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barberike scarcityhot land hereaboring states in us, that in.
forty shillings. No fires to be kindled before the first of March."
They offered a small bounty on every acre of planted field. We presume that the Colony of Massachusetts was quite as far advanced in agricultural skill and productive harvests as that of Connecticut; therefore, we can judge from Mr. Wolcott's farm in Connecticut what and how much our Medford farmers raised. That distinguished magistrate says (1638): “I made five hundred hogsheads of cider out of my own orchard in one year!” We apprehend these hogsheads were not of the modern size, but were a larger kind of barrel. He says: “ Cider is 10s. a hogshead.” He gives an enumeration of products thus: “English wheat, rye, flax, hemp, clover, oats, corn, cherries, quince, apple, pear, plum, barberry-trees.” A very tasteful catalogue! It sounds very little like scarcity or self-denial.
It seems that the land hereabouts was as rich and productive as in any of the neighboring states : nevertheless, it needed help from manure; and Johnson tells us, that in this region “there was a great store 'of fish in the spring time, and especially alewives, about the largeness of a herring. Many thousand of these they use to put under their Indian corn.” They are sometimes so used at this day.
May 22, 1639. — “ It is forbidden to all men, after the 20th of next month, to employ any cod or bass fish for manuring of ground.”
May 26, 1647.- Ordered, “That all cattle that feed on public commons shall be marked with pitch.”
Hiring land was not unusual. There were many adventurers who did not belong to the company, and they settled where they could buy or hire at the best advantage. Oct. 7, 1640, we find the following record : “ John Greenland is granted his petition, which is, to plant upon a five-acre lot in Charlestown, bounds on Mistick River."
The rule for planting was: Plant when the white-oak leaves are the size of a mouse's ear. Hence the lines :
“When the white-oak leaves look goslin grey,
Plant then, be it April, June, or May." The first settlers very soon found clay in different parts of their plantation, where cellars and wells were dug; and they concluded that drought could not extensively injure a soil which had a deep substratum of this water-proof material.
It may be interesting to see the progress of vegetation in this locality. It is as follows:
“ 1646, Aug. 1. The great pears ripe.
3. The long apples ripe.
18. Kreton pippins and long red apples gathered.
14. We began to shear rye.
, Same week we shear summer wheat.
Sept. 16. The russetins gathered, and pearmaines.
how they prove.
Oct. 2, 1689. — A tax was to be paid; and the valuations were as follow : “Each ox, £2. 10s.; each cow, £1. 10s.; each horse, £2; each swine, 6s. ; each acre of tillage land, 58.; each acre of meadow and English pasture, 5s.” The tax on land bounded out in propriety was “ 2s. on each hun. dred acres."
Our fathers were farmers after the English modes, and therefore had to learn many new ways from the sky and the climate. The times of ploughing and planting here, in spring and autumn, varied somewhat from those of their native land. Some plants, which in cold and misty England wooed the sun, could best thrive here if they wooed the shade. While land there, with a south-eastern exposure, was worth much more for culture than that which faced the north-west, the difference here was comparatively small. They were happily disappointed in the slight labor and certainty in making hay under our sun and clear skies. They had soon to learn that their stock of all kinds must be sheltered from the destroying cold and storms of an American winter. In the preservation of vegetables and fruits, also, our fathers had to receive new instruction from the climate. These they preserved by burying them. It took them several years to adjust themselves to the novel activity of common laws and familiar agents.
As the soil and climate must determine what grains, fruits, and vegetables can be raised with profit, it soon became evident to our Medford farmers that Indian corn was to be a staple. Rye, barley, wheat, and oats were found productive
Tihom the climatso, our fathelin
as grains ; peas and beans yielded abundantly; while turnips, beets, onions, and parsnips gradually grew into favor. Potatoes were not known to our first settlers; although among the articles, “to send for New England,” from London, March 16, 1628, “potatoes” are named.' The potato is a native of Chili and Peru. We think there is no satisfactory record of potatoes being in England before they were carried from Santa Fé, in America, by Sir John Hawkins, in 1653. They are often mentioned as late as 1692. Their first culture in Ireland is referred to Sir Walter Raleigh, who had large estates there. A very valuable kind of potato was first carried from America by “ that patriot of every clime,” Mr. Howard, who cultivated it at Cardington, near Bedford, 1765. Its culture then had become general. Its first introduction to this neighborhood is said to have been by those emigrants, called the “ Scotch Irish,” who first entered Londonderry, New Hampshire, April 11, 1719. As they passed through Andover, Mass., they left some potatoes as seed to be planted that spring. They were planted according to the directions; and their balls, when ripened, were supposed to be the edible fruit. The balls, therefore, were carefully cooked and eaten , but the conclusion was that the Andover people did not like potatoes! An early snow-storm covered the potato-field, and kept the tubers safely till the plough of the next spring hove them into sight. Some of the largest were then boiled; whereupon the Andover critics changed their opinion, and have patronized them from that day. When the potato was first known in Scotland, it suffered a religious persecution, like some other innocent things. The Scots thought it to be a most unholy esculent, blasphemous to raise, and sacrilegious to eat. They therefore made its cultivation an illegal act; and why? “Because,” as they say, “it is not mentioned in the Bible”! The prejudice against this unoffending vegetable was so great at Naples, in Italy, that the people refused to eat it during a famine! We do not find that any epidemic has attacked this healthy plant until the potato cholera, which, of late, has nearly ruined it. The soil in Medford has been found particularly fitted for this plant, owing to a substratum of clay which keeps it moist. The early mode of preserving potatoes through the winter was to bury them below the reach of the frost, and shelter them from rain.
