The roads of old Medford.
（Read before the Medford Historical Society, Jan
. 17, 1898.)
HERE can be no doubt but that the early paths or roads of Old Medford were located substantially where our great highways now are, and it is probable that in many cases they followed the old Indian trails along the banks of the river and out into the country.
The territory about Mistick river was the favorite dwelling-place of the Pawtucket
tribe of Indians
, whose hunting-grounds extended as far east as Piscataqua
, and as far north as Concord
, on the Merrimac river
The nearest, and in fact the principal, land route between Salem
and the other settlements on the eastern coast of New England
, and Charlestown
, and the other settlements on the south shore of Massachusetts bay
, was through Medford
by the way of what are now known as Salem
, South, and Main streets, crossing the river at the ford, or, after the building of Mistick bridge, over that bridge.
It is hardly possible that the ford could have been much used after the building of the bridge (at least while the bridge was passable). The rise of the tide from ten to twelve feet, twice in twenty-four hours, must have been a serious obstacle to its use, nor was it well adapted to the passage of teams, the landing-place on the north side of the river being quite steep.
The records of the town of Medford
prior to the year 1674 having been lost or destroyed, and a portion of the records of the County Court
being [p. 54]
also lost or destroyed, information concerning the early roads of Medford
is scant and most unsatisfactory.
Some information can, however, be gathered from the remaining county records, the records of other towns, and from deeds.
Salem street is shown upon a map supposed to have been made in the year 1633, and Main street and the Menotomy
) on one made in 1637 (see ‘Historical Register
’ for October, 1898, pages 120 and 122). Salem street was spoken of as early as the year 1638, by the several names of ‘Salle path,’ ‘Salem path,’ ‘Salem
highway,’ ‘The way to Mistick,’ and ‘Salem path to Mistick Ford.’
A portion of High street was also spoken of in the same year as the ‘Ware
highway,’ and later as ‘The way to the Wears.’
road (a part of Riverside avenue) was referred to in a deed dated 1657 as ‘The common Highway leading from the Mansion House
) unto Charlestown Commons and Meadford House.’
It may, therefore, be confidently asserted that Salem
and Main streets, and a portion of South
street, were among the first, if not the first, roads used in Medford
, after the settlement of the colony.
Indeed, of the six great highways that existed in Medford
prior to the year 1700, viz., Main, Salem, High, Grove, and Woburn streets, and a portion of Riverside avenue, it is hard to tell as to which should be given the claim of priority.
Perhaps Fulton street, or the Stoneham
road, should have been included in the above list, although there is no evidence of its use throughout its entire length until a later period.
records say that on the 14th of the 7th month, 1646, ‘Edward Convers
and Samuel Richardson
are appointed to lay out a highway between this town and Mistick Bridge, being joined with some of Charlestown
, and some of Mistick House.’
Of the doings of this committee, or from what source their authority emanated, we are unable to determine [p. 55]
(probably from the County Court
). It is interesting, however, to note that the town of Medford
was represented by ‘some of Mistick House.’
Courts were established in the year 1643; the records of Middlesex
commence in the year 1649.)
June 21, 1659, the records of the County Court
say that ‘The Court
doth order that 4 persons, indifferently chosen, two of them in Watertown
and two in Charlestown
, to lay out the highway between Cambridge
This location cannot be determined; probably by the way of the mill on Mistick river, and very likely the first laying out of Grove street.
On June 16, 1663, a committee was appointed by the County Court
to lay out a highway between Woburn
, through Medford
The records of the County Court
, commencing in the year 1664 and running to October, 1671, having been destroyed by fire, the location of this way cannot be determined; probably it was by the way of the mill on Mistick river and over the present lines of Grove street.
Oct. 1, 1672, the County Court
appointed a committee to lay out a highway between Cambridge
, and April 1, 1673, the committee reported as follows: ‘To begin upon the County
Highway at a certain brook running through and upon Simms
his land, so as to run on the east side of Mistick Pond, as the highway now runs, until it comes to a certain Black Oak standing by an old ditch on the plain, and then to run down in the field to the mill, through Capt Tim Wheeler
's land, and so to pass over the River
, at and upon the dam that pertains to the mill. . . .’
