Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3



Plan of the Town of Medford in 1830, by John Sparrell facing or following page 314[unavailable]

Sparrell’s map (Massachusetts State Archives, Maps of 1830, volume 3, p. 10) shows the town of Medford contiguous to Charlestown on the south and east, its town square just over five miles northwest of the State House in Boston. Within the town, the most prominent of the topographical features was the Mystic or Medford River, a tidal stream, whose northward and westward course from the Charlestown line to the point on the western boundary of Medford where the river widened to become Mystic Pond was marked by numerous loops and bends. A second was the Middlesex Canal which entered the southern bounds of Medford close to the river and followed a course just to the west and south of it until a crossing was effected by means of a lock and aqueduct (see the following item in this Descriptive List of Illustrations), beyond which the canal continued just to the east of the river and Mystic Pond. This generally northward course has become the present Summer Street to Winthrop Street, West Street to Boston Avenue, Boston Avenue to High Street, and then Sagamore Avenue, which continues along the Mystic Lakes as Mystic Valley Parkway. See below, p. 236, 249; Lewis M. Lawrence, The Middlesex Canal, Boston, 1942 [processed], p. 110; “Plans of the Middlesex Canal with the Neighbouring Roads, Buildings, &c. Surveyed for Loammi Baldwin by George R. Baldwin. Sept. & Oct. 1829,” Office of the County Engineer, Middlesex County Court House, East Cambridge; and “Survey of Middlesex Canal” [1829], Baldwin Papers, volume 6, Field Book No. 5, Baker Library, Harvard University.

On the Sparrell map, just to the south of Mystic Pond is the Weir Bridge. The road from West Cambridge crosses this bridge and in Medford as High Street is a main artery into Medford Square. Shortly after High Street crosses the canal it is joined from the north by a road running parallel to the canal. This is Grove Street. The next road parallel and to the east of Grove is Woburn Street.

The estate of Peter Chardon Brooks in Medford by 1830 had been enlarged to more than three hundred acres and included the lands to the north of High Street, to the west of Woburn Street, and to the east of the river and the Mystic Pond northward to a point beyond “the Partings,” the Pond’s narrow waist as shown on the map (see also, below, p. 300). He also owned the tongue of land to the south of High Street, east and north of the river. The canal ran through the Brooks property for more than a mile. Brooks’ residence, Mystic Grove, stood on the west side of Grove Street not far north of xixHigh Street. See below, p. 10; volume 2:xi; The Medford Historical Register, 30:1–23 (March 1927).

Also in Medford was the farm of eighty acres which had been owned by John Adams, and afterward by Thomas Boylston Adams (see below, p. 236). Its location on the map is in the area south of the river and west from Medford Square, roughly halfway between the aqueduct and the first bridge to the eastward. It too lay on both sides of the canal. “A Plan of President Adams’ Land taken for the Middlesex Canal ... 1806,” Baldwin Papers, volume 6, Drawings 1803–1805, Baker Library, Harvard University.

Courtesy of the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Archives Division.