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seemed a standing irritant to the parsimonious, and a convenient whetstone to wits.
“ Seven cities now contend for Homer dead,
Through which the living Homer begged his bread."
Whether any thing of this sort happened to John Man, we do not know; but we do know that Cambridge and Medford did “ contend” stoutly that the “living ” man did not belong to them. When the question of habitancy arose, the justice of the King's Court would cite the towns interested in the case, and require from them the fullest proofs in every particular; and, when a town got rid of a pauper, it seemed to call forth a general thanksgiving. The final decision gave the pauper in this case to Medford ; and, in 1709, the town passed a vote “to put him to board at Samuel Polly's, at three shillings a week.” But their beneficiary must have something more than board ; therefore we soon find the town furnishing “one coat for John Man, £1.13s.; one pair of stockings, 4s.” That his clothes wore out, we have record-proof in the following item : “Oct. 27, 1713: Voted a pair of leather breeches, a pair of shoes and stockings, to John Man." 1718: Voted to defend the town against vagrants, and to prevent their coming to rest in it. Paupers coming upon the town were thought to be like angels' visits only in one respect, - they were “ few and far between.” Another is introduced to our notice in the following record: April 25, 1728: Voted to support the widow Willis as we have done, “she being more than ordinarily troublesome.” Ten pounds were voted.
Dec. 3, 1737: “Voted that the town will not choose overseers of the poor.” For many succeeding yearš, Medford took the same care of its poor as did other towns. It was a common custom to board them in private families, at the lowest rates, allowing such families to get what work out of them they could. Accordingly, at the March meeting each year, the “poor were set up at auction,” and went to the lowest bidder. In 1799, the town voted to pay for the schooling of all the poor children at a woman's school. They had always enjoyed the privileges of the public school like other children.
Thomas Seccomb, Esq., who died April 15, 1773, gave by his will some money to the town of Medford. The amount was increased by a donation from his widow, till it reached the sum of £133. 6s. 8d. (lawful money), which was just
equal to £100 sterling of English currency. The interest only was to be distributed annually among the most necessitous.
It was common to imprison the poor debtor. July 16, 1770, the town voted to give security to the high-sheriff, and thus release Nathaniel Francis from jail.
When the town bought their first alms-house, the number of paupers lessened, because there were some who would not submit to being connected with such a house, and some who would not associate with such a mixture. The paupertax, therefore, was smaller. When, in 1813, the new brick house was built, and afterwards so admirably managed, the earnings of the inmates were enough to lessen the poor-tax nearly one-half. The cost that year was $1,010.25; which is fifty per cent less, proportionally, than the expenses before an alms-house was used. This may help to explain a statement in the report of a committee on town-expenses in 1815, when they say, “ The revenue of the town has, fortunately, been more than sufficient to meet its expenditures.” The males in the alms-house were put to mending our highways. The keeper of the house and the surveyor directed their labors; and it took them most of their time to accomplish the whole work. In 1830, they did three hundred and ninetyone days' labor on the public roads ; and the cost of each pauper's support then was seventy-eight and one-half cents per week.
In 1837, a proposition was made to purchase some land attached to that then owned by the town near the alms-house. After mature deliberation, the committee to whom it was referred reported against the measure.
Since the erection of the new house in 1852, the town's poor have not increased, though every good care is taken of them which their circumstances require. The town of Med. ford has always selected some of its best citizens to oversee and regulate the management of the poor; and they have performed their duties with commendable sympathy and discretion.
The nearness of the alms-house to the places of public worship has rendered special religious services at the house less imperative. Whenever there has been a call for extra service, it has been immediately performed by some clergyman of the town. A series of sermons was preached at the house, each settled minister taking his turn. Similar services should be had during each winter.
The amount paid by the town for support of the poor, from Feb. 15, 1854, to Feb. 15, 1855, was $3,571.86 !
Medford bears its suffering testimony to the effects of the terrible tornado of Aug. 22, 1851. Such extensive destruction of property from such a cause has never before been witnessed in this State. At a meeting of citizens, Aug. 28, the following votes were passed :
“Voted that a committee of five be appointed to appraise damages.
“ Voted that Gorham Brooks, Charles Caldwell, Franklin Patch, Albert Smith, and Jeremiah Gilson, constitute the committee.
“ Voted that the committee be instructed to consider the circumstances of the sufferers, and report cases (if any) where charity is deemed necessary,
“Voted that the committee be authorized to communicate with similar committees from other towns, in relation to the publication of the results of their investigations.
“ Voted that Rev. Charles Brooks be a committee to collect and arrange the facts in reference to science.”
