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