Nonquit Street, Upham’s Corner, Dorchester


Nonquit Street
Upham’s Corner, Dorchester

A racially-integrated neighborhood for almost a century

Ruth C. Clarke[1]
in collaboration with Harold Benjamin Krause, Jr.[2]

The roughly76,440 square feet more or less (about 1.7 acres)which comprise Nonquit Street,[3] mostly then owned by Henry Humphreys,[4] was subdivided and developed between 1885-1893 for working-class families.  The land which was originally farm land at the bottom of an unnamed hill through which ran the East Branch of the Dorchester Brook,[5] triangular in shape being wedged between a 12-foot high granite retaining[6] wall build ca. 1850 supporting the embankment of the Fairmount Commuter Rail line[7] on its westerly side[8] and another 12-foot high granite retaining[9] wall constructed ca 1870 supporting the Monadnock Street properties developed on its (Monadnock Street’s) westerly downward slope[10] on the easterly side, would not have been considered particularly desirable[11] but it was sufficient for housing for working-class families who would use public transportation.  Nonquit Street is a cul-de-sac.  On seventeen of Nonquit Street’s twenty-fivetiny lots subdivided from the land originally owned by Henry Humphreys,[12]brothers Albert G. and Frank M. Frost, who purchased what remained of Henry Humphreys’ Nonquit Street land on 10 Dec1889,[13]built seventeen 6½-room[14]two-story brick and sandstone row houses, fifteen of which remain today, as well as three frame multi-family (double or triple-deckers) plus the Denmark Hotel at the easterly corner of Nonquit and Dudley Streets.  The row houses were known to some as railroad housesbecause of their design (rooms all off a central corridor) although some came to believe the term had to do with their proximity to the New England Railroad.  Certainly, the working-class families for whom they were designed were expected to utilize the railroad.[15]

The Nonquit Street row houses, although intended for working-class families, were simple but nicely appointed, and would not have offended the sensibilities of the working-class women who made them into homes.  They were gas-lit, coal heated, with indoor plumbing and hot and cold running water, basically state of the art for 1891/2.  The millwork throughout the houses was of excellent quality; there were ceiling medallions in the parlors and dining rooms; a tiled hearth in front of the parlor fireplace, a carved mantel piece with cherubs with a carved top and rectangular beveled-glass mirror, sandstone lintels outside above the windows and entrance, a sandstone stoop, oak flooring on the ground floor, bow windows in the front parlor (and front bedroom), and a beautiful staircase with carved newel posts, bannisters, and balusters, just to name a few of their features.  One can imagine the pretty lace-curtained parlors that some of these Nonquit Street housewives may have created.

On 3 Jan, 1917, Emma S[usana][16] Nesbitt purchased 10 Nonquit Street from Joseph Maletz, a Yiddish-speaking Jewish tailor from Russia[17] who had purchased the property in 1907[18] and who also owned 703-709 Dudley Street (at the westerly corner of Nonquit and Dudley Streets), where he had his tailor shop, for the sum of $2,800,[19] as a residence for herself and her sister Charlotte’s family, the William Herbert Krause household.[20]  Emma never married; she supported herself as a seamstress/dressmaker; and resided at 10 Nonquit Street until entering a nursing home in late 1963, still owning it at her death in Jul 1968.[21]According to her great nephew, Harold Benjamin Krause, Jr., (Hal) son of Harold Benjamin Krause and his first wife Constance Shirley Bland, who says he proudly called her Auntie, she was the beloved Auntie of the William Herbert Krause household.[22]

Emma Nesbitt and her younger sister Charlotte immigrated to America from Christiansted, St. Croix in the Danish West Indies[23] in 1905.  They are listed on the manifest ofFontabelle[24]which arrived in New York City from St. Thomas, Danish West Indies on 29 May 1905, both described as single, female, domestics, citizens of Denmark, able to read and write,[25] and each carrying more than $30.00, with their final destination being Boston, traveling in the care of Hans Bishop[26]an American citizen residing at 40 Holyoke Street, Boston, described in said manifest as a printer, 35 years of age.  Emma’s age is given as 22 years 9 months; Charlotte’s age is given as 20 years 7 months.

On 1 March 1908, Charlotte Nesbitt, age 23, residing at 245 W. Canton Street, dressmaker, born St. Croix, Danish Virgin Islands, daughter of Henry Nesbitt and Emily Patrick[27] married William Herbert Krause, age 30, residing in Medford, carriage painter, born Havana, Cuba,[28] son of Joseph H. Krause and Victoria Multh.  Their marriage was officiated by George W. King, Minister of the Gospel, resident of 143 Berkeley Street, Boston.[29]

Although William Herbert Krause allegedly (according to the records of his marriage) was born in Havana, Cuba, he was from Christiansted, St. Croix, Danish West Indies.[30]  It is unclear exactly when he came to America.  His date of immigration is given as 1900 in the 1920 Federal Census of Boston and as 1907 in the 1910 Federal Census of Boston.  No ship manifest can be discovered bearing his name to verify his immigration.  Given that his name appears in the 1901 Census of the Danish West Indies, the more correct date of his immigration is thought to beabout 1907.  While it is unclear from the records whether William Herbert Krause and Charlotte A. Nesbitt were acquainted while both were residing in Christiansted, St. Croix, the Krause family oral historytells that they did not come to America solely for economic reasons but to marry.  Their marriage had been opposed by members of his family.

While the above-mentioned family oral history explains something about William Herbert Krause and Charlotte A. Nesbitt, it does not entirely explain Emma S. Nesbitt.  Clearly the two sisters were devoted to each other.  Perhaps it was considered unthinkable for Charlotte to come alone; perhaps Emma refused to let Charlotte come alone; perhaps Charlotte refused to leave St. Croix without her sister.  That William Herbert Krause, through his marriage to Charlotte got two for the price of one is not particularly unusual.  Many sisters have refused to be separated by the marriage of one but it appears that, by so doing, Emma Nesbitt may have sacrificed her own happiness and marital opportunities for Charlotte.

