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Samuel Phipps, town clerk of Charlestown, and his neighbors dwelt within the present limits of Somerville, about 200 years ago, on Mt. Benedict. A portion of his homestead came within that part of the ploughed field which included the location of the Ursuline Convent of 1830. ‘Dead men tell no tales’ is a well-known proverb; but allow me to deny it and to caution you regarding its acceptance. In my own case, I feel better acquainted with Solomon Phipps, carpenter, Samuel Phipps, the register, and Samuel Phipps, the town clerk, with Thomas Danforth, treasurer of the colony, and Francis Foxcroft, recorder, than I do with any considerable number of my fellow-citizens and neighbors. I know their handwriting at a glance, and have a clear and intelligent conception of their careers. The quality of the listening ear modifies the voice of the departed. ‘They who have ears to hear, let them hear.’

Solomon Phipps, the first of the family in New England, was in Charlestown as early as 1640. He was a Wiltshire man, a carpenter by trade. His business was prosperous, and, in 1645, he took an eighth in the new mill which was established at what has since been known as the Mill Pond. Mill street, now extending from Main street to Rutherford avenue, is a survival of the original way to the mill. The rails and grounds of the Eastern freight track, Boston & Maine railroad, now occupy the site of the mill. Mr. Phipps held the property to the last, and divided the same, by his will, between his boys. At this mill Mr. Phipps prepared his lumber for his enterprises. The houses he built were of wood. Some were one, some two stories in height, with low studding, plastered inside, the beams overhead exposed, a large chimney in the centre, and that of the kitchen with a capacious oven beside it. Fuel was plenty, and large amounts were piled in the yards every winter. The homes were plain, built within frugal means, destitute of architecture, and rather evident of poverty of imagination and dearth of culture. The wealthiest inhabitants of Charlestown were the distillers, and the most numerous the bakers. Those who lived beyond the Neck kept horses and wagons, and went into town, usually on horseback, to what is now City square, for the necessities they did not

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