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[p. 75]

Before his majority, Galen James came to Medford and worked for Thatcher Magoun, in the only ship-yard then existing in the town. In 1811, he paid his first tax in Medford, and though he was only twenty-one years old, he was assessed for personal estate to the amount of $200. He was not taxed here in 1812, being at that time in Milton, at work in the shipyard of Daniel Briggs. In 1814, he returned to Medford, and thereafter made his home here. Before his twentieth year he had worked in various shipyards of the State with his father, who was a very well educated man for his day, and quite a musician. He was not well enough off to educate his children as he wished, and they had only the advantages of the common schools, and were early put to work.

In 1816 the firm of Sprague and James was formed. Isaac Sprague, the senior partner, was the son of Asher Sprague of Scituate, and was a ship carpenter in the yard of Thatcher Magoun. In 1814 he married and went to housekeeping in a house of his own, and was taxed that year for stock in trade and faculty. Mr. Sprague hired land at Labor in Vain landing and contracted to build a vessel for James Lee, a crusty bachelor merchant of Boston, but finding that his limited education hampered him in the financial part of his business, he resolved to take a partner and selected young James, who had a little money to start with, a good business head and a practical knowledge of ship building. Mr. Lee was very angry at the new arrangement and told Mr. Sprague that he would not sign any contract if ‘that boy’ was admitted to the firm. The ‘boy’ was twenty-six at this time, but with his curly, sandy hair and ruddy complexion, he probably looked younger. Lee had a strong will, but he was pitted against two stronger ones, and Sprague and James, after some months of waiting, received his order and built the brig, Bocca Tigris, according to original contract.

In 1817 they owned their yard, the third established in Medford, and were taxed for stock in trade to the amount of $1,000.

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