Federal census, Boston City Directory and other records show that William Herbert Krause was employed as a carriage or wagon painter, and on his 12 Sep 1918 World War I Draft Registration, his employer is given as the Robert Harrison Company located at 330 West 1st Street, South Boston (near the corner of F Street); William being described as native-bornU.S. citizen,[31] age 40, of medium height and build with black hair and brown eyes.  On the 1940 Federal Census, Boston, MA, no occupation is given and he is listed as age 62, not working and unable to work, suggesting that he was perhaps disabled at that time.[32]  His wife, Charlotte A.[33] Nesbitt, is consistently listed on such records as a homemaker.

Charlotte A. Nesbitt and William Herbert Krause had nine children, five boys and four girls.  The first five were born prior to moving to Nonquit Street in 1917, all born at home.  The last four children were born after the 1917 move to Nonquit Street, and three[34] were born at 10 Nonquit Street.  In so much as eight of the Krause children were born at home,[35] one suspects that Emma Susana Nesbitt, who appears to have always lived with her sister, may have assisted with their births.[36]Certainly Emma would have assisted Charlotte in many ways through these nine pregnancies.

The oldest of the Krause children (George William) was born 31 Jul 1908 and was only 8½ years when the family moved to 10 Nonquit Street in 1917; William Herbert was not quite 5 years;  Joseph Henry was just past 3 years,  and Angus Charles was about 1½ years.  So, it is fair to claim that the eight surviving children of William Herbert Krause and Charlotte A. Nesbitt all grew up on Nonquit Street.

Upham’s Corner, Dorchester was in its heyday during the decades of the Nesbitt/Krause residency.  There was a thriving commercial district where one could procure almost everything one might need to buy all within a few blocks from home, with shops lining Dudley Street and Columbia Road.  The Upham’s Corner Market[37] was the first forerunner of today’s supermarkets and attracted customers from all over Dorchester, South Boston and Roxbury.  Enterprising boys could earn pocket change helping people with their groceries.  For those living close-by such as those living on Nonquit Street, groceries could be carried home or pulled home in a wagon.  There was a S.S. Kresge Company store, complete with a lunch counter; there was an F.W. Woolworth store; there was a Thomas McCann shoe store; there was an F. T. Grant Department store; there was a Charles Hood & Son milk store; a pharmacy complete with a soda fountain; the Strand Theater, said to be the first theatre constructed solely for movies; a bowling alley, churches, banks, women’s health services, an excellent hospital, not to mention barber shops, shoe repair shops, candy stores, stationers, cleaners, laundry services, and hardware stores, all within a few blocks of Nonquit Street.  Downtown Boston with its large department stores and bargain basements, Dudley Square and Field’s Corner were only a few miles away, easily accessible by train, trolleys, and buses.

In addition to regular school attendance, the Krause girls would have been kept busy with domestic chores, honing their domestic skills for the day that they would become homemakers.  They would have been taught how to cook, sew, mend, darn, wash and press clothes, preserve food, garden, etc.  The Krause boys would have been kept busy with more manly chores such as tending the furnace, shoveling snow, carrying groceries, running errands, painting, wall papering, small home repairs, etc.  Yet there would have also been time to play.  Automobiles were scarce and on residential streets, especially cul-de-sacs such as Nonquit Street, games could be played on the street.  There would have been games of stick ball, jump rope, hop scotch, etc.  When there were not chores to be done, children roamed widely.  There were beaches within a mile of Nonquit Street for summer time swimming[38] and places to ice skate in the winter.  Teenager boys could hang on the corners to watch the girls and girls could promenade with their girlfriends to be watched by the boys.  On hot summer nights, residents probably sat out on their stoops (as they still do), perhaps with a bottle of beer or a glass of lemonade, to catch a breath of cool air.

From the vantage point of 2014, one may wonder how a household of eleven managed to live in a house of only six rooms (living, dining, kitchen and three bedrooms) plus two ½ rooms, one tiny bathroom and a full, but unfinished, basement and occasionally take in boarders,[39] but large families were not uncommon on Nonquit Street in those days.  Indeed, in 1970, there were two households on Nonquit Street each with 8 or 9 children and some 50 school-age children then resided on Nonquit Street.  It also appears that Emma Nesbitt ran her dressmaking business primarily from her home although, according to the 1940 Federal Census she was then employed by the WPA Sewing Project, but perhaps still working out of her residence at 10 Nonquit Street.

What type of racial tension may have existed on Nonquit Street because of the Nesbitt/Krause household is unknown, but one suspects that it was not extreme.[40]The Nonquit Street population through the first half of the twentieth century (and beyond) was significantly a working-class immigrant population with people from Poland, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Russia, the West Indies and Canada.  Members of the Nesbitt/Krause household resided on Nonquit Street for over fifty years[41] and nothing about the Nesbitt/Krause household appears to have been much different than the other working-class households on Nonquit Street.

The Nesbitt/Krause household did not, according to Hal Krause, strongly identify with the African-American population.  They were Crucians -black West Indians from St. Croix, from a different culture, from a different experience; one with distinct parallels (West Indians and African-American both descend from African slaves) but one with equally distinct evolutionary differences, some perhaps even during enslavement, and definitely following emancipation (e.g. no period of enforced segregation or Jim Crow laws).[42]  While certainly subject to the discriminatory practices of American society, they may, suggests Hal Krause, have been slightly more acceptable to the white population because of their West Indian origins and accents, and may therefore have enjoyed slightly better economic opportunities. This would have been important to them directly affecting their livelihoods and quality of life.  They were reserved, held themselves a bit apart and may, suggests Hal Krause, have felt themselves to be slightly better than the general black population of Boston.[43]  An equally probable explanation for this aloofness could perhaps be that they were simply more comfortable with other Crucian or West Indian families.  It is felt probable that they kept in contact with other family members[44] perhaps especially those who had also come to America.[45]

Charlotte A. (Nesbitt) Krause died on 15 Jul 1952[46]at the Holy Ghost Hospitalin Cambridge.[47]  Her wake was held at 10 Nonquit Street, presumably in the front parlor.  Grandson Hal Krause, born 1948, then about 4 years old, remembers climbing up into her coffin to give her a kiss.  [He also remembers visiting his grandparents at 10 Nonquit Street always being a little afraid of the house (it was dark) and of climbing up the poorly-lit[48] stairs to an equally poorly-lit second floor to use the toilet.[49]]  Charlotte is buried at Mt. Hope Cemetery[50] in a two-person grave[51] where her husband William Herbert is also buried.  She had lived with her sister Emma for her entire life.

