The death of Hon. Austin Belknap
at the residence of his daughter, Mrs. Roswell C. Downer
, in Roxbury
, on the ninth of December, 1902, removed from the activities of life one who had for nearly fifty years been a useful and honored citizen of Somerville
, a man of unblemished reputation in private and public life, a man in whom there was no guile, who hated deceit, and whose life was open, frank, and honest.
was born in Westboro, Mass.
, July 18, 1819, the son of John and Ruth
His early education was obtained in the district school of Westboro
and the Worcester Academy, taking a course in civil engineering in the latter institution.
After a brief experience in railway construction, he came to Boston
in 1843, entering the produce business, in which he continued until the day before his death, covering a period of nearly sixty years.
became a resident of Somerville
He was a man of studious habits, and his early education was supplemented and broadened by a careful and judicious course of reading and private study, accumulating in a few years a valuable private library.
After he was fifty years of age, he began the study of French
, soon learning to read in that language with ease.
He took a lively interest in municipal affairs, serving the town efficiently and intelligently as a member of the School Committee in ‘62, ‘63, and ‘64; as a member of the last three Boards of Selectmen in ‘69, ‘70, and ‘71.
He was a trustee of the Public Library
in ‘73 and ‘74, and was the third mayor of the city, serving two terms in ‘76 and ‘77.
During his term of service as mayor, he was actively identified with two important city improvements, the extension of a main line of sewer from Kent street, via Beacon street, Somerville avenue, Mossland street, and Elm street to Davis square, and the completion and dedication of the Broadway
park, which was begun under the administration of Mayor Furber
To all the important work done by the city under his administration Mr. Belknap
gave his personal attention, preventing the possibility of jobbery and unnecessary
expense to the city, securing as good work as might be done for a private individual.
While Mr. Belknap
protected the city from dishonesty and corruption in carrying out public improvements, he was broad and wise in his policy.
married Miss Jane P., eldest daughter of the late Holloway
, of Westboro
, by whom he had three children, two of whom survive him, Mrs. R. C. Downer
and Robert W. Belknap
. Mrs. Belknap
died several years before her husband.
For many years Mr. Belknap
was active in Free Masonry, being a member of John Abbot Lodge, the Somerville Chapter
, and the De Molay Commandery
But, while fond of social life, his chief recreation was found at his own fireside with his beloved books.
As we close this hurried outline of a busy life, a life that was not lived in vain, let us quote from Pope
, his favorite author—
Unblemished let me live, or die unknown,
O grant an honest fame, or grant me none.