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repairs. April 27, 1716, “put to vote whether Dea. Thomas Willis, John Whitmore, Jonathan Tufts, Ebenezer Brooks, and John Willis, shall view and consider what method may be most proper for the repairing of Gravelly Bridge, and what may be the cost thereof, and make report to said town at their next town-meeting. Voted in the armative.” June 11, 1716: Voted “ £5 to be raised for the repairing their meeting-house and mending Gravelly Bridge.”
The bridge over Gravelly Creek, in Ship Street, was built by a few Medford persons, in 1746, for the purpose of making a road to the tide-mill.
March 4, 1751: Voted to build a new bridge of stone where the present Gravelly Bridge is. This continued till recently, when a new one, built of stone, has been widened so as to cover the entire street.
March 7, 1803 : “ Voted, that the bridges over Meetinghouse and Whitmore’s Brooks, so called, be rebuilt with stone."
The bridge over Marble Brook, in West Medford (called “Meeting-house Brook” in later times), was made of wood at first, and so continued for more than a century; it was then built of stone, in 1803, and so continued till 1850, when it was rebuilt of stone, and made as wide as the street. The same remarks belong to the small bridge, called “ Whitmore's Bridge,” farther west, and near the Lowell Railroad Station in West Medford.
There is one feature connected with each of the four bridges, herein described, which is worth a passing notice. It is this. These bridges were only half the width of the road, and thus allowed fording ways at their sides. It was formerly the custom for those travelling with horses or driving cattle to let their horses and cattle pass through the brook, and drink. The multiplication of wells, in public squares and frequented places, has helped to change the old habits; and now, generally, these “watering-places” are covered.
The bridge at Penny Ferry (Malden) was opened for travel, Sept. 28, 1787; and President Washington rode over it in October, 1789, when he visited Salem. At that time, he came to Medford to see his friend, General Brooks, who lived in the first house west of the meeting-house. Medford opposed the building of the bridge on two grounds : first, that it would encumber navigation ; and, second, that it
would divert travel from Medford. March 4, 1802, the town chose a Committee to compel the proprietors of Malden Bridge to build the piers, next the draw, required by their act of incorporation.
To show how general and how sharp was the opposition to the erection of Malden Bridge, we will quote from a letter of the Pastor of Medford to his friend in Charlestown, dated Monday, June 26, 1786:
“ Almost ever since I saw you, I have been so agitated about that execrable bridge at Penny Ferry, that law and divinity hare both been obliged to stand by, whilst I have rallied all my powers to fight the bridge-builders. And still the combat is not over. The people are bridge-mad. Old Judge R. is in a perfect frenzy, and raves about Charlestown and bridges with as liule reason as the wildest lunatic in the defence of his imagined crown and sceptre. I do think it unpardonable in him and in the other inhabitants of Charlestown, who are abettors in this business. After the danger and terror they were all in, from the apprehension of a bridge at. Leechmere's Point, and the assistance which they received from this town in making their escape,- for them, so immediately to turn upon us and appear so zealous for the destruction of Medford, is a conduct so base and ungenerous as nothing can palliate. I shall be tempted, when I preach to them again, to take to depravity for my subject, though that be a doctrine of which had begun to doubt till I had this recent proof of it.
“ Last Saturday week passes among them for the Great Day. I felt but little disposed to see the transactions of it, and believe I should not have gone had I been invited. But neither I, nor any of my people, except Father C., came to that honor. I may say, as Nathan the Prophet did to David, with reference to Adonijah's feast, •But me, even me, thy servant, &c., they have not called.' I am told that their preacher, the sabbath after, gave them an occasional sermon. My informer (one of my own people, you'll suppose) could not tell the text; but added, that, in his opinion, the most suitable one would have been these words : " And the devils entered the herd of swine, and the whole herd ran violently down a steep place,' &c.
“The Charlestown Bridge is indeed a grand and noble affair, beyond any thing ever effected in this country before. The only thing that I much regret about it is, that it has deprived so many, both wise men and fools, of their reason, and set them raving. Judge R., and his connections, are the wise men; S., and the Malden gang, are the fools. As for the Malden miserables, they were never awake till the talk about this bridge put them in motion, like men who walk in their sleep. They now leave their corn unhoed, and their grass not cut, to carry petitions to Court for a bridge,
which, if built, rather than pay two coppers toll, for going over it, they would choose to come round by Medford. But the distracted creatures think, that, if there should be a bridge, they shall at once commence a seaport town, have still-houses, stores, and what not. And in consequence of this wretched delusion, and that neglect of business among them, which it occasions, their families next winter will have no bread, and their cattle no hay. It will be a deed, not of charity, but of indispensable justice, in Judge R. to provide for the support of the poor ignoramuses; since it is owing to his superannuated whims that their brains have been turned. As for the old Judge himself, I told him, the other day, that, if he had gone to a
better country' some weeks since, it might have been well for him ; but, whether he would ever get there now, there was too much reason to fear, as he had of late so greatly and egregiously missed the way. His delirium is so great that it is not possible to reason with him. When my people tell him that the proposed bridge will ruin them, he answers all their objections with · Well, come and live at Charlestown then. W. H. says, that, were it possible, the judge would try to persuade the saints in heaven to come down and live in Charlestown. Indeed, the Charlestown people in general, since the bridge is done, are so very high, that I know not whether they will not think it proper to add another story to their houses! Knowing how a-tiptoe they were when I went down last week, though I could not very well afford to pay the toll for my carriage, yet, rather than stop among them, I chose to ride directly into Boston. Like all other religious and political enthusiasts, their heat will abate in time; they will gradually recover their senses, and become like other men. And, if the bridge should stand seven years (of which, by the way, I have still my doubts), by the expiration of that period the inhabitants of Charlestown will get their eyes open, and will see that it would have been more for their interest if it had never been built. This town feels the ill effects of it already in another respect besides the stir it has occasioned for a bridge at Penny Ferry. A trader, from the country, who, previous to the bridge, had all his goods brought up here in our lighters, did last week send five teams by us into Boston, there to unload and load again. And, if the country traders generally do so, our boatmen will lose a profitable part of their business. But this does not give us much concern, provided we can prevent the bridge at Penny Ferry. I scribbled a very long letter to Judge Phillips upon this subject last week; and he told me to-day that it is circulating among the members of the Court. I have kept a copy, and will send it to you in a few days. At present, I may possibly want it to show to some whom I may perhaps wish to influence by it. If the facts which I have produced do not carry conviction, and overwhelm these bridge-builders with confusion, I shall think that all the world is mad; and that I and my people, with the few who have hitherto joined us, remain the only sober and rational part of this lower creation."