William Herbert Krause, who retained his strong West Indian accent[52]and who was known to his children and grandchildren as Pa,survived his wife by six years dying on 21 Aug 1958[53] at Boston City Hospital, then a resident at 516 Warren Street, Roxbury(the Highland Nursing Home) where he had spent his last days.[54]  Apparently he went to live with his son Harold Benjamin Krause sometime before that, perhaps too sickly and frail for Emma Nesbitt to care for him at 10 Nonquit Street.  He is buried with his wife Charlotte at Mt. Hope Cemetery.

Emma Nesbitt survived her younger sister by sixteen years and her brother-in-law by ten years, dying 9 Jul 1968[55] at the age of 85.   From about 1957 until the end of 1963, Emma, for all practical purposes, lived alone at 10 Nonquit Street with the exception of the times that her nephew Charles (a merchant marine) was not at sea.  Her nephews and nieces would occasionally stop by to check on her and help her with anything she needed to have done.  During the early sixties, at the insistence of his father, Hal Krause often came over on Saturdays to help Auntie, sometimes with her roses.[56]  He remembers that she still had an ice box in the kitchen and would generally provide him lunch, often a fried spam sandwich with mayonnaise sometimes on moldy bread,[57]  leaving him with the distinct impression that food in the Nesbitt/Krause household was not to be wasted and was discarded only when completely spoiled.

Near the end of 1963, Emma Nesbitt was placed in the Highland Nursing Home at 516 Warren Street by her reluctant[58] nephews and nieces and she spent her remaining 4 years, 8 months and 19 days at that facility.  It is thought probable that her family was worried about her living alone at the age of 80 and that she was in need of nursing care.  Nephew Charles A. Krause lived with her when he was on shore leave in Boston but he had long periods at sea.

Emma and Charlotte Nesbitt and William Herbert Krause came to America reasonably well educated each accomplished in a trade through which a modest living (and property ownership) could be realized.  Together they raised eight children to whom they passed down a strong ethic of work, personal responsibility, and respect for education.[59]   The seven surviving children all had their own stable marriages and children to whom they passed the values learned from their parents and for whom they were able to provide a bit more than they themselves had been provided.  Three of the Krause sons and two of the Krause sons-in-law served their country in World War II.  Theirs is the story of millions of immigrants, heard repeatedly, family after family, regardless of the ethnicity or race of those individuals who left their homelands to seek a better life in America.

Hal Krause remembers 10 Nonquit Street as scary and dimly lit with old fashioned amenities such as Auntie’s icebox and the pull-chain toilet, and suspects that, although keeping the house well repaired, his grandparents and Auntie never upgraded it, choosing instead simply to live with its original amenities.  Household electrification began in the early twentieth century but it is unclear exactly when Nonquit Street was electrified, before or after Emma Nesbitt bought #10.  The original coal-burning furnaces were changed over to oil-burning furnaces probably by 1950-1955.  Hal Krause does not remember a coal-burning furnace at 10 Nonquit Street and, remembering the work associated with tending one, doubts that Emma could have tended one in her old age.  Hal Krause, however, comes from the post-World War II era (which introduced consumerism) and, as a young teenager, may well have wondered how anyone could possibly live without a television set or a refrigerator.   William Herbert Krause and both Emma and Charlotte Nesbitt were from the pre-World War I era and had lived through the privations of two world wars plus the Great Depression.  They knew about frugality; they knew how to use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.Theirs was the generation who saved bits of string and rags, reused wrapping paper, darned socks, and made dishtowels from flour sacks; the generation who knew how to live poor, while keeping themselves fed, warmed and not uncomfortable.[60]And, in so doing, they appear to have been not much different than the other Nonquit Street households.[61]

Other than its occasional use by Charles A. Krause, no record can be discovered of anyone else residing at 10 Nonquit Street after Emma Nesbitt went to the nursing home at the end of 1963.  Why it was not rented or why one of the married Krause nephews or nieces did not use it for their families is unknown.  Certainly it was habitable at that time and could have generated income for Emma.

After Emma’s death, her body was cremated at the Forest Hill Crematory in Jamaica Plain.  There exists no record at Forest Hill Cemetery of her ashes being interred there suggesting that they were returned to her family.  How the family disposed of them is unknown; one would like to believe that they were scattered underneath her rose bushes at 10 Nonquit Street.

As Emma Susana Nesbitt had no children and as her only sister Charlotte had predeceased her, it is thought probable that whatever Emma had in the way of property (including 10 Nonquit Street) went to her surviving four nephews and three nieces, the children of Charlotte A. Nesbitt and William Herbert Krause.  It is unknown whether Emma died intestate or left a will but either way, it seems probable that whatever property she held at the time of her death went to one or all of the surviving Krause children.  Emma had been there for all of their lives helping to care for them and raise them.  It is suspected that the Krause children were as dear to Emma as any of her own might have been.

At the time this author moved to Nonquit Street in Sep 1970, 10 Nonquit Street had been fire-damaged on its rear side and was sitting vacant.  It was adjacent to the single-remaining of three frame houses that had sat on lots numbered 4, 6, and 8 Nonquit Street.  Said remaining frame-house[62] was badly burned and it appeared that the fire began in that structure and spread to the row house at #10.  The frame house was demolished shortly thereafter.   10 Nonquit Street sat vacant and was eventually taken for taxes by the City of Boston on 21 Jul 1975[63]then sold by City of Boston to Levon Bowdre for $100 on 4 Nov 1977.[64]Eventually it, along with adjacent 12 Nonquit Street (abandoned after the death of its owner William Wallace ca. 1968) was demolished on 28 Jun 1978.[65]  While both vacant 10 and 12 Nonquit Street had been vandalized, they could have been restored (and would have been had they survived until about 1990) but the seventies and eighties were years of increasing blight at Upham’s Corner and homes on Nonquit Street were certainly not in high demand.[66]  At the time of the fire, there may have been no property insurance to offset the cost of its repair.

