Views of Medford.

THE rapid increase of Medford's population in the last two decades, with the many physical changes within its bounds, both of public and private enterprise, give rise to a query of comparison,—how did the old town look?

Indeed, this was asked in a local paper twenty years ago by its editor in hope of eliciting reply. He received but few. The older people, of course, could tell, in words, as they had seen it. In various issues of the Register their observations have been preserved for readers to construct for themselves into a satisfying vista. Still, such results are but word pictures, intangible, and variable as might be the observer.

Those possessing the ability to transfer to canvas or board, by brush or pencil, what they saw and told of are few, as search will disclose.

Now, for old Medford vistas let us make search. Naturally, we turn first to the published histories, only to be disappointed, as the first is of 1855, and scantily illustrated.

The earliest attempt to portray any view or scene in Medford which has come to our knowledge was made (doubtless in 1835) when some one painted a view with the legend, ‘Junction of the River, Canal and Railroad in Medford, 1835.’ As one said of it in Marblehead, where we first saw it (1903), ‘It is evidently the work of a novice.’

It conveys the idea expressed but imperfectly, and the ‘novice’ introduced features so manifestly incongruous [p. 2] as to cause its later owner to endorse on its back (in effect) that the fine houses were a fancy of the artist.

Crude as it is, and of no artistic merit, it, however, is the result of a worthy motive, the presentation of a new and important feature in scenic Medford.

Who the ‘novice’ was is unknown, but, in a way, he showed the high embankment stretching across the Mystic marshland, with engine and cars upon it, the bridges over the river and canal, in which latter a boat going westward drawn by horses, and in the distance the lock and tavern is seen.

A surprising feature is in evidence: a balloon hovering over the whole and in the foreground (where is now the Parkway-Auburn street bridge) stand a man, woman and child viewing the scene.

Possibly the Medford aeronaut Lauriat may have made an ascension and sailed over ‘about this time.’ Who knows?

So far as is known, no reproduction of this view has ever been made, though several attempts have failed.

In 1839, Barber's ‘Historical Collection’ was published, the author himself making the illustrating sketches in the various Massachusetts towns he visited and described.

In the Register of September, 1920, may be seen his work in portraying Medford. This view is printed from the same ‘wood block’ made and used in 1839. It is not without its inaccuracies, as was noticed in that and subsequent issues; still, to old residents the view was cognizable.

In 1839 the engraver on steel or wood had to be furnished a sketch or drawing of the scene to be portrayed, and not all artists were expert, as we have already shown. Some painted on canvas, some pencilled on paper— and some drew on their imagination—and sometimes the engraver added a little for effect. It is an interesting study to follow the various gradations, as seen in such illustrations, in points of time and process.

In 1851 Frederic Gleason began, in Boston, to publish [p. 3] his famous pictorial weekly. His illustrations were on a larger scale, engraved on wood, and though the invention of Daguerre was in 1839, there is little evidence of its being employed in the ‘Pictorial.’

The tornado of August 23, 1851, is there depicted, the locality being the site of the West Medford postoffice and opposite. How artists' views might differ can be seen in a view of the same place and occurrence in the Illustrated National Mirror.

In 1855 came the publication of the History of Medford, by Rev. Charles Brooks, and in this are eight steel engravings. Medford had then the ‘Daguerreian Rooms’ of O. R. Wilkinson, not as yet styled a photographer. His work forms the basis of three of these.

The first, we notice, shows five buildings on Main street (all there today), the second story of the left-hand one unchanged, save that the artist's sign is gone. Several people are at the store door, women and children are looking in the windows—Tinkham's now—and a man is stooping over, as if in pain.

Next is one with a big black sign over the door and a smaller one that looks like Drugs beside it. Iron bars hang from the windows, for storekeepers used ‘to put shutters up’ at night. There is a different front now.

Next, ‘F. H. Kidder’ sold ‘Boots & Shoes,’ as two signs tell. A high wooden gate closes the space between this and the ‘Rail Road Station,’ the three-story building with the bell on the rear end of the roof-ridge.

Then another of two stories, with door and window, and driveway through to the dock in the rear. This the writer recognizes as the coal office where he bought his first winter's coal of Luther Angier in 1870, with more pleasure, less money, and better results than present conditions give.

A. L. Rawson, del.’ was the delineator of this view from Wilkinson's daguerreotype, and ‘F. T. Stuart, sc.’ sculped (i.e. engraved) the steel plate from which it was printed. [p. 4]

The elder Thatcher Magoun's residence, now the Public Library (which has been noted in the Register) is shown, and the same process was followed in it, as also in view of Medford square, which, as it is Medford's civic center, deserves special mention. Its point of view is at the entrance of Salem street. As we look up High street today we see nothing that is in the picture save the three well-preserved Hall houses. It is a typical New England village scene of the 50's.

