Friday, May 28, 2010

Timothy Flint Author, Pioneer, 1780

Timothy Flint was born in North Reading in July 11, 1780. He was the fifth of nine children of William and Martha Kimball Flint. Although born into a farming family, Flint apparently did little work on the farm, probably because of ill health that plagued him all his life. His early lack of experience as a farmworker might account in part for Flint's failure when he attempted later in his life to support his own family by farming in Missouri.

He was a graduate of Harvard in 1800 and entered the ministry. He was an American author. Timothy Flint became one of the more important men of letters in the American West during the first half of the nineteenth century. Demonstrating a remarkable range of interest and knowledge, he wrote books that classified geographical, historical, and biological features of the West.

As a missionary he traveled up and down the Mississippi valley from 1815 until 1825 and recorded in Recollections of the Last Ten Years (1826) the frontier life he experienced.

He also wrote several romantic novels of frontier life, notably Francis Berrian (1826) and George Mason, the Young Backwoodsman (1829).

His vivid Biographical Memoir of Daniel Boone (1833) did much to develop the Boone legend. Flint interviewed Boone and embellished his adventures, making the book one of the most popular and best selling biographies of the 19th century.

Recollections of the Last Ten Years details his travels from Pittsburg and the Missouri to the Gulf of Mexico and from Florida to the Spanish frontier in a series of letters to the Reverend James Flint of Salem, Massachusetts.

Recollections of the Last Ten Years is perhaps the most interesting of Flint's works to the modern reader because of its fresh description of emerging society in the western states and territories. An autobiographical account of his western experiences, the book is written ten years after Flint and his family emigrated down the Ohio River and is organized as a series of letters to his cousin in Salem, Massachusetts; the account of the difficulties they encounter and the places they visit is detailed and firsthand. With some regrets and homesickness for the order and neatness of his native New England, he gradually finds more to admire than condemn in the westerner, putting to rest the "horror inspired by the term backwoodsman" on the East Coast.”
Dictionary of Literary Biography on Timothy Flint (page 5)

Recollections is in the Flint Memorial Library’s History Room in North Reading center. (LH 917.7 Fli reference book)

It can be found online at Google Books:

During his most prolific writing period he also founded and edited the Western Monthly, a literary magazine in Cincinnati, from 1827 to 1830. He served as coeditor of the Knickerbocker: or New-York Monthly Magazine for several months in 1833-1834 until chronic ill health forced him to resign.

Timothy Flint died on August 16, 1840 in Salem, Massachusetts. His burial site and monument are in Harmony Grove Cemetery, Salem, Massachusetts.

For Timothy Flint, pioneer, missionary, author, editor, 1780-1840; the story of his life among the pioneers and frontiersmen in the Ohio and Mississippi Valley and in New England and the South (1911) by John Kirkpatrick, visit:

Monday, May 17, 2010

Early Roads, Andover and Medford Turnpike 1803

The center of North Reading has been an important junction for travel for almost three hundred years. Freight wagons drawn by oxen, farm wagons, drovers herding cattle, sheep or swine, private carriages, mail coaches and passenger stagecoaches all passed through town. They went to and from the commercial seacoast towns in the east, the agricultural community in the west, and from industrial Boston and the textile manufacturing in the north. As late as 1794, there were only six through roads in town and all were carrying more than their share of this important but slow moving traffic.

In 1803-1804 a group of local businessmen and their contemporaries in neighboring towns wanted to create a hard-packed gravel highway and incorporated a Toll Road Company. Under the guidance of Mr. Peter Tufts they planned and constructed the Andover and Medford Turnpike in 1805-1806. This was a direct road from Andover through Reading and Stoneham to the bridge in Medford. The present Route 28 includes parts of this early road. An act by the General Court in February 1807 allowed the Andover and Medford Company to maintain a toll gate at the Essex-Middlesex county line jointly with the Essex Turnpike Corporation.

The toll for using the road made it very unpopular and so it was used infrequently. Because of the lack of travelers no dividends were ever paid to its stockholders. Its expenses later proved to be greater than the revenue it yielded and by 1828 the stockholders no longer wanted it. January 1836 the Middlesex county commissioners declared the road a public road .Many travelers used a branch of this gravel highway as a direct and shorter route to Manchester and Concord, New Hampshire.

Btw: In the 16th century a “turnpike” was a spiked barrier across a road that was lifted after a toll was paid.

Information adapted from North Reading Review by Leo Murphy 1964; Medford on the Mystic. By Carl Seaburg and Alan Seaburg, April 1980; Wapedia Wiki:Massachusetts Route 28.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Early Roads, 1648 & 1707

In 1648 it was recorded in the old record book that a vote was taken to build a bridge over the Ipswich River, four miles from Reddinge. Its accompanying road ran from Nahant Bay in Lynn through Reddinge, now Wakefield, and then northerly to the present Middleton-North Reading line, proceeding through North Reading into Andover.

