Homesteads [3/4]

Winthrop Farm. — Hiram Dutton’s house is thought to represent the first dwelling erected on the Winthrop Farm, and it is not impossible that the ancient house now standing was built by Job Lane soon after his purchase of fifteen hundred acres of Fitz John Winthrop, in 1664. [*1] The farm was in the family possession for many years. Moses Fitch was a more recent owner and was succeeded by Abbott, who was followed by the present possessor.

Brook Side is a very appropriate name given to the Fitch homestead. Samuel Fitch, who inherited one-fourth of the Winthrop farm from his grandfather, Job Lane, built a house and settled here previous to 1696. Samuel was the first clerk of the town of Bedford. He was succeeded in the homestead possession by a son Jeremiah, who had a son Jeremiah. The owners in the fourth generation of the name were Matthew and John (twin sons of Jeremiah, 2d). Four brothers went from this estate to Concord on the morning of April 19, 1775. After about one hundred and twenty-five years of Fitch possession, the farm was bought by John P. Reed, who removed the old house. [*2] It stood near the brook, which crossed beneath the highway in its winding course to the river. The sills of the house were below the surface, requiring a step down to enter the rooms. Charles L. Wait was a later owner, and the present is Marcellus Copeland.

Sunny Side is the name recently given to a second homestead that was taken from the Fitch land. [*3] Stephen Lane, son of Timothy and Lydia (Davis), born in 1755, married Alice (Stearns) Abbott, in 1806, and lived here. Their daughter, Lydia Harriet, wife of John W. Hayward, inherited the property, and sold to Justus P. Hastings; others have followed in ownership. Mrs. Hooper is now in possession.

John Lane married, in 1745, Ruth Bowman, and later, Mrs. Sarah (Abbott) Hildreth, and settled on that part of the Job Lane estate known as the George Fisk homestead. Jonathan, born in 1763, succeeded his father in the

possession. He married Hannah Lane, daughter of Samuel. They had a large family born here, of whom, Jonathan, married Ruhamah Page, and carried on the business of a cooper, on the homestead, until he removed to Boston, in 1824. Their son, Hon. Jonathan A. Lane, of Boston, began life at this place. Charles Lane, the donor of the Town Hall clock, was one of the sixth generation. Arinda Lane, sister of Charles, married George Fisk, in 1824, and remained, with her family, at her paternal homestead. George Fisk manufactured band-boxes here. It was the birthplace of Jonathan Fisk, who died in the Civil War. One of the first chaises owned in town was bought by Hannah Lane, after the death of her husband. The first cooking stove owned in town was used here by George Fisk.

The Jackson farm was a part of the Lane estate. The first building erected was Jonathan Lane’s cooper shop.

Frederick Davis. This was a Lane possession, until sold by John Lane to Dea. Moses Fitch, who married Rachel Stearns, and occupied it. They were succeeded by son Joel, who sold to Thaddeus Davis, father of the present owner. The original buildings were removed by the first Davis owner, who erected new ones which were destroyed by fire, after which the present commodious buildings were erected. [*4]

Edward A. Butters. [*5] It was a part of Oliver Pollard’s estate, and formerly included in the Lane farm. A plan made by Stephen Davis, in 1773, shows Pollard as owner at that time. His son Obed received it as a reward for marrying before other members of his generation in the family. Levi Bailey bought the estate early in the present century. It was sold by his executor to a grandson, the present owner.

Elm Farm is a name given by the present owners of a share of the Lane farm. [*6] Capt. Samuel Lane, who died in 1802, was the last of the name to cultivate this farm. His heirs joined in a deed of sale to Oliver Pollard, April 20, 1803. Jacob Gragg was a later owner. He started the present dwelling, which has been greatly enlarged. The modern additions were made in 1890 by the owner, George C. Skilton.

Job B. Lane. [*7] This estate has never been out of the Lane family since the purchase by Job, in 1664. Walter David, now living with his mother at the homestead, is of the eighth generation of the family and name who have occupied this estate. The house was built by David. (See Family Record.) [*8]

Coolidge. This was in the Lane name until purchased by Charles Coolidge, who sold to the

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[ house photo ]
Residence of Dudley L. Pickman.

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[ house photo ]
Pickman House.