From the above description we find that this way commenced at ‘Symmes Corner’ in Winchester
, running over the present location of Grove street upon the lines of a former highway; no doubt the way laid out in 1663, possibly in 1659.
And we further find that there was a dam across Mistick river of sufficient width to allow of the passage of teams.
The mill [p. 56]
spoken of was on the Arlington
side of the river.
(There were two mills, a corn and a fulling mill.) An ancient deed says they were in Mistick river, and according to other ancient deeds they were located a short distance west of Alewive brook, or Menotomy river.
Capt. Tim Wheeler
was the son-in-law of Thomas Brooks, who, in company with Captain Wheeler
, bought of Edward Collins, in the year 1660, 400 acres of land in Medford
They also bought of Mr. Collins
an interest in the mills.
Dec. 23, 1673, the County Court
appointed two committees—one to lay out a highway between Mistick bridge and Woburn
, and the other to settle the highway from Cambridge
, with instructions to the latter committee, ‘that where lands are fenced in, to stake out the road at least four rods wide, and where the land was low and wet, there to lay out the same six or more rods in breadth. . . .’
April 7, 1674.
The committee to lay out the highway between Mistick bridge and Woburn
made its report.
It is impossible to tell from the description where this way was located; such landmarks as the ‘Halfway swamp
,’ ‘Bare Hill
,’ and ‘Elbow Hill
’ are mentioned.
It probably includes substantially the laying out of the year 1646, and is no doubt the way from Woburn
to Cradock bridge as it exists at the present day, through North Winthrop, Woburn, High, and Main streets.
On the above-mentioned day the committee appointed to settle the highway between Cambridge
made its report: ‘From the new County road by the Slate Hill
, over the sorrelly plain through Mr. Winthrop
's farm to the road leading to Mistick Bridge, and from there over Gravelly Bridge, and to the left over the plains to Malden
A portion of this way includes the present location of Harvard street.
Dec. 16, 1684.
The County Court
appointed a committee to view the highway between Woburn
and Mistick bridge, and to make returns of what they shall [p. 57]
find and do therein.
This report was placed on file and is not to be found.
Aug. 22, 1695. ‘A complaint was made to the County Court
about an incumbrance upon a Country Highway leading from Woburn
, that was laid out Feb. 26, 1672, on the east side of Mistick Ponds.
A warrant was issued to a committee to repair to said Highway as soon as may be, and remove any incumbrance that may be deemed a common nuisance. . . .’
The committee reported, March 10, 1695-6, ‘that they had laid open the country road except a short space by the house of Caleb Brooks
, he having planted an orchard thereon, which bears fruit, he promises to allow a free and convenient passage through his yard until the next County Court . .’
On that same day William Johnson
, Thomas Welsh, senior
, and Matthew Johnson
testified ‘that the said Highway from Woburn
and Reding, running by Caleb Brooks
' to Menotomy Mills and so on to Cambridge
, according as the former committee appointed by the County Court
laid it out, was improved as a Highway by Woburn
, for many years before they laid it out.’
The return of the committee was considered by the Court
: ‘It being an ancient Highway, saving that the way go through the orchard of Caleb Brooks
, shall be through said Brooks
his yard, it being judged by the Court
to be the Country Highway
, without any further compensation to be paid for it.’
Mr. Charles Brooks
, in his ‘History of Medford
,’ says that the house of Caleb Brooks
stood immediately in front of the Woburn
road (Grove street). Assuming this to be the fact, it gives us a fairly correct idea where the road leading to the mill was situated.
It ran through the yard of Mr. Brooks
, following the same general course in which Grove street now runs, down to the river at a point near where Arlington street connects with Jerome street.
March 22, 1708-9. ‘Pursuant to a motion of the Sheriff [p. 58]
, referring to a County road that is needful to be laid out from Menotomy road, so across Menotomy
fields, over the Ware
, through Medford
, to the place called Mr. Convers Mills
, the Court
appointed a committee to enquire into the convenience of the Highway and whether it is needful. . . .’
