Samuel Atkins Eliot.

A history of Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1630-1913 online

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113622? / 11


3 1833 01105 8085

















"Of the making of books there is no end," and, while histories are issued
less frequently than books of fiction, travel or science, still the publication of a
work of this nature requires little in the way of an introductory notice. Cambridge
is rich in historical material — not only the history of the dim, distant past, but
the history of the present, for it must be borne in mind that the future of tomorrow
quickly becomes the present of today, even more swiftly to fade into the past of
yesterday. Indeed, we are constantly making history, and who knows with what
interest the readers of the next centvuy will peruse the record of this very day
and hour? It has been so long since a history of Cambridge was pubUshed —
nearly forty years, in fact — that it seems proper at this time to bring out a work
which shall present to strangers and information-seekers a true record of the
Cambridge of the past and of the present, while at the same time giving to the
residents of the city and those who are familiar with its traditions and institutions
a volimie which will furnish accurate information and, at the same time, inter-
esting reading. In this volume the emphasis has been placed upon the quality
of the men and women who have made the renown of Cambridge rather than upon
the chronology of its history or the record of the passing day. While neglecting
no important movement of occasion, the present writer has tried primarily to
describe the purposes and accomplishments of the people who composed the
town and to depict the minds and characters of the Cambridge citizens whose
lives, whether famous or obscure, have made the events possible and carried the
hopes of each generation toward fulfilment.

J. Lee Robinson.




Introductory — Arrival of Governor John Winthrop and his company in Massachusetts Bay — Settlement at
Charlestown and the organization of the first church — Scarcity of water causes the settlers to disperse — Boston
settled and named — The search for a position less open to attack results in the choice of Newtowne — Thomas
Dudley and other early inhabitants — The Braintree company — The original town — The Rev. Thomas
Shepard and his flock — The founding of Harvard College 9-15



The English Puritans — Thomas Dudley; his family; his military career and connection with the courts; his con-
temporaries — Political and religious unrest in England — Dudley and the Earl of Lincoln — Protestants, op-
pressed in England, meet with reverses on the Continent — The Puritans at a conference at Cambridge, Eng-
land, decide to emigrate to America — The twelve signers — The Massachusetts Bay Company — The Puritan
exodus — Thomas Hooker; his career in England — He arrives at Newtown and becomes pastor — Thomas
Shepard and his troubles in England — Shepard minister of a new church at Newtowne — Qualities of Dudley,
Hooker and Shepard 16-23



The great aim of the settlers — The first meeting-house — The gathering of February 11, 1636 — Winthrop,
l5udley, Vane and other notable men present — Shepard chosen pastor — How the question of a new form of
church government worked out in New England — Nearly all the first ministers originally ordained clergymen
of the Church of England — The New England churches, at first independent, drawn into close alliance —
The development of Congregationalism and its adoption to the new life of the Western Continent 24-29



The colonists desire to advance education — The General Court votes four hundred pounds towards a college —
Newtowne selected for the site and renamed Cambridge — A committee chosen and the erection of a building
begun — Description of the edifice — John Harvard; his family and education — He comes to America — His
early death — His bequest to Harvard — Gifts from others — The first book in America is printed — President
Dunster — The first Commencement and the first graduates — Board of Overseers established and the Charter
granted 30-37



Massachusetts in 1641^Independence of the colony and its efficient government — The Charter — The first
session of the General Court held at Boston — The attempt to limit the franchise to church members — Wide-
spread misunderstanding of the motives of the founders of Massachusetts — Roger Williams — Anne
Hutchinson — Re-election of Winthrop and return of Vane to England — The Charter saved by Winthrop's
management — The "Body of Liberties" — The New England Confederation 38-45



The original Newtowne and its subsequent enlargement — The military force — Picture of Cambridge in the latter
half of the seventeenth century — Important houses and estates — The "Printery" — Manners and customs
— Interest in education and influence of the ministers — President Dunster's heresy and that of Benanuel
Bower — A dwelling-house for the minister built at public expense — Dr. Chauncy — Daniel Gookin — Re-
lations with the Indians — John Eliot — Thomas Danforth — The Charter revoked — The royal Province of
Massachusetts " 46-56

