Homesteads [2/4]

John Neville. — The name of Davis appears here very early. Stephen, son of Samuel and Mary (Medows) Davis, born in 1686, married, in 1713, Elizabeth Fletcher, and located here. In the description of boundaries in connection with the act of incorporation, in 1729, it appears that Stephen Davis and John Stearns were each located in this vicinity. The Stearns farm was later added to the Davis estate. Stephen Davis, Sr., was a man of marked ability. He was active in the incorporation of the town, and was one of the first constables, hence collector of taxes. He died in 1738, and was succeeded by his son, Stephen (Deacon). He was the only child of seven, of Stephen and Elizabeth, that came to maturity. He died in 1787, and was followed in the possession by his son, Thaddeus, whose wife, Sarah Stearns, died in 1807. Amos Hartwell (Deacon) followed the Davis family. It was sold by him to the present owner.

Mead Place. — This abandoned homestead was once the scene of prosperity. Three families that flourished early in this territory, now without representatives here, seem, by the records, to be associated with this place. They are Cheever, Taylor, and Mead. Israel Mead, born in 1639, married, in 1669, Mary Hall, and settled here. Their son, Stephen, born in 1679, married, in 1700, Ruth Taylor (daughter of Joseph), and followed in the possession. Stephen Mead died, and left one young son, Joseph. Ruth (Taylor) Mead married, second, in 1718, Daniel Cheever; hence the Cheever possession. He was active in forming the new town, and died in 1733. The estate was purchased by Joseph Mead, in 1741, for four hundred and thirty pounds. The next in the family possession was his son, Stephen, who married, in 1765, Desire Batchelder, widow of Joseph Brown. They were succeeded by their son, Asa, who married, in 1803, Nabby Eames. Artemas, the youngest child of Asa and Nabby (Eames) Mead, born in 1817, spent part of his life here, sold the farm, and located in Woburn. Asa, born Feb. 4, 1804,

[ p 98 ]

and died in 1838, was buried on the farm at his own request.

Mudge Farm. — This is included in that part of the Merriam share of common lands of Concord that came within the limits of Bedford at the incorporation. Nathaniel Merriam, chosen deacon in 1730, was located here, with his family. He died in 1738, and was succeeded by his son, John (Lieut.). He died in 1767. After his decease the farm was divided, and John established a home on the opposite side of the highway, while William remained at the old home. [*1] Lieut. William Merriam had a large family here. He was prominent in town until he was mentally diseased. The farm was sold to Benjamin Simonds, in 1815, by Thompson Bacon, guardian of William. Seth Whitford was a subsequent owner, and William Mudge purchased the estate in 1856. John Merriam, who settled on the other half of this farm, married Hannah Brooks Dec. 4, 1760. He was succeeded by his son, John, who was followed by Eldridge. He sold to Amos Hartwell.

Peter Kelley. [^1] — The land was a part of the Merriam farm. The house was built from the second schoolhouse in the district. [*2]

C. L. Wait. — This farm probably included the Michael Bacon purchase of Roger Shaw. Oliver Reed settled here about 1750. Had a son, Oliver, born in 1755, who lived in the west part of the town, and a son, Reuben, continued the family possession. He was followed by Cyrus Reed. It then passed out of the family. Roger Lane was a subsequent owner, and his son, George, planted the hedge of pine trees bordering “Evergreen Avenue.” Hiram Clark followed Lane, and after him there were several owners before the present, one of whom was Royal Pierce.

[ house sketch ]
[[ Shawshine House, John Webber Home. ]]

Kenrick. — This has been alluded to in the general history as the possible site of the Shawshine House. [*3] It was an early tavern stand.


Benjamin Danforth was innkeeper here when the town was incorporated. Capt. John Webber, of Scotch origin, born 1733, married Sarah Fassett, and settled here about 1760, and had twelve children, who became heads of the various branches of that family. Nine of the twelve children of Captain John lived to the average age of seventy-six years and six months. [^2] John Webber Jr., succeeded his father in possession and was followed by the present owner.

