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science, they asked permission of Professor Winthrop to attend his course of lectures in natural philosophy, at Harvard College. Twice each week, these two thirsty and ambitious students walked from their homes in Woburn to bring back with them from Cambridge the teachings of the learned professor. One day, as they were passing by the “Woodpecker Tree,” they stopped to contemplate the tempting red cheeks on those loaded boughs; and the result of such contemplations was the usual one, — they took and tasted. Sudden and great surprise was the consequence. They instantly exclaimed to each other that it was the finest apple they ever tasted. Some years after this, Col. Baldwin took several scions to a public nursery, and from this circumstance they named the apple after him, which name it has since retained. In the gale of September, 1815, this parent tree fell ; but very few parents have left behind so many flourishing and beloved children.
The price of land has steadily increased from 2s. an acre in 1635, and 5s. in 1689, to $50 in 1778 and $100 in 1830, the same positions taken in all the dates. From the year 1800 to the present time, favorite house-lots have advanced in price so rapidly that $2,000 would be refused for a single acre. The fashionable retreat from city to suburban life has induced the owners of farms to cut up into house-lots their tillage lands, and sell them at public auction; because no farmer can afford to till land that will sell at two and three cents the square foot.
Of the farmers of Medford we have nothing but good to report. From the earliest dates to the present time, they have stood without a blot. With that temperance which clarifies the intellect, with that industry which secures gain, and with that economy which saves what is earned, they have presented some of the noblest specimens of citizens, neighbors, and Christians. Society delights to respect a class of men whose investments are in land, water, and sunshine; and whose results are guaranteed by that great and beneficent Being who has promised that “ seed-time and harvest shall not fail.”
The rocks are mostly primitive granite or sienite, existing in large masses. Some are in a state of decay, as, for example, the “pasture-hill gravel.” This gravel is used extensively for garden walks, and its fineness and color make it a general favorite. The soil is composed mostly of silex and argilla, a mixture favorable to vegetation.
The flora of Massachusetts would be a fair one of Medford. The high hills, rocky pastures, large plains, alluvial intervales, deep swamps, and extensive marshes, here give food to almost all kinds of trees, plants, shrubs, grasses, and sedges. The presence of fresh water and salt, also the mingling of them in Mystic River, produce a rich variety of herbaceous plants ; and the salt-marsh flowers, though very small, are often very beautiful. Of lichens there are great varieties, and some rare specimens of the cryptogamous plants. Of the forest-trees, we have many of the white and black oak, and some of the red and grey. The oldest survivor of this family of quercus stands in a lot owned by Mr. Swan, and is about half a mile north-east of the meeting-house of the First Parish. It is almost disarmed by time ; and it therefore better stood the strain of the tornado of August 22, 1851. Its trunk is six feet in diameter near the ground; and it is probably as old as Massachusetts Colony. Two varieties of walnut are found among us, and “nutting” is yet a cherished pastime with the boys in October. The sycamore or plane-tree, commonly called buttonwood, abounds here by plantation. Of late years it has been suffering from a sort of cholera, which has destroyed its first leaves, and rendered its appearance so disagreeable as to induce most persons to remove it from sight. The violence of the disease seems past, and the tree gives signs of rejuvenescence. The graceful elms rejoice our eye wherever we turn, and our streets will soon be shaded by them. The clean, symmetrical rock-maple has come among us of late, and seems to thrive like its brother, the white. Of the chestnut, we have always known two large trees in the woods, but have never heard of more. The locust is quite common, and would be an invaluable tree to plant on sandy plains in order to enrich them ; but a borer-worm has 80 successfully invaded, maimed, and stinted it that its native beauty is gone. The locust is the only tree under which the ruminating animals prefer to graze. Of beach-trees we have not many, and what we have are small. So of the black and white ash, there is not an abundance. Once there was a good supply of the hornbeam ; but that has ceased. Of birch, the black, white, and yellow, there are flourishing specimens. The class of forest evergreens is well represented in Medford. The white and pitch pines are common, though their use in building, and their consumption by steam-engines, have made them comparatively scarce. One of the most familiar, beautiful, and valuable forest-trees is the cedar; and both kinds, the red and white, are here. The hemlock and the holly are only casual among us. Whether all these trees were common when our ancestors first settled here, we cannot say; for there may have been then, what we now see, namely, a rotation of forest-trees. We have seen a pine-forest felled, and an oak one spring in its place; and, where the oak one has been felled, the pine has sprung up. In like manner, the cedar and maple forests have been rotatory!
Of indigenous shrubs, there is among us the usual varieties; among them, the hazel, the huckleberry, barberry, raspberry, gooseberry, thimbleberry, blackberry, &c. There are two species of wild grapes; if they ripen well, they are sweet and palatable, but are used often as pickles.
The fruit-trees, now so abundant in every variety, have been brought here by our inhabitants from every part of the United States and from many parts of Europe. So the ornamental trees and flowering shrubs have been so extensively cultivated in our midst, that we seem to live among the vegetation of the five zones.
