The last Medford Indian.
Mr. Brooks, in his ‘History of Medford,’ written more than fifty years ago, devoted some space to the Indians, and before closing with a somewhat elaborate flight of fancy, said,
In Medford they lived in “Turkey swamp.” . . . The last Indian here was “Hannah Shiner,” who lived with “Old Toney,” a noble-souled mulatto man, who lived on the Woburn road, in West Medford, opposite where the town schoolhouse once stood.It may be noticed that this location is that of the present Sarah Fuller Home, and near to the home of Mr. Brooks. Doubtless, in his early boyhood, as a neighbor, he had abundant opportunity to learn what were this old Indian woman's characteristics. He wrote, ‘Hannah was kind hearted, a faithful friend, a sharp enemy, a judge of herbs, a weaver of baskets, and a lover of rum.’ This is all the information he gave us of her, but alluded to a Thanksgiving dinner, probably spoiled in the total destruction of ‘Old Toney's’ house by fire. We may query whether Hannah cooked the dinner that was to have been served to Toney's dozen ‘colored friends;’ and also how the fire originated, but all in vain: the time, even, is unknown, save that it was at Thanksgiving time. But later, Hannah Shiner lived in Turkey swamp. This is a locality the younger people of Medford do not know by that name. Doubtless many know of the Winchester reservoirs lying between the hills to the north of Ram's Head and the observatory. A few years ago a native of Woburn, a close observer of people and events,1 wrote of her, ‘Hannah Shiner, an Indian who for many years lived in a little hut on the east side of Turkey swamp, just under a hanging rock. On the spot is a cool and never-failing spring that now runs into the north part of the south reservoir. For seventy-five years it has been called the Hannah Shiner spring. The land on which it is was once owned by Samuel Hutchinson and ’