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duties may be duly performed, and a watchful eye held over all in each family, by one or more in each family to be appointed thereto, that so disorders may be prevented, and ill weeds nipt before they take too great a head.” Their trust was the Bible, law-book, and gun.
The early histories tell of many, in other places, who became dissatisfied with their first choice, and moved to more promising localities; but not a word of complaint reaches us from the first planters of Medford, and no one, to our knowledge, left the plantation. They brought with them the animus manendi.
To show how fast the settlement went on, it is said, under date of Oct. 30, 1631, that “the Governor erected a building of stone at Mistick.” The houses of the first settlers were fortified by palisades, thought to be a very necessary defence of themselves and their cattle against the nocturnal attacks of wild beasts and savages. It was not uncommon for a plantation to unite in building a stone or brick house, into which they could retire for the night, or escape from the Indians. In Medford were built three of these strong brick citadels, two of which yet stand. Obliged to depend in great measure for subsistence, during the first winter, upon food brought from England, there must have been an impatient waiting for spring'; and, when it arrived, the whole population must have gone to work in clearing whatever open land could be used for planting. A writer says (1630): “The scarcity of grain was great; every bushel of wheat-meal, 14s. sterling; every bushel of peas, 10s.; and not easy to be procured either.”
“Aug. 16, 1631: Six hundred acres of land given to the Governor near his house in Mistick.”
The crops of 1631 were most abundant. Having made their selection and commenced their settlement, our ancestors were not likely to be disturbed by interlopers; for the Court of Assistants, Sept. 7, 1630, passed the following: “It is ordered, that no person shall plant in any place within the limits of this patent, without leave from the Governor and Assistants, or the major part of them." Governor Winthrop felt too deep an interest in his near neighbors to allow any infringement of this law. The first planting of Medford was. thus singularly auspicious under the supervision of the illustrious chief magistrate, called the “ American Nehemiah,"
chosen by telale for this purposeSometimes lo" were sele ratified, the work settlers becamere
and by the more effectual patronage of the richest member of the Company. Its numbers and prosperity increased while Mr. Cradock lived; and, when his interest was removed, it declined.
The lands of a town were parcelled out by a committee, chosen by the inhabitants. Seven wise and prudent men were selected for this purpose. The town mainly directed, and then ratified, the work. Sometimes lots decided a case.
How many of the first settlers became freemen we shall not know until the lost records of Medford are discovered. We find the following Medford names among the list of freemen between 1630 and 1646. How many were settlers here we know not. Nathaniel Bishop, Thomas Reeves, John Collins, Jonathan Porter, Richard Bishop, Thomas Brooke, John Waite, William Manning, John Hall, Richard Francis, William Blanchard, Henry Simonds, Zachery Fitch, Richard Wade, Richard Bugbe, John Watson, Abraham Newell, Henry Brooke, Gamaliel Wayte, Hezekiah Usher, Thomas Bradbury, Richard Swan, John Howe, Edmund Angier, Thomas Oakes, Hugh Pritchard. If any historian issues a writ of replevin, then we must appeal to lost records, or give up.
In the county records we find the following names of men represented as at Medford :
George Felt . . . . 1633. | Thomas Greene . . . 1659.
John Hall . . . . .
1680. Richard Russell . . . 1656. Gersham Swan ... 1684. Thos. Shephard . . . 1657. Joseph Angier . . . 1684. Thos. Danforth.... 1658. | John Bradshaw ... 1685.
Stephen Francis . . . 1685. | John Tufts . . . . 1690.
Mrs. Mary Eliot The lands of Medford were apportioned to the first settlers according to the decision of the Court of May 21, 1629; and Josselyn speaks of the town, in 1638, as “a scattered village.” We suppose that the three “forts," or brick houses, were placed conveniently for the protection of all the inhabitants. If so, the first settlers occupied the land near the river, on its north bank, from the old brick house on Ship Street to the west brick house, now standing behind the house of the late Governor Brooks. Soon the population stretched westward to Mystic Pond; and, when the inhabitants came to build their first meeting-house, they found the central place to be “ Rock Hill ;” and there they built it. The West End was very early settled as the best land for tillage.
