History of the Town of Lexington, Middlesex County, Massachusetts
Volume I - History
In preparing the following History, I have labored under the embarrassments felt by every one who undertakes to compile the annals of a town, arising from the meagre and imperfect character of municipal records. This is particularly true of the records of births, deaths, and marriages. There is scarcely a family whose genealogy can be accurately traced, in our public archives, through two generations. There will be omissions of births and deaths, or a minute so brief that it is next to impossible to determine whether the child born belongs to this family or that; or whether the person who died is the father or the son in the particular family, or whether he belongs to this family or another of the same surname. So of the entry of many marriages, there is nothing to determine whether the parties belong to the town where the marriage is recorded or not.
It is the fortune of those who compile our local histories, and especially if they deal with the genealogy of families, to rest under the imputation of being inaccurate; when the fault is in the record, or in the absence of all record, rather than in the compiler. In fact any person who undertakes to write a local history from the records of the town alone would confer no favor upon the public, unless it be to show how defective those records are. It is well understood by all those who have had experience that the labor of gleaning from the town or city books constitutes but a small portion of the actual labor to be performed. While gleaning from the records, the compiler's work is before him; but when he goes elsewhere to supply defects or explain what is recorded, he enters an unexplored field, and many fruitless days must be spent in search of the needed information. And it is not till he has had experience that he learns where and how to direct his inquiries and to separate facts from fiction.
In some of our towns, a portion of the records are lost. Lexington town records are continuous from the first. There is, however, one serious defect in the list of marriages. In past times the records of deaths and marriages were generally kept by the clergymen. Rev. Mr. Hancock, who was a clergyman in Lexington more than half a century, was very full and accurate in his entries. And while we have his lists of deaths and baptisms from 1698 to the time of his death, we have no account of his marriages till 1750. He must have kept a full record from the first, which is destroyed or lost. This has proved a great embarrassment in preparing the genealogy, though many of these defects have been supplied from other sources.
There is also a general defect in records, arising from the brevity of the entries. When an event is recent, and the de- tails are fresh in the memory of the people, a concise memorandum may apparently answer the purpose. But when the event is forgotten, such a brief entry becomes almost useless. All records should be self-explaining; so that they can be understood at any future day. Another defect arises from the fact that reports of committees, appointed to obtain the facts in a given case, are not recorded. The record may say that the report is accepted and "placed on file." But in the country towns, where they have no permanent place to deposit their papers, such reports are soon lost or destroyed.
I do not apply these remarks to Lexington in particular, for I find her records better than those of some other towns. But in examining town records in various places, I have found the defects which I have stated; and fidelity to the cause of history has prompted me to make these statements, in the hope that the evil, which every historian has experienced, may be avoided. Records are not made for the day or year in which they are written, but for posterity. An important historic fact may turn on a single line in the record of an obscure town. A name or a date may enable a writer of biography, or a genealogist, to give a connected narrative, which would be broken or disjointed if the name or date were omitted in the record. It is an easy thing, in entering the birth or baptism of a child, to give the name of the parent; or in recording the death of a person, to give the age; or in recording a marriage, to state the residence of the parties, or the parents of the bride. A little care in adding these particular items would materially increase the value of our records. And in regard to the reports of committees, they should be entered in a book kept for that purpose, and be preserved.
An embarrassment peculiar to the preparation of this history has arisen from the fact that for half a century after the first settlement of what is now Lexington, no records were kept within the place. This territory being a part of Cam- bridge, when an event worthy of notice occurred therein, it passed unrecorded, or if it were recorded at Cambridge, there is nothing to show whether it occurred at Old Cambridge, or at "Cambridge Farms." If Lexington had been a separate, independent settlement, she would have had a common centre and records of her own from the first. The fact that Cambridge Farms were thus isolated, and that there was no common centre around which the settlers could cluster, induced those who were coming into the territory to locate near some permanent settlement, that they might enjoy the advantages of intercourse and association with the surrounding towns. And hence the first settlements were generally near the borders of Cambridge, Watertown, Woburn, or Concord. This circumstance would naturally tend to postpone a central organization; and even after such an organization was effected, their old associations would partially continue, and their marriages and baptisms would to some extent be entered in the border towns. These things have tended to make the early history of the town more meagre than it otherwise would have been.
