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[p. 53]

Sarah Bradlee Fulton. Dorchester, 1740. Medford, 1835.

by Helen T. Wild, Secretary.
1 the names of the men who fought in the War of the American Revolution are carefully preserved in the archives of the State, but the women who through all those sad years endured hardship and loss, and who toiled at the spinning-wheel and in the hospitals for their country's cause, have long ago been forgotten.

Only here and there a woman's name is found on the honor roll of Revolutionary days.

Among the Medford women whom history has remembered, Sarah Bradlee Fulton has a prominent place. We have been proud to name our chapter for her, honoring with her all the unknown loyal women who worked and prayed in this dear old town of ours, for the cause of liberty.

Mrs. Fulton was a member of the Bradlee family of Dorchester and Boston. In 1762 she married John Fulton, and ten years later they came to Medford with their little sons and daughters, and made their home on the east side of Main street about one hundred and fifty feet south of the bridge, on the south side of what is now Tufts place. Her brother, Nathaniel Bradlee, lived in Boston at the corner of Tremont and Hollis streets. The old house is still standing and occupied by his descendants.

His carpenter's shop, and his kitchen on Saturday nights when friends and neighbors gathered to enjoy his codfish suppers, were meeting-places for Boston's most devoted patriots. From this shop a detachment of Mohawks who ‘turned Boston Harbor into a teapot’ went forth to their work of destruction. In the [p. 54] kitchen Mrs. Bradlee and Mrs. Fulton disguised the master of the house and several of his comrades, and later heated water in the great copper boiler and provided all that was needful to transform these Indians into respectable Bostonians. Nathaniel Bradlee's principles were well known, and a spy, hoping to find some proof against him, peered in at the kitchen window, but saw these two women moving about so quietly and naturally that he passed on, little dreaming what was really in progress there.

A year and a half later Sarah Fulton heard the alarm of Paul Revere as ‘he crossed the bridge into Medford town,’ and a few days after the place became the headquarters of General Stark's New Hampshire regiment.

Then came the battle of Bunker Hill. All day the people of Medford watched the battle with anxious hearts; many a son and brother were there—dying, maybe, just out of their reach. At sunset the wounded were brought into town, and the large open space by Wade's Tavern between the bridge and South street was turned into a field hospital. Surgeons were few, but the women did their best as nurses. Among them, the steady nerves of Sarah Fulton made her a leader. One poor fellow had a bullet in his cheek, and she removed it; she almost forgot the circumstance until, years after, he came to thank her for her service.

During the siege of Boston detachments of British soldiers often came across the river under protection of their ships, searching for fuel in Medford.

One day a load of wood intended for the troops at Cambridge was expected to come through town, and one of these bands of soldiers was there before it. Sarah Fulton, knowing that the wood would be lost unless something was done, and hoping that private property would be respected, sent her husband to meet the team, buy the load, and bring it home. He carried out the first part of the programme, but on the way to the house he met the soldiers, who seized the wood. [p. 55]

When his wife heard the story she flung on a shawl and went in pursuit. Overtaking the party, she took the oxen by the horns and turned them round. The men threatened to shoot her, but she shouted defiantly as she started her team, ‘Shoot away!’ Astonishment, admiration, and amusement were too much for the regulars, and they unconditionally surrendered.

Soon after Major Brooks, later our honored Governor, was given despatches by General Washington which must be delivered inside the enemy's lines. Late one night he came to John Fulton, knowing his patriotism and his intimate knowledge of Boston, and asked him to undertake the trust. He was not able to go, but his wife volunteered. Her offer was accepted.

A long, lonely, and dangerous walk it was to the water-side in Charlestown, but she reached there in safety, and finding a boat rowed across the river. Cautiously making her way to the place she sought, she delivered her despatches and returned as she had come. When the first streak of dawn appeared, she stood safe on her own door-stone.

In recognition of her services General Washington visited her. It is said that according to the fashion of the day John Fulton, on this occasion, brewed a potation whose chief ingredient was the far-famed product of the town. The little silver-mounted ladle was dipped in the steaming concoction, and the first glass from Mrs. Fulton's new punch-bowl was sipped by his Excellency. This was the proudest day of Sarah Fulton's life. The chair in which he sat and the punch-bowl and ladle were always sacred, and are still treasured by her descendants.

Years after General Lafayette was her guest, and we can safely say he was seated in General Washington's chair, served with punch from that same punch-bowl, and entertained with the story of that memorable visit.

Sarah Fulton was never afraid of man or beast; as she once told her little grandson, she ‘never turned her [p. 56] back on anything.’ Her strength of mind was matched by her strength of body. After the Revolution she made her home on the old road to Stoneham, which at the first town-meeting after her death was named Fulton street in her honor. More than a mile from the square, the cellar of the house can still be seen, and many Medford people remember the building itself.

In spite of the long distance Sarah Fulton, even in extreme old age, was in the habit of walking to and from the Unitarian Church every Sunday. Those who knew her could scarcely comprehend that she had passed four-score years and ten.

Her humble home was always hospitably open. especially to the children of her brothers, who, if they could leave the luxury of their own homes and come to Medford for a visit, their happiness was complete.

She saw grandchildren and great-grandchildren grow up around her, and in the atmosphere of their love and reverence she spent her last days.

One night in November, 1835, a month before her ninety-fifth birthday, she lay down to sleep, and in the morning her daughters found her lying with a peaceful smile on her face-dead.

They laid her in the old Salem-street cemetery, and there she sleeps among her old friends and neighbors.

Patriotism, courage, and righteousness were her possessions, and may we, the Sarah Bradlee Fulton Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, receive a daughter's portion.

the initial number of the register has received much commendation from friends at home and abroad. The Publication Committee respectfully suggests that a copy sent to any former residents of Medford will make a pleasant reminder of friendship, and will also help the Society in its work of publishing.

1 By permission of the ‘American Monthly,’ Washington, D. C.

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