Shattuck (1835) [3/3]


Bedford is not very well situated for an agricultural town. About half of it is meadow land, unimproved and partly incapable of improvement. It contains, however, several very good farms, and nearly all the varieties of soil. Among the peculiarities of its geology is found a substance which has been used for painting, resembling yellow ochre, and commonly known as Bedford Yellow. It has not, however, been much used of late years. Lead has been found here.

The Shawsheen is the only considerable stream of water. It rises in Lincoln, and runs through Bedford in a northerly direction, receiving Elm Brook, which arises in Concord, Farley Brook, which arises in Lexington, and another which arises in Burlington. On the Shawsheen is a mill which was built before Philip’s war in 1676, and was then owned by Michael Bacon, who was allowed to have two garrison soldiers stationed there for his safety.

Bedford is bounded westerly by Concord River, which separates it from Concord and Carlisle; southerly by Lincoln and Lexington; easterly by Lexington and Burlington; and northerly by Billerica. The lines are very irregular, and contain many angles.

[ p 270 ]

In 1765 it contained 67 houses, 72 families, and 457 inhabitants, of whom 201 were males, 240 females, and 16 negroes. In 1800 it contained 538 inhabitants; in 1810, 592; in 1820, 648; and in 1830, 685.

The town contained in 1831, according to the return of the assessors, 8,593 acres of land. There were then 194 polls, [*1] 20 of whom were not taxed, 101 dwelling-houses, 3 shops adjoining, 16 other shops, 101 barns, 51 out-buildings, [*2] 295 acres of tillage land, 374 English mowing, [*3] 1,405 fresh meadow, 2,228 pasture, 784 wood land, 2,375 unimproved. There were raised 5,025 bushels of corn, 308 of rye, 50 of oats, 20 of barley, 364 tons of English hay, [*4] 689 of meadow; 486 cows.

Price of Labor6s.2s. 4d.2s.2s.£4 10s.3s.1111
Appropriations made by the Town at different Periods.

The Page Fund, for the support of the gospel ministry and sacred music, was constituted as follows: Anna Page, widow of Thomas Page, gave $663.93, William Page, $500, and Samuel Hartwell, $300. It is to be increased by adding one sixth of the income to the principal annually, and now amounts to upwards of $1,700.

Schools. — The first school was opened in 1733, and £5, equal to about 3 dollars, granted for its support. A committee was chosen the next year to hire a master to “settle a moving school.” For several years one school only was kept, sometimes in the centre and sometimes in different parts of the town. A school-house was first built in 1743. In 1744 a part of the money was divided into four quarters, to be expended for the use of schools by “school dames.” In 1758 a writing-school was kept four months in the centre of the town, and “a woman’s teaching school six months in the quarters of the town;” in 1781 three months’ writing-school in the middle of the town, and six weeks’ women’s school in each of the quarters. In 1790 the town voted to hire a master four months, and should “he have a very full school, he shall principally attend to those who write and cypher.” [*5] In 1792 the town was divided into five districts,

[ p 271 ]

Centre, East, West, North, and South, and in 1799 a school-house was erected in each district. In 1818 the town voted, that the money raised for the support of schools should be divided as follows. In proportion to $7,307, the Centre district shall draw $1,640, the East $1,550, the North $1,420, the South $1,400, and the West $1,297. This method has since been continued.

A building for a town-house and Centre school-house was erected in 1828 at an expense of $2,216.43. A fire-engine, which cost $482.32, was procured about that time.

Employment. — Agriculture is the employment of a large portion of the people. The manufacture of shoes for the Boston market was begun here in 1805 by John Hosmer and Jonathan Bacon, and has been increasing since under their management and that of others. The principal establishments in 1832 were owned by Reuben Bacon, Esq. and Mr. Chamberlain, in which were employed 60 men and 80 women. About 90,000 pairs of shoes, estimated to be worth $50,000, are made annually. This business has been the source of considerable wealth to the town. No shoes are in better credit than those made in Bedford. About 4,000 sets of “Bacon’s Patent Lever Blind Fasteners” were made in Bedford in 1832, and it is the most approved article of the kind with which I am acquainted.

Individuals who have received a Public Education.

  1. David Lane, son of James Lane, was graduated in 1753, and went into the French war, in which he died.
  2. Job Lane, son of Job Lane, Jr., was graduated at Yale College in 1764. The following epitaph appears on the stone over his remains in New Haven.