July 8, 1709, the committee report ‘that having visited the road leading from Menotomy
to Convers Mill in the township of Woburn
, both in the Ancient road where Wheeler
his mill formerly stood, and also the road leading through Adams
his gate, leading by Mr. Jonathan Dunster
over Mistick River, at a place commonly called the Wears.
And we do judge it most convenient for the publick and least prejudicial to any private person, that said ancient road leading by said mill, cannot reasonably be made passable, but that the road leading from Adams
his gate, is the most advantagious for the publick and least prejudicial to any particular person.
And that the said road should be continued as it is now improved, allowing three rods in width from said gate to the northermost line in Simms
his farm. . . .’
thereupon issues an order for a jury to lay out the said highway, and on Oct. 25, 1709, the jury submitted their report: ‘Beginning at Adams
his gate in said Menotomy
, allowing three rods in breadth to the Wares, in the same place where the road now lyeth and hath been for a long time improved, . . . and from said Wares to Ebenezer Brooks his gate, by his gate as the way now lyeth, three rod, which is between said Brooks
and Jno. Francis
, bounded in said Francis his land, by stakes which we set up in some old postholes, about six feet within said Francis fence as it now stands, and to extend into said Brooks
his land, to the full extent of three rod, and from said Brooks
his gate to Symms
his farm three rod. . . . Reserving to Samuel Brooks
his barn, one end of which stands in the Highway: while the said barn stands, and no longer.’
had disappeared, and probably the dam was much out of repair; at all events, the ancient way was abandoned, and Mr. Ebenezer Brooks
, who owned the land between High street and the river, no doubt soon obliterated all traces of it.
Mr. John Francis
owned sixty acres of land, with house and farm buildings thereon.
In Middlesex Deeds it is described as bounded west on Mistick river and the Great pond
; south by a highway to the Wares; east by a roadway to Woburn
; and north by a ditch and hedge (dated March 2, 1692).
In the year 1735 a highway was laid out from Stoneham
, ‘from Spot Pond swamp to the County Road
by the Brickyards in Medford
This way is now known as Fulton street.
Most, if not all, of these highways within the limits of Medford
were laid out over ways already existing.
It was the custom in those days of defining the bounds of a highway by means of a stump, a rock, or a marked tree.
Such bounds soon disappeared and rendered a new laying out of the way necessary.
Medford roads were first mentioned in the county records on June 25, 1658: ‘Medford
is enjoined to repair their highways before the next term of Court, on penalty of forty shillings.’
Complaints were numerous thereafter in regard to the condition of these roads.
March 13, 704-5: ‘Capt. Peter Tufts
and Stephen Willis
, appear in Court to answer to defects in the way to Malden
, they say that they are mending the way as fast as they can, and in regard to the defect north of Mistick Bridge, that they have mended the same.’
Aug. 25, 1719, John Bradshaw
, appearing in court to answer to complaints about a highway in Medford
, answered ‘that to the best of his knowledge, the way is mended.’
In the year 1769 the town of Medford
being presented for not amending and repairing a highway in said town [p. 60]
leading to Stoneham
come and say that they will not contend with the King.
The Court having considered the same, order the said town to pay a fine of three shillings to be disposed of as the law directs, and that they pay fees and costs.
Travellers on these roads were subject to the annoyance of opening and closing gates that had been erected across the ways by individuals through whose farms they passed.
The early records of Charlestown
say that in the year 1648 ‘Mr. William Stitson
be entreated to get a man to make up a fence of three rails and a gate at Mistick Bridge, to run from the river and over the highway to Mr. Winthrops
And in 1658 ‘Mr. Richard Russell
and Thomas Lynde
, were appointed to agree with Mr. Collins
, to make a gate upon Mistick Bridge, to secure our commons from any stray cattle, the charges to be borne by
the proprietors of the commons.’
In the year 1695 John Hall, Senior, was granted permission by the County Court
to hang a gate at the end of his land, ‘that he may have the benefit of the improvements thereon.’
And in the year 1711 ‘John Usher
be allowed to hang two gates in the roads within his farm, one on the road from Charlestown
, and one on the road from Charlestown
, for this year.’
