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Bedford is a town in Middlesex Countymarker, Massachusettsmarker, United Statesmarker. It is within the Greater Boston area, north-west of the city of Bostonmarker. The population of Bedford was 12,595 at the 2000 census.

History

The following compilation comes from Ellen Abrams (1999) based on information from Abram English Brown’s History of the Town of Bedford (1891), as well as other sources such as The Bedford Sampler Bicentennial Edition containing Daisy Pickman Oakley’s articles, Bedford Vital Records, New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Town Directories, and other publications from the Bedford Historical Society.:

Bedford was first settled in 1640 and was taken mostly from Billericamarker with some land added from Concordmarker and Lexingtonmarker when officially incorporated in 1729.

In 1630 came the arrival of John Winthrop and Thomas Dudley of the Massachusetts Bay Company. Aboard the Arabella from Yarmouth, Englandmarker, Winthrop and Dudley sailed, and after a difficult ten week voyage, they landed on the shores of the New World, with Salemmarker and Boston Harbor being the Arabella's earliest destinations. In 1637, the General Court of Massachusetts granted some 2,200 acres (9 km²) of land, including Huckins Farmland to the first residential Governor Winthrop and Deputy Governor Dudley. The following year, the two men agreed to divide the land so that the parcel south of the two large boulders by the Concord River (Brothers Rocks) belonged to Governor Winthrop and north of the Rocks was to belong to Deputy Governor Dudley. Later, Dudley became governor. Dudley’s son Rev. Samuel Dudley and Winthrop’s daughter Mary were married, thus Brothers Rocks were so named because of this marriage of families.

Governor Winthrop’s grandson, Fitz John Winthrop, in 1664, sold 1,200 acres (5 km²) of this land (including what is present day Huckins Farm) to Job Lane, a skilled artisan and house builder. Upon his death, he passed much of this land to his son, Col. John Lane in the 1690s. The land later passed to his son, Capt. John Lane, in 1714. John Lane and his wife, Catherine (Whiting), lived on the site, and after she died, he married Hannah Abbott. Upon his death in 1763, their son, Samuel Lane, inherited the land we know as Huckins Farm. Some time after Samuel Lane died in 1802, the house was removed and Peter Farmer built the present farmhouse in the 1840s. We know that Peter and Dorcas Farmer had two children in the late 1820s and 1830s. Later, Banfield succeeded Farmer as the owner.

Samuel W. Huckins, born in 1817, settled on the land about 1870. Huckins was respected for his good judgment and was honored with various offices in town. Maps circa 1875 indicate that what we know as Dudley Road was called Huckins Street. Samuel Huckins lived there until his death in 1892. He had a son, Henry, who was born in 1849, and was living in Bedford in 1910.

In the late 1800s, Dudley Leavitt Pickman, descendant of an old Salem merchant family, and his wife Ellen fell in love with the land. They bought a substantial parcel (mostly Winthrop’s land and a portion of Dudley’s grant). Huckins Farm was a part of this purchase. A direct descendant of both Winthrop and Dudley, Pickman bought the land without knowledge of the Winthrop-Dudley grant. He discovered later that he had purchased his ancestors' lands. The land was used as a dairy farm and apple orchard, in addition to the fields, pasture land, bog garden, and ponds. Chestnut trees lined the old road between the fields. A portion of Dudley Road was named Chestnut Avenue around that time. (Today's Dudley Road and WinthropAvenue in Bedford, as well as Pickman Drive, are named for these families.)

A large portion of the Pickman land, Huckins Farm, was sold to a developer for condominium development in 1987, and other parcels including the large Pickman house (Stearns Farm) were sold to private parties.

Due to its proximity to the intersections of Routes 128 and 3, Bedford, in recent decades, has seen an influx of high-technology companies, particularly along the Burlingtonmarker border.

Historical Sites

Bedford Flag - First Battle Flag (1775).
Exterior, Unitarian Meeting House (1816).
Interior, Unitarian Meeting House.


The Bedford Flag

"By the rude bridge that arched the flood, their flag to April's breeze unfurled - here once the embattled farmers stood, and fired the shot heard 'round the world." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Bedford flag on display at the Bedford Free Public Library is the oldest known surviving intact flag in the United States. It is celebrated for having been the first U.S. flag flown during the American Revolutionary War, as it is believed to have been carried by Nathaniel Page's outfit of Minutemen to the Old North Bridgemarker in Concordmarker for the Battle of Concordmarker on April 19, 1775.

The Latin motto on the flag, "Vince Aut Morire", means "Conquer or Die."

The Two Brothers

When Governor Winthrop and his Deputy Thomas Dudley viewed their lands in early 1638, they decided to use two great stones on the site to divide the property. Winthrop claimed the land to one side of one rock; Dudley claimed the land on the other side of the other rock. They named the rocks "The Two Brothers." Over the years, the two men had many differences; however they learned to work together and even considered themselves "brothers" by their children's marriage. The rocks have come to symbolize the men's spirit of cooperation and democracy. The two brothers can still be seen near the banks of the Concord River in the Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. This site has recently been restored for an Eagle Scout Project by Dennis Warner in collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service, and the Bedford Historical Society.

Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge

The early settlers called this area along the Concord River, "Great River Meadow" because they could harvest hay along the grass banks when the water retreated each summer. Today, this stretch of freshwater wetlands is a sanctuary for migratory birds and wildlife. There are deer, cottontail rabbit, fox, raccoon, muskrat, beaver, weasel and over 200 species of birds seen here.