Had it not been for the fire damage, 10 Nonquit Street could have been sold at the time of Emma Nesbitt’s death for a modest sum of money, certainly seven or eight thousand dollars.[67]  It is thought probable, given the fire damage, that the surviving Krause children decided that the expense of repairing the house was simply not worth it.

After 10 and 12 Nonquit were demolished in 1978 and the City of Boston foreclosed on both properties, Rudolph Armstrong and his wife Sylvia, owners of 14 Nonquit Street, acquired the land of both as abutters[68] and made it into a side yard with off-street parking.[69]  They also acquired the land numbered 4, 6, and 8 Nonquit Street (adjacent to 10 Nonquit Street, where three frame double/triple-decker houses had once stood).  In 2005, Rudolph and Sylvia Armstong sold their row house at 14 (and all of the adjacent land which they had acquired) for $500,000 to developer David L Raftery[70] and between 2012-2013, he renovated #14, built two new row houses on the land where #10 and #12 once stood, and built a two-family home where #4, #6, and #8 once stood,[71] the first new home construction on Nonquit Street since about 1893.

The Nesbitt/Krause home at 10 Nonquit Street was the single black (or minority-owned)Nonquit Street property from 1917 until 28 Jan 1969 (fifty-two years) when the Earl Pettie household purchased 20 Nonquit.  From 1962 (when William Wallace purchased 8 Nonquit) until 2000 (when Robert Carlson purchased 20 Nonquit), only one Nonquit Street row house was sold to a white household (#21 in 1974).  Today, there are nineteen homes on Nonquit Street, thirteen owner-occupied by six African-American households, one black Haitian household, 1 black mixed-race American/Jamaican household, two Hispanic households, and three white households; and six rentals with 1 black Cape Verdean household, 1 African-American household, 2 mixed-race white/black households, and 2 white households.  Thus from 1917 to the present, Nonquit Street has gone from a predominantly white neighborhood, to a mixed-race neighborhood, to a predominantly minority neighborhood, and now back to a mixed-race neighborhood, being continuously racially-integrated.

While the Nesbitt/Krause house at 10 Nonquit Street was not the only black-owned house in Dorchester during the first half of the twentieth century,[72]Nonquit Street residents are proud that Nonquit Street has been a continuously racially-integrated neighborhood since 1917, perhaps not the only, but certainly one of only a few Dorchester streets that can make that claim.  Nonquit Street residents want to document, celebrate and commemorate this.


[1]Ruth C. Clarke has resided on Nonquit Street since 1970 and owned a Nonquit Street row house since 1974.  She is a skilled amateur genealogist and historian, and has been collecting historical information about the Nonquit Street railroad houses (and the families who lived in them) for some years.

[2]Harold Benjamin Krause, Jr., (Hal Krause) is a grandson of William Herbert Krause and Charlotte A. Nesbitt.  A graduate of Exeter Academy, Boston College (both undergraduate and graduate), he taught in the Lexington and Worcester public schools and, as a graduate student at BC, was a lecturer in black studies.

[3]This includes all of the land originally owned by Henry Humphreys as well as the James Harris Clapp land (then with one other Nonquit parcel owned by members of the Chapin family) between the Humphreys-owned land and the railroad embankment (about 9595 square feet).  This includes the Denmark Hotel on the easterly corner of Nonquit and Dudley Street because, while generally not thought of as part of Nonquit Street, it was part of the Humphreys-owned land and part of the land Humphreys sold to Albert G. and F. Frost who appear to have constructed said Denmark Hotel using the same materials (red brick and pink sandstone) as used in the Nonquit Street row houses.  Nonquit Street runs for a distance of about 375 feet starting at Dudley to the end of the Nonquit Street cul-de-sac, making it the shortest, or one of the shortest, streets in Boston.

[4]The exception to Henry Humphreys’ ownership of Nonquit Street land was one parcel that had earlier been deeded to James Harris Clapp.  James Harris Clapp, son of Stephen Clapp and Hannah W. Humphreys, was the grandson of James Humphreys and nephew of Henry Humphreys.  James Humphreys deeded the land to his grandson James on 16 Jul 1838.  [Norfolk County Registry of Deeds, Book 112, p. 139.  After James Harris Clapp’s second wife Lydia Wardwell died, it was sold by her estate to a member of the Chapin family who then subdivided it.

[5] The Dorchester Brook (which ran along the boundary between Dorchester and Boston) and its East Branch was culvertized into sewer lines between 1860-1885.  The existence of the brook and its east branch is primarily proven by the existence of those sewer lines, although portions are depicted on various old Dorchester maps (primarily property maps as opposed to topographical maps).  Very few documents about these sewer lines can be found in the Boston Water and Sewer Commission records.

[6]While certainly a retaining wall in its function and purpose, it is not a retaining wall in the modern technical sense of the term.  Rather it is a gravity wall.

[7] Originally (ca. 1855), the Norfolk County Railroad; 1873 the New York and New England Railroad; 1895 the New England Railroad; 1898 Midland Division of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad.  Beginning operation ca. 1855, the Norfolk County Railroad provided a direct rail service between Boston and Norfolk County, and the first rail service through Dorchester.  The railroad ran southeasterly from South Station to Readville, about nine miles with three stops along the way,  the first originally being known as the Stoughton Street Depot, later, after Stoughton Street was renamed Dudley Street, as the Dudley Street Station, and now that the line has been resurrected, as the Upham’s Corner Station.  Its southeasterly direction accounts for the triangular shape of Nonquit Street land.  Note:  The railroad line, currently known as the Fairmont Commuter Rail line, is generally described as running southwesterly to Readville.  However, between South Station to approximately behind about 29 Monadnock Street, the line runs southeasterly before curving to a southwesterly direction.