Hensley. — Christopher Page was located here on a portion of the Nathaniel Page purchase, about 1700. He sold to Job Lane, Sr., in March, 1727. Lane followed the business of an innkeeper until his death, 1747. William Webber married Mary Abbott, and settled here in 1791. After his death, 1833, there were Gurney, Ryon, Ward, and Hensley. The old house was destroyed by fire, and the present dwelling was erected by the last-named possessor. [*4]

William Lyons. — It was first included in the Page purchase. James Webber and Hannah Davis married in 1804 and established a home here. They had two daughters, and adopted William, who lost his eye in hunting for crows. (See Bounty for crows, etc.) [*5] Larkin P. Page spent some years on this farm, and sold to present owner, who built the dwelling. [*6]

Michael Myers. — This farm was included in the Page purchase, 1687. Christopher Page married Susannah Webber, and settled here about 1740. They had six children, two of whom reached mature life. Their son Christopher, born 1743, went from this home to Concord, April 19, 1775 (one of the minute men). Their daughter Mary, born 1746, married Deacon Nathan Reed, of Lexington. John Davis was a later owner; he was followed by others who sold to the present occupant.

Ernstein, Rosenthal, Fisk, Skinner, Frost, Ireland, Fitch, Butterfield and Clark are settled on the land (five hundred acres) that was

[ tipped-in page ]

[ house photo ]
Elihu G. Loomis House, 1883.
THE LANE HOMESTEAD.
Built about 1790 by David Reed, and first used as a Tavern.

[ p 99 ]

granted in 1652 to Rev. Jonathan Mitchell, second minister of Cambridge. (See General History.) [*7] It was all purchased by Michael Bacon, July 19, 1682, for £200. No doubt other lands are included in these farms as they are now bounded. The Wheeler family are early found located at Ernstein’s and Rosenthal’s. O. W. Fisk’s farm occupies a central portion of the Bacon purchase. Capt. Jonathan Willson was living here at the time of the Revolution. [^3] He went from his home at the head of the minute men of the town, to Concord, and was killed April 19, 1775. (See Military History and Epitaphs.) [*8] Willson was connected with the Bacon family by marriage. [^3] Among later owners were Cogswell and Clifton. Frank Frost occupies the Bacon house, supposed to be the original. [*9] Six generations of the Bacon family were born in it. (See Frontispiece.) Garrison “No. 10,” of 1675 was in this vicinity. Joseph Skinner purchased of Bacon, erected the buildings which he occupied, and conducted the business of a farmer and blacksmith until his death. John Ireland has that part of the Bacon purchase upon which Capt. Goodridge was early settled. He was succeeded by his son Bowman, Elijah Brown and Frank Frost. Frank P. Fitch has a part of the estate purchased by Benjamin Fitch about 1730. It included the mill site now owned by Charles H. Clark. The homestead and mill were held as one estate by three generations of the Fitch family, viz., Benjamin, David, David. The last-named sold the mill to William M. Ashby, and Charles H. Clark was his successor. The homestead was inherited by Nathan, and is now owned by Frank P. Fitch, who is of the fifth generation in the family possession. The house was built by the second David. [*10]

[ nature sketch ]

THE STREAM AND MILL.

‘Tis the gentle stream that ripples on,
To spread its waves amid the sea;
‘Tis the rustic mill of days agone
That ground the corn for you and me.

Other forms are mirrored now
Amid the verdure at its side:
Other men the hillsides plough
That rise above the gentle tide.


But them of old we’ll not forget
Who faced the red and savage foe; [*11]
Their valorous deeds are treasured yet,
Their lives of mingled joy and woe.

A stranger’s hand may guide the mill,
And hold the title of the stream;
But memory has a claim there still
Which man will cherish and esteem.

The Author.

John Butterfield‘s farm includes that upon which Hugh Maxwell settled about the time of the incorporation. The famous warriors, Hugh and Thompson Maxwell were born on this estate. The Bowman family were found here later, and Capt. Elijah Skelton owned and occupied the place is 1816. Josiah Gleason followed him, and was succeeded by Mrs. Walcott.

Hunnewell and Skelton are located on the Gookin grant, which had for its southern boundary Vinebrook. [^4] It was sold to Robert Thompson, August, 1761. Amos Hunnewell has that part which was occupied by Deacon Michael Crosby about 1812 and by his descendants for many years. Edmund Skelton’s homestead is that part of the grant on which Hutchinson lived. The house was built by White. [*12] “Esquire Yates” lived here in 1815. The abandoned house was a Bacon possession. [*13] Oliver Bacon was the owner in 1778. The Gookin grant also included the Wyman homestead. It was the home of Amos, whose wife entertained Hancock and Adams on April 19, 1775.

Willard Ladd‘s farm and H. H. Staples‘ mill, with the other real estate on the south side of Vine Brook, represent several small grants, including one of thirty acres

“to encourage John Wilson’s Corne Mill,”

in 1685. It was a Wilson settlement until a comparatively recent date. Gleason and Blodget each carried on the business of milling here. The brick house was occupied by the latter in 1812.