REPORT OF COMMITTEE OF APPRAISEMENT. The amount of individual losses, as estimated by the committee, is as follows:Edward Brooks — Barn ............ $25 Estate belonging to T. P. Smith and others - Buildings,
8300; fruit-trees, $600; carriages, $75; vegetables, $10 985 Charles Rollins — Two dwelling-houses, unfinished, which
Mr. Rollins was building by contract, both entirely demolished, including, in one case, the cellar wall. One of these buildings was on the property belonging to T. P. Smith and others, $4,320; the other was for the Rev. Mr. Haskins,
$1,450 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5,770 House building by J. F. Edward, on property belonging to
T. P. Smith and others. . . . . . . . . . . . Boston and Lowell Railroad Company — Freight car blown
from track, and buildings injured . ........ J. M. Usher — Buildings, $442; fruit-trees, $30; fruit; or
namental tree (horse-chestnut), 850 ......... L. B. Usher — Buildings, $50; fruit-trees and fruit, $58;
ornamental trees (elm in road, and horse-chestnut), $100. Heirs of Leonard Bucknam - Buildings and fences, $450 ;
fruit-trees, $25 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 475
J. M. Sanford — Fence, $10; vegetables, $5; furniture and
clothing, $150; carriages, $75 . . . . . . . . . $240 H. T. Nutter - Vegetables, $5; furniture and clothing, $400 405 Joseph Wyatt — Buildings, $250; fruit-trees, $150; fruit, $10 410 Town of Medford — Buildings (school and poorhouse fences,
&c.), $410; ornamental trees, $50; fruit-trees, $50 . . George E. Harrington — Buildings, $30; fruit-trees, $50;
fruit, $8 . . . . . . . . . . . . . J. Vreeland - Fruit-trees, $150; fruit, $12 . . . . . . 162 A. L. Fitzgerald (house slightly damaged). Samuel Teel, jun. — Buildings, $800; fruit-trees, $200; fruit,
vegetables, and hay, $61 ; wagons, furniture, &c., $120 . 1,181 George Caldwell — House, $25; fruit-trees, $20 i... 45 George F. Lane - Buildings, $600; fruit-trees, $250; vege
tables, $16 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 866 Thomas Huffmaster — Buildings, $275; fruit-trees, $500 ;
fruit and corn, $45 . . . . . . . . . . . . .. Wellington Russell — Clothing and furniture . . . .. E. T. Hastings — Fences, $30 ; fruit-trees, $100; fruit, $20 150 J. B. Hatch — Fences, $5; fruit-trees, $75; fruit, $25.. 105 Nathaniel Tracy - Fence . . . . . . . . . . . . John W. Hastings - House and fence . . . . . . . . 25 Rev. John Pierpont - Buildings, $500; fruit-trees, $100.600 Heirs of Jonathan Brooks - Buildings and fences, $677;
fruit-trees, $500; ornamental trees, $200; fruit, vegeta
bles, and hay, $80; carriages and hay-rack, $175 :..1,632 Alfred Brooks — Buildings, $350; fruit-trees, $100. .. 450 Noah Johnson — Buildings, $445; hay and grain in barn,
$40; ox-wagon and farming-tools, $42 ....... 527 James Wyman — Fruit-trees . . . . . . . . . . . 30 Moses Pierce - House . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 John V. Fletcher — House, $25; fruit-trees, $20 . Joseph Swan - Fruit-trees ...
. . 20 P. C. Hall - Fruit-trees, $920; ornamental trees, $50; fruit, $80 . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . 1,050 Jonathan Porter - Fruit-trees, $75; fruit, $35 . . . . . 110 William Roach - Fruit-trees . . . . . . . . . . . • 25 Dudley Hall — Fruit-trees . Samuel Kidder – Buildings, $50 ; fruit-trees, $400 ; orna
mental trees, $50 .:::: : iron mana Thatcher R. Raymond – Fruit-trees, $100; ornamental
trees, $100; fences, $10. ........... 210 John A. Page - Fruit-trees, $150; ornamental trees, $50; fences, $50 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Russell — Ornamental trees . . . . . . . . . 150 Orchard (East of Andover Turnpike) · · · · · · ·
Loss of property in West Cambridge, $23,606. In Waltham, $4,000.
The other report of facts, in their relation to science, fills forty pages of the little pamphlet which was published Oct. 30, 1851. It will not be republished here, but may be found among the papers of the Smithsonian Institute.
The tornado commenced about five o'clock, P.M., in Wayland, passed through Waltham and West Cambridge, and entered Medford a few rods south of “ Wear Bridge.” From that point it moved west by south to east by north, and kept this line till it ceased in Chelsea. The report describes the following facts : Direction ; centre ; form; width; speed; power ; directions in which trees and vegetables were thrown; directions in which buildings were thrown; absence of whirl; miscellaneous items ; personal injuries and death. The report closes thus:
" I must pay a tribute of respect to the people of Medford who were sufferers by this visitation. One and all have sustained their losses, met their disappointments, and borne their sorrows, with a true Christian heroism, worthy of all honor. They see in the event an extraordinary exhibition of a great law of nature, and they bow submissive to nature's God."
STORMS AND FRESHETS.
Medford is protected from storms which come from the north and west by the range of hills called “Rocks.” It lies exposed to the easterly, and especially to the south-easterly, winds; and, from these quarters, it suffers more than some of its neighbors. Snow-storms, coming from the sea, are apt to end in rain ; and our nearness to the ocean prevents the snow descending in that quiet way which is so common in the interior. [See remarks on Climate.]
Against freshets, Medford is particularly well guarded. The hilly portions have brooks sufficient to carry off into the river any extra quantity of water that may come from long rains or melting snows. The parts most exposed are those on a level with the banks of the river; and, when violent south-east winds occur during spring-tides, the river rises to a dangerous height. A few times within a century, damages have come from this cause.