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[p. 62] It is said that small sloops and schooners were built in very early times at the landing near Rock hill in West Medford. These were called ‘lighters,’ and were used for the navigation of the river.1 Mr. Rhodes of Boston built a vessel named the Mayflower here. There was a large business in freighting produce to Boston by boat from Medford, saving a round-about journey over the Brighton bridge in Cambridge, as there were no other bridges until 1786 across the Charles. The distilling business and the manufacture of bricks required many lighters, and returning they could bring back freight at small cost. ‘Medford, therefore, by its river, became a centre of supply for New Hampshire and Vermont,’ and could furnish iron, steel, lead, salt, molasses, sugar, tea, codfish, chocolate, guns, powder, rum, etc., at a lower price than they could get them in Boston. There was a brigantine of forty tons built in Medford in 1699 and a ship of sixty tons in 1703.2 It is unfortunate that there is not more known of this last vessel, as a ship of that size would be a curiosity, and would look almost like a toy. A vessel about sixty-five feet long and fifteen feet wide would figure out about that tonnage, by the rules used at that time. In Marblehead is a picture of the ship Hope, commanded by Capt. Asa Hooper, of which there is a tradition that she was built in Medford. The picture bears the date 1799. Benjamin and Ebenezer Hall had interests in vessels in the coasting trade and with the West Indies which they continued after the revolution. Ebenezer Hall, together with John Kennedy of Boston, were the owners of the brig Dolly, Capt. Levi Stetson, captured by a French privateer in 1798 in the short naval war with France.3
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