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Scraps of paper.


FOR a violated treaty the reader will look here in vain, but may find something relating to Medford, suggested by a ragged sheet of paper legiwritten upon more than a century ago. It is one of several furnished us by the late Francis A. Wait, who wrote:
You can put this in the Register if you fit. Mr. Blanchard's hotel was just south Cradock bridge. A portion of the house is Standing now on Main street.

For a better understanding of it, a backward look is worth while. Medford in 1805 had but little more than eleven hundred inhabitants. The most direct route of travel from northern and eastern New England converged in its market place and passed over the river toward Boston. Ship-building had just been established on the river; the Middlesex Canal, only completed two years before, was in operation; the cracker bakery just started on its successful career; and business enough to require a clerk of the market in 1801. There were several taverns for accommodation of travellers, and the product of several distil-houses had acquired a more than local reputation.

Tradition has it

That a man named Blanchard who had connections in Malden, was the first to set up a distillery in Medford. It was on the south side of the river. . . afterward used by Hezekiah Blanchard the innholder, who distilled anise-seed, snake-root and clove-water.

[p. 46]

While authentic history places Andrew Hall's beginning of the rum making in 1735, it also credits this same Hezekiah Blanchard with a similar plant a little farther away behind Dead Man's alley, otherwise River street.

Certain it is, that the latter was engaged both in tavernkeeping and distilling in 1796, as appears in his advertisement in the Columbian Centinel of September 3. It stated that in the old house which he had enlarged and given the name of Union Hall, there was every convenience to promote festivity and happiness; the house is furnished with the best of Wine, Porter and other Liquors, and

every kind of refreshment called for can be supplied, . . . and those who are fond of an afternoon's excursion for amusement and exercise can be accommodated. . . . the distance from Boston not so long as to occasion fatigue, and long enough to promote exercise.

The advertisement informed the public that its ‘humble servant’ also made the best of spirits and would sell, both wholesale and retail at reasonable prices.

With the opening of the new century, he was succeeded by his son Hezekiah, who upon the father's death in 1803 dropped the distinguishing Junior, signing his given name abbreviated, but with a spreading flourish beneath, as appears on his bill, which we note. He continued the business until his death in 1818.

Till 1804, the bridge across the river was but little above full tide and had no draw, and only Salem and High Streets were the outward country roads, what was later Ship Street being only local.

With increasing business, the Medford turnpike road across the marsh to Charlestown had been built in 1803 to do away with the tedious haul over Winter Hill, and in 1804 the project of another and shorter route to Andover was agitated, resulting in the charter on June 15, 1805, of the Andover and Medford Turnpike. The corporators, according to the Brooks history, were Jonathan Porter, Joseph Hurd, Nathan Parker, Oliver Holden and Fitch Hall. The meager account we have of [p. 47] its construction and history shows it in marked contrast to the other. The former, with everything of material to be carted onto and sinking into the salt-marsh, continually needing repair, was maintained as a toll road till 1867. This latter (shortening the distance three miles and opening new territory for improvement in Medford), with plenty of the best material at hand for building and repair, was never a profitable investment, and as early as 1828 was offered for sale. No buyers appearing, it became, in 1831, a free road in all the towns wherein it was located. In Medford it became the beautiful Forest street. Just who were the first Board of Directors we may not say, very likely the gentlemen above named, the first and last being of Medford. What more convenient place for their gathering for business than the well appointed inn of mine host Hezekiah Blanchard? And so this old time-worn bill of his comes to us, a mute witness of men and times long gone. Here it is; we bespeak for this carefully made copy a critical reading.

The Directors for the Andover & Medford Turnpike road

To Hezh Blanchard                Drd cents
NovbrTo 4 Botwls Ginn Toddy 1s/6d$1.00
To 8 Suppers 2s/3d3
To 1 Bottle wine 4s/6d75
Decbr 2To 4 Breakfasts 2s/3d1 50
To 1 Pint Bitters is/6d25
To 9 Dinners 2s/3d    To 3 Bowls Toddy is/6d4 12
To 1 Bowl Toddy 1s/6d    To Bating 4 Horss 1s/6d1.25
11To 1 Bowl Toddy 1s/6d    To 1 mug flip50
To 1 Pint Brandy 3s/    To Bating 2 hors1
21To 3 Bowls Toddy 1/6    To 6 Dinner 2/3
To 1 Pint Ginn 3s/d    To Bating 4 horse1.50
To 1 Pint Ginn 3s/d    To 1 Pint for Ditto 3s/1
To 1 Pint for Ditto 3s/d    To 1 Bowl for Ditto 1/675
To Bating horses 1s/6d75

