Kimmitt Genealogical Research

25 August 2011

A Weigher and Inspector of Bundled Hay: Job Description

Wikipedia Commons
Service on the Old Colony Railroad began in November 1845 with a route from Boston to Plymouth, Massachusetts. The South Shore Railroad opened a line to Cohasset on January 1, 1849, bringing it very close to my ancestors' hometown of Scituate. Initially there were three round trips a day, running through from Cohasset to Boston, making for a very easy commute. The trains opened up a whole new world to people who had for generations been farmers and mariners.

My great great grandfather, Israel Merritt Barnes, was the first in the family to take advantage of the proliferation of industry and commerce, coupled with the convenience of train transport, to seek out white collar work in Boston. His experience on the farm stood him well, as he was appointed Inspector and Weigher of Bundle Hay in Boston for many years running, from at least 1847 to 1889.

“The Boston and Lowell, the Eastern and the Fitchburg Railroad Company passenger depot on Causeway Street, ca. 1860-75,” digital photograph collection of the Boston Historical Society, web archive, The Bostonian Society ( [search terms “Fitchburg Railroad”] : accessed 3 August 2008).
Here is a contemporaneous job description that brings to life the duties Israel bore. The position of Inspector and Weigher of Bundle Hay is described in The General Statutes of Massachusetts of 1859, below. [William A. Richardson and George P. Sanger, ed., The General Statues of the Commonwealth of Mass enacted December 28, 1859 to take effect June 1, 1860, second ed. (Boston: Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1873); Googlebooks ( using search terms inspector+hay+aldermen : accessed 18 July 2008); See under “1847, 246, § 6. HAY.”]

SECT. 72.... The mayor and aldermen and selectmen may from time to time appoint, for a term not exceeding one year, some person or persons to have the superintendence of the hay scales belonging to their place, who shall weigh hay offered for sale therein, and any other article offered to be weighed. ... 

SECT. 76. Pressed hay offered for sale shall be branded upon the crate enclosing it with the first letter of the Christian name and the whole of the surname of the person packing and screwing or otherwise pressing said hay, and with the name of the city or town and state where the hay is pressed. 

SECT. 77. Pressed hay offered for sale without being so branded shall be forfeited, one-half to the person or persons prosecuting therefor and the other half to the use of the city or town where the same is so offered for sale, and may be seized and libeled... 

SECT. 80. Bales or bundles of hay so inspected which are found to be sweet, of good quality, and free from damage or improper mixture, shall be branded or marked No. 1. Bales or bundles found to be sweet, and free from damage or improper mixture, but consisting of hay of a secondary quality, shall be branded or marked No. 2. Bales or bundles found to be wet, or in any way damaged, or which shall contain straw or other substances not valuable as hay, shall be branded or marked bad. Each bale or bundle so inspected shall be branded or marked with the first letter of the Christian name and the whole of the surname of the inspector, and the name of the place for which he is inspector, together with the month and year when inspected, and also the net weight of the bundle. 

SECT. 81. Each inspector shall furnish himself with proper scales, weights, seals, and other suitable instruments, for the purposes aforesaid.

“Big Hay Baler” [Jean Campbell Winchell ( cardington.html : accessed 25 August 2008); Jean kindly granted me permission to reproduce this photo in an email of 26 August 2008. It depicts some of her ancestors in early 1900 Ohio.]
The Boston Daily Atlas Local Intelligence column mentions, on 11 August, 1847, under Municipal Affairs, a “Remonstrance of Nathaniel Vinal and others, against the appointment of dealers in bundle hay, as inspectors and weighers thereof.” [“Local Intelligence, Municipal Affairs,” The Boston [Massachusetts] Daily Atlas, 11 August 1847, vol. XVI; iss. 35, p. 2; Readex, a division of Newsbank, “America’s Historical Newspapers,”online database linked to original images (accessible at public libraries : accessed June 2008).] Nathaniel Vinal was Israel's uncle, and I wonder if he was perhaps working at that time to get his nephew Israel appointed by trying to eliminate some of the competition?

A notice dated 2 November that same year, also in the Boston Daily Atlas announces: “At a meeting of the Board of Aldermen... Appointments – Israel M. Barnes, weigher and inspector of bundle hay.” A clue to his potential earnings is contained earlier in the same notice where it states: “John R. Bardford, Hay Weigher of the Northern District, submitted his report, that he had received, during the quarter ending Oct. 31, as fees for weighing hay, straw, $586.75, fifty per cent, of which ($293.37) has been paid to the City Treasurer.” [“Local Intelligence,” Boston Daily Atlas , 2 November 1847, issue 106, col. D, online subscription database linked to original images, NEHGS, “19th Century U. S. Newspapers,” ( : accessed 22 August 2008).] 

Some papers I inherited [I call them the Barnes Family Papers] contain a note dated March 17, 1852, City Hall, that is addressed to Israel M. Barnes, Esq., Causeway off Endicott Street, [Boston], in which he has “been appointed by the Mayor and Aldermen as Inspector and Weigher of Bundle Hay.” [Aldermen, City of Boston to Israel M. Barnes, Esq., letter announcing appointment to Inspector of Hay 1852; Barnes Family Papers.] The note was sent to his work address, near the train stations where the hay was being transported to from the rural areas. Today that area is the home of Boston’s TD Banknorth sporting arena.

Map Of Boston, 1872, After The Latest Surveys With All The Improvements In Progress (Boston: L. Prang & Co, 1872); digitized map; David Rumsey Map Collection ( : accessed 2 August 2008); plan of East Boston, detail of Causeway Street.
Israel continued to serve as Inspector of Bundle Hay for many years, at least to 1889. He consistently appears in city directories, census, and vital records as Inspector or Inspector of Hay up to and including his death. He was a colorful character and I love to imagine him wielding his influence in the loud and dusty city.