ROADS AND BRIDGES. 95
meeting of 3'^ selectmen : Whereas Mr. Muzej' makes a complaint
for want of y* knowledge of y^ highwa}' from his farme, that hee
bought of Timothy Brookes, to the towne ; The selectmen do order
George ffarley, that was one of the comittee that lajd it out at y^
first, * & corp^ JnÂ° ffrench, forthwith to go and renue y" markes
of y* said way, that it may be obvious to all travellers ; also to draw
vp a record as distinct as ma}' bee how it lyes, that so it. ma^' be
found afterward without much difficulty."
The road farther east is not described in the Records. But it
was in existence, and -known as a country road as early as 1670,
when Joseph Walker's grant was bounded east by it. The survey
of Mr. Daniel's farms shows that this road formed in large part the
west line of the Champue}' Farm.
That there was a road farther south from the Concord Road
towards Cambridge is certain, but no description of it is recorded.
It must have been substantially the same as that which now runs
southeast over the hill, a mile north of Bedford Village.
The following record gives a good example of the private high-
ways often laid out for the convenience of adjacent farmers :^ " 1658.
It was agreed, That there should be reserved three pole wide (vpon
the Towneship) by the river side, from the angle of the township
neare George ffarley's, vntill you come below abbott's Bridge, which
is to be no open highway, but for any vse for cart, or for landing
of goods, hay, corne, etc., which liighway is to be taken into euery
man's dividuall (i. e. his propriety or alottment) if hee please. And
an}' man taking downe any bares or opening any gates, to passe by
the Riuer's side vpon any such ocation, shall safely put them vp
againe ; and in case of neglect, as aforesaid, shalbc lyalile to pay
whatever damage any person shall sustain by his neglect therein."
The town also reserved the same liberty to pass from Charnstaffe
Lane to this river highway. "Also, it was agreed, That the Brook
which lyeth in" the middle of the township should ly open (for y* use
of y^ inhabitance in generall) from long-street downward to y* line
of Mr. Dudley's farme, and six pole wide on each side of the brook,
to ly in coinon for publick vse." This "brook-highway" bounded
Mr. Whiting's grant on the east, and has other mention ; and this
description proves the identity of Charnstaffe Lane and the line
of the Dudley Fai'm.
' Grants, I, 168.
96 HISTORY OF BILLERICA.
West Street is mentioned at the same time.** "1658. At tlie
laying ont of the lots vpon the Towneship, It was agi-eed that y^
highway cal'^ the west street should rune from long street, beginning
at the southeast of Jonathan Danforth's house lot, and lye six pole
wide southward of his line, the whole width of his house lot, and
then it should be laid twelve pole wide, from thence to y" riuer, yÂ«
former ^ix pole continuing, and so to take six pole northward of a
rock in a valle}' b}^ a willow tree, (which rock is y" southwest corner
of Jonathan Danforth, his house lot,) and onward it is to be laid on
each side y* swamp and brook, that so y'^ water may lye open for
In November, 1660, the town voted that Danforth and Kidder
might have the land included in West Street, either for a certain
sum, or "if tlie}' could purchase a convenient highway elsewhere to
the Riuer, to the Town's content." But this grant was for some
reason not consummated ; for in 1665 Mr. Kidder received a grant
of two and one-half acres, on the south side of this road, and
extending to the river ; this grant being instead of ten acres
elsewhere. And, ten years later, the road is again granted to
Danforth and Kidder, with the reservation of a right to a private
highway', as described above. The consideration of this grant was,
disbursements made for the town, Mr. Danforth having expended a
thousand and a half of shingles to purchase Cambridge lands for the
town. AVhen West Street was reclaimed as a public highway is not
certain; but the process was gradual. It was a " bridle-wa}' " in
1730, when proposals for building the Centre bridge came before the
town, and the selectmen were instructed, in preparation for that
measure, "to state & settle the bounds of the highway."
