Saturday, December 6, 2014

Brookline High School, Class of 1898

They were 14 friends — 12 young women and 2 young men — who went to school together in Brookline more than a century ago. Their class (all but one graduated from Brookline High in 1898) was one of the first to attend the new high school that opened on Greenough Street in 1893.
Montage of 1898 BHS Students
Over time they went their separate ways. They had lives, families, careers. Some left Massachusetts for good; only two stayed in Brookline for long. The last of them died in 1982.

But they stayed together for decades in a set of exquisite photos kept by yet another friend and classmate. Those photos, presented here, eventually made their way back to Brookline and the collection of the Brookline Historical Society.

As a group, these 14 are probably no more or less remarkable than any random set of students taken from different eras in the history of the town. But looking at their long-ago faces and learning about their lives provides an unusual window into a small piece of Brookline’s past.

(NOTE : Click on photos below for larger views)

The Photos and Their Collector:
From Brookline to New Jersey and Back Again

Grace Mason
The photographs belonged to Grace Whiting Mason, later Grace Mason Young, (1879-1971). The youngest child of Albert and Lydia Mason, Grace grew up on Corey Hill in the family home at 96 Summit Avenue. (The house is no longer there.) Her father was chief justice of the Massachusetts Superior Court from 1890 until his death in 1905. He is probably best remembered today as one of the judges in the Lizzie Borden murder trial of 1893.

Grace was an 1898 winner of the J. Murray Kay Prize given to Brookline High School seniors by the Brookline Historical Publications Society (forerunner of the Historical Society) for historical research. Her essay was on “The Development of the Metropolitan Park System.”

After graduating from Brookline High, Grace attended Smith College, graduating in 1902. In 1904, she married Percy Sacret Young and moved with him to New Jersey where they raised four sons and four daughters. Her grandson Mason, who grew up near his grandmother, remembered her as an avid reader who would regularly send books to her grandchildren. “She had definite opinions. She was very good about guiding you to a different way of seeing things,” he said.

Grace’s photographs of her classmates remained in the family until 2010 when they were donated, along with other family items, to the Millburn-Short Hills (NJ) Historical Society, which sent the photos back here to Brookline for our collection.

There were no photos of Grace in the set; the family no doubt kept those. But further research led to three of Grace’s grandchildren, who met with me in Manomet, MA in August and shared the photo above and several more, along with papers and stories of their grandmother.

Grace Mason with mother and four siblings
Grace Mason, front left, with her mother Lydia, brother Charles
and sisters Martha (front right), Mary, and Alice (rear center and right.
(Photos courtesy of the family of Grace Mason Young)
The Classmates

Helen R. Jones
Helen R. Jones, 101 Summit Avenue
Helen Reed Jones, later Helen Reed Whitney (1878-1956) is the only classmate to appear in more than one of the photos saved by Grace Mason Young. That’s likely because they were the closest of friends, growing up across the street from one another on Summit Avenue. (Helen’s home at 101 Summit still stands, though much altered.)

Helen studied painting at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. In 1906 she married MIT graduate Philip R. Whitney, an artist and an instructor of architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. Her work was exhibited in and around Philadelphia, as well as in New York, Chicago, and other cities. She and her husband summered on Nantucket for many years, and were active in the artist's colony there.
Helen R. Jones and one of her paintings
Additional photos of Helen Reed Jones along with her painting Ebb Tide

John Marvin
John R. Marvin, 88 Perry Street
& Martha F. Ritchie, 268 Walnut Terrace

John Reginold Marvin (1880-1967) and Martha Frothingham Ritchie (1881-1945) were first cousins. Their grandfather Edward S. Ritchie was an inventor and the founder of E.S. Ritchie & Son, a manufacturer of nautical compasses and scientific instruments in Brookline Village.

John Marvin was a co-winner with Grace Mason of the 1898 J. Murray Kay Prize for his essay “The Relation of Brookline to Norfolk County.” He earned a mechanical engineering degree from MIT and had a career as an engineer in the Boston area, the Midwest and, finally, Pennsylvania where he settled with his wife Grace Field Marvin.

Martha Ritchie

Martha Ritchie's father and later her brother, both named Andrew, took over leadership of the E.S. Ritchie firm, which remained in the family until 1935. The Ritchie factory building still stands on Cypress Street, incorporated into the Cypress Lofts condominium complex.

Martha worked for a time as a teacher. She married the architect Austin Jenkins in 1911 and moved to the Chicago area.

Maud Dutton
Maud B. Dutton, 33 Colbourne Crescent
Maud Barrows Dutton, later Maude Dutton Lynch, (1880-1959) was the daughter of Samuel Train Dutton, the superintendent of schools in Brookline from 1890 to 1900.  She moved to New York with her father when he became superintendent of the Horace Mann Schools run by Teachers College, Columbia University.

Maud also followed her father in the education field, authoring a series of children’s books on “The World of Work” and on different countries and cultures. She married the Congregational minister, editor, and peace activist Frederick Lynch in 1909.

Marian Richards
Marian D. Richards, 44 Linden Street
Marian Dudley Richards, later Marian D. Emerson, (1879-1949) graduated from the the Boston Normal School of Gymnastics, a teacher training school that later became part of Wellesley College, and the Tuckerman School on Beacon Hill.

