The Lawrence Light Guard.—Continued.
by Helen Tilden Wild.[Read before the Medford Historical Society, May 19, 1902.] AS soon as Co. C, 39th Regiment, was dismissed from the United States service, in June, 1865, the members renewed their old associations with the Lawrence Light Guard and resumed regular meetings in the Town Hall the following October. It was suggested that the company join the Lawrence Rifles, but the Light Guard positively refused to do so, and chose the following officers: Capt., I. F. R. Hosea; 1st Lieut., J. Henry Eames; 2d Lieut., Henry A. Ireland, Jr. In May, 1866, the 5th Regiment was inspected at the race course (Mystic Park). Co. E had three officers, fifty-seven men, and fifty-five guns. Fully two-thirds of the company were veterans; about thirty had served with the three years men. In June, 1866, the company began to fit up rooms in Usher's Building. The drill hall was shared with the Lawrence Rifles. At this time, when the Light Guard is about to take possession of an elegant building, a few items of the simple furnishings of the armory of 1866 are interesting. The woodwork was painted white; a black walnut picture moulding was put up; battle mottoes decorated the walls. Three pictures of battle scenes were donated, also a life size photograph of Mr. Daniel Lawrence. Milton F. Roberts made the knapsack boxes from lumber furnished by the company. A Magee stove was set up, and somebody gave ‘free gratis,’ as the records say, a blacking box and a fluid can. It was voted to buy a step ladder, if not too expensive. When the company thought itself quite well settled, the ‘Good Genius’ made some needed improvements in the drill room. Later, portraits of [p. 2] nearly all the comrades who died in the war were placed in the armory. At the dedication of the Soldiers' Monument, September 6, 1866, the company paraded in uniform with side arms. The granite shaft bears on its marble tablets the names of all the Medford men who perished in the war. May 30, 1868, the first Memorial Day, the Light Guard visited the graves of departed comrades in Medford and in the Catholic Cemetery in Malden. The old colors were draped and carried by Pyam Cushing, Jr., one of the company of 1861. Every year since then, except in 1898, when the command was on duty at Gloucester, the Light Guard has taken part in the memorial exercises. In 1871, an out-door prize drill was held. The first and second prizes were donated by the officers of the company, the rest by fine members. This is the first prize drill recorded. After the formation of Post 66, Grand Army of the Republic, the veterans in the company began to drop out as active members. Capt. Hosea resigned January 30, 1874. Steps were immediately taken toward consolidation with the Lawrence Rifles. The conference committee agreed that the new company should be called Co. E, 5th Regt., M. V. M., and should bear the name Lawrence Light Guard, but that the captain and 1st lieutenant of the Rifles, Warren W. Manning and Fred. W. Dorr, should head the new organization. Lieut. Jophanus H. Whitney, of the Light Guard, was made 2d lieutenant. The consolidated company was organized May 5, 1874. Lieut. Dorr resigned the following September, and J. H. Whitney and Charles M. Green were commissioned 1st and 2d lieutenants. Capt. Manning resigned in 1876, and J. H. Whitney became captain. Rifle practice was inaugurated during his term of service. Through a combination of circumstances, the interest in the State militia began to wane about 1880, and the Light Guard suffered with the whole. In 1881, it is recorded under the date of September 6, the celebrated [p. 3] ‘yellow day,’ that eight men and one officer answered roll call and started for muster. The largest company in the regiment mustered only twenty-eight men on the opening day. On the following Wednesday, orders came from headquarters that each company must have at least thirty men or be ‘broken.’ Sergt. Porter was sent home and came back at midnight with fifteen men; ten more came in the morning, and the company was saved. Almost immediately after this muster, the company was reorganized; forty men were dropped from the rolls and new men enlisted to fill their places. Capt. George L. Goodale, now of the United States Army, took command. The reorganization and thirty-first anniversary of the Light Guard was celebrated February 13, 1882, by a banquet. At the next muster the general commanding told Capt. Goodale he had no criticism to make. In 1883, Capt. Goodale resigned, and for a few months Harry J. Newhall commanded, but was succeeded by Joseph E. Clark, formerly lieutenant in Co. H, of Charlestown. Under Capt. Goodale, and during the first term of Capt. Clark, the Light Guard held the front rank for drill and discipline. It was known as the crack company of the 5th Regiment. The company attended the ceremonies of unveiling the Washington Monument at Washington, D. C., February 22, 1885. It was the only militia company from Massachusetts in the city. It received commendation from the President and Gen. Sheridan, also from Gov. Robinson of Massachusetts, who expressed his pride at the way it