My house when it was first built by William Bosworth, circa 1864.
As one might predict, my review of the daily journals of Fred T. Dolbeare has not proceeded apace with either my initial enthusiasm or efforts. (Though quick perusals here and there have revealed some amazing tid bits.) Mostly, I have spent my time doing Google searches in an effort to reconstruct the lineage of the house. This has proved difficult since the house was passed down through the women, and most historical records of the time only bother to note the lives and business of men. Finally, the last will and testament of Alice Dolbeare filled in most of the blanks, and I have managed to reconstruct the “family tree” of the house. Then the other night, my favorite find to date. While cleaning the journals of dust and debris, I chanced upon the above photo of the house when it was first built. Faded handwriting on the back says, “W. Bosworth House,” and if you look very closely, you can just make out a man and two women by the porch. It’s all adding up to a very rich past that’s really bringing out the history buff in me.
So here’s what we know so far: The Italianate-style house was built by William Bosworth upon his retirement from the Chickering Piano Co. in Boston circa 1864. He lived in the house and was a pillar of the West Newton community, including deacon at the Second Congregational Church, until his death in 1899 at the age of 89. (Around the same time Frederick Lyman Thayer, graduate of Harvard Medical School, built a neighboring Victorian across the street.) Upon the death of William Bosworth, the house passed to his daughter, Emma Thompson, whose husband seems to have died some time before. Upon Emma’s death the house went to her daughter, Alice Thompson, who quite late in life married Fred T. Dolbeare, the son of William L. Dolbeare and Anna Thayer (from across the street). I can’t quite tell when Fred and Alice married as I have only given the first few journals a thorough read. In these Fred mentions his mother a lot and “tea with the Thompsons”, but makes no reference to Alice, leading me to believe that, at least until 1918, he was still a bachelor. Fred predeceased Alice by a number of years in 1949. When Alice died, she left the house to her “devoted housekeeper,” Effie McCauley, who lived here until the 1970s. Mrs. Dolbeare (Alice) also seems to have been the guardian of a Margaret Day, and there is possibly an interesting story there, but further investigation is needed…
When compared to the early image above, the most obvious change to the house is the addition of the exterior chimney in front. Money no object (read, in my dreams), I would love to restore the original facade, but I will most likely have to live with painting it out when I repaint the rest of the house (all white with black shutters). At least I might be able to replicate that wonderful, original fence. And the new pictures also makes it plain that I will have to do something about our losy storm windows, which obscure the lovely window panes from the street.
Alice records the death of Fred on October 14th, 1949, in his own journal. She kept up his diary as if it were her own for the rest of the year. There are no more journals after that year, though Alice’s correspondence dates well into the 1950s.