previous next
[p. 13]

Some notes from my Scrapbook.

Two-Penny brook.

To those interested in the old landmarks of Medford it is a matter of importance that, even if those landmarks have been destroyed or removed, some record of their original location should be preserved. It will be found by an examination of the recent maps of the city that this brook is represented as flowing through the location of the clay pits excavated by the Massachusetts Brick Company, and from thence through a new channel until it reaches Main street, where it joins the original location of the brook as it flowed through the culvert under Main street and from thence to the river. It has been previously mentioned in the Historical Register (Vol. 16, No. 3) that the portion of the brook between Mystic avenue and the river has been straightened, widened and deepened so as to make it navigable. Without doubt the maps referred to are correct so far as the open brook or ditch is concerned, but the makers of those maps must have drawn upon their imagination when they drew the course of the brook through the clay pits. However, this article is not written for the purpose of criticising the maps, but to place upon record the true course of the brook so far as it may be ascertained at the present time. By an examination of Walling's map of Medford, it will be found that the brook is thereupon represented as flowing across Buzzell's lane as it runs in a curved course from the low land near the location of College avenue. The maker of this map failed to complete his work by tracing the course of the brook to the boundary line between Medford and Somerville. Fortunately there is a copy of another map that supplies the necessary link. This copy is referred to as it is easy of reference for the readers of the Historical Register. It may be found in the article entitled ‘The Walnut-tree Hill Division of the Stinted Pasture,’ in Vol. 15, No. 2. Join the two plans and we have a fairly [p. 14] accurate plan of the original location of the brook. Some years before the many clay pits had been excavated, and after the course of the brook had been changed, the writer of this article went over the land to endeavor to locate the old course of the brook and succeeded in locating a good part of the old channel, also in locating the channels through which flowed the waters from the spring under the old brick tower on the Stearns estate and the spring on the lot of land west of College avenue, formerly known as the Pansy park. There are culverts under College avenue to allow the flow of water from both of these springs. The change in the course of the brook was caused by the excavation of the clay pits. The course of the brook on the south side of the Southern division of the Boston and Maine railroad has also been changed, it formerly flowed a short distance southeast from its present location.

In the article entitled ‘The Withington Bakery’ in the July number of the Register (No. 3, 1915) may be found a reference to the approximate age of the old buildings demolished lately. The records show that in the year 1735 the land was conveyed without buildings, and in the year 1755 it was conveyed with a house and shop thereon. The writer of that part of Mr. Usher's history therein referred to overshot the mark by about one hundred years.

We have to record the passing of the old house on the corner of Main and Emerson streets. This house stood on a portion of the Stinted pasture, and the land was deeded by Jonathan Tufts to Job Richardson in the year 1731. The house was probably erected soon after, as it is mentioned in a deed a few years later. In 1743 it came into the possession of Isaac Royall, and was a part of his estate at the time of his decease. In 1827 it came into the possession of Jacob Butters, and his deed mentions a house and currier's shop. This house as it was [p. 15] originally built consisted of one room in each story and a lean — to of one room. The old part of the house was next to Emerson street, and judging from the difference in construction, the newer part must have been added some years later. The house next south of the old house was probably the currier's shop mentioned in the Butters' deed, changed into a dwelling-house. It adjoined the older house, but was not connected therewith. We have also to record its passing. The large double house (now long vacant) next south of the abovementioned houses, was a part of the old Blanchard tavern that stood on the west side of Main street near Cradock bridge, on land now part of the boulevard, and was moved to its present location and finished as a dwelling-house about seventy-eight years ago. It may be of interest to add that the homestead lot of Dr. Luther Stearns was just north of and adjoining the old house-lot above mentioned. The Stearns house was removed to a location on the east side of Main street. It stands next south of the house standing in the angle made by Main street and Mystic avenue. The Stearns lot comprised that portion of Emerson street adjoining Main street, and the corner (Whalen) lot adjoining.

In Medford square.

