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Land on Barberry Lane. Additional Historical information concerning the Central Hill Park property, going back into early Colonial times.

By L. Roger Wentworth, Esq.
I will supplement Mr. Sargent's very interesting article by a history of the Barberry Lane property from Patrick T. Jackson's ownership back to the time when it was part of the stinted common. Of the history of the stinted common, I think Mr. Elliot has fully written.

There was a partition of a portion of the common made in 1681, and the proprietors thereof drew lots for their shares. Captain Timothy Wheeler drew lot No. 40. He was entitled to [78] eight cow commons, and, therefore, twelve acres were set off to him. This was a parcel of forty rods frontage on Barberry Lane, and forty-eight rods frontage on School Street. Its opposite sides were equal.

By deed dated July 9, 1683, Captain Wheeler for ‘£ 55 lawful money of the colony of Massachusetts paid by William Stetson, John Cutler, and Aaron Ludkin, Deacons and Trustees for the Church of Charlestown,’ conveyed the whole twelve acres to said deacons and trustees.

This £ 55 was a gift from Captain Richard Sprague and his wife, Mary. This was the Richard Sprague who was called ‘Leffttenant,’ and with whom, February 15, 1662, the proprietors of the stinted common made an agreement whereby, for the use of twenty cow commons for twenty-one years, he agreed to erect and maintain a fence between the common and Mr. Winthrop's (the Ten Hills) farm. He died in 1668, and this agreement was one of his assets. He was captain of the ‘pink’ convent, and a member of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company. He must have been a prominent man in Charlestown, for his name appears many times in the records. His total estate was inventoried at £ 2,337; no small estate for those times. Included in it was a warehouse and wharf, and interest in three vessels, the ‘Dolphin,’ the ‘Society,’ and another of which Michael Long was master. He also owned, besides large tracts of land, two and one-half years of the time of Stephen Gere, a bondman, I suppose. He gave to Harvard College thirty ewe sheep and thirty lambs, and to the Church of Charlestown his remaining interest in the twenty cow commons above mentioned.

His wife, Mary, died 1674, and she gave to the church a shop adjoining the meeting-house. She had, in 1671, loaned this shop to the church for its benefit. This land (our locus) remained in the ownership of this church till 1833, when John Doane, Jr., sole deacon of the First church in Charlestown, and Isaac Warren and John Soley, ‘a committee for the purpose,’ by deed dated May 18, 1833, for $1,800 conveyed the whole twelve acres to Patrick T. Jackson, who was acting in the interest [79] of the Boston & Lowell Railroad. Its history from this time Mr. Sargent has given.

I do not recollect that any land was conveyed to Mr. Jackson by the ‘Ireland family,’ except a parcel of land called the ‘stone-pit,’ where Granite Street now is; which contained the only granite in Somerville, I am told, and from which probably was obtained material for the granite sleepers on which the rails of the Lowell railroad were originally laid.

The land which we have so far been considering extended halfway from School Street to Walnut Street. That part of the Central Hill Park from Walnut Street half-way to School Street at one time, as will hereafter appear, did belong to Abraham Ireland, the great-grandfather of George W. Ireland, but that is as near as the ownership of it ever got to the latter.

Of this land a parcel bounding westerly on the church lot above described eighteen rods, southerly on Barberry Lane, and easterly on Walnut Street eighteen rods, containing four and one-half acres, was set in the 1681 division already mentioned, to ‘Isack’ Johnson, he having drawn lot No. 29. In 1714, his widow, Mary, for £ 25 conveyed the same to their son, William, and the land had now increased in area to five acres. In 1715, William Johnson conveyed these five acres for £ 45 ‘in good and lawful bills of publick credit’ to John Frizzell, who in 1717 conveyed the same to Abraham Ireland.

Just northerly of these four and one-half acres a small lot of only one and one-half acres, one cow common, was made. Sarah Allen, the widow of John Allen, drew lot 28, and this lot was set off to her. It had a frontage of six rods on Walnut Street. Mrs. Allen for £ 7 conveyed the lot to Samuel Dowse, by deed dated January 26, 1683. Dowse conveyed it for £ 6 by deed dated February 10, 1691, to Rev. Charles Morton, who came over with Penhallow, and was in 1656 pastor of the First church (see Budington's history of the First church).