But these embarrassments I have labored to overcome by consulting the records of the neighboring towns, and having recourse to the published town Histories, and the Genealogies of other families. The files of the Probate Office, the State Archives, and the County Records have enabled me to supply many defects. In the Revolutionary history I have been materially aided by the American Archives and Frothingham's Siege of Boston. I have endeavored to give a full and impartial history of the town, and an ample Genealogy of the families. How far I have succeeded, I leave the public to judge.
Table of Contents
I. FROM THE FIRST SETTLEMENT TO THE INCORPORATION AS A TOWN 1
II. FROM THE INCORPORATION OF THE TOWN TO THE CLOSE OF THE FRENCH WARS 45
III. CIVIL HISTORY FROM 1763 TO 1775 66
IV. CAUSES OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION 88
V. GOVERNOR GAGE'S ADMINISTRATION 107
VI. THE BATTLE OF LEXINGTON 123
VII. THE BATTLE OF LEXINGTON, CONTINUED 177
VEIL THE EFFECTS OF THE BATTLE OF LEXINGTON 206
IX. FROM THE COMMENCEMENT TO THE CLOSE OF THE REVOLUTION 225
X. FROM THE PEACE OF 1783 TO THE YEAH 1830 248
XI. FROM THE YEAR 1830 TO 1867 262
XII. FROM THE YEAR 1867 TO 1912 280
XIII. ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY, FROM 1692 TO THE DEATH OF REV. MR. HANCOCK 304
XIV. ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY, FROM THE SETTLEMENT TO THE DEATH OF REV. MR. CLARKE 318
XV. ECCLESIASTICAL AFFAIRS, FROM THE DEATH OP MR. CLARKE TO 1867 333
XVI. ECCLESIASTICAL AFFAIRS, FROM 1868 TO 1912 351
XVII. EDUCATION, FROM THE SETTLEMENT TO 1867 378
XVIII. EDUCATION, FROM 1868 TO 1912 396
XIX. MILITARY AFFAIRS, FROM 1700 TO THE CLOSE OF THE CIVIL WAR 412
XX. MILITARY AFFAIRS, FROM 1868 TO 1912 444
XXI. MUNICIPAL AFFAIRS 457
XXII. TOPOGRAPHY 466
XXIIII. STATISTICS 475
XXIV. CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS 483
XXV. OTHER ORGANIZATIONS 497
XXVI. BENEFACTIONS 516
INDEX OF NAMES 569
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Volume II - Genealogies
This volume contains a complete genealogy of the town of Lexington. Every person whose birth is recorded on the Town or Parish Records is included with as much completeness as it is possible to obtain, or as is consistent in a town genealogy. In some instances, valuable space may be occupied by unimportant data, but in no other way can the reader be assured that the work is complete. In several instances, the lack of detail is due to the failure of those concerned to furnish adequate information, as requested by the committee.
In addition to those born in the town, every person well identified with Lexington, either by residence or relationship, has been carefully considered and included so far as possible or expedient.
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The history of Lexington, unlike that of many other communities, has more than local significance and value, because of the far-reaching event which took place within the borders of the town. Upon other grounds, however, the story of such a typical New England village is of national importance; for in the development of the community life of Lexington and in the growth of her town meeting, so graphically set forth by Mr. Hudson, is presented a faithful picture of the forces which not only brought to a successful termination the Revolutionary and the Civil wars, but also contributed in extraordinary measure to the industrial, political, and moral power of the United States.
Lexington was fortunate in having among her citizens, at a time when questions of local history and genealogy were little regarded, a pioneer in the difficult work of preserving the records of the past. So widespread, fifty years later, is the interest in every detail of early American history and of family descent that it is almost impossible to appreciate the difficulties under which Mr. Hudson labored in preparing his monumental History and Genealogy of Lexington. Those difficulties he overcame with remarkable skill and patience; and an examination of the result leaves one astonished that, with such meagre resources, he produced a volume so free from major errors.