Adams Papers

1771. Thurdsday May 30.
[from the Diary of John Adams]

1771. Thurdsday May 30.

Mounted my Horse for Connecticutt. Stopped, and chatted an Hour with Tom Crafts who is very low with Rheumatism and an Hectic, but the same honest, good humoured Man as ever. Stopped again at little Cambridge1 at the House by the Meeting House, and gave my Horse Hay and Oats, at Mr. Jacksons. Rode alone. My Mind has been running, chiefly upon my Farm and its Inhabitants and Furniture, my Horses, Oxen, Cows, Swine, Walls, Fences &c. I have in several late Rambles very particularly traced, and pursued every Swamp and Spring upon the North Side of Penns Hill from its Sourse to its Outlet. And I think if I owned the whole of that Side of the Hill I could make great Improvements upon it, by Means of Springs, and Descents and falls of Water.2

The first is the Swamp in the Pasture, by John Curtis, which my father gave me, which Swamp is fed by Springs which come from Land that was Curtis’s. This Swamp discharges its Waters two Ways. The first is by a range of low, wet, rocky ground, which runs down directly to Plymouth Road, near S. Curtis’s Lane, and the Bars of my new Pasture, and therefore flows down Pens hill in Wash. The other turns round and runs down into a Meadow in the lower Part of the Pasture, I purchased of Curtis, and from thence flows thro a range of low Land of S. Curtis into Bridgwater Road, and so in great freshitts, and plentifull Rains, flows down across the Road into my Pasture, and Coll. Verchilds, and mine again and Jo. Fields, into the fresh Meadow and Brook.

In the next Place there is a Spring, a living Spring never dry, which originates in my new Pasture opposite S. Curtis’s lane. It arises directly beneath a great Rock, and flows in a Rivulet, down, thro S. Pennimans Land, and the narrow Lane, and Nat. Belchers and into my Meadow, which was Deacon Belchers, and then into Deacon Belchers Pond and thence thro Mrs. Vesey, Bass, Gay, Ruggles, Winslow, Peter Adams across the Road, and over Peter Adamss Meadow and into the Brook by Major Millers Bridge.

Now the Questions are, what Improvement could I make of these Courses of Water, if I owned the whole North Side of the Hill? And what Improvements can I make with what I own already.

I can clear my Swamp, and cutt a Ditch through it and extend that Ditch down to my Pasture Barrs, along the low, rocky, Spungy Valley there.

Then I can cutt another Ditch, down to the lower Part of my Pasture, and another Ditch thro the Meadow there, and if there was a Ditch to communicate with it, thro S. Curtis’s Land, down to the long slough in the Road on one side of the Causey opposite to my Pasture, a Gutter might be opened directly into my Pasture, or it might be carried round by a Channell in the Road along side of the Causy, by my Pasture and Verchilds, and all turned directly into my four Acres, and Orchard— and carried all round the Walls of that and shed upon the Land as I pleas’d. And as to the other Spring and Rivulet, I might make a Dam just within my Meadow and turn half the Water, by a Channell, round by Nat. Belchers Wall and by my Wall against the Street and round by the House, and thence down into the Pond, and the other half, round the Side of the bushy Pasture Hill, so as to oose over several Acres there before it fell down into the Pond.

Rode along to Captn. Brewers in Waltham, and turned my Horse out to Pasture, about 11. O. Clock perhaps, so that I have spent the forenoon in getting about 9 Miles. I rode this forenoon from little Cambridge to Brewers, with Mr. Ruggles of Roxbury, the Butcher, and I find him my Relation.—His Mother, who is still living above 70, is Sister to my Grandmother, Aunt Fairfield, Aunt Sharp, and Aunt Ruggles of Rochester, and Parson Ruggles of Rochester, and the Butchers Father were Brothers, so that Tim and he are very near— both by fathers and Mothers side.3 We talked about Family, Cattle fat and lean, and Farms, and Improvement of Land &c. He says that Roxbury People make no Profit, by carting Dung out of Boston, it must be done every Year, and they must put on 10 Load to an Acre, which will cost them 12 or 15£ in Boston besides the Labour of Carting, and when all this is done, they may get 30 Hundred of Hay— besides after feed. Roxbury People dont dung their Grass Land so much as they used to do—for of late Years they have got more into gardening, and 4 or 5 Acres of Garden takes all the dung they can get. Dr. Davis, he says, dungs his Close vs. Warrens, but little. The Wash helps it, and he dont feed it till quite Winter.

Dined at Brewers, and spent good Part of the Afternoon there. A vast Drove of fat Cattle went by while I was there from the River Towns. Rode from Brewers to Munns in Sudbury, where I drank Tea and put out my Horse to Pasture, and put up myself for the Night.

Spent the Evening at Munns, in Conversation with him about the Husbandry of the River Towns, Hatfield, Deerfield, Springfield, Northampton and Hadley, &c. and about Captn. Carvers Journal of his Travells in the Wilderness, among the Savages in search of the South sea.4

The Farmers upon Connecticutt River, fat their Cattle on the very best of English Hay, and Oats and Pees, ground to meal. They would not digest the Corn whole, so they grind their Provender. One of the great Farmers, will fatten 20 Head of Cattle in a Year, and it is the whole Business of one Man to take the care of em—to feed, Water, and curry them. They give an Ox but little Provender at first, but increase the Quantity till an Ox will eat a Peck at a Time, twice a day. The County of Hampshire is the best Place to send to for Stock—Oxen, Cows, Horses, young Cattle of all Ages, their Breed is large and ex­cellent and store Cattle are much cheaper there than below.—Lodged at Muns.

1Now Brighton.

2For reasons only partly apparent, CFA omitted in his text of the Diary all the rest of the present entry, together with all of the entry of the following day except the last six words.

3This passage may be elucidated as follows: JA’s maternal grandmother was Ann (White) Boylston, and her sisters, the various aunts mentioned here, were of course his great-aunts, one of whom had married the late Rev. Timothy Ruggles of Rochester, father of “Tim” Ruggles, the well-known soldier, judge, and loyalist, of Hardwick. Another White sister had evidently married the father of JA’s chance acquaintance, Ruggles the Roxbury butcher, who was thus a double first cousin of the younger Timothy.

4Jonathan Carver’s Travels through the Interior Parts of North-America, in the Years 1766, 1767, and 1768, was not issued until 1778, and then in London after tedious difficulties with the Board of Trade and Plantations, instead of in Boston as the author had at first hoped (Travels, p. xiii–xiv; DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, New York, 1928–1936; 20 vols. plus index and supplements. description ends ). A native of Weymouth, Carver for a time kept his friend Edmund Quincy informed of his plans after sailing to England early in 1769, where he was to remain the rest of his life. Several of his letters written to Quincy in 1769 have come to rest in the Adams Papers. In one of them, dated at London, 2 Aug. 1769, he reports:

“I have sold my Journals and Plans to the Booksellers in London For Thirty Guineas down and on the sale of every 250 Copies in N. America am to receive ten Guineas more let it amount to what number it will in the same proportion, and a reserve of Forty Books neatly Bound to dispose of among my friends, tis now making ready for the Press and with the Plans and cutts annexed tis thought it will be a prety Elegant piece of work considering the subject being the first English Journal ever printed of so extensive Travels in the interiour parts of North America. The many late discoveries and writings of Countries much more frequent of late Years then formerly which continually fill the presses here has greatly less[ened] the Prices of all Manuscripts on those subjects. I beleave such a Journal te[n] Years ago would have sold for six times the money.”

It seems very likely that JA met Carver, and saw his MS journal, when Carver was in Boston upon his return from the West in 1768.

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