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[p. 50]

Even a cursory glance at the early maps, and especially at one of latest survey on which the ancient lines are drawn,1 will show the fitness of the aboriginal names, for of the two rivers the ‘salvages’ told the Pilgrim scouts of, one was the long river and the other the great wave—and wind-driven river of Boston bay.

But perhaps someone asks, ‘Why Mystic river?’ We reply, The river has nothing mystical or mysterious, and the name as spelled, Mystic, is a misnomer. It has come to be thus commonly spelled because of the identical sound of the letters i and y, and the dropping of the k, which in time was superfluous to the c which the English had introduced. (Note also Merrimack—Merrimac.)

The ancient maps show it as Mistick and Medford river, but as late as 1885 Mr. Usher felt called upon to state, on page 18, History of Medford,

More probably the fact that the current in this stream flows sometimes in one direction, and sometimes in the opposite, may have seemed, to those who first witnessed the phenomena, something mysterious, and have suggested the name.

We venture the query, Was the Missi-tuk or Mistick any different from any other tidal stream? and add the above to our list of ‘Medford myths.’

Incidentally we may add another recently told us—

Some of the early settlers intending to go up the Charles to Cambridge came up this river by mistake, and so the river got its name.

Another myth—or else a mystic mistake.

Where did Winthrop's six-mile journey begin? Naturally, we reply, at the mouth of the river, the ‘fair entrance’ of the Pilgrim narrative, where is now the Chelsea bridge. There has been a lot said and written about Winthrop being the founder of Medford—well enough in a way, as he was the colonial governor—but the earliest Medford was Cradock's farm, and lay entirely on the opposite side of the river from Winthrop's. It has been written that ‘The first exploration of the river ’


1 Cambridge Historical Society Publication VII.

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