Burlington's History and Members of the Board of Health for the Past 204 Years
In 1902 Burlington had less than 600 residents. Though it was more than 100 years ago, the public health and safety of the residents was important. At that time, the four major occupations in town were dairy farming, the raising of pigs, fruit-growing and vegetable “truck” gardening. The consequences of unsanitary practices by any of these businessmen could cause various physical problems in residents if not properly overseen and regulated.
The first Board of Health consisted of three members and was established in 1902. Until 1956, the Board of Selectmen acted as the Board of Health.
Fernald Ham was an inn-keeper on Middlesex Turnpike and Adams Street and also an industrious farmer who bred a new type of sweet corn. His 45 Holstein cows provided milk to Boston and the surrounding areas. He was also a prime mover in the establishment of the Burlington Agricultural Society and had an interest in real estate.
Edwin Bennett was a farmer and former Selectman (1892; and 1894 and 1895), a Member of the Cemetery Committee in 1894, and a Library Trustee (1897, 1899, 1900-1902, 1904 and 1906). He was also a "Measurer of Wood" in 1898, as well as an "overseer of the Poor" (1878, 1893, 1895 and 1902).
His farm and acreage were eventually purchased by Marshall Simonds, a name which is still well known today. Mr. Simonds had no direct heirs. He left the acreage to the Town and is now Simonds Park, something residents are still enjoying in various forms today. The middle school also bears his name.
The third original member was Thomas I. Reed, who ran a highly successful farm and ham-curing business. His house remains today on Cambridge Street opposite County Road and many years later was the office of the late dentist, Dr. Bertram Christmas. Reed’s cured hams were deemed to be of the highest quality and were purchased by many of the wealthy in downtown Boston and suburbs. He also served in 1866 as an “Overseer of the Poor” and 51 years as Deacon of the United Church of Christ, Congregational.
The names of other former board members may seem familiar – due to generations of relatives still living here, street names and other public tributes.
Thomas Pollack (also served 1911 through 1914 and 1916-1920)
Walter Skelton (also, 1904, 1906 and 1910)
Walter McIntire 1903
William Graham: 1904, 1905 and 1907
Edward Bennett: 1905, 1908, 1919-1921
George McIntire: 1905-1925
James McLaughlin: 1909-1915
Horace Skelton: 1915-18; 1942-1947
Ralph R. MacDonald: 1921-1936
Chester Graham: 1922-1927 and 1938 to 1947
James Bustead: 1926-1931
Joseph Foster: 1928-1931
Raymond Twining: 1932 and 1933
Thomas Mohan: 1933-1941
David Ward: 1934-38; 1940 and 1941; also, 1954-1955
William Sheerin: 1937
Timothy Regan: 1939
J. Ivar Johnson: 1942-1943
Arthur Nichols: 1947-1951
Horace Skelton: 1947-1952
Chester Graham: 1947-1953
Ernest Marvin: 1953-1955
James Piper: 1953-1955
William Nelson 1955
At the March 5, 1956 Election, the following people were elected to serve on the “official” Board:
Anthony Giangreco: 1956-57 (resigned)
James L. Nevins, Jr. (appointed to fill the above position)
Eileen Gauthier: 1956-1957
In subsequent years, the following residents were elected:
David W. Skelton: 1957
Elmer Morrison: 1957-1962
Mary E. Bennett: 1958-1968
Ken Morrison: 1959-1966
David Piper: 1963-1968
Bernard Oliver 1967
Dr. James Dillingham: 1972-1981
Eugene “Terry” McSweeney: 1968-1990
Michael Cunningham: 1973-1979
Kathleen (Christiansen) Walker: 1981-1989
Robert Matarazzo: 1982-1984
Philip Policelli: 1983-1992
Joan Ghio: 1983-1993
Robert Hogan: 1985-1990 (appointed 1992-1995)
Dr. Edward Weiner: 1989 to present
Glenn Kemper: 1990-1992
Jane Richard: 1991 (resigned 1992; and re-elected from 1994 -2001)
James Dion: 1993 - 2015
Douglas Hyde: 1993-2001
Michelle Yanetti: 1997-1998
Dr. Cathy Read: 2002-2010
Eugene “Terry” McSweeney: 1999 - 2014
Edmund F. Wall: 2001 - 2007
Wayne S. Saltsman, M.D., Ph.D.: 2007 - present
Elizabeth Walendziewicz: appointed 2010, elected 2011 - present
Maribeth Welch: 2014 - present
David McSweeney: 2015-present
The present offices of the Board of Health are located in Burlington’s first high school, constructed in the early 1930s.
Note: All information and photos were obtained from “ Burlington: Part of a Greater Chronicle,” written by the late Town Historian, John “Ed” Fogelberg.