The town-house is the dominant feature, its pillared portico elevated several steps above the sidewalk; at the street corner is the tall granite post, then known as ‘Howe's folly,’ surmounted by an equally tall lamppost. Signboards over the four side-doors show that stores were in the first story and more steps elevated.

A passenger has alighted from the stage-coach, a rider on horseback is at the water-trough, but the town pump, if ‘in working order,’ leans towards the tall barber's pole between the lofty sycamores before the Dr. Tufts house.

Two white canvas-topped wagons are in the square, and several groups of people, most of these, with all the horses, headed westward. Two boys and a dog are in the immediate foreground, a woman carrying a parasol is hastening away from where an animal of the porcine genus is having his transit disputed by a sizable dog.

Medford had its skyscrapers then. A four-story one (where the Elks' building now is), and another almost as tall farther on; still another of two stories, where is now the post-office, then the imposing edifice of the ‘Orthodox’ parish, on the site of present store of Page & Curtin.

Other buildings were farther on, but are indistinct because of the dense foliage of trees. This is the most comprehensive view we have. Its details are preserved in various photographs and printed views in the Historical Society's collection.

Another view in the Brooks history is notable, the residence of the younger Thatcher Magoun, as seen [p. 5] across the river from South street. This, also, is comprehensive, showing the extensive grounds, with their pagodas, statuary and sinuous paths, the hedge bordering the creek (the latter still to be seen beside our modern parkway), the substantial fence and gateway, and something of High street.

Towering beyond the mansion is the storied steeple of the Unitarian church, while among the numerous trees can be seen the old Bigelow house, where is now the Tufts residence and Grace Church. The English cottage, later the Boynton house, can also be seen on the shaded hill slope. This view is also ‘delineator’ Rawson's primary work; but the sculptor was J. W. Watts, a resident of West Medford, and noted for his excellent work in steel engraving.

The views of the so-called Cradock house and the residence of Gorham Brooks give us the oldest and most realistic portrayal; the latter is made more so by the slave-wall in front and the distant view of the old wood-burner engine and cars on the railroad, then not very old. The Edward Brooks (Peter Chardon Brooks, 1802) residence is another. Of this fine estate scarce a vestige now remains, but the view is an excellent one.

The view of Walnut-tree hill was also by Rawson and made from Broadway in Somerville. But two buildings, Ballou hall and Packard hall, crown its summit, and one dwelling at the end of Professors row, for the college had but just been instituted. Beyond are the hills and spires of Malden, which then included Everett, and nearer, the winding Mystic with its broad marshes, and still nearer, Main street, with a little of the slope of Winter hill.

Just where the station now stands is a railroad train, the cars very small as compared with the engine. The encircling avenue around the college buildings is well bordered with trees. Numerous cattle are grazing in the pasture, where is now Jackson College, the new ‘Chem. Lab.’ and the ‘Oval.’ In the foreground [p. 6] is a sylvan scene. Large trees border both sides of Two-penny brook as it courses through the entire plain and broadens into a pond in which are their shadows, and where a cow has waded in to drink.

Thirty years later, in the reprint of the history, this view is again given, printed from the same steel plate. Of but one other we speak, the ‘Brooks Schoolhouse, 1851,’ a wood engraving by Kilborn & Mallory, which must have been made from the architect's drawings.

Whatever the schoolhouses of Medford were in years before, there was some architecture in this, made possible by the gifts of interested citizens of West Medford. This has been reproduced in the Register of July, 1916, with its authentic story. An enlargement of it hangs in the principal's room in the present Brooks school building.

In 1854 the Mystic Hall Seminary at West Medford was opened. This was a private boarding school for young ladies, Mrs. T. P. Smith, preceptress. After four years, she removed it to Washington, D. C. It was housed in three substantial buildings, two of which remain today. Strange to say, no mention of it was made by either historian. From its year-book two views of the seminary buildings have been reproduced in the Register, Vol. XI, No. 3, and illustrate the story of the famous school written (and read at a Society meeting) by one who attended and graduated from it.

Two views of the little mill on the Arlington side of the river, whose ‘wooden dam old W——d’ was the cause of an incipient riot in 1870, the Register has presented. One is from a pencil drawing by Francis Wait, the other shows it at an earlier time. It was the ‘Tinkham Brothers' Tide-mill’ of Trowbridge's famous story, the Wood's mill of actual fact. In the first Medford Journal of 1857 there was no attempt at pictorial illustration, nor yet in the great ‘blanket sheet’ of Usher's Medford Journal of 1871, [p. 7] that we can recall. No files were preserved by the publisher and only a few stray copies are known.

