History of Land Development in Waltham, Mass.
The South Side →
Bradshaw Stearns was the son of George Stearns (son of Daniel Stearns of Waltham and Hannah Fuller, daughter of Isaac Fuller of Newton, and great granddaughter of John Fuller of Newton) and Ruth Watson. In addition to his many real estate dealings in the area, Bradshaw Stearns was a distinguished building contractor. According to the January 31, 1896 Annual Report of the Waltham School Committee and Nathan Warren's history of the South Side in Publication No. 1 of the Waltham Historical Society, 1919, Bradshaw Stearns was responsible for building the foundations of the Boston Manufacturing Company mills in Waltham; the foundation of the Merrimack mill, as well as the locks and canals, in Lowell; and the Charlestown State Prison.
South of the Captain Joseph Fuller Farm sold to Stearns and Fuller, extending to the Newton border and beyond, was a 12-acre lot, which, in later deeds, was referred to as the "Townsend Lot". It went from around today's Washington Avenue south to Derby Street, and from a little west of Lowell Street to a little east of Tolman Street. In the 1700s it had been part of Captain Joseph Fuller's farm; however, in 1804, he sold it to David Townsend (MLR 159/148). David Townsend was a baker, whose house and bakehouse were on Main Street, about where Townsend Street is, today. In 1823, David Townsend's son, also David, sold the lot to David Fuller and Bradshaw Stearns (MLR 246/136). It appears that the lot was later divided about in half between the Fullers and the Stearns, in 1828, when Joel Fuller sold his interest in the eastern six acres of it to Bradshaw Stearns (MLR 547/50). David Fuller had died in 1826, and Joel was his son-in-law. The 1874 Newton Atlas shows the two lots on Derby Street next to each other.
Just northeast of the Captain Joseph Fuller Farm, which was sold to Marshall Spring in 1809, was a nine acre lot, which appears to have been dower land of the heirs of Isaac Fuller. Isaac Fuller was the father of Captain Joseph Fuller and Hannah Fuller, who had married Daniel Stearns, and who was the mother of George Stearns. This lot may have been part of Isaac Fuller's farm, most of which, later, may have become the Captain Joseph Fuller's Farm. In 1826, George Stearns sold this lot to the Newton Chymical Company (MLR 265/35).
In 1879, Sarah Stearns, Bradshaw Stearns' widow, sold all her land, which she had inherited from her husband, south of High Street, to Bradshaw S. Tolman (MLR 1524/566). Bradshaw Stearns Tolman was her grandson by her daughter, Sarah F. Stearns, and John E. Tolman. The lot was 36 acres in area, and appears to have included the Stearns (eastern) half of the "Townsend Lot" along with the other land south of High Street bought by Bradshaw Stearns along with David Fuller from Marshall Spring (from High Street to about Washington Avenue, and from west of Lowell Street to east of Tolman Street – part of the Captain Joseph Fuller Farm, MLR 229/245). Bradshaw Stearns had acquired David Fuller's interest in their joint purchase of the Captain Joseph Fuller Farm in 1826 from David's heirs (MLR 279/151). In Sarah Stearns' deed to Bradshaw Tolman, the bordering Fuller half of the "Townsend Lot" was labeled Eliza Fuller. Eliza was Joel Fuller's daughter-in-law.
In 1872, Eliza Fuller took out a mortgage based on her half of the "Townsend Lot" (MLR 1206/78). Unfortunately, there was a default, the mortgage was foreclosed, and, in 1880, the land was sold to Walter Crafts (MLR 1532/546, 547, and 549). Based on two subsequent deeds from Crafts, the western boundary of the "Townsend Lot" was located at 131 feet west of Lowell Street on Washington Avenue (MLR 1927/314), and its northern boundary at 23 feet north of Washington Avenue on Lowell Street (MLR 1975/45). These boundaries are shown on the 1900 map of Waltham.
