Preface and Plan



This volume is the outcome of a contract with the publishers of the History of Middlesex County to prepare a sketch of Bedford for that work, and of a series of papers read at the request of the citizens in public at different times. [*1]

Any seeming disconnection of subjects is due to the fact of the first twenty chapters having been prepared for the above-named work, and printed without regard to issuing a town history.

It is to be regretted that a volume of this character had not been completed at an earlier period and by other and abler hands. Two sons of the town, representatives of a generation earlier, began the work, but died before its completion. Such fragmentary notes of the late John W. Simonds as have been preserved have been at our command, but we have not had access to the more extended manuscripts of the late Josiah A. Stearns. [*2][*3][!!]

Various reasons have conspired to lead us to issue this volume. First, the rapidly thinning ranks of those who have stood as oracles, beyond the allotted age of man: [*4] since the preparation of this volume began, several aged people, who had treasured up a great store of anecdotes and incidents, have passed away, and with others the ear has grown dull, the eye dim, and the understanding clouded. In the anticipation of these changes we garnered some sheaves from their store-houses, and record them as precious memorials.

Another impelling motive is the imperative demand of the day for each town, however small, to have its annals in printed form, whereby its own people may be benefited, and by exchange of volumes, towns may become familiar with the inner workings of one another. A town may legally appropriate money for gathering and preserving its annals, but we have felt that other pressing demands must put the day far off when this town could reasonably he expected to make an adequate appropriation for a town history; hence we have endeavored to perform this service as best we could, without burdening any one.

We are happy to acknowledge much valuable assistance from many living sons and daughters of the town, without which we could not have done the work. We reluctantly forbear mentioning any, lest we might inadvertently omit some. Those who have at our request prepared special articles are credited with their labor of love in the chapters where their contributions are found.

Through the generous response of families to our invitation, a large collection of illustrations is added to the work, and the volume made doubly attractive and valuable. [^1][*5]

Our primary object has been to make the book correct and readable. We have preferred not to weary the reader with our authorities, but have regarded the dates as sufficient guides to state, town and church records, from which we have necessarily gleaned freely.

Finally, this brief volume is submitted, with its many imperfections, to the people of whom it treats, trusting that they will excuse all errors and omissions, and exercise that degree of charity which circumstances demand.



“Few town histories will ever be written a second time, the pains are too great and the praise too little.” — N.A. Review. [*6]

[ p 2 ]




I. Gov. John Winthrop Farm, 1638.19. Joseph Fassett (later Wm. Page).
II. Lieut.-Gov. Dudley Farm, 1638. [^2]17. Patrick Fassett.
III. Gov. John Winthrop Meadow, 1639.29. Fawn Lake (Bedford Springs).
IV. Thomas Oakes Farm, 1649–1652.3. Samuel Fitch.
V. Edward Oakes Farm, 1649–1652.12. Zachariah Fitch.
VI. Daniel Gookin Grant, 1649.23. Samuel Hartwell.
VII. Rev. Mr. Mitchel Grant, 1652.24. William Hartwell.
VIII. Squadron south of Oakes Farm, divided, 1707. [*7]1. Josiah Hill.
2. Col. Timothy Jones.
IX. Edward Stearns Farm added, 1766.13. Benjamin Kidder (later Jeremiah Fitch).
5. Job Lane.
8. Hugh Maxwell (later Butterfield).
4. Obed Abbott.26. Cheever (later Taylor, later Mead).
9. Bacon’s Mill (later Fitch).25. Dea. Nathaniel Merriam.
7. Michael Brown.21. John Moore.
2. Brothers Rocks.16. Nathaniel Page.
15. Bowman (later Robinson).14. Dea. Israel Putnam.
18. Meeting House.30. Stearns’ Mill (later Hobbs’).
11. Eleazer Davis.6. Capt. Jonathan Willson. [^3]
28. Stephen Davis.10. Wilson’s Mill (later Staples’).
27. Benjamin Farley.20. Woolley (later Henry Woods).

[ p 3 ]

The author and the public are indebted to Mr. Charles W. Jenks for the following Plan.

This Plan is drawn, after comparison of the Plan of Town of Bedford by Stephen Davis, about 1760, the Plan of Town of Bedford by Thompson Bacon, 1794, both in the office of the Town Clerk of Bedford; the Plan of Town of Bedford, 1794, the Plan of Town of Bedford by John G. Hale, 1830, both in the office of the Secretary of State; an old Plan of Billerica by Danforth, an old Plan of Bedford, both in the possession of the Mass. Historical Society in Boston; Beers’ Atlas of Middlesex County, 1875; [^4][*8] Hazen’s History of Billerica; [*9] U.S. Geological Survey, 1886; [??] and many smaller local plans.

The full black outline is from Bacon’s Plan of 1794

and Hale’s Plan of 1830. The dotted line —– shows the difference in Plan of Stephen Davis (1760 ?)

The dotted lines — – — – show the location of various grants. The Winthrop Farm lines are from a plan in possession of A. B. Cutler, Esq. The other lines are merely approximate, as the boundaries of the grants are irregular and difficult to determine.

The roads marked B are plotted from the Bacon Plan of 1794.

The points marked D are from the Davis Plan of (1760 ?)

The Roman numerals are used to designate the Grants.

The Arabic numerals show the location of the homesteads and points of interest.

