A Medford business incident.
NE hundred and fifteen years ago Medford
had one thousand one hundred inhabitants, and its principal business man was Benjamin Hall.
Beside being a general trader and one of the corporators of the Middlesex canal
(then being built), he was the leading distiller of the famous product that came to be known as ‘Old Medford.’
He was then sixty-seven years old, and his third son, Fitch Hall, was in England
on a business tour.
Among their papers, still preserved, are letters which reflect not a little of old-time history and business customs.
Two of these the Register reproduces with a few comments:—
In this we note the slowness of the trans-Atlantic communication in those days, and the care taken for the [p. 28]
carrying of letters.
The French spoliation claims are foreshadowed, also something of international diplomacy, but the Medford
business is the chief subject.
It will be news to present Medfordites that ‘her spirit’ was patented in England
Evidently the English
distillers looked with little favor on the Yankee
craftsman, who took some of their assertions with a grain of salt.
The lettered plan of John Falconer Atlee
's patent worm
, which the younger Hall
sent home, is not among the papers, but its printed description covers two small pages.
The letter itself was written on three pages of 7 1/4 × 9 inch white paper, the fourth page of the sheet being left for the addressing.
This was first folded across the top and bottom of the page, then on each edge, and the closed edge inserted within the open, and secured with red sealing wax impressed with some design.
It then formed a packet 3 1/4 × 5 inches and bore the bold, legible address,
The writer has been thus minute, because in these days of postal facilities and modern stationery the old style of letter sealing (he can recall) is a lost art. After the younger Hall
's return a consignment was made to the London
‘Man of good Character,’ and copy made of the letter sent in relation thereto.
This was not by copying ink and press, but by writing a duplicate.
We are led to query whether the ten hogsheads of ‘patent spirits,’ which according to the letter was ‘Rum,’ that ‘bears a high reputation in this Country,’ was the first exported to England
As ‘every thing depends on the first start,’ Mr. Hall
doubtless did his best to make a favorable impression on ‘Johnny Bull
’ and extend the trade.
The elder Hall
's letter was short and to the point.
The ‘neat proceeds’ are today net
, though some old-timers still use the long e in speaking.
Resolved into English nails (hand made), that consignment from and of Old Medford came back and may still linger here in the construction of some of our old houses.
We may query as to which they are, and what became of the big kettle, if it came over sea. Mr. Hall
bought many cattle from the New Hampshire
In his slaughtering business just such a kettle was needed.
Perhaps it was later used in a Medford ship-yard and alluded to by Mr. Curtis
in his recent paper.