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from Turell Tufts, Esq., was expended, according to his directions, in planting ornamental trees on the roadsides. May this growing charity of a good friend of Medford be imitated by many hereafter! Others, from motives of taste and profit, have adorned our highways with forest-trees, whose summer shade will soon shelter the fashionable lady in her morning promenade, and the weary animals in their noonday labor.
Streets in Medford have received the following names : High, Main, Forest, Salem, Ashland, Oakland, Washington, Fountain, Fulton, Court, Cross, Park, Pleasant, Purchase, South, Midd] sex, Water, Ship, Canal, Cherry, Webster, Almont, Co age Ish, Oak, Chestnut, Grove, Garden, Paris, Chaplin, Mystic, crooks, Allston, Vernon, Irving, Auburn, Prescott, West, Laurel.
Appropriation for highways from Feb. 1, 1850, to
Feb. 1, 1851 . . . . . . . . . . . Appropriation for highways from Feb. 15, 1854, to
Feb. 15, 1855 . . . . . . . . . . . . . Expenses of street lamps for the same times . . . .
The bridge across Mystic River, in the centre of Medford, is the first that was built over this stream. This primitive structure was exceedingly rude, and dangerously frail. March 4, 1634: The General Court, “holden at Newton," make a grant of much land in Medford, “on the north side of Mystic River," to Mr. Mathew Cradock, merchant in London. This distinguished friend of the pilgrims never came to this country; but his agent and representative, Mr. Nicholas Davison, conducted an extensive fishing business in Medford, on his account, and probably was the person who first suggested the erection of a bridge.
Mr. Cradock's agent (Davison) commenced the building of a bridge over the river in 1638. The place selected was that where the present bridge stands; that being the most easterly spot, where the marshes, on the south side of the river, would allow safe roads to it. The builder exacted toll. It was the first toll-bridge in New England. The town prosecuted the builder for his "hindrance of boats," and for “taxing cattle that go over that bridge.” The bridge was long,
bere the present river in 1638") commenced the bu
was the first in der for his “ hindiqe."
because the banks of the river at that place were low; and on both sides was swamp.
In 1639, we have the following record on the subject of a bridge: “At the General Court, Boston, the 22d of 3 mo. (called May), 1639, Mr. Mathew Cradock is freed of rates to the county, by agreement of the Court, for the year ensuing from this day, in regard of his charge in building the bridge; and the county is to finish it at the charge of the public. Mr. Davison and Lieut. Sprague to see it done, and to bring in their bill of charges.” This record further proves that a bridge had been commenced at this early day by Mr. Cradock; that it was not finished by him; that he received exemption from taxes by a vote of the General Court, because the bridge was so built and so placed as to be a public benefit; and, finally, it proves that the bridge was finished at this time, and at the expense of the Province. Four years after this, we have the following record. “General Court, May 10, 1643: It is ordered Mr. Tomlins should have £22 to repair Mistick Bridge, to make it strong and sufficient, for which sum of £22 he hath undertaken it.” This extract proves that the bridge very soon needed repairing, and that about one hundred dollars were necessary for the work. The bridge therefore must have been important, as a public way, to have received such large attention from the General Court. The frailty of the structure must have been remarkable ; for, only three years passed before it again demanded the care of the General Court. The record is as follows: “At a General Court, at Boston, for Electic , the 6th of the 3 mo. (May), 1646, Ralph Sprague and Edward Converse appointed to view the bridge at Mistick, and what charge they conceive meet to be presently expended for the making it sufficient, and prevent the ruin thereof, or by further delay to endanger it, by agreeing with workmen for the complete repairing thereof, and to make their return to Mr. Willoughby and Mr. Burrell, and what they shall do herein to be satisfied out of the treasury."
These frequent draughts on the provincial treasury began to alarm the government, and the following record shows the steps taken accordingly: “At a Session of the General Court, the First month, 1648: It was voted by the whole Court, that Mistick Bridge should be made and maintained by the county at the public charge.” This movement created alarm through Medford, because strong fears were entertained that the county would let the bridge go to ruin. No penalty for non-performance of duty was imposed. Mr. Cradock's agent, therefore, sent his petition, the nature of which can be ascertained only by the following reply:-“General Court, 28th of the 7th mo., 1618: In answer to the petition of Nic. Davison, in the behalf of Mr. Cradock, for the repairing and maintaining of Mistick Bridge by the county, the said Mr. Davison being sent for, the evidence he can give being heard and examined with the records of the General Court, it appears that the General Court did engage for an exemption from rates for that year, and finishing the same on their own charges, which accordingly hath been done.”
