Medford Massachusetts, 1890

Medford is an ancient and charming suburban town in the southeastern part of Middlesex County, 5 miles northwest of Boston by the Medford Branch Railroad, which has stations at Glenwood, Park Street, and Medford village. Through the entire western section of the town runs the Boston and Lowell Railroad, having stations at College Hill, Medford Hillside, West Medford and Mystic; both roads belonging to the Boston and Maine Railroad system. Medford (village), West Medford, College Hill, Glenwood and Wellington are the post-offices. Other villages are East Medford, South Medford and Medford Steps.

The boundaries of the town are Winchester and Stoneham on the north, Melrose, Malden and Everett on. the east, Somerville on the south and southwest, and Arlington and Winchester on the west. The assessed area is 4,654 acres, of which 429 acres are forest. A considerable portion of the north part of the town is included in that much-esteemed tract of wilderness known as "Middlesex Fells." Close on the northern line, and partly in. this tract, also, is Spot Pond, in Stoneham, from which by excellent and costly water-works the Medford villages are supplied with good. water. The surface of the town is beautifully diversified; and from Rock, Walnut and Fine hills and the highlands along the Malden border delightful views are obtained of Boston and the neighboring towns and villages. The underlying rock is sienite. Along the western border lie the Mystic ponds, from which Boston draws a portion of its water supply. The outlet of these, Mystic River, pursues a serpentine course in a southeasterly direction through the southern part of the town to Everett, where it receives Malden River and meets the tide. It is navigable for schooners up to Medford centre, the principal village. There are salt meadows in the vicinity of the mouth of the river which yield large quantities of hay.

The farms are 31 in number, and in 1885 their aggregate yield was valued at $66,809. Ten thousand of this was from the greenhouses. A large part of the town is underlaid by a fine clay, from which, in the southern part, immense numbers of bricks are made. In 1885 one establishment employed in this business 270 men. The town also has a rubber factory employing 36 persons; print-works employing nearly 100 persons; a carpet factory employing 26; a furniture factory employing some 35 persons; a carriage factory employing 49; a soda-fountain factory employing 13; while about 100 persons are engaged in making metallic goods— consisting of small machinery, articles of brass and tin, scientific instruments, jewelry, etc. Some other manufactures are boots and shoes, hosiery and knit goods, leather (to the value of $98,530), lumber and food preparations (including the distillery product), to the value of $52,450. The aggregate value of the products, as given in the State census for 1885 was $1,133,206. The Malden Savings Bank, at the opening of the present year, held deposits to the amount of $646,912. The valuation of the town in 1888 was $8,929,075,— with a tax-rate of $14 on $1,000. The number of dwellings was 1,914, and the population (1885), 9,042, including 2,119 legal voters.

The principal village is beautifully situated on rising ground on both sides of the Mystic River, which is here spanned by a drawbridge. There are several attractive streets; that on which stand the Unitarian and Episcopal churches being especially well shaded, and one of the handsomest in the country. The town has a public library of some ten thousand volumes, with a fine building, the gift of Mr. Thatcher Magoun. There is also a new opera house and concert hall of ample size. The two weekly newspapers are the "Mercury" and the "Riverside News." The Congregationalists and Methodists have each two church edifices, and the Baptists, Episcopalians, Unitarians, Universalists and the Roman Catholics one each. The system of schools includes a high school; and for their use 11 buildings are provided, having a value of upwards of $100,000. Tufts College, incorporated in 1852, consists of eight handsome buildings within grounds upwards of 12 acres in extent, and occupying a commanding situation upon College Hill. The scenery here is not surpassed of its kind.

The house on Governor Matthew Cradock's plantation, erected in 1638, is supposed to be the oldest building in the State. It stands on the left bank of the Mystic River. Governor Winthrop's vessel, "The Blessing of the Bay," was built here; and since then more than 500, varying in size from the least up to 2,000 tons, have been successfully launched from the shores of this town. Rock Hill is said to have been the local residence of Nanepashemet, the sachem of the Pawtuckets. The First Trinitarian church here was organized October 2, 1823; the Mystic Church, July 6, 1847; Grace Church, February 15, 1848, and its unique and beautiful edifice first occupied in the autumn of 1868. The Baptist Church was established in 1856 and the Universalist in 1834. The town furnished 770 men to the Union army and navy during the war of the Rebellion; and to those who were lost it has erected a suitable monument.

Among the most eminent persons belonging originally to this town are John Tufts (1689-1750), author and clergyman; Cotton Tufts, M.D. (1734-1815); John Brooks, M.D., LL.D. (1752-1825), a governor of Massachusetts; Charles Brooks (1795-1872), clergyman, author and educationist; John J. Gilchrist (1809-1858), an eminent jurist; George Luther Stearns (1809-1867), a reformer and patriot. Lydia Maria (Francis) Child (1802) is claimed by this town also.

pp. 450-452 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890