A road was laid out, in 1661, to run from the Concord Road,
near the present route of the Middlesex turnpike, going by Henr^^
Jefts and Lieutenant French's to William Taj-'s, and ending in the
"road to the ba}'," on the "top of the hill Next to Thomas Foster's
fence." After the appointment of one or two committees, this road
was abandoned ; but the location of its terminus proves a point
of interest in the early geography, namely, that the Woburn Road
at first went over and not around Bare Hill. When the change
was made is not recorded, but it may be indicated in this action :
"May 16, 1711. * Deacon James Frost and Lt. Samuel Hill
were appointed to vew a highway' pi'oposed to be exchanged with
8 Grants, II, 167.
ROADS AND BRIDGES. 97
Crosby, upon bare Hill, and to make a Return of their Judgment â€¢
concerning it." Their report is wanting, but we ma}' conjecture
that it favored the easier route, around the northerly slope of the
hill, where the road has long been. The road north of Fox Hill,
leading east from Long Street at Abot's bridge to the Davis place,
was in early use, and doubtless continued as far as the Andover
Road ; but no description is found in the Records. *
West of Concoi:d River, the larger part of the land remained
"common," until the great distribution soon after 1700, and tire
roads before that date .wei'o few and onl}' incidentally appear in the
Records. The earliest was, no doubt, the "treble-cove" road,"
beginning at the Fordwaj^ and running southwest on the line,
substantially, of the present highwa}' east of Gilson's Hill and
northwest of Winning's Pond, and so towards Concord. It derived
its name from the "treble-cove," a locality often named in the
Records, and situated near the Carlisle line. This road is often
called the "road to John Hill's," who doubtless lived near it.
The "rangeway" road, as its name indicates, followed the
dividing line between the first and second ranges of lots in the great
land division of 1708. The first range, bounding on Chelmsford
line, was about half a mile in width, and the road still follows the
line thus indicated.
A bridge over Concord River was an early necessit}- . The first
bridge was at the Ford way, a half-mile above North Billerica. The
date of its erection is not certain, but is probably indicated by the
action of the General Court, 1G57, May 15, when the importance to
the country' of bridges at Billerica and Mistick was affirmed, and
assessment of expense, for building and maintaining them, upon
adjoining towns and plantations was provided for. The bridge was
'in use in 1659, as William Haile's grant, which was near by and
made in that j-ear, mentions "y" great bridge." The "great comon
field," which was divided in 1659 among the proprietors, is also
described as lying on the east side of Concord River, below the
This early bridge was, of course, rude and, primitive and soon
needed repairs. "25: 7: 60. Ralph Hill jun' and James Kider
are apoynted to join with Chelmsford in the repayring of y^ bridge
Leading to Chelmsford ; and they are to doe what work they, with
the comitee of Chelmsford, shall judge meet to be done, and to
Leuie the charges acording to the General Cort's order ; and they
98 HISTORY OF BILLERICA.
have power given them to call in for helpe aeordlnge as they shall se
meet, from time to time, till the work be done, provided they be
such persons as ai'e behinde in high wa}' work, to the Number of 6
days of them that hath done y" moste." "1662, 4, 9," it was
agreed that Thomas Foster should "goe to the great bridge" and
"br Hill Seur, if James Kider could not go." John Parker was
also requested "to goe to the work, if his ocations would give wa}-,"
and a note was sent to Chelmsford "for their comittee to meet at
In 1664, complaint was made to the Court at Charlestown of
"great defect in Chelmsford Bridge," and the selectmen of the two
towr.s were enjoined to take order for the repair thereof forthwith;''
and, November 29, the "Townsmen did choose Will' Hamlett to
join Avith a man from Chelmsford to repajr the great Bridge."
In making these repairs, in 1662, Billerica furnished five hands
and Chelmsford four, "a day in the water," charging 2s. 6d. per day.
Besides, there is a charge for two quarts of liquor, 4s., showing that
one day's work would pay for a quart of liquor and a quarter.
In 1665, the whole charge for previous repairs was " 7p. 1C^ 6".," of
which Billerica paid "4p. l^ 6p." and Chelmsford " 3p. 9^" Groton
does not seem to have been called upon at this time, but for the
charge in 1665, Groton paid its proportion. "21p. 2'**. 2^." were
raised on the county rate, Chelmsford paying "10^. 3^," Billerica,
"7P. 8'. 4P.," and Groton, "3^. 14". 7p." It was to be expected,
that a partnership like this would not long work smoothh' ; and the
following record will surprise no one.
" 12 1" 16||. Whereas, the selectmen of Chelmsford (bj- writing
vnder ther hands) have declared (to the selectmen of Billerica) their
absolute refusall any longer to assist in maintenance of the great
Bridge vpon Billerica riuer, as also giving Notice to them to repair
the same acording to law. Hence the selectmen of Billerica (for
y* preventing of dangers and hazards b}' travellers) do order that
some of the plaukes of that bridge be taken away, that so there
may be no passing over it ; and some provision made on each side
the breach to give warning of the danger to any traveller." Whether
any compromise of the difficulty was made, or the l)ridge continued
impassable for two years, the Records do not tell us ; but a higher
power interposed ; and, 1667, October 9, the General Court takes
" Records. Vol. I (Reverse) p. 87.