represented the State. The first indoor prize drill occurred in 1885. The company gave a gold medal, the veterans two silver ones. The organization supported a drum and fife corps at this time. After another period of depression Capt. T. C. Henderson took command in 1889. He worked hard to [p. 4] bring the company back to its former rank, and was rewarded by a letter of commendation from Col. Bancroft. March 30, 1890, the first prize drill for the Lawrence medals was held. During the next year the company was much changed, many being discharged for non-attendance, and their places filled by men interested in the work. Some of them were former members of the High School Cadets, who had been under the personal tuition of Maj. Whitney, and others members of the Sons of Veterans. In January, 1897, new regulations were promulgated regarding target practice, by which members of the militia were obliged to qualify as marksmen or be discharged. These rules had a tendency to stimulate the attendance and interest in the Light Guard, which Capt. Henderson and Capt. Wescott, his successor, worked hard to bring about. The Light Guard attended the inauguration of President McKinley in 1897. In this peaceful advance to the capital, thirty-six years after the gray-coated ‘minute men’ started for Washington, the uniform of the company consisted of dark-blue coat with light-blue trimmings, black helmet with spike and eagle on point, light-blue trousers, and woven cartridge belt with brass plate. The men were armed with the latest pattern of Springfield rifles—voted of no particular value a year later. The Army and Navy journal says, ‘Massachusetts was represented by three of the finest looking companies in the parade—Co. E, 5th Regiment, Co. C, 6th Regiment, and the Ambulance Corps.’ December 9, 1897, Capt. James C. D. Clark was elected captain. The company was in good condition, many of its members being former officers of the High School Cadets. In less than two months after Capt. Clark's commission, a war cloud overhung the sky, and orders were given for each man to provide himself with clothing and equipments ready for instant duty, should war be declared. [p. 5] For the third time in the history of the United States, the nineteenth of April brought a call to arms. Again the drums beat for recruits at the High street armory, and those who had heard it nearly forty years before felt like stopping their ears and fleeing from the sound, but the boys, sons and grandsons of the men of ‘61, were full of the same excitement as in the days of the Civil War. Ninety-two names were enrolled in one week. April 29, came the disappointing news that the 5th was not needed, but on May 24, the regiment was ordered to Gloucester for an eight days tour of duty. As it was not at all certain that the boys would be ordered back to Medford at its close, they were escorted to the cars by the citizens, High School Cadets, and Fire Department. The week was no play-time, for the weather was wet and stormy, and the regiment was exercised in war-time drills. A sharp but unrewarded watch was kept for the Spanish fleet. Orders were received that on the last day of June the Light Guard was to march to South Framingham and be mustered into the United States service. On the evening of June 29, the Opera House was packed to suffocation. Ex-commander George L. Goodale presided. Mayor Lewis H. Lovering made the opening address. Members of the City Government and the Grand Army, clergymen and officers of the company spoke words of inspiration and enthusiasm. Col. Whitney spoke in his quiet way, and stated that Co. E was the first in the regiment to report its ranks full (106 men). The most affecting scene was when Capt. Hutchins, at the close of his remarks, grasped the hand of Col. Whitney, who had enlisted under him, a boy, in 1862. Together they had been through terrible battles, and now, as colonel, the younger man was to lead the dear old 5th wherever he was ordered. On the morning of the thirtieth of June, the square was full of people. The Light Guard was escorted by S. C. Lawrence Post 66 and the High School Cadets. [p. 6] Col. Whitney marched with the company. History had repeated itself. Again from the ranks of the Lawrence Light Guard a colonel had risen to command the 5th Regiment in time of war. The members of the Light Guard wore the regular blue uniform, the recruits were clad in kahki. The whole city was on the street, but we forgot to cheer. Solemn silence seemed fitting. At Park street, police and fire departments were needed to clear the tracks as the train pulled slowly down. The band played ‘The Girl I Left Behind Me’ as the boys boarded the cars, and as they threw themselves into their seats, there were many set faces among them, for they knew not when they would see Medford again. To the strains of ‘Auld Lang Syne,’ the train moved out. The regiment remained at South Framingham until September, and put in hard work at drilling and camp duty. September 12 found our boys marching through coal dust to Camp Meade, on the banks of the Susquehanna. The camp was in a beautiful situation on a side hill sloping down to the river. Although in a malarial district, the men were, thanks to careful policing, kept in good health. Every other day the regiment was marched to the river for bathing, until a swimming pool was constructed nearer the camp. The splendid physical condition of the command before it left Massachusetts was in its favor. Whatever the criticisms of the hospitals at Camp Meade may have been, few members of E Co. had any experience there, for the ‘Doctor Captain’ watched his men so closely that minor ills were cured before they developed into anything serious. All through the campaign he kept his promise made to the townspeople, ‘I will look after the health of your boys.’ In October, 1st Lieut. Neilson was promoted to take command of Co. K, of Braintree; 2d Lieut. Whitney was promoted to his place. As section after section of those camped at Middletown [p. 7] left for the South, the 5th began to be disheartened; but on November 16 they were ordered to march, and took the cars to Greenville, S. C., one step nearer Cuba. Orders to go forward and a visit from the paymaster made November 14 a gala day. The troops were reviewed at Greenville by the mayor, and marched through the town with the band playing ‘Dixie.’ Captain Clark had preceded the company, and tent floors and cook houses were ready for its advent. Thanksgiving dinner was sent by the Woman's Relief Corps and the Volunteer Aid Association of Medford, not the first or last of generous donations. The boys sent home the message, ‘We have met the Turks and they are ours!’ Winter in the ‘Sunny South’ was not what the boys expected. High winds which blew down the tents and upset the smoke stacks of the Sibley stoves, drenching rains which went through the tents as if they were paper, sounding, as the drops fell on the rubber blankets, like a tattoo on a snare drum, weather so cold that it froze the ears of men on guard, mud and the heaviest snow that had been known in that section for years, made the boys understand that campaigning was no pastime. Sickness developed in the camp and ‘blues’ were the order of the day. In December, Wagoner Kiley, of Co. E, died of typhoid fever. His body was sent home and buried with military honors. Private Priggin went home about that time on account of sickness. In February there were more ill than at any time during the term of enlistment. The arrival of new tents, letters from home, which had been delayed, and certain news that they were to be mustered out, were good medicine for invalids. March 3, 1899, one of the Light Guard wrote home, ‘The fashion of dying has ceased to be, and all are on the mend.’ On the 31st the 5th was mustered out at Greenville, but the men came home in a body and passed in review before Gov. Wolcott at the State House. [p. 8] Capt. Clark brought back to Medford his whole company, except Sergt. Gray, who was recovering from typhoid fever, and his brother, who stayed behind as nurse and companion. In the state which was the hot-bed of secession, these Massachusetts troops did their part to heal old wounds, especially when they stood guard at a Confederate monument, ready to die, if need be, to save it from desecration. These men enlisted with as pure motives as any soldiers ever had, and although they never reached the seat of war, we honor them for what they were willing to do, and for the battle of disappointment which they fought, as they waited an opportunity to prove their physical courage. That they did not suffer from disease as much as some other regiments camped even within a mile of them, was due to their obedience to orders regarding sanitation. Col. Whitney's experience in the Civil War made him especially careful in this respect. While we pity those who suffered so keenly, we must applaud those who, by keeping a model camp, preserved their health. Three members of the Light Guard, Messrs. Hall, Humphreys, and Cushing, enlisted in Co. A, 6th Regiment, and went to Porto Rico, where they participated in the battle of Guanica. Sergts. Garrett E. Barry and Amos D. Haskell went to the Philippines after their return from Greenville, and both have been commended for gallant service there. They are still in United States service in the islands. After the Spanish War, the Light Guard established a temporary armory at No. 9 High street, while the new armory, a memorial to Daniel Lawrence, was being constructed. Three years have gone by since the close of the war. New men have taken the places of many of those who enlisted in 1898, and all are working well at their rifle practice, striving to keep up the good record of the company. With a fine range, and a comfortable clubhouse there, an armory nearly completed, which is [p. 9] far beyond any other in the regiment for solidity, beauty, and convenience, the Lawrence Light Guard is looking toward the fiftieth anniversary of its establishment in Medford with the brightest prospects, determined to be worthy of the benefits which the colonel of the ‘Minutemen of '61’ has showered upon them, worthy of the respect of this city and the State, and at all times ready to honor, defend, and follow the oldest flag in the world, Old Glory.
