West Roxbury, Norfolk County, Massachusetts Genealogy

From FamilySearch Wiki
(Redirected from West Roxbury, Massachusetts)
Jump to navigation Jump to search

This is a historical and genealogical guide to the town of West Roxbury. You will find help with town histories, vital records, city directories, cemetery records and cemeteries, churches, town and city records, newspapers, maps, and libraries. There are detailed guides for the town and city of Boston that annexed West Roxbury and the parent town and city of Roxbury.

West Roxbury (1851-1874)

West Roxbury was a town in Norfolk County, before it was annexed to Boston in Suffolk County. It was created from the western part of Roxbury in 1851. This guide discusses the records created by this town and includes references to material of present-day West Roxbury (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.

Brief History[edit | edit source]

The area was settled in the 1600s and its first cemetery established in 1683. There first church was established on Walter Street in 1711 (but moved to the village of West Roxbury by 1773). It remained the most rural and distance section of the town of Roxbury for two centuries. The first railroad line in 1834 opened up settlement on Metropolitan Hill and the Mount Hope areas of Roslindale. A later line through the village of West Roxbury in 1848 spurred the "suburban" growth there. The town's most notable event was just before it became a town. The Transcendentalist movement centered in Boston established a utopian community at Brook Farm on Baker Street from 1841 to 1849. This property was used by the town of Roxbury as a poorhouse later as a training camp during the Civil War. West Roxbury was set off from the town of Roxbury in 1851 and establishing it as part of Norfolk County. It was characterized by its three main villages, West Roxbury, Roslindale Village, and Jamaica Plain (now three neighborhoods of Boston). The town was a short-lived twenty-three years old when it was annexed to Boston in 1874 and making its resident part of Suffolk County. For information regarding residents before 1851, see Roxbury, and after 1874, see Boston.

Historical Data[edit | edit source]

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

Associated names

Village or section names include Canterbury, Clarendon Hills, Egleston Square, Forest Hills, Germantown, Jamaica Plain, Mount Bellevue, Peter's Hill, Roslindale, and West Roxbury.

Border changes
Dates Events
24 May 1851 Incorporated as a town from the southwestern two-thirds of Roxbury [St.1851, c.250].
4 July 1853 Part of Dedham annexed by act of 21 Apr. 1852.
2 Apr. 1870 Border between West Roxbury and Boston established.
12 Apr. 1872 The section called Mount Hope Cemetery annexed to Boston.
5 Jan. 1874 West Roxbury annexed to Boston by act of 29 May 1873 [Mass. Acts 1873, c.314, sec. 1, p. 810].
Top of Page

Town Histories[edit | edit source]

Works written on the town include:

  • Howard Redwood Guild, "West Roxbury Genealogies, 1713-1800," mss., [107] p.
    This manuscript is Mss A 8190, part of the R. Stanton Avery Special Collections, New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Mass.
  • John Henry Applebee, West Roxbury Magazine (Hudson Mass., 1900), 56 pp.
    This was a historical pamphlet (not a serialized magazine) on the history that surrounded the First Parish Church of West Roxbury and related topics. There was an article on the schools (likely the church's as it does not include Roxbury Latin School).
    Digital version at Google Books.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • [Boston records 1634-1914: finding list for microfilm collection], (S.l., 1941), 9 pp.
    This is the finding list to the 225 volumes of the microfilmed Boston records arranged chronologically under the following categories: 1) Boston Town Records, 1634-1822; 2) Boston Selectmen's Records, 1701-1822; 3) Boston City Records, 1822-1914; 4) Dorchester Town Records, 1632-1870; 5) Charlestown Town Records, 1629-1847; 6) Roxbury Town Records, 1648-1849; 7) Brighton Town Records, 1807-1874, West Roxbury Town Records, 1851-1874; 8) Hyde Park Town Records, 1868-1912. The microfilm is available at the Boston Public Library in the Microtext Department.
  • West Roxbury Wikipedia page.
Top of Page