Increase in prosperity — -Influence of the CoUege^A new Harvard Hall built in 1682^The College described
by two Dutch travelers — Increase Mather made president ; his personality — New buildings begin to appear —
Record of those who graduated during Mather's presidency — John Leverett president — Benjamin Wads-
worth — Edward Holyoke — Harvard Hall burnt and the present building erected on the old site — St or)'
of the Cambridge Church — William Brattle's pastorate — Nathan Appleton — A new Parsonage built —
George Whitefield and his controversy with the College — The fourth meeting-house built — A new element
comes into Cambridge life with the advent of families of wealth — Christ Church is built for the Episco-
palians — Several distinguished lawyers — The village as it appeared just before the Revolution 57-75


Discontent with the British government — The Stamp Act and the Taxation Act — Committee? of Correspondence
formed — Coercive measures and the appointment of General Gage as military governor — His acts lead to
riotous scenes in Cambridge — The Massachusetts Assembly meets at Salem, adjourns first to Concord, then
to Cambridge, and votes that military preparations be made — The 19th of April, 1775 — The Cambridge Train
band — Combat at Menotomy and North Cambridge — Cambridge men who lost their lives — The days
following the battle of Lexington see Cambridge filled with American fighting men — Flight of the loyalists;
their fate — The besieging force — The battle of Bunker Hill; Colonel Thomas Gardner's death — Washington,
selected as general-in-chief by the Continental Congress, comes to Cambridge and takes command of the
army under the great elm — Famous Revolutionary officers and public men at Cambridge during the siege —
Raw troops drilled and forts built — Slow progress of the siege — Treason of Church — The British evacuate
Boston and American troops take possession .76-89

Cambridge after the siege — A list of patriot soldiers — General Burgoyne and the troops that surrendered with
him detained at Cambridge — The Constitution of Massachusetts framed in the meeting-house — ^Washington
revisits the town — Visit of Lafayette — Development of the eastern part of the town — The purchasers of the
Tory estates — The West Boston Bridge opened for travel — Effect of the Embargo Act and the War of 1812 on
Cambridge — Dowell's description of the town in 1824 — Andrew Craigie and East Cambridge — Harvard
Square and its environs in the early part of the nineteenth century — The old meeting-house and new churches
— Wadsworth House — The College Yard — The dormitories — Student life — The old Court House — Note-
worthy houses — "Tory Row" — Birthplace of Oliver Wendell Holmes — "Professors' Row" — Margaret Fuller
— Washington AUston — Nathaniel F. Wyeth — President Kirkland — Josiah Quincy — Famous College pro-
fessors — Judge Joseph Story — Theologians — Edward Everett, John Quincy Adams and John S. Popkin —
Three presidents; Sparks, Walker and Felton — Francis Sales — Charles FoUen — Louis Agassiz; his scientific
enthusiasm — The humble beginnings of the Museum of Comparative Zoology — Debt of Cambridge to
Agassiz — What Darwin said of him — Mount Auburn 90-1 16


Cambridge receives a City Charter — Needs of the young city — The new city government — Causes of the
growth of Cambridge — Boston merchants and professional men residents — Influence of the University —
Reasons for the number of factories — Characteristic industries — The water- works — Cambridge public schools;
Private schools; Professional schools — Cambridge a great center for the education of ministers — Radcliffe
College — Parks and playgrounds — Churches and charitable institutions — Banking and public service cor-
porations — Frederick H. Rindge and his gifts to the city; Public Library, Manual Training School, High
and Latin Schools, City Hall — The population doubled in thirty years — Cambridge patriotism — Loyalty of
Cambridge people to their city — James Russell Lowell — Richard Henry Dana — Charles Eliot Norton —
Noted men of letters — Longfellow; his life in Cambridge — William Dean Howell's account of his Cam-
bridge neighbors — John Fiske — Henry James and his sons — ^Joseph E. Worcester, the lexicographer, and
William E. Rolfe, the Shakespearean scholar — Other leaders in science and literature — Emerson 117-138