It is natural to ask, by what right our Medford ancestors held their farms at first, and what guarantees they had from adequate authorities. We have abundant testimony that not a foot of land was taken from the Indians by force. Every particle was fully and satisfactorily paid for, as we have shown elsewhere. Having thus honorably come into possession, the question was, how can ownership be legally secured? That question was answered by the following most important order of the General Court, under date of April 1, 1634:
“It is ordered, that the constable and four or more of the chief inhabitants of every town to be chosen by all the freemen there, at some meeting there), with the advice of some one or more of the next Assistants, shall make a survey of the houses backside, cornfields, mowing-ground, and other lands, improved or enclosed, or granted by special order of the Court, of every free inhabitant there, and shall enter the same in a book (fairly written in words at length and not in figures), with the several bounds and quantities, by the nearest estimation, and shall deliver a transcript thereof into the Court within six months now next ensuing; and the same, so entered and recorded, shall be sufficient assurance to every such free inhabitant, his and their heirs and assigns, of such estate of inheritance, or as they shall have in any such houses, lands, or frank-tenements.” (See History of the Indians.)
Mr. Wm. Wood, who resided some years in the Colony, published, in 1634, the following description of Medford:
“ Towards the north-west of this bay is a great creek, upon whose shore is situated the village of Medford, a very fertile and pleasant place, and fit for more inhabitants than are yet in it."
We omit the descriptions of Newton and Watertown here introduced. The writer then says:
“ The next town is Mistick, which is three miles from Charlestown by land, and a league and a half by water. It is seated by the water's side very pleasantly: there are not many houses as yet. At the head of this river are great and spacious ponds, whither the alewives press to spawn. This being a noted place for that kind of fish, the English resort hither to take them. On the west side of this river the Governor has a farm, where he keeps most of his cattle. On the east side is Mr. Craddock's plantation, where he has impaled a park, where he keeps his cattle, till he can store it with deer. Here, likewise, he is at charges of building ships. The last year, one was upon the stocks of a hundred tons; that being finished, they are to build one twice her burden. Ships, without either ballast or loading, may float down this river; otherwise, the oysterbank would hinder them which crosseth the channel.”
The Hon. James Savage, in his edition of Winthrop's Journal, vol. ii. p. 195, has the following note concerning Medford:
“Of so flourishing a town as Medford, the settlement of which had been made as early as that of any other, except Charlestown, in the bay, it is remarkable that the early history is very meagre. From several statements of its proportion of the public charges in the colony rates, it must be concluded that it was, within the first eight years, superior in wealth at different times to Newbury, Ipswich, Hingham, Weymouth, all ancient towns, furnished with regular ministers. Yet the number of people was certainly small; and the weight of the tax was probably borne by the property of Governor Cradock, there invested for fishing and other purposes. When that establishment was withdrawn, I suppose, the town languished many years. Simon Bradstreet and James Noyes preached. The consequence of their subsequent destitution of the best means of religion were very unhappy. The town was poorly inhabited, the people much divided, occasionally prosecuted for their deficiencies, and long in a miserable condition. A long period of
happiness at last arrived in the times of Turell and Osgood; and, for more than a century, Medford has appeared one of the most thriving villages in the vicinity of Boston.”
The shadows in this picture, we think, are darker than the records will warrant.
The first settlers came to Medford in June, 1630. The grant of land to Mr. Cradock was March 4, 1634. Here, therefore, were almost four years in which the first comers were gathering and settling before Mr. Cradock came into possession. His prosperous company would naturally induce others to come here; and, when they had thus settled, they would form a government; and, when all these things were done, it would not be policy for Mr. Cradock to disturb or remove such friends. For more than three years they labored on the land, and made an agricultural beginning, confirmed by Mr. Cradock. In his letter he gives special charge concerning all such ; that every thing be done for their safety and comfort. These were the fathers of Medford. 1633: An historian says of the colonists: “ Although they were in such great straights for food that many of them ate their bread by weight, yet they did not faint in spirit.” Gov. Winthrop, Sept. 9, 1630, says: “It is enough that we shall have heaven, though we pass through hell to it.”
As soon as Gov. Winthrop had settled himself on the TenHill Farm, in 1630, he recommended Gov. Cradock's men to plant themselves directly opposite him on the north side of the river. They did so. A promontory there, jutting towards the south into the marsh, was the only safe place then to build upon. It is about sixty rods south-east of the ancient house now standing on the farm of Messrs. James and Isaac Wellington. The marshes stretch away from this promontory, on every side except the north, where it joins the mainland. On its highest point they built the first house erected in Medford. This was in July, 1630. There are persons now living who knew an old lady, named Blanchard, who was born in that house. It was probably a log-house, of large dimensions, with a small, deep cellar, having a chimney of bricks laid in clay. The cellar was walled up with stone, and has been destroyed but a few years. The bricks, very similar to those in Gov. Cradock's mansion-house, have been in part removed. We have to-day (April 25, 1855) taken away half a dozen of them as specimens of the
persons now lidford. This paint they built the