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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' Map of Middlesex County, 1875; Hazen's History of Billerica; U. S. Geological Survey, 1886; and many smaller local plans.
The. hill black outline is from Bacon's Plan of 1794
and Hale's Plan of 1830. The dotted line shows
I 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 1 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 i Grants.
I The Arabic numerals show the location of the i homesteads and points of interest.
Plan of Town, 3'
Brother Rocks, il
Old Parish Meeting-House, 16 I
i Banner of Concord B'ight, . 23
Winthrop Deed, 34
Bedford House, 40
William R. Hayden, M. D., 48
Jonathan Bacon, 50'
Hannah Reed, 52
Meeting-House of Trinitarian Congregational Society, 57
Bunyan's Cottage, .... . • . .77
The Embankment Promenade, Bedford, England, 81
Gravestone of Capt. Jonathan Willson, . . .81
Old Oaken Bucket, 93
Page Homestead, i)5
Benjamin F. Hartwell Home (South Bedford), . 1)7 ,
Shawshine House, John Webber Home, . . 08 i
The Stream and Mill, 99 j
David Reed's Tavern Sign, 100 |
Bedford Springs 100
Robinson House, 101
Sampson House, 101 I
The Parent Towns "Early Grants and Settlements—The Tico Brothers— Dischar9e of Indian Claims—Garrisons—Incorporatiou.
Bedford stands number twenty-five in the fiftynine townships thus far incorporated in Middlesex County. It has a twin mate—Westford. They were both incorporated by the General Court September 23, 1729.
Bedford was taken from Concord and Billerica, but not until the parent towns had almost reached their first centennial. It then appears that the early history of the territory known as Bedford is included with that of the parental towns. That which may be designated as the south and west part of the town was taken from Concord, and the greater part of the north and east was from Billerica.
For nearly a century this territory comprised the outlying districts of Concord and Billerica.
It represents a part of the first inland town of Massachusetts and includes portions of very early grants.
A commendable pride prompts every true New Englander to seek for Puritan descent, and to date the settlement of his locality from the landing of those grand worthies. Hence, in considering the origin of Bedford, it may be admissible to repeat a few familiar facts of history, with their dates.
The Pilgrims landed in the year 1620. The charter of Massachusetts was granted in 1629, by King Charles I. In 1630 came Winthrop and Dudley with
fifteen hundred passengers. September 2,1635, Musketaquid (Concord) was granted to Mr. Buckley
(Rev. Peter Buckley) and Merchant (Major
Simon Willard), with other families.
November, 1637, the Court made grants to Governor Winthrop and the deputy, Mr. Dudley. In the following spring the grants were located, the original having been somewhat enlarged.
In June, 1641, "Shawshin is granted to Cambridge, prvided they make it a village."
The town of Bedford comprises a portion of the Musketaquid grant, the whole of the Winthrop and a portion of the Shawshine grant.
The first house occupied by English, within the present limits of Bedford, alluded to in a report made in 1642 as the "Shawshin house," proves that the first settlement was made here ,within twenty-two years after the landing of the Pilgrims.
The nature of the laud included in the above named grants is seen in reports and descriptions made about that time. Hubbard describes the Concord settlement as "right up in the woods," and Johnson as "in desert depths where wolves and'bears abide," and the journey to it he describes as " through watery swamps, through thickets where the hands were forced to make a way for the bodyes* passage, and their feete clambering over the crossed trees, which when they missed, they sunk into an uucertaine bottome in water, and wade up to their knees, tumbling, sometimes higher and sometimes lower."
Of the grants made to the Governor and deputy (lieutenant), the whole of the former is included in the present limits of Bedford. Its western boundary
being Concord River. The grants were located 1638, May 2d, as follows:
"It was ordered by thep'sent Court that John Wiuthrope, Esq', the prsent Governo', shall have 1200 acres of laud whereof, 1000 was formerly granted him. & Thomas Dudley, Esq', the Deputy Governo', has 1000 acres granted to him by a former Coune, both of them about 6 miles from Concord, northwards ; the said Governo' to have his 1200 acres on the southerly side of two great stones standing neare together, close by theryver side that comes from Concord."
The deputy's was north of it within the present limits of Billerica. Winthrop has given us an account of the location of these farms in his journal.