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present owner, Mrs. Drake. The old house stood west of the present highway. On Stephen Davis’ plan James Lane is located there in 1773. Five generations of the name of Lane were born there. Oliver J. Lane built the present dwelling. [*9]

Francis Rodman. The dwelling stands on the western border of the common grounds of Billerica which were divided in 1707, but part of the land was included in the Job Lane purchase. [*10] Meshach Penniman, brother of the third minister, was located at this place during the Revolution. The town took special precaution to prevent his gaining a residence, by refusing to tax him, and the Lanes may never have quitted their claim. James Lane, with his wife, Molly Pollard, were the successors of Penniman. Owners since the Lanes have been Goodwin, Mansfield, Bacon, Cutler, Davis, to the present.

William W. Farrell. This part of the Winthrop Farm left the Lane name when purchased by Quincy Blake, of the heirs of Eliab Lane. The house was built very early, probably by Joseph Fitch, who married Sarah Grimes, in 1731. [*11] He was a builder of note, and the contractor for building the first meeting-house. He is recorded as a mill-wright, and without doubt was the early proprietor of the mill on Peppergrass Brook. Josiah Crosby, at the age of fifteen years, was bound to Joseph Fitch to learn the “millright’s art.”

Fitzgeralds. — This is thought to have been the tavern kept by Walter Pollard. (See Public-Houses.) [^1][*12] There was an early saw-mill on Peppergrass Brook where it crosses this farm. It belonged to the Lane estate. The present house is supposed to have been moved from that locality. Pollard was succeeded by Rev. Joseph Penniman. Dr. Amariah Preston, who began the practice of medicine in this town in 1790, married Hannah Reed, October 18 of that year, and located at this place. [*13] (See Biographical Sketch.) [*14] He was succeeded by Jane Pollard, who married Thomas Smith in 1833. It was later owned by Daniel Kinnivan, and now held by his heirs.

Samuel H. Huckins’ farm represents a part of the Job Lane purchase of 1664. John Lane married, in 1714, Catherine Whiting, and located here. He was succeeded by his son, Samuel, who died June 26, 1802, and, leaving no sons, the estate was no longer held in the name. The original dwelling was strongly built, with plank walls and brick linings. It was removed by Peter Farmer, who built the present house. [*15] He was succeeded by Banfield, who was followed by the present owner.

Henry Desmazes. — (Oak Grove Farm.) [*16] This

farm extends into that part of the Dudley Farm which was purchased by John Stearns. Job Lane, the founder of the second Lane family in this town, bought a house and fifty acres of land of Caleb Farley, about the year 1700. This he exchanged with Christopher Page for a house and one hundred and fifty acres of land, near the Shawshine River, in the year 1727. The Hutchinson family is found here soon after the incorporation of Bedford. Benjamin and his wife, Rebecca, were doubtless residents of the place. She died in 1814 and he in 1815. They had each attained the age of ninety-one years. Simeon Stearns bought the place after the death of the Hutchinsons, and settled here. He was succeeded by his son, Elbridge W., who sold the estate and located in the village.

Dudley L. Pickman is the present owner of that part of the Dudley farm which was owned by Edward Stearns in 1766, and then set off to Bedford. His son, Elijah, succeeded to the homestead, and was followed by his brother, Simeon. B. B. Frothingham, of Charlestown, came later, and was followed by James Vila. Walcott and Emery came about 1840, removed the old house, and built the present dwelling. [*17][*18] The property has had numerous owners, and is now in the possession of one who is descended from Lieut-Gov Dudley, who, with Gov. John Winthrop, selected their farms, in 1638, when standing by the boulders seen in the illustration which they then named the “Two Brothers,”

“in remembrance that they were brothers by their children’s marriage, and did so brotherly agree.” [*19][*20]

The line of descent of the present owner from the grantee of the colony is as follows: Gov. Dudley (grantee); Rev. Samuel Dudley; Dorothy Dudley, married Moses Leavett; Rev. Dudley Leavitt; Mary Pickering Leavitt, married William Pickman; Dudley L. Pickman; William Dudley Pickman; Dudley Leavitt Pickman. Tradition says that the large trees seen in the rear of the buildings were being set by Solomon Stearns at the time of the alarm of the march of the British. He was in the engagement at Concord, April 19, 1775, entered the camp at Cambridge, and there contracted a disease which terminated his life in one month. Timber for the first bridge built over Charles River at Charlestown came from this farm. It was furnished by Edward Stearns.

William J. Stoddard was the last owner of the Uriah Goodwin homestead, who occupied it many years. Goodwin was from Billerica. He was succeeded by his son, Uriah, who built the house on the site of the original, which was destroyed by fire. Uriah Goodwin lived in Bos-

[ p 104 ]

ton after his residence at this farm, and later returned to it.