The tradition of the old weaver's clock.Medford Historical Society, October 19, 1902.] HOWEVER interesting the old weaver's clock may be as an antique, its true worth is in its serving as a means to reveal to us the men who lived in this town and who used it. Can we assume that if the grandparents, and aunts, and uncles, and cousins galore, whose names are on the slate stones across the street, were to troop in here tonight, we could meet with them on common ground in speaking of a clock, or a watch, or of time itself? There is no question that Gov. Brooks would marshal this troop, for like the MacGregor, ‘Where he sat, there was the head of the table.’ As a boy he knew this clock, for its owner, John Albree, of Medford, was his grandfather, and in after years he must have seen it in the home of his cousin, Mrs. Jonathan Brooks. Did the men of that day recognize, as we do, that time is money? Could John Albree, the weaver on Meeting House Brook, figure out the money value of an extra throw of his shuttle, or comprehend the condition of society which sanctions a law punishing the weavers of our day if they allow their operatives to begin work ten minutes ahead of the opening time? How he and his neighbors would have resented any interference in their dealings with their servants. His own clock will help us answer these questions. In Charles Brooks' History of Medford, is a story that [p. 10] is still touching, even if it is packed away in a lot of genealogical material. It is the story of the two children, a boy and a girl, made orphans by the Spaniards. The Spaniards and the English were in continual strife in the Bahamas, and in 1699, at Nassau, the Spaniards gained control, and beginning a course of plunder and slaughter, killed, among others, the parents of these children. Mr. Brooks relates how the orphans in some unknown way escaped and fled to the wharves and found a friend in the captain of a Boston vessel. He took pity on the helpless little folks and assured them that he would take them to Boston. Before sailing, the captain went to the plundered home and found a clock, which he brought to the ship; so, with the sister in one hand, and the clock in the other, John Albree, at the age of twelve, began life in Medford, and the tradition is that this is the clock. An investigation into this tradition will give us an insight into the Medford homes of two centuries ago. Brooks, in his history, used about all the existing material concerning John Albree. The first record of him is in a list of those assessed September 2, 1701, on a ‘country rate,’ the amount being three shillings. His name appears on the lists each succeeding year. In 1711, he married Elizabeth Green, who was daughter of Samuel Green (John 2, Percival 1), and his wife, Elizabeth Sill, who was daughter of Joseph Sill and his wife, Jemima Belcher, the latter being the daughter of Andrew Belcher and Elizabeth Danforth. He bought first the property afterwards known as the Thatcher Magoun estate, on the banks of the Mystic, and later, selling it, acquired the estate through which Meeting House Brook runs, on which the second meeting-house was built. He used the brook for power for his mill. It seems probable that Rural avenue was a road to his house. His grandson told how the road used to be blocked with snow in the winter. There his children and his son's children were born. [p. 11] The story of the clock Brooks received from his mother, who was Elizabeth Albree, daughter of John Albree. She received the clock in the division of the estate of her father, Joseph Albree, in 1777. At the same time, her brother, John Albree (1757-1842), received a silver spoon marked with the initials of the original John Albree and his wife: I. A. E. Each of these heirlooms has come down, and each has its particular injunction associated with it; that with the clock being that it shall always remain in the female line, and that with the spoon, that it shall always pass to the oldest son. The fact of these parallel heirlooms suggests that they have a common origin, which is readily seen to have been when the property of John Albree's only son was divided in 1777. Furthermore, that these were thus created heirlooms shows that they were then regarded as valuable relics of John Albree, the weaver, and as the date of the son's death was less than twenty years after that of the weaver, we find the traditions both as to spoon and clock existing at that time. Thus, we are pretty near to getting confirmation from the weaver himself. But these parallel traditions, each confirming the other, are not the only evidence, and in following the other lines, we get an insight into time keeping of two hundred years ago. Stated in its simplest form, the tradition is: ‘The orphans brought this clock.’ Different people would expand this statement in different ways, according to which word, orphans or clock, made the deeper impression. To Charles Brooks' sympathetic nature, the word orphans appealed. His history shows what a delightful man he was, always thoughtful and considerate of others. A series of family letters confirm impressions given by his history. Fortunate indeed is the man who can unconsciously, yet naturally, leave such an index of his character. But if the story were expanded on the word clock, it might be asked if there was anything strange or worthy of notice that the orphans should have arrived with a [p. 12] clock. There are more automobiles owned in Medford tonight than there were clocks when John Albree arrived, as we will show from the inventories on file, for by means of them we can enter and ransack the homes of that time. One of childhood's delights is to rummage in the grandparents' garret, but this garret disappears with advancing years. For us the searching of ancestors' inventories must take its place, for in those lists we can know to the last glass bottle