Dorchester Stage & Omnibus Lines

Dorchester, in the first half of the 19th Century, was essentially a suburb of Boston. Dorchester was an independent town until 1870, when the remainder of it was annexed by the City of Boston. Experimental stage coach lines had operated in the 1820s, and then later omnibus lines. A stage coach was a large carriage drawn by four horses, while an omnibus was a smaller vehicle drawn by two horses. Eventually, omnibus lines were completely replaced by horse car routes (c.1860).

Between Boston and Dorchester a line of coaches had been established in the 1820s by Charles and Archibald Dunmore, but in 1830 a new line was set up in competition. These coaches started from Washington Street near Norfolk, but the Dunmore brothers had so firm a hold upon the patronage of the town that the new line was short lived.

The coach line of the Dunmores made hourly trips from the Lower Mills to the city proper. There were two coaches daily, one starting in the early morning and another at noon. On the return trips the coaches left Wild's Tavern [11 Elm Street, located between Union & Hanover Streets near Dock Square] in Boston.

A slate was hung in the office, on which were the names of would-be passengers, and often the extreme ends of the city would be visited before the journey to Dorchester was fairly begun. The road over which the coaches ran passed over Neck, which was the favorite haunt for highwaymen [robbers], and many exciting episodes frequently took place there.

The fare originally on these coaches was "two and three pence," or 37-1/2 cents each way, but when the new line was started in 1830 this tariff was reduced to a quarter of a dollar. A little later than this Captain Goodspeed, who had been a commander in the Dorchester Artillery, started a coach, which ran from Captain Eaton's store on Meeting House Hill, charging only 12-1/2 cents each way.

The first line of omnibuses between Dorchester and the city proper was established in 1834 by William and Joseph Hollis, and these also started from the store of Captain Eaton. The fair was 25 cents, but somewhat less if a package of five tickets were purchased. These omnibuses were cumbrous affairs drawn by four horses.

Later Mr. William Hendry placed some smaller omnibuses upon the same route, which left Franklin Street, near Washington Street, every half-hour, and these were subsequently merged in the horse cars, and Mr. Hendry became a superintendent of the Metropolitan Horse Railroad. Derived from a May 18, 1900 Boston Globe article.

Note: Copper 1/2 cent pieces were produced by the U.S. Mint until 1857, and a 12-1/2 cent fare would be completed with these coins. 

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