She became prominent in the Unitarian Universalist movement as a Sunday school teacher, superintendent, public speaker, and social worker.

She was also active in support of peace movements, reproductive rights, and the welfare of Native Americans. (In a 1942 report to the Wellesely Alumnae Association she described her work for the Birth Control League of America as "rounding up sympathizers & convincing doubters.")

Marian married fellow Unitarian activist B. Homer Emerson in 1917 and continued to live in Brookline until her death.

Thomas I. Taylor
Thomas I. Taylor, 294 Walnut Street
Thomas Irving Taylor (1880-1977), whose father was in the hat and fur business, worked for a railroad supply company and for Sprague Electric before managing Taylor Machinery, a metalworking firm in Boston. He was awarded a patent in 1921 for an automobile water gauge “so that the driver may be informed at all times by visible means from his position when driving, whether or not the radiator water supply is in need of replenishment.”

Tom, who was married twice and lived in Newton, later worked as a vault attendant for the Newton-Waltham Bank & Trust Co.

Grace Farquahar
Grace B. Farquhar, 26 Gorham Avenue
Grace Bartlett Farquhar, later Grace Leavitt, (1880-1982) was the daughter of Joseph Farquhar, owner of a roofing company, and his wife Annie.  She married at a younger age (21) than the other BHS grads in the photos. Her husband, Frederick Leavitt, was in the real estate and insurance business in Brookline and also served in town and county government.

They lived in Brookline and later in Arlington. Grace died in Barnstable in 1982, having outlived all of the others in this group of BHS students.

Beulah Dunklee

Beulah Duncklee, 24 Williams Street
Beulah Duncklee, later Beulah Bugbee, (1879-1969) was born in Brookline, the daughter of Charles T., an attorney, and Sarah J. Duncklee.

In 1901 she married Edward Bugbee, a Brookline native and a teacher of mining engineering and metallurgy at MIT.

They lived in Brighton. Beulah moved back to Brookline after her husband’s death.

Isabel McCleery

Isabel McCleery, address uncertain
Isabel Shaw McCleery, later Isabel Doig, (1878-1915) was born in Somerville, the daughter of William C. McCleery, a button manufacturer, and his wife Ada. She lived at various times in Boston and Newton and appears to have been in Brookline for only a short time.

She married Stephen G. Doig, a lawyer, and died in 1915 at the age of 38, the shortest life by far of this generally long-lived group.

Ethel Towle
Ethel W. Towle, 31 Kent Square
Ethel Ward Towle, later Ethel Haslet, (1880-1949), was the daughter of Unitarian minister Edwin Towle and his wife Isabel. Her father was pastor of Brookline’s Second Unitarian Church, which was formed in 1896 and moved into its new building (now Temple Sinai) on Sewall Avenue in 1901.

Ethel's father was later pastor in Hillsborough, NH, where, in 1921, he presided at Ethel’s marriage to widower George Haslet, president of the Hillsborough Woolen Mills. George died in 1928. Ethel moved to Boston where she died 21 years later.

Ella Fenno and Helen Jones

Ella C. Fenno, 3 Kilsyth Road
Ella Cheever Fenno, later Ella Clough, (1878-1936) is the only student not to appear in her own, formal, photo. Instead, she appears in one with her arm around Helen Jones, one of four pictures of Helen in the Grace Mason set.

Ella married Charles Clough, an insurance executive, in 1904. (They are mentioned together in Boston Globe social columns in 1900 (at a dance) and 1901 (at a Clough family home in Maine). Charles survived Ella by more than 30 years.

Marion L. Sharp
Marion L. Sharp, 12 Fairbanks Street
Marion Louise Sharp (1878-1967) graduated from BHS in 1897, one year earlier than the other students. Her grandfather was Samuel A. Robinson who owned a tannery on Washington Street and lived in a house nearby where Marion was most likely born. He built a house in 1892 at 12 Fairbanks Street where three generations of the family lived.

Marion was a winner of theJ. Murray Kay Prize that year for her essay “Three Glimpses of Brookline: In 1700, 1800, and 1900.” She graduated from Smith College in 1901 and later taught school in Gloucester, Woburn, Brookline, and other towns.

Mystery Student
The Mystery Student
Only one of the photos saved by Grace Mason Young did not have a name written on the back. Who was she?

One possibility is an 1898 BHS grad named Sabina Marshall (1879-1968) who lived on Summit Avenue near Grace Mason and Helen Jones. (See the map below.)

There is no question the three girls were old friends. They were photographed together on Corey Hill years earlier in this delightful picture shared by Grace’s family.

Grace Mason, Sabina Marshall, Helen Jones
Left to right, Grace Mason, Sabina Marshall, Helen Jones. (Photo Courtesy of the family of Grace Mason Young)

Is Sabina Marshall the mystery student? Stay tuned, as our research continues.
Map of Mason, Jones, and Marshall houses on Summit Avenue
Map showing the Mason, Jones, and Marshall properties on Summit Avenue
Source: WardMaps LLC
NOTE: A version of this article appeared in the Fall 2014 issue of the Brookline Historical Society newsletter.

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