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The old slave wall.

[Mention of this wall, elsewhere in this issue, suggests the present writing.]

A little way up Grove street in West Medford is a brick wall, capped with thin slabs of stone, with a granite post at the southern end. Lilac bushes grow closely beside it, and till recently hid a part of it from view.

Observant passers ask ‘why this wall of bricks, when all the rest is of Medford granite?’

To answer this query, and to preserve a record of this Medford antiquity ere it is forgotten (or removed), the Register presents as its frontispiece; ‘The Old Slave Wall,’ with this sketch thereof.

Samuel Brooks (grandson of that Thomas Brooks of Concord who purchased land of Edward Collins) is said to have lived nearly opposite the Peter C. Brooks house; which locates his home at the site of this wall.

His son Samuel, born 1700, inherited the estate, and the dwelling is mentioned as intact in 1855. It was demolished in 1860 and the materials removed. Some of its doors have been in daily use ever since in a house soon afterward built, and are good for many years more of service.

This old house, probably erected by the first Samuel, was inherited by Thomas Brooks, the village squire and noted ‘marrying justice.’

The second Samuel had slaves, as shown by his will, and Thomas had one negro man named Pomp, who seems to have been his master's general utility man, according to our historian's mention of him. When the house was built, it was faced southward according to the [p. 58] custom of the time, and three black walnut trees planted before it. It was doubtless at its erection the finest house in this quarter, and a curved driveway extended from the street, past the end of the house, and joined the street again. Beside the street and between the ends of the drive was this brick wall constructed, and bordered with a row of lilacs. Tradition has it that Pomp made the bricks, as well as built the wall, and it is doubtless true. Some fifty years ago there was a story current that the bricks were brought from England—incorrect however. Mr. Edward Brooks in 1875 told the present writer that the bricks were made from clay dug on the estate, and was much amused at such a story finding credence.

This house of Samuel, Thomas, and lastly of Gorham Brooks, is shown in the history of Medford (Brooks', '55) with the great black walnut trees before it, and also the brick wall, granite post and lilac bushes.

In this picture the house is shown with a massive chimney. A wide and latticed veranda extended around two sides, while along the edge of the lawn was a fence of two rails with a chain suspended from the post tops. In the distance the cars with the big stacked engine are seen on the railroad; these latter were a comparative novelty then.

Today but one of the trees remains—‘one, but a lion,’ a magnificent and rare specimen of its kind. The writer can remember when there were two. It has been feared that this last might succumb, and the ground beneath and around it has been enriched. Five generations have lived and passed away since Pomp made the bricks and built the wall. The next estate is now in new ownership and new residents are coming to the ancestral acres and into the new houses being built thereon.

The faithful, honest work of the humble black man stands; a monument of his industry, a memorial of him.

It is an example of the permanency of the useful, and one of the few remaining vestiges of slavery in Medford. [p. 59] A few years ago the lilacs that had overgrown the wall were removed from the street, revealing the entire wall which is supposed to have been built about a century and a half ago.

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