"Going down the river about four miles, they made choice of a place for one thousand acres for each of them. They offered each other the first choice, but because the deputy's was first granted, and hini3elf had store of land already, the Governor yielded him the first choice. So, at the place where the deputy's land was to begin there were two great stones which they called the Two Brothers in remembrance that they were brothers by their childrens marriage and did so brotherly agree, and for that a little creek near those stones was to part their lands.''
A little later the Court added two hundred acres to the Governor's part, and still later he received an additional portion of sixty acres of meadow "within a mile or two of his farme, beneath Concord, towards the southeast of the said farme."
In 1636 Matthew Cradock expressed a desire to obtain a grant of two 'thousand acres " at a place called Shawe Shynn," and in 1637, August, " Capt. Jeanison & Leift. Willi: Spencer were appointed to viewe Shawshin & to consider whether it be fit for a plantation." The report was not made, however, until after it had been granted to Cambridge. The explorer's experience is thus described by Sewall as taken from Woburn records: "As they were engaged Nov. 9, 1640, shortly after their appointment, in exploring the land about the Shawshin river they were overtaken and lost in a snow-storm, and in this sad dilemma they were forced as night approached, for want of a better shelter, to lye under the Rockes, whilst the Raine and snow did bediew their Rockye beds." The following is the report of the committee, which is not as valuable for accuracy as it is helpful, in locating the Shawshine house:
"Wee, whose names are underwritten, being appointed to viewe Shawshin tc to take notice of what fitness it was for a village & accordingly to or apprehensious make returne to tho Ot; wee therefore manifest thus much: that for the quantity it is sufficient, but for the quality in o' app'hensious no way fit, the upland being very barron & very little modow there about, nor any good timber almost fit for any use. Wee went after we came to Shawshin house, by estimation. Some 14 to 10 miles at the least, In compass; from Shawshin house wee began to go
downe the ryver t or 5 miles near East ; then we left that point A went neere upon north, came to Concord Ryver, a little belowe the falls, about one mile or neare; then wee went up the ryver some 6 miles until! wee canie to a place called the Two Brethren : and from thence it is about two miles A '-3 to Shawshin, cfc the most part of all the good land is given out already ; more land there is at the south side of the t house, between the side of Concord line A the heade of Cambridge line, but littell medow, & the upland of little worth ; & and this is what we can say hearin.
"StMON WlLLAbD. "Et'Vid CONVEbS."
The signers of the report were not the ones appointed for this exploration by the Courtin 1637, but the former, Willard was a prominent inhabitant of Concord and Convers was of Woburn, and as such may have had an eye to this territory for their own advantage and hence were uirconsciously influenced in making their report, which is not an accurate description, of the land. After receiving the report of the exploring committee the General Court renewed the grant to Cambridge and specified the bounds: "All the land lying upon Shaweshin Ry ver & between that and Concord Ryver, and between that & Merrimack Ryver, not formerly granted by this Co't." May 9, 1644, the Court "ordered that the ryver at Shawshin shall be called by the name of Shawshin."1
By a vote of January 2, 1654, a second division of land was made in Concord. "It was voted to divide the town into three parts or quarters;" as the east quarter, in part, fell to Bedford, it is to that division that we confine our investigation. The report of the committee to make the division is as follows: "The east quarter by their familyes arc from Henry Farweles all eastwards with Thomas Brookes, Ensign Wheeler, Robert Meriam, George Meriam, John Adames, Richard Rice."
In 1663 the town voted " that every man that hath not his proportion of lands laid out too him, that is due to him, shall gitt it laid out by an artis" before 1665; "and that each one should give to the town clerk a description of their lands." Mr. Shattuck's table, made from the records, is helpful in showing some of the divisions that fall to Bedford: William Hartwell had 241 acres; John Hartwell, 17; Wm. Taylor, 117; Joseph Wheeler, 357; Caleb Brooks, 150; Thos. Pellet and Joseph Dean, 280; Eliphalet Fox, 106; others are indicated as being in the east quarter, but are omitted, as there is no reasonable certainty of their exact location. Each quarter had the care of its own highways and had a board of overseers to look after its interests. Mr Shattucksays: "Regulations were established in each quarter, similar to
1 The selling of this as of many propor names of early colonial days is variable. Shattuck, in his history of lrs'IM, seems to prefer " Shawsflesn." Walcott in hl's recent work, "Coucord in the Colouial Period," accepts Shawshine as the more approved. In following his good judgment we use the latter form.