One of the first major female business owners of Boston, who run the iconic Swan Boats Enterprise for 36 years.
Julia F Coffey was born in Ireland and immigrated to the United States when she was a toddler. She married Rober Paget, also an Irish immigrant.
The couple came up with a business idea when they saw the romantic Lohengrin opera by Richard Wagner, which featured a boat which was pulled by a magic swan. In 1877, the Swan Boat idea was successfully introduced by the Pagets in the Boston Public Garden pond.
A year after the launch, and only six years after the marriage, Robert died. Widow Julia was left with four children and new business. She was less than 30 years old when she decided to take over as the manager of the business. Paget held the position for 36 years while raising her children until her son took over.
The authorities were skeptical of a woman’s abilities to run a business, and she had to go through the process of gathering signatures of local business owners to testify on her behalf.
Today, Swan Boats are an iconic Boston attraction, still run by the Paget family. Its current manager is the great-granddaughter of Julia – Lyn Paget.
Another Interesting Anecdote:
- Her exact year of birth is unknown and is written differently in the official census – 1849, 1850 or 1851.