The forests of Medford had, in early times, their share of the wild animals common to New England. May 18, 1631: “ It is ordered, that no person shall kill any wild swine without a general agreement at some court.” The bear was quite social with our fathers, and for a century kept hold of his home here. He was far less destructive than the wolf. Wolves and wild-cats were such devourers of sheep that premiums were paid for their heads. Sept. 6, 1631, we find these records : “ The wolves did much hurt to calves and swine between Charles River and Mistick.” Sept. 2, 1635 : “It is ordered, that there shall be 5s. for every wolf, and 1s. for every fox, paid out of the treasury to him who kills the same.” Nov. 20, 1637: “10s. shall be paid for every wolf, and 2s. for every fox.” Wolves have disappeared from this locality ; but foxes are occasionally seen. Deer were very common when our fathers settled in Medford; and, until the beginning of this century, our inhabitants chose annually an officer whom they called “Deer Reeve.” Dec. 25, 1739: Voted to choose two persons to see to the preservation of deer, as the law directs. It would not be difficult to domesticate the deer, and to use him for ten years in carrying light burdens before he is fatted for the table. Nov. 15, 1637: “It is ordered that no man shall have leave to buy venison in any town, but by leave of the town.” The racoon, that used to plunder our cornfields, has almost disappeared. The mink and musquosh are about our rivers and ponds, though severely hunted by boys. The woodchuck, weasel, skunk, grey and yellow squirrel, are common. It is some time since many wild rabbits were killed in Medford ; and we presume the oldest inhabitant cannot recollect seeing a wild beaver here. There are moles and meadow mice as in the olden time. The last named has proved peculiarly destructive to fruit-trees, by gnawing off the bark during winter, while under the snow. If posterity wish to know if we have rats and mice, we would assure them that we have more than our cats and dogs can keep in subordination.
Oct. 1, 1645, we find the following order: “No goatskins to be transported out of this jurisdiction, unless they be dressed, and made into gloves or some other garment.”
Johnson says the early inhabitants, took moose, deer, beaver, and otter, in traps. They bent down a pole, which had a cord at its end, and a slip-noose; and, when the noose was touched, the pole flew up and caught the game. They shot squirrels, grey and black racoons, geese, and turkeys.
The birds, now common with us, are those usually found in this latitude. As birds must follow their food, their migration northward in spring and southward in autumn enables us to see a great variety of these travellers. How powerful, how mysterious, is this impulse for change of place! God seems to have touched them with his spirit, and they became as obedient as the planets.
“ Who bade the stork, Columbus-like, explore
Heavens not his own, and worlds unknown before?
Some birds, like the wild-geese and ducks, make all their journey at once; while most of them follow slowly the opening buds, the spring insects, and the spawning herring. A few leave Florida, and follow vegetation to the White Hills; they pass us in Medford during April and May, resting with us a few days "to take a bite,” and to give us a song. The
close observer might publish regular ornithological bulletins of their successive arrivals. Of those that rest with us, the first comer in the spring is the bluebird, whose winter home is in Mexico and Brazil, and whose first song here is a soft, exhilarating, oft-repeated warble, uttered with open, quivering wings, and with such a jubilant heart as to thrill us with delight. Then comes the friendly and social robin. The old ones have not gone far south in winter. Some of them remain here through that dreary season, with the woodpecker ; but the young ones migrate in autumn, sometimes as far as Texas. The spring-birds, the warblers, the buntings, finches, sparrows, thrushes, come in quick succession to rear their young. Snipes, quails, partridges, and woodcocks, come a little later. Sandpipers, plovers, teals, and ducks arrive among the latest. Medford Pond was a common resort for several kinds of wild ducks. About seventy-five years ago, a gunner killed thirteen teal at one shot. There are a few birds that awaken a deep curiosity, and confer constant delight through their long sojourn. The barn swallow, that comes from the Gulf of Mexico to spend his summer with us, is always greeted with a joyous welcome about the 10th of May. The rice-bird of Carolina, called the reed-bird in Pennsylvania, and the butter-bird in Cuba, is called here the bob-o-lincoln ; and it amuses us greatly. The male, when he arrives, is dressed up as showily as a field-officer on paradeday, and seems to be quite as happy. Fuddled with animal spirits, he appears not to know what to do, and fies and sings as if he needed two tongues to utter all his joy. We might speak of the little wren, that creeps into any hole under our eaves, and there rears its numerous family; the hummingbird, that builds so skilfully in our gardens that we never find its nest; the yellow-bird, that makes the air resound with its love-notes; the thrush, that seems made to give the highest concert-pitch in the melody of the woods. To these we might add the night-hawk and the whip-poor-will, and many more that spend their summer with us; but these are enough to show that the dwellers in Medford are favored each season with the sight and songs of a rich variety of birds. We find the following record made March 8, 1631: “Flocks of wild pigeons this day so thick that they obscure the light.”
Another record shows that our fathers preserved the game by laws. “Sept. 3, 1634: There is leave granted (by the