Medford Early History – 17th and 18th Centuries

Stops

 

1. Captain Isaac Hall Hitching Post

On the evening of April 18, 1778, Paul Revere went up Main St, over the Cradock Bridge, and stopped at the house of Isaac Hall, captain of the Medford Minutemen Company. Captain Hall then sent messengers to Malden, and called on his Minutemen to help march to Lexington.

2. Jonathan Wade House

One of the three oldest brick houses in Medford, it is known to have been standing on this site in 1689, when Jonathan Wade, Jr., died. The house was given Georgian styling in the mid-18th century, and was owned for many years in the 19th century by Samuel Crocker Lawrence. It is privately owned today.

3. Salem Street Burying Ground

Also known as the Medford Burying Ground, the Salem Street Burying Ground was used as early as 1683. It contains the remains of notable early settlers from Medford’s history including Governor John Brooks, Captain Isaac Hall, Peter Tufts and Sarah Bradlee Fulton.

It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1981.

4. Medford Square/Royal Oak Tavern

Medford Square was built up around the Mystic/Cradock bridge. Many early travelers passing through would need a place to stay the night, or a place to grab a meal, and so several taverns were built in the area.

The Royal Oak opened in 1720 at the corner of Main Street and Riverside Avenue. One rumor says that this tavern had a sign outside with a bullet hole through it that was shot by a member of the Minute Men as they returned to Medford from Lexington in April 1775.

5. Mystic Bridge / Cradock Bridge

The Mystic Bridge (later known as the Cradock Bridge) was originally a toll bridge built of wood in 1637. It was 154 feet and 5 inches long and 10 feet wide. Today, the bridge is less than half that length. Many early travelers going between Salem and Boston on foot come through Medford just to use the bridge because until 1787, there was no other way to cross the Mystic River except to ford it.

On April 18, 1775, Paul Revere used the Cradock Bridge during his famous ride to cross into Medford and warn Captain Isaac Hall of the British.

In 1857, the Mystic Bridge was renamed the Cradock Bridge, after Matthew Cradock, a London businessman and the first Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Company. Employees of Cradock settled in the Medford area, and he was given a sovereign grant of 200 acres for every fifty pounds he invested in the Massachusetts Bay Company, which totaled over 2000 acres. Although he never came to North America, most of present-day Medford was Cradock’s personal property.

6. Sarah Bradlee Fulton’s House

Sarah Bradlee Fulton was also known as the “Mother of the Boston Tea Party” and “A Heroine of the Revolution.” She was instrumental in the resistance movement against the British during the American Revolution.

In December 1773, members of the Sons of Liberty, including Sarah’s husband and brother-in-law boarded ships in Boston Harbor and tossed 340 boxes of tea overboard. Sarah helped to paint the men’s faces to look like Mohawk Indians so they would not be recognized.

A year and a half later, during the Battle of Bunker Hill in June 1773, the injured were brought to Medford from Charlestown. Sarah Bradlee Fulton helped care for the wounded in a field hospital set up south of the Mystic River.. John Brooks had an important message for George Washington that Sarah Bradlee Fulton volunteered to deliver. She traveled to Boston, despite the dangers of battle, to do so.

She is buried in the Salem Street Burial Ground.

7. Royall House & Slave Quarters

The Royall House was home to Isaac Royall, a merchant who gained his fortune from a distillery and sugar cane plantation on Antigua. The Royall family was the largest slaveholding family in Massachusetts, before slavery became outlawed for the state in 1787.

Isaac Royall Jr. later owned the house and estate. During the American Revolution, he sided with the Crown. He left his property a few days before the Battle of Lexington and Concord.

The house is a National Historic Landmark, and a cultural institution.

8. College Brick Yards

The brickmaking process would generally happen from early spring to early fall. In the fall, the pits were dug out, and the clay piled up for the winter. After winter months, the clay would once again be spread out. Workers, oxen, and horses would trod on the clay to make it more pliable and easy to use. Early bricks were baked under the sun, but then later they were baked for 12 days and nights in a kiln.

Medford Historical Society | 10 Governors Avenue | Medford, Massachusetts | 02155