the expediency of connecting other sources of water with Jamaica Pond, as recommended by the reports of Loammi Baldwin, Esq.; and of applying steam or water power to raise the water to the elevated parts of the city.  Per Order.  Thomas A. Dexter, Clerk.

1835 Report on Introducing Pure Water Into the City of Boston, Second Edition, with Additions, by Loammi Baldwin.  November, 1835.  Baldwin's first report to the Boston Aqueduct Corporation is included in Appendix B (pages 79-92), and also includes the second report (pages 93-99).

1836 Memorial of the Boston Aqueduct Corporation to the Mayor and Aldermen of the City of Boston, August 20, 1836.

1838 Memorial of the Boston Aqueduct Corporation to the Boston Common Council, March 19, 1838.  Offered to sell system to city for $150,000.
Page 2:  The corporation now supplies between 1,400 and 1,500 families; about one dwelling house in every four, within its range, is supplied on an average.

1838 "Petition of Aqueduct Corporation," Columbian Centinel, November 3, 1838, Page 3.

1838 Papers relating to the introduction of pure water, Document No. 9.
Communication from R. H. Eddy, March 1, 1838. Relating to crossing Charles Iron by iron through a brick gallery under the same.
Petitions and Remonstrances, March 1, 1838.  Includes several petitions, for, and memorials against the introduction of pure soft water into the City.
Communication of L. M. Sargent, February 21, 1838.  Information about Boston Aqueduct Corporation.
Foreign Water Works, March 1, 1838,  Minutes of evidence taken and papers laid before the Select Committee of the House of Commons and the Commissioners on the supply of Water to the metropolis in the years 1821, 1828 and 1834,

1839 Proposed Act in addition to an Act to establish the Aqueduct Corporation in Boston. February, 1839.  Senate No. 28.

1839 An act in addition to an Act to establish the Aqueduct Corporation, in Boston.  April 6, 1839.

1840 Boston Post, February 5, 1840, Page 2.
Petition of the Aqueduct Corporation, stating that they were about to present a petition to the Legislature of Massachusetts, for authority to draw water from Spot Pond, whenever they can obtain a right to do so, by purchase or otherwise, and conduct it to the city.  It is believed that expenditures will reach one million dollars.

1840 Boston Post, July 1, 1840, Page 2.  Communication from Aqueduct Corporation respecting laying of iron pipes.

1840 Boston Traveler, September 10, 1840, Page 2.
Jamaica Pond Water. - The Aqueduct Corporation have just completed a new line of iron pipe, from the pond to the city; and for the last few days, an abundant and copious supply of this excellent water has been received by families who before were favored with but a scanty supply.  The water passing through the new pipe is charged with a heavy deposit of earthy matter - it is very yellow, and its taste bad. - Transcript.