“Siste Viator.
Hic juxta situs est
D. Job Lane, A.M. Col. Yal. Tutor,
Vir ingenio, modestia, literis, atque pietate praeclarus.
Illum Bedfordi natum Massachus^m. An. 1741
Literarum a puero avidissimum fuisse;
Studiis academicis prae caeteris eminuisse;
Evangelium studiose triennium praedicasse,
Tutorisque officio biennium fideliter functum;
Parentibus vixisse charissimum,
Amicis, omnibusque pietatis fautoribus dilectum,

[ p 272 ]

Discipulisque vere honoratum;
Et omnibus maxime defletum;
e vita migrasse Sept^s. 16. An^o. 1768;
Hic tumulus brevi interiturus
tibi declarat.” [*6][*7]

  1. Oliver Wellington Lane, son of Captain James Lane, was graduated in 1772, and was a distinguished schoolmaster in Boston where he died.
  2. James Convers, son of Josiah Convers, was graduated in 1799, and is now a minister at Weathersfield, Vermont.
  3. Samuel Horatio Stearns, son of the Rev. Samuel Stearns, was born September 12, 1801, and graduated in 1823, and at the Theological Seminary at Andover in 1828.
  4. William Augustus Stearns, brother of the preceding, was born March 17, 1805, graduated in 1827, and at the Theological Seminary in Andover in 1831, and was ordained at Cambridge Port December 13, 1831.
  5. Jonathan French Stearns, brother of the two preceding, was born September 4, 1808, and graduated in 1830. He is now a student in Theology.
  6. Edward Josiah Stearns, son of Elijah Stearns, Esq., was born February 24, 1810, and graduated in 1833.


Dr. John Fassett, who came from Harvard, was the first physician. He died January 30, 1737, aged 66.

Dr. Joseph Ballard came from Lancaster to Bedford in 1767, and died there January 29, 1777. He was a delegate to the Provincial Congress in Concord in 1774, and was a distinguished man.

Dr. Amariah Preston from Uxbridge came to Bedford about 1790, and is now living there.

Among other physicians who have practised for short periods in Bedford, the names of Dr. Stephen Massy, Dr. Kendall, Dr. Gardner, and Dr. Kittredge, may be mentioned.

Justices of the Peace.

John Reed, Elijah Stearns, Amariah Preston, Thompson Bacon, William Webber, John Merriam, and Reuben Bacon.

[ p 273 ]


When the year is not specified, the town was not represented.

John Reed, 1776, 1783; John Moore, 1780; John Webber, 1787; David Reed, 1805, 1806, 1808; William Webber, 1809 — 1811, 1821, 1823, 1824, 1827 — 1829; Thompson Bacon, 1812; John Merriam, 1813, 1814, 1816, 1818, 1830, 1831; Amos Heartwell, 1832. [*8]

Dr. Joseph Ballard and John Reed, Esq., were delegates to the Provincial Congress at Concord in October, 1774.

John Reed was delegate to Cambridge in February, 1775, and to the Convention to form the Constitution in 1779.

Town Clerks.

Samuel Fitch, 1729 — 1731, 1733 — 1737; John Fassett, 1732; Israel Putnam, 1738 — 1745; John Whitmore, 1746 — 1748; Stephen Davis, 1748 — 1760, 1766 — 1772, 1775; John Reed, 1761 — 1765, 1773 — 1775; John Webber, 1776 — 1779, 1783 — 1793; William Merriam, 1780 — 1782, 1794 — 1804; William Webber, 1805 — 1829; Reuben Bacon, 1830.




  1. “polls”: [ seemingly ] individuals liable to a poll tax
  2. “out-buildings”: sheds (and similar structures)
  3. “English mowing”: [ seemingly ] cultivated hayfield
  4. “English hay”: cultivated hay
  5. “cypher” (i.e., “cipher”): use arithmetic
  6. cf. A collection of American epitaphs: Vol III (1814) pp 170-171
    and cf. Inscriptions on tombstones in New Haven (1882) p 547
    NB: No two of the transcriptions are alike! These other two seem to agree that Shattuck’s account is missing the word “ipse” between “tumulus” and “brevi“.
  7. Brown offers the following translation:
    “Stop Traveller. Here, hard by, lyeth D. Job Lane, A.M., Tutor in Yale College, a man distinguished for his talents, sobriety, literary attainments, and piety. This perishable monument briefly witnesses to thee — That he was born in Bedford, A.D. 1741; That in Youth he was very fond of study; That in academic pursuits he surpassed others; That for three Years he earnestly preached the Gospel; That for two years he faithfully performed the duties of Tutor; That he was very dear to his parents; loved by his friends and all favorers of piety, and that deeply mourned by all he departed this life Sept. 16, 1768.” (BHB) II: p 23
  8. “Heartwell”: [ a variant of ] Hartwell

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