In writing this History, it has been my wish to secure Medford such territory in time as its acres are territory in space.
The gathering of these annals has been too long delayed.
Time, moth, and rust have done their fatal work on many valuable materials; and some gentlemen, who felt a deep interest in their native town, have died without leaving any manuscript testimonies.
When the history of New England
shall be written, the true data will be drawn from the records of its towns.
Now, therefore, in humble imitation of those States in our Union which have contributed each its block of granite, marble, or copper to the National Monument
at Washington, I ask leave to offer Medford's historical contribution to the undecaying pyramidic monument which justice and genius will hereafter raise to the character and institutions of New England
The records of the first forty years are lost.
I have reproduced them, as far as I could, from documents in the General Court relating to our earliest history; from several monuments of the first settlers, which are yet standing among us; from authentic traditions which were early recorded; and from collateral histories of the neighboring towns.
To find the lost, and remember the forgotten, seems to be the province of the local annalist.
From the moment I reached the first town-records of Medford (1674), I implicitly followed those excellent guides.
Where I could save space by abbreviations, without altering the sense, I have occasionally done so in my quotations, and have used our modern orthography.
The spirit of antiquarian research, now beginning to show itself, will lead to the discovery of many facts concerning the early history of Medford which are beyond my reach.
These may soon render necessary a new history of the town; and I hope it may be undertaken by a person whose ability and leisure will enable him to do far greater justice to the subject than has been within my power.
There are no foot-notes in this volume.
My reason for incorporating such matter with the text is this: whenever notes are printed at the bottom of a page, it is expected they will be read in
at the place where the asterisk in the text directs.
If the note is put there to be read in there
, why not put it into the text at that place, and thus save the eye the trouble of wandering down to the bottom of the page to hunt up the note, and then wandering back again to find the spot whence it started on its search?
If the new mode I have adopted should prove inconvenient to readers, they must so declare against it that no writer will follow the example.
I have received great help front the Massachusetts Colony Records
; and Dr. N. B. Shurtleff
's beautiful edition of them is a noble monument to a faithful student and public benefactor.
I have also gathered much from the Historical Collections
of the Massachusetts Historical Society,--from Winthrop
, and other early writers; and especially from the registries of Deeds and Probate.
Mr. Frothingham's History of Charlestown
I have obtained less information from old manuscripts in Medford than I expected.
Many such important papers, long since collected here, have been irrecoverably scattered.
I have received aid from Caleb Swan
, of New York; from Mr. Joseph P. Hall
, the accurate town-clerk; from Rev. Samuel Sewall
, Mr. W. B. Shedd
, and several other friends.
To each and all I would here offer my sincere thanks.
To Messrs. William Tufts
, of Boston, George W. Porter
and Peter C. Hall
, of Medford, I owe special acknowledgments for their examination of my proof-sheets.
The Register of Families has been prepared by my young friend, Mr. William H. Whitmore
, of Boston.
With the patience that belongs to older scholars, with an accuracy that belongs to a true lover of genealogical inquiry, and with a generosity that issues from a Christian heart, he has devoted himself to these researches; and every family mentioned in the Register owes him a debt of gratitude.
By means of printed circulars and public addresses in 1853, '54, and '55, I gave very urgent invitations to all the living descendants of our ancestors, and to all the present inhabitants of Medford, to furnish me with genealogical registers of their families, promising to insert all they might send.
Many have complied with these requests, and many have not. I regret exceedingly that families, who alone possess the requisite information, should have withheld it. It is a serious loss to our history, and may hereafter be regretted by themselves.
In this respect, the history of a town is apt to disappoint everybody.
These registers of early families in New England
will contain the only authentic records of the true Anglo-Saxon
blood existing among us; for, if foreign immigration should pour in upon us for the next fifty years as it has for the last thirty, it will become difficult for any man to prove that he has descended from the Plymouth Pilgrims
I have introduced much collateral history, as illustrative of local laws, ideas, and customs.
The true history of a town is nearly an epitome of that of the State
It is not a single portrait, but a full-length figure amidst a group, having the closest relations to all contemporary life, and to all surrounding objects.
To neglect these accessory circumstances and illustrations, is to leave all life out of historic details, and convert history into a wide, silent field of graves, ruins, and darkness.
I have spared no pains or expense in collecting materials for this work; but my chief solicitude has been concerning its accuracy.
In no case have I recorded a fact, or drawn an inference, without having satisfactory historical evidence of its truth.
If my labors shall help to fix Medford in the elevated rank it now holds in the State
, and shall stimulate future generations to deserve and attain a higher, my proudest hopes will be realized.
That peace may for ever be within its walls, and prosperity within its palaces
, is the fervent prayer of its humble friend,