In 1865 Mr. Nathan Brown of West Medford sketched a view of the river, looking up-stream from the railroad embankment, and painted in oil two copies. The central feature is the picturesque ruin of the second aqueduct of the Middlesex Canal, which, after thirteen years of disuse, still spanned the river and seven years later took on the superstructure of the first Boston avenue or ‘Canal bridge.’ One of these paintings is in the Historical Society's collection, framed in wood from the aqueduct built in 1827, and shows the edges of Somerville and Medford, the ancient ‘Linefielde’ of Charlestown, now Arlington, with the towering hills beyond. It is a valuable contribution to our historical knowledge. Photographed by E. B. Conant, it was reproduced in Vol. VII, No. I, Register. It is one of eleven views in the same locality, covering a period of a hundred years, framed in the same old pine wood which had been buried in the salt mud for twenty-eight years. Two of these views were secured by the city engineer of Somerville, and are of historic value. We have them by interchange of courtesy, and in the Somerville office are framed enlargements of three of them.

During the thirty years that elapsed between the history's publications, great improvements had been made in illustrative art by the lithograph and heliotype process. But one of the latter, Grace Church, is to be found in the Usher work. His illustrations are mainly wood cuts of varying styles and merit. But there are some, found perhaps nowhere else,—the Stearns mansion, the railroad stations and the second Brooks schoolhouse. The birthplace of John Brooks and his last residence when governor of Massachusetts are well shown, and some of these later views we do well to compare with the earlier for the facts they reveal.

In 1881 or ‘82 Mr. Henry Brooks secured photographic views, numbering twenty-eight, in various parts [p. 8] of Medford, ten of which are of the western portion. These were reproduced by the heliotype process (in size about eight by ten inches) in two brochures with one page of historical notes as introduction. Medford square and High street is the first, but with exception of two persons (indistinctly seen)it is utterly devoid of life, human or animal. No car tracks, for this was before the advent of the ‘bob-tail car,’ no wires, no wagons. The circular water-trough and central hydrant is surmounted by a lamp-post, others are at the street corners, the foliage is thick on the trees, which are protected by strong wire guards. It is but one step into the colonnade of the town house; the town clock is gone, though the dials remain on the church tower, the belfry is closed and the spire bears the cross of St. Joseph's Church. This view is another way mark in local history.

Two views from the reservoir, if placed together, take in the entire space between Rock-hill and Glenwood, the foreground being the Hillside section; again, two from Pasture hill looking toward Malden and Somerville, Salem street looking toward the square, and beautiful Forest street are shown; next, the library, high school (now Center grammar), various church edifices and four views of Tufts College buildings including the reservoir, and also the ‘Old Fort,’ or so-called Cradock house. This last is especially worthy a special study. The western group begins with look at West Medford from the reservoir. Mystic lower lake is seen in the distant extreme left, the right taking in Auburn street. The locality that ‘novice’ of 1835 tried to depict, with the high embankment of the railway, the river, the canal's course and the tavern are clearly seen, also the Colonial Chemical Works, erected only the year before, in the Somerville appendix.

The few dwellings at the Hillside, which lies in the foreground, are a marked contrast to the Hillside of today. Away back on ‘Mystic Mount’ is the Chapin [p. 9] house, from which Mr. Brooks took two wonderfully clear views. One looks back to the college, the other continues on westward to near Fairfield street. Something of East Arlington and West Somerville is shown beyond the Mystic—whatever came within the eye of the camera. Mr. Brooks forbore taking the other beautiful view which would have included his own home on Grove street, now utterly gone. The Brooks and Hall school houses, both now gone, Trinity's first church, the new railway station, then nearly complete, and including the old; a view on High street, one of Boston avenue and another of the lower Mystic pond and dam complete this collection.

How large an edition of this work of Mr. Brooks, certainly the finest comprehensive view of Medford in detail ever published, was issued we cannot say, nor yet by what means or at whose expense. It may have been privately for his own distribution. The writer has one of those inscribed ‘West Medford,’ given him some twelve years ago by one of Mr. Brooks' acquaintances, but was unaware of the existence of the ‘Medford’ set until the recent acquisition of both by the Historical Society. Perhaps in the homes of some old Medford families a few copies may be found, laid away and long forgotten. These views are a most valuable addition to our knowledge and are indisputable evidence as to the appearance of Medford forty years ago; and these were in print four years before the publication of the Usher history, still his illustrations were mainly wood cuts.

At that time the subject of a new town hall was being agitated and a little later that of the division of the town. Two weekly papers were being published in town, indeed there had been for ten years, for just a year after Usher's venture with the Journal, A. B. Morss began the Chronicle in 1872. After three years of existence the Journal vanished, leaving the field alone to the Chronicle.

Neither of these papers ever used any illustrations [p. 10] which we can recall; they bear no evidence, as neither publisher preserved any file. Only a few stray copies show what the papers were and give visible evidence that such existed.