[8]Old maps show the New England Railroad running on an elevated embankment through the South Bay (now completely-filled land) and on through Dorchester to Readville. Observations of the embankment between South Bay and the top of the unnamed hill referenced above, show it to be buttressed by granite retaining walls, sometimes on the embankment’s easterly side and sometimes on its westerly side, leading one to conclude that the placement of these walls was determined by the existing 1850 land elevations and the grade required for the trains.  The existence of the massive approximately 12-feet high retaining wall which runs along the entire length of the westerly side of Nonquit Street was probably necessitated by the existence of the East Branch of the Dorchester Brook at the bottom of the earlier-referenced unnamed hill along which the railroad ran (and crossed) at that location.

[9]See earlier footnote.

[10]What is now Monadnock Street on land owned by the Heirs of E. Sumner (perhaps Ebenezer Sumner 1763-1837) was subdivided into approximately 60-foot-deep lots between 1874-1884.  Higher numbered Monadnock Street properties (including 17, 21, 25 and 29 Monadnock Street) acquired the additional land to the rear of their Sumner lots from Henry Humpheys.

[11]The noise from the trains was (and remains) deafening.  All conversation must come to a halt as a train passes by.

[12]Henry Humphreys had earlier sold the lot at the westerly corner of Nonquit and Dudley Street, as well as the next three lots on the westerly side, and the land at the end of the Nonquit Street cul-de-sac.

[13]Suffolk County, MA Land Records 1889:1915:162.  The land purchased by Albert G. and Frank M. Frost included all of the land on the easterly side of Nonquit including the corner at Dudley Street, and the land on the westerly side of Nonquit Street beyond 9 Nonquit Street upon which the odd-numbered row houses (11-29) now stand.

[14]The odd-numbered row houses on the westerly side of Nonquit Street have 6½ rooms . The even-numbered row houses on the easterly side of Nonquit Street have 6 rooms plus two ½ rooms.  While their exteriors closely resemble each other, the odd and the even-numbered houses were built by separate builders.  The even-numbered houses are slightly taller and have slightly more interior square footage.  Each house on the odd-numbered side of Nonquit Street and each house on the even-numbered side of Nonquit Street is the mirror image of its neighbor.

[15] There were never carriages houses or stables on Nonquit Street.  The tiny lots were far too small to accommodate any private means of transportation.  Eventually, perhaps ca. 1930, two cinder-block buildings were built, one on  parcel 13:01208 behind #9 (which had been purchased by the owners of #9 in 1920) (Suffolk County Land Records 1920:4205:341) thought originally to have been the woodworking shop of Leace W(arner) Eddy but eventually used as a garage; and the other on parcel 13:01222 (which was always owned together with #30), neither of which exists today.

[16]Her full name and date of birth (19 Aug 1882) are given on her 23 Mar 1925 naturalization record, Certificate 2044048, Petition 76226, District of Massachusetts, US Circuit and District Courts in the US Naturalization Records 1794-1995 at  Her place of birth is given as Bassin (ancient name of Christiansted), St. Croix, Danish West Indies; occupation: seamstress; unmarried; residing at 10 Nonquit Street, Boston, MA.

[17]1910, 1920, 1930 U.S. Censuses for City of Boston which indicate that Maletz was born in Russia and spoke Yiddish as his native language.  See also his 1 Jul 1922 Petition for Naturalization in Massachusetts, U.S. State and Federal Naturalization Records, 1798-1950 at in which he gave Grodno (now Belarus) as his place of birth with his earlier Declaration of Intention No. 9273 dated 17 Feb 1910.

[18]Suffolk County, MA Land Records 1907:3236:438

[19]Suffolk County, MA Land Records 1917:4004:552.  Conveyance was subject to an existing mortgage to the Dorchester Savings Bank for $1,800 given to Joseph Maletz on 16 Dec 1916 and a second mortgage of $1,000 to Joseph Maletz from Emma Nesbitt.  It is possible that the two were acquainted.  He was a tailor, she was a seamstress and she may have done work for him.  It is known from the 1930 and 1940 Federal census records that Joseph Maletz did tailoring for both men and women, and even after leaving Nonquit Street, he maintained his tailor shop at 708 Dudley Street (See U.S. World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 at, dated 12 Sep 1918) and owned land at the westerly corner of Nonquit and Dudley Streets.

[20]Prior to Emma Nesbitt’s purchase of 10 Nonquit Street, the William H. Krause household (presumably including Emma) had resided in rental quarters at 940 Tremont Street, 70 Ruggles Street, 770 Shawmut Avenue, 49 Norway Street, and 26 South Huntington Avenue.  Charlotte Nesbitt (again presumably with her sister Emma) had resided at 245 West Canton Street before to her 1908 marriage.  Although Emma Nesbitt owned 10 Nonquit Street, US Federal Census records show that the William H. Krause household paid rent to her, thus helping her pay off the mortgage.

[21]Massachusetts Death Records 1968:20:209; Social Security Death Index:  Emma Nessbitt, b. 19 Aug 1882; d. Jul 1968; last residence: 02122, Dorchester, Suffolk, MA.

[22]The 1940 Federal Census, Boston, MA and various Boston City Directories, show two of her nieces (Charlotte and Alice) employed as seamstresses.  Both Emma and Charlotte Nesbitt are listed in the 1901 US Virgin Islands Census, 1835-1911 (Danish Period) as seamstresses.  It seems probable that Emma and Charlotte made their own clothes as well as clothing for the Krause children and William Krause.  The nieces would have acquired their sewing skills from both their mother and aunt, and may have been accomplished seamstresses in their own rights, probably making clothing from the time they were children.

[23]The Danish West Indies are now known as the American Virgin Islands.  They were purchased from Denmark in 1916 and are a territory of the United States.  On 25 Feb 1927 under Chapter 8 U.S. Code Section 1406, residents of the Virgin Islands and natives of the Virgin Islands living in either the continental United States or any other U.S. territory were granted American citizenship.

[24]New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1967 at

[25]1940 Federal Census, Boston, MA show both Emma Nesbitt and Charlotte (Nesbitt) Krause as having completed eight years of schooling and being able to read and write.

