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[p. 20]

The first book of records, Medford, Mass.

by Allston Porter Joyce, City Clerk.
THE study of the records of our ancestors is an attractive pursuit to all, and particularly so to the historical student and to the genealogist. The value of musty records is more appreciated each year; the carelessness and lack of completeness with which most of them were kept and the loss of many through fire and improper care is to be greatly regretted. It has been frequently stated, in fact is a sort of tradition, that the earliest records of Medford were destroyed by fire. I never heard it said when or where it happened, but many have accepted this statement as a fact. How or when the story originated I do not know. Brooks, in his History of Medford, states that ‘the records of the first forty years are lost,’ and again that ‘the first twenty-five or thirty pages of the first book of records are unfortunately lost, probably from carelessness about loose and decayed sheets.’ These words are reiterated by Usher in his later work, evidently taking it for granted that this was true without making any study or consideration. While I have the greatest respect for the Rev. Charles Brooks, whom I remember so well as one of the school committee in my youthful days, whom every one delighted to honor, and who ever had a pleasant word and kindly greeting for all, I feel, to use his own words in reference to a claim made by another historian in a matter relative to Medford, that I must good-naturedly dissent from this statement. I think that an examination of the oldest book of records of our town will convince anyone that it is substantially complete. It is possible that a leaf may have gone astray, but I doubt it very much. Brooks says, after he speaks of the loss of the first twenty-five or thirty pages, that ‘the next thirty pages are broken out of their places and may be soon lost.’ When I became city clerk, nearly forty years after this

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