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[p. 35]

Parson Smith's farm.

It was an easy transition from these latter marshes to the consideration of Parson Smith's farm and barn which was close by one of them. Mr. Hooper located it by his remembrance as near the now disused Cummings schoolhouse and present North street. Rev. William Smith, the father of Abigail, wife of President John Adams, inherited a part of this farm, and at his mother's death ‘bought a farm in Medford.’ Such is his entry in his interleaved almanac, the usual manner of keeping a diary in those days. Several of those he kept we have examined, and extracts were read in the above connection.

We find in Nast's Sketch of Weymouth that

in August 1634 [it should be 1734] a call was extended to Mr. William Smith of Charlestown to become the minister at a salary of one hundred and sixty pounds and three hundred pounds settlement, the latter to be paid one hundred pounds annually for three years, all in bills of credit. This invitation was accepted, and on the first Wednesday in December [1734] he was ordained as pastor of the First Church and Parish in Weymouth, which office he retained until his death, Sep 17, 1783, in his seventy-seventh year. He was a graduate of Harvard in 1725.

In reading of Charlestown it is well to remember that at one time Charlestown entirely surrounded Medford, and that in 1754 Medford acquired considerable of Charlestown territory in two parcels.

This Rev. William Smith (who until his ordination was Mister William) was the son of Thomas and Abigail (Fowle) Smith. Thomas Smith was styled ‘merchant’ and had a farm of eighty acres (and house), bounded north by Mystic river, south and southwest by J. Dickson, and east by James Tufts and C. Crosswell. It was situated, as will be thus seen, at the bend of the river and at the end of the old rangeway, now North street. In the division of the estate, nineteen and three-quarters acres fell to the son William, which he seems to have improved by fencing, building a barn and planting an orchard. [p. 36]

Relative to this, we reproduce portions of his diary above alluded to:

1738.Apr. 7 bought of Joseph Porter one hundred and a half of
Rails 2/5 P C. £3.7.6
Bought 130 Posts of Charls £5.5.0
Bought of Deacon Waterman 40 Rails £ 1.10.6.
Bought of Ebenezer Porter 100 Rails
Paid Mr. Willis for Boating up—Rails and posts £ 1.
Bought of Mr. Austin a Jack 3.10.
1739January 2. Went to Charlestown Re[turne]d 10
8 1 p[reache]d at Charlestown all day
Paid David an Indian the sum of £ 5. for stone wall
April 15 I p[reache]d
April 13 and 16 grafted in my Orchard and in the Parson-
age land abt So Grafts Paid Primus £0.8
April 25 Went to Boston
27 Planted 60 Apple Trees at my Farm to South of ye house
1751.June 14 Recd of Mr. Goodwin a Chaise which cost abt. £ 202 old tenor
1759Tickets in Boston pier lottery 5 class. No. 1309
1763June 20 Bought a Farm at Medford cost £ 1200.
P——d [prayed] to Paul Torrey in his Distress
23 Paul Torrey died 30 at Medford
Aug 18 At Medford—Measured my Farm

There is good reason to believe that the farm he purchased in Medford was the ‘widow's dower,’ i.e., the portion held by his mother until her decease, which was then (1763) by the set off of 1754 within (and now) in Medford bounds. On a separate leaf, carefully pinned into the back of the almanac, is

The Expenses of my Farm Barn erected 6th of June 1751
To 3 thousand of Board nails at 55/£8.5.0
11 thousand and half of shingle nails, 10 thousand at 24. thousand and half at 2513.17.6
half a thousand of Double tens 2/52.5.0
Cash for 2 thousand of Boards27.0.0
Cash for 2 thousand of Boards30.0.0
Cash for the Frame95.0.0
Boating it5.0.0
Boating Shingles at 20. pr M. 12 Thousand1.4.0

[p. 37]

12 thousand of hemlock shingles or spruce at £ 3 p m.36.0.0
Veal 24/1.4.0
3 Gallons of Rum at 18 p. G.2.14.0
Mr Teel paid3.15.0
Mr Eustice0.25.0
Mr Oakes5.0.0
Mr Bicknel and Loud for finishing30.0.0
Mr Teel for Board &c16.1.0
My Barn cost me279.14.6
My Chaise Cost202.0.0

On the June interleaf are these entries:

June 2 I p[reache]d

June 6 Raised my Barn at Charlestown at my farm Abt noon finished. Mr Bicknel worked abt 2 days Mr Humphry abt 5. Mr Loud Son and Bicknel abt 6

These old diaries of the Weymouth pastor, who was born and came to manhood in our vicinity, and who retained a property interest here during his long lifetime are certainly interesting. For instance, note ‘boating,’ which shows that the river was a highway in earlier days. We read that when a Medford minister [1847] moved away from the pillared house on South street he did so by a vessel that came up to the wharf before his house. Probably the last such boating was in 1874, when lumber for three houses now standing on Boston avenue was brought from East Boston up the river and unloaded at Auburn street (of this we speak from personal observation). Again note,‘David an Indian,’ his stonelayer, and ‘Primus,’ evidently a free negro. Note that the parson spent a week at his farm in January, 1739—going on Monday, preaching on Sunday in the meeting house on the hill in Charlestown (four miles from his farm) on Sunday, the 8th, and returning to Weymouth on the following Tuesday. No steam or electric cars then, and little wonder he needed a new chaise in 1751, that cost almost as much as the new [p. 38] barn. And this antedated the famous ‘one horse shay’ of Dr. Holmes by fourteen years. Friday had no terrors for Parson Smith,—he set out an orchard and grafted scions on the old trees on that day. They had a merry time at the ‘raising’ of the barn, as note three items therefor. Three men had ‘framed’ it in ‘about’ eleven days work, and the ‘raising’ only took the forenoon. From the quantity of boards and shingles, the barn was about 30 × 40 feet in size.

The farm originally and when it had become the parson's son's, was said to contain ‘86 1/2 acres, exclusive of the rangeway and watering place claimed by the town’ of Charlestown. We have not ascertained the exact bounds, but by way of illustration, suppose a tract nearly twice that of Boston Common laid down in that corner of Medford (and Somerville) between Boston avenue and Mystic river, and there was Parson Smith's farm, with the house and barn near Cotting and North streets. Through it some fifty years later came the Middlesex canal, eighty-five later the Lowell railroad, but it took a hundred and thirty-three years for Auburn street to connect Medford with that old Charlestown farm. We of this time have seen the changes wrought along the river, and are pleasantly surprised. What might Rev. William Smith, ‘prepossessing and conciliatory, a favorite, especially among the young, lively and animated as a speaker, and through his long ministry of forty-nine years highly esteemed and beloved,’ say, could he come by auto or aeroplane to his farm today?

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