May 4, 1801: “Voted, that the selectmen, with Benj. Hall, Esq., and John Brooks, Esq., be a Committee to attend at the General Court on the first Tuesday of the next session, to prevent, if possible, the erection of another bridge across Mystic River.” Nevertheless, Chelsea Bridge was built in 1804. The town directed the selectmen to petition the General Court to have the bridges over Mystic River widened ; and that no one should be less than forty-six feet in width.
March 12, 1713: John Clark & Co. petition for a bridge across Charles River. Many in Medford strenuously opposed it; and the wits had some playful ridicule, of the project. The press, in 1714, has the following: “ One great thing proposed hath been the building of a bridge over Charles River, and that it would be a service to us. This I look at to be next to building castles in the air. For, if we could sink forty or fifty thousand pounds in building such a bridge, the matter is uncertain whether it would answer the end; for, I can't learn of a fast bridge, over such a river, where there is such a stream, in the whole world.”
When or where the Indians first appeared, ethnologists do not inform us. They have always awakened a strange and poetic interest, and have called out a deep and Christian sympathy. They who connected themselves with the first settlers of Medford, and continued their alliance through so many years, were too numerous and influential to be omitted in this history.
Two large and powerful tribes held sway in this region when our fathers landed; the Massachusetts and the Pawtuckets. Their chief enemies were the Tarratines, on the Penobscot, who, at harvest, would come in their canoes, and reap the fields in this neighborhood. One hundred of them attacked Sagamores John and James, Aug. 8, 1631, by night, and wounded them and killed seven men. The renowned Sachem of the Pawtuckets was NANEPASHEMIT, who removed from Lynn, 1615, and took up his abode on Mystic River, where he was killed in 1619. During his short and eventful residence in Medford, his house was placed on “Rock Hill,” where he could best watch canoes in the river. Winslow gives the following account:
Sachem of the 15, and took up buring his sho
where wenn, 1615, "tuckets wa
* On the morrow (Sept. 21, 1621), we went ashore, all but two men, and marched in arms up in the country. Having gone three miles, we came to a place where corn had been newly gathered, a house pulled down, and the people gone. A mile from hence, Nanepashemit, their king, in his lifetime, had lived. His house was not like others; but a scaffold was largely built, with poles and planks, some six foot from the ground, and the house upon that, being situated on the top of a hill. Not far from hence, in a bottom, we came to a fort, built by their deceased king; the manner , thus: There were poles, some thirty or forty feet long, stuck in the
ground as thick as they could be set, one by another; and with them they enclosed a ring some forty or fifty feet' over; a trench, breast-high, was digged on each side; one way there was to go into it with a bridge. In the midst of this palisado, stood the frame of a house, wherein, being dead, he lay buried. About a mile from hence, we came to such another, but seated on the top of a hill. Here Nanepashemit was killed, none dwelling in it since the time of his death.”
The histories represent him living in Medford, not far from the river, not far from the pond, and on the tops of hills. This eminent Grand Sachem was the father of Sagamore John of Mystick, Sagamore James of Lynn, and Sagamore George of Salem. George finally became Sachem of the Pawtucketts.
After the death of Nanepashemit, his wife, as Queen and Squa Sachem, reigned. She married Webcowit, the physician of the tribe, “its powwow, priest, witch, sorcerer, and chirurgeon.” In 1637, the Squa Sachem deeded a tract of land in Musketaquid (Concord). In 1639, she deeded a tract to Charlestown (now Somerville); also another tract to Jotham Gibbon, of Boston. This last deed is as follows:
“This testifies that I, the Sachem, which have right and possession of the ground which I reserved from Charlestown and Cambridge, which lies against the Ponds of Misticke with the said ponds, I do freely give to Jotham Gibbon, his heyres, executors, and assigns for ever; not willing to have him or his disturbed in the said gift after my death. And this I do without seeking too of him or any of his, but I receiving many kindnesses of them, and willing to acknowledge their many kindnesses by this small gift to their son, Jotham Gibons. “Witness my hand, the 13th of 11 mo., 1636.
“The Squa SACHEM E marke.
“ WEBECOWIT O marke. “ Witness, EDMUND Quincy."