Mr. John Usher
owned a part of Governor Winthrop
's ‘Ten Hills farm,’ the same estate afterwards in the possession of Col. Isaac Royall
maintained a gate across Harvard street, on the southerly limit of his farm, as late as the year 1771.
It is to be remembered that the part of Medford
situated on the south side of Mistick river was within the limits of Charlestown
until the year 1754.
In the records of the County Court
, and in our own town records, may be found numerous references to encroachments upon our highways, taking into consideration the fact that most of our great highways [p. 61]
were laid out four rods in width, and comparing that width with their present width, it is not surprising that many complaints were made in regard to them.
It required constant watchfulness on the part of the town authorities to prevent these encroachments, and many a valuable public right has been lost by long-continued neglect.
In addition to these highways there were local or private ways leading down to the river to the several landing-places.
These ways were called proprietors' ways, and it is a matter of doubt as to the public ever having possessed any rights therein.
A portion of the way now known as Riverside avenue was known in early days as the River
road, commencing at or near Cross street and running easterly across the boundary line between Medford
(that part of Charlestown
being afterwards set off to Malden
) to Wilson
's point, known in our day as Wellington
That part of Riverside avenue between River street and Cross street was laid out in the year 1746, in order to make a convenient way to the tide mill.
The most easterly of the ways leading from the River
road to the river is now known as Foster court, and the landing-place was called ‘Labor in vain Landing,’ it being opposite Labor in vain Point.
There is some reason to believe that it was also called ‘Hall's Landing
The next westerly landing was situated near the foot of Park street, and the way thereto was through land afterwards used by Mr. Thatcher Magoun
as a shipyard.
The third and last landing-place east of the bridge was situated at the foot of Cross street and was called ‘No Man's Friend,’ and also ‘Wade's Landing.’
laid out a way from this landing to its woodlots, on the northerly line of Mr. Cradock
's farm, the southerly end of this way being at or near the present location [p. 62]
of Cross street. It has been said that Charlestown
laid out both Cross and Fulton streets, but, as will be hereinafter shown, the way laid out by that town was so many times changed that it is impossible to locate the first laying out. The River
road was in use from the time of the first settlement of the town, running along the bank of the river—it was the only means of communication between Wilson
's point, the several landing-places on the river, and the bridge and ford; and as has been previously said, that the part of Riverside avenue from River street to Cross street not being built until the year 1746, the route from the easterly part of the town to the bridge and ford must have been over the River
road, across to the Salem
road near Gravelly bridge, and from thence to the bridge and ford.
It is not at all probable that the present location of Cross street was in the line of travel.
More than likely the cross road connected with the Salem
road at a point nearer Gravelly bridge than does Cross street at the present day.
Whatever may have been the rights of Charlestown
to a landing at ‘No Man's Friend,’ or to a road from thence to its woodlots, or from whence those rights may have been derived, it is certain that they were not so clearly defined as to put them beyond controversy.
It is probable that Mr. Cradock
's agent did not object when Charlestown
first laid out or used these ways, but when the estate passed out of the hands of Mr. Cradock
's heirs the new owners were disposed to question that town's rights, both to the landing and the ways.
records say that ‘the highway was turned that led up to the rocks in Charlestown
woodlots, north of Mistick river and east of Gravelly creek
, on request of Mr. Nathaniel Wade
In Middlesex Deeds, Book 10, page 416, may be found an agreement entered into between Mr. Nathaniel Wade
and the town of Charlestown
about a landing-place or bank called ‘No Man's Friend.’
‘It [p. 63]
was agreed that one-third of the bank next to Mistick bridge should be the sole property of the said Wade
, and the remaining two-thirds, with a convenient highway thereto, should be held in common by the said Wade
and the inhabitants of Charlestown
; . . . and the said Wade
further gives and grants unto the inhabitants of Charlestown
one only highway from the said bank up to the rocks in Charlestown
commons, the way to be maintained by the proprietors of the commons, and the town of Charlestown
quitclaims to said Wade
any claims it may have to the lower landing, called Hall
's landing’ (dated Sept. 2, 1695).
May 13, 1698.