These two parcels, extending up Walnut Street, from Barberry Lane (Highland Avenue) twenty-four rods, I think would cover all the city's present land. But as the subsequent title to [80] them is the same as that of the land northerly of them I give that also.

John Mousal drew lot No. 27 in this partition, and under it twenty-four acres were set off to him next northerly of the Allen lot. It extended ninety-six rods northerly along Walnut Street from the Allen lot. In 1687, Mousal conveyed fifteen acres of the southerly part of this parcel to said Mr. Morton. Mr. Morton owned a large tract of land on the easterly side of Walnut Street, and for reasons on which we can speculate, and on which I hope he didn't, he mortgaged the whole tract for £ 200 to Elward Thomas, by mortgage dated November 18, 1697. I think it no wonder that farmers and people unacquainted with business usually have such a horror of mortgages. It seemed to them what actually appears in many instances of mortgages in those times, that a mortgage was really a mort-gage, a dead pledge; the property was gone forever. Very frequently, so far as the record shows, no foreclosure was had and no conveyance made of the equity, and yet the mortgages would treat the property as if he were the owner, and the subsequent title come down under his unforeclosed mortgage.

So far as I have been able to discover, that was the way this mortgage operated. Mr. Morton died in 1698. In 1709, Edward Thomas assigned this mortgage to John Indicutt. Mr. Indicutt was a cooper. He died in 1711, and was buried in King's Chapel burying ground. In 1712, his widow, Mary, and Edward Thomas made a deed of the premises to John Frizzell, for £ 212. John Frizzell for £ 260 by deed dated December 25, 1717, conveyed the same to Abraham Ireland. This deed also conveyed the five-acre Johnson lot, which we have already stated was conveyed to Ireland by Frizzell. The deed says it conveys twenty-two acres, an increase of an acre over the original allotments, and original conveyance from Mousal. Thus it appears how fast this country was then growing. Mr. Ireland was a large land-owner. He owned on the easterly side of Walnut Street also. He died in 1753, and was buried in the Cambridge burying ground, at Harvard Square. No administration was taken out on his estate, and the only papers I have [81] been able to find in the probate office at Cambridge are a receipt, dated October 30, 1773, signed by three of the children, Abraham, Jonathan, and Abigail, and by the husbands of four other children (women didn't have many rights in those days), saying that they had received from Thomas and John ‘our full portion and share of the estate, real and personal, of our Honored Father Abraham Ireland and do consent and agree with them, said John and Thomas, that the real estate of our said father Abraham shall be settled on them as they shall agree.’

If they had called in a lawyer to settle that estate there would have been a big package of petitions, bonds, inventories, and accounts in the probate court, and pages of deeds in the registry. But this simple paper was all there was to it. Even John and Thomas did nothing further. In these old settlements one sometimes does not find so much as this. A man will die, leaving a large family and widow. The widow, or sometimes one child, will proceed to dispose of the whole estate. No doubt they had an understanding, and those with whom they dealt knew of it, and felt secure in it. Such seems to have been the fact.

Such seems to have been the fact in our case, too, for on September 4, 1765, eight years before that receipt had been given, John Ireland for £ 100 mortgaged twelve acres to David Phipps, which he says is ‘my half of twenty-four acres set out to me of my father's estate, the other half being improved by Thomas Ireland.’ Note that the twenty-two acres of the Frizzell land has now increased to twenty-four. He bounds this land southerly on a rangeway (Barberry Lane); westerly on the Church lot and land of Samuel and Joshua Rand; northerly on Thomas Ireland; and easterly on Thomas Ireland. This easterly land of Thomas's we shall deal with later herein. We shall find it was a five-acre parcel and was the extreme corner of Barberry Lane and Walnut Street. We shall find, also, that the mortgaged premises bounded on Walnut Street, although one would not learn it from this description.