[ town map ]
[[ Plan of Bedford. ]]

[ p 4 ]



PagePage [*10]
Frontispiece.Robinson House,101
Plan of Town,5Sampson House,101
Brother Rocks,6Residence of Dudley L. Pickman,103
Winthrop Deed,9Rev. Samuel Stearns Homestead,104
Chestnut Avenue,11Josiah A. Stearns, A.M., Ph.D.,104
Old Parish Meeting-House,12Rev. S. Hopkins Emery,106
Rev. Samuel Stearns,15Rev. Jonathan Leavitt,107
Rev. William A. Stearns, D.D., LL.D.,17Rev. Henry J. Patrick, D.D.,108
Rev. Jonathan F. Stearns, D.D.,18Rev. William J. Batt,108
Rev. Eben S. Stearns, D.D., LL.D.,20Rev. George Lewis,108
Jeremiah Fitch Tavern,23Rev. Edward Chase,108
Banner of Concord Fight,23Rev. George E. Lovejoy,108
Jeremiah Fitch,25Rev. Otis D. Crawford,108
Mary (Rand) Fitch,26Rev. Howard A. Hanaford,108
Oliver W. Lane,29Rev. Edwin Smith,108
Cyrus Page,30Union School-House,[[ 109 ]]
John Merriam, Esq.,32Mineral Spring,110
Mary (Reed) Merriam,34Bedford Lumber and Manufacturing Co.,110
Meeting-House of Trinitarian Congregational Society,36
Jonas Monroe,39
Mary A. (Stearns) Monroe,41SECTION II.
Lewis Putnam Gleason,43
Dea. Amos Hartwell,44Elijah Bacon, Isaac P. Bacon,3
Louisa (Hodgman) Hartwell,46Bellows-top Chaise,[[ 4 ]]
William R. Hayden, M.D.,48Albert Bacon, Susan (Reed) Bacon,[[ 4 ]]
Jonathan Bacon,50Joseph Brown,[[ 6 ]]
Hannah Reed,52Rachel (Fitch) Brown,[[ 6 ]]
Jerome A. Bacon,52Abram English Brown,[[ 6 ]]
Abigail (Clark) Bacon,53Brown Homestead,6
Dea. Phineas W. Chamberlin,54Corey’s Bedford Stage Coach,7
Esther B. Chamberlin,57Dea. Thaddeus H. Davis,9
Abel B. Adams, M.D.,58Nathan Fitch,11
Reuben Bacon, Esq.,60Louisa (Burnham) Fitch,11
Sarah (Clark) Bacon,62Nathan A. Fitch,[[ 11 ]]
Dea. William Albert Stearns,64Fitch Home,[[ 11 ]]
Moses Hayward,67Jonathan Bacon Homestead,[[ 11 ]]
Charles W. Lunt,68Benjamin F. Hartwell,[[ 14 ]]
Martha (Hill) Sage,71Mary (Fitch) Hartwell,16
Samuel Sage, Samuel Sage (son), Mary Hill Sage,72Jonathan Lane,18
Bedford House,74Ruhamah (Page) Lane[[ 20 ]]
Susannah (Hill) Fitch,77Amasa Lane,[[ 22 ]]
Bunyan’s Cottage,77Beulah (Burnham) Fitch,[[ 22 ]]
Home of Capt. Abner Stearns,79Thomas Stiles,[[ 24 ]]
The Embankment Promenade, Bedford, England,81Anna W. (Reed) Stiles,[[ 27 ]]
Eleazer P. Davis,85Nathan O. Reed,[[ 28 ]]
Benjamin J. Davis,85Sage Arms,[[ 30 ]]
Samuel Davis,85Residence of George C. Skilton,[[ 31 ]]
Davis Homestead,85Stearns Arms,[[ 32 ]]
Residence of Edwin H. Blake,88Alice (Stearns) Abbott,[[ 33 ]]
Gravestone of Capt. Jonathan Willson,91Elijah Wyman Stearns,[[ 33 ]]
Dominie Manse, 1729. Home of John Reed, Esq.,93Edward H. Stearns,[[ 34 ]]
Old Oaken Bucket,93Albert T. Stearns,[[ 36 ]]
Page Homestead,95George S. Stearns,[[ 37 ]]
David Fitch House,96Hon. Henry A. Stearns,[[ 38 ]]
Benjamin F. Hartwell Home,97Eliza (Bacon) Webber,[[ 40 ]]
Shawshine House, John Webber Home,98Webber Cradle,42
Lane Homestead, Elihu G. Loomis’ Residence,98Residence of Wallace G. Webber,43
The Stream and Mill,99Wallace G. Webber,43
David Reed’s Tavern Sign,100Marcus B. Webber,[[ 44 ]]
Bedford Springs,100Lane Homestead,[[ 45 ]]
Home of Timothy Page, 1775, Dea. James Wright Home,101Abner Stearns’ Commission,[[ 46 ]]



  1. a large ∨ the large
  2. Farm, ∨ Farm.
  3. Willson. ∨ Wilson.
  4. Atlas ∨ Map


  1. cf. Brown’s “Bedford” (1890)
    in Hurd’s History of Middlesex County: Volume II (pp 811-857)
  2. “John W. Simonds”: b. 1808 – d. 1870 (II: p 31)
  3. “Josiah A. Stearns”: b. 1812 – d. 1883 (II: pp 37-38)
  4. “the allotted age of man”: 70 (or 80) years
    cf. KJV’s Psalm 90:10
  5. Most of these photos appear only in the Illustrated edition.
  6. cf. “History of Concord” (1836)
    in The North American review: Volume XLII (p 449)
  7. “squadron”: district
  8. cf. County atlas of Middlesex (1875)
  9. cf. Hazen’s History of Billerica (1883)
  10. Only one copy of the Illustrated edition survives in the editor’s hands, and the rightmost edge of that copy’s fourth page has been largely destroyed. Complicating matters: many other pages have come unbound, and several loose tipped-in pages have been replaced incorrectly. All page numbers presented within double square brackets are, thus, merely inferred.
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