A committee was chosen by the town of Charlestown
to agree with Mr. Nathaniel Wade
for a highway from ‘No Man's Friend’ bank to the woodlots.
‘It was agreed that the town of Charlestown
should have a highway from said bank through said Wade
's land unto the foot of the hill, that was formerly called Rock gate, two poles broad, and from thence two ways to the woodlots, one leading to Jacob Green
senior's lot, the other leading to John Trumble
's lot. Each way is also two poles broad as they are now laid out, being marked on the east side, and the said Wade
shall have liberty to hang gates in any of said ways for the security of his pasture or pastures.’
gate was located near the juncture of Fulton street and Love lane.
This lane as originally laid out is still open as far as the Trumble lot.
In the year 1710 Mrs. Mercy Wade
, widow of Nathaniel Wade
, petitioned the town of Charlestown
for a change in the highway from ‘No Man's Friend’ landing to the woodlots.
A committee appointed by the town to consider the matter, recommended ‘that the way be changed to meet the wishes of Mrs. Wade
, as it is only in a little way that she desires the change.’
In the year 1735 the location of the way from Salem street to the woodlots was definitely settled by its becoming a part of the highway from Stoneham
There were several ancient ways east of the marketplace (the Square
) dating back to about the year 1700. One of these is now known as River street (Dead Man's alley). It was then called ‘The way to the wharfs.’
Another way is spoken of as leading from Salem street to the old burying-ground.
This way is now contained within the present grounds, as they were not originally located upon Salem street, as at the present time.
Still another way commenced at the Market
place, running easterly over what is now known as Riverside avenue; it extended but a short distance from the Market
place and was called Distill House lane.
On the corner of this way and Main street, fronting on the Market
place, stood the ‘Royal Oak Tavern.’
great brickyards were located north of Webster street, extending on both sides of Fulton street. It is probable that ways extended from Salem street to these yards.
They were no doubt located where Ashland and Fountain streets now are.
The first landing-place and the way leading thereto, west of the bridge, are supposed to have been immediately adjoining the bridge and on land now partially occupied by the Carleton Building
and partially by the street.
It is within the memory of those now living that the buildings on that land were set back from the street some twelve or fifteen feet, so that teams could be driven down to the edge of the wharf.
There are reasons for believing that a landing once existed there.
laid out one directly opposite, for the purpose of landing materials for the repairs of the southerly half of Mistick bridge, and it is fair to assume that the four towns which maintained the northerly half of said bridge also had a landing for similar purposes.
The records of the County Court
show that on March 8, 1736, a petition was presented to that Court as follows: ‘The inhabitants of the towns of Medford
, and Reading represent that they have for many years maintained and repaired the northerly half of Mistick [p. 65]
Bridge, so called, and have been at great charge and trouble in landing timber and materials used in repairing said bridge, by reason of some person improving part of the highway on the northwest side of the bridge, by laying timber, tar, &c.; and since that part of the way is not necessary for travellers, but improved by private persons for private uses, therefore pray that they may have liberty to use and improve such part of the highway on the north side of the bridge aforesaid, on each side of the way, as shall be convenient for landing timber and materials as aforesaid, so as not to obstruct persons travelling, &c.’
appointed a committee to consider the petition, and they reported ‘that the towns aforesaid have permission to lay timber and materials on the east side of the north end of the bridge so as not to prejudice the owners of the wharf adjoining, or any building that may be erected on said wharf.
And it was so ordered by the Court
It is probable that this way was not situated within the limits of the highway as it then existed, but that it was the property of one or more proprietors, who claimed and exercised the right to close it to the public.
It is well known that the way spoken of on the south side of the river was without the limits of the highway and was owned by the town of Charlestown
, and by that town sold in the year 1724.
The next westerly landing-place on the north side of the river was directly opposite the old High School House location on High street. This landing was the northerly end of the ford.
Following up the river, Rock-hill
landing comes next in order, and the way leading to this landing from High street is called Hastings lane.
Some years ago the town of Medford
claimed rights in this way and landing, and suit was brought to test the ownership thereof.
