The origin of the Tufts family is uncertain.
It is not unlikely that they are of Norwegian descent, and went to England
in the time of the Vikings.
Branches are found in England
, and Ireland
The earliest settler of the name in America
, and the progenitor of by far the largest branch of the family in this country, came from England
Precisely what part of England
he came from is not known; but there are indications pointing to the southern part of Norfolk county
as his native place.
When he came is likewise unknown.
says that he was an inhabitant in 1638.
He kept the Ferry
with his brother-in-law, Bridges, in 1646-7, but we have not been able to find any mention of him prior to that date.
We do know, however, that he began to buy land in Charlestown
between the years 1645 and '50, and that he continued to increase his holdings at short intervals till his death in 1700, at which time he was the largest landholder in Maiden.
He appears not to have owned much, if any, land within the present limits of Somerville
He lived at one time near the Everett spring
, but latterly on the site of the United States
Ordnance property, near the Malden river
Here he died, and near-by he lies buried.
Peter Tufts married the daughter of Thomas Pierce
, of Charlestown
, and had a large family of children.
His four sons were Captain Peter
, of Medford
, who was killed in early life with Lothrop
in the ambuscade at Bloody Brook
in 1675; Jonathan, of Medford
; and John, of Charlestown
The youngest son, John, was the only one identified with Somerville
It does not appear that John, himself, lived within our limits, but he bought large tracts of land here on which he established his sons, Nathaniel and Peter
These sons lived and died on these farms, and from them are descended nearly all of the Tuftses who have ever lived in Somerville
In 1699 John Tufts
began buying land within the present limits of Somerville
, and at his death, in 1728, he left to his son Nathaniel, forty-four acres, mostly on the south side of Union square; and to Peter
an equally large tract, principally on the southwesterly side of Somerville avenue, near Dane street.
was born in Medford
His mother was Mary, the daughter of Nathaniel Putnam
, of Salem Village.
He was a man, as the record runs, ‘much employed in public business,’ and was a lieutenant in the militia, from which military service the many hundreds of descendants of John and Mary (Putnam
become eligible to Colonial societies.
married, first, Mary Sprague
, of Malden
, who died within a year; second, Mary, the daughter of William Rand
, of Charlestown
, in 1716, who died in 1764.
He died in 1741.
She, and probably he, lie in the old cemetery in Harvard square,—this part of Somerville
then belonging to the Cambridge parish
The children of Nathaniel who lived to grow up were: Nathaniel, William, Mary, John, Persis
, and Isaiah.
We do not know when Nathaniel moved to his father's farm on the south side of Union square, but it was probably about the time of his marriage.
No traditions of Nathaniel have been handed down, nor has any one that we have ever talked with, known aught of the house he lived in. But it must have stood in Washington street, near its junction with Webster avenue. It is probable that it was on the very site of St. Joseph's church, as the remains of an old cellar existed there some sixty years ago.
There were about nine acres in the homestead lot, and eightteen acres of ‘birch swamp,’ so-called, in the rear.
The easterly limits were in the neighborhood of Prospect street; southerly, it
extended to the Cambridge
Part of this birch pasture remained uncultivated and unbuilt — on till recent years; and furnished a skating ground for the children south of Prospect hill
The homestead fell to the son William
, who died in 1773, leaving one child, John Tufts
In William's inventory there is no mention of the house, and it is presumed that it was not in existence at the time of the Revolution.
A barrack for the soldiers was erected on the homestead lot during the siege of Boston
by Colonel Patterson
, and Fort No. 3
took its beginning near the same point.
, the third son of Nathaniel, became a merchant on a Kennebec river plantation, and died early.
He left a widow, but no children.
He devised his real estate
principally to his brother William.
Isaiah was a soldier in the French
war. He married Abigail Pierce
, the sister of the wives of his brothers Nathaniel and William
He died at the age of thirty-three, leaving two children, Nathaniel and Abigail.
The former of these is believed to have died in early life; the latter was never married.
John, 2nd, the son of William, never married.
He died about the year 1829, aged about sixty-one.
These three sons of Nathaniel, therefore, left no descendants after the first generation.
Nor, indeed, have there been any descendants of Nathaniel bearing the Tufts name, in Somerville
, for seventy years. The two daughters, Mary, who was married to John Morse
, and Persis
, who was married to Christopher Ranks, are not known to have continued to live in Somerville
The eldest son of Nathaniel, however, Nathaniel, Jr., had two daughters, from the elder of whom there have been numerous descendants of prominence in the town.
Three of the sons of Nathaniel, Sr., married daughters of a neighbor, James Pierce
, who seems to have lived at the base of Wildredge's, or Prospect Hill
, on the westerly corner of Stone avenue and Union square, perhaps in the same old house removed from that site some
twenty-five years ago. Nathaniel married Mary Pierce
They had two daughters, Mary, who was married to John Stone
in 1780, and Elizabeth, who was married to Ebenezer Smith
The latter had no children, but from ColonelStone
and Mrs. Stone
are descended the old families of Stone
, and Bonner
now in town.
Nathaniel inherited from his father the ‘Great Pasture,’ so-called, containing fifty-five acres. This pasture was bounded by the present Walnut street, Highland avenue, School street, Somerville avenue, and Bow street. There was no house on it at the time of the father's death, and, indeed, it bore only one house for more than a hundred years, or till a few years after the setting off of the new town.
This house was the residence of Nathaniel Tufts, Jr.
It will be remembered as the old house taken down a few years ago, which stood close to the eastern wall of the First Methodist Episcopal church on Bow street. Nathaniel continued to live in it till 1767, when, like his father, he died at about the age of fifty.
The descendants of Peter Tufts are more numerous than those of his brother Nathaniel.
They have numbered many hundreds, and have largely lived in Eastern Massachusetts
inherited from his father, with the farm above referred to, the dwelling bought of Russell
It is the house familiar to the members of this society as the one on Somerville avenue, which General Greene
occupied as his headquarters during the siege of Boston
It continued in possession of the family for more than one hundred and sixty years, having been long owned and occupied by the late Samuel Tufts Frost
It has been changed and added to from time to time, but still retains the appearance of a very old house; in fact, it is by several years the oldest structure in the city.
had in his possession some of the ancient window sashes with their leaded diamond panes.
There was long left in one of the great beams of the kitchen an iron staple said to have been used to hang the steelyards on in weighing the rations for the soldiers.