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[3] in Cambridge, together with certain petitioners then. inhabitants of the town of Charlestown, were incorporated into a District, generally called Menotomy, since it included all the territory in the two towns on the westerly side of Menotomy River, now Alewife Brook, the stream flowing from the Spy-Pond Brook into the Mystic River.1

On Feb. 27, 1807, an act was passed to divide the town of Cambridge, and to incorporate the Westerly Parish therein as a separate town, by the name of West Cambridge.

All that part of the town of Cambridge, heretofore known as the Second Parish, and as described within the following bounds:

Beginning at Charlestown line where the little river intersects the same, and running on a line in the middle of said little river until it strikes Fresh Pond; thence west ten degrees south until it intersects the line of the town of Watertown; thence on Watertown and Waltham line, till it strikes Lexington line; thence on Lexington line till it strikes Woburn line; thence on Woburn and Charlestown line to the little river first mentioned.

This act contains the proviso that nothing therein shall be so construed as to impair the right or privilege of the Congregational minister of the town of West Cambridge, which he now holds in Harvard College.2

The inhabitants were vested with all the powers and privileges, and subject to all the duties other corporate towns were subject to in this commonwealth. They were to hold a proportion of property owned in common—to pay arrears of taxes, to support their proportion of poor, to support their proportion of the old bridge over Charles River between the First and Third Parishes of Cambridge,3 to pay state and county taxes.

1 The Mystic River, of which the ancient Menotomy River is a branch, has its source in Mystic Pond, which was shown on Wood's Map of Massachusetts in 1633. It almost has its beginning, continuance and end within the limits of Medford, and hence is often called the Medford River. The names of the Mystic and Menotomy Rivers are apparently aboriginal designations, and like all Indian names probably describe the locality to which they were affixed. Trumbull gives the origin of the name Mystic, anciently written Mistick, as applied to the Medford River, thus: ‘Tuk in Indian denotes a river whose waters are driven in waves by the tides or winds. With the adjectival misi, “great,” it forms misi-tuk—now written Mystic—the name of the “great river” of Boston Bay.’ The origin of the name Menotomy yet awaits explanation. The spellings of the word have been various.

2 The ‘teaching elders’ of six towns, namely Cambridge, Watertown, Charlestown, Boston, Roxbury and Dorchester, by act of 1642, were to constitute a part of the Board of Overseers of Harvard College.

3 The Third Parish of Cambridge, now Brighton District.

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