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[389] nothing about its marks or popularity. He would tell the true price in a few moments, and was never known to select a bad barrel. In the manufacture of his bread, every component part was personally examined, and every rule most scrupulously complied with. There was a severe exactness in each particular, that helped greatly in securing the final success. Mr. Francis produced a cracker which was considered as more tasteful and healthy than any heretofore invented. Every year increased his reputation, and widened his business; and, as early as 1805, Medford crackers were known through the country, and frequently sent to foreign lands. The writer of this was walking in a street of London in 1834, and saw, at a shop-window, the following sign: “Medford crackers.” This bread deserved all the fame it acquired; for never had there been any so good, and we think there is now none better. It required great labor; and all the work was done by hand. Each cracker was nearly double the size of those now made; and the dough was kneaded, rolled, weighed, pricked, marked, and tossed into the oven, by hand. Now all these are done by machinery. The labor of making a barrel of flour into crackers cost then nine dollars, and now about three dollars. This bread was called crackers, because one of them would crack into two equal parts. One piece of dough was rolled out just thick enough to enable it to swell up with the internal steam generated by baking on the hot brick-floor of the oven; and holes enough were pricked into the dough to allow a part of the steam to escape, and so leave the mass split into two equal parts, adhering mostly by the edges.

The deleterious mixtures called bread, which we now often use, are the cause, we apprehend, of some of our chronic diseases. If the General Court would legislate properly on the great and vital subject of bread, a good inconceivably great and durable would result to society. If some bakers, without designing it, are administering mineral or vegetable poisons by their bread, cake, and pastry, what pleasing reflections must now belong to Mr. Francis, in his old age, as he counts up the years in which he fed thousands daily with bread wholly nutritive, and always palatable!


This was a branch of trade held in high repute by our ancestors, and some of the most intelligent and pious of our Medford citizens engaged in it; but none grew rich from it. It was not uncommon, in the first century of our settlement, for private families to have a “still,” by which they supplied themselves with alcoholic liquors; and not to offer a visitor “something to drink” was a flagrant breach of hospitality. It may have been during one of Rev. Dr. Byles's many visits in Medford that the following dialogue occurred. The lady at whose house he was calling asked him to step into her kitchen, and see her new still; and, having assured him of its extraordinary powers, the doctor replied, “Well, madam, if it be so remarkable, I wish you would do a job for me with it.” “With all my heart, sir: what shall I do for you?” “Why, still my wife's tongue.”

When the first distillery was built in Medford, cannot be ascertained with precision; but the evidence is mostly in favor of Andrew Hall (1735). The spot he selected is that which Mr. Lawrence now occupies; and the building was of wood. This spot was chosen chiefly for the reason that a most copious spring of peculiarly good water issues from the earth at that place. The great reputation obtained by the Medford rum is owing to the singular properties of this spring. Other distillers, therefore, in different parts of New England, put the name of Medford on their barrels. He died just as his eldest son, Benjamin, had reached his majority. This son stepped into his father's place, and carried on the business.

There is a tradition that a man named Blanchard, who had connections in Malden, was the first who set up a distillery in Medford. It was upon the south side of the river, on the first lot east of the bridge. It was afterwards used by Hezekiah Blanchard, the inn-holder, who distilled anise-seed, snake-root, clove-water, &c. These drinks were afterwards produced in large quantities in Medford. In 1777, Medford rum sold at 3s. 10d. a gallon, by the barrel; 4s. 6d. by the single gallon.

After the Malden distiller had invested his little all in molasses, and occupied every vat, and was beginning to prosper, there rose a tide so high as to overflow all his vats

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