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[p. 16]

The Medford blacksmith of 1775.

by R. J. P. Goodwin, M. D.
one of the early settlers in Medford, about 1770, was Harry Bond, who came here from Londonderry, New Hampshire, to follow the occupation of a blacksmith.

He was the grandson of John Bond, of Scotch-Irish ancestry, who took an active part in the siege of Londonderry, 1689. Harry was tall, robust, and of large frame, a characteristic of the people of the North of Ireland, from whom he was descended.

At the time of which we write there stood at the corner of the Medford turnpike and Main street, a blacksmith shop, a plain and unpretentious structure, whose weather-beaten look denoted it had been built many years.

A venerable oak-tree standing in front of the shop, with its overhanging branches, gave cooling shadows in the summer days.

The wide and open door gave a view of the interior. On one side could be seen a massive framework, into which oxen were driven and secured in a sling while being shod. This operation was a curiosity to passersby, especially to the children, on their way to and from school. The glowing sparks as they fell from the anvil mingled with the chorus of the sturdy blows struck by the smith, from early morn till late at night, as he pursued his calling at the forge.

The old shop, like the village tavern, had long been the rendezvous of the loungers of the neighborhood, and here many of the patriots gathered to discuss the troubled affairs of the country.

But a little farther up the street stood the Royall House, where were wont to gather the Tories and adherents of the King. It was a time when neighbor was to be arrayed against neighbor. [p. 17]

For several days prior to June 16, 1775, farmers from Woburn, Billerica, Burlington, and Bedford had passed through Medford over the turnpike on their way to Charlestown neck, where they congregated at the old tavern located where Sullivan's Square Park now stands. As they passed the smithy many stopped to replace a shoe lost by their horse on the way thither.

This increased patronage obliged Harry Bond to continue his work late into the night, so that it afforded a good excuse for the gathering of so many citizens at the shop where was being discussed in secret the projected movements of the Continental Army,—as it was known by them that a determined stand was to be made and earthworks thrown up at Bunker Hill within a few days.

The preparations for the battle had been so quietly and secretly carried on that the Tories at the Royall House were in entire ignorance of what was transpiring so near them. Had they been informed they would doubtless have apprised General Howe at Boston, and the British troops would have been landed in Charlestown early enough to have prevented the gathering of the American forces.

The slaves at the Royall House, true to their instinct of freedom, kept the patriots of Medford informed of every movement made at their home.

The hot blood of Harry Bond, which he had inherited from his Irish ancestors who had withstood a siege of a hundred days in 1689 in defence of right, was fully aroused, and after closing his shop on the night of June 16 he informed his wife that on the morrow he should shoulder his gun, go to Bunker Hill, and do what he could for his country, even to the giving of his life if it became necessary. The morning of the 17th showed to the astonished Britishers in Boston the earthworks erected on Breed's Hill.

The engagement, as we know, opened by the firing of guns from the fleet in the harbor and from the redoubt on Copp's Hill, Boston, the Americans reserving their fire [p. 18] until the British troops had landed in Charlestown and, marching up, had nearly reached the breastworks. All through the desperate fighting that followed the first attack, the tall and stalwart form of Harry Bond was conspicuous, first here and then there, exposing himself fearlessly. Step by step the patriots were obliged to retreat, stubbornly contesting the way, fighting with clubbed muskets when their ammunition had become exhausted. In the midst of the last ranks to leave the hill, Harry could be seen waving aloft the colonial flag, which he had snatched from the hands of the color-bearer who had fallen, when he was shot dead by a British grenadier. His body was brought away by some of his friends who had witnessed his death. A few days after his remains were interred in the old Cross-street cemetery, where they fill a patriot's grave. The old blacksmith shop has disappeared; other industries of a like character occupy its site. The old Royall House, once the nursery of Tory schemes, still stands. The slave quarters are there, but their sable occupants have long since departed.

Medford sent many of its noble sons to the Revolutionary Army, and to the War of the Rebellion she gave of her best blood.

The echoes of the drum and fife of the Revolution and the bugle-calls of the Rebellion have long since died away, and we trust our goodly town may never again be called upon to sacrifice her sons in war.

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