History of Land Development in Waltham, Mass.
The South Side →
- Fuller and Williams Colonial Farms
- The "Island" and "Cram's Cove" Area
- Forest Grove Area
- Parmenter Road and Derby Street Areas
- Chemistry Village Area – East of Newton Street to Flood Street, and North of High Street to the Charles River
- Calvary Cemetery Area
- Watch Factory (Waltham Improvement Company), Crescent Street Area
- South of the Watch Factory, West of Moody Street, and North of the Island Area
- Boston Manufacturing Company Area (Charles River to Taylor Street/Moody to Newton Streets)
- Newton Chymical (Chemical) Company Area (Lowell to Cedar Streets/Charles River to Fuller Street)
- Central South Side Area (Taylor to High Streets/West of Moody to Lowell Streets; High to Derby Streets/Lowell to Tolman Streets)
- Washington and Wadsworth Avenues Area Just East of Moody Street
- Spruce and Crescent Street Area
- References and Sources and List of Maps
The origin of the name "Newton" for the present city is rather interesting. Newton was originally part of Cambridge. The colonial town of Cambridge was originally much larger than it is today. At its beginning, it surrounded colonial Watertown on both the north and south, across the Charles River. It was originally called "Newe Towne" when it was founded in 1630, but the name was changed to Cambridge in 1638 in honor of the college in Cambridge, England, after Harvard College was established in 1636. By 1654, the part of colonial Cambridge south of the Charles River was being referred to as "Cambridge Village". In 1679, Cambridge Village became a separate town from Cambridge, and between 1679 and 1691, it was referred to as either "Cambridge Village" or "New Cambridge". In 1691, the Massachusetts Bay Colony's General Court officially renamed it "New Town". Then, in 1766 it was arbitrarily changed to "Newton" by the then town clerk, Judge Fuller (according to Jackson's 1854 history of Newton, p. 6).
Although it is difficult to accurately determine the exact bounds of the Cooke Grant, and subsequent Fuller Farm, based on the map which Francis Jackson drew in 1854 and modern maps of Waltham and Newton, its eastern boundary probably ran from the Charles River near the ends of today's Bemis and Fessenden Streets, in Newton, south to about the intersection of Randlett Park and Watertown Street, in Newton. Its southern boundary ran from about the intersection of today's Randlett Park and Watertown Street west to the Charles River a little north of Cram's Cove, pretty much along Derby Street in Newton, and through the southern intersection of Adams and Crescent Streets in Waltham. Its western and northern boundaries were the Charles River. It should be noted that Jackson's map appears to be a bit elongated in the east-west direction compared to modern maps.
Although the bulk of the South Side was included in the Cooke Grant/Fuller Farm, the South Side's southwest corner, the Cram's Cove and Island area, was originally part of the next land grant south, the Shepard Grant/Williams Farm. In 1640, the colonial town of Cambridge granted to Major Samuel Shepard an area of 500 acres. Its northern boundary matched the southern boundary of the Cooke Grant/Fuller Farm, running from about the intersection of today's Randlett Park and Watertown Street west to the Charles River a little north of Cram's Cove, pretty much along Derby Street in Newton, and through the southern intersection of Adams and Crescent Streets in Waltham. Its eastern boundary ran from the intersection of Randlett Park and Watertown Street southwest along Watertown Street and then Washington Street to approximately to where Washington Street crosses the Massachusetts Turnpike. Its southern boundary ran from approximately where Washington Street crosses the Massachusetts Turnpike west to the Charles River, passing just to the south of today's Purgatory Cove. Its western boundary was the Charles River.
In 1659, Samuel Shepard's grant lands in what is today Newton/Waltham went to Deacon William Park (or Parke) of Roxbury through a legal action to pay off Shepard's debts (MLR 2/102). Park, then, promptly transferred them to his son-in-law, Captain Isaac Williams, who had just married Park's daughter, Martha. Captain Isaac Williams had been born in Roxbury in 1638, and, after moving to the Shepard Grant, went on to become a weaver, deacon, town selectman, and representative to the General Court of the colony. He was also one of the signers of the petition to the General Court to separate today's Newton from Cambridge, in 1678.
Some noted descendants of Captain Isaac Williams were his grandson, Ephraim Williams, who gave the land and bequest that founded Williams College in the Berkshires, after he died fighting in the French and Indian War; and his great grandson, William Williams of Connecticut, who was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Also of note to Waltham, was Captain Isaac's nephew, Rev. John Williams of Deerfield, who's son, Warham Williams, became the first settled minister of what would later become Waltham, in 1720.
Captain Isaac Williams was married twice, the second time to Judith Cooper, after Martha's death. In his will of 1704, Isaac left most of his estate to his youngest son by Judith, Ephraim. In the will he specifically mentioned "the whole tract of land between the Fuller line and the causeway over the meadow leading to the Island, and the Island." So, the "Island" part of Waltham has been called that for over 300 years. Also, from the 1874 Newton Atlas, it appears that the causeway later became today's Rumford Avenue. After Isaac's death in 1707, his will was contested by Martha's children, and the court subsequently divided his estate lands among three of his sons: Isaac, Jr., Eleazer, and Ephraim.
According to Jackson's map of Newton's settlement, Eleazer Williams sold off 86 acres of the northern portion of Captain Isaac Williams' farm to Thomas Oliver in 1708, and deed MLR 17/607 confirms this, with the Fuller farm along its northern boundary, Isaac Williams, Jr., on the west, and Ephraim Williams on the east and south. The deed also says the lot included homestead with barn and upland and meadow. The map also shows that Eleazer's house was on what is today Waltham Street, just a bit south of Derby Street. The map also implies that parts of this land later went to Goddard, Taylor, and Col. Nathan Fuller. Because the ownership of this area was sometimes in Williams hands and sometimes in Fuller hands, it makes it difficult to trace it through.
The only early Williams family house that is still standing appears to be the National Register property which is today at No. 428-432 Cherry Street in Newton. According to its MACRIS form, it was originally built about 1716 by William Williams, a grandson of Captain Isaac Williams, at a nearby location, and later moved and much altered. All of the early Williams family houses were located at the far eastern end of the Williams Farm, where the main roads went by (around West Newton center).