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A remembrance.

A prophet is not without honor save in his own country and in his own house.—.Matthew 13:57.

We are reminded of this trite saying by the receipt of the following letter, which explains itself. The token itself is unique and its presentation after the lapse of sixty years equally so. [p. 35]

City of Medford, Massachusetts

Seal of city of Medford

Charles A. Winslow office of city clerk

office of city Clerks

July 20, 1922.
Medford Historical Society, Governors avenue, Medford, Mass.

In accordance with the conversation which I had with your representative, Mr. Moses W. Mann, a few days ago, I enclose herewith a little gift to the city of Medford from the Misses Tompkins, of 84 Hixon Place, South Orange, New Jersey.

To me it seems fitting that the token should be filed with your society in memory of George Luther Stearns, and the same is handed to you herewith, for such disposition and exposition as your society may deem advisable.

Yours very truly,



Charles A. Winslow, City Clerk.

The little ‘token’ named is an exquisite little painting only 11/16 × 1 5/16 inches in size, fastened to the top of a 2 1/2 × 3 3/4 inch page of fine linen paper by four stitches in its corners, the ends of the thread tasselled. Beneath it is the following legend, written in a very fine but distinct hand:—

the Autumn oak trees,
designed and painted
Abigail Brown Tompkins, 1921.

To the Town of Medford, Mass., in memory of George Luther Stearns, your renowned townsman who was born at Medford, January 8, 1809. Presented with the good wishes of Miss Abigail Brown Tompkins and Miss Emma Louise Tompkins, descendants of founders of the City of Newark, New Jersey, in 1666.

south Orange, New Jersey, December 19, 1921.

[p. 36]

Our versatile and estimable city clerk being in some doubt as to its best disposition, consulted with the curator of the Historical Society, and after acknowledging its receipt with thanks, sent the same, with his letter of explanation above quoted, to the Society. In the meantime our former secretary, Miss Eliza Gill, wrote to the ladies relative thereto, who reply in part:—

We cannot give you any further information concerning your patriotic townsman. We only know what we have read. We feel with you that some public memorial to his memory should be commemorated by the people of Medford. Such patriotism as he displayed during the Civil War certainly should be known to the present generation and that of the future. We would be pleased to receive any facts about old Medford.

So here is a recognition of the estimable worth of a Medford man by entire strangers in another state, their only knowledge of him acquired perhaps by only casual reading. Yet right here in Medford are people today who ask, ‘Who was George Luther Stearns?’ for few of our younger people know of our local history and perhaps care less.

As shown above, his boyhood was spent in the old town of over a century ago. It was sadly affected by the death of his father, when the boy was but eleven years of age, and after but three years more in school he began work in a Boston store. Arriving at manhood he entered into business. ‘Wealth honorably earned flowed into his hands,’ and he used it for the helping of his fellow men, notably the oppressed and the slave. His beautiful home, later known as ‘The Evergreens,’ was a way-station of the ‘underground railroad,’ and the resort of philanthropists and friends of freedom, one of whom was John Brown.

At first sight, the dainty little picture might be taken for a view of this Stearns home. It shows a stream in the foreground where would be College avenue, a large house (with similar roof) surrounded by trees in autumnal foliage, while in the distance are two lofty hills as is our [p. 37] College hill. It is finely executed by a lady probably of advanced years and patriotic thought, who cherishes the memory of her ancestors.

One of our townswomen (who also writes in this issue of the Stearns mansion) also wrote ‘Lest we forget what the country and our state owes to this man, of whom we ought to be proud as being a citizen of Medford,’ also quoted the words of Whittier, written of him:—

He forgot his own soul for others,
Himself to his neighbors lending,
He found the Lord in his suffering brothers,
And not in the clouds descending.

To such as really wish an answer to their query, ‘Who was Stearns?’ we suggest the reading of his biography, which may be found in the Usher ‘History of Medford.’

The little ‘token’ sent by the New Jersey lady will, with her letters and the missive of our city clerk, be duly displayed in the Historical Rooms. It shows an appreciation of patriotic service and philanthropic spirit, and that ‘a prophet is not without honor.’ And so, in acknowledgment, we say of this stranger that sent it, that ‘this which this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.’

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