everything there was in their homes. Let us see what we can find for timepieces. If time-pieces existed at all, they must surely have been found in the homes of the best citizens. The men of Medford in 1728, by their own official acts, determined for us who twenty-five of the best citizens were, and the list is found in Brooks' History of Medford (page 334). Who of us would dare to serve on a committee to nominate the twenty-five men in our respective churches who are entitled to have the first choice of seats? What heart burnings must have been caused by that custom. It is a wonder it continued so long. Of this list of twenty-five, there are on file inventories of the contents of the homes of twelve. Mr. John Francis, Sr., who heads the list, did not live long to enjoy the best pew in the new meeting house, which had been built on land bought from John Albree. A large pewter platter which he gave his daughter, Lydia, on her marriage is still in existence, even though one of her descendants did use it as a cover for a flour barrel. During the twenty years subsequent to the making of the list, seven of those pewholders passed on to where ‘congregations ne'er break up and Sabbaths have no end.’ Of these seven there is only one whose inventory shows he had a time-piece; that was Dr. Simon Tufts. His inventory lists first his real estate, then after the two slaves, Pompey and Abraham, peculiarly personal property, is mentioned one watch, £ 35. After this minute examination of the homes, possible only through the exactness of the old appraisers, we [p. 13] must conclude without doubt that time-pieces were rare in Medford in the early decades of 1700, and that the appearance of a clock, seen in the possession of these two orphans, was an event to be noted and remembered. The records of Essex County confirm this result as to the scarcity of time-pieces, for in the three years from December, 1699, to December, 1702, there were one hundred eleven inventories filed, and in but four of them is there mention of a clock or watch, and to three of these the epithet old is attached, indicating that they were probably out of repair and useless. The records of Suffolk County for 1699-1700 show seventy-two inventories, in but eight of which clocks or watches are mentioned. The question may now be asked, ‘If they had no clocks or watches, how did they keep time?’ But, before answering, we must determine what we of 1900 mean by keeping time. We follow time so closely that it is seldom we are surprised at finding our watches indicating a different hour and minute from what we anticipated before looking. With this in mind, how shall we define keeping time in Medford in 1700, when the smallest subdivision on the hour dial of the weaver's clock is the quarter of an hour, and furthermore, it never had but one hand, and that the hour hand. What sort of a mess would the men of today make of their work if but five only out of one hundred possessed time-pieces, and these with the hour hand only? The witchcraft trials of Salem, 1692, furnish much evidence as to the temporary use of words of timemeas-urement. They referred to three fixed times; sunrise, noon, and sunset. Parris, the minister at Salem village, notes that on November i, 1691, he called a meeting, ‘For tomorrow an hour and a half before sundown.’ The entry the next day is, ‘After sunset about seventeen of the brethren met.’ Owing to the indefiniteness of time, some of these brethren must have wasted at least an hour and a half. Yet their needs seem to have [p. 14] been satisfied. Each house was sufficient to itself, for it had its water, its fuel, its lights, its stocks of food in the cellar, and a snow storm that to us would be a calamity was to them an inconvenience. Such independence is impossible now. A bargain hunter drops a brass curtain rod on the subway track, and in countless homes, from Milton to Medford, the evening meal is late. The breaking of a steam pipe in a power house puts a city in darkness. We all depend for our existence upon each other; and we all carry the same time in our pockets to regulate not only our own movements, but the movements of everybody else. The man with a slow watch, or no watch, the world pushes one side, and there he stays until he rouses himself. The clock itself has undergone changes. When John Albree brought it here, perhaps twenty years after it was made, it had a bell on top supported by the four finials, which are pierced for that purpose. It had a short, ‘bob’ pendulum that received its name from its rapid appearance at either side through slits in the doors, which have also disappeared. This ‘bob’ pendulum with this escapement was of the form in use from 1658, when the pendulum was invented, until the long, or royal, pendulum and anchor escapement were invented in 1675. Sometime in the eighteenth century the clock fell into the hands of a blacksmith who fixed clocks when horseshoeing and nail-making were dull. He cleared away the alarm and its works to make the necessary changes so that he could attach the long pendulum. The form of the grandfather's, or hall, clock was developed from this clock. First, a hood was made to keep out the dust; then the hood was supported by a long case which protected the pendulum, for the hanging weights and swinging ‘bob’ must have proved to be an attractive plaything for a child or a kitten. The pillars at the side, the arched top of the dial, and the brass finials then became features of the tall clock and are still retained. A study of this clock establishes two points; first, the [p. 15] independence of the individual in 1700 as contrasted with the inter-dependence of 1900; and second, that when in answer to the question that seems to be uppermost when one first looks at the old weaver's clock, ‘can it keep time?’ the reply is made, ‘it keeps the time of 1700,’ one understands what is meant.
