September 2016 Update! The demolition request for the Richard Wheeler House has been withdrawn!
The Richard Wheeler house is one of only 2 remaining in Bedford built in the 1600s and one of only 6 in Bedford that are over 300 years old. Those buildings are:
Michael Bacon House 229 Old Billerica Road ca.1671
Richard Wheeler House 445 Concord Road ca.1695
Farley-Hutchinson-Kimball House 461A North Road ca.1700
Nathaniel Page House 89 Page Road ca.1702
Eleazer Davis House 255 Davis Road ca.1705
Job Lane House 295 North Road ca.1713
A permanent deed restriction was placed on the Farley-Hutchinson-Kimball House by the Bedford Historical Society, and the Job Lane House is a town-owned farm museum. None of the other buildings have any legal deed restrictions protecting them.
There are only 7 other buildings remaining from around the time (1725-1735) of Bedford’s incorporation in 1729.
The precise construction date for the Wheeler house during the last quarter of the 1600s is not certain. The house was inspected by Orville Carroll, former preservation architect for the Minuteman National Historic Park. He determined that the front 2 rooms up and down along with the chimney base were constructed in the 1600s.
One scenario dates the house to Richard’s parents’ marriage. George1 Wheeler was an early settler in Concord, having arrived in 1639 with his young family including a son William2 (ca.1630-1683) born in England. William married Hannah Buss in 1659, and they had 8 children including their youngest son George3 (ca.1674-1737) born in Concord. George married Abigail Hosmer in 1695, and the assumed house construction date of 1695 coincides with their marriage. Their oldest son Richard4 (born ca.1696) inherited the house that now bears his name. He married Jemmima French in 1720. Continue reading “The Richard Wheeler House at 445 Concord Road”→
Fifteen thousand years ago, glaciers covered the northern regions of the continent. Bedford would have been under a mile of ice. But then, it began to melt. By 12,000 years ago, the glaciers had retreated up past the St. Lawrence River. There was land here, but it was tundra. Mammoths, mastodons, huge bears and other large mammals roamed. (Mastodons??? In New England?? Yes! A six and a half foot long mastodon tusk was found in Arlington’s Spy Pond just a few years ago!)
Over many hundreds of years, the weather warmed further, and the icy tundra melted. The large mammals went extinct or retreated north. And then, about 11,000 years ago, pushing northward and eastward from the Ohio Valley into the newly habitable land of the northeast, came the Earliest Peoples. Continue reading “The History of Native Americans in Bedford”→
The Historical Society has received a glimpse of almost three centuries of the Joseph Fitch homestead’s history through the generosity of Ned and Susan Leeming, who have donated many artifacts (most recently some last month) that were found in the house.
First, a bit of history. The Joseph Fitch Homestead, formerly at 27A Carlisle Road, was located within Governor John Winthrop’s 1638 land grant. Job Lane1 had acquired the Winthrop land grant in 1664, and upon his death a quarter was deeded to his grandson, Samuel Fitch3. Samuel’s share was a parcel on the north end, where he settled when he married in 1695, and about 280 acres on the south end of the Winthrop Farm along the Old Concord Line (running west from Willson Park). When the town was incorporated in 1729, he became Bedford’s first Town Clerk.
His oldest son, Joseph (1702-1769), was a house-wright. He built Bedford’s First Meetinghouse (1729) and probably Domine Manse (ca.1733). Joseph is also believed to have built the sawmill on Peppergrass Brook on his father’s land, which provided lumber for the buildings constructed in Bedford Center around the time of the town’s incorporation. The southern end of North Road that connected between Fitch Tavern on The Great Road and Job Lane’s homestead (site is now 130 North Road) was built in 1734 and ran through Samuel Fitch’s land, opening it up to development. Continue reading “The Story of the Joseph Fitch Homestead”→