The case was decided in favor of the owner of the land through which the way passed, upon the general ground [p. 66]
that the public right, if it ever existed, had been lost by long-continued disuse.
When Thomas Brooks and Timothy Wheeler
purchased of Mr. Collins
their estate in Medford
commons they also acquired a right in the landing at the ‘Rocks’ next to John Mirrable
Does not this name suggest the source of the name of Marble brook
Marble must have been a tenant of Mr. Collins
(possibly of Mr. Cradock
also), and no doubt occupied the lands upon the borders of the brook.
There was a landing at Wilson
's point (Wellington
) on Three Mile brook (Malden river
). There is also a landing spoken of in ancient deeds that cannot be accurately located.
The indications are, however, that it was located somewhere between the Railroad and Boston-avenue bridges.
On the south or Charlestown
side of the river and west of Main street was a large tract of land called the ‘Stinted Pastures’ owned by the inhabitants of the town of Charlestown
, and divided into ranges about eighty rods in width, and between these ranges were laid out ways or rangeways, as they were called, two rods in width and extending from the river, southerly, to the Menotomy
A description of these rangeways, taken from Charlestown
records, and being part of the report of a committee submitted to that Town, is as follows:
Then we measured three rangeways in the upper part of Charlestown, between Menotomy road and Medford river.
First Rangeway.—We began on Menotomy road near Twopenny brook or Walnut tree hill, and measured the first rangeway northerly, 90 and 3/4 rods, shut up and improved by Mr. Russell; then still northerly 24 rods, shut up and improved one-half by Mr. Russell and one-half by Mr. Fosdick; then running still northerly five rods, shut up wholly by Mr. Fosdick and improved by him; then we measured still northerly this [p. 67] being Medford bounds, 85 rods, shut up and improved by Nathan Tufts; then still northerly 169 rods, shut up and improved by Brigadier Royall, which brings us to the way which passes by our Fish place on Medford River.
This way is closed at the present day. When Lieutenant-Governor Usher
owned the Royall farm
a complaint was made to the selectmen of Charlestown
that he had stopped up a rangeway running through his farm, and he was ordered to open the same forthwith.
There is no evidence that this order was complied with.
‘Second Rangeway.—Then we began at Mr. James Tufts
', near Medford River, and measured southerly 120 rods, shut up and improved by James Tufts
, which brings us into Charlestown
; still southerly we measured 142 rods, which brings us to Menotomy road, shut up and improved by Mr. Russell
This way has since been laid out as a county road, and is known as Curtis street in Somerville
and Winthrop street in Medford
Mr. James Tufts
' house stood on what is now the corner of South
streets, and was removed by Mr. Paul Curtis
to a location at the easterly corner of Summer street and Maple avenue. It was taken down a few years ago.
‘Third Rangeway.—Then we began on Menotomy road, and measured the third Rangeway northerly, partly open, and then still northerly, shut up 20 rods, partly by Dickson
, partly by Smith
, this being Medford
bounds, then proceeded still northerly to Medford river to a Rock, which measured 160 rods, shut up and improved by the Rev. Mr. Smith
This way has since been opened as a public way, except that portion between West street and the river, and is known as North street in both Medford
The rock above mentioned must have been the southerly point of Rock hill, on the opposite side of the river.
The Rev. Mr. Smith
's house stood on land at the corner of North and Auburn
records also give a description of two landing-places, on the south side of the river, owned by that town.
‘There is a piece of land, about one-half an acre belonging to the town for a landing or fishing place on Medford River, which is bounded as follows, viz.: on land formerly of Mr. Jonathan Tufts
, now Brigadier Royall
's, measuring from the road at the east end, back to the river, northerly 8 rods: from said east end along the road to a stake, measuring 24 rods westerly; and from said stake northerly to the river is two rods, all straight lines.’
The location of this piece of land is west of and adjoining the estate of Mr. Chandler
street, and it was the southerly end of the ford.
‘There is a watering place belonging to the town lying on Medford river, bounded as follows: bounded on each side by the land of Mr. William Smith
; southwesterly 29 1/2 rods; northeasterly 28 1/2 rods; southeasterly on the Rangeway leading to the river two rods, the breadth at the bottom next to the river, northerly 13 1/2 rods, which lies a little to the west of Smiths house.’