Prestige of Cambridge — Cambridge compared with other American cities — Problems of public service — Ad-
ministration — Cambridge fortunate in the plan and names of the streets — Necessity for care in the develop-
ment of the newer parts of the city — The main highways and the amount of traffic carried — Schools and
libraries — Police and fire departments — Health statistics — Water supply — Hospitals — Topography of the
city — The Charles River — Parkway development — The approaches to the city from Boston — Question of
new bridges — City planning — Playgrounds — Growing density of population and the problems resulting
therefrom — Civic spirit of Cambridge 140-153

Biographies 156-272

The Widener Library 273-276

Educational 277-281

Financial 282-287

Industrial 288-305

Index 3C6-30S





CAMBRIDGE is an interesting place in
which to hve, because it is hallowed by
so many heroic memories. There is a
good background of inspiring tradition. The
very dust is eloquent of the long procession
of saints and sages, soldiers, scholars and
poets, whose works and words have made the
renown of the place. The names of the Cam-
bridge streets and schools recall its historic
associations and its former inhabitants. Win-
throp, Dudley, Endicott and Eliot Streets
commemorate the founders of the Massa-
chusetts Colony. The names of Washington
and Green, Prescott and Putnam, recall the
times when those patriot soldiers commanded
the revolutionary army here at the siege of
Boston. Hancock, Ellery and Gerry Streets
are named for signers of the Declaration of
Independence who lived in Cambridge or had
close associations with the town. The streets
named for the Cambridge families of the period
before the Revolutionary War, such as Vassall,
Oliver, Inman, Dana, Danforth, Lee, Trow-
bridge, Remington and Brattle, recall the
Tory gentry who made the town the center
of an abundant hospitality, and who main-
tained a genial social life, whose memories
still linger in the beautiful homes they left
behind them. There are streets named for
the college presidents, Dunster, Chauncy,
Wadsworth, Holyoke, Willard, Langdon,
Kirkland, Quincy, Sparks, Everett, Felton
and Walker; and for distinguished college
professors like Ware, Channing, Story, Bond,
Farrar, Francis, Frisbie, Follen, Gumey and
Peabody. Shepard Street is named for the

first pastor of the^First Church. Appleton
Street recalls the name of Nathaniel Appleton,
who was minister of the same church for more
than fifty years. Allston Street takes its
name from the famous Cambridge-bom painter,
Washington Allston, and Lowell Street and
Holmes Place from the two Cambridge-born
poets. Riedesel Avenue reminds us of the
time when the German troops captured at
Saratoga were quartered in Cambridge. The
streets named Craigie, Fayerweather, CooUdge,
Gushing, Wyeth, Brewster, Hastings and
Sidney, tell us of the local worthies who de-
veloped the town. The names of Decatur,
Perry, Lawrence, Erie and Niagara recall the
times of the War of 1812, and the names of
Grant, Andrew, Banks, Ericsson, Sherman
and Sheridan arouse the stirring memories
of the period of the Civil War. The names
of Garfield and Cleveland, of Washburn and
Greenhalge, of Russell, Houghton, Allen and
Bancroft remind us of more recent leaders
in the nation, the Commonwealth and the
city. Waterhouse Street and Wyman Square
are named for distinguished Cambridge physi-
cians, Agassiz and Gray for the great scientists
who made Cambridge famous by their presence
and their work, and Longfellow Park for the
beloved poet who made Cambridge his home.
Then there are the streets that remind us of
the landmarks of the place: Harvard Street,
leading to the College Yard; Divinity Avenue,
to the Divinity School; Garden Street, leading
to the Botanic Garden, which is appropriately
bordered on the south by a street named for
the great botanist, Linnaeus. Arsenal Square


one of the autumn days after the}' had estab-
lished themselves at Boston, rowed three or
four miles up the Charles River behind Boston
until they came to a meadow gently sloping
to the riverside, backed by rounded hills and
protected by wide-spreading salt marshes.
This, wrote Winthrop, seemed to all "a fit
place for a fortified town, and we took time
to consider further about it." To quote the
old chronicle written by Edward Johnson
in 1654 and called "The Wonderworking
Providence of Sion's Saviour in New England,"
"They rather made choice to enter further
among the Indians than to hazard the fury
of malignant adversaries who might pursue
them, and therefore chose a place situated
upon Charles River, between Charlestown and
Watertown, where they erected a towne called
Newtowne, and where they gathered the 8th
Church of Christ."