In 1880 the Mercury began its long career, and two years later acquired the Chronicle's interest by purchase. During the agitation of the town hall proposition, its editor visited Marblehead at request and inspected the municipal building, ‘Abbot Hall,’ which had been but recently erected at a cost of $70,000, wrote an elaborately detailed description of it, and by courtesy of the Marblehead Messenger presented an excellent view of that structure, heading its two-column article. This appeared on March 28, 1884, and is (doubtless) the first illustration to appear in the Medford press, and this because, in the opinion of leading citizens, its like would suitably ‘fill the bill’ in Medford. They certainly had lofty aspirations, as Abbot Hall was surmounted by a tower one hundred and seventy-five feet high. By action of the town which followed, its committee secured a tentative plan for a new structure, but with a less lofty tower, a framed portrayal of which hung in the municipal office of the old city hall until the destruction of the latter, and later in the hired quarters, where recent search fails to reveal it. As it belongs to the city, and especially as all the lofty effort has as yet only resulted in the lowly-sunken expenditure of over $100,000, it, with another tangible model, should not be consigned to the ‘limbo of lost things.’

In 1880 there came into Medford a man who walked through the various streets making measurements, taking notes and securing views, and then ascended the hills in various sections. The result of his work is the bird's eye view of Medford, thirteen by twenty-five inches in size, which he delivered to subscribers for one dollar per copy. How successful as a business enterprise this effort was we know not; or how large an edition or sale it had we cannot say. Of that of West [p. 11] Medford (in 1892) we have only seen our own copy, and of Medford only one, that in the Historical rooms, until recently, when a package of them came to the Society.

Being bird's eye views, the artist's points of vision must have been in the air over Oak Grove cemetery and Winter hill. Of its artistic merits we can say little, but for its comprehensive outlook they convey a fair idea of the extent and lay-out of the two sections of the city. Doubtless they could be improved upon, for we notice that these are not photographic views, as were those of Mr. Brooks, but the reproduction of drawings made after a walk through all the streets. These bear the imprint, ‘O. B. Bailey & Co., Lith. & Pub., Boston’.

Now that instantaneous photography and the aeroplane have come, it is possible to secure views of Medford, necessarily up to date, but to answer the query ‘How did the old town look?’ we must consult such as we have herein named and such others as may from time to time be found.

We ought not to close this review, covering nearly a century of time, without mentioning the excellent work of the Medford Publishing Company in ‘Medford Past and Present’ (1905), illustrations to be found in years since 1884 in the Mercury, in the Leader, the various other (some short-lived) papers, the ‘275th Anniversary Proceedings’ and the Historical Society's collection.

Lastly (and modestly, we trust), we refer to the illustrations in the Register during its twenty-five years of publication. It was fortunate that a Medford boy, who told us of old Ship street, had the gift and ability to also present the view of it, reproduced in Vol. IV, No. 4. Those who saw him build the ship at the Society's November meeting and watched (as he drew the picture) Deacon Galen James coming up the street in his oldtime sleigh loaded with children and with children hanging on behind realize something of Mr. Woolley's peculiar aptness for such work.

To the sketching artist with pencil or brush we are [p. 12] indebted for portrayal of views prior to 1850, to the photographer with his cumbrous camera, with difficulty transported, for those of the next fifty years; and all these required the aid of a middleman, the engraver (sculptor) before the printer could exercise his ‘art-preservative.’

For the past twenty years, with the popularization of the camera, the snapshot of the amateur might secure invaluable evidence and be quickly reproduced in the daily paper.

Effort should be made for the preservation of such as are worthy, for the libraries, the schools, and wherever information is disseminated, remembering that the present day is of the past tomorrow, and ancient history later on.

We are aware that some of the views alluded to in this article are very rare, especially those of the Brooks history, and wish that every reader of this might examine them at the Public Library, as also the later ones of Usher. Without doing so, we fear such will, like some early artists, ‘draw on their imagination’ to know how the old town looked.

Story of a Bible

We are presenting in this issue the portrait of a man who was (if not a citizen) a resident of Medford for well toward seven decades ago, and who is still living in our neighboring city of Malden.

Rev. Edward Stuart Best, Methodist Episcopal clergyman, began his ministry in 1851, serving one year each in three western Massachusetts towns, and one in the nearer town of Swampscott. At the annual conference of his church, April, 1855, his appointment was to Medford. Prior to that time, one year's service in a place was the rule of his church. But a change in polity had occurred and he served the Medford church and people to the new time limit of two years. His [p. 13] active service in the Christian ministry was an even fifty years, to twenty-three churches. As the ‘time limit’ was extended to three and again to five years, we find his terms three and four years, one a return to a former charge, and his last a four-year one. This certainly proves his ability and effectiveness. At the conference of 1901 he took a retired relation, making his home among his latest parishioners of the Linden church of Malden.

