Giddy up, Burlington
The Daily Times and Chronicle, Tuesday, July 15, 1980
Burlington Past and Present, by John E. Fogelberg
(Article # 056)
Horses in Burlington
In 1900, when this town was still a strong farming community, there were 455 cows, 78 neat cattle, 746 swine, 2 sheep and 253 horses kept in the 115 barns and 3 stables then assessed. Five farmers were wealthy or prominent enough to support carriage houses. Almost every family in town raised a few chickens, many kept one or more cows, and every farm, even the smallest ones, had at least one horse.
Now, 80 years later, there are no farms left, and the cows and the pigs have disappeared. There may be a few chickens here and there about town. Horses are few and far between. Thomas Short, the animal inspector, reports that there are 22 riding horses or ponies now in town, including:
- A few in the pasture off Blanchard Road.
- A couple in a fine new stable on Mill Street.
- Mr. Ruping’s three beautiful quarterhorses, which can be seen from time to time in the pasture next to the Union School on Center Street.
Here in Burlington around the turn of the century, William E. Carter bred and raised horses in addition to his other activities. He was also a farmer, a manufacturer (the shop next to his stable made heels for shoes), and a milk dealer. That shop now is gone, but the adjacent building is now occupied by White Construction Company at 135 Cambridge Street. See image below.
Carter was born in Burlington in 1891 from a long line of Carters whose roots trace to the first minister of the Woburn church. He died here in 1902, having served his town as a selectman and assessor. So well-known was he in both Burlington and Woburn, that special electric cars were run over the newly-opened streetcar line from Woburn so that friends and relatives could more easily attend his funeral here in the Church of Christ.
George H. Bennett owned a huge horse in which he took great pride. Bennett was over six feet tall and well over 200 pounds, so horse and rider made a big impression together. In 1897, a presidential election year, McKinley and Hobart were leading their Republican ticket. Burlington was overwhelmingly Republican, so this was cause for celebration. The local Republicans spread a huge banner across the street in front of the town hall, when it stood where the Simonds Park little league field is today.
Well, Bennett had a few words to say about this. He was a well-known, outspoken Democrat. The Republicans saw him coming on horseback. In a gesture of mock ceremony, they lined up alongside the road to give him ample breathing room to start yelling. And yell he did. Unfortunately, his horse wasn’t prepared for it. The instant he bellowed out, “McKinley and Hobart –” the horse stopped abruptly and threw him onto his face, much to the delight of the crowd.