In excavating for the new block on the north side of the square the foundation of an ancient building was uncovered, situated directly in the rear of the brick building, lately demolished, that stood between the Seccomb and Weymouth buildings. Old residents of Medford will recognize this foundation as the site of a building that stood in the rear of and connected with the brick building above referred to, and which was demolished some years ago. These buildings were the home of the Joseph Patten Hall family for many years, and the older part has a history that is worth recording. In the year 1717 Stephen Willis, Jr., sold to Peter Seccomb this old house, and it was referred to in the deed as the said [p. 16] Willis' dwelling. Without doubt it was built some years previous. Stephen Willis, Jr., was a housewright, and he owned all the land that fronted on what is now High and Salem streets from the Seccomb lot to the lot on which stands the church of the Mystic Congregational Society. His wife, Susanna, was a daughter of Major Jonathan Wade, whose house is now standing on Pasture hill (or Governors) lane in the rear of the Savings Bank building. The lot on which the old house stood was 23 feet in width on the road and 171 feet in depth. It was bounded on the north by Brickyard pasture, a portion of which is now the site of the High School house. This estate passed through several ownerships until, in the year 1783, it came into the possession of William Gowen, father of Maria Gowen Brooks (‘Maria del Occidente’) who had a high reputation as a poetess. She is supposed to have been born in this old house in the year 1794 (see Historical Register, Vol. 2, page 150). In the year 1796 the estate came into the possession of Joseph Patten Hall above referred to. The brick building was subsequently erected, probably in the early part of the nineteenth century, and it is very likely that the old house was moved back from the street to make way for the new brick building. All the buildings on each side of this estate stood near to the street line, as was the custom in those early days. The correctness of the statements made in Vol. 18, No. 2, of the Register in regard to the raising of the grade of the square have been verified by the several layers of filling brought to light by these excavations.

Answer to Queries.

In Vol. 18, page 73, may be found three questions which evidently await an answer. Questions one and two I pass with the remark that in all probability these two subjects as portrayed in pageant are pure fiction. As to the third, I quote from the journal of Benjamin Crafts, ‘Sunday August 13th Two Regulars deserted [p. 17] from Bunker's Hill, swam over to Malden and were carried to Royal's Gen Washington's headquarters.’

Notes by the way.

Vol. 18, page 81. Mr. Swan's quotation of Mr. Wells' statement concerning the building of the Samuel Swan house (now the Home of the Aged) may be correct, but the fact remains that a house stood on that location prior to the year 1689. It was the property of Major Jonathan Wade, who died in the year 1689. In the division of his estate it was set off to his daughter Katherine, who married Elizer Wyer—‘To Katherine Wyer, she hath the house by Marble brook and about 18 acres adjoining, allowing 2 acres for highways.’ Elizer Wyer and wife Katherine sold, in 1710, house, barn, and sixteen acres of land lying on both sides of the road from Medford to Woburn. This house may have been built by a Mr. Richardson of Woburn; if so he was the builder, not the owner.

In the year 1675 Caleb Hubbart sold to John Hall and others five hundred acres of land, part of the Cradock farm. This land was bounded westerly on Thomas Brooks and Timothy Wheeler, easterly on Jonathan Wade, northerly on Charlestown woodlots, and southerly on Mystic river, together with all tenements in the possession of Thomas Shepard, Daniel Markham and Thomas Eames. Thomas Shepard's house was situated on the north side of High street, and the easterly line of Allston street runs through its site. Daniel Markham's house was situated back from Woburn street, and its site is now a part of Oak Grove cemetery. Thomas Eames' house was situated near the junction of Arlington and Canal streets. This five hundred acres of land was afterwards divided among the purchasers, and the Shepard house came into the possession of John Hall and Stephen Willis. There was not a house, at that date, between the Shepard house and Marble brook. When Brooks [p. 18] and Wheeler purchased their estate (1660) they also acquired a right in the landing at the ‘Rocks,’ next to Thomas Marrable's (Marble's) house. The Rocks are now know as Rock hill, and Thomas Marrable's house must have stood on the east side of Marble brook, and may have been (and probably was) the identical house set off to Katherine Wyer from her father's estate.

April 26, 1641. Mr. Cradock grants to Josiah Dawstin of Mistick at Medford in New England all that my messuage or tenement late in the tenure of the said Dawstin, commonly called Dixes house, together with six acres of planting ground adjoining. Also seven acres of meadow commonly called by the name of Rock Meadow.

. . . The name of Rock meadow is naturally associated with Rock hill. All the early houses of which we have any record were on, or near, a traveled way. There is no other location shown that so nearly points to the neighborhood of Rock hill. It is possible that ‘Dixes’ (or Dix's) house stood on the location above described.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1689 AD (2)
1915 AD (1)
1827 AD (1)
1796 AD (1)
1794 AD (1)
1783 AD (1)
1755 AD (1)
1743 AD (1)
1735 AD (1)
1731 AD (1)
1717 AD (1)
1710 AD (1)
1675 AD (1)
1660 AD (1)
April 26th, 1641 AD (1)
August 13th (1)
August 2nd (1)
July (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: