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A home-comer's Opinion, 1871.

A former resident of Medford, Caleb Swan, while on a visit to his ‘brother doctor,’ went to Oak Grove Cemetery. On his return to his home in New York, he attached the following to page 429 of his copy of ‘Brooks' History of Medford’ and marked the margin against the matter of tree removal:—

One of the first things done by the committee was to cut down the grand, noble, old oak tree on an eminence near the grave of Mr. Jonathan Brooks. When I first saw it, June 6, 1866, I stood nearly ten minutes looking at it with admiration: it had noble large branches and was probably two or three centuries old. I enquired the names of the Cemetery Committee and was informed they were Mr. Goldthwaite, Chairman, J. W. Mitchell, Mr. Vinal. They might be called a Goth & Vandal Committee.

C. S., 1871.

Mr. Swan never lost interest in his boyhood's home, and, on publication, purchased five copies of the history, four of which he gave to friends and relatives less favored than himself, while an older brother did likewise with ten. The copy he reserved for his own use was seventeen [p. 40] years ago given to the Historical Society by his grandson, Charles Herbert Swan, recently deceased.

In passing along Salem street we cannot but wonder what Caleb Swan would say were he to visit where

Each in his narrow cell forever laid
The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.

and with them his parents and kindred. The removal of one ‘grand, noble old oak tree’ which he first saw on a visit but few years before in the then new place of sepulture, he would have considered a smaller matter as compared with the removal of nearly every tree (one four feet in diameter) and the temporary removal of many ancient gravestones in our oldest burial ground. It is now a little over a century since Medford's second burial place was opened and this early one less used. The large poplar tree probably grew during less than that time, but doubtless exceeded in size the slower grown oak that Mr. Swan felt it was vandalism to remove.

To some residents of today the sight of our ancient burial ground during the recent ‘improvement’ came with a shock. Remembering the ice storm of last December and its resultant damage, such can only console themselves with the thought that perhaps the present committee have acted wisely, and refrain from the epithet used by Mr. Swan, and quote again from the immortal elegy—

Yet even these bones from insult to protect,
Some frail memorial, still erected nigh,
With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture decked,
Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.

Remembering that in some time long past the highways have been crowded upon this ground so that the daily pedestrian travel of Salem street is over sixteen tombs and that of River street over twelve more, it is to be hoped that no further ‘improvement’ of the kind is to be permitted. [p. 41]

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