Rev. Samuel Stearns. — This homestead represents a part of the common land that was divided in 1707. The house was built for Rev. Joseph Penniman, the third minister of the town. [*21] It was the second house of which Reuben Duren was the architect. It was not fully completed when Rev. Samuel Stearns became the minister of the town, and purchased the mansion-house with a farm of about twenty acres. It is still owned by the family.

[ house engraving ]
The Stearns House.

Aaron H. March. — The first store of the town was kept on this site by Henry Abbott, of Andover. He began the business of a storekeeper soon after the fourth minister began his work among the people. Abbott was succeeded by Elijah Stearns, Esq., who erected the house and the building now used for a store. [*22][*23] The first post-office was established on this site. The present owner purchased of the Stearns heirs.

Stone Croft Farm is the oldest homestead in the village. Benjamin Kidder bought land of several parties between 1729 and 1756, and built the present dwelling before 1731. He sold to Daniel Rea or Ray, whose two sons sold to Jeremiah Fitch, Jr., in 1766, who kept tavern here and provided the entertainment for the minute men on the morning of April 19, 1775. [*24] He occupied it until death, in 1808, and was succeeded by his son Jeremiah, who was a merchant in Boston, and spent but little time at the

homestead. He was a faithful friend of his native town. Miss Caroline M. Fitch next succeeded to the possession, and still owns the homestead. There was once included with the farm all of the land from the Elbridge W. Stearns estate to the Common. The benevolent and progressive spirit of Jeremiah Fitch (third) prompted him to offer inducements to people to build houses and establish homes. Some of the builders on the Fitch land were David Rice, Amos B. Cutler, Lewis P. Gleason, Edward Merritt, and George Dutton.

Rounds. — This homestead was a portion of the estate of John Reed, Esq., who died in 1805. It was inherited by his son Roger, who erected the present mansion on the site of one of the very early houses of the town. [*25] He married, in 1790, Sarah (daughter of Capt. John Webber and Sarah Fassett). Their children born here were Sally and Eliot. The latter married, in 1821, Capt. Charles O. Gragg (a seafaring man). The homestead was sold by them, and has had various owners before the present.

John Walsh. — The dwelling was built by Charles O. Gragg on a part of the above described estate, and at first occupied by him. [*26]



  1. Public-Houses.) ∨ Industries.)



  1. “Hiram Dutton’s house”: the Job Lane House (now a museum): 295 North Road
  2. The home that replaced “the old house” stands as 394 North Road. (HPN) p 261
  3. “Sunny Side”: the site of the Lane–Buehler House: 373 North Road (HPN) p 260
  4. “the present . . . buildings”: the house and barn at 232 North Road (HPN) p 262
  5. “Butters [estate]”: the site of 197 North Road (HPN) p 261
  6. “Elm Farm”: the site of 175 North Road (HPN) pp 261-262
  7. “Job B. Lane [estate]”: the site of 137 North Road (HPN) p 260
  8. cf. (in this volume) II: p 21
  9. “the present dwelling”: 130 North Road (HPN) p 262
  10. “the dwelling”: 97 North Road (HPN) pp 260-261
  11. This house “was moved out of Bedford in the early 1980s”. (HPN) p 193
  12. cf. (in this volume) pp 40-41
  13. “this place”: the site of (what was) 42 North Road (HPN) pp 148-149
  14. cf. (in this volume) p 58
  15. “the present house”: [ evidently ] 49 Dudley Road (HPN) p 306
  16. “Oak Grove Farm”: the site of the Farley–Hutchinson–Kimball House: 461A North Road (HPN) pp 275-276
  17. “the old house”: [ perhaps ] 269 Dudley Road (HPN) pp 305-306
  18. “the present dwelling”: 228 Dudley Road (HPN) pp 305-306
  19. These boulders lie on the eastern bank of the Concord River, due west of Chestnut Lane, which stems from (the fittingly-named) Dudley Road.
  20. cf. Winthrop’s journal entry (24 April 1638), as published
    in his History of New England: Volume I (1825) p 264
  21. “the house”: the Penniman–Stearns House: 26 Great Road (HPN) pp 83-84
  22. “the house”: the Elijah Stearns House: 4 Great Road (HPN) p 76
  23. “the building . . . used for a store”: (formerly) beside 4 Great Road
    Moved. Now a private home: 22-24 Loomis Street (HPN) p 76
  24. “tavern”: (what was) Fitch Tavern: 12 Great Road
  25. This mansion stood “in the vicinity of 228 Great Road“. (HPN) p 240
    Demolished “early in the 20th century”. (HPN) p 240
  26. “the dwelling”: 214 Great Road (HPN) pp 240-241
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