Mystic river above the bridge, 1835-1850.CRADOCK bridge had a wooden draw which divided in the middle, and the two leaves were raised to a perpendicular position by means of a windlass. The creaking of the chains as they were wound around the barrels, responsive to the sturdy muscles of the blacksmiths, Wait and Moore, and their men, was a common sound. Above the bridge were three ship yards, one lumber yard, and a tan yard. Occasionally other traffic caused the draw to be opened. Mr. George Fuller, who lived in the house owned now by the heirs of Albert H. Butters, numbered 48 South street, had a ship yard on both sides of the street, and included the premises occupied in 1903 by Mr. F. E. Chandler. Mr. Paul Curtis' yard was on the corner of South and Winthrop streets; he launched directly across the roadway. He built and occupied the large house with pillars, later occupied by Rev. Mr. Davis, pastor of the Universalist Church, and owned now by Mr. J. N. Cowin. Curtis street is named in remembrance of this ship builder. Mr. Davis removed to Cape Cod, and the vessel which was to carry his goods to the new home came to the very door to be loaded. Mr. Jotham Stetson's yard was above the Winthrop Note.—Old Clocks and Watches and their Makers by F. J. Britten (London, 1899) is valuable for facts concerning the general subject of time-pieces, while the results of the exhaustive researches of Dr. Irving Lyon, given in his Colonial Furniture (Boston, 1890, now unfortunately out of print), should be studied by those desiring to learn the state of the art in the Colonies. As to hall clocks, consult in addition ‘Notes on Long Case Clocks,’ in Studio Magazine (London), August, 1902, by Britten.—J. A. Jr. [p. 16] Street bridge, then not in existence. His home was at the corner of South street and Maple avenue, and until a few years ago was occupied by his daughter. Mr. Peter Lewis built a small vessel on the north bank of the river, just east of the Lowell Railroad bridge. Another was built at the wharf where the new armory stands. The hulls of vessels of a thousand tons burden have been built west of the bridge, which was twice widened to accommodate larger craft. Once in a while a vessel would be caught in the draw and teams were obliged to go around through Arlington and Cambridge, or via Malden bridge, to reach Boston. It was a pretty sight to see a large vessel on the way down the river, depending on the tide, and men with tow lines (no steam tugs in those days), and with Capt. John P. Clisby, the pilot, standing in the bow giving his orders. He was a large man, with a florid complexion, and looked every inch the sea captain. The river pilots, beside Capt. Clisby, that the writer can remember, were Benjamin and Reuben Williamson, William Snowdon, and James Porter. The town sold fishing privileges, and Seth, John, and Oliver Tufts, Thomas Huffmaster, and others, were in the business. An observer on the bridge could see flounders and sculpins in the clear water at low tide. Seals were sometimes captured, and bass were often caught with hook and line. At the parting of Mystic Ponds, fish were caught by seines where the dam is now. There were a few beaches where seines were set for catching alewives; wagon loads of these were often taken, salted, and shipped south. A few shad were captured in this way. Joseph and Milton James, before 1845, had a lumber yard on Main street, at the southwest corner of the bridge. Mr. Joseph James lived just south of the yard, where Ames' paint shop, No. 49 Main street, stands. [p. 17] About 1845, the Messrs. James sold their property here and removed their business to the Branch Canal, near Swan street. Parallel with Main street was an inclined way leading from the lumber yard to the river at the bridge, which was used as a boat landing and for hauling timber from the river. Some of the very earliest deeds refer to this landing, which was public property before that part of Medford south of Mystic river was set off from the town of Charlestown. Mr. James B. Gregg bought the property formerly occupied by the lumber yard, and removed the ‘Ebenezer Hall’ house, which stood on the site of the Boston & Maine Railroad Station, to the northerly part of the yard, and lived in part of it himself, renting the remainder. Another house was removed from the lot just south of the town house to the rear of the Hall house, and let for tenements. The old lime storehouse was occupied by the Odd Fellows in the upper part, and the second story contained Henry Mitchell's barber shop. Mr. Gregg occupied the lower floor for his grocery and grain business. Another large building was used as a livery stable on the lower floor, and Moses Merrill and Edward Copp, house and carriage painters, had a shop above. To enable Mr. Gregg to reach his store from Main street, a bridge was built over the old runway to the river. It was in Gregg's stable that the great