The barns of our pilgrim fathers were very small, because they stacked their hay out-doors, according to the usage of their native land. When sheep and swine could be trusted in the woods, they were left there till deep snows made it impossible to find food. The fatting of cattle was an easy and cheap process; for they had hundreds of acres over which to range, unlooked to by their owners, till the close of the summer, when they were taken to the stall, and fed with corn. Each quadruped was marked with its owner's name, and was immediately restored when it had wandered into a neighboring town.
When lands were not fenced, the following law, passed March 9, 1637, was necessary. “All swine shall be kept up in yards, islands, or committed to keepers, under penalty of 10s. for every swine so disposed of; and whatsoever swine shall be taken in corn or meadow-ground shall forfeit 5s. a piece to those that shall empound them, and the owners shall be liable to pay double damages.” When mowing grounds and tillage fields became fenced, and that was early, then it became a common habit with our ancestors to let “ hogs run at large,” as they do now in the city of New York; of which license more may be said of its economy than of its neatness. March 10, 1721, the town of Medford voted to let the hogs go at large, as they formerly have done. This vote was repealed in 1727. There gradually grew up a strong dislike of this custom, and some altercations occurred in town-meetings concerning it; when, in March 12, 1770, the inhabitants vote that the hogs should not go at large any longer. After this there must have been a vast improvement in the appearance of the public roads, and of the grounds about private dwellings.
The raising of all kinds of stock was deemed of paramount importance, and served more towards enriching our farmers than any other part of labor; since proximity to Boston furnished an easy and sure market. Ship-building at first, and then brick-making, opened quite a market within their own territory; and we must think that our early farmers were favorably situated for making a comfortable living.
Spinning and weaving were almost as much a part of farmlabor as the making of butter and cheese ; and the farmer's wife and daughters were not a whit behind him in patient toil or productive results. Hemp and flax were used for clothing; and the labor of making these into garments for workmen was not small.
For the first hundred years of our settlement, the attention of agriculturists must have been directed to clear up lands, erect stone walls, ditch marshes, and open roads, while they also studied the rotation of crops, and procured new seeds from other localities. When Boston became a large town, our farmers were prompt in supplying it with milk; and this new business gradually extended till it became one of the most lucrative. This led to raising cows on an extensive scale ; while this, in its turn, led to raising grass and hay in preference to corn. The amount of butter and cheese made in Medford has been therefore comparatively small; the milk farms being found more profitable. At the beginning of this century, the quantity of milk sold in Boston by our Medford farmers was very great ; its price varying from three to five cents a quart. The cows were milked by earliest daylight, and the vender was in Boston by sunrise. Within the last thirty years, the milk has found its market more in Medford ; and several large farms have been used to raise hay for the horses of Boston. The cultivation of fruits has been a cherished object in our town, and many of our farms have doubled their value by this means. It is not unusual with them to produce one and two hundred barrels of apples, besides great varieties of pears, peaches, plums, quinces, and the common lesser fruits.
To Medford belongs the introduction of the celebrated “Baldwin Apple.” The first tree, producing this delicious fruit, grew on the side hill, within two rods of the former Woburn line, and about ten rods east of the present road which leads from West Medford to the ancient boundary of Woburn. It was on the farm occupied by Mr. Thompson, forty or fifty rods south of what used to be called “the blackhorse tavern.” At the request of Governor Brooks, the writer made a visit to that tree in 1813, and climbed it. It was very old and partly decayed, but bore fruit abundantly. Around its trunk the woodpeckers had drilled as many as five or six circles of holes, not larger than a pea; and, from this most visible peculiarity, the apples were called “Woodpecker Apples.” By degrees their name was shortened to Peckers ; and, during my youth, they were seldom called by any other name. How they came by their present appellative is this. Young Baldwin, of Woburn, afterwards a colonel, and father of Loami, was an intimate friend of young Thompson (afterwards Count Rumford); and, as lovers of