[26]He is perhaps the Hans Bishop, Negro, age 60, retired, born Virgin Islands, parents born Virgin Islands, roomer at 216 W. Canton Street in the 1930 US Federal Census of Boston, Massachusetts.  He is also perhaps the Hans Bishop/Hans A. Bishop listed as an American citizen passenger on eleven other ship manifests from the Virgin Islands to New York City (as well as 1 from Barbados, 1 from Gothenburg (Sweden), 1 from Bremen, and 2 from Copenhagen) between 1903 and 1937, giving (where included) addresses of residence on W. Canton Street, Boston.   Born Christiansted, St. Croix on 9 May 1870, he is probably also the Hans A. Bishop b. 9 May 1867, d. 26 Oct 1942 buried at the Danish Cemetery of St. Croix in Christiansted, as well as the Hans A. Bishop age 72, single, born St. Croix in the 1940 Federal Census, Christiansted.  No relationship between Hans A. Bishop and the two Nesbitt sisters can be determined.

[27]1901 Virgin Island Census and Charlotte Nesbitt Krause’s death certificate (informant: William H. Krause) indicate that Charlotte (and Emma) Nesbitt’s mother was Louise Benjamin.  How the name Emily Patrick appears on Charlotte’s marriage certificate cannot be determined.  The information would have come from Charlotte and Charlotte would have been able to name her mother correctly. However, if marriage licenses were not required in 1908, the information would have been reported by the officiant of the marriage.  It is possible that officiant Rev. George W. King mixed up (and misreported) the mother’s names of two of his brides.

[28]There is little question that William Herbert Krause was raised in St. Croix, that he came from a St. Croix family, and that his parents had been born in St. Croix.  Hal Krause suggests that he may have given his place of birth as Havanna, Cuba to appear more Spanish in origin that Negro.  However, as it was not uncommon for persons of one West Indian island to seek employment on another West Indian island, it seems equally probable that William, Herbert Krause was indeed born in Havanna.  Certainly he would have known his place of birth.

[29]Massachusetts Marriage Records for the City of Boston 1908:581:45.  A record of the marriage also exists in Massachusetts Marriage Records for the City of Medford 1908:579:556 with the Medford record giving William’s full name and parents as Joseph Herbert Krause and Victoria Multl, and Charlotte’s surname and the surname of her father being spelled as Nesbit.With two records existing, it is impossible to know with absolute certainty exactly where the marriage took place, in Boston or Medford.  However as the officiant is listed as pastor of the People’s Temple on Columbus Avenue at the corner of Berkeley Street, a short walking distance from Charlotte Nesbitt’s residence on W. Canton Street, it is believed probable that the marriage took place in Boston.  In the 1910 Federal Census, Boston, MA, George W. King of 143 Berkeley Street is listed as being a clergyman of a Protestant church.  According to the New England Conference of the United Methodist Church Commission Archives, the People’s Temple was established in 1879 and continued to 1922 when it merged with the Bromfield-Tremont Church to form the United Church on Tremont Street at the corner of West Concord from 1922 to 1925.  According to paper entitled Methodist Churches in Boston since 1792 at the Boston University School of Theology, through a series of mergers, moves and name changes, the remains of the People’s Temple is now part of the Old West Church on Cambridge Street, on Beacon Hill which remains open today.

[30] While the sole record discovered giving Havana, Cuba as the place of birth of William Herbert Krause, the information, having been provided by him, is strong evidence that he was indeed born in Havana-Cuba.  It may be noted that on most other records, his place of birth is given as St. Croix, the Danish West Indies, or simply the West Indies.  It is clear that he considered St. Croix, where he grew up and from where his family came, to be his native home.

[31]Although US citizenship was not granted to the people of the Virgin Islands until 1927, the Danish West Indies became American territory in 1916 and individuals born there felt that they were, since 1916, rightfully American citizens.  On the other hand, made clear by the Census of the Virgin Islands of the United States, enumerated in Jan 1917, the American government recognized that some Crucians might wish to continue as citizens of Denmark.

[32]He is also shown as having zero (0) years of formal schooling but can read and write.

[33]Charlotte’s middle name is given perhaps as Anastia or Amelia on her husband’s World War I Draft Registration but the spelling on the record is difficult to decipher.  Only her middle initial appears on her marriage and death records.

[34]It is suspected that the one exception (Helen b. 10 July 1923 at Boston Lying-In) was necessitated by some difficulty or problem with the pregnancy or birth.

[35]There is nothing particularly unusual about physician-assisted home births through the 1930s particularly among poor women.  It is thought probable that Charlotte Nesbitt Krause was not the only Nonquit Street mother to give birth at home.  Indeed, an early version of a Well-Baby Clinic [Interactive District Nursing – Baby Hygiene affiliated with Boston Lying-In Hospital] existed around the corner at 748 Dudley Street.

[36]The name of an assisting physician is given on all of the last five birth records.  The information may not earlier have been required.  The name of a physician on the birth record does not necessarily mean that said physician actually delivered the child.   The Krause babies may have been delivered by midwives and they may also have been delivered by Auntie Emma.  Certainly she would have been present.  Home births were then common, especially among indigent women, often with better results than hospital births.

[37]Later to be known as the Elm Farm Market which continued to operate until the mid 1970’s.  The story of the Upham’s Corner Market is told in a book by William H. Marnall entitled Once Upon a Store: A Biography of the World’s First Supermarket, New York, Herder &Herder, 1971.

[38]The Municipal Building at the corner of Columbia Road and Bird Street had an indoor swimming pool.

[39]Various Boston City Directories published during the period of the Nesbitt/Krause household on Nonquit Street (as well as the 1930 Federal Census) show boarders at 10 Nonquit Street in addition to family members.