1842 Half Century Sermon: Delivered on Sunday Morning April 24, 1842, at Jamaica Plain, by Thomas Gray
Page 12: In September, 1788, a difficulty first arose in respect to the waters of Jamaica Pond being drawn off for the supply of a corn mill, so far as to affect the wells of the inhabitants of the Plain, who considered them as altogether supplied by the pond. This difficulty terminated in a lawsuit; John Marston, owner of the mill, plaintiff, and Martin Brimmer, David S. Greenough, and Capt. Daniel McCarthy, defendants (unsuccessful.) Afterwards, in 1795, Mr. Marston sold his mill and privileges in the waters of the pond, which had been granted by the town of Roxbury for said mill, to the Aqueduct Corporation, for supplying the town of Boston with Jamaica Pond water.
Page 31: Jamaica Pond, or lake, as it is now called, covers about one hundred and sixty acres, and in its deepest place is from sixty to seventy feet; and supplies, by means of an aqueduct, the city of Boston with water perfectly clear, and so soft as to be excellent for washing, and for all culinary purposes.
Page 35: The following is a copy of the vote passed at a meeting of the town of Roxbury, August 4, 1796.
At a legal meeting of the freeholders and other inhabitants of the town of Roxbury, held at the meeting-house in the Easterly Parish, on Thursday, fourth day of August, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-six.
The second article in the warrant being read and considered, the town thereupon unanimously voted, That the waters of Jamaica Pond belong to the town, and are and ever have been held under their direction and at their disposal, and that it is the opinion of this meeting, that the design now attempting to be carried into execution by the Aqueduct Corporation, of drawing water from Jamaica Pond, (so called,) for the purpose of conveying the same to the town of Boston, by subterraneous pipes, if carried into effect, will be a daring attack upon the rights and property of the said town of Roxbury, will operate to the great injury of the town, and more especially to such of its inhabitants as are proprietors, or live upon Jamaica Plain, the value of whose estates, we conceive, will be materially affected thereby. And the Selectmen, to wit, Hon. John Read, Esq., Mr. John Davis, Mr. Jacob Weld, Ebenezer Seaver, Esq., and Mr. John Williams, together with Hon. John Lowell, Dr. Thomas Williams, Deacon David Weld, Major Ebenezer Whiting, David S. Greenough, and Martin Brimmer, Esqrs., be a committee in behalf of the town, with full power to use all lawful means to prevent any waters being drawn from said pond for the purpose aforesaid, and to prosecute any person or persons, or society who shall draw the said waters for the purpose aforesaid, or for any other purpose, not heretofore expressly granted at a legal town meeting.  A true copy. Attest, Stephen Williams, Jr., Town Clerk

1842 "Water Rents in Boston," New York Tribune, August 15, 1842, Page 1.

1846 An act for supplying the City of Boston with Pure Water, March 30, 1846.  This act was accepted on April 13, 1846 by a vote of 4,637 yeas to 348 nays.
Section 16.  That said city of Boston is hereby authorized to purchase and hold all the property, estates, rights and privileges of the Aqueduct Corporation, incorporated by an act passed February 27th, in the year one thousand seven hundred and ninety-five, and by any convenient mode may connect the same with their other works.

1846 Report on Petition of Josiah Bradlee and Others for Purchase of Jamaica Pond Aqueduct, December 17, 1846. Document No. 32 | text enabled pdf |

1847 Second quarterly report of the Joint Standing Committee on Water, January 21, 1847, Document No. 5 | text enabled pdf |

1848 Report of the Committee on Water on Purchase of Jamaica Pond Aqueduct by the City. December 14, 1848.  Document No. 44.  Recommends purchase of Aqueduct Corporation (except non-related real estate) for $75,000.  Includes Memorial of Aqueduct Corporation signed by Thomas A. Dexter, Superintendent and Treasurer, November 10, 1848.

1849 Boston Aqueduct and the City of Boston, by Lucius Manlius Sargent, principal stockholder of the Boston Aqueduct Corporation.  These were originally published as a series of articles in the Daily Evening Transcript in July and August, 1849.  | text enabled pdf |

1851 "Boston Water-Works," from Sketches of Boston, past and present, and of some few places in its vicinity, by Isaac Smith Homans.
Page 164:  This pond, at its highest elevation, is 49 feet above tide-water, and is capable of a maximum daily supply of about 50,000 gallons.  In 1845, the company had laid about 5 miles of 8 and 4 inch iron pipe, and 10 miles of wooden pipe, conveying the water to nearly 3,000 homes.  A total of 3,210 houses take aqueduct water, out of a total of 10,370 houses.