McCarty or William Page Farm. — The name of Joseph Fassett is early traced to this farm. He bought of Timothy Brooks a part of the Oakes farm. He was the head of the family in this territory,

“accepted inhabitant in 1679, June 2.”

Ebenezer Page appears here after the Fassetts, and later William Page, whose name is still associated with the land.

David L. B. Fitch. — This farm was included in the Edward Oakes grant. Leonard White established the home. He was a farmer and a noted teamster. His ambition to outdo others of the same business led him to drive a load of wood to Boston, which the authorities refused to admit to the city streets. The present owner is the third generation of Fitches in possession.

[ p 100 ]

E. G. Loomis. — The Edward Oakes grant included this homestead. George Farley and Ralph Hill were purchasers in 1661. David Reed had the farm from Hartwell. He removed the original dwelling which stood on the opposite side of the street. David Reed married Hannah Raymond, in 1772, and established a home here. He built the mansion now standing, which he occupied as a tavern, with the sign pictured below. [*14] After the Reed family’s pos-

[ object sketch ]
[[ David Reed’s Tavern Sign. ]]

session ceased, the farm had several temporary owners, among whom was Hodgman, who conducted the business of a butcher. Jonathan Lane married, July 27, 1815, Ruhamah Page, and located in the north part of the town, where he conducted the business of a cooper, and later, 1824, became a merchant in Boston. In 1847, Lane [^5]


returned to Bedford and settled on the David Reed farm. It remained in the Lane name until the death of Mrs. Lane, 1882, when E. G. Loomis, Esq., grandson of Jonathan and Ruhamah Lane, became the owner.

Moses E. Rowe. — The land was included with the above described estate. The buildings were erected by John A. Merriam. Albert Bacon was a later possessor and sold to Ephriam Jones, of whose heirs the present owner made the purchase.

Brown and Hartwell farms with the Town Farm, a home for the poor, were all owned by Pages, and were included in the Page purchase and in the common grounds not divided until 1707. Thomas Page married Anna Merriam and settled at the Hartwell farm about 1706. They had no children, but treated nephews as such. The decease of Anna Page occurred in 1810, when Joseph Brown had one farm, and Nathaniel had the other. [^6] The latter sold to Buttrick, who occupied the farm for awhile; and Joseph Hartwell followed after this, at whose death (1868) it was sold to David Constantine. Joseph Brown was succeeded by son Moses F., whose descendants are now in possession of the farm. David Page, known as “King David,” was an early owner of the “Poor Farm.” [*15]

Bedford Springs. — Included in the Thomas Oakes grant. (See Industrial Section.) [*16]

[ nature engraving ]
Bedford Springs.

Constantine Hill. — This was a Hill homestead at and before the incorporation. The buildings and a part of the land came within the limits of Bedford. Josiah Hill married Su-

[ tipped-in page ]

[ house photo ]
Homestead of Timothy Page in 1775.

[ house sketch ]
Dea. James Wright Homestead.

[ p 101 ]

sanna Davis, in 1789, and settled here. He was succeeded by his son Constantine, who erected the present dwelling on the site of the old one, which was of a very primitive style. [*17] There was a secret apartment in the centre of the house, known as “Grimes’ Hole.” The tradition is that in the days of Indian alarms a man by that name lived on the farm and had a secret hiding place. The old house was used not only for a dwelling, but as a place for curing hops, this being a crop much cultivated on the farm. There were other buildings near the Hill farm, as appears from the following:—

“Boston, Nov. 27, 1798. Received of Mr. Josiah Hill four pound in Cash and four pound in Cyder, in full of the Rent of my house and Land in Bedford, from first April, 1798, to first April, 1799. — Abigail Otis.”

It appears that Josiah Hill was of the “aristocracy” of that time, as he was taxed in September, 1800,

“a duty of three dollars upon a two-wheel carriage, called a chaise, owned by him, with a top, to be drawn by one horse, for the conveyance of persons.”

The estate, in part, remained in the Hill name until about 1885.

[ house sketch ]
Robinson House.

