No. 21885 Peabody Square Watering Trough
The watering trough at Peabody Square was installed in 1899 as a gift to the city from Francis H. Peabody. At that time, the island was circular in outline. Later it became triangular. A small segment of a street used to allow traffic traveling east on Ashmont Street to turn to Dorchester Avenue before reaching the island. Today, the island is still triangular with a curved side where there is now a walkway in place of a roadway. The island now has a large area of paved surface instead of the earlier green space.
No. 21886 Peabody Square from Google Street View, 2021, showing former horse trough
No. 511 Peabody Square. Postcard. Caption on front: Peabody Sq., Ashmont, Mass. Postmarked Dorchester Center Station, Feb 20, 1912. With one cent stamp. On verso: No. H 12665 The Robbins Bros Co., Boston, Mass. and Germany
“Old Dobbins Service Station — Some Olden Day Water Troughs” by Lawrence Berry. The Dorchester Beacon, June 25, 1938
For the younger generation of today, I will say that a watering trough was the earlier service station where “Old Dobbin,” a horse, got his free water. He would quench his equine thirst and stop a bit at this “rest room” before tugging along with his load. The public troughs were erected by town or city, and some donated by citizens as memorials to either man or beast. The earliest ones were of wood, some round tubs, others oblong box style, fed by a stream or wooden log pipe with an overflow to keep a fresh supply of purr water. Later iron and stone troughs came into use, some quite elaborate, as illustrated with faucets and chained metal cups for people and a low basin for small animals such as cats, dogs, etc
The common drinking cup had to go for health’s sake, being replaced by the modern “bubbler.” The toll exacted by the too prevalent disease “Glanders” caused the forced legal abandonment of the troughs and the carrying of individual buckets for each horse.
Probably the first improved public trough of record in Dorchester was in 1859. A stone trough given by a Mr. Simpson from Quincy arid his associates was placed on Adams Street near the Intersection of Minot Street, supplied with water by a lead pipe from a never failing spring in Thomas Pierce’s land, who granted n for public use without compensation. We are told that it was “ready at all times to quench the thirst of man or beasts.”
In 1860, the town “carved a Stone Water Trough to be placed on the side of Washington Street south of Ashmont Street, which is supplied with water from a spring in land belonging to the heirs of the late John Welles. This and the one on Adams Street previously mentioned were highly prized by the travelling public.
Besides these early troughs, others were situated at the junction of Washington Street and Blue Hill Avenue, Grove Hall; Tileston Square, River and Washington Streets; Pierce Square on the site of the old pump, “Lower Mills;” east side of Codman Square, where curb indentation shows position; west of the the middle of Mattapan Square with a pump and platform scales adjoining; in the triangle under the elms at Upham’s Corner; Easton Square, Meeting House Hill; Glover’s Corner; Peabody Square; King Square; etc., at various convenient spots.
The one pictured here was “Erected in 1899 by Francis H. Peabody,” in the square bearing this name at Ashmont. Although the upper part was removed recently, the stone base remains in the circle at Peabody Square, opposite the rapid transit station.
Another attractive cut stone one is situated on East Cottage Street opposite Sumner Street, known as the Coppenhagen Fountain. It was erected in 1914 with a bowl on the south side for horses and a smaller one to the north for the passing citizens.