[40]Harold Benjamin Krause, Jr. concurs with this stating that he never heard of anything particularly unusual and senses that there existed no extreme racial tension on Nonquit Street.  He says that his general sense of his grandparents and great aunt was that they were poor, but honest and hard-working, respectable, frugal, but did the best they could for their children, including passing down their strong work ethic, and kept their home tidy and, in so far as possible, well repaired and maintained.
Rose M. (Lodi) McDonald with husband Thomas L. McDonald purchased the No. 11 Nonquit Street rowhouse in 1953 (where she remained until 1985) and their children were, from a young age, raised on Nonquit Street.  Rose, the daughter of Italian immigrants Humberto James Lodi and his wife Theresa Bianca Lodi, had also been raised on Nonquit Street in the house at No. 3 which had originally belonged to (and perhaps was built by) James Harris Clapp.  Rose’s daughter Theresa McDonald O’Donnell remembers Miz. Nesbitt and often running errands for her to earn a dime.  Theresa’s brother remembers always addressing William Herbert Krause and his sons as Mr. Krause.

[41]There is nothing unusual about this.  Currently there is one Nonquit Street row house that been owned and occupied by members of the same family for 55 years.  Consistently throughout the approximately 125 years of its existence, at least one third of the houses have been owned and occupied by long-term residents.  In spite of more than two decades of urban blight, there has always been a solid core of stable home ownership on Nonquit Street.

[42]These different experiences certainly account for the evolution of distinctly different cultures.

[43]Krause grandchildren remember that their grandparents (and Auntie) were very close to Peter and Rachel England, black immigrants from St. Thomas.  The Englands had two children, Amy and Ted, both born close to the turn of the century and rather older that the Krause children.  After Peter and Rachel England died in 1941 and 1942, Amy and Ted continued the friendship with William, Charlotte, Emma and the Krause children, that friendship continuing past the deaths of Charlotte, William and Emma until their own deaths in 1998 and 1990.

[44]Although Hal Krause has no knowledge of this, it was (and remains) a common practice of immigrant families to send small amounts of monies home to support their relatives.  Genealogical research of the family suggests that the mother of Emma and Charlotte Nesbitt was still living in Christiansted in1940; and the mother of William Herbert Krause were still living in Christiansted in 1930.

[45]Hal Krause remembers visiting, with his father, other family members in New York.

[46]Massachusetts Death Records, City of Cambridge 1952:34:401  Charlotte L Krause, female, colored, married, wife of William H., Krause, age 67, occupation: at home, residence: 10 Nonquit Street, Dorchester, father: George Nesbitt, mother: Louise Benjamin, died 15 Jul 1952 at Holy Ghost Hospital, Cambridge.  Informant: William Krause, 10 Nonquit Street, Dorchester.  Burial: Mt. Hope Cemetery, Boston, 19 Jul 1952.  Funeral Director: Norman G. Davis, 89 Walnut Street, Roxbury [now the Davis Funeral Home].  It is believed that the first name of her father was given incorrectly by William Krause as her father was named as Henry Nesbitt on her marriage record and as no George Nesbitt of appropriate age can be found in the St. Croix records.

[47]Holy Ghost Hospital, founded in 1894, was dedicated to the care of incurable patients and staffed by the Sisters of Charity of Montreal (Grey Nuns).  Its name was later changed to Youville Hospital after the founder of the Sisters of Charity, Marie Margaret d’Youville.  It is now known as the Spaulding Youville Rehabilitation Hospital remaining at its original location at 1575 Cambridge Street, Cambridge.

[48]The Nonquit Street row houses were originally lit by gas lights.  When electrified (probably ca. 1920), typically overhead lights were installed in all of the rooms as well as the front hallway, operated by push button switches.  The overhead ceiling light in the front hallway was intended to light the stairs to the second floor (which typically did not have a ceiling light) but was rather ineffective.  Being row houses, windows existed only at the front and back of the houses, although a small skylight was placed over the tiny windowless bathrooms.  Hal Krause is not mistaken in his recollection that 10 Nonquit Street was dimly lit and his childish fear of going upstairs to the bathroom is understandable, especially if his grandparents and Auntie were frugal in their use of electricity, as they might well have been.

[49]The original bathrooms of the Nonquit Street row houses were equipped with a chain-flushed toilet with overhead tank, a claw-footed porcelain bathtub, and a small wash basin.  Hal Krause remembers that the toilet at 10 Nonquit Street was flushed by pulling a chain.  Such an old-fashioned toilet was still in existence at 14 Nonquit Street in 2005 when that house was sold by Rudolph and Sylvia Armstrong, who had purchased it in 1970 from Bertha Heuser, the daughter of original owner Louis Heuser who purchased it from Frank M. & Albert G. Frost in 1893.  While the Armstrongs kept the property well-maintained and well repaired, apparently they had never considered upgrading or modernizing to be necessary.

[50]Spruce Grove, Row 18, Grave 37

[51]All of the graves at Mt. Hope cemetery are double graves accommodating two bodies, an ancient practice rarely found today except at the National Cemeteries.  Mt. Hope Cemetery is owned by the City of Boston and only Boston residents may purchase graves there.  A substantial contingent of Boston veterans are buried at Mt. Hope.

[52]Hal Krause confesses to having had considerable difficulty understanding \his grandfather because of it.

[53]Massachusetts Death Records, City of Boston 1958:24:369.  William Krause, of 516 Warren Street, Roxbury, male, colored, widowed, husband of Charlotte Nesbitt, age 80, retired painter, b. St. Croix, VI, father: unknown Krause b. St. Croix VI, mother: unknown b. St. Croix, VI, informant: Charles A. Krause, died 21 Aug 1958 at Boston City Hospital; burial: Mt. Hope Cemetery, 25 Aug 1958; funeral director: Napoleon Chisholm, 532 Columbia Road.

[54]The building at 516 Warren Street which was the Highland Nursing Home (where Emma Nesbitt was to die ten years later) still exists.  It is a large Victoria house, probably originally privately-owned, with a wide covered porch which winds from the front to the side of the structure.  One can well imagine elderly nursing home resident sitting on that porch enjoying the sun.  It is now the Imani House, with eight small apartments for elderly and disabled persons.  Hal Krause remembers visiting Emma at the Highland Nursing Home and remembers the elderly sitting out on the porch.

