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[p. 44]

High street about 1820.

Mr. Elijah B. Smith, who was born in Medford, April 4, 1813, and died in that city, August 16, 1903, wrote, just before his death, a few recollections of the old homesteads in West Medford which were standing in his boyhood, and his notes form the basis of this article.

H. T.W.

ABOUT a hundred rods from Weir bridge, on the north side of High street was a small house owned by Spencer Bucknam, occupied by a Mr. Peirce, afterward by Isaac Greenleaf for a few years, and then torn down. Mr. Greenleaf lived afterward on Fulton street.

On the south side of the street was the Payson farm of some fifty acres. The house and other buildings were a few rods from the Middlesex Canal. Elijah Smith and family occupied this place from 1800 to 1830. Mr. Smith was born in Lexington, Massachusetts. He was six years old when the battle of Lexington occurred, and he had a distinct remembrance of the event. The Payson farm being so near to the canal bridge, Mr. Smith's house was free and open to passengers taking the boats.

Over the bridge crossing the canal lived Thomas Calfe, the gardener for Peter C. Brooks. This house was on the corner of Grove street.

An eighth of a mile further east lived Miss Rebecca Brooks—‘Aunt Becky.’ Robert Caldwell lived in her house and carried on the farm. This house was remodelled and used by Mrs. T. P. Smith for a boarding school in the fifties. The school was known as Mystic Hall Seminary for Young Ladies, and was very popular in its day.

Nearly opposite lived Miss Rebecca's brother Caleb, on the present site of the railroad station. One of the first station agents of the Boston and Lowell railroad at West Medford lived there afterward. He was known as ‘Dontey’ Green. This house was destroyed by the great tornado.

A few rods beyond lived Eleazar Usher, in the house owned by his brother-in-law, Leonard Bucknam. ‘Uncle Leonard’ was the keeper of the almshouse. [p. 45]

Opposite lived Major Gershom Teel and afterward Captain Joseph Wyatt. This house, occupied quite recently by Mr. William J. Cheney, is standing in 1905. Just below the Usher house lived Deacon Amos Warren. Warren street was cut through the deacon's estate and named in his honor. Later Mr. Reed, father of Rebecca Reed, whose story of ill treatment brought about the destruction of the nunnery at Charlestown, lived in the Warren house.

Just beyond Whitmore brook, on the north side of the street, lived Captain Samuel Teel. This house is standing (1905) on the westerly corner of Brooks street. A few rods east—on the easterly corner of Allston street as now built—was a house occupied by Stephen Symmes, who afterward moved to the west side of Mystic pond. The next occupant was Thomas Huffmaster, who was killed during the tornado of 1850. The site is now owned by the heirs of John H. Norton, whose wife was a daughter of Mr. Huffmaster.

About half a mile farther east, in the colonial mansion which still beautifies the street, resided Master Kendall, the teacher of the town school. After him came Mr. Stickney, Rev. Caleb Stetson and Jonathan Brooks, who formerly lived in the ancient dwelling still standing at the corner of Woburn street. Both these houses are owned by the estate of Miss Lucy Ann Brooks, daughter of Jonathan. The mansion crowns the second slope of Ma'am Simonds hill, which in early days was called Bishop's hill, being dignified by a separate name in honor of the Bishop family who were large land owners between Woburn and Allston streets.

Directly opposite the old Jonathan Brooks house dwelt Jeduthan Richardson, in a very ancient house which seems destined soon to vanish before the march of modern improvement. Edward L. Staniels, who married Mr. Richardson's daughter, succeeded him.

On the easterly corner of Woburn street was the house and farm of James Wyman. Benjamin Noyes, gunsmith, [p. 46] lived there for a few years, and the premises were next leased for ten years to Elijah Smith. The house long since disappeared, but the old cellar can still be seen.

Mr. Wyman would never sell the land, and often came to walk over the broad acres, getting pleasure enough from these excursions to pay for the lack of income. He died in Boston when over ninety years old.

A few feet from this house was the house and stable of Joseph Wyman, the stage driver between Medford and Boston. His father owned the Russell farm on Winthrop street.

Henry Weir and family, and later Edwin Johnson, lived a little further down the hill. The Joseph Wyman house is standing, but the Weir house made way for the house of Milton F. Roberts on the easterly corner of High street court.

‘Ma'am Simonds hill’ was named in honor of Mrs. Joshua Simonds who with her daughters ‘Nabby’ and Pamelia kept a dame school for many years in the house on the north side of High street. It used to be sheltered from the street by large lilac bushes which grew on the slope between the sidewalk and the roadway. A face wall has been built and the sidewalk lowered, which adds to the comfort of the pedestrian and detracts from the picturesqueness of the house.

Next below was the old Putnam tavern, and beyond, the home of Minot Richardson, whose daughter married Augustus Baker, the proprietor of the Medford House. This house stood on the edge of the roadway, but has been moved back.

John Wade owned the house where Mr. George H. Bean the florist lives now. Major Wade's tannery was just east of this house, and family tradition says that he built the last named dwelling and two others opposite for his operatives.

Mr. A. D. Puffer's mansion, remodelled and moved back from the street, was the home of Major Samuel Swan and his son Joseph. This house was originally the [p. 47] Ebenezer Brooks mansion. Previous to 1812 the house was occupied by his half brother, Captain Caleb Brooks, who was guardian of his nephew Ebenezer.

Jonathan Porter's house, a few years ago demolished, was the home of William Furness. This house was formerly the residence of Parson Turell. The next and nearest neighbor was ‘CherryBucknam, so called because he made such excellent cherry rum. This house made way for Grace Church rectory. Next came the house of William Roach and, beyond, the Samuel Train house. This house was once the property of one Mr. Wyman, who preceded Mrs. Rowson as the proprietor of the famous select school for girls.

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