1857 An Act to incorporate the Jamaica Pond Aqueduct Corporation. May 8, 1857

1858 Documents of the City of Boston for the year 1857, Volume 2, containing documents from No. 54 to No. 85, Inclusive. Purchase and sale of Jamaica Pond and Aqueduct, page 215 (and more)

1859 Life of James Sullivan: with selections from his writings, Volume 1, by Thomas Coffin Amory
Page 243:  In order to meet the urgent demands of our shipping in Boston for additional supplies of pure water, he started an enterprise, of which he was long the president and active agent, for an aqueduct from Jamaica Pond.
Pages 373-374: Yet another public work, of some importance, at the same time engaging his attention, was a project which he started for the supply of Boston with pure water. Much of the well-water of Boston, from proximity to the sea and the nature of the soil and formation, was hard and brackish; and the rain collected in cisterns was often rendered unpalatable and unsuited to domestic uses, from smoke and other impurities. The population was increasing, and the area of the peninsula, originally but about one thousand acres, was gradually encroaching on the harbor. Our foreign commerce was in a rapid state of development, and it seemed expedient to secure, in good season, from beyond the narrow limits of the town, an abundant provision of the all-important element, as well for the shipping as for the other wants of the inhabitants.
When, in the autumn of 1782, the French fleet, under the Count de Grasse, was lying in the harbor of Boston, the admiral and his principal officers were frequent visitors of Mr. Durant, a gentleman originally from France, who resided five miles from the town, in what is now called Lakeville House, on the borders of Jamaica Pond. Struck with the purity of its waters, compared with that supplied from the usual sources for the service of the fleet, the admiral ordered his butts to be sent to the pond to be filled. One of the vessels shortly returning into France, some of the water still remaining, for reasons not known, was subjected to chemical tests, and found, upon analysis, to be unusually pure. Out of compliment to Mr. Durant, to whose hospitality the French officers had been much indebted, a certificate of the result of this examination, signed by the expert employed, was sent back to America. When it was proposed, a few years later, to construct an aqueduct for the use of the capital, the pond, for this and other considerations, commended itself as the best and most convenient source of supply.
Nearly a century before, in 1698, Joseph Belknap had obtained from the citizens of Roxbury the privilege of applying the natural overflow of the pond to the purposes of a grist-mill, for their own benefit and that of the people of Brookline. Twice, when the mill had been put to other uses, in 1739 and 1783, the selectmen of Roxbury had interfered. Whatever rights had vested in the owners of the mill had been purchased of Marshall, its recent proprietor, by Eames, Bond and Page, when, at the close of 1794, they petitioned the legislature for a charter to carry the water through an aqueduct to Boston. The inhabitants of Roxbury remonstrated, and the applicants, in January, 1795, had leave to withdraw their petition. What connection, if any, Sullivan had at this time with their plan, does not appear from the documents; but, according to tradition, he was its original projector. Procuring a vote from Boston approving the design, he set forth its advantages in a petition; and, notwithstanding the renewed opposition of Roxbury and its most influential inhabitants, which he was able to overcome, the following month he obtained leave to bring in a bill, which was passed.

1859 Life of James Sullivan: with Selections from His Writings, Volume 2, by Thomas Coffin Amory
Page 106: In the city and state archives are numerous letters, petitions and other papers, in the handwriting of Sullivan, in behalf of the Boston aqueduct from Jamaica Pond, which was now already sufficiently advanced to afford supplies of pure water to the inhabitants and navigation. He not only continued, as its president, to give it his general superintendence, but devoted to the undertaking much time and labor; and to his unremitting efforts, in surmounting numerous obstacles, and much selfish opposition on the part of individuals, it was largely indebted for its successful accomplishment.

1868 An act giving additional powers to the Jamaica Pond Aqueduct Corporation.  May 8, 1868.

1868 History of the Introduction of Pure Water Into the City of Boston: With a Description of Its Cochituate Water Works, by Nathaniel J. Bradlee.  This repeats Shurtleff's history of the aqueduct, which was originally published as articles and published in book form in 1871.

1871 "Ponds and Aqueducts" from A Topographical and Historical Description of Boston by Nathaniel Bradstreet Shurtleff.