[p. 48]

JanyTo Coln Warner Expenses in Town1 45
1806 Apr 5To 5 Dinners 2/3    to Brandy Toddy2 17
To 3 Bowls toddy is/6d    To 1 Glass Toddy 87
To Bating 1 hors 1/625
8 & 10To the Directors Bill for Five Dollars & 82 cents5.82
24To 4 Bowls Toddy 1/6    To Bating 4 horses1.67
deduct Warners expenses1.45
deduct Clerks bill4.22
To charge in the Corporation bill dated Feb. 3 180623.87
which should be charged to the Directors6.

May 22d 1806

Rec'd the above in full Hezeh Blanchard

As may be noted, its date is the first year of the corporation's existence. Very likely the directors met then to discuss ways and means and to ride thence over the course of the new road on tours of inspection.

Evidently by the number of suppers there were eight present at the November gathering, and we may wonder which four had the ‘Ginn Toddy,’ and which other four were content with the one bottle of wine.

Incidentally we notice that the initial charge is written To 4 Bo—then a t crossed several times—wls. The English money reckoning was still in vogue, as it was somewhat within our remembrance. ‘Two and thrippence’ was the charge for the ‘eats’ at Blanchard's, morning, noon and night alike. Probably December 2 was a cold morning, but the four directors that had breakfast were fortified (or thought they were), by the modest allowance of one pint of bitters, ere they set out on the rocky road by Spot Pond.

But they came back with reinforcements, for nine sat down to dinner, and, strange to say, only four bowls [p. 49] of toddy. As Blanchard had ‘Entertainment for Man and Beast’ the charge of ‘one and six’ for ‘Horss’ completed the charge for that day, each day's charge being separated by a line drawn across the unruled page.

The next charge is interesting; two horses did the eating and (presumably two) men the drinking, the particular ‘vanity’ of one being a mug of flip, probably smaller than the toddy bowl, but same price. We have been asked ‘What was flip?’ Well, it was hot stuff, so was toddy; but flip was heated by the insertion of a red hot poker into the contents of the mug when served to the guest.

We fail to note any difference in the price of ‘Ginn’ and brandy in the raw, but the director who indulged in brandy toddy was taxed five cents more than for the decoction from gin.

It is too late to rectify mistakes (for the innkeeper has been dead a century), but he forgot to insert in charge column three dollars for three toddys and six dinners, and made a slight error in his footing.

It would be interesting to know who Col. Warner was, and the items of his ‘expense in town’ that was overlooked at the time, later charged, and at last deducted. He may have been an adviser or engineer, and so a guest of the directors. If so, why the final deduction? And why the deduction of ‘Clerks bill, $4.22’?

On the back of this old scrap of paper are two ‘examples in short division,’


Why this division of the total of the bill by seven? and amount of that quotient deducted instead of the one evidently first made.

Possibly the final entry may explain. By that entry it appears that the innkeeper had a separate bill against the turnpike company, and had erroneously charged six dollars to the company on February 3. The ‘clerk’ might not have been a director, but an employee of the company, meeting with the directors, who may have [p. 50] numbered six. For want of any such bills, we are led to infer that the directors of the Andover Turnpike paid collectively their own expenses, and the company those of the clerk and Col. Warner. If so they were unlike those of the Middlesex Canal whose accounts show ‘wines, lemons, sugar, trucking same, and broken tumblers,’ ‘for the directors party.’

Much has been written about that famous old waterway, and it is still a favorite and interesting subject, but little has been written of this last outlet of travel from Medford square.

In the library of the Historical Society is a framed picture of the old toll house, made long after its use as such. Its Medford milestones still remain; the second one, because of the thoughtful interest taken by one not a resident of Medford. This old bill of Blanchard's will find a place beside the picture, as one of the few tangible reminders of the enterprise of Medford's solid men at the opening of the nineteenth century. Its itemized charges show $4.50 for baiting horses, and of the 17.83 for the men, $8.09 was for their liquid refreshment that in those days was deemed so essential; and the three items in lump sum probably in the same proportion. But how would the site of Union hall appear to its proprietor could he see it today? No ginn toddy, bitters or flip at any price, no ‘bating hors,’ but more automobiles in twenty-four hours than horses in a year then, and no walking out from Boston for exercise.

