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[p. 66]

A chapter of Corrections.

WE are in receipt of several letters of not unfriendly criticism of statements in recent issues of the Register (two of which we mention), the first from Hon. William Cushing Wait, from which we quote.

Let me file a “caveat” as to a statement on page 55 of the last number of the Register. The quoted words are the part I query. “Others hurried along over the Andover turnpike” [Forest street].

Let no one picture occasional stragglers from Charlestown, driven from home in 1775. wandering disconsolately along Forest street. Whoever wandered in 1775 where Forest street now is, traversed fields or fell into clay pits, probably the latter.

Miss Reed remembered part of what she related and unconsciously inserted the rest. Doubtless in some such way our “Cradock house” tradition arose, leading to the teaching of a lot of fable as history.

By reference to page 55 it will be found that Miss Reed's statement is over the name of our valued contributor Miss Eliza M. Gill. The same is taken from her written communication in the Society's Scrap Book. We had no thought that either intended to convey the idea that the refugees wandered along the Andover turnpike as such, but in the locality where some thirty years later the turnpike was built. The Garrison or Wade house was in close proximity thereto and in their disordered flight the homeless ones might well be seeking food or shelter in all quarters. Miss Gill writes, ‘Perhaps some trail or path was taken in the direction later used as the turnpike. If this was not so, Miss Reed must have meant the Woburn road.’

In relation to the other letter (which appears in this issue) we are fortunate in having the evidence of an old resident who knows whereof he writes and the same is presented as a correction on another page.

For the easy reference of the reader, the illustrations he refers to are reprinted, that of the house in question being from a photo, secured by Mr. Eddy, not long before its destruction by fire. [p. 67]

He had been (mis) informed that it was the toll-house of the turn-pike corporation, and had used the picture as a lantern slide in his talks on ‘Picturesque Medford.’ It has also been shown in illustrations of the Middlesex Canal, several times, as the toll-house beside the Canal, and in all instances without question. Its exhibitors, being later-comers to Medford, were dependent on the testimony of others, which was incorrect.

As to Mr. Swan's sketch; the illustration is a photographic reproduction. It was drawn on a pale blue paper, the river and canal shaded with a dark blue and the turnpike a brown color. The letter A in the corner, refers to a duplicate made by him on the page of the History of Medford to which it was attached. The Rock he referred to is the outcropping slate ledge in the adjoining hill-side. Mr. Swan doubtless knew of the extent of Governor Winthrop's farm and could not have intended to convey the impression that the small portion of his sketch thus marked was the entire Ten Hills Farm. Again, the sketch is not drawn to any scale, but is an observer's illustration of what must have been in those days a busy corner of Medford, including the river traffic, the boating in the canal, the turnpike travel and the tide mill work, all converged in that narrow space.

A few words concerning the Blessing of the Bay. Mr. Brooks styles it ‘the first keel laid in this western world.’ In a former number of the Register Mr. Hooper has shown that Mr. Cradock had the Rebecca built here in 1629, but was there not one built still earlier at Popham, on the coast of Maine?

And now a foreword. In this issue is a poem relating to the Royall House. We think it worthy of preservation, but present it with some trepidation, warning our readers that poetic license must account for bricks brought over sea, as well as the location of the wigwam of Sagamore John. That same license provided Medford with a village clock when Revere rode over Cradock bridge nearly a half century before Mr. Brooks really gave one. [p. 68] It was like carrying coals to Newcastle to bring ordinary bricks from England with clay so abundant here, even for a house ‘finished for Governor John.’ Was it? The old house guards its secrets well, though some curious things are coming to light.

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