Vital Records[edit | edit source]

The town's vital records are available in many locations:
MassachusettsSuffolk CountyNorfolk CountyPlymouth CountyMiddlesex CountyEssex CountyNorfolk CountyBostonChelseaRevereWinthropNeedhamBrooklineDedhamWestwoodNorwoodCantonRandolphBraintreeWeymouthHinghamHullQuincyMiltonNewtonWatertownWalthamLexingtonWoburnWinchesterArlingtonBelmontCambridgeSomervilleMedfordStonehamMelroseMaldenEverettSaugusLynnNanhantCharlestownBrightonRoxburyWest RoxburyDorchesterHyde Park
West Roxbury was annexed by Boston in 1874. This shows West Roxbury in Boston on a map of Suffolk County, Massachusetts.

Original records
Published records

There are no published vital records for this town.

Top of Page

City Directories[edit | edit source]

West Roxbury was first published in the Brookline directory with Jamaica Plain in 1868 and 1873/4. The rest are published separately in 1875, 1877-1889, 1891, 1893-1901, 1903-1908, 1910-1920, 1922, 1924-1932, 1934, 1940, 1944.

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:

Top of Page

Cemeteries[edit | edit source]

West Roxbury has many cemeteries listed here under the three sections/neighborhoods. To learn more about these cemeteries, and others nearby, see Boston Cemeteries.

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.

West Roxbury:

  • Congregation Mishkan Tefila Cemetery or Boston United Hand in Hand Cemetery or Centre Street Jewish Cemeteries, 1875.
  • Gethsemane Cemetery, 1871.
  • Grove Street Jewish Cemeteries or Adath-Jeshuran Cemetery, 1881.
  • Mount Benedict Catholic Cemetery, 1877.
  • Mount Lebanon or Baker Street Jewish Cemetery, 1920s.
  • St. Joseph's Cemetery, 1852.
  • Westerly Cemetery or Centre Street Burial Ground, 1683.


  • Forest Hills Cemetery, 1848.
    [William A. Crafts], Forest Hills Cemetery: Its Establishment, Progress, Scenery, Monuments, etc. (Roxbury, Mass., 1855), iv, 237 pp.
    Digital versions at Internet Archive, Google Books, and Jamaica Plain Historical Society.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
    Catalogue of the Proprietors of Forest Hills Cemetery, 1900 (Boston, 1900), 259 pp.
    Digital versions at Internet Archive and Google Books.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • Mount Calvary or Old Calvary Cemetery, 1866.
    R. Andrew Pierce, The Stones Speak: Irish Place Names from Inscriptions in Boston's Mount Calvary Cemetery (Boston, 2000), xvi, 246 pp.
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); Not at FHL.
  • Mount Hope Cemetery, 1851.
    Mt. Hope Cemetery records are held by the Boston Archives.
  • Oak Lawn Cemetery, 1989.
  • St. Michael's Cemetery, 1905.
  • Toll Gate Catholic Cemetery, 1840.
    "Toll Gate Cemetery, Forest Hills, Boston, Mass." (mss., 1994) (Mss C 4640), R Stanton Avery Special Collections Department, New England Historic Genealogical Society.
  • Walter Street Burial Ground, 1711.

Jamaica Plain:

Top of Page

Churches[edit | edit source]

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. They are separated by the three communities in town. These borders are not well defined. This list, especially for the newer churches, is likely incomplete.