ROADS AND BRIDGES. 99
action as follows: "In answer to a motion made by the deputyes
of Billerica & Chelmsford, in reference to the bridge over Billerica
River, it is ordered by this Court * that the sajd bridge shall be
repa3'red & vpholden b}' the tonnes of Billerica, Chelmsford, &
Groaten, and all such farmes as are there granted," and these towns
were to be free from the maintenance of all other bridges, "except
in their own bounds."^"
In execution of this order the County Court at Charlestown,
1667, December 17, "did nominate and empower Mr. John Webb,
alias Evered, Mr. Thomas Hinksman, Mr. James Parker & Jonathan
Danforth, to agi'ee with some able and honest artificer for erecting a
bridge over Billerica River, as speedily as might be."
This committee emploj'ed Job Lane to build the bridge, and
the contract made with him is preserved." It was made, 1667,
.January 11, and the work was to be completed before the 29th of
September following. The size of timbers and form of structure
are minutelj'^ specified. The arches wei-e to be sixteen feet wide,
and the flooring of oak plank four inches thick. He was to receive
in paj'ment, "seven score and five pounds starling": ten in cash,
ten in wheat, ten in malt, and the remainder in corn and cattle, not
exceeding one-half in cattle, which must be under seven years old.
If the parties could not agree, they were to be appraised by two
men properly chosen, and the corne was to be good and merchantable
at such rates as the country rate set. One half was to be paid at
or before the first of May, and the balance within the next year.
Payments were to be delivered at Capt. Adams's mill in Chelmsford,
or in Billerica town. If Mr. Lane chose, Chelmsford or Groton
payments might be delivered near the bridge until it was finished,
and after that in Billerica.
Mr. Lane was distinguished as an "artificer." He paid for his
large farm by the erection of a mansion for Fitz John Winthrop, at
Norwich, Connecticut, and he built one of the College buildings at
In 1676, there was again complaint of the bridge, and united
action of the towns in repairing it. After that, the bridge is hardly
w Colonial Records. Vol. IV, Part ii, p. 356.
" Among the valuable mss. Lane Papers, now in the pos.session of Mrs. A. B. Cutler,
of Bedford, a descendant. Mr. William H. Whitmore, of Boston, has given an account and
abstract of these Lane Papers in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register.
Vol. XI, pp. 102 and 231.
100 HISTORY OF BILLERICA.
mentioned until twent}' 3'ears later, when it was carried away by a
flood, a disaster which ended the existence of the Fordway bridge,
after an existence of forty years. This, no doubt, happened shortly
before the date of the following action. Clerk Joseph Tompson,
without date, says: "'Receiued an order from Chelmsford, dated
about the first of December, 1698, desiring of our selectmen, or
Town, to send a person or persons empowered to join with them
and Groton and Dunstable about the new building of a bridge over
Concord riuer." The selectmen appointed Captain Danforth and
Mr. Tompson to attend this meeting, on December 6, but, "Capt.
Danforth, being presented with the selectmen's order, wholl}' refused.
Joseph Tompson went alone." He met there Major Jonathan TA'ng,
for Dunstable ; [Thomas ?] Williams and James Blanchard, for
Groton; and Major Thomas Hinchman, Solomon Keyes, Sen.,
and Cornet Nath : Hill. The result of the deliberations of this
committee must have been, although our Records leave us to infer
the fact, that the new bridge should be built farther up the river,
at the "corner," where it has since stood. Groton, for some
unexplained reason, refused to participate, and resort was again
found necessary- to the General Court, to bring this intractable town
to terius. An act was passed, 1699, March 20, authorizing the
Court of Sessions to assess and collect of Groton, "24^. 10"''.," and
to pay it to "Major Hinksman, Major Ting, & Mr. John Lane,
undertakers for the building of the bridge latelj- erected in Bilrica."
There were good reasons why Billerica desired to change the location.
