The Medford Governor was born at upper Medford
, or Symmes
' Corner, set off from Medford
by the incorporation of Winchester
as a town in 1850.
Originally a part of Charlestown
, it was joined to Medford
in 1754 for the convenience of its residents who had to journey through Medford
to reach their meeting-house.
Here was the farm of Zachariah Symmes
(first minister of Charlestown
) of which portions remain in possession of his descendants today.
Through the farm lay the ‘publique country road’ from Medford
, and at the ‘corner’ diverged southward the road to Cambridge
, the present Grove street. In more recent years there was laid out another to the west, the present Bacon street. On all the angles formed by these dwelt a Symmes, a descendant of Reverend Zachariah
Substantial were the houses they built and that sheltered the generations that have come and gone.
One has ends of brick enclosing the chimneys.
Another, the residence of Luther Symmes
, is of wood (doubtless brick filled) with hipped or pyramidal roof.
Before it, at the sidewalk's curb, is a drinking fountain surmounted by a sundial.
was, from its inception and for many years, the superintendent of the Charlestown Water Works, and the inscription cut in the granite of the fountain beneath the sundial is especially pertinent: ‘Let every man's work be made manifest.’
On the opposite side of the street stood the home of Caleb Brooks
, the subject of this sketch.
This was of a different type from those already mentioned, at least in outward appearance.
It stood facing the noonday sun, its end near the angle formed by the bend of the road and shaded somewhat by a venerable elm. It is said to have been built in 175, and if so, in the year that Caleb Brooks
, the future governor's father, attained his majority.
For nearly one hundred and seventy years it stood there in the turn of the road, with an entrance door near the [p. 19]
corner at one end, as well as the main doorway in the front.
Originally, or perhaps not so early in its history, it had a ‘lean-to’ at the rear, which brought the long, sloping roof within hand reach of the ground.
Its frame was of oak, and after the lean — to was removed the house, of two full stories, showed its ridge-pole somewhat nearer the front of the house and just behind the great chimney.
This, with its ovens and fireplaces, occupied the square space between the three rooms and the winding staircase near the front door.
In 1882 its owner, Mr. Marshall Symmes
, who resided there, built a new house just in its rear and removed the old house to a spot a few feet back from his barn.
In the removal the ancient well beneath the kitchen was uncovered.
This still remains, but covered securely by a flat stone which can be seen in the lawn.
In the removal the house was turned completely around, the front door removed, its place closed up, and the rear half of the house entirely demolished.
Certain peculiarities in the framing of the house rendered this both easy and needful, and also indicated that it had been enlarged perhaps more than once.
In its present condition it is an object of interest, for the old windows, with their panelled shutters, remain intact, while the solid oak timbers of the frame show the sturdy workmanship of those old-time carpenters.
All the smaller joists, and the boards of the attic floor, are removed, while in the second story, reaching into the attic, is a framework and shelving on which great piles of squashes are stored.
The huge chimney is gone, but a more even temperature is assured by the lines of hotwater pipes that warm the old house today.
It now stands adjoining the spot where the Stoneham Branch
Railroad was graded in 1851, and that was to have connected with the one at Medford square. In this old house was born that son of Medford
who became distinguished in war as a soldier, and in peace no less, as physician and governor of the Commonwealth
It at one time acquired the name of the Le Bosquet House
, from Captain Le Bosquet
, one of the evicted Acadians
, or French Neutrals, who found a home in Medford
and married into a Medford family.
But for many years the property has been again in the Symmes family, and is one of the few of the old Medford
farms still worked.
This one is still occupied by Mr. Marshall Symmes
, now in his ninety-third year, and who thoughtfully secured a picture of the old historic homestead before its removal.
On this farm have been found numerous arrow heads and Indian implements, reminders of a vanished race.
A little below, in the valley of the Aberjona
, were the wigwams of the red men that one of the early Symmeses
counted to the number of twenty-seven.
It is a far cry from that aboriginal, who was called Simon Bar jona (and who is said to have given the name of Aber jona to the stream white men called Symmes
' river), with the wigwams of the red men, down through the long line of Symmes
, with their dwellings, to the modern ones of brick, concrete and stucco that today are arising about the birthplace of the Medford