Click Image to enlarge
The oldest object in our collections is an arrow point, dug up in the vicinity of the Charles River Street pumping station, that is about 9000 years old. The next oldest is a little slip of paper, a land deed from Dedham to John Kingsbury (or, Kingsbery, as he spelled it), dated 15 August 1636. The Old (Julian) Calendar started in March, so ye 6th Month in 1636 would have been August rather than June:
The 15th of ye 6th Month 1636
Dedham graunteth to
John Kingsbery twelve acres more or less as it lyeth betwene ye waest & ye clayepits toward the North and ye river and medowe of the Sayd John towards the South. And abutts upon the swamp of the Sayd John and Mr. Thomas Eaeton towards the East, and upon the claypitts and the high waye leading to the same; and also upon ye waye one Rod and halfe broade leading from the River to the Medowe towards ye west together with one small [??] of grownd for a [??] for [??] as it lyeth between the waye one rod and a halfe broad and from ye River to ye medow toward ye East and the pond with a [??] of medowe of the sayd John towards the west. And abutteth upon Charles River toward the North and ye sayd River toward the South.
[signed] Edward Alleyn
As far as I can tell, this deed encompasses a plot approximately bounded by what is now Hunnewell St (or Webster?), West St, and Central Ave, taking in Owens Farm, the Rosemary Brook and the swampy area below the Hillside School. It looks like John already owns the stretch south of there, toward Rosemary Meadows (the Lake was formed by a dam in the early 1800s). I’m really not sure how any of this abuts on the Charles River, but that is sure what it says. Rosemary Brook is a small tributary of the Charles, so perhaps that is what is meant. What is most interesting about this, though, is the very early date. The Dedham Grant is 1636. They’d barely had time to unpack before John Kingsbury, Thomas Eaton, and others had hopped over the river to claim land.