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Original English inhabitants and early settlers in Somerville.—(Ii.)

By Aaron Sargent.
The successors of these first inhabitants, those who erected their domiciles here, and whose descendants came down the generations, indigenous to the soil, were the first real settlers in Somerville. The present intent is to follow down, genealogically, these early settlers; but no attempt has been made to trace the descent of those who came hither later than the eighteenth century.

James Miller, son of Richard, both previously mentioned, was probably born here, as his father was an inhabitant in Gibbons-field, and the son probably lived in the same locality. He married Hannah, daughter of John George, of Charlestown. His two sons, who lived to manhood, were James and Richard. Richard may have lived in Somerville, but left no descendants here. His brother James lived in the southerly part of the town. He married Abigail, daughter of Joseph Frost, of Cambridge. James, son of James and Abigail, married, first, Sarah Lane, and second, Sarah Waters, and Was slain by the British April 19, 1775. Their son Joseph married Eunice Coolidge. The descendants of Richard Miller now living here are through Joseph's sons, Joseph and Thomas, twelve persons.

John Kent was the next early settler. He came from Dedham in 1673, having six years or more before married, as already stated, Hannah, daughter of Francis Griswold. Perhaps he lived at the West End, where his father-in-law had possessions. Of his eleven children, only one—Joseph—was a resident in Somerville. [50]

He married Rebecca, daughter of Stephen Chittenden, of Scituate. Joseph, at the time of his death, had eight several parcels of land in Somerville—seventy-four and one-half acres at Winter Hill. He owned four female negro slaves, and bequeathed them to children, one to a child so long as the supply held out. Samuel was the only one of his nine children who remained in Somerville. He married Rebecca, daughter of Joseph Adams.

Three of the children of Samuel remained in Somerville: Sarah and Rebecca, who married successively Nathaniel Hawkins, and Lucy, who married Joseph Adams. Lucy's descendants are the only posterity of John Kent now in this city-five persons.

John Fosket, 1677, married a daughter of Robert Leach, as already stated, and may have lived here, but none of his descendants are now here.

Joseph Phipps, 1685, was son of Solomon, who may have lived in Somerville. Joseph probably lived in the Highfield. He married Mary, daughter of Samuel Kettle, and their son Samuel, town clerk in 1726, had wife Abigail. He had a homestead in the Highfield, which descended (or, at least, a part of it) to his son Joseph, who sold to Benjamin Stokes the mansion and nine and one-half acres of land; and the family soon became extinct in Somerville. The heirs of Stokes sold to the Catholic church in 1829. About thirty years ago the church sold the property, and the hill was leveled. It is now a barren waste.

Charles Hunnewell, 1700, or thereabouts, son of Richard, of Boston, married Elizabeth, daughter of James Davis. He occupied in 1737 the Gershom Davies farm of seven acres, on the south side of Winter Hill. Their eldest son, Charles, married a second wife—Margaret Patten. Their son William married Elizabeth, daughter of Isaac Fillebrown, and their son William married Sarah, daughter of William Frothingham. All the seven children of William and Sarah were undoubtedly born here. James certainly was, for he told me so, and in his will he says: ‘Somerville, my native place.’ None of the children remained here. The five sons of William, William, Thomas, [51] Joseph, Charles, and James, lived within the peninsula. James Hunnewell, the youngest son, was a merchant and ship-owner in Boston, a pleasant and honorable man of business. By reading his will, one can see that, had circumstances favored, our public library might have received a large share of his estate; but the circumstances were unfavorable.

There are now eighteen descendants of Richard Hunnewell in this city. If there are more, they are unknown to me.

Caleb Crosswell, 1700, son of Thomas, had possessions on both sides of the ‘Road to Cambridge,’ and probably lived there. His four sons did not live in Somerville. They were Thomas, who was a barber; Andrew, a ‘gentleman’; Benjamin, a saddler; and Joseph, a wig-maker and clergyman. A diversity of occupations, surely.

Jean, or John, Mallet, about 1703, of Powder House fame, may have lived in Somerville, as he had ten acres of land here. He had four or five sons and two daughters. His son Andrew had a house and ten acres of land east of Winter Hill. The family became extinct in this vicinity in the fourth generation.

