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South Medford one hundred and fifty years ago.

To be Lett,

(and enter'd on the Fifth of April next.)

A large and Commodious farm, pleasantly situated in Medford, near Boston (within four miles of Charlestown Ferry) containing Three Hundred Acres of choice Land, accommodated with a good Dwelling-House, a Dairy, two large Barns, a Cow-Barn, and an Engine for screwing of Hay; also a Canal lately cut from Medford River, wherein a Lighter may come up within a Few Rods of the House, which is very convenient for bringing up Muck, or any Thing else either for the Use of the Farm or the Family. The laid Farm is all well fenc'd in with Stone-Wall, and is properly divided into Pasturage, Tillage, Orchard and Mowing-Land, produces plenty of the best English Hay, Salt-Hay, and

Black-Grass, so called, (which last is esteemed very little [p. 68] inferior to English Hay) and is capable of keeping a large Stock of Cattle and Sheep throa the Year. There is now seven or 8 Acres of the Tillage Land sown with good Winter Rye. Any person inclining to Hire the above Premises, who can bring on a sufficient stock, and give good Security for the Performance of Lease, may have it on reasonable Terms for a Number of Years. For further Particulars enquire of Isaac Royall, Esq'r at Medford

There has been no more than Two Tenants on the above Farm for 35 Years last past.

From Boston News Letter and New England Chronicle, Thursday, March 17, 1763.
The farm referred to in the above advertisement is the easterly portion of the Royall estate, the westerly boundary being at or near the line of Two-Penny Brook, the northerly boundary is the Mystic River, the easterly and southerly bounds being the line between the cities of Medford and Somerville. The dwelling-house stood where the Mystic House formerly stood, and it was removed (to make way for that house) to the brick-yard on Buzzell's lane, and was destroyed by fire years ago. The barns stood on the westerly side of what is now known as Golden avenue, and the canal referred to is that portion of Two-Penny Brook that extended from the river to a point on the southerly side of Mystic avenue, where it met the solid ground, the landing-place of the lighters above referred to. The brook was probably straightened, widened and deepened. There was formerly a wharf on the easterly side of the brook or canal, about half-way between the river and avenue, at which small vessels used to discharge cargoes of firewood for the use of the brick yard on Buzzell's lane. The Middlesex Canal afterwards ran through the farm, and the Southern Division of the Boston and Maine Railroad is located across it.


[p. 69]

Did the Register's space permit, it would be interesting to review in detail the various enterprises and industries that have found place within the limits of the farm advertised a century and a half ago; the South Medford of today.

It was once invaded by the British, when they marched from their landing place on the river bank to the old powder house and back again with their plunder, minus the Medford portion, however.

A little later the presence of some British horsemen on the hill sent Revere through it, instead of on the direct route to Lexington.

Next the New Hampshire troops crossed and re-crossed it to and from Bunker Hill.

Two years later the Hessian prisoners here ended their long march from Saratoga and encamped on the upland corner of the farm.

Then came the time and arts of peace. Forty years after the advertising (and we may not know how many tenants in those years) the Middlesex Canal was dug through its eastern border. Soon after, the Medford turnpike crossed the marsh beside the canal.

Then after three decades came the railroad through the southern corner, and for many years beside the railroad and on the extreme edge of the farm was the Medford cattle market.

In the middle sixties there was a half-mile race track between the railroad and the site of the present Lincoln school, which track was soon displaced by the extensive works of the Massachusetts Brick Company. Traces of these latter may still be seen, near and parallel with the railway.

The Mystic Trotting Park with its mile-track was located between the Mystic House (built in '46) and the turnpike. Its location was then known as the Adams farm, and early in war time a military camp was there. Several times the ‘New England Fair’ or cattle-show was held there; and for years the numerous horse races [p. 70] drew vast crowds of the sporting fraternity. In more recent years its neighbor, Combination Park, with more pretentious structures, flourished for a time; its grand stand at last destroyed by fire.

The more useful and legitimate business of brick-making was done beside Winter brook for some years, and now on the other side Tufts park and playground have redeemed an unsightly bog.

Through this section in ‘64 were laid the supply mains of the Charlestown water works, leading from the reservoir on College hill; and later the Tufts school-house was built over them. Winter brook (now insignificant) once supplemented the power of the tide mill on the turnpike, but, with Two-Penny brook, had to be reckoned with in the construction of highway, canal and pike.

For more than a century the dwellers on this farm of Colonel Royall's were few. In 1870 a few dwellings were built, the result of a ‘land scheme,’ but the increase was very slow until after the closing of the race tracks. The construction of the Lincoln school-house and its enlargement in more recent years is an index to the increase in population, while the erection of dwellings, stores and churches, the establishment of a fire station and the opening of numerous streets, is in marked contrast to the times of Colonel Royall.

Westward across Two-Penny brook various brick makers plied their trade. This industry has vanished, leaving a huge pit extending to the willow-shaded College avenue, the border of which is being filled with ashes and refuse by the city. But nearer the brook is one always filled with water (perhaps supplied by springs) which has been used as an ice pond. In view of the rapid increase of dwellings in the vicinity it would seem that here is an opportunity for Medford to secure a park site, of which she has none too many. A park there would enhance the desirability of the place for residence and add to the beauty and attractivess of the city. A similar improvement might at little cost well be made along the brook from Main street to Mystic avenue. [p. 71]

Colonel Royall's old canal, ‘where muck and anything else’ could be conveyed, is still to be seen. Restored to its original form, or enlarged, it might well serve as a public landing for motor boats. Here, too, on the river bank might be erected a public bath-house.

These things, comparatively inexpensive, would be a vast improvement upon the existing unsanitary conditions (an increasing menace to the public welfare), and affect for good many people that the present proposed monument to ‘civic pride’ will benefit but little.

M. W. M.

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