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Bebised, Enlarged, and Brought Down to 1885,
JAMES M. USHER.
The Franklin Press.
The announcement on the titlepage of this volume is a sufficient statement of the fact that it is based on the earlier work of Mr. Brooks; and, indeed, no complete history of Medford can be written which does not largely embody the material collected by him. Medford had no early annalist. The sources from which the account of its settlement must be made up are scanty and obscure ; and such imperfect information as exists must be collected from widely scattered records. Mr. Brooks had devoted many years of his life to the task of compiling his materials. He was, moreover, an enthusiastic and painstaking antiquarian, who had inherited from his ancestors, among the first set·lers of the town, a fund of traditional lore. If, then, the present volume throws little new light upon the early history of the town, it is because his research was so thorough and exhaustive that he left but a barren field of labor to his successors.
But the labors of Mr. Brooks as an historian ended with the publication of his volume, thirty-one years ago. Much has happened since that date, which deserves a permanent record ; and much of the detail of our later municipal life will be lost, if those who have lived through it “ die, and make no sign."
It so happened that I was the publisher of the original History ; and, as a native and resident of Medford, I felt more than a publisher's interest in that work. It has long been my wish to see the annals of the town brought down to current date. In despair of seeing the work taken up by more competent hands, I have, for several years, devoted the time I could spare from other labors to the collection of facts and information touching the later history of the town, with a view to supplementing Mr. Brooks's work.
In the performance of my task, and in the effort to fuse my materials with those of Mr. Brooks, I have found it necessary to make some changes in the arrangement of the contents of the original volume; to suppress some of its more unimportant details; and, for one reason or another, to make occasional alterations in the text. It has been my aim, however, as far as possible, to preserve Mr. Brooks's text, - especially to respect that sometimes quaint, and often racy, phraseology, characteristic of the writer.
In collecting the facts of contemporaneous history, the compiler has constantly to be on his guard against the intrusion of matter of merely ephemeral interest; and, in the abundance of more deserving topics, there is a call for selection and condensation, which holds the ambitious chronicler under a somewhat painful constraint. I cannot hope that I have always coped successfully with these difficulties, and can only say that I have done my best. Many subjects which had been carefully written out have been omitted from the volume, and this effort to keep down its size has been attended with some sacrifice.
An apology is due to subscribers for the delay which has occurred in the publication of this volume. I have to plead in excuse, that I have found it necessary to deal with a greater variety of topics than had entered into my original design, and that consequently the work has been continually growing upon my hands. The collection and verification of facts is at best a tedious process : and, in the effort to bring the history “ up to present date,” I have had to fight against time ; for, even while I have been compiling, events of local interest were occurring, which not only called for record, but frequently for the recasting of pages already written. The lapse of time necessarily makes history. · It is hoped, however, that the delay due to these and other causes, has inured to the advantage of the work: it has certainly entailed upon the editor much additional labor and expense.
I have reason to be grateful for the encouragement I have received during the prosecution of my task. Vy applications for information have always been courteously responded to, in many cases by strangers, on whom I had no claim. My warmest thanks are due to friends for their assistance and counsel; and I am especially indebted to Mr. Charles Cummings, Thomas S. Harlow, Esq., and Parker R. Litchfield, Esq., who have greatly aidled me in my work, and to Mrs. George L. Stearns for a sketch of her husband's life. I wish also to make my acknowledgments to the Library Committee for their kindness and courtesy. There is one other friend who has followed me carefully through my labors, and to whom I am under the greatest obligations for suggestions and practical help; but I respect his wishes in making no mention of his name.
To the town of Medford, in its corporate capacity, I return my heartfelt thanks for the substantial aid it has given to my undertaking. Loving Medford as I do, I shall be proud and happy if it shall be deemed that I have, in my declining years, done any thing to convey to the coming generations of her children a better knowledge of an important and honorable period of her municipal life.
JAMES 1. USHER.