Peter Tufts, about 1727, son of John, was of the third generation of the Peter Tufts family of Malden, and lived at Milk Row. The descendants in Somerville of the senior Peter Tufts and his wife, Mary Pierce, the progenitors of the family on this side of the Atlantic, are through their sons James and John and daughter Elizabeth. Either Peter Tufts, Sr., the father, or Peter Tufts, Jr., the brother, of these three had an ‘orchard home;’ near Wildridge's Hill, more than a quarter of a century before the third Peter was at Milk Row. The junior Peter probably had no issue here.

So much information about the Tufts family has been given by Dr. Edward C. Booth in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register, by the late Thomas B. Wyman in his Genealogies and Estates of Charlestown, and by the late William H. Whitmore in his Medford Genealogies, that further attempts at this time seem unnecessary. The descendants of the progenitors now living in Somerville are one hundred and thirteen in number, enough to found a colony. [52]

Ebenezer Shed, 1727, perhaps lived on or near the ‘Road to Cambridge,’ now Washington street, as he had possessions in that locality, on both sides of the road, near Wildridge's Hill. The family became extinct here in the third generation.

William Rand, 1758, was in the fifth generation of the Robert Rand family. He had two sons, William, who may have lived in Woburn, and Thomas, who lived in Somerville. Descendants here are all through Thomas, thirteen in number.

Peleg Stearns, 1761, had a homestead and possessions in the Highfield. His only child, Dr. William Stearns, married Sarah White Sprague, and they had nine children. The homestead was on the northeasterly side of Broadway, near the Charlestown line, and the house is still standing. Besides their possessions in the Highfield, they had land on the southerly side of Washington street, near the Charlestown line, and in Polly's Swamp. Two of the descendants of Peleg Stearns are now in Somerville.

Joseph Adams, 1770, was of the fifth generation of the John Adams family, of Cambridge, arid the fourth Joseph in lineal descent. Two Josephs in lineal descent followed him. He lived on the northwesterly slope of Winter Hill, in what is now known as the Magoun House; and it is still occupied by descendants. Major Joseph Adams married, first, Lucy, daughter of Samuel Kent, and second, Sarah, daughter of Peter Tufts. John Adams' descendants now living here are twenty-six in number.

Jonathan Teele, 1776, son of Samuel, was of the fourth generation of the William Teele family of Malden, and he lived in the upper part of the town, and posterity are still living there. He married Lydia, daughter of Ammi Cutter. The descendants of William Teele now living in this city are nineteen in number.

John Stone, 1782, son of Jonathan Stone, Jr., of Medford, was of the sixth generation of the Stone family of Watertown. He married Mary, daughter of Nathaniel Tufts. Their children, who lived in Somerville and have issue here, were: Nathaniel T. Stone, who married Sarah, daughter of Thomas Rand; Hannah A., who married David A. Sanborn; and Lydia, who married Robert Vinal. Seth Stone, a brother of John, married another Mary Tufts, and although he lived elsewhere, has descendants [53] here through his daughter Susanna, who married Benjamin Tufts. It would seem to be difficult for a person living in Somerville, and of Puritan stock, to run his or her line of ancestry back without striking a Tufts. The posterity of the progenitor now living in Somerville are twenty-four in number.

Samuel Cutter, 1783, son of Samuel, was of the fifth generation of the Richard Cutter family of Cambridge, and lived in Somerville. Three sons of Samuel, Jr., Edward, Fitch, and Ebenezer F., lived on the Winter Hill road, toward Charlestown, and Samuel, their eldest brother, lived within the peninsula. A daughter of Francis, brother of Samuel, Sr., Charlotte W., married Abraham M. Moore, of Somerville. Ephraim Cutter, 1791, son of Ammi, was of the fifth generation, and lived on Prospect Hill. If he has descendants in this city, they are unknown to me. Lydia Cutter, sister of Ephraim, married Jonathan Teele, of Somerville. Rebecca Cutter, daughter of William, was of the third generation, and married Joseph Adams (the second Joseph), of Cambridge.

