Now that our old town house and city hall is gone it may be well to consider what Medford
was at the time just prior to its building.
The story of its construction has been compiled from the records, and ably written in the Register (Vol.
IX, p. 40) by Miss Wild, and we commend its careful perusal.
The architect was one of the best of his time, and the builders did their work well.
What present workmen know how to do such work in wood, now that iron work
has come into use?
Our veteran townsman, Francis Wait, has compiled from the state census, taken in 1821, the following items of interest:
State Valuation taken 1821 town of Medford
|Polls 16 years to 20 years||30||246|
|Polls 21 years upwards||202|
|Polls o not Ratable||2|
|Polls Supported by the town||12|
|Dwelling houses||152 1/2|
|Shops in the Same||2|
|other Buildings Value 20 dollars||66|
|Superficial feet of Wharf||2240|
|Stock in Trade||5350|
|Money at Interest||69050|
|money on hand or in any Bank||18300|
|Shares in toll Bridges||17|
|Acres of tillage Land||394|
|Bushells of Rye||65|
|Bushells Indian Corn||5230|
|Beans & peas||6|
|Tons Engh Hay||751|
|Tons of Hay from the same||416|
|Cows the whole farm will keep||394|
|Barrels of Cyder||128|
|acres of Land for Roads||160|
|Land owned by the town||10|
|Land covered by water||434|
|Total amount of Real Estate||384440|
|Total amount of Personal Estate||186259|
Some interesting deductions may be made from these statistics.
was then a town of one thousand five hundred inhabitants.
The polls were about one-sixth, their votes one-eighth, and the boys and young men (ten to twenty years) one fiftieth of the population; this last seems a small proportion, but perhaps the girls were in the majority.
The number of dwellings shows that an average of ten persons inhabited them, with perhaps two polls in most of them.
That half house probably joined the line next Malden
was then certainly in the rural district, for the number of barns was four-fifths that of the dwellings.
The one hundred and five horses were not enough to allow each barn one, but the cows were enough to average two, though the Medford farms
might have accommodated one hundred and fifty-seven more.
Then there were thirty-nine yoke of oxen.
Wouldn't they be a sight on the Medford
Who knows when the last ox-team was owned in Medford
, or who drove it?
One hundred and thirty-one swine were enough to keep the hogreeve busy.
As the family pig was in evidence in those days, the number is not excessive, and probably the piglets were not enumerated.
land produced a little less than a ton of hay to the acre, and the salt marshes about the same proportion.
The tillage land was about one-half the grass land and two-thirds the salt meadow acreage, but the unimprovable land we know as the Fells about equalled both the latter.
The roads, river and ponds were of about the same area as the productive marshes, and two-thirds the area of the grass land.
The tillage land might have been increased one-third, by the area of improvable land.
's staple product (at least as shown by these statistics) was Indian corn.
Its barley and rye only about a fifteenth as much, while the six bushels
of peas and beans
looks insignificant, considering the proximity to Boston
No statistics of orchards are given, but the one hundred and twenty-eight barrels of ‘Cyder’ would have averaged three-quarters to each dwelling.
There is no reference to that beverage that made Medford
famous, except that four
distill houses outclassed other industrial pursuits.
Slaughtering of cattle and tanning of their hides kept pace with each other in three
had even then paid the penalty for forest destruction in the loss of its water power of the brooks, and only one grist—and one saw-mill are named, these on the tidal river.
Its two ‘bake houses’ were the predecessors of the Medford
Two householders had shops in their dwellings, and nineteen other shops were named.
Perhaps some were the little New England
shoe-shops, though these last may have been among the ‘other buildings, value 20 dollars’ that numbered sixty-six.
, in his somewhat peculiar letter to his sweetheart, tells of some Medford
people being ‘bridge mad.’
Not the present
‘bridge’ of social functions, but Maiden bridge across the Mystic
Here is the evidence, ‘Shares in toll bridges 17.’
It would be interesting to know how the Medford
tradesmen did business with a stock of only fifty-three hundred and fifty dollars, but prices were not like today's. The wealth of the little old town is indicated by the items, ‘Bank stock, money at interest and on hand’; while the ‘ounces of plate’ shows the style affected by the wealthiest ones.
We have read somewhat of the ship-building and commerce of Medford
, and the wharfage space (only fifty per cent. larger than our new society home covers) seems rather inadequate.
If we add the old third meeting-house (there was then no other), the few schoolhouses Medford
then had to the barns, houses and half house, and include the shops and all other structures, we will find that three hundred and seventy-five will be an ample total for the Medford buildings
of ninety-five years ago. [p. 83]
Our city has grown from this to its present proportions during the lifetime of our friend who has copied and sends to the Register these statistics, which we have thus reviewed briefly.
Doubtless by others many other interesting points may be seen.