Historical Society raising funds for ‘Father of the City’

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Historical Society raising funds for ‘Father of the City’
The Marlborough Historical Society is raising funds to erect a statue to Samuel Boyd, a factory owner and philanthropist known as the “Father of the City.” (Photo/Maureen Sullivan)

MARLBOROUGH – Factory owner. Transportation guru. Philanthropist. “Father of the City.”

Samuel Boyd was all this and more, but it’s hard to find his legacy.

There’s the parking lot between Main and Weed streets where once stood the nation’s largest shoe factory. There are also the streets around the city where an electric street trolley once transported workers to and from work – a system built by Boyd.

The Marlborough Historical Society wants Boyd to be more than a couple of mentions on the city’s walking tour. They are fundraising toward the installation of a bronze statue at the corner of routes 85 and 20.

“It is time to show our gratitude and provide a visual thanks to his major contributions to our city’s early success,” according to a fundraising letter published by the society.

According to Ed La Rose, a member of the Samuel Boyd Committee along with Bob Kane, Dick Hamel and Bill Dunbar, the statue will cost about $100,000; the committee has already received permission from the city to erect the statue.

Donations, which are tax deductible, may be sent to the Samuel Boyd Committee, Marlborough Historical Society, 377 Elm St., Marlborough MA 01752. Donors will receive a small thank-you gift, and their names will be included in the society’s commemorative booklet and permanently displayed at the society.

For more information, call 978-245-9008, or visit www.historicmarlboro.org.

About Samuel Boyd

Boyd was born on June 2, 1815, on Walker Street, and he began making shoes at 85 Maple St. in 1836.

By 1855, he had the resources to fund an agricultural rail station at Marlborough Junction. Within the next 10 years, Boyd owned several factories, including a brick shop and the Boyd and Corey shoe factory on Main Street, across from what is now the Vin Bin.

Boyd also owned a coal company and mechanic shop, and he also started the company that supplied water to the city from Lake Williams.

By 1879, Boyd and Corey was reported to be the largest shoe factory in the country.

In addition to his business, Boyd was active in civic affairs. He served on the city’s Board of Selectmen and as a state representative; he was the first president of the Marlborough Savings Bank; he donated funds toward the building of Holy Trinity and French Protestant churches; and he also donated land at Chestnut Hill for a park.

During the Civil War, Boyd offered financial assistance to families of Marlborough residents serving in the Union Army. It was his way of contributing to the war effort, since he was unable to join the service because of his age and height (Boyd stood 5 feet, 2 inches).

Boyd died on Sept. 19, 1892, at 5:30 p.m., just as his factory’s whistle blew for the close of the day. Out of respect, schools, factories and stores and banks were closed; 1,000 people attended his burial service at Shipmen Cemetery on Stevens Street.

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