[55] Massachusetts Death Records, City of Boston 1968:20:209: Emma Nesbitt, female, colored, single, age 85, retired stitcher, b. St Croix, VI, father unknown, b. St. Croix, VI, mother unknown, b. St. Croix, VI, died 9 Jul 1968 at 516 Warren Street, Roxbury [the same nursing home where William Herbert Krause had lived], resident of 185 Cabot St., Roxbury for 4y, 8m, 19d;  Informant: Petro Frierson, 98 Academy Ter., Roxbury; Burial: Forest Hills, JP 13 Jul 1968, Funeral Director: Napoleon Chisholm, 532 Columbia Rd. Dor.; Social Security Death Index:  Emma Nessbitt, b. 19 Aug 1882, d. Jul 1968; last residence: 02122 Dorchester, Suffolk, MA

[56]All of the Nonquit Street row houses have small back gardens, the ones on the odd-numbered side of the street being different in elevation and shape from the even-numbered side of the street.  On the even-numbered side of the street, each house has a back garden 21 feet wide by approximately 23 feet deep, accessed from a small wooden porch off the kitchen.  This is where Emma grew her roses.  Many of the tiny Nonquit Street gardens, including Victoria Makowka’s garden at 24 Nonquit Street, were beautifully kept with flowers, while others were neglected.  Victoria Makowka, a Polish immigrant who came to Nonquit Street ca. 1925, and Emma Nesbitt would have known each other.  The back gardens of the Nonquit Street row houses, after years of neglect, are now highly cherished and the majority of them nicely planted with flowers and shrubbery, providing a small, private, outdoor retreat for Nonquit Street households..

[57]In all fairness to Emma, it is sometimes difficult to tell that bread has gone moldy without tasting it.

[58]Her nephew Harold Benjamin Krause reputedly was devastated with Auntie had to be placed in a nursing home.

[59]The 1940 Federal Census, City of Boston lists sons William H. and Charles A as working and having completed 8 years of schooling; daughter Charlotte as working, having completed 4 years of high school; son Harold as working having completed two years of high school; daughter Helen still in school having completed two years of high school, and daughter Alice in school having completed six years of schooling.  Emma and Charlotte are shown as having eight years of school and William Herbert is shown as having no formal school education but could read and write.  It is quite possible that William Herbert Krause was taught at home.  It is thought possible that the employed Krause children would have contributed to the income of the household.

[60]What may have seemed old fashioned to a young teenager in the early sixties, may have been seen by Emma (and William and Charlotte), who could remember life without them, as rather modern conveniences.  They had an ice box, a fully electrified house, and an oil-burning furnace.  They had a sewing machine and probably had a radio (necessary to hear the news and President Roosevelt’s fireside chats), a phonograph, and electric fans.   There was probably a washing machine, perhaps with a wringer on top.  Perhaps they had a telephone, even if only a party-line one.   The elderly (then before then, now, and undoubtedly well into the future), rarely embrace the latest and the greatest, with the same enthusiasm as the young.  Yes, these conveniences may be nice; one can understand how they might be helpful; but are they really necessary?  Does one really want to spend money on them?

[61]By the mid-sixties when the Upham’s Corner neighborhood began to change, the Nonquit Street row houses were close to seventy-five years old and in need of modernization.  In 1970, all of the row houses were habitable, tight, tidy and well-kept but, in terms of modernization, they resembled pre-World War II homes.  Their woodwork had been painted and repainted; there was up to 6-7 layers of wall paper on the horsehair plaster walls; linoleum which had been laid in the kitchens and first floor hallways was worn; the treads of the staircases were deeply worn and grooved from the many years of people going up and down; the kitchens still had only a sink, cook stove and refrigerator – almost no counter or cabinet space; electrical systems were supported by 3-4 old-fashioned fuses; there were up to three roofs on each house [maximum allowed by City of Boston code] and clothes were still hung out to dry on clothes lines.  Much of the work that had been done over the decades was do-it-yourself and it showed.  Without expensive upgrades to the electrical, heating and plumbing systems, the Nonquit Street row houses could not support the much desired conveniences/amenities of the second half of the 20th century (not to mention the 21st) such as modern washing machines, clothes dryers, television sets, freezers, large refrigerators, showers, multiple bathrooms, dishwasher, air conditioners, and the like.  Without new roofs, the rain would come in.  Residents who had lived on Nonquit Street for decades balanced the appeal of the suburbs against the need for expensive upgrades to their houses at a time when property values were decreasing, crime was increasing, and neighborhood businesses were leaving.  The suburbs won and some fifty years of urban blight set in.

[62]Believed, based on records of Nonquit Street home-ownership compiled over the years, to have been #6.

[63]Land Court Record 49830 at Suffolk County Registry of Deeds.  Also lien for taxes by City of Boston on 17 Apr 1971 in Suffolk County, MA Land Records 8341:159.

[64]Suffolk County, MA Land Records 9005:383

[65]Suffolk County, MA Land Records 9085:271 15 Aug 1978 Lien by City of Boston for demolition; Suffolk County, MA Land Records 9907:117 4 Feb 1982 Notice of Foreclosure by City of Boston; Land Court Record 64278 at Suffolk County Registry of Deeds dated 23 Jun 1983 Foreclosure by City of Boston/

[66]During the seventies and eighties, many of the Nonquit Street row houses were abandoned for taxes when their owners could not sell them.  Others were sold for as little as $200.

[67]The six Nonquit Street homes that changed ownership in 1969 appear to have been sold for $5,000-$8,500.

[68]Suffolk County, MA Land Records 1980:9452:209 and 1983:0616:214.

[69]Sylvia Armstrong created a lovely flower garden at the front of the 10 Nonquit Street land where the house had once stood.  Some plantings remained on the rear portions of the land where the original back gardens had been, certainly from 12 Nonquit and perhaps also from #10.  There they remained until about 2012 when David L. Rafferty commenced his new construction.

[70]Suffolk County, MA Land Records 36856:305.

[71] Raftery’s asking price for his units was about $490,000 each, well above what any Nonquit Street home has ever sold for.  None of his units has yet been sold but all are currently being rented.  The highest price recorded for a Nonquit Street row house is about $335,000.

[72]Earl Taylor of the Dorchester Historical Society claims that the yearbooks of various Dorchester high schools from the first half of the twentieth century generally show some black students.


Posted on

July 4, 2022

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