John Ireland died in 1788 insolvent. He owed £ 29, and had only £ 22 of apparent assets, and they hunted for assets, too, for [82] they appraised his bed cord. After the first inventory was filed, which, by the way, showed no real estate, some sharp creditor thought that he had some land in Douglas, and had a new set of appraisers apointed to appraise this land. They reported that it had been sold for taxes.

There is no deed on record, so far as I have found, by John Ireland, conveying his equity in the land which he mortgaged to Mr. Phipps, and, as I have said, his inventory showed no real estate. What I have said above regarding foreclosures applies here, for in 1794 Francis Dana, who was then chief justice of our supreme judicial court, as executor of the will of Edmund Trowbridge (an eminent lawyer), obtained a judgment against David Phipps. The latter had been high sheriff of Middlesex County up to 1774, when he found the climate of some other British possession more salubrious than this and left. In other words, he was a Tory, and after he left, his property was confiscated. What was the cause of this particular trouble in the court, whee the chief justice sued the sheriff in behalf of a lawyer, it would be interesting to know. Probably the court records tell. I have not examined them. However, an execution was issued on this judgment, and this land appraised at £ 110 was levied on as land of David Phipps. By deed dated March 19, 1795, Mr. Dana conveyed this land to Nathaniel Austin for £ 130.

Mr. Austin by deed dated September 6, 1801, conveyed the land to Joseph Adams for $666.67, and called it an eleven-acre lot, and bounded it southerly on a rangeway (Barberry Lane); westerly on land belonging to the Church in Charlestown, and on land, late of Joshua and Samuel Rand, but now of Joseph Tufts and Colonel Wood; northerly on land of Thomas Ireland, deceased; and easterly on another rangeway (Walnut Street), and southerly and easterly again on land of Thomas Ireland, till it comes to the rangeway just mentioned. Thus it became a part of the estate of Joseph Adams, on another part of which estate Mr. Sargent now lives. I think Mr. Sargent married a descendant of this Mr. Adams.

Joseph Adams died in 1824, leaving a will which was dated in 1823. In that will he gives to his sons, Joseph and Samuel, [83] and to his grandchildren, William Frost, Edmund Frost, and Lucy Frost, that ‘lot of land and the buildings on it where my son Joseph lives, containing about eleven acres, and also the Austin lot adjoining thereto, and also that part of the Austin lot which lieth southwesterly of Craigie's Road, so called; the whole of the Austin lot containing about eleven acres which is to be divided into three equal parts; one-third to Joseph, one-third to Samuel, and one-third to William Frost, Edmund Frost, and Lucy Frost, to the last three in equal parts.’

The inventory filed in his estate shows 7 acres, 2 quarters, and 36 poles of the Austin lot on the northerly side of Craigie's Road, and 3 acres, 2 quarters, and 4 poles on the southerly side thereof; over eleven acres after the road had been cut through it.

A partition of his estate was had in 1825, and both parts of the Austin lot were set off to the Frosts. This set-off is the first document which gives any definite bounds of the land, and it gives only a part of them. It shows that Amos Hazeltine had acquired title to the corner of Walnut Street and Barberry Lane, as his name appears there in place of Thomas Ireland's.

By deed dated July 12, 1825, for $697.69 William and Edmund convey their two-thirds in both parcels of the Austin lot to Melzar Torrey. They bound the first parcel: Northeasterly on Nathan Adams, 32 rods, 7 links; southeasterly on a rangeway (Walnut Street) 23 rods; southwesterly on Amos Hazeltine (no distance given); southeasterly on Amos Hazeltine, 26 rods, 8 links; southwesterly on Craigie's Road, 22 rods, and northwesterly on Barnard Tufts and Samuel Adams, 43 rods, 5 links, containing 7 acres, 2 quarters, and 38 poles.

The second parcel they bound: Northeasterly on Craigie's Road, 22 rods; southeasterly on Amos Hazeltine, 24 rods, 2 links; southwesterly on a lane (Barberry), 21 rods, 6 links; and northwesterly on the church lot, 32 rods, 2 links. These bounds enable us to construct the lots with the Austin and the Hazeltine lots.

By deed dated September 22, 1828, Lucy conveyed her onethird in both parts of the Austin lot for $343.84 to Mr. Torrey.

