History of Stoneham Massachusetts, 1632-1800
From the diary of Governor John Winthrop of Massachusetts (1587-1649)
February 7, 1632
“The Governor, Mr. Nowell, Mr. Eliot and others went over Mystic River at Medford; and going North by East among the rocks and about 2-3 miles they came upon a very great pond, having in the midst of an island of about one acre, and very thick with trees of pine and beech; and the pond had divers, small rocks standing up there and there in it, which therefore called Spot Pond (situated on the traditional territory of the Pawtucket and Massachusett people.)”
Although early explorers of the region deemed it “an uncouth wilderness, full of timber,” Charlestown laid claim to the area. It became known as Charlestown End, with the Northwestern section being called Charlestown Farms.
Growth in Charlestown End was slow since the area was remote and difficult to reach. The adventurous farmers who settled in the area were scarce until 1725, when the taxable male population numbered 65 and that a petition was presented to the General Court requesting that Stoneham be set off as a separate town due to its remoteness from Charlestown.
After the granting of the petition by the General Court on December 17, 1725, the first town meeting was held on December 24th. A meetinghouse was established at the intersection of Summer and Pleasant Streets, where a schoolhouse already existed. This became the first Town Common (center) and remained so for many years. There were approximately 50 dwelling houses with an estimated population between 250 - 300 people. In 1726, a burial ground was established on Pleasant Street, and many people, including slaves were buried in unmarked graves. However, the headstones that remain intact today portray the stylistic sequence of gravestone art for over a century.
1725 - 1775
The military records of Stoneham citizens bear witness to the fact that duty to the Mother Country was of the utmost importance sending soldiers to the Colonial Wars. However, the residents of Stoneham united with their neighbors in opposition to the “Intolerable Acts,” imposed on them by the British. A local company of Minutemen was organized and drilled during the Winter and Spring of 1775. Prepared and ready for the call to arms, they were engaged in the first battle of the Revolution on April 19th. Ninety-eight Stoneham men appear on the Revolutionary Muster Roll. Coincidentally, another Stoneham military company 86 years to the day after Lexington and Concord, participated in the first skirmish of the Civil War. While passing through Baltimore en route to Washington, the unit was taunted and attacked by an angry mob!
1767 Tax Roll
78 Rateable Polls - Population: 340
- 50 dwelling houses
- 10 servants for life
- 42 horses
- 1 mill
- 41 oxen
- 222 cows
- 311 sheep
- 23 swine
- 2346 bushels of grain
- 326 barrels of cider