Robinson or Foster. — This is one of the very old homesteads of Bedford. The house, demolished about 1870, was of the oldest styles of architecture of New England. The brick-lined wall leads to the conclusion that it was used as a resort for safety in the Indian wars, and may have been the garrison that has not been located in the town, of which there is evidence. The name of Bowman is traced to this place before 1700. Jesse Robinson bought the place and settled here about 1800. His son Charles remained on the homestead, where three of the third generation were born. The estate was sold out of the family about 1870, since which the present dwelling has been erected on the exact site of the former. [*18]

Pine Grove Farm. — The larger part of the land was on the Concord side. Zachariah Fitch,


son of Samuel, married, Oct. 1, 1733, Elizabeth Grimes, and located here. From him it went to

[ house sketch ]
Sampson House.

his daughter, Phoebe Fitch Sprague, wife of John, who was son of Nicholas, of Billerica, born April 26, 1759. It was next in possession of their daughter Susannah, wife of William Clark; and she was succeeded by her daughter, Sarah C, wife of Albert P. Sampson. The cedar swamp, divided into lots, is separated from the estate by “Mingo Ditch.” The swamp is designated in a deed from Andrew Wadkins to James Wheeler, in 1728, as “Sancta Domingo Swamp,” which in our language may be called Sacred Dominion, and may suggest the present “Mingo.”

C. H. Wood. — This was the Wright estate. The “Old Red House” was occupied by several generations of the family. James Wright was in the Revolution from Bedford. He was chosen deacon in 1785, and was a prominent man in town and church. He led in the music of worship and had charge of the town’s “Pitch Pipe” and “Big Fiddle.” The first birth in the family recorded in town was that of Tabitha, born in 1768. The Wrights carried on the business of tanning and currying here. Henry Wood followed the Wrights in possession, and his son succeeded him, and erected the present commodious buildings.

Associated with the Wright homestead was that now owned by Martin Kelley. It was a part of the Page purchase of 1687. Timothy Page, son of John and Rebecca Wheeler, born 1741, married and settled here about 1767. Their children were Joseph W. and Dorcas. The latter was born three days after the opening engagement of the Revolution, in which her father took a part at Concord. He entered the Continental army, and was killed at White Plains, N.Y. Dorcas Page married James Wright, Jr., and became the mother of seven children. Tarbox, Centre, and Bacon were owners of the estate before the present, who erected the modern dwelling, and converted the barren acres to a productive vegetable farm. [*19]

Captain Smith Farm. — This land must have been included in the Grant to Thomas Oakes and in the common lands of Billerica. A portion

[ p 102 ]

of the farm was doubtless taken from the share of the allotment of 1707 that fell to Jonathan Hill. Oliver Pollard, who married Mary Hill in 1777, was an early possessor of the estate. Rev. Nathaniel Sherman, settled as minister of the town in 1759, lived at this place during a part of his ministry. Oliver Pollard, Sr., died in 1831, aged 94 years. He was succeeded by his son Oliver, who built the present dwelling, and sold to John Smith, whose son, George H., continued the family possession until his death, in 1889. [*20]


SOURCE TEXT


EMENDATIONS

  1. Kelley. ∨ Keeley.
  2. [[ paragraph break removed ]]
  3. Willson ∨ Wilson
  4. boundary ∨ boundery
  5. In 1847, Lane ∨ In 1847
  6. 1810, ∨ 1810;

WORKS CITED


ANNOTATIONS

  1. These homes evidently stood near 330 South Road but no longer exist. (HPN) p 407
  2. “the house”: the Peter Kelley house: 345 South Road (HPN) p 409
  3. “Kenrick”: the Shawsheen House–Danforth Inn: 137 Shawsheen Road
    NB: The location of the “Shawsheen House” trading post is disputed. (HPN) p 400
  4. “the present dwelling”: [ research ]
  5. cf. (in this volume) pp 42-43
  6. “the dwelling”: since demolished: 62 Old Billerica Road (HPN) p 284
  7. cf. (in this volume) p 7
  8. cf. (in this volume) pp 23-25 and p 91
  9. “the Bacon house”: the Michael Bacon house: 229 Old Billerica Road (HPN) p 281
  10. “the house”: the David Fitch Jr. house: 109 Old Billerica Road (HPN) p 282
  11. “red and savage foe”: [ offensive ]: Native American(s)
  12. “the house”: [ research ]
  13. “the abandoned house”: [ research ]
  14. “the mansion”: the Reed–Lane–Loomis house: 5 Brooksbie Road (HPN) p 239
  15. Page owed this nickname to his “lordly manner” and “adherence to the Continental costume”: i.e., European style of dress. (II: p 26)
  16. cf. (in this volume) p 41
  17. “the present dwelling”: [ research ]
  18. “the present dwelling”: the Nathan Bowman house: 107 Springs Road (HPN) pp 343-344
  19. “the modern dwelling”: [ research ]
  20. “the present dwelling”: the Pollard–Comley house: 180 Springs Road (HPN) p 411
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