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[p. 12]

A communication.

To the Editor of the Medford Historical Register:
Sir:—I have noted from time to time many inaccuracies in the Register from the commencement of its publication to the present time, and am forcibly reminded of the sayings of Mr. John Fiske, historian, that ‘The step from unconscious historical inaccuracy to conscious historical falsehood is not a long one.’ ‘The errors of our local historians have taken such a firm hold on the local thought and literature that no amount of evidence to the contrary will scarcely displace.’

I do not propose to review the first twenty volumes of the Register at the present time, but I wish to call your attention to some inaccuracies in the second and third numbers of the Register for the current year, which, in the interest of historical accuracy, should be corrected. In an article entitled ‘Medford on the Map,’ in Vol. XXI, No. 2, p. 32, reference is made to Walling's map of Medford, which was accompanied by eleven other maps or sections bound together in an atlas. The writer of the article failed to discover such atlas or any one that has memory of it. A foot-note says, ‘As both history (Brooks' history) and map were published at nearly the same time and by separate interest, it is probable that the reference to eleven sections was made from some prospectus rather than actual issue.’

These maps or sections cannot be classed among ‘Medford Myths’; they actually existed as a supplement to the map. The lots on each section were numbered, and a reference book or index accompanied the atlas in which was recorded the number of each lot and its area in acres or square feet. During my service as an assessor I had occasion to consult the atlas times without number. The last time I saw the atlas was about ten years ago, in the city engineer's office, where I made copies of several lots to assist my study of Medford history. [p. 13]

In Vol. XXI, No. 3, p. 64, the writer of the article has ‘grave doubts of the structure—being as smoothly angular and straightly railed as this seems to be.’ (See illustration opposite page 56 of that number.) The original sketch of this bridge is now before me. It is three feet six inches in length and one foot six inches in width, and does not look as ‘smoothly angular’ as in the reduced copy. This sketch was made in part from a description of a bridge found in the county records and in part from the remains of an ancient bridge that was removed on the north side of the river when the present stone bridge was built. The Unitarian church steeple is represented on the sketch by a cedar tree. The buildings on the sketch are located by a mistake of the artist where the Jonathan Wade house stands, instead of nearer the market-place or square, and the crest of Pasture hill is plainly elevated above the roofs of the buildings. As to the luxurious growth of trees as shown in the illustration, who shall say that they did not exist? That trees will grow near the ‘salt Mystic’ was shown by the trees that stood on an island in the marshland below Laborinvain point. This island was elevated but a few feet above marsh level, and was surrounded by water every high course of the tides. The trees have long since disappeared. Near the island, on the east side, is a salt-water creek called Lydia's hole, from a colored woman named Lydia who was said to have been drowned there. The illustration, like all other ideal pictures, is open to criticism.

In Vol. XXI, No. 3, p. 67, the writer of the article says, ‘Yes, this is the “ Bower” . . . the site of the ancient mill.’ When I attended the West grammar school in the old brick schoolhouse that stood at the rear of the Unitarian church lot, the weekly holiday was Saturday afternoon. Saturday forenoon was a sort of a goas-you-please day. We had no regular lessons, and often in the early summer the scholars were lined up in front of the horse sheds and, headed by the master, were marched [p. 14] up what is now Powder House road (then called Bishop's lane), over the crest of the hill to a little knoll a short distance away, on which was a growth of trees standing in such positions as to form a bower. We spent the forenoon in picking wild flowers and in rambling about the woods in the immediate vicinity. This was the ‘Bower’ mentioned by Mr. Brooks and the ‘Bower’ of my boyhood. Every boy and girl of that generation knew its location. Mr. Brooks published his history some years after I used to visit the place. It was nowhere near the site of the old mill-dam or near any other dam site.

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