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This is a historical and genealogical guide to the town of Brighton. You will find help with town histories, vital records, city directories, cemetery records and cemeteries, churches, deeds (i.e. land records), town records, newspapers, maps, and libraries. There are detailed guides for the town and city of Boston that annexed Brighton and the parent town of Cambridge.

Brighton (1807-1874)

Brighton was a town in Middlesex County that was created from the south parish of Cambridge. It was annexed to Boston in Suffolk County in 1874 along with Charlestown and West Roxbury. This guide discusses the records created by this town and includes references to material of present-day Allston-Brighton (the neighborhood of Boston) as well. Be careful of the time period you are researching here as the records you need may be in one of two counties or one of two towns.

Contents

Brief History

The area was first granted to Watertown in 1630, but this south of the river land was transferred to Newtown (now Cambridge) in 1634. Rev. John Eliot's "Praying Indian" village was established at Nonantum in 1646 along the Brighton-Newton border. The main village of the rural town is what is now called Brighton Center. It was known for its cattle farms. Its split from Cambridge came when that town would not repair the bridge connecting the two parts and made decisions that hurt Brighton's cattle industry. The largest agriculture fair in the state was held in Brighton annual in the early 19th century. A railroad was built through the northern end of town in 1835 that greatly helped its meat packing industry become the biggest in the area with 41 slaughter houses by 1866. The electric streetcar was introduced in 1889 and spurred a population boom as a suburban community of Boston.

Historical Data

The basic data is from the "Historical Data" publication series[1] with additions from various sources.

Associated names

Brighton at one time was called Little Cambridge and Cambridge South Parish.

Village or section names include Aberdeen, Albany, Allston, Brighton, Cattle Fair, Faneuil, North Brighton, Oak Square, Union Sqaure.

Border changes
Dates Events
24 Feb. 1807 Brighton established as a town created from the south parish of Cambridge.
27 Jan. 1816 Part of Cambridge annexed.
5 Jan. 1874 Brighton annexed to Boston by act of 21 May 1873 [Mass. Acts 1873, ch. 303, sec. 1, p. 747] that was approved by both on 27 Oct. 1873.
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Town Histories

Works written on the town include:
MassachusettsSuffolk CountyNorfolk CountyPlymouth CountyMiddlesex CountyEssex CountyNorfolk CountyBostonChelseaRevereWinthropNeedhamBrooklineDedhamWestwoodNorwoodCantonRandolphBraintreeWeymouthHinghamHullQuincyMiltonNewtonWatertownWalthamLexingtonWoburnWinchesterArlingtonBelmontCambridgeSomervilleMedfordStonehamMelroseMaldenEverettSaugusLynnNanhantCharlestownBrightonRoxburyWest RoxburyDorchesterHyde Park
Brighton was annexed by Boston in 1874. This shows Brighton in Boston on a map of Suffolk County, Massachusetts.


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Vital Records

The town's vital records are available in many locations:

Original records
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City Directories

Brighton was published in 1868, 1871-1889, 1891, 1893-1901, 1903-1908, 1910-1920, 1922, 1924-1932, 1934, 1940, 1944 (under Brookline).

The Library of Congress (Washington, D.C.) has one of the largest collections of city directories in the country. They are likely to own most of the years listed above. Their collection is in microfiche, microfilm, and books, but there is no online inventory of their holdings except for microfilm. See their guide online.

Other holdings:

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Maps

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Cemeteries

The following is a list of cemeteries within the old borders of the town of Brighton. Remember that this was first part of Cambridge and later annexed to Boston. For more details regarding these cemeteries, see the state guide under cemeteries for books on the subject.

The city's Parks and Recreation Department runs a public / private cooperative program called the Historic Burying Grounds Initiative. From their website, you can learn more about the eighteen historic burying grounds in their oversight, find maps of them, newsletters of the program, and a mid-1980s database of fourteen of the cemeteries (missing Evergreen, Fairview, Mount Hope, and South End) giving the name, death date, cemetery, and location for each entry.

  1. Market Street Cemetery, 1762.
    Note: The closure of this cemetery created the need a new cemetery, Evergreen.
    In 1872, about 150 burials were removed to Evergreen Cemetery.
    Anna M. McGonagle, "Inscriptions from the Market Street Burying Ground, Brighton, Massachusetts (sometimes called the Old Brighton Burying Ground)" typed by Winifred Lovering Holman, 1933, 7 leaves.
    Manuscript at the New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, and FHL film 1597818 Item 19.
    NSDAR has transcriptions in G.R.C., Series 1, v. 20 and 48, with index in v. 28.
  2. Evergreen Cemetery, 1848.
    Evergreen Cemetery records, 1881-1967.
    Catalogue of Lot Owners for Mount Hope and Evergreen cemeteries, 1908.
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Churches

The following is a list of churches established in town in order of organization date (if known) and condition of records in the 1889 survey if listed.