West Roxbury:

  1. Second Church of Christ of Roxbury (later Church of the First Congregational Parish of West Roxbury and now the Theodore Parker Unitarian Universalist Church), 1712, records good.
    First Church records, 1712-1837, FHL film 837131 Item 2.
    Robert J. Dunkle and Ann S. Lainhart, The Records of the Churches of Boston and the First Church, Second Parish, and Third Parish of Roxbury (Boston, 2002), 1 CD (see review with details).
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL CD-ROM no. 1547 (internal library computer link).
  2. Spring Street Evangelical Society (to 1855 formed by members of the First Congregational Church, then called the South Congregational Church, later renamed the West Roxbury Congregational Church, 1891, and that building burned in 1977 and they joined with the Baptist Church to form the Stratford Street United Church), 1835, records good.
  3. Evangelical Lutheran Church, 1874, records good.
  4. Emmanuel Episcopal Church (formerly in the South End until 1979), 1892.
  5. Saint Theresa of Avila Parish (Roman Catholic), 1895.
    Baptisms to 1954, Marriages to 1941, First Communions to 1953, and Confirmations to 1935 at the Archdiocese of Boston Archives and all records after 1930 are closed records.
  6. St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church, 1900.
  7. Annunciation Melkite Catholic Cathedral (West Roxbury, formerly in the South End until 1966), 1910.
  8. Church of the Holy Name, 1927.
    Baptisms to 1937, Marriages for 1937, and First Communions, Confirmations, and Burials to 1958 at the Archdiocese of Boston Archives and all records after 1930 are closed records.
  9. St. John Chrysostom, 1952.
  10. Temple Hillel B'nai Torah, 1955.
  11. Arabic Evangelical Baptist Church, 1970s.
  12. Chapel of St. Roger & St. Mary, 1973 [closed by 2012].
  13. St. Matthew's Syrian Orthodox Church, 1980.


  1. St. John's Church, 1841.
    St. Peter's Episcopal Church merged into this church in 1967.
  2. Roslindale Methodist Episcopal Church (now St. Andrew's United Methodist Church in Jamaica Plain), 1872, records good.
  3. Roslindale Baptist Church, 1875, records good.
  4. Church of Our Saviour, 1889-1981+.
    Was at Kittredge and Clifton Streets, Roslindale, in 1981, but not extant now [2013].
  5. Roslindale Unitarian Church (split from the First Church in West Roxbury), 1890.
  6. St. Peter's Episcopal Church, 1889-1967.
    This church merged with St. John's Episcopal Church in 1967.
  7. Sacred Heart Church (Roman Catholic), 1893.
    Baptisms to 1923 and Marriages to 1928 at the Archdiocese of Boston Archives.
  8. St. Andrew Church the Apostle (Roman Catholic), 1918-2001.
    Deaths, 1967-1977, at the Archdiocese of Boston Archives and are closed records.
    All other records moved to Most Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish.
  9. St. Nectarios Greek Orthodox Church, 1975.
  10. Charles River Church, 2009.
  11. Bethany First United Methodist Church, n.d.
  12. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, n.d.
  13. Faith Temple Baptist Church, n.d.
  14. Golgotha Seventh-day Adventist, n.d.
  15. Roslindale Congregational Church, n.d.
  16. Russian Orthodox Church of the Holy Epiphany, n.d.
  17. St. Anna's Orthodox Church, n.d.
  18. St. Mark of Ephesus Orthodox Cathedral, n.d.

Jamaica Plain:

