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Address of William H. Armstrong at Memorial service October 31, 1909.

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen: If I was to change my business or occupation, I would want to be a civil engineer. The study and education necessary to fit one for that work, the right sighting and accurate calculation, are the very things needed to start a man on his way for the business of life, be it what it may. George Washington was a surveyor, or civil engineer. He sighted a path through the trackless forest, set the corner-stones of towns, and ran the lines of estates in Virginia which stand to-day undisputed. The victorious army of the great Napoleon came to the bank of a river, and there found for the first time in all Europe something to halt their onward march. Calling his engineer, Napoleon said: ‘Tell me the distance across this stream.’ ‘Sire,’ said the engineer, ‘I cannot. I know no way by which it can be measured.’ ‘Tell me the distance across this river within one hour, or my corps will be without one of its engineers.’ Then came in play the training of the man in sighting and calculating distances. He fixed his eye on the opposite bank, where the water touched the shore; he pulled the visor of his cap down until it just met the edge of his view, and then, turning around, he sighted down the bank on which he stood to a certain mark. He paced this distance, reported his findings, and that night the army camped on the farther side of the river.

There are men with certain education and training whom we cannot do without; they are needed. No country can do without them, no army can do without them, no state, city, or town but must have its surveyor, or engineer.

Somerville is a city most prosperous and beautiful. It is a queen among the cities and towns of our glorious Commonwealth, and our friend had much to do with its beauty and prosperity. We were very fortunate in having for our first engineer Charles D. Elliot. He knew, as no one else could, the lay of the land, with its hills and its valleys. His trained eye saw [70] just how to convert its many hillsides, with their lines of beauty, into the city that we are now so proud of.

Mr. Elliot came to Somerville when he was nine years old. He was educated in our schools and in the Hopkins Classical at Cambridge. He then took up civil engineering, a calling suited to his taste and ability. In 1872-4-5 he was our city engineer. Then began the laying out of our streets with all the arteries of sewers, pipes, and wires which run through them. His eye sighted, his mind and cunning hand made the plans and established the lines which these should follow. Being brought into close touch with all our city's interests, he came to feel it a part of himself, for here he spent his early life, here he had his home, his family, his loved ones; his all was in Somerville.

I am to speak of the Board of Trade and Mr. Elliot's connection with it. The Board of Trade of our city is established, as it should be in every city, with one object in view, and that is to advance the interests of the community in every way possible. You are not surprised when I tell you that Mr. Elliot became a member of the Board at once, and put himself into the work of helping Somerville through its agencies.

The Board was organized in March, 1899; Mr. Elliot joined it in May. He had held the office of vice-president, was a member of several standing committees at different periods, and was a member of most of the special committees. I will name only a few of the more important ones, as those on boulevards, grade crossings, soldiers' monuments, rivers and harbors.

As a member of the boulevard committee, he saw the need of a connection, through Somerville, of the beautiful parks, driveways, and beaches on the north and east with the boulevards, parks, and fenway on the south and west of Boston. With our committee he worked earnestly, and if one of our governors had not used the veto power, Mr. Elliot and his friends would have seen the work completed with success, and we would now have a cross-town boulevard all our own.

As a member of the grade crossing committee, he was [71] deeply interested in the change of dangerous crossings at grade, and worked hard with some of us to do away with it, especially on the Fitchburg branch of the Boston & Maine Railroad, at Somerville Avenue, Medford Street, Webster Avenue, Park Street, etc. I wish he could see the advancement now made at Somerville Avenue. The construction has progressed so far that in a few weeks, we are told, we shall be able to cross in safety and without delays.

During the Civil War Mr. Elliot's services were promptly given to the country, and he did good and faithful work as a civil engineer in that branch of the service. His modesty alone kept him from having an officer's title attached to his name. On the special committee of our board for a memorial to our soldiers and sailors he did good work; his heart was in it. We now have the monument on our historic hilltop,—a work of art that will be a reminder for all time of love and sacrifice, home and country.

Rivers and harbors. You smile when our rivers and harbors are mentioned, we have so little of them. But Mr. Elliot had a vision of what might be done with our Mystic River front, and the picture of its beauty, as he would have it, was stamped upon his mind, and he often talked of it to his friends.

On several occasions he delivered interesting and valuable addresses before the Board. He was an active participant in our debates, a most constant attendant; he enjoyed his membership with us, and we enjoyed him.

On his death suitable resolutions were adopted, and our members attended his funeral services. We miss him from our membership, and as I think of it to-day, I do not know where we are to find one to fill his place. I knew him so well; he was so companionable and entertaining; he talked easily and well, was always a gentleman, clean and true. He has gone home a little while before us. We will, I know, meet again, and we shall know each other there, and in that City, in that better Country, I want him for a neighbor, I want to live on the same street with him. [72]

When the great Phillips Brooks lay dead in the beautiful cathedral in yonder proud city, a great number came to pay their last respects to his memory: the young and old, rich and poor, learned and ignorant, from nation, state, and city, all anxious to take one last look at the face that was so dear to all. In the shadow of the doorway waited a poor old woman, with her shawl drawn closely about her. At last she found her way to the side of him who had been her friend. Taking from the folds of her garment a little flower, she dropped it with her tears into the casket, and then went her way. I want to put one little flower for myself and for the Board of Trade, that I represent, upon the memorial you are to-day building to the memory of our friend, Charles D. Elliot.

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