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The Author of ‘Mary had a little lamb.’

By Miss Mary A. Haley.
[Read Before the Somerville Historical Society December 8, 1908.]

Columbus Tyler was born in Townsend, Vt., in 1805. He had no special education save the training of the farm, the home, the meeting-house, and the common school. At the age of twenty-one he came to Boston, and in a few months secured the position of attendant at the McLean Asylum in Somerville, Mass., and in a few years he had passed through all the grades of its services. He remained there thirty-six years. He was associated with such distinguished men as Dr. Wyman, Dr. Luther V. Bell, and Dr. Booth, and was on most friendly terms with those who succeeded him.

In 1835 he married Miss Mary E. Sawyer, of Sterling, Mass. In 1862 he gave up his position at the asylum, and built a handsome residence near the corner of Central and Summer Streets. This house is now occupied by the Unitarian minister and his wife. In the house are two full-length portraits of Mr.Tyler and Mrs. Tyler.

His taste and skill in laying out his grounds were remarkable. He knew the habits and history of all the trees on his grounds, and something of the parasites that fed upon them.

He was a representative to the State Legislature for two years, and the oldest vice-president in point of service in the Five Cents Savings Bank at Charlestown, Mass.

Many private trusts were confided to him, and although he had no children, his wards were numerous.

He was a man of pure habits and resolute purpose. ‘The dominant note in his character was justice, and the harmonies of his life were set in that key.’

His ‘last will and testament’ caused much comment. He [26] bequeathed his home and grounds to the Unitarian Society as a residence for the clergyman of the Unitarian parish. Social meetings connected with the church were to be held there. Children with their attendants were to have free access to the grounds.--He established a flower mission, providing a sum of money to be used each year by a committee of ladies in furnishing flowers for the sick and the afflicted. He also left a sum of money to be put in the bank for every boy and girl, at a certain age, who shall regularly attend church and Sunday School. About four girls have benefited by this bequest.

Mr. Tyler died September 14, 1881.

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