Thomas Dudley, describing these events
in his famous letter to the Countess of Lincoln,
says, "We began again to consult about a fit
place to build a town upon, leaving all thoughts
of a fort, because upon any invasion we were
necessarily to lose our houses when we should
retire thereinto. So after diverse meetings at
Boston, Roxbury and Watertown, on the
twenty-eighth of December (1G30), we grew
to this resolution, to bind all assistants (Mr.
Endicott and Mr. Sharpe excepted, which last
purposeth to return by the next ship to Eng-
land) to build houses at a place a mile east from
Watertown, near Charles River, the next
spring, and to winter there the next year;
that so by our examples, and by removing the
ordnance and munition thither, all who were
able might be drawn thither, and such as shall
come to us hereafter, to their advantage, be
compelled so to do; and so, if God would, a
fortified town might there grow up."

According to this agreement, the Governor,
John Winthrop, the Deputy-Governor, Thomas
Dudley, and all the councillors, except John
Endicott, who had already settled at Salem,
were to build and occupy houses at Newtowne
in the spring of ]()31, but this agreement was
never carried out. Winthrop, Dudley and
Bradstreet built their houses, and the General
Cn-rt of the colon}' met alternately at New-
towne and at Boston until 1638, when it

finally settled in Boston. Winthrop removed
his house to Boston, thereby stirring up a
controversy with Dudley which was never
completely healed, and the other leaders of
the colony settled elsewhere.

The inhabitants of the Newtowne during
the first year of its existence probably did not
number more than ten families, yet there were
enough men to be noted in an order of the Court
on July 26, 1631, requiring military training.
In the "Towne Book" there are recorded the
names of eight heads of families living in what
is now Old Cambridge, in the summer of 1631.
They are "Mr. Thomas Dudley, Esq., Mr.
Symon Bradstreet, Mr. Edmond Lockwood,
Mr. Daniell Patrick, John Poole, William Spen-
cer, John Kirman, Symon Sackett."

Of these eight persons who laid the founda-
tion of the Newtowne, Thomas Dudley was
the leader. He was the first Deputy-Governor
of the Colony, became Governor in 1634, and
was either Governor, Deputy-Governor, or
Assistant, during the remainder of his life.
In 1636 he removed from Cambridge to Ipswich.
Later he removed again to Roxbury, where he
died July 31, 1653. Simon Bradstreet was
an Assistant from 1630 to 1678; Deputy-Gov-
ernor in 1678; Governor from 1679 to 1686,
and from 1689 to 1692. He removed to
Ipswich with Dudley, whose daughter was
his wife; was afterwards in Andover for a
short time; then in Boston until September
18, 1695, when he removed to Salem, and died
there, March 27, 1697. Edmond Lockwood
was evidently a man of substance for he was
appointed by the General Court Constable of
the Newtowne at its organization, and at the
same session was selected as one of the two
deputies of the town to the General Court. He
died before March, 1635. Daniel Patrick had
been a soldier in the guard of the Prince of
Orange and was one of the two captains origi-
nally appointed to command the militia of
the Colony. He served three months in the
Pequot War and performed other military
duties. In 1637 he planned to follow Dudley
and Bradstreet to Ipswich, but seems rather
to have gone to Watertown, where he was a
Selectman in 1638. He afterwards removed
to Connecticut, and was killed in a quarrel
with Dutch traders at Stamford in 1643. The


name of "Captain's Island" at the foot of
Magazine Street preserves his memory. John
Poole probably remained in the Newtowne
only a few months, as he is not named in the
list of proprietors in 1633. He appears after-
wards as a citizen of Lynn and he died at
Reading, April 1, 1667. William Spencer
was one of the "principal gentlemen." He
was associated with Mr. Lockwood in 1632,
as the first deputy of the town and continued
to serve until 1637. He was one of the first
Board of Selectmen in 1635; the lieutenant
of the trainband in 1637, a member of the
Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company
at its organization in 1639, and he died in 1640.
John Kirman removed to Lynn in 1632, and
was a deputy from that place in 1635. Simon
Sackett died before November 3d, 1635, when
administration was granted to his widow,
Isabell Sackett.