With but one bridge over the Concord, it was important that it
should be neai'er the centre of the town, and not make so long a
circuit necessary' to reach the west part of it. In fact, it was for
Billerica a question of removal, or the maintenance of two bridges ;
while to the towns above the difference was trifling. This view
prevailed, and the most important bridge in town found a location
which has been so far permanent. How long the other towns
were called upon to aid in its maintenance, I can not saj', nor
how many times it has been rebuilt. In 1737, the bridge fell down
and was rebuilt after some discussion as to the location. In 1873,
the old wooden bridge gave place to a handsome and light iron
The ghost of the Fordway bridge did not, however, rest with
perfect quiet. >Jinety years later, in 1789, a subscription was made
and committee appointed to 1)uikl a bridge at the old place. The
ROADS AND BRIDGES. 101
record of that committee is preserved.'^ The first meeting was
appointed by people in Chehnsford'Neck, now Lowell and vicinit}-,
and held, 1789, January- 23, at the house of Isaac Sprake. Others
were held at Jonathan Manning's and Esquire Barron's, and Aaron
Chamberlin was moderator and William Manning clerk. A com-
mittee was sent to Concord and Sudbury, who reported that ''there
was not much danger of opposition from those towns on account
of flowing their meadows." It was found that the subscriptions
amounted to Â£59, 10s., and the subscribers "voted to Go on and
Build" ; and a committee of niue was appointed to collect the
subscriptions and cari-y on the work. March 3d appeared the
selectmen of Billerica and sundrj- others, ''and forbid our going on
to build on perill of paying all Dammage that should arise therefrom
to said Town." In April, a committee was sent to Woburn,
doubtless to see if aid could be had there. The}^ brought back
unfavorable report, and, May 19, the meeting adjourned without
The Centre bridge was built in 1737. The vote for its erection
was passed, 1736, November 16, and in 1738 the building committee
received Â£95 from the treasurer, which was perhaps its entire cost.
It was built "against the bridle way, betwixt Mr. Enoch Kidder and
Oliver Whiting, Jun". lotts."
Hill's bridge first appears in the following record, 1736, July 22 :
"Whereas, a number of Persons in the neighboring Towns have
Petitioned the General Sessions in Middx. for a highway from
Westford meeting-house cross Concord River over Lt. Joseph Hill's
bridge to Lexington," a committee of five was chosen "to manage
that aff'aire in the behalfe of the Town." Lieutenant Hill probably
lived on the west side of Concord River near this bridge, which he
may have built for his own convenience and that of the neighborhood.
It would seem that the Court approved the petition, for, 1737,
May 16, the town instructed the committee "to manage the affaire
in Defense of the Town"; to proceed either by appeal from the
Sessions, or by laying the matter before the General Court, or both.
The town was soon called upon to pay Â£59, 10s., which implies that
the case was decided in favor of the petitioners.
The Hill bridge contributes no other noticeable facts to the
history, except an episode, which greatly stirred the town at the
12 Loaned to me by Jliss Lucinda Manning, of Chelmsford. See Manning, 11.
102 HISTORY OF BILLERICA.
time and lingers in the memory of the older inhabitants still. After
the opening of the Middlesex turnpike, the Hill bridge and road
crossing it fell into disuse and decay ; and at last the bridge,
falling, was for some time not rebuilt. But a demand arose for
the rebuilding of the bridge and a straightening of the road leading
to it, wliich had been somewhat devious. A route more direct and
less hilly than the turnpike was sought, in this improvement, from
Chelmsford and towns above to Lexington. Mrs. Joseph Foster
gave the right of way through her land for some distance on the
west side of the river, and others set about the work and built one
of the abutments. But the majority of the people did not relish the
proposed diversion of travel and business to a line so far from the
centre of the town. When other means of opposition failed, some
of the citizens, and, tradition affirms, some of the most respectable,
determined to take the case into their own hands and proceeded to
destro}' the offensive abutment. The mob, for such it seems to have
been, and perhaps the only mob known in the town, did its work
thoroughly. Suits followed and were decided against the town,
which was compelled to build the bridge and road and has since
THE INDIANS AND WAMESIT.
The Shawshin territory was a favorite resort of the red men.
Ttie Pawtucket tribe occupied tlie vicinity- of the moutla of the
Concord River, on both sides of it, as their headquarters. From
this place they went fortli ; to this they returned ; here they planted
their corn. Wamesit, or We3'mesit, was originalh' the name of the
eastern angle, between the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, around
Fort Hill and the modern ''Belvidere" of Lowell. Here many, if
not the majorit}', of the Indians lived, giving ancient Billerica a
large Indian population, though the town never probably exercised
civil jurisdiction over them. This Indian settlement confronted the
fathers of Billerica as they looked northward. Their road down the
Concord River was the road to Wamesit.
