Published by the Middlesex Canal Association
Billerica, Massachusetts

Vol. 7, No. 1             January 1969


The winter meeting of the Middlesex Canal Association will take place on February 2, 1969, at 7:45 P.M. at the Masonic Hall on Concord Road, in Billerica Centre, right next door to the site of the Unitarian Church, where we have previously met, and which has now disappeared from the ravages of fire. The speaker will be one of our Proprietors, Mr. Brenton H. Dickson, of Weston, Massachusetts, who will speak and show pictures of his recent trip on the canals in the English Midlands. Those who attended his last talk some years ago will be very interested in hearing him again, especially since he will now be talking about a subsequent trip. Refreshments will be served and all are invited.



A new service is now available due to the interest of representatives of various canal associations. The Canal Information Service will publish a quarterly bulletin of activities of interest to canallers, as well as news of restoration projects, books and articles and a "request for information" section. Subscriptions are $2.00 per year and should be sent to:

c/o Hugh Moore Parkway Commission
500 Bushkill Drive
Easton, Pennsylvania 18042

The Directors of the Middlesex Canal Association are pleased to recommend this service to all interested members.

The following is a petition to the General Court of Massachusetts, made in 1822 by the Directors of the Middlesex Canal, asking for relief by way of a lottery. The original printing of this petition has very kindly been donated to the Association by Mr. Charles E. Mason, Jr., of Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.


The Proprietors of the Union Canal having a petition now pending in the General Court, and the Proprietors of the Middlesex Canal being very largely interested in the same, would humbly ask leave to state for the information of the members of that honourable body, That with a view of perfecting the navigation of the Merrimack River, and from the encouragement held forth by this Government, they were induced to join in clearing the River and in making the Union Locks and Canals, without which boats could not safely proceed up and down the river; in doing which they were obliged to take upon themselves seven eighths of the expenses, and this they were led to do in consideration of an act of the Legislature of 1814, whereby they were authorized to sell tickets, in this State, of a Lottery granted by the Government of New Hampshire to assist the Corporation of said Union Canal in opening the said river and forming locks thereon. In furtherance of this object, and in expectation of a remuneration of twenty thousand Dollars from the said Lottery, they undertook and have, at a very great expense, carried on thus far the said work; but instead of realizing the aid contemplated by Government from said Lottery, the Proprietors, without any fault of theirs, and from untoward circumstances, are now indebted, on account of said Lottery, upwards of five thousand Dollars, to pay which an assessment would be required equal to one half the estimated value of the shares.

The Proprietors of the Middlesex Canal with a view of producing a favourable issue to the above-mentioned petition, in which they are so largely interested, would beg leave to state, that in opening the very important inland water communication from Boston about one hundred miles into the interior of New Hampshire, they have expended a sum which, together with its accumulating interest from the year 1794 to the present time, amounts to one million eight hundred and ninety seven thousand eight hundred and fifteen Dollars, after deducting the sum of forty four thousand Dollars, which has been divided among the Proprietors in the last four years, and which is all that has ever been received by them, being less than sixty cents per annum for one hundred Dollars on what it now actually stands the Proprietors in. When the well known utility of the undertaking, the unremitted perseverance with which it was pursued, under all the discouragements and heavy expenses they incurred for twenty eight years, together with the acknowledged great benefit to the country in general and to the Navy of the United States in particular, though to the great loss of the Proprietors, are duly considered, they are encouraged to hope that a favourable answer will be given the petition, and that the right to dispose of the tickets, in this State, of said Lottery will be continued for a further time, which right the act of 1818, regulating Lotteries, preventing them from enjoying, according to the original grant.

AARON DEXTER, President,        
Directors of Middlesex Canal

Boston, January 1822

Supplementing the biography of Loammi Baldwin, Jr. in the September, 1968 issue, we are happy to present the foregoing memoir of his brother James F. Baldwin from the April, 1865 issue of the New England and Genealogical Register, which was brought to our attention by Mr. Arthur H. Frazier of Madison, Wisconsin.


The subject of this brief memoir was a gentleman of highly respectable attainments, and surpassed by none as a scientific and practical engineer. He was employed by the State to superintend the construction of its gigantic public works. He was a prominent member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and during many years held the position in that learned society, in the section of Technology and Civil Engineering.