Job Lane House

This traditional saltbox-style home dates back to the early 1700s and was built by one of Bedford's earliest settlers, Job Lane. A master carpenter, Lane was also a town officer and a Minuteman. He was wounded in the battle of Lexington and Concord. The house and grounds adjacent to Huckins Farm was recently restored and is open to the public.

Fitch Tavern

Early on the morning of April 19, 1775, an alarm sounded warning the people of Bedford that British soldiers were marching from Boston to Concord. Their captain, Jonathan Willson, told them, "It is a cold breakfast boys, but we'll give them a hot dinner." The Fitch Tavern is located in Bedford center, a little over a mile from Huckins Farm.

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 13.9 square miles (35.9 km²), of which, 13.7 square miles (35.6 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.3 km²) of it (0.94%) is water. Bedford is approximately 15 miles (24 km) away from the coast.

Bedford is a relatively circular town. Its neighbors, clockwise, starting from 12 o'clock, are: Billericamarker, Burlingtonmarker, Lexingtonmarker, Lincolnmarker, Concordmarker, and Carlislemarker.

In addition to the Concord River which forms part of the town's borders, the Shawsheen River flows through town. Vine Brook flows from Lexington, Massachusettsmarker, through Burlington, Massachusettsmarker, and into the Shawsheen in Bedford. In the 1840s, a large paper mill was built on Vine Brook, that supplied many of the jobs in town.

Demographics

As of the census of 2000, there were 12,595 people, 4,621 households, and 3,419 families residing in the town. The population density was 916.7 people per square mile (353.9/km²). There were 4,708 housing units at an average density of 342.7/sq mi (132.3/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 91.19% White, 1.65% African American, 0.22% Native American, 5.40% Asian, 0.34% from other races, and 1.19% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.80% of the population.

There were 4,621 households out of which 34.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 64.4% were married couples living together, 7.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.0% were non-families. 21.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.60 and the average family size was 3.04.

In the town the population was spread out with 23.6% under the age of 18, 3.9% from 18 to 24, 27.8% from 25 to 44, 26.3% from 45 to 64, and 18.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 99.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.3 males.

The median income for a household was $87,962, and the median income for a family was $101,081. Males had a median income of $65,697 versus $45,181 for females. The per capita income for the town was $39,212. About 1.4% of families and 2.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.1% of those under age 18 and 4.0% of those age 65 or over.

Government

The town uses an open town meeting as its legislature. The executive branch consists of a Board of Selectmen who oversee a town Administrator.

Bedford is the home of a Consolidated Mail Outpatient Pharmacy . It is part of an initiative by the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide mail order prescriptions to veterans using computerization at strategic locations throughout the United States.

Education

Bedford's school system consists of four buildings: Lt. Eleazer Davis Elementary (K–2), Lt. Job Lane Elementary (3–5), John Glenn Middle School (6–8), and Bedford High Schoolmarker (9–12). Some students from Hanscom Air Force Basemarker, which is partially located in Bedford, join Bedford residents at Bedford High for 9th grade and beyond. Bedford is also part of the school district of Shawsheen Valley Technical High School which is in nearby Billericamarker.

The former Center School was deactivated in the 1980s. Center School is today the Town Center. Nathaniel Page School was similarly deactivated in the 1980s and today is a retirement village. John Glenn Middle School (originally called Bedford Junior High School) is named for John Glenn, formerly the Superintendent of Schools in Bedford, not for the U.S. Senator and astronaut. The Davis and Lane (and former Page) schools are named for local officers who took part in the Battle of Concordmarker on April 19, 1775.

The high school mascot is the Buccaneer and the team colors are Bedford blue and white. Bedford High School's sports teams compete in the Dual County League (DCL). In 2005–06, the boys' basketball team won the DCL championship behind the strong play of DCL MVP Gerry Cohen. In 2006–07, the Bucs made the MIAA Division III North Sectional Final but lost to eventual state champion Watertownmarker, 63–58. In 2008, both girls' and boys' soccer made it into the State Tournament where the girls placed 2nd in the North Division III and the boys made it to the semi-finals of North Division II.

Transportation

Bedford is located slightly northwest of the intersection of I-95 (also known as MA-128) and MA-4/MA-225 (which actually cross in Lexingtonmarker). Important roadways through town include US-3 (an expressway) and MA-62. It is serviced by the 62 and 62/76 lines of the MBTA's bus service. Bedford is also served by Hanscom Fieldmarker , a civilian airport, which is located adjacent to Hanscom Air Force Basemarker.

A snowstorm on January 10, 1977, prompted the end of passenger service on the Lexington Branch of the Boston & Maine Railroad (see additional notes under Boston and Lowell Railroad). The line was embargoed four years later. In 1991, the branch was railbanked by the Interstate Commerce Commission. It is now used for the Minuteman Bikeway. In the early 1900s, the Middlesex & Boston Street Railway line ran generally down Great Road (Routes 4 and 225), with lines from as far west as Hudsonmarker running into Lexington and beyond.

Other historic transportation systems through Bedford included the narrow-gauge Billerica and Bedford Railroad and the Middlesex Turnpike.

References

  1. Rev. Samuel Dudley later removed to Exeter, New Hampshire.
  2. History of the Town of Bedford, Middlesex County, Abram English Brown, published by the author, Bedford, 1891
  3. Memorial of the Reunion of the Descendants of Governor Thomas Dudley, Dean Dudley, Wakefield, Mass., 1892


Further reading



External links




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