In the spring of 1632 the settlement received
a great addition to its population. The
Puritan congregation of Braintree, in Essex,
England, had emigrated in a body, and were
soon followed by their famous minister, Thomas
Hooker, afterwards the founder of Connecticut
and the man who first visioned and did much
to inake possible our American democracy.
The Braintree company first located at Mount
Wollaston but soon removed to the New-
towne, raising the population to some four
hundred souls. House lots were laid out
compactly, and farming and grazing lands
assigned to each household. Rules were
adopted for the well-being of the community.
Town meetings were provided for on the first
Monday of each month and at the first of these
meetings it was ordered, "that no person what-
ever (shall set) up any house in the bounds
of this town (without) leave from the major

"Further, it is agreed, by a joint consent
(that the) town shall not be enlarged until
all (the vacant) places be filled with houses.

"Further, it is agreed, that all the houses
(Vithin) the bounds of the town shall be
covered (with) slate or board, and not with

"Further, it is ordered, that all (the houses
shall) range even, and stand just six (feet on
each man's) own ground from the street."

These regulations appear to have been suc-
cessful, for in 1633 a traveller, the author of
"New England's Prospect," described the
village as "one of the neatest and best com-
pacted towns in New England, having many
structures, with many handsome contrived
streets. The inhabitants, most of them, are
rich and well stored with cattle of all sorts."
This is doubtless an extravagant picture and
true only in comparison with some of the
neighboring plantations which were not so
favorably situated. So primitive was the
place that Thomas Dudley, the chief man of
the town, writing home, could say, " I have no
table or any place to write in than by the
fireside on my knee."

The original town was all contained within
the small section between Harvard Square'
and the river, from Holyoke Street on the east
to Brattle Square on the west. By 1635, the
streets, now called Mount Auburn, Winthrop,
South, Holyoke, Dunster and Boylston, had
come into existence within these limits, and
there were some eighty-five dwelling-houses.
The meeting-house, built of rough-hewn boards
with the crevices sealed with mud, stood at
the crossing of the road with the path that led
down to the river, where there was a ladder
for the convenience of a landing. The north-
em frontier street, upon the line of Massa-
chusetts Avenue and Harvard Square, was
called Braintree Street. The road upon the
site of what is now Brattle Square was known
as Creek Lane, and it was continvied in a south-
easterly sweep into Boylston Street bj^ Marsh
Lane, afterwards called Eliot Street. On the
north side of Braintree Street, opposite Dunster,
and thence eastward about as far as Linden
Street, stood a row of houses, and at their
back, where the College Yard now is, was the
forest. Through this forest ran the trail or
path from Charlestown to Watertown, which
coincided pretty closely with the line of Kirk-
land, Mason, Brattle, Elmwood and Mount
Auburn Streets. This was the first path from
the seaboard into the inland country. It
followed the windings of river and marsh. A
palisaded wall, with a ditch, for defense against
Indians and wolves, started at "Windmill
Hill," or the present site of Ash Street, and ran
along the western and northern sides of the


present Common. The common grazing-land
covered the site of the Common, and extended
beyond the palisade as far as Linnaean Street.

Eastward from Holyoke(then called Crooked)
Street ran Back Lane, while Braintree Street,
deflecting southeastward, took the name of
Field Lane. These two lanes, meeting near
the present junction of Bow and Arrow Streets,
formed the "highway into the Neck." "The
Neck," was a name for the territory now cov-
ered by Cambridgeport and East Cambridge.
It was largelj' a salt marsh but the arable land
was parceled out among the inhabitants in
severalty. The western part was cut up into
small portions of from one to three acres, but
to the eastward of the site of Hancock Street
it was granted in large tracts of from twenty
to sixty acres. This region of the Neck was
marked off and protected by a fence which
ran — to use modem names — from Holyoke
Place to Gore Hall, and thence to the line
between Cambridge and Somerville at Line
Street near Cambridge Street. "Thus we
find," said John Fiske, "in the beginnings of
Cambridge clear traces of the ancient English
method of forming a town, with its threefold
partition into town mark, arable mark, and

A little later a second arable portion was
inclosed between Garden Street and Vassall
Lane, westward from Wyeth Street to Fresh
Pond meadows; this was known as the "West

Online LibrarySamuel Atkins EliotA history of Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1630-1913 → online text (page 1 of 43)