Jonathan Porter would look with delight upon the elm arched vista of Forest street, and turning about find his old home, the only thing of that day remaining, changed somewhat, but still recognizable. Col. Fitch Hall could find the old mansions a little way up High street. Both did well in projecting and building the Andover Turnpike, one hundred and fourteen years ago.

An older scrap.

At the May meeting of the Historical Society, President Charles E. Mann of the Malden society read an interesting [p. 51] paper with the now world famous caption. The scrap of paper in that case we reproduce in this issue. The Edward Collins named therein was Medford's ‘first land speculator’—who purchased the Cradock farm. It is significant that the dwelling was styled ‘Medeford House.’ Henry Dunster (first president of Harvard College) also mentioned therein and associated with Collins—owned the land and dwelling on the opposite side of the river (now Arlington1 and in one of his and Increase Nowell's leases the lessee was to
pay £ 3 per year in wheat and barley at 4s per bushel, delivered at Medeford House twice each year; the first payment to be in 1648.

The lease was for fifteen years and the property was in Lynn.

Mr. Mann said

A strange thing about this interesting document is that it should have led to such drastic proceedings, when one considers the fact that the immediate parties were all dead. Joseph Hills had done absolutely nothing for which he deserved arrest, neither had Edward Collins, who was an early settler of Cambridge and a most useful man in that community and in Medford. Henry Dunster, whose estate they represented, was dead. Deputy Governor, John Humphry, the owner. . . incidentally of Wind-Mill Hill [in Lynn where the leased property was] was also dead; Rev. Jose Glover, the man whose loan of So pounds to John Humphry, led to all the trouble, was so long dead that his name scarcely finds a place in the proceeding.

Another interesting thing in this old scrap of paper is that Malden's constable was dignified by the title of ‘Marshall Generall,’ in 1662.

On the level road.

More modern, but still almost ninety years old is another scrap, a souvenir of the Medford turnpike. This relic was also furnished by Mr. Wait, antedating his own service.

In Vol. XIV. p. 4, (Register) may be found Mr. Wait's account of Medford Milkmen, and his own experience on [p. 52] the Smith ‘milkcart.’ The ‘milkcarts’ of 1829, were later known as milkwagons, and those built at the upper end of the turnpike had an enviable reputation for durability. Their makers have kept abreast of the times, and their products, both horse drawn and motor driven, are in marked contrast to those that passed the old toll gate in 1829.

The Estate of Mr. Elijah Smith
      to the Proprietors of the Medford Turnpike.
Toll for milk cart. Passing from June 22, 1839, to January 1, 1830.$5.19
By cash2.00

1830, July 5, Recd. Payment for the Proprietors
James Kidder.

By this scrap of paper it appears that the toll levied for the daily passage of such vehicles was ten dollars per year, and that the rule of ‘cash before carting’ or payment in advance, had not then been fully established. Whoever rides over the Mystic avenue of today, finds far better conditions, though there is still room for improvement. Several railroad schemes, upon and beside it, have been broached, but none have materialized. Meanwhile Medford is slowly expanding, and some day will see, instead of the tide-mill and pond and the later racetrack, buildings devoted to business use along both sides of the old Medford turnpike.

When that shall be, those who use the old pike will miss the bleak prospect we had there in 1860. In company with some forty schoolmates from another town, returning from a sleigh ride to the Navy Yard and State Prison, the ride was along this road. The wind was bitterly cold, and the tumbled — up ice on the salt marsh a novelty to many of the company. The memory of that dreary portion of the excursion still lingers. The driver paid the toll. But five years earlier the same boy, returning from Boston by wagon, asked why a second toll? [p. 53] and received the reply, ‘You didn't think I was going over that hill with this load, did you?’ The longer road over Winter Hill took horse power, and for a century and a half the travel had been that way. Possibly the opening of the canal in 1803 and the easy haulage of heavy-laden boats by only two horses thereon may have suggested and hastened the building of the turnpike road in 1804.

1 See Register, Vol. XIII., p. 9.

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