Immediately after his decease, which occurred on the 20th of May, 1962, a brief sketch of his life and public services was presented and read before the society at the anniversary meeting, which was published soon after in its Transactions, and from this, is drawn the materials for this memoir, to be published in the Genealogical Register, of which he was a constant patron.

Hon. James Fowle Baldwin was born in Woburn, Massachusetts, in the little village of New Bridge, on the 29th of April, 1782. His father, Colonel Loammi Baldwin, was a cabinet maker and land surveyor. He was fond of horticultural pursuits, and his name is associated with a favorite variety of apple, the culture of which he was active in promoting. But surveying was more congenial with his taste, and led him to the projection of plans for the improvement of his native county. He devised and carried into successful completion the Middlesex canal, one of the earliest, and for the time, one of the most considerable works of the kind, in the United States.

He was a native of the same village with Count Rumford, and his constant friend through all his political trials, and under his care, and that of his son James F. Baldwin, Count Rumford's daughter, the Countess Rumford, passed the greater part of her life, and at her decease left him a generous bequest. Colonel Loammi Baldwin entered the provincial army as a major served at Lexington and at New York. He was chosen, June 16, 1775, Lieutenant Colonel of the regiment formerly commanded by Samuel Gerrish. (Frothingham's Siege o f Boston, page 178.) He was the first High Sheriff of the County of Middlesex, after the Declaration of Independence. Valuable historical documents relating to the war, and of the part he bore in it, are still preserved among the relics in the family, which it is hoped may be consulted by historians of the revolutionary period.

The subject of this memoir, the fourth son of Colonel Loammi Baldwin, received the usual instruction of the village school of his native town, and afterwards went to the academies in Billerica and Westford, preparing for a mercantile life, and subsequently was established as a merchant in Boston.

But the influence of his early associations with his father, and the example of his brother Loammi, who, though educated a lawyer, had relinquished his profession for that of Engineer, stimulated his own turn of mind for the same pursuit. When Loammi was engaged in the construction of that beautiful and massive work, the Dry Dock at the Charlestown Navy Yard, the first of its kind in this country, James joined him, and thus commenced in earnest the work of his life.

In the year 1828, a rail road from Boston to Albany was projected, and Mr. Baldwin was one of the commission appointed by the State to make the surveys. Upon this arduous work he was employed for two years. Although the enterprise was not proceeded with at that time, yet subsequently the Western Rail Road, now in operation, was built upon the location selected by him; and his plans for its construction were generally adopted. Mr. Baldwin looked upon this, next to the supply of pure water to the city of Boston, as the most important of his professional works.

From 1830 to 1835, he was employed in the construction of the Boston and Lowell Railroad, and in the planning of several of the mills of the manufacturing companies in this and the neighboring States. He also determined the relative amount of water power, used by the mills of the different companies at Lowell.

In 1825, the subject of supplying Boston with pure water began to attract serious attention. Different sources were investigated, and estimates made. In 1837, Mr. Baldwin was appointed on a commission still further to inquire into and recommend a plan for this object. A majority of this commission recommended the introduction of water from Spot and Mystic Ponds from the latter by pumping. From these sources they proposed to furnish three millions of gallons daily, a sufficient supply, as they supposed, for ten years. Mr. Baldwin dissented, and recommended Long Pond (Lake Cochituate), which would itself furnish nine millions of gallons daily, and could be materially increased from other sources in the same water-shed. He urged the adoption of a conduit of masonry instead of iron pipe, and of gravitation instead of pumping. The city authorities adopted the plan of the majority; it was submitted to a popular vote, and rejected. The project was not revived until the year 1844, when Mr. Baldwin was again on the commission. The plan proposed by him was adopted at the close of March, 1846, and the work was completed on the 25th of October, 1848. Instead of three millions of gallons daily for the first ten years, it actually delivered fifteen millions of gallons during that period. It may fairly be claimed that the City of Boston is pre-eminently indebted to the forecast, firmness and professional skill of Mr. Baldwin, for its present abundant and constant supply of pure water from Cochituate.

Although confining himself to his professional duties, and having little taste for politics, Mr. Baldwin was once elected a Senator for Suffolk, and held the office until his appointment as Water Commissioner.

