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Neighborhood Sketch no. 6. Medford and Walnut streets.

By John. F. Ayer.
in 1858 I located on Medford street where Chester avenue and Medford Street unite; the house, since remodeled, is now owned by Mr. Sears Condit. It was a two-story, flat-roof structure, and connected with it there was a large lot of land, with several apple trees.

On the adjoining land, north, stood the Hearse house, also the Town Pound, both of which disappeared when the Brastow schoolhouse was built on the land—as did the schoolhouse itself a few years later, when the location was wanted for the Central fire station.

Chester avenue did not exist at that time, but it was opened a few years later, when the several houses that front toward the railroad were built.

There were three houses only on this portion of Barberry Lane, the one I occupied, the one owned and occupied by John W. Mandell next east of it, and a third one adjoining Mandell, owned and occupied by Charles Bird, Jr.

Mandell afterward located on Prescott street as a florist, while Bird drifted to Chelsea and became an auctioneer.

Northwest from us, along Medford street, there was no house until you came to Captain Brown's, near Central street. Opposite Brown, or a little further along, about where Ames street is, stood a small farmhouse and barn. [43]

A little more to the north of Medford street stood the home of Charles E. Gilman on Walnut street, also an old house opposite his, both of which are still standing.

Mr. Gilman was about fifty years old at this time, and his farm of several acres extended northerly nearly to Gilman square, and southerly about the same distance, Gilman street being laid out through his land.

Gilman was a messenger, I think, in the New England Bank in Boston, going and returning over the Lowell railroad each morning and afternoon, attending to his duties as town clerk all the while.

Next along Walnut street northerly was William Veazie, whose house was in plain view from our windows. The first house he built was burned before completion, the second one—now standing—was guarded every night while being constructed. A supposed incendiary was shot one night by the watchman on duty.

In the rear of Veazie was a farm owned by Abraham M. Moore, whose buildings were in plain view; his land opened on to Walnut street, and also onto what is now Bonair street. There was a stone quarry on his premises, in the rear of Veazie, furnishing the familiar blue ledge stone for cellar walls so well known to all builders.

Along Walnut street, adjoining Moore, Edward Cutteryoung Ned Cutter, as he was called-owned to Broadway; the house on Walnut street is still standing. Cutter was a dissipated fellow, told big stories which few believed, was quite successful as a fruit-grower, however, and his extensive pear orchard will be long remembered by the older citizens of the town.

Opposite Cutter, on Walnut street, was the Skilton place. John, a bachelor, and very deaf, was for many years treasurer of the Warren Institution for Savings in Charlestown, and George, his brother, engaged in his first efforts at pickle and rhubarb wine making, occupied the house, which is still standing.

Next south of the Skiltons was a small farm of a Mrs. Moore, two or three acres, afterward owned by Samuel Mills, who opened [44] up the street of that name — the same that has recently been renamed Sargent avenue—into which it opened at right angles.

Fitch Cutter owned a tract of grass land to the south of the Mills estate, and on Walnut street there were no houses between Mills and Town Clerk Gilman, on the westerly side.

Directly northeast from our house, there were few, if any, houses between us and Broadway. Mr. Samuel D. Hadley, a music teacher (father of S. Henry Hadley), built a house on Everett avenue, the first one in that vicinity, about 1859 or 1.860. Seemingly, he was away off in the pasture, for none of the streets, Otis, Auburn avenue, Bonair, Pearl, Flint, or Gilman, had been opened at this time. It was all grass or pasture land from Cross to Walnut to School street, and beyond to Sycamore. With the exception of the few mentioned on Walnut street, no buildings stood until you came to the Forster schoolhouse—a wooden structure on Sycamore street—but away to the right of it, along Broadway, could be seen the few houses which existed at that time. Marshall, Dartmouth, and Thurston streets were not in existence.

Looking still further toward the east across the fields to where Mt. Pleasant street and Perkins street are only a few houses could be seen; the John Runey house and the Pottery buildings on the northerly side of Cross street, about where Flint street is, the houses of Charles Williams, Horace Runey, a Mr. Appleton, and two or three others along that part of Cross street, and then no buildings till you reached the Galletly Rope Walk, the Towne residence and hot houses off Washington street, the Bailey and Guild houses on Perkins street, with possibly two or three others near by.

All between Perkins and Cross streets was pasture land, and one would let down the bars near Mt. Vernon street, on Perkins, and walk unmolested to a point opposite the Runey pottery, where, letting down another set of bars, he would find himself on Cross street. Clay pits were numerous along Oliver street, between Franklin street and Glen. Winter evenings we could see the bonfires lighted by the skaters, and hear their voices plainly.

Of the near-by neighbors, I recall Charles Munroe and James [45] S. Runey, who lived opposite us, Frank Russell, whose place adjoined the Munroe estate, forming the corner of Greenville street, and near by, on the opposite side of Greenville street, was the Alexander Wood place.

At the junction of Highland avenue and Medford street was the John Bolton homestead, and opposite Bolton, on Highland avenue, was the farm of Ira Thorp.

Mr. Munroe was prematurely old, had retired from business, and could be found generally about his place or along the street. He was a little lame, carried a stout cane, and moved about cautiously. He was a genial, sociable fellow, and his hearty greeting and loud laughter I recall with pleasure.

James S. Runey was with his brother John in the pottery business on Cross street. He was a quiet, kindly, home-loving man, it seemed to me; his widow, Mrs. Maria M. Runey, is still living in the Munroe house with her sister, Miss Louisa Munroe.

Frank Russell was a well-known resident; everybody knew him. Like his neighbor Munroe, he had retired from active business. He and Charles H. North had been in the pork packing business together for some years; he had been in the boot and shoe business, also.

He owned the triangle bounded by Chester avenue, Cross street, and Medford street, and property in other places, as well. His home partook of the well-to-do country type, and he is well remembered by the older people.

The place has gone out of the family, but remains much the same as in the early days.

Mr. Bolton occupied the premises bounded by Walnut street, Highland avenue, and Medford street, one of the best locations for a home in Somerville. He had a fine house, with ample grounds, was an engraver in Boston, a tall man, somewhat grey, intelligent, well-to-do. The land has been divided up and built over. The house has disappeared.

Ira Thorp, quite an old man, rather under size, thin and stooping, a good neighbor, was the typical milkman of the vicinity. He produced milk, and dispensed it to the neighbors straight. His house was at the corner of Walnut street and [46] Highland avenue. The barn was on the line of Walnut street, a great trough outside it, where the fresh milk in cans was placed to cool. He pastured his cows across the way from the barn, where they had ample range.

Both house and barn have long since disappeared, his holdings are now covered with residences, but he will be long remembered and often talked about by the old-time families in this locality.

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