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[385] The Legislature granted the petition; and Medford then divided the fishing districts thus: “First, from Charlestown and Malden line to Medford Bridge; second, from the bridge to the beach opposite James Tufts's barn; third, from the above-named beach to the Charlestown line westerly.”

Among the earliest fishermen were John Cutter, Jonathan Tufts, and Benjamin Teel. In 1803, Cutter paid sixty-five dollars, Tufts thirteen dollars, and Teel thirteen dollars, for the right of fishing.

John Cutter fished near the “Dike,” or “Labor in Vain;” Isaac Tufts fished from the Bridge to Rock Hill; and Captain Samuel Teel and his nephew, from Rock Hill to the Pond. The names of the fishermen are seldom given in the records. Charles, Simon, and Seth Tufts are there. In 1812, the fishermen paid one hundred dollars for the right. The average, for twenty years, has been two hundred and fifty dollars.

In accordance with the decision of the Legislature, the town voted, March 14, 1803, to sell their right of fishing in Mystic River. It was sold for ninety-one dollars, at public auction. The next year it was sold, in the same manner, for one hundred and six dollars: and this equitable mode of disposing of it became established; and the premium offered continued for several years to increase.

The vote of the town was generally thus, as in March 1, 1824: “Voted that the selectmen be appointed a committee to dispose of the privilege of taking shad and alewives within the limits of said town the ensuing season.” In 1855, Joseph L. Wheeler bought the “upper reach,” from Marble Brook to the Pond, for $27.50 per annum; and James Rogers bought the “lower reach,” from Marble Brook to the eastern border of the town, for $122.50 per annum. The annual sales have lately been less than $200.

The shad and alewives were abundant till 1815 or 1820, when they began gradually to withhold their visits. A writer says, that, about the year 1800, it was common to take fifteen hundred shad annually at “Little River” (near Fresh Pond); but that, in 1852, there was not one taken; and that, proportionally, a similar statement might be made concerning alewives.

Nothing can frighten alewives; but the shad is an exceedingly shy and timid fish. Its disappearance from our river

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