The watering-place above described is the gravel beach, to the east of and adjoining the Lowell Railroad location.
There was a beach at the end of the second rangeway, sometimes called the Middle
rangeway, and it was known as the Middle
The city of Medford
claims the ownership to this, as it also does to the landing at the end of the first rangeway.
There was a way leading west from the third rangeway, near where Waterworks or Capen street is now located.
Also one leading from Harvard street along the southwest bounds of Governor Winthrop
The town of Charlestown
laid out a way on the south side of the river, west of and adjoining Mistick bridge, for the purpose of landing materials for the repair of the [p. 69]
southerly half of the bridge.
A portion of this way was in existence as late as the year 1879.
It was entirely obliterated by the building of the stone bridge, which is twelve feet wider than the old drawbridge.
An old way, called Brickyard lane, extended from South
street, southerly, to the brickyards.
A portion of this way can still be seen to the south of Summer street. It is sometimes called Oak street. The brickyards were situated between Summer and George streets, on both sides of Brickyard lane.
South street was early known as the Fordway, or the Way
to the ford.
In later days it was called Fish House lane, taking its name from the fish-house that stood on the north side of the lane, near to the fishing-place.
It was laid out two rods wide from Main street to the ford or landing-place.
This lane was afterwards extended as far west as the third rangeway.
Union street (now Swan street), or that part of it leading east from Main street, was laid out about the year 1720.
It was laid out two rods wide, and was called the ‘Way to the wharfs.’
Another way, one rod in width, was laid out about the same time.
It is the way now leading from Main street to Mr. Bean
's coal yard.
A part of Broadway
was once situated within the limits of Medford
That portion of Main street between South street and the Square
was not in use until after the building of the bridge.
In March, 1695, the Hon. John Usher
and Mr. David Jeffreys
motioned the County Court
to alter and remove the highway through their farms, late the farm of Governor Winthrop
, and the Court
appointed a committee to consider the same.
The following is the motion:
Sheweth that having searched the records of said County, as to the Highway laid out through said farms, we can find upon record, only one way laid out, which way is through sorrelly [p. 70] plain to Cambridge, and for some time a way having been made use of, leading to Charlestown which way not appointed by any Court as can be found on record.
And the said way may be turned and altered for conveniency of, and less charge to the town of Charlestown, and less prejudicial to the proprietors of said farms. . . .
The committee report that
having heard the Hon. John Usher and Mr. David Jeffreys concerning the changing of the way, which now is, and has been made use of by the Country, this many years, unto a way which they proposed to be laid out over sorrelly plain to Winters Brook, which way we judge considerable further, and the way much worse, both for teams and travellers.
The Hon. John Usher having shown us a way between two Bridges, near his Spring: which runs southwest and into Menotomy road that leads to Charlestown, and that also is in use and further than the old road is, as it was formerly used
—The committee's report ends rather abruptly, no recommendation being attached to it.
The course of the road was not changed; the evident design of the petitioners was to have that part of Main street running over Winter hill
abandoned, and a new way laid out, across the plain, coming out upon the Menotomy
road, at or near where the railroad bridge at North Somerville now stands, that being the point where Winters brook crosses the Menotomy
The two bridges referred to were over Winters and Twopenny brooks, and the Sorrelly plain
was situated between Main street and Broadway on the north and south, and between the two brooks on the east and west.
The Sugar Loaf
road (leading from Woburn street across Winthrop street, east of Sugar Loaf hill
, into the woodlands) Ramshead and Brooks lanes were laid out as ways to the woodlots and pastures in the north part of the town.
The irregular course of Brooks lane at its southerly end, with its sharply defined angles, as [p. 71]
shown on the map, suggests that at some former time its location had been changed.
Powder House road was the way to the Powder House
, which now stands on land of Dr. Green
, on the easterly side of Highland avenue.
The easterly branch of Ramshead lane is supposed to have been the way leading to the old mill, and the settlement in its vicinity, that was situated on Marble brook
about a mile from High street.