1876 History of Charlestown, New Hampshire: The Old No. 4, Embracing the Part Borne by Its Inhabitants in the Indian, French and Revolutionary Wars, and the Vermont Controversy; Also Genealogies and Sketches of Families, from Its Settlement to 1876, by Henry Hamilton Saunderson
Page 498: Dr. William Page

1882 Attorney General vs. Jamaica Pond Aqueduct Corporation, 133 Mass. 361, September 8, 1882. Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

1882 Thomas N. Hart & another vs. Jamaica Pond Aqueduct Corporation, 133 Mass. 488, October 23, 1882. Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

1911 Colonial and Revolutionary Families of Pennsylvania: Genealogical and Personal Memoirs, Volume 2, by John Woolf Jordan and Wilfred Jordan
Page 1103-1104:  Colonel John Marston, son of Captain John and Elizabeth (Greenwood) Marston, born in Boston, Massachusetts, March 27, 1756, was long engaged in the mercantile business in Boston, and became a wealthy and highly respected merchant of that city. Just coming to manhood’s years at the outbreak of the Revolutionary war, Colonel Marston took an active part in the struggle for independence. Tradition relates that it was his father who formed one of the “Boston Tea Party” in 1774, but it seems more probable that it was the son who took part in the daring act of patriotism than his father, then a man in his sixtieth year. Colonel Marston was second lieutenant of the Ninth Company, Captain Perez Cushing, Massachusetts Regiment of Artillery, Colonel Craft commanding, in 1776, his name appearing on the roll of that company as serving from September 9, 1776, to February 1, 1777; again from February 9, to May 8, 1777; August 1, to September 30, 1777; November 1, to December 3, 1777; January 1, to March 1, 1778; and March 1, to April 3, 1778. He served until the close of the war, and later was identified with the state militia of Massachusetts, attaining the rank of colonel. He removed late in life to Taunton, Bristol county, Massachusetts, where he died December 1 3, 1846, aged ninety years and eight months. John Marston married, August 4, 1784, Anna Randall, of London, England, and they were the parents of seventeen children, nine of whom died in infancy. 

1956 Water for the Cities:  A History of the Urban Water Supply Problem in the United States, by Nelson Manfred Blake.  Pages 64 to 67 include a good history of the Boston Aqueduct Company.

1983 Great waters: a history of Boston's water supply by Fern L. Nesson. This book is primarily about the later water systems in Boston, but the author's first footnote on page 87 states that: "The Aqueduct Corporation's system was built by Loammi Baldwin, Sr., father of Loammi Baldwin."  Her cited reference, however, only mentions Baldwin Senior's work on the Middlesex Canal with no mention the Boston Aqueduct.  Baldwin I (1744-1807) worked with James Sullivan (first president of the Aqueduct Corporation and later Governor of Massachusetts) on the Middlesex Canal and was one of the initial directors of the Aqueduct Corporation, but no evidence has been found to suggest that he did any engineering or construction work for the Aqueduct Corporation.  This error has found its way into later histories of Boston's water supply.  Baldwin Senior is considered to be the Father of American Civil Engineering.  His son Laommi Baldwin II (1780-1838) prepared a report for the Boston Aqueduct Corporation in 1834 and promoted the development of the Cochituate Aqueduct, which was built after his death.  Father and son both held the rank of Colonel, which often leads to confusion.  Another son of Baldwin I, James Fowle Baldwin, played a important role in promoting Long Pond as the source for Boston's water supply and served as a Boston Water Commissioner.

2004  "The Nature of Water: Reform and the Antebellum Crusade for Municipal Water in Boston," by Michael Rawson, Environmental History, 9(3):411-435 (July, 2004) | Also here

The Baker Library at the Harvard Business School has records of the Aqueduct Corporation and Baldwin Family Business Records.

1837 - 1922 Documents of the City of Boston.

Water Supply Books from the Boston Public Library on archive.org




© 2015 Morris A. Pierce