In 1847, Bradshaw Stearns sold to Isaac R. Scott, Samuel P. Emerson, and John Pike land on both sides of Moody Street – called "a new road", without a name, in the deed (MLR 507/98). This was in the northern part of the Captain Joseph Fuller Farm, which David Fuller and Bradshaw Stearns had acquired from Marshall Spring in 1819 (MLR 229/245), and Stearns subsequently acquired in full from Fuller's heirs in 1826 (MLR 279/151). The part of the Scott/Emerson/Pike lot on the west of Moody Street contained about 3 acres, and stretched approximately 400 feet west from the street and about 330 feet north to south – about the house lots on both sides of Walnut Street and half way to Adams Street. The bend in the alignment of Walnut Street, appears to correspond to the approximate dividing line between the land later developed by the watch factory/WIC on the west and the Scott/Emerson/Pike lot on the east. The part of the Scott/Emerson/Pike lot on the east of Moody Street contained about 4 acres, and stretched approximately 340 feet east from Moody Street and about 600 feet along Moody Street and 460 feet north to south at about two-thirds of the way to Hall Street – roughly containing the house lots on both sides of Taylor and Cushing Streets about two-thirds of the way to Hall Street. The northern boundary followed the diagonal boundary between the Richard Fuller Farm and the Captain Joseph Fuller Farm. Although the deed specified "with buildings", the 1848 map of Newton showed no buildings on, or off, Moody Street. Moody Street was first laid out, and the Moody Street bridge built, in 1846. The 1854 map showed a number of houses, by then, in the area.
In the deed, Scott, Emerson, and Pike were all referred to as "machinists". But they were not just ordinary machinists. Isaac R. Scott was the superintendent of the Boston Manufacturing Company's Bleachery at about this time, and Samuel Payson Emerson was the superintendent of the Boston Manufacturing Company's machine shop, and had been a town selectman. Interestingly enough, it was Emerson who later advised Aaron Dennison that the South Side of Waltham was a good place to build his watch factory.
Scott, Emerson, and Pike then sold a lot on the south side of Walnut Street (then called Alston Street) to Joseph E. Emerson in 1848 (MLR 528/225). Joseph Emerson was also called a "machinist". The lot measured 139 feet along Walnut Street and about 150 feet deep. It cost $250 and was said to be "with buildings". The year before, Scott, Emerson , and Pike had sold the lot on the corner of Walnut and Moody Streets to Charles H. Emerson (MLR 516/209), which stretched 133 feet west from Moody Street. This defines the Joseph Emerson lot as including, almost exactly, today's lots for Nos. 51, 53, 55-57, and 59 Walnut Street. Joseph Emerson took out a mortgage with Scott, et al. at the time of purchase for $150, and the deed specified "with buildings" (MLR 528/226). This mortgage was discharged in 1851.
In May, 1849, Joseph E. Emerson took out a mortgage with Charles W. Bemis, a carpenter, for $299.51 (MLR 558/517). The deed said "with buildings". The mortgage was discharged in 1851. The 1854 map shows a building at the back of the lot with a footprint similar to that of today's No. 59 Walnut Street, but a confusing label, and the 1875 and 1886 maps and 1897 Sanborn map show a building at the back of the lot with a footprint similar to that of the house at No. 59 Walnut Street, today (if the porches noted on the Sanborn map are included in today's footprint). Therefore, the house at No. 59 Walnut Street may have been built prior to 1849, and enlarged, in 1849. If so, this makes this house one of the few in the Moody Street area that was built before the South Side was annexed by Waltham in 1849.
The area to the south and east of the Scott/Emerson/Pike lot, on the east side of Moody Street, bounded by the house lots along Lowell Street on the east (some owned by the BMC and some by the NCC), and High Street on the South, was also part of the old Captain Joseph Fuller Farm owned by Bradshaw Stearns around 1850. After Bradshaw Stearn's death, in 1853, this land was inherited by his widow, Sarah Stearns. Sarah Stearns then sold off house lots, or larger lots of land, in the area. For example, in 1857, she sold a lot on the corner of Hall and High Streets to James H. Perley for $435 (MLR 773/445). In the deed, today's Hall Street was called "Bradshaw Street, so called, a new street", and today's High Street was called "Stearns Street or Stearns Lane". The lot included the land of today's 40-42 and 44-46 High Street, and 87 Hall Street. In 1867, the lot was sold to Bernard McCusker for $750 (MLR 1023/91). In 1871, McCusker took out a mortgage with the Waltham Savings Bank for $3,000. In the 1869 town directory, he was listed as living on Oak Street, but, in the 1871 directory, he was listed as living at the corner of Hall and High Streets. From maps, it appears that the house, which he built in 1871, is the house still standing at 40-42 High Street.