fire of 1850 began. When Mr. Gregg took possession of the northern half of James' yard, Mr. Benjamin Moore moved his blacksmith shop from the other side of the street to the southerly part of the yard, and his family moved from Union street to the Joseph James house. Mr. Moore, in company with John Fall, a shipsmith, and J. T. Barker, a teamster, took the teaming business of Mr. Gregg after his death. The latter was killed by being caught between two cars while unloading freight at the Boston & Lowell Railroad at West Medford. [p. 18] Mr. James Winneck succeeded him in the grocery business. Next south of Mr. Moore's property was a dwelling house occupied by the family of Mrs. Daniel Symmes, and by William Butters, known as ‘Hokum’ Butters, who worked at teaming with his oxen. George W. Symmes carried on his father's blacksmith business in a shop next to the house. There was a pump between Mr. Moore's house and the Symmes' house, which, with two others, furnished all the water used by families living between the river and South and Swan streets. The next nearest sources of water supply were the town pump in the square and the one in the hotel yard. Water for washing was often brought from the Middlesex Canal and from the distillery. On the corner of South and Main streets was the ‘Watts Turner’ place. He was the grandfather of the Tufts family who occupied it in 1850. Two sisters, Miss Hannah and Miss Emily Tufts, their brothers, Benjamin, Turner, and Richard, and Benjamin's children comprised the family. Richard Tufts' wheelwright shop was in the rear. They afterward lived at the corner of Salem and Fulton streets. Opposite the Gregg estate, on the east side of Main street, next to the river, was the blacksmith shop of Nathan W. Wait, which, strangely enough, was about the only building in the neighborhood which was not consumed on the memorable night of November 2, 1850. Mr. Wait succeeded his father, Nathan Wait, who started the business on the same spot in 1783. The property remained in the family until taken by the Metropolitan Park Commission, in 1901. Mr. Wait's dwelling house was next south of his shop. He went into it in 1826. After it was burned, he built the house now standing on the site. The next building was occupied by William S. Barker grocer, and Leonard Johnson, dealer in grain and meal on the lower floor. James Hyde, painter, occupied the [p. 19] second floor. There were two long oat troughs at the side of the street for feeding horses. The drivers could get gingerbread, crackers, cheese, and beer in the store while their horses were being refreshed by the roadside. The building was rebuilt after the fire and stands today very much like the original in general outline. Mr. Barker later removed to High street, just east of the old Orthodox Church. In the rear of the Wait and Barker buildings were the dwelling and wheelwright shop of Elias Tufts, entered from a passageway now called Tufts place. His father had a large pottery there many years ago. In the building just south of Tufts place, Mrs. Augustus Baker, afterward the landlady at the Medford House, had a variety store in 1830. About 1840, Mr. James Hyde bought the place and opened an oyster house. The land is now owned by his family. He dug a well on the street line and furnished a watering trough. This was probably the first one in town set at the street curb for public use. Mr. Hyde had a dispute with the town about the street line, and every few years would fence off a portion of the roadway. He finally received payment for what he claimed. George E. Willis, tin ware manufacturer, put up a building on these premises, using one-half of the lower floor for his business and living over his shop. William Parker, carriage trimmer, occupied the other half. Later Henry Forbes succeeded Mr. Willis, the latter going to the New England Gas Works at East Cambridge. The next building was the old ‘Admiral Vernon Tavern,’ occupied by Benjamin Parker in our day for a dwelling, and it was the place of business of his sons, Benjamin, a mason, Gilbert, who had a job wagon, and Timothy and William, harness makers. There was a stone cutters' yard, shaded by a large poplar tree, between the house and Swan street. At different times the proprietors were Mr. Ridgley, Samuel Cady and Mr. Cabot. Rough and hammered stone, the [p. 20] product of Pasture Hill and two quarries above Pine Hill, was sent out in drags drawn by four horses harnessed tandem. The trade extended over a large territory. The fashion of keeping one's residence and business under one roof has long ago disappeared, but from 1835 to 1850, the custom was almost universal. After the fire in 1850, most of the buildings destroyed were replaced by cheaper structures, many of which are still in existence. The Tufts lot, corner of South and Main streets, remained vacant for many years. Finally, the Central Engine House was built there.
