The Upham’s Corner Walking Trail is the sixth trail is a series of walks which have been developed under the auspices of the Boston Women’s Heritage Trail. It was developed by a class of young women at the Codman Academy Charter School during a 10-week course on Dorchester Women’s History. Each Saturday, the students met and learned about local women’s history through field trips, interviews with community members, and primary source research. The young women in the class each selected a woman to research, and this trail is the result of their efforts.
This Dorchester Women’s History project was a partnership between the Boston Women’s Heritage Trail, the Codman Academy Charter School and the Dorchester Historical Society, and was made possible thanks to a grant from the History Channel’s Save Our History program. We hope that this trail is the first of many trails that document the rich and significant history of women in Dorchester. We also hope that you as community members and/or visitors enjoy this trail and use it as an opportunity to learn about some of the many significant women who made history in Dorchester.
Begins: 97 Sawyer Avenue
Geraldine Pindell Trotter (1872–1918)
97 Sawyer Avenue, Jones Hill
Geraldine Trotter served as the accountant and associate editor of The Guardian, the Boston civil rights newspaper founded by her husband, William Monroe Trotter. “Deenie” was raised in the elite African-American society of Boston. Her work on behalf of racial justice included organizing anti-lynching campaigns, raising money for St. Monica’s Home for elderly black women, and supporting equality for African American troops in WWI.
Anna Clapp Harris Smith (1843–1937)
65 Pleasant Street, Jones Hill
Anna Clapp Harris Smith lived here in the colonial house built by her grandfather Samuel Clapp. In 1899, Mrs. Smith was infuriated when she learned of the growing number of cases of animal cruelty in Boston. As a result, she founded the Animal Rescue League. The League supported animal shelters and provided care for aging workhorses. The League still operates today as “an unwavering champion for animals in need.”
St. Mary’s Infant Asylum
90 Cushing Avenue
This Catholic orphanage opened on Bowdoin Street in 1872. It was run by the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul. The asylum moved to the old Greene estate on Jones Hill, where it served low-income families regardless of their religion. The maternity ward at St. Mary’s was the forerunner of St. Margaret’s Hospital, which became a major gynecological hospital serving women in greater Boston.
Sarah Baker (1806–1866)
565 Columbia Road and Cushing Avenue, Upham’s Corner
Sarah Baker was an entrepreneur who started her own box band business, which she carried on for 40 years at Lower Mills. Miss Baker made so much money that when she died in 1866, she left enough money to build a church. The Baker Memorial Church was built on Columbia Road (the site is now a parking lot next to the Strand Theater).
Alice Stone Blackwell (1857–1950)
Mount Monadnock Apartments, 714-721 Dudley Street, Upham’s Corner
Alice and her parents moved to Pope’s Hill when it was first developed into a residential neighborhood. Her mother was Lucy Stone, who was not only the first woman editor of a nation-wide newspaper, but was the first woman to retain her name after marriage. Alice Blackwell also became a leader of the women’s rights movement. She edited the Woman’s Journal after her mother’s death and fostered cooperation between the two major suffrage organizations.
Sarah Wentworth Apthrop Morton (1759-1846)
Dudley and Burgess Streets
Sarah Wentworth Apthrop Morton was a writer and poetess. One of her epic poems was called The Virtues of Nature: An Indian Tale. It was published in 1790. Morton’s book was one of the first books to raise awareness about the poor treatment of Native Americans. Her neighbor wrote The Power of Sympathy, considered the first American novel, about Sarah’s unhappy marriage. The couple lived in an elegant Federal mansion on this site until moving to an estate on Jones Hill.
Hepzibah Clark Swan (1776-1825)
Dudley Street and Howard Avenue
The Swans moved to a Federal mansion on this site in 1796, where they raised five children. Patriot James Swan had amassed a fortune in France following the American Revolution. Hepzibah proved as capable in business as her husband. When James was unfairly imprisoned, she managed his business affairs, particularly investing in real estate on fashionable Beacon Hill.
Ann & Betty (1740s)
Old North Burying Ground, Upham’s Corner
The Massachusetts slave census of 1754 listed 13 female slaves living in Dorchester. Ann, who died as a child, and Betty, who died at the age of 25, were the “servants” of Captain Robert Oliver, a plantation owner who came from Antigua about 1837. The small headstones marking the graves of these women survive in Dorchester’s oldest cemetery.
Elida Rumsey Fowle (1843–1919)
654 Columbia Road, Upham’s Corner
Seventeen-year-old Elida Rumsey went to Washington during the Civil War to become a nurse. When told she was too young, Elida sang to soldiers in the wards. With the help of Mrs. Walter Baker, Elida organized a soldiers’ library. She eventually became the youngest member of the Massachusetts Army Nurses. After the war, Elida and her husband John Fowle moved to Upham’s Corner, where she raised two emancipated slave children and did local civic work.
Dorchester Female Anti-Slavery (1830s–1850s)
Cottage and Pond Streets, Richardson Park, Everett Square
Dorchester was a center of abolition activities. Several families were associated with William Lloyd Garrison’s radical American Anti-Slavery Society, which encouraged women to be involved in anti-slavery work. Local women’s abolition groups met at the Lyceum on Meeting House Hill and at the Dorchester Athenaeum, which was located here at Everett Square.
Clapp Farm (1806–1956)
195 Boston Street, Dorchester Little Neck
The Federal farmhouse was built for tanner William Clapp and his wife Elizabeth Humphreys in 1806. The family farm evolved into a commercial orchard and dairy beginning in the 1830s. New England dairy products, especially butter, were highly prized. Wives, daughters, and hired dairy maids milked the cows, churned the butter, and helped make cheese.
Developed in partnership with Codman Square Academy; Meg Campbell, Head of School; Dorchester Historical Society, Earl Taylor, President; Project Director Lindsay Swain; Teachers Carolyn Hughes and Patricia Courtney.
Thank you to Wanda Alston, Meg Campbell, Barbara Burg, Flavia Cigliano, State Representative Linda Dorcena Forry, Barbara Loourto, Sylvia McDowell, Mayor Thomas Menino, Gretchen O’Neill, Joanne Riley, Anthony Sammarco, Mary Smoyer, Earl Taylor, Marie Turley, Bill Walzak.
Brochure design: Jennifer Eaton Alden
Students: Lucy Biayemi, Sherry Jones, Naomie Lebon, Jenna Marseille, Minnetta McKenzie, Sandra Michaud, Evelis Perez, Inestina Valcimond.
Created in 2005.