He is now the oldest member of the New England Conference and was present and participated in the exercises of laying the corner-stone when the Medford church he served fifty years before erected their fourth house of worship in 1905. During his second year at Medford, after some improvements in the second house, efforts were made to procure an organ. The indefatigable Ladies' Aid Society sponsored the enterprise (see Register, Vol. XII, p. 91) by holding a ‘Fair and Levee’ in Town Hall December 30, 1856, and secured an excellent pipe organ that served till the larger new building was erected in 1873. But one of the witty speakers at the ‘Levee’ still insisted that the Best organ was at the other end of the meeting house.

When, during the Civil war, Mr. Best was stationed at Milford, Mass., an incident occurred which must have been a happy surprise to him: While making a call on one of his aged parishioners, the good lady asked of the country of his birth, and he replied, ‘Yes, I am—or was —an Irishman, born in 1824 in Newry, near Belfast. Four of us became ministers, three Methodists, one of the Church of Engand.’ Then he added that he was now ‘an American of the Americans,’ and happy in his work. Then she said, ‘God bless thee, I have something for thee,’ and placed in his hands a little book she had long highly prized, and told its story. It was a Bible once owned and used by Reverend John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church. During his first visit to Ireland a young man there became interested in personal religion and later himself preached the gospel. [p. 14]

While on another visit to Ireland, Wesley married the young man to ‘the fine young woman to whom he was engaged’ and gave them his own copy of the Sacred Book, writing a presentation clause above his own name, already written on the fly-leaf. Through all their lives those young people prized their wedding gift and after the widow's death it passed on to her two nieces.

Then the question came up, which should be its possessor? After consideration, one said,‘Give me that leaf with Wesley's autograph and you can have the Bible,’ and it was so decided.

The young woman that had the Bible married a Methodist man and with him came to America, finding a home in Milford. Years had rolled away, and in 1857, she, then advanced in years, still had John Wesley's Bible, but what became of the detached leaf and autograph writing no one could tell.

The good old lady did well when she gave that book to her pastor in whose face and voice she recognized a countryman. During fifty-eight years he carefully guarded it, using it from time to time, telling of its story, pondering in his own mind of its disposition and at last found a solution of his problem. After his retirement he attended the public worship at Malden center church, where Rev. Lauress J. Birney was pastor, and to whom the presence of ‘Father Best’ was always helpful. While Dr. Birney was Dean of the School of Theology, Boston University, he was in 1920 elected to the Episcopacy. Before departing to his distant field of work (Shanghai, China) he called to pay his respects to the venerable brother in the ministry. While there ‘Father’ Best placed in his hands the old timeworn copy of the Holy Book he had cherished for nearly sixty years.

Can we imagine the bishop's feelings on receiving such a token? Probably much the same as the giver's long years before, when he received it and heard its story. John Wesley is credited with the saying, ‘The [p. 15] world is my parish,’ but John Wesley never dreamed that after one hundred and fifty years in far-away China, young Chinese Christians would place their hands on the identical Book he once used and receive ordination to the Christian ministry, when a bishop of the church he founded holding it out to them, says, ‘Take thou authority to preach the Scriptures.’

It has been the writer's privilege to meet at various times and places the good man who labored in Medford so long ago. We have no doubt he did his duty here as a citizen or resident during those two years, and sincerely hope he rounds out his century, a grand old man.

For the facts we have related we are indebted to the author of ‘Story of John Wesley's Bible,’ and for our illustration to courtesy of Zion's Herald, in which both story and illustrations appeared.


by Sarah J. Blanchard.

[September, 1905].

My mind goes back to childhood's days. I remember that during the occupancy of the Gillard fish market in the rear of the Tufts house, Mr. Aaron Blanchard rented the front room; and the reading room was under his care until his death, which occurred there, December 23, 1850. On that morning he left his home at 6 o'clock as usual, and the great effort required to get through the old-time fall of rain-full snow, caused the bursting of a blood vessel in the head. He was found near the stove, unlighted match in hand. .

A few personal recollections of Mr. Blanchard may be interesting to the older residents of the city. Who ever rang the bell and set it equal to himself? A glance at a sun-dial on the window seat, then a moment's trip to the church across the way (now occupied by Page & Curtin's hardware store), and watches and clocks were regulated by the first stroke of that noon bell; the [p. 16] workman's axe, if uplifted, fell by its own weight, and in less time than is required to state the fact, scores of men from the shipyards were on their way home to dinner, and all was quiet for an hour. . . .