  1. Third Church of Christ of Roxbury (later First Congregational Society of Jamaica Plain, now First Church in Jamaica Plain (Unitarian Universalist)), 1769, records good.
    Church records, 1771-1860, FHL film 856701 Item 1.
    Robert J. Dunkle and Ann S. Lainhart, The Records of the Churches of Boston and the First Church, Second Parish, and Third Parish of Roxbury (Boston, 2002), 1 CD (see review with details).
    WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL CD-ROM no. 1547 (internal library computer link).
  2. St. John's Protestant Episcopal Church (now St. John's Episcopal Church), 1839, records good.
  3. First Baptist Church of Jamaica Plain, 1842, records good.
  4. First German Methodist Episcopal Church (changed name in 1938 to St. Paul's Methodist Church), 1852-1956.
    First a German mission formed in Roxbury and later moved to Jamaica Plain. This church absorbed the Walnut Avenue Methodist Church of Roxbury and this church merged with St. Andrew's Methodist Church in 1956.
    Church records, 1852-1955, held by the School of Theology, Boston University.
  5. Jamaica Plain Congregational Church, 1853, records good [merged with Hope Church in 2002].
  6. Jamaica Plain Methodist Episcopal Church, 1860-1960, records good.
    This church merged with St. Andrew's Methodist Churchin 1960.
    Church records, 1860-1959, held by the School of Theology, Boston University.
  7. St. Thomas Aquinas (Roman Catholic), 1869.
    Baptisms to 1923, Marriages to 1907, Confirmations to 1928, and First Communions 1899-1927 (with gaps) at the Archdiocese of Boston Archives.
  8. Jamaica Plain Universalist Church, 1871, records good [merged with the First Church in Jamaica Plain].
  9. Roslindale Methodist Episcopal Church (now St. Andrew's United Methodist Church (Jamaica Plain), 1872, records good.
    This church has absorbed St. Paul's Methodist Church in 1956 and the First Methodist Church of Jamaica Plain in 1960. This church became the first Hispanic ministry in 1971.
    Financial records, 1934-1956, held by the School of Theology, Boston University.
  10. Boylston Congregational Church, 1879, records good.
  11. Blessed Sacrament (Roman Catholic), 1891-2004.
    Note: It was part of the closures by the Archdiocese to pay legal expenses.
    Baptisms to 1903, Marriages to 1908, and Confirmations to 1910 at the Archdiocese of Boston Archives.
    All other records moved to Our Lady of Lourdes Parish.
  12. Our Lady of the Cedars of Lebanon (first in Chinatown, then the South End, and to Jamaica Plain in 1975), 1893 [oldest Maronite Church in the U.S.].
  13. Our Lady of Lourdes Parish (Roman Catholic), 1908.
  14. Christ the King Ukrainian Catholic Church, 1940.
  15. Hispanic Community Church (now Iglesia Hispana de la Comunidad), 1985.
  16. Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, 1988.
  17. Hope Church (now Hope Central Church, 2002.
  18. Covenant Congregational Church, n.d.
  19. Family Christian Church, n.d.
  20. Fellowship Church of God, n.d.
  21. Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, n.d.
  22. Nehar Shalom Community Synagogue, n.d.
  23. River of Life Church, n.d.
  24. United Baptist Church, n.d.
Top of Page

Town Records[edit | edit source]


City of Boston Archives and Records Management Division
201 Rivermoor Street
West Roxbury MA 02132
Phone 617-635-1195
Email Archives@cityofboston.gov
Inventory of town records.

Top of Page

Newspapers[edit | edit source]

  1. Jamaica Plain News, 1872-1932.
  2. Jamaica Plain Citizen, 1939-1958, 1974-present.
  3. Jamaica Plain Press, 1939-1940.
  4. Parkway Transcript (Roslindale, title varies), 1939-2003.
  5. West Roxbury Transcript, 1973-present.
  6. Jamaica Plain Gazette, 1991-present.
  7. Roslindale - Hyde Park Gazette, 1994-1997.
  8. West Roxbury Bulletin, 2001-present.
Top of Page

Libraries and Historical Societies[edit | edit source]

The following is a list of research facilities in town:

Jamaica Plain Historical Society
Box 302924
Jamaica Plain MA 02130-0053
Email via web page
Many historical articles and links to online maps and resources

Boston Public Library - West Roxbury Branch
1961 Centre Street
West Roxbury MA 02132
Phone 617-325-3147

West Roxbury Historical Society
Meets at the Public Library on Thursdays.

Top of Page

References[edit | edit source]

  1. William Francis Galvin, Historical Data Relating to Counties, Cities and Towns in Massachusetts (Boston, new ed., 1997), 124. WorldCat (Other Libraries); FHL book 974.4 H2h 1997
Adjacent towns: Suffolk Co. [formerly in Norfolk Co.]: Dorchester | Hyde Park | Roxbury
Middlesex Co.: Newton | Norfolk Co.: Brookline | Dedham | Needham