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Looking Backwards.

MY father, Solomon Manning, was born in Chelmsford, Mass., in 1799. His mother was Lucy Andrews of Carlisle. Father was in the employ of Mr. Dudley Hall of Medford from 1820 to 1825. Mr. Hall owned a large amount of land extending north into what is now known as the Fells. Considerable domestic stock was kept, and butter and cheese were made on the farm. The stock barns were north of the Hall homestead on the hill. To get to them there were fifty stone steps up the steep ascent just back of the house. The granite steps were taken from Tyngsboro, coming by boats on the Middlesex Canal.

Farming was done with oxen. Mr. Hall also had a distillery where Medford rum was made. Molasses was brought from the wharves in Boston to Medford by ox teams and boats called Gundelows. My father did the teaming, and has told me he had many times arrived in Boston, five miles away, with a load of rum by sunrise when the thermometer was below zero. There was no [p. 66] complaint of hard work or long days then. One day Mr. Hall said to father, who was his foreman or outside manager, “Solomon, I hope you will not drink this rum we make here, it is damaging to drink it. It is ruining many young men who came down from the country, as you did.” The rum jug was carried along with hired men (then all Americans) and was considered very necessary when haying on the marsh.

I can remember well as far back as 1830 when but few farmers thought it proper to get through the haying season without from ten to forty gallons of rum and the stores in my part of New Hampshire sold from fifty to one hundred hogsheads of new rum a year. It was sent usually by ox and horse teams, twenty to one hundred and fifty miles back into the country. I remember the six and eight horse teams toiling over the dirt and sandy roads and mud and snow in their season; also the nine stage coaches that ran through Bedford, past our house from Concord to Nashua up to the time the cars reached Concord in June, 1842. After that we saw no more stage coaches. Few farmers required rum after the Washingtonian Revolution in 1840. The pledge then so freely taken was something like this:

“So here we pledge perpetual hate, To all that can intoxicate.

The foregoing account was written for me by Jacob W. Manning of Reading, the well-known nurseryman, a few years before his death, as being possibly of some interest to Medford people.

Mr. Manning was born in Bedford, N. H., February 20, 1826, and died in Reading, Mass., September 16, 1904.

The account is just as it came from the veteran's hand.

The Dudley Hall house referred to is on High street (present No. 57) now occupied by Dr. Charles A. Draper. Changes materially altering the grounds on the north [p. 67] and west have been made, especially since the laying out of Governors avenue.

Thirty-two steps still remain in good position.

The ell is of much later construction than the main house, and probably was not there in Solomon Manning's time. In early days the southeast room was the living room, the northeast one was the kitchen; the lower west rooms were only used on state occasions, and the present south entrance only occasionally.

Within a few years changes in the grade of the sidewalk made it necessary to take away some of the steps and carry back the front entrance into the hall as it now is. Formerly there was a plot of land in front, enclosed by a fence.

Dudley Hall was born in Medford October 14, 1780, and died here November 3, 1868.

Solomon Manning named one of his sons for his employer.—

Eliza M. Gill. Medford, April 2, 1902.

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