History of Medford, Middlesex, Massachusetts

Medford, a town in Middlesex County, is about five miles north-north-west from Boston, and four miles north-west by north from Bunker-Hill Monument. Its adjoining; towns at this date (1884) are Somerville, Arlington, Winchester, Stoneham, Melrose, Maiden, and Everett.

In June, 1630, some adventurers, who landed at Salem in the month of May, arrived here, and began a settlement on the north-west side of the river now known as the Mystic. The richness and extent of the marshes, resembling vast meads or meadows, must have invited their special attention ; and many have supposed that the name Meadford, first given to the place, was suggested by its resemblance to open fields, or great meadows, in their native land.

However that may have been, records of the Massachusetts Colony, made as early as 1641, show that the place was called Meadford in certain legal documents, also Meadfourd, and Metford. Since 1715 it has uniformly been called Medford ; not as a new christening, but as a corruption of the original name, caused, possibly, by the bad spelling from which it suffered, or by our general tendency to shorten words. The names of many towns in Massachusetts were changed in that way, and some of them much more radically than in this instance.

During the first ten years after its settlement this town was surrounded by territory that belonged to Charlestown, and its boundaries were changed and greatly enlarged during its next ten decades, as the ancient town and colonial records show. The following items from such records will enable the reader to obtain a tolerably correct idea of the township as it was at first, and of the changes which deter-mined its present boundaries.

This manuscript provides a detailed history of Medford up until 1886. Genealogists should pay particular attention to the early tax payers list, biographical notices, and most especially the register of families. However, the manuscript is peppered throughout with interesting anecdotal statements and facts of past residents, and as such, the entire manuscript should be thoroughly checked.

Table of Contents

Name and Location - Boundaries - Ponds - Mystic River - Brooks - Hills - Climate - Soil and Productions - Natural History

Medford Records - First Settlement - Matthew Cradock - Land and Landowners - Ancient Landmarks and Monuments

Roads - Railroads - Bridges - Indians

Civil History - Territorial Grants - Municipal Organization - Enlargement of Territory - Town Meetings - Medford a Town from the Time of its Settlement - Causes of New England Prosperity - Lists of Town Officers - Gov. John Brooks - Col. Isaac Royal

Political History - Patriotic Stand taken during Revolution - Action of State Constitution - Votes in First State Elections

Military History - early Military Organization - Medford Officers in the Revolution - war of 1812 - Militia - [Old] Medford Light Infantry - Brooks Phalanx - Lawrence Light Guard

Military History Continued - Medford Light Infantry - Medford Volunteers in Various Organizations during the Civil War - Prison and Hospital Experiences - Home Work of the War - Death Record of Medford Soldiers - Lawrence Rifles

Roll of Medford Men who served in the Union Army during the Rebellion

Ecclesiastical History - Early Ministers - Rev. Aaron Porter - Rev. Ebenezer Turell - Rev. David Osgood

Ecclesiastical History Continued - First Parish - Second Congregational Society - Mystic Church - Universalist Society - Methodist-Episcopal Church - First Baptist Church - Grace (Episcopal) Church - Congregational Church, West Medford - Trinity Methodist-Episcopal Society of West Medford - Catholic Church

Education - Public Schools - List of Teachers - List of School Committees - Academies - College Graduates

Public Libraries

Tufts College

Charities - Physicians - Lawyers - Authors - Public Characters

Fire Department - Board of Health - water-Supply - Burying Grounds - Great Tornado - Fires - Pounds - Local Diseases

Crimes and Punishments - Slavery - Pauperism - Alms-Houses

Taxes - Lists of Early Tax-Payers - Currency

Middlesex Canal - Lightering - Mills - Taverns

Public Buildings - First, Second and Third Meeting-Houses - Schoolhouses - Town Hall

Trade and Manufactures - Fisheries - Ship-Building - Brick-Making - Distilleries - Other Industries - Stage-Coaches - Newspapers - Medford Savings Bank

Societies and Associations

Biographical Notices

Historical and Local Items - Middlesex Fells - Governors of Massachusetts

Post-Offices - Population - Tables of Annual Expenditures and Valuations

Register of Families

List of Illustrations

Medford Square
Charles Brooks
Cradock House
Garrison House On Pasture Hill Lane
Summer House, Royal Farm
Boston And Lowell Railroad Station, 1851
Boston And Lowell Railroad Station, 1885
Boston And Maine Railroad Station, 1847
Boston And Maine Railroad Station, 1886
Cradock Bridge
James M. Usher
Residence Of Thatcher Magoun, 2d
Residence Of George L. Stearns
Old Swan House, High Street
Judah Loring
Gov. John Brooks
Gov. Brooks's Birthplace
Residence Of Gov. Brooks
Royal House
Old Tufts House, Public Square. (Removed In 1867)
Facsimile Of Tax-Bill, 1772
Facsimile Of Receipt For Money Paid For Service In Continental Army
Facsimile Of Oath Of Allegiance, 1778
Residence Of Capt. Joshua T. Foster
Soldiers' Monument
Rev. Ebenezer Turell
Rev. David Osgood
Unitarian Church
Mystic Church
Universalist Church, 1850
Methodist-Episcopal Church
Baptist Church
Grace Church
West-Medford Congregational Church
Catholic Church
Trinity Methodist-Episcopal Church, West Medford
Charles Cummings
Public Library
Thatcher Magoun, 2d
Tufts College, 1855
Hosea Ballou, 2d, D.D
Thomas A. Goddard
The Barnum Museum Of Natural History, Tufts College
Goddard Chapel, Tufts College
Dudley Hall
Maria Gowen Brooks
Stocks And Pillory
Lydia Maria Child
Facsimile Of Tax-Bill, 1796
Facsimile Of Continental Money
Fountain House
Medford House, 1825
First Church
Second Church
Third Church
Old Brick Schoolhouse
High-School House
Brooks Schoolhouse
Residence Of J. Henry Norcross
Ocean Express
Thatcher Magoun, 1st
Launch On The Mystic
Withington's Bakery
Residence Of Henry Hastings
Charles Brooks
Facsimile Of Chaplain's Warrant, 1777
Facsimile Of Certificate
Peter C. Brooks
George L. Stearns
John T. White
Joshua T. Foster
Facsimile Of An Acknowledgment Of Purchase Of Slaves
Facsimile Of Receipt
Gen. John Brooks
Jonathan Brooks's Homestead

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Early Laws of Medford, Massachusetts:

June 14, 1642 : " If parents or masters neglect training up their children in learning, and labor, and other employments which may be profitable to the Commonwealth, they shall be sufficiently punished by fines for the neglect thereof."

Nov. 14, 1644: The General Court order that all Baptists shall be banished, if they defend their doctrine.

Nov. 4, 1646: The General Court order: "If a man have a rebellious son, of sufficient age and understanding, viz., sixteen. which will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them, then shall his father and mother, being his natural parents, lay hold on him, and bring him to the magistrates assembled in court, and testify unto them, by sufficient evidence, that this their son is stubborn and rebellious, and will not obey their voice and chastisement, but lives in sundry notorious crimes. Such a son shall be put to death."

May 26, 1647: Roman-Catholic priests and Jesuits are forbidden to enter this jurisdiction. They shall be banished on their first visit ; and, on their second, they shall be put to death.

1672 : Our ancestors had the gag and ducking-stool for female scolds. Such persons were "to be gagged, or set in a ducking-stool, and dipped over head and ears three times, in some convenient place of fresh or salt water, as the court judge meet."

Source: Brooks, Charles. History of the town of Medford, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, from its first settlement in 1630 to 1855. Published Boston, Rand, Avery, 1886.