We may infer from these proceedings, that the bridge was very likely to be out of repair, and that Mr. Cradock's work: men and business required it to be strong and safe. Five years roll away, and the county appears to have done little for the safety of the bridge. The indefatigable Mr. Davison, urged on doubtless by Mr. Cradock, appeals once more to the supreme authority. That the General Court should now feel determined to put an end to this standing annoyance, we cannot wonder. Pre oably by consultation with Mr. Davison, they came to the following financial conclusion : “ 28th of 3d mo., 1653 : Upon a petition presented by Mr. Nicholas Davison, in the bel II of Mr. Cradock, in reference to Mistick Bridge, it is ordered by this Court, and hereby declared, that, if any person or persons shall appear that will engage sufficiently to build, repair, and maintain the bridge at Mistick at his or their proper cost and charges, it shall be lawful, and all and every such person or persons, so engaging, are hereby authorized, and have full power, to ask, require, and receive of every single person, passing over the said bridge, one penny, and for every horse and man sixpence; for every beast twopence, and for every cart one shilling; and this to continue so long as the bridge shall be sufficiently maintained, as aforesaid.” This order of Court proves to us, that the county had not kept the bridge in repair ; that Mr. Cradock probably used it much in transporting heavy loads; and, finally, that the bridge was at first constructed to allow the passage of heavy burdens in ox-teams.
Put all these legislative orders together, and the inferences drawn from them, and we have a very satisfactory history of the first bridge in Medford. We can see, in our mind's eye, a rude structure, sufficiently wide to allow but one cart to pass at the same time, and so poorly put together as to be endangered by every high tide and by floating ice. We can furthermore see that the bridge was placed where the present one stands; and, lastly, we may say, that to Mr. Mathew Cradock, of London, our fathers were indebted for this great convenience.
The next step of interest, relating to Mystic Bridge, was the appointment of a Committee by the County Court to decide what bridges should be built and maintained. They report as follows, May 15, 1657:
“In obedience to an order of the County Court, held at Charlestown, Dec. 30, 1656, we, whose names are underwritten, meeting at Cambridge, March 2, 1657, to weigh and consider what bridges are fittest to be built and maintained at the county's charge, after due examination of things, we find the bridges of this county, already erected and to be erected (as we conceive), to exceed for number and charge all the other counties within this Colony ; and, withal, considering the great necessity of bringing in all that are alike useful, which would amount to such a charge that we question the county's ability to maintain and bear the charge thereof; and having some experimental knowledge that towns will be more cautious in laying out their own costs than the counties, both in building and repairing, do therefore conclude, according to our weak apprehensions, that as few bridges should be built at the county's charge as possibly may be; only those two bridges, i. e., at Billerica and Mistick, to be finished at the county's charge, and for time to come maintained in repair by the towns and precincts in which they are, and those towns that are forced to build bridges more for the passage of others than their own benefit may have help from the county, by this honored Court's appointment; if their burden in building bridges exceed their sister towns, and in case any town shall propound to this honored Court for erecting of bridges contrary to what is here present, — we are ready to give further account to this Court why the county should be no further charged that way. And, whereas it appears to us that Concord, Sudbury, and Lancaster are at a greater charge in bridges for the public use of the country than some other of their neighbor towns, we conceiye it meet that they be abated as followeth : Concord and Lancaster all their rates, whether paid or to be paid, to those two bridges above named, and Sudbury the one-half of their rates to the said bridges, and their abatements to be satisfied to the undertakers of those bridges, or repaid again to such as have paid, as followeth: i. e., Chelmsford, two pounds; Billerica, one pound; Charlestown, ten pounds; Meadford, two pounds; and what these shall fall short of satisfying those above-mentioned abatements, made up out of the county stock, either fines or otherwise, as the Court shall please to determine. .
“ Provided always, we think it meet that no stop be made of any the above-said abatement, so as to interfere or obstruct the performing of the present engagement respecting those bridges.
“ Ralfe Mousall.
“April 7, 1657: This return being made to the Court, it was accepted by the Court, who order that this return of the Committee shall be presented to the next General Court, by the Clerk of the Court, for their confirmation and settling thereof.
This report of the Committee was accepted, and it placed the quest' un of the bridges on its true basis.
The plan of taxing the county, or the towns that use it, for the support of Medford Bridge, was productive of constant trouble to all concerned, and led to lingering lawsuits. It being the only bridge over Mystic River, it must be used by many travellers from Salem, Saugus, Andover, Reading, &c. Woburn was obliged by law to help support it, and they of that town constantly complained and objected.
Woburn records, of Oct. 28, 1690, say: “ Serg. Mathew Johnson, Serg. John Pierce, chosen to meet the Court's Committee, and treat with them about Mistick Bridge.” The same records, of May, 1691, say: “ The selectmen met with Malden men and Reading men to consult about defending ourselves at the County Court; being warned to appear there about Mistick Bridge.”
1693: Woburn grew very emphatic, and said: “Woburn was not concerned in the presentment of Mistick Bridge ; neither would they do any thing in order to the repairing thereof, except by law they were forced thereto.” In 1694, Woburn was again cited by order of Court, and threatened with a fine of £5; yet was inflexible, and put itself in the posture of defence. The question was tried at Boston, and, after able attorneys had spoken on both sides, the Court decide as follows:
“ Middlesex, ss. — At the General Quarter Sessions of the Peace, holden at Charlestown, Jan. 23, 1694.