The descendants of Richard Cutter now living in this city are seventy-four in all.

Philemon Russell, probably in 1789, as he was in the census of that year. His possessions in Somerville were near Alewife Brook. He was son of Joseph, who may have lived in the same locality, and who was of the fourth generation of the William Russell family of Cambridge. Philemon Russell married Elizabeth, daughter of David Wyman. His eldest son, Philemon Robbins, married Martha, daughter of Isaac Tufts, a member of the ubiquitous Tufts family. The descendants of William Russell now living in this city, all through Philemon R. and wife Martha, are sixteen in number.

Nathaniel Hawkins, 1783, married, first, Sarah, and second, Rebecca; daughters of Samuel Kent, as previously mentioned. His sons, Christopher and Guy Carleton, resided here, but the family is now extinct in Somerville.

Joseph Barrell, 1793, or thereabouts, owned a dwelling house and a large tract of land south of Washington Street, which became known as Cobble Hill. His daughter Hannah married [54] Benjamin Joy, who came in possession and in 1817 sold the most elevated part of the land; and the McLean Asylum buildings were erected thereon. The remaining part of the land and the house were known in my early days sometimes as the Barrell farm and sometimes as the Joy farm, and the dwelling house is well remembered. None of Barrell's heirs are now here.

This completes the list of the original English inhabitants, all in the seventeenth century, about twenty-five in number, and the early settlers, down to the close of the eighteenth century, about twenty in all. If the collection seems small, let it be borne in mind that Somerville was a sparsely-populated district, and that many farms were owned by residents within the peninsula, some in Cambridge, and a few in Malden. Indeed, in the nineteenth century and in my time it was a common sight, late in the afternoon of any summer day, to see cows from Somerville passing down Main Street in Charlestown to their owners' homes. The number of adult inhabitants here in the first two centuries could not have been at any time more than two hundred and fifty. It was not my intention to cross a second century line, but interest increased, as other names came to the surface. In the forty-second year of the nineteenth century, when the town commenced its legal existence, there were only about ninety resident real estate owners, and the population was one thousand and thirteen. The non-resident real estate owners numbered about forty. Of the ninety resident real estate owners, nineteen were descendants of the original English inhabitants through the early settlers, five were descended from the early settlers, thirteen were new-comers whose posterity are now here, and about fifty-three were new-comers who probably left no issue in Somerville.

There are now resident in this city one hundred and fortyfour descendants of the original English inhabitants and ninety-four of the early settlers. Of the former, one hundred and thirteen are of the Tufts family, twelve are of the Miller family, of whom ten are also of the Tufts family, and are included in the number so given, and five are of the Kent family, and are also of the Tufts family, and are included in this family number [55] Nine were of the Palgrave family, eighteen were of the Ezekiel Richardson family, and two were of the Goble family.

In 1842, the year in which the town of Somerville was incorporated, the prominent men were: John S. Edgerly, of blessed memory, a selectman the first year and for eleven years subsequently, and chairman of the Board a part of the time. Mr. Brastow, afterwards the first mayor of the city, gave Mr. Edgerly the sobriquet of ‘Winter Hill eagle,’ because he lived at the top of the highest elevation in Somerville. The second person to name is Charles E. Gilman, who was town clerk in 1842 and the faithful town and city clerk forty-six years consecutively and till the time of his death. John C. Magoun was an assessor in 1842, and for thirty years subsequently. He was an overseer of the poor twenty-two years. Edmund Tufts was town treasurer and collector of taxes the first year, and the sum total that passed through his hands was $4,993.97. Other prominent men the first year were Nathan Tufts, Caleb W. Leland, Guy C. Hawkins, Alfred Allen, Levi Russell, Charles Miller, Francis Bowman, Columbus Tyler, Robert Vinal, Thomas J. Leland, Joseph Clark, Dr. Luther V. Bell, James Hill, Captain Edward Cutter, Fitch Cutter, Orr N. Towne, Colonel Samuel Jaques, of Ten Hills Farm renown, Clark Bennett, Samuel T. Frost, and George O. Brastow, all passed away.

To continue the narrative down the generations would be foreign to my purpose and fail of historic interest, and I close the book.

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