Mr. Baldwin was of commanding presence, being considerably above six feet in stature, and remarkably well proportioned. He was dignified and affable in manners, kind and benevolent in disposition, warm and unfaltering in his friendships. Steadfast in his conviction of the right, no force could drive, nor influence allure him from the path of duty. His mind was clear, but not rapid in its operations. He came to his conclusions by successive steps, carefully taken and closely examined; but the results once reached, his confidence in them was rarely shaken. His judgment was formed upon a wide consideration of all the circumstances, rather than upon nicely balanced computation. He was more anxious that his works should abound in strength, than that they should be constructed with the least theoretical amount of material and the greatest possible economy.

It may be added to this record of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences - That his sense of justice and his fair appreciation of the rights of others, showed to great advantage in many of his public works. Confidence in his integrity enabled him to settle questions of the transfer of property, with a facility that was quite surprising, especially with those persons who had not the clearest conviction of the invariable uprightness of corporate bodies in their dealings with individuals.

Under his own roof, numbers were made welcome by the warmth of his hospitality; for he made his home a pleasant one for his friends, and many grieve that they can no longer listen to the words of kindness which were daily falling from his lips. He assiduously endeavoured to encourage and assist young students, who were pursuing the study of Civil Engineering, and very many of this class mention him with affection and veneration.*

The late Prof. Benjamin Sillman, LL. D., of New Haven, Ct., in a letter of condolence, says, "Rarely if ever have I met in life a gentleman, who combined so much expansion and depth of mind and so wide a range of knowledge, with such mildness, modesty and gentleness."

His ear was ever ready to listen to the wants and sufferings of others, and his hand to relieve their necessities. He was especially the friend and protector of the orphan. He was a devoted husband and father, and when death was allowed to enter his happy home, and removed one promising son, at the age of eight, in 1829; and the two remaining sons by typhus fever in 1834, at the ages of fifteen and six years; although in these precious sons he had garnered up his choicest and brightest hopes for the future; he bowed in silence, but with a deeply wounded heart, in submission to the will of Him who doeth all things well.

Regular and methodical in all his habits, calm and equable in temperament, he had enjoyed unusual good health through his whole life, and even at the age of four score had suffered from slight indisposition only. His last illness was of short duration.

On the morning of the 20th of May, 1862, he took his usual walk after breakfast; soon returning to his home, after reaching his chamber, he complained of peculiar distress in his chest, and speaking a few words to her who had been the companion of his pilgrimage for forty years, he soon expired.

Mrs. Sarah Parsons Baldwin, relict of the deceased, was the daughter of the late Honorable Samuel Pitkin, of East Hartford, Connecticut a graduate of Yale in 1779, and son of Elisha Pitkin, Esq., a graduate of Yale in 1753 and his wife Sarah Parsons, the daughter of Rev. Joseph Parsons, of Brookfield, Massachusetts, a graduate of Harvard in 1752, and son of Rev. Joseph Parsons of Bradford, Massachusetts a graduate of Harvard in 1720 and his wife Frances Usher. The wife of the Rev. Joseph Parsons, of Brookfield, was Sarah Williams, daughter of Rev. Warham Williams (a graduate of Harvard in 1719), and his wife Abigail Leonard. Mr. Williams was the first minister of Watertown, west precinct, now Waltham, Massachusetts, and a son of the Rev. John Williams, of Deerfield, who was carried into captivity by the Indians in 1704.

* One of the number, now distinguished in his profession Samuel Nott, Esq., son of Rev. Dr. Nott in a letter to Mrs. Baldwin, dated Hartford, Ct., Jan. 23, 1865, says: - "My call on you a few days ago brought up my always grateful recollections of the kindness, goodness and wisdom, which were conspicious traits in the character of my greatly valued friend, the late Mr. James F. Baldwin, whose friendship I enjoyed for more than twenty-five years. It was to me a constant source of encouragement, for which I am devoutly thankful. I have never known a friend who united dignity with simplicity of character in a more happy combination. It was this which most impressed me at the beginning of my acquaintance with him in 1833. The traits of character noticed, made him through life the kind judicious friend of all young men who were trying to fit themselves for usefulness in the profession of Civil Engineering, in which his skill and experience admirably fitted him to be a friend and counsellor, and as such his memory will live in many hearts that have been encouraged by his kindness and benefited by his advice."



It has come to our attention that, for model builders, there is available a kit for the construction of a (Michigan) Canal barge, the "City of Pekin." The kit is $6.00 and the plans alone are $1.25, from Model Shipways, Bogota, N. J., 07603. A catalog of other ship models is also available from the Company.