  1. First Parish of Brighton [Unitarian, formerly Congregational], 1783, records good after 1828.
    Note: Wright gives church establishment in 1730 with records starting in 1783. Worthley, noting the early date as incorrect with his reason, gave the church as being the Third, or South, Parish of Cambridge, 1783, with no known surviving records before 1828.
    First Parish records, 1721-1955, held at Andover-Harvard Theological Library, Harvard Divinity School, include marriages, 1903-1955, and a second collection of records, 1886-1966.
    Frederic Augustus Whitney, "Names of the families connected with the First Society Brighton at the date of ordination Feb. 21, 1844, together with such as have been since added. Also dates of visits made in my pastoral relation to the families, 1844-ca. 1876" [First Congregational Church], 1v. (242 p.).
    Manuscript at the New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston.
  2. Brighton Evangelical Congregational Church (now Brighton Allston Congregational Church (United Church of Christ)), 1827, records good, 1827-1849 and after 1872 (others burned in Boston's Fire of 1872).
    Brief History of the Brighton Evangelical Congregational Church ([Boston?, 1868?]), 47 pp.
    Merged with the Brighton Evangelical Congregational Church to for the Brighton Allston Congregational Church.
  3. Brighton Avenue Baptist Church, Allston, 1853, records good.
    Still active, but no website.
  4. Church of the Epiphany, 1862-1870.
    Church of the Epiphany parish register [Episcopal], 1862-1867, The Bostonian Society, MS0082.
  5. Universalist Church, 1872-1885, records go back to 1860 and are good.
    First Universalist Society records, 1858-1885, held at Andover-Harvard Theological Library, Harvard Divinity School.
  6. St. Columbkille Church (Roman Catholic), 1871, records good.
    Baptisms, 1857-1900, Marriages, 1857-1907, and confirmations, 1855-1895, held at the Archdiocese of Boston Archives. Note the earlier records than the church.
    This church absorbed Our Lady of the Presentation in 2004 and St. Gabriel's Catholic Church in 2006.
  7. St. Margaret's Protestant Episcopal Church, 1872, records good.
    Merged with St. Luke's Church in 1967.
  8. Harvard Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church, Allston, 1874, records good.
    No further status of this church other than it was listed in the Boston Business Directory of 1921 and no longer extant.
  9. Allston Congregational Church, 1886-2003.
    Merged with the Brighton Evangelical Congregational Church to for the Brighton Allston Congregational Church.
  10. Unity Church [Unitarian] of Allston, 1886.
    Status of this church is unknown. It was not in a list of churches in 1921, but extant in 1898.
  11. St. Luke's Church [first Protestant Episcopal], Allston, 1892-2010.
    Merged with St. Margaret's in 1967 and closed in 2010. Location of records has not been determined.
  12. Congregation Chai Odom, 1902.
  13. Faneuil Congregational Church, 1903-1976.
    Church records, 1903-1976, held at the Congregational Library, Boston.
  14. Brighton Community United Methodist Church, 1906.
  15. Our Lady of the Presentation Church [Roman Catholic], 1909-2004.
    Note: It was part of the closures by the Archdiocese to pay legal expenses. The records were moved to St. Columbkille Church and some maybe at Our Lady of Help of Christians in Newton.
  16. Abundant Grace Church, n.d.
  17. Allston Brighton Islamic Center, n.d.
  18. Boston's United Pentecostal Church, n.d.
  19. Catedral de Adoracao, n.d.
  20. Centro Comunidade Brasileira, n.d.
  21. Church of Pentecost, n.d.
  22. Community of Faith Christian Fellowship, n.d..
  23. Greater Boston Chinese Alliance Church, n.d.
  24. Hill Memorial Baptist Church, Allston, n.d.
  25. Holy Resurrection Orthodox Church, Allston (Bulgarian), n.d.
  26. Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, n.d.
  27. New England City Blessing Church, n.d.
  28. St. James Catholic Church, n.d.
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Town Records

Originals

City of Boston Archives and Records Management Division
201 Rivermoor Street
West Roxbury MA 02132
Phone 617-635-1195
Email Archives@cityofboston.gov
Link to the inventory that include financial records (property tax, etc.), deeds, and annual reports.

These originals were microfilmed by the city. The guide to the microfilm is available in Government Documents and at the Microtext Reference Desk where the microfilm can be used.

Microfilm

Town minutes (1807-1874) and selectmen's records (1816-1874).
FHL films 478574-478576.

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Newspapers

  1. Brighton Messenger, 1872-1876.
  2. Brighton Item (title varies), 1886-1944.
  3. Brighton Citizen, 1942.
  4. Allston Brighton Citizen Item, 1967-1990.
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Libraries and Historical Societies

The following is a list of research facilities in town:

Boston Public Library - Brighton Branch
40 Academy Hill Road
Brighton MA 02135
Phone 617-782-6032

Boston Public Library - Honan-Allston Branch
300 North Harvard Street
Allston MA 02134
Phone 617-787-6313

Brighton Allston Historical Society
No phone or physical address.

References

  1. William Francis Galvin, Historical Data Relating to Counties, Cities and Towns in Massachusetts (Boston, new ed., 1997), 43. WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 974.4 H2h 1997
Adjacent towns: Suffolk Co.: Boston | Middlesex Co.: Cambridge | Newton | Watertown | Norfolk Co.: Brookline

 

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  • This page was last modified on 9 September 2013, at 15:19.
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