This Indian reservation, specifically granted by the General Court,
was surveyed and described by Danforth in 1664, April, as follows :^
u * * 'X'liere is laid out unto the Indians, who are the inhabitants of
Waymesick, flue hundred acres of land on the east side of Concord Riuer
and joyning to the sajd riuer & to Merremack Eiuer; it runnes upon
Concord Riuer about one mile & three quarters, which reacheth to Bacon
Brooke, & bounded by the sajd brooke on the south fower score poole; it
runnes from the mouth of Concord Ryuer doune Merremaeke Riuer two
hundred & fifty poole, where it is bounded by a red oake marked; from
thence it runnes according to the bound mai-ke trees w"^ two angles, unto
Bacon Brooke; all which doe more plainly appeare by plott of it under
written. This flue hundred acres is part of that three thousand w^'' was
layd out to M'^. Winthrop formerly, only in the returne of sajd three
thousand there is mention made of one hundred acres allowed in that
faruie, in refference to land the Indians had improoved w"Hn the bounds of
it. This worke was done by the Coraittee appointed to y^ same by this
Generall Court. Symox Willard.
Jonathan Danforth, Surveyor.'''
1 Colonial Records. Vol. IV, Part ii, p. 108.
104 HISTORY OF BILLERICA.
Ill place of this four hundred acres taken out of Mrs. Winthrop's
farm, her heirs were granted six hun(h'ed acres elsewhere. The
moutli of Bacon Brook, which hounded this Indian plantation south-
erly, is a few rods south of the Salem Railroad hridge. The present
boundary of Lowell on the east of Concord River falls a little below
the lines of the Indian survey. There is no evidence that these
Pawtucket Indians were ever troublesome or unfriendly neighbors.
In common with other tribes, their numbers had been greatly reduced
by a desolating pestilence not long before the period of the English
colonization ; and the wise and Christian missionary labors of P^liot
and Gookin among them did not fail to bear important fruit. Had
the Indian policy of the country been moulded in later years by
the same spirit of benevolence and justice, the nation would have
been saved much disaster, expense, and reproach.
John Eliot, pastor of Roxbury, 1632-00, began to devote himself
to labors among the Indians about the time that the Shawshin
settlement became a practical question. Beginning at Nonantum,
now Natick, the success of his efforts encouraged their extension,
and he soon sought out these Wamesit Indians. Passaconaway, the
aged sachem, became friendly, if not Christian, and, in 1G60, in a
farewell speech to his children and people, he "warned them to take
heed how they quarrelled with their English neighbors, for though
they might do them some damage, yet it would prove the means of
their own destruction." His death did not follow immediately, for,
in 1662, he asked and received from the General Court a grant of
land "about Naticot, above Mr. Brenton's lands, where it is free,
a mile & a halfe on either side Merremacke River in breadth & three
miles on either side in length." "Mr. Brenton's lands," here men-
tioned, were the early grant of eight thousand acres to Billerica,
which the town had sold to that gentleman, and this grant to the
sachem was beyond the Souhegan, near Manchester.
In 1670, Wanualancet had succeeded his father as sachem,
inheriting his peaceful spirit also. He yielded to Eliot's faithful
persuasions and avowed himself a Christian, 1674, May 5. The
account given by Captain Daniel Gookin, of Wamesit and its
population and the conversion of this chief, is interesting^ and
important as a contemporary narrative, and I give it entire. It was
written in 1674, and the writer is himself the "English magistrate"
- Massachnsetts Historical Collections. First Series. Vol. I, p. 186.
THE INDIANS AND WAMESIT. 105
"Wamesit is the fifth praying town; and this place is situate upon
Merrimak river, being a neoli of hind where Concord river falletli into
Merriniak river. It is about twenty miles from Boston, north north west,
and witliin five miles of Billerica, and as much from Chelmsfoixl, so that it
hath Concord river upon tlie AVest Xortliwest, and Merrimak river upon the
north north east. It liath about fifteen families, and consequently, as we
compute, about seventy-five souls. The quantity of land belonging to it is
about twenty-five hundred acres. The land is fertile and yieldeth plenty of
corn. It is excellently accommodated with a fishing place, and there is
taken variety of fish in their seasons, as salmon, shads, lamprey eels,
sturgeon, bass, and divers others. There is a great confluence of Indians
that usually resort to this place in the fishing seasons. Of these strange
Indians, divers are vitioiis and wicked men and women, which Satan makes
use of to obstruct the pi'osperity of religion here. The ruler of this people
is called Numphow. He is one of the blood of their chief sachems. Their
teacher is called Samuel, son to the ruler, a young man of good parts, and