Mr. Blanchard occupied for several years previous to 1850, as a tailor's shop, the front part of the building on the easterly corner of what was known as Pasture Hill lane, opposite the Savings Bank building, with a workroom adjoining (Mr. William Wyman, the provision dealer, living in the rear). I think, from hearsay, his most prosperous days in business were spent there. At that time he had numerous apprentices, several of whom married townspeople and became honored wives and mothers. Finally he was able to retain only his oldest patrons, who cared little for advanced methods, and styles in tailoring, and his trade was transferred to Mr. Hervey and others. . . .

There was a tinge of romance about his marriage. A foster-sister of Mrs. Lydia Maria Child, who lived in the house corner of Ashland and Salem streets, applied to him to be taught the trade. He told her he did not care for more apprentices, but if she would promise, when through, not to set up business in Medford, he would take her. In a year they were married, he being twenty-eight years old and his wife eighteen. She was a direct descendant of Peter Tufts. . . . I will say in passing that in the Salem street burying ground, a rod or two from the monument in a southeasterly direction lies the body of George Blanchard, who died in 1700, aged eighty-one or eighty-four. He inherited from his father, Thomas,1 the English emigrant, two hundred acres of land now known as Wellington. The present [p. 17] family is the seventh generation directly from him, and his descendants are scattered throughout the ‘states.’

The name originally was Blan-card, from a French colony of weavers in France, ‘blanc’ meaning white, and ‘card,’ weavers, who made fine linen. . . . Mr. Aaron Blanchard was sexton of the ‘Orthodox church’ from soon after his marriage until his death. His method of church ventilation has never been improved— nor followed to any great extent. His plan was to open windows and doors before and after every meeting, and during service in warm weather; if the wind was east, the windows on the east side were closed, those on the west side open at the top, and vice versa, he claiming that air was needed, but not wind, so no one suffered from draughts. . . . Notices were taken to the minister by the sexton, generally while the choir was singing, and we juveniles would watch his head bobbing up and down the aisle, and his quick, springing step; for never a sound did his feet make, no heavy, squeaking boots—they were exchanged for soft shoes or pumps during service. People then had more reverence than to enter meeting during prayer time.

I have often wondered what became of the small brass stand with a glass top, under which in his handwriting resembling copper plate, was ‘If the minister wishes anything, place this on the front of the pulpit and the sexton will come up.’ . . .

The method of heating the meeting house was by a large box stove, enclosed in brick, its doors almost exactly like the brick oven doors of long-ago kitchens (a small sliding door for draft). Wood only was burned; long sticks of hard wood, sawed once, made a glorious fire. Sometimes in the coldest nights Mr. Blanchard would stay all Saturday night; but generally a well-filled stove, after 9 o'clock bell ringing, Saturday night, and draft closed, would insure a huge bed of live coals Sunday morning; and I have known him to broil over them a delicious beef steak and take home for the 6 o'clock [p. 18] Sunday morning breakfast, the odor while cooking passing up the big chimney and no one was the wiser. I should have mentioned that the abundance of hot coals served the admirable purpose of filling a dozen foot stoves which he distributed in the pews where most needed. . . . The choir met in the vestry every Saturday evening. I remember one night in particular, after ascertaining there was no fire, several persons began to feel chilly and suggested that ‘next time a fire had better be made just to take off the chill.’ The sexton looked at the thermometer (it was his infallible guide) and replied, ‘Yes; it shall be comfortable the next evening.’ The following rehearsal night, the choir looking towards the stove, saw a blaze, and evidences of a good fire, and were charmingly comfortable, and sang all the better for it, probably. During the after-chat, they were asked if the room had been satisfactorily warmed. ‘Oh yes; just right for comfort.’ Mr. Blanchard induced them to open the stove and see how little was required to heat that large vestry; and lo, and behold! all that was necessary for that evening at least, was a piece of red flannel and a small lamp, seen through the open draft door. Imagine a momentary pause and the laughter which followed!.

Mr. Blanchard was fond of surprises; sometimes after rehearsals he would ask the choir to step into the small vestry to look at something, and there would be a table spread with apples, nuts and raisins, or melons in the season for them, and also the never-failing bouquet, if possible to obtain one. He was a passionate lover of flowers. How he would have revelled in these days, when it is not considered wicked or vain to have flowers in church. Then, a bit of southernwood or pennyroyal in the hand was allowable only, to carry to meeting. I suspect they were to be nibbled to keep one awake during the ‘eighthly's and ninthly's and conclusions’ of the long sermons. I used to think the minister told a lie, because he said, ‘One word more and I have done’; [p. 19] but instead of the ‘Amen’ I expected, he would preach on and on, until I lost all faith in his veracity; still, I remember today parts of those same sermons to my advantage, though I must have been under twelve years old at the time.

I am writing with the gold pen given to Mr. Blanchard by pupils of the high school for his willingness to write their names in school books in German text and on writing-book covers with the spread eagle and scroll flourishes they delighted in..