Ancestry of Aaron Blanchard, periwig-maker.I. Thomas Blanchard, the emigrant, came from Hampshire, England, in 1639. He lived in Braintree, Mass., from 1646 to 1651. In February, 1651, he bought of Rev. John Wilson, Jr., pastor of the church in Dorchester, a house and farm of two hundred acres in Charlestown, lying on the north side of Mystic river, and between Malden river on the east, and the Cradock farm, or Medford line, on the west. This land is now known as ‘Wellington.’ The farm remained a part of the town of Charlestown until 1726,, when it was annexed to Malden, but later set off to Medford. Thomas Blanchard was married twice in England, and married a third wife, Mary——, after coming to New England, his second wife having died on the passage over. Four of his sons came to this country. He died on his farm in Charlestown, May 21, 1654; his widow died at Noddle's Island, now East Boston, in 1676. II. George Blanchard had two wives and ten children; lived on one-half of the farm inherited from his father, and died there March 18, 1700, aged 84. His gravestone is in the Medford burying ground. III. Joseph Blanchard, eldest son of George Blanchard, by his first wife, was born in 1654; married Hannah, [p. 21] daughter of Thomas Shepard of Charlestown, April 13, 1681. He had seven children, and died in Charlestown, on the ‘Blanchard Farm,’ October 24, 1694, aged 40. His gravestone is in the Medford burying ground. IV. Aaron Blanchard, twin son of Joseph and Hannah (Shepard), was born March 4, 1690; married Sarah——; had twelve children; died at Medford, September 30, 1769 (?) V. Aaron Blanchard, Jr., son of Aaron and Sarah ——, was born in Medford, May 21, 1722; married, 1st, Rebecca Hall of Medford, November 13, 1745. She died November 13, 1749. He married, 2d, Tabitha Floyd, who was born March, 1729, and died July 31, 1775. His third wife was Rebecca Tufts, widow of Ichabod, and daughter of Samuel Francis of Medford; they were married November 14, 1776. She died in Medford, January 28, 1817. He died in Medford, January 7, 1787. He was the father of fourteen children. He was a periwig-maker and was generally referred to in Medford as ‘Barber Blanchard.’
Benjamin Crandon Leonard was born in Plymouth, February 16, 1844. He was a son of Joseph Nelson and Abbie Bishop (Crandon) Leonard, and was a lineal descendant of John Howland and Richard Warren of the Mayflower. At the age of eighteen he obtained employment with the American Bank Note Co. of Boston, and remained with them the rest of his life. In 1879 he was appointed manager. He came to West Medford in 1872, and for thirty years was very active in local matters and town affairs. He was deeply interested in the organization and support of the West Medford Congregational Church and society, and for more than fifteen years was the treasurer of the latter. He was a charter member of [p. 22] the Village Improvement Society of West Medford, an organization that did much to promote the development of that part of the town. He was a selectman of the town of Medford in 1878, 1879, and 1880, and was chairman of the trustees of Oak Grove Cemetery for several years, and did very important work in laying out the grounds and in beautifying that city of the dead. He was one of the sinking fund commissioners and one of the investment committee of the Medford Savings Bank. He was for several years a member of the park commission of Medford, and chairman of the board at the time of his death. He was a strong and influential advocate of the Mystic Valley Parkway. He was an early member of the Medford Historical Society, but was more interested in the standing and development of Medford in the twentieth century than in the study of the ancient history of the town. Yet he was ever loyal and proud of his Pilgrim ancestors, and was true to their best traditions and principles. He married Abbie Leonard, who was a charter member of the Congregational Church of West Medford. After her death he married Miss Emma Fuller, daughter of George H. and Nancy Evelina (Blaisdell) Fuller of West Medford. She survives him and three children, viz.: Joseph Nelson Leonard, a member of this society, and Nathaniel Warren and Elizabeth Leonard. He died suddenly at his office in Boston, December 2, 1902, of heart disease.
Cleopas Boyd Johnson, an honorary member of the Medford Historical Society, was born in Medford, January 6, 1829. His parents were John and Eliza (Mears) Johnson. He was the youngest of four children. He attended private and town schools, and was well liked by his mates. He left the high school early and served an apprenticeship at house carpentering in Medford. Then [p. 23] the family went to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, but after a short time returned to their old home. In those days they travelled via the Erie Canal. On his return he worked in the ship yards of Medford, and in the Navy Yard. When a young man he was a member of a brass band of musicians, and of the fire department. He was a Free Mason for many years and a charter member of the Medford lodge. He recently joined the Knights of Malta. He and his brother, Theophilus, were master carpenters and builders in Medford. Later he carried on the business alone, and finally worked at jobbing until his last sickness. He was quite a collector of antique articles. He was a fine workman and well posted in all branches of his trade; a great reader of the Bible and mechanical papers. Early in the fifties he married Eliza Sawtell of Medford, who died about twelve years ago, since which time he has lived alone in the same house they occupied at her death. They had no children. He was buried from the Unitarian Church, Sunday, December 21, 1902.
Mrs. Fanny Russell Leary died November 24, 1902, at her temporary home in Hartford, Ct. She was born in South Hadley, August 16, 1838, and was a descendant of Rev. John Russell, one of the earliest settlers of that town. In her death we realize the loss of a patriotic, loyal-hearted woman, who was interested in the past and present of Medford. Almost from its beginning she was one of the most devoted members of the Medford Historical Society.