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Colonial History of the Farm
The ownership of the farm can be traced to the Winship family as far back as the 1640's.They were among the first settlers in the town then known as "Cambridge Farms" or simply "The Farms".
Edward Winship arrived in Boston from England in 1635 .He was born at Welton Tower, near Newcastle-on-Tyne, Northumberland, England, on March 12, 1612, the son of Lyonel Winship. He sailed from Harwich, England, in the ship Defiance on Aug. 10, 1635, arriving at Boston, Mass., Oct. 3, 1635. He settled immediately at Cambridge, then a suburb of Boston. In 1638 there is a record of his purchasing three acres of land between Brattle and Mason Streets extending to the Commons. He had land assigned to him at Cambridge Farms - now Lexington - in 1642, and in a division of land on the Shawsheen River in 1652, he was allotted 200 acres. He was a large property owner, both at Cambridge and Lexington. (Winship reference)
He was for many years one of the most active influential citizens of Cambridge, and an honored church member. He served as selectman of Cambridge fourteen times between 1637 and 1684. He joined the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts the year of its formation, 1638. He was commissioned ensign of the Cambridge Militia in 1657, and was its lieutenant in 1660. He was elected deputy from Cambridge to the General Court of Massachusetts in 1663, 1664, and from 1681 to 1686.
He was an entrepreneur as many early settlers were , and is credited with establishing one of the first sawmills in Massachusetts and certainly the first in Lexington in the mid 1640's.(Sawmill Reference) It was located on Bow street where the Bike path now passes over a small brook now known as Swift Brook which flows behind the Arlington Reservoir , through Arlington Heights past the Schwamb Mill and into the Mystic River. He is also credited with building a mill at the site where the Schwamb mill is now. (Schwamb Mill Reference) In his will ,he left his land in Lexington to his second wife Elizabeth his sons, Edward, Ephraim Samuel, and Joseph . (Winship will Reference) He himself lived in Cambridge and West Cambridge, now called Arlington, but his sons built houses on and occupied his estate in Lexington. He owned the quadrant of land from the town line with Arlington, between Mass Ave and Lowell street as far west as the Great Meadows. There were three houses on the property as well as the sawmill and were among the first structures built in the town. (Winship House Reference) Mt. Ephraim is named after his son. The present farm probably first occupied by his son Edward, is the last remaining part of that estate.
The Winships were a large family and long time residents of Lexington and have birth and marriage records, (marriage ref) in the town dating back to the late 1600's. ( Winship Genealogy) It is not known when exactly they settled this farm but one of his sons Edward and his descendents occupied and farmed the land from the late 1600's until the late 1890's.The line went through several Edward, Isaac and Oliver Winships. They were all listed as a farmers in Lexington living next to the Reed family on Lowell street .There was a sale to the Reeds in the early 1700's. The Reeds were another prominent early Lexington family who also owned land near Bedford street They operated a large dairy business on Lowell street next to the farm until the mid 1940's. By the time of the revolution there were many Winship families living in Lexington and Arlington and Cambridge and of course many intermarriages with the other early Lexington families .Thomas fought on the green on April 19th and a Jason Winship of Arlington was killed there during the ensuing battle and retreat down Mass ave. by the British later that day. A son of one of the earlier Edwards, Jonathan Winship, moved to Brighton and established the Brighton Cattle market .(Brighton Winships)It was famous for supplying meat and provisions to the colonial army during the revolution and one can deduce that this farm was probably involved in some way in that endeavor. Oliver's son Charles F is listed as a farmer on Lowell street as late as 1895 and probably was the last Winship to own the land before the Shays, who then sold it to my father and uncles. The Winships who were in the newspaper business in Boston and Thomas Winship who edited the Boston Globe were from this family.