Among the school teachers who are held in loving remembrance today was Miss Ann Foster (afterward Mrs. Thomas Pratt). She was a real kindergarten mother, and fostered a brood of infants in the meeting-house vestry. A high, broad shelf ran across the west side of the room, where the tired youngsters had refreshing naps. A flight of low steps filled one end of the vestry, which we little folks ascended after marching around the room on nails driven into the floor for that purpose, and then had a fine time, singing,

This is the way we wash our clothes,
This is the way we iron our clothes,
This is the way the shoemaker sews,
etc., etc.

suiting our actions to the words as nearly as possible. How time bridges over the passing years! I, at four years, seemed an infant to the big girls, and they like women to me, and yet today they are my associates and friends, with no disparity of ages. I remember later on how pleased I was to have Miss Foster tell me to take my first finished bit of sewing and show it to the older pupils and hear them say it was done very neatly. . . .

Dr. Samuel Gregg then lived in the brick block, corner Salem street and Riverside avenue, over what is now Mr. Bartlett's store. Then Mr. Gilbert Blanchard kept a small grocery store there. Two of Dr. Gregg's daughters attended Miss Foster's school. . . . In unpleasant weather the doctor would come for them and take all the children to their homes. One snowy afternoon he [p. 20] came with his big sleigh, loaded it full of children, turned round slowly and tipped us all out, and down the hill we rolled; he, laughing, called out to get in quickly if we wanted a ride. . . .

Mr. Aaron Magoun taught in the brick school house near the Cross street burying ground. Pupils were admitted when eight years of age, but I know of two who were permitted to enter a year younger. He was a dear, good man, thoroughly acquainted with his pupils, visiting them often in their homes. He died May 21, 1899, in the ninety-first year of his age. I called to see him about a year before his death, and was surprised to note so few indications of old age, he coming downstairs without assistance. His bright eyes sparkled with merriment as we talked over the scenes of those early school days.

His punishments for mischievous boys and girls were unique—two fun-loving girls, standing on the platform, each with one end of a ruler in her mouth (to punish the ruler for slapping?) or a restless boy made to sit on the small cylinder stove for awhile, that was never taken down until worn out; or a small girl required to sit on the teacher's knee and given candy to eat, that the child did not then love or desire in the least; or a miss to go over and sit beside a lad, of her master's choosing, not hers. I recall the time when the teacher asked one of the scholars if he had nothing to do. ‘No, sir.’ Soon a sheet of paper was cut into tiny squares, strewn over the floor under the teacher's desk, and—well, that pupil never again complained of having nothing to do.

Six Medford women

Hanging in the Historical Society's hall is a photograph which at once attracts attention. It is a group of six women, once well known in Medford, but who have now all passed on. The question has often been asked, ‘Who were they?’ and we have heard the reply, ‘Six [p. 21] sisters,’ but that was incorrect. On p. 80, Vol. VIII, Register, may be found the names of four of them, in a list of thirty-six natives of Medford who were living at the time of the anniversary celebration of 1905, and who had then attained the age of seventy-five years. The names of the six were written (upon protecting paper pasted upon the back of the frame), by its donor, the late George W. Stetson, April, 1910; who added, ‘Taken in March, 1871.’ They are (left to right):

[Miss] Sarah J. Blanchard,b. Jan. 13, 1829.
[Miss] Emeline A. Sparrell,b. Feb. 7, 1830.
Mrs. Lucy B. Conery, nee Butters,b. Feb. 2, 1829.
Mrs. John F. Sanborn,b. Dec. 1830.
Miss Ellen A. Jaquith,b. Aug. 3, 1829.
Mrs. Mary Peaslee, nee Butters,b. Dec. 14, 1832.

note.—Of the above, the first three and fifth are the four above alluded to.

Examination of the picture revealed the fact that brown paper backing was deteriorating; therefore the above copy is made and hereby transferred to the Regis-Ter's page. On p. 24, Vol. XIV, mention was made of the passing away of the first and eldest of the six, who were so nearly of an age. Inquiry fails to show that they were related to each other (except as stated), or that they were officers of some society, but just a group of friends and acquaintances. It is thought that each had a copy, and that after their going, only the nephew of Miss Blanchard had the thoughtfulness to provide for the preservation of hers, and to furnish the authentic data above given.

As a matter of interest, we add that in June, 1885, the first dry-goods store in West Medford was opened on Harvard Avenue, and Miss Blanchard was in charge of it from the first and for several years. The ‘Bee-Hive’ was a lively competitor of a larger one next door, which managed to continue in business only by taking in other lines. At the anniversary time, Miss Blanchard contributed to the local press some reminiscences of the old sexton (her father) and others, which are reproduced in this issue.