For some cause Samuel Skelton obtained a judgment [84] against Mr. Torrey for about $1,900, and under an execution issued upon it, the land which Mr. Skelton got, as above stated, was on April 10, 1830, set off to satisfy $720 and no more of the execution. Mr. Torrey should have foreseen that this land would be needed for the Lowell railroad, and have redeemed it. But he did not to his loss, and to Mr. Skelton's profit, for by deed dated May 4, 1833, Mr. Skelton conveyed it for $2,750 to Patrick T. Jackson.

We have now traced the title to Patrick T. Jackson of the whole frontage from School Street of the city's land to a point about fifteen rods from Walnut Street. We shall now have to retrace our steps to the time of Abraham Ireland's decease. The receipt given by the other heirs to John and Thomas authorized them to settle the division of the estate between them. They did so without any deeds. We have seen that John made a mortgage of what he called half of twenty-four acres to David Phipps. In describing the lot he bounded it easterly by Thomas Ireland. We have seen by later deeds that this land bounded easterly on Walnut Street, as well as on Thomas Ireland. That is confirmed by what Thomas did. Sometimes what people do is of more real importance than what they say. An act very often clearly interprets what is faultily expressed in words. Thomas proceeds to mortgage his land. By deed dated July 7, 1774, for £ 140 he mortgaged ten acres of land in two lots; one of them, our locus, a five-acre lot, was bounded easterly on a rangeway (Walnut Street); northerly on John Ireland; westerly on John Ireland, and southerly on a rangeway (Barberry Lane). This mortgage ran to Thomas Flucker. Flucker had one of those delicate constitutions which could not endure the atmosphere of ‘74 and ‘75, and for all I know he and David Phipps went together. They went for the same reason. But Flucker, wiser than Phipps, assigned this mortgage by deed of December 12, 1774, to James Pitts, of Boston, before confiscation.

Here seems to be another foreclosure of the kind already mentioned. Thomas Ireland makes no deed of the premises. He died 1776 or 1777. In 1812 John Pitts and others, who, I [85] suppose are heirs of James Pitts, but whom I have not so verified, for $800 conveyed the premises described in the Flucker mortgage to Nehemiah Wyman. Mr. Wyman died, and Joseph Tufts, Esq., was appointed administrator upon his estate. By deed of August 14, 1820, for $227 the administrator conveyed to Edward Cutter a parcel of 2 acres, 1 quarter, and 36 poles, bounded northeasterly on Joseph Adams; easterly on Craigie's Road; southeasterly on a rangeway, and southwesterly on a back lane. The last two bounds are Walnut Street and Barberry Lane, respectively. Edward Cutter, by deed dated March 13, 1823, conveyed to Amos Hazeltine. Mr. Tufts, as administrator, as aforesaid by deed dated August 31, 1820, conveyed to Nehemiah Wyman (son) three and one-fourth acres bounded westerly on Craigie's Road; northwesterly and northeasterly on Joseph Adams; and southeasterly on a rangeway (Walnut Street) for $250.25. Mr. Wyman by deed of September 4, 1820, for $299 conveyed to Mr. Hazeltine. By deed recorded 313,541, the date of which I do not chance to have, Mr. Hazeltine conveyed both the parcels which we have traced to him to Patrick T. Jackson. Now we have brought up to Mr. Jackson title to all the land fronting on Barberry Lane (Highland Avenue) which the city now owns. Mr. Sargent has given the subsequent history of it. Many more interesting facts relating to it and its owners can be discovered. The court records and town records of old Charlestown should be searched. What little information I have obtained has been from the records in the registry of deeds and the probate court, and from Wyman.

The Jonathan who signed the receipt above recited was the grandfather of George W. Ireland.

The deed from Thomas to Frizzell in 1712 says that the fifteen-acre Mousall lot was then bounded northerly by a stone wall. That must have been about ninety rods up Walnut Street from Highland Avenue. So permanent a monument may have continued to exist to a point of time within the memory of someone now living. There is an interesting study in values of real estate, as disclosed by the considerations mentioned in these deeds.

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