The old records describe this road as “the first highway formally laid out” and “Captain Richard Walker, Thomas Marshall, and Nicholas Holt, being appointed by the General Court to lay out the County Highway from Andevour to Reddinge, have thus agreed to follow the cart-way from Andevour to Goodman Holt’s farm, leaving his house about a quarter mile on the left hand, and so on in a strate south or nere a south lyne to the Ipswich River according to the marked trees, and so from the river upon a like strate lyne to the head of a meadow, called great meadow to the saw mill in Reddinge thence through common cornfields to the meeting house.”

In 1658 the General Court “Ordered that there be a highway of tenn poles broad left at each end of all those lotts of upland beyond the Ipswich River.” William Cowdrey, John Smith, John Brown and Jonathan Poole, were selected to divide that tract of land recently acquired by Reddinge, located north of the Ipswich River. They surveyed the land into lotts leaving a “tenn pole highway” at either end. This land then became common land for the use of the town as a highway, watering place and other public uses as it became necessary. The land left for the highway ran parallel to the river on the north side, bypassing the marsh and meadow and staying with the lowland, avoiding the fertile high ground.

In 1707, a way was laid out northward from the vicinity of the present common to the Andover line. This was known as “Sixteen Pole Way” and led through Sergeant George Flint and John Eaton’s land. In 1715 Sgt. George Flint complained to authorities that the road ran through his fertile fields and cut his farm in half. He offered to exchange land to the north with the town if they would relocate the highway westerly of the then existing position. The course of the new road was laid out by Timothy Wiley, Joseph Burnap, and John Goodwin. The old record show “At the north meeting house it is goe next to John Eatens land until it comes within twenty poles of sum low land that joynes to Sart. George Flints orchard, and then goes a slant over to Sargent Flints land fourty pole. Then turns a slant by the hill over to said Eatens line at ye end of the hill, then it is to ly by said Eatens line cross three swamps, then turnes a slant to said Flints line at ye middle mark. Then it is to turn a slant over to Eatens line at ye norwest end of Rattle-snake Rock. Soe by Eatens line till it comes to the foot of the hill at this side Jebit Plaine then it is to turn a slant to Flints line at a Valle at the hether end of said Jebit Plaine.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Reverend Eliab Stone at Salem

More on placing Eliab Stone in Salem, MA.

Historical Address and Poem, delivered at the Bicentennial Celebration.
BOSTON : Printed by Samuel N. Dickinson. (1844) Appendix p. 123

Lieutenant David Parker, now living at the North Parish, at the
age of ninety years, who was at the battles of Lexington and Bunker
Hill, and served two years in the revolutionary war, tells the following story of Rev. Mr. Stone:

" In the time of the revolutionary war, it was customary, if danger
was threatened or expected from the enemy, to fire three distinct guns
at short intervals, to alarm the people. Three guns in the night time
were fired at Salem : as all ears as well as eyes were open to danger
at that time, many turned out immediately from several towns within
hearing of the alarm ; and among others the Rev. Mr. Stone, although
a minister, turned out with his musket and military accoutrements,
having on his full-bottomed, white wig, to travel on foot to Salem to
meet the common enemy. But before they arrived at Salem, they
were met by a company from Boston, who informed them that it was
a false alarm, and no danger was at that time expected: they immediately set out for home, but on their return they met others going down, who were told by Mr. Stone that it was a false alarm. 'Ah/ said they, ' he is an old tory. We will not believe him, we will continue our march to Salem ! ' "

They soon met others from Andover, to whom he gave the same
information ; one of their number happened to know him, and said,
" Surely we can believe him, for this-is Parson Stone !" and upon this
information turned towards their homes.

Reverend Eliab Stone, Minitman 1775

During the American Revolution era, the alarm sounded to stir the inhabitants of North Parish into action. It was then that Reverend Eliab Stone put on his white ministerial wig, grabbed his gun and marched with the Minit Men.

An educated guess suggests that he marched into Salem, MA during the event known as Leslie’s Retreat. On a cold New England Sunday morning in 1775, British Colonel Alexander Leslie had come to capture the rebel cannon. Leslie left Castle William by ship and landed his troops at Homan’s Cove on Marblehead Neck. Alarm quickly spread. The soldiers marched toward Salem. They got as far as the draw bridge called North Bridge in Salem when they were halted by the bridge drawn up on the opposite bank. A standoff occurred, escalating into what could have begun the war. Leslie restored order and realized the futility to retrieve the cannon. He agreed to leave if allowed to fulfill his orders by searching on the north side of the bridge. He was given permission to march his soldiers fifty rods past the bridge if he agreed to immediately return to his ship. This location is currently identified along the North River on Commercial Street in Salem, MA

In the Diary of William Bentley 1811-1819, Reverend Stone’s wig is said to reside in the Museum of the Essex Institute (Now known as the Peabody Essex Museum, located in Salem, MA.)