[p. 22]

A Sweet story of old

The Historical Society is now in possession of a highly interesting collection of papers written in the years just preceding the Revolution, one of which suggests the caption of this article, and is here reproduced:—
Invoice of 2 barrls Loaf Sugar shipped by Francis Minot on his own account & resque on board the Brig Neptune Peter Gwin master bound for Affrica & goes consign'd said Gwin for Sales & return viz—

FMNo1 cont'g 14 Loaves wt 139 lb
2 14Do—135
274 1/2 @ £ 6/6 Old Tenor is£ 1117.10
2 barrls for Do2. 2

Boston 23d Septr 1765.
Captt Peter Gwin

I have ship'd the above Sugar with leave from Mr. Fitch & beg You'l dispose of it to my best advantage on Your arrival on the coast of Affrica & if it's sufficiant purchase me a Boy Slave. If you go to the West Indies please to lay out the neat proceeds in good Produce which leave to Your Iudgment what may best answer the great end of Getting money. I wish You Health & Prosperity being sincerely

Your Friend & H'ble Servt

P. S. As Loaf Sugar always sells better to Windward than to Leeward, should be glad You would sell mine as You go down the Coast—the barrells may be easily come at between Decks.

The Medford historian (Brooks) said (on p. 436) ‘The gentlemen of Medford have always disclaimed any participation in the slave trade,’ and, evidently doubtful of the same, makes a half-page quotation from a letter of instruction to a slaver's captain on January 14, 1759. That identical letter is the first of the twenty-two above mentioned and which cover a period of ten years. Steel pens, copying presses and typewriters were no part of [p. 23] office furniture of those days, and the water marks in the durable unruled paper showing the royal crown, with G. R. beneath, are suggestive of the ‘Stamp Act.’

The peculiar product of Medford formed the principal part of the cargo and was the medium of exchange on the African coast. The voyages were usually triangular, the second lap being to the West Indies or southern ports, then homeward with the results in southern produce or cash, and with the few unsold slaves. The vessel's return was watched for with much concern by the merchant owner, and, we doubt not, by his clerk, who was an adventurer in a small way—twelve pounds worth of sugar. This is not a children's story (or song) but a young man's business adventure. We have no means of telling of its result. Clerk Minot was an expert penman, somewhat liberal in use of flourishes and in the merchant's employ for several years for the ‘great end of getting money,’ as emphasized by his use of capitals in his letter to Captain Gwin.

The merchant had several vessels in the African trade, and for the last twelve (or more) years of his life was a property owner and resident in Medford, passing away in 1790. Historian Brooks, writing about midway between the time of these papers and the present day, said,

How will the above read in the capital of Liberia two hundred years hence?

How does it read in Medford (where rum was made) today?

But the Nantucket-Boston-Medford men were not ‘sinners above all men.’ There were others, as a recent publication, A Rhode Island Slaver (Shepley Library, Providence, 1922), clearly proves by reproducing the Trade book of the Sloop Adventure, 1773-4. Of Captain Peter Gwin, his various commands, voyages and doings, the letters and instructions of his ‘assured friend and owner’ give much information, and are a side light on a business once considered legitimate.

[p. 24]

To continue

Lack of space in our last issue precluded our saying all we desired regarding the Register. At the urgent request of the Society we begin a new volume, and with this number complete fifteen years of editorial service, which we must ere long turn over, we trust to younger and abler hands.

We wish to quote an appreciation which came to us in 191 I from the librarian of a great university:—

The publication issued by your Historical Society is a credit to its activities.

You deserve much commendation for your successful efforts to preserve the records of the past in your immediate neighborhood. I only wish that more such agencies existed for the purpose.

It has been our effort to maintain the reputation thus gained. The above, with a partial list of eighteen prominent Register articles, was then given on the cover page. Nine of the authors have passed away, but their work abides. The same may be said of others not therein named, whose work tells facts of Medford history found nowhere else.

We regret that no articles have recently appeared in memory of valued members and benefactors of our Society, whose presence and effort we greatly miss. Effort for such has been made by the President and editor, only to meet with disappointment more than we can express.

It is said that a former clergyman of Medford always in his public prayers expressed this desire: ‘Grant, Father, that the world may be wiser and better for our effort.’

With the same desire for the people of our home city we issue this publication. [p. 25]

1 Thomas Blanchard, the emigrant, came from England in 1639, and lived in Braintree, Mass. In February, 1651, he bought of Rev. John Wilson, Jr., pastor of the church in Dorchester, house and a farm of two hundred acres, known now as Wellington, but then belonging to Charlestown. In 1726 it was annexed to Malden and afterwards to Medford. Mr. Blanchard died at Wellington in 1654.

The above is not in the history of Medford, but is from the completed records of this branch of the Blanchard family.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: