History of the Ashby Farm as I understand it.

I have a copy of a letter written by one of the Jeffs  to the Ashby local government about rewarding retruning WW I veterens. The content of the letter is posted here. I grew up on the farm from 1945 to 1959 when my father died and we had to sell the farm. Over the years the Ashby farm has become a part of family historoy and so I thought I would post this history here. I have put comments in parentheses. In addition I have included a couple of pictures.


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David ... That's me!

The History

Owing to the recent discussion of the proper treatment of our returning soldiers, it is interesting to know that Ashby has land that was given by the government (except it was the government of Massachusetts), to a returning revolutionary soldier as a part reward for his perilous service.
Lieutenant Asa Shed who fought in the American Revolution of 1775 to 1783 was given a tract of land which tradition says, he select just north  of what is now the Pearly Gates farm but was then the Ralph Hill place. Lt. Shed started a clearing and built his house in about the middle of the west side of his tract. From his door he coiuld probably see the town church which was a mile to the south (perhaps there were far fewer trees back then) and as he looked south-west to the side of Blood Hill ?? he could see the farm of Mr Pollard who was said to be the first man killed at Bunker Hill.
The first road built through Lt. Shed’s tract was from the direction of Townsend, passing close by the Shed house and going westerly to Watatic Mountain. (current day Jones Hill Rd - Frost Rd??) Lt Shed died Sept. 19 1798, aged 53 years and six days and Mrs Elizabeth Shed, widow of Lt Asa Shed, died Nov 28, 1804 aged 59 years 8 months and 18 days, and their grave stones are in the burying ground back of the First Parish Church. (I found Asa’s grave)
Two daughters, Polly and Betsy, were left to take the care of the place their father had worked hard to prepare to live on. The first No. 5 schoolhouse was built on the western boundary of this farm on the north side of the road going west toward Watatic Mountain and about an eighth mile from the Shed house. In the early Ashby days a team from Ashby center going to Ipswich center by the most direct route would go first to the four conners near Mrs Rufus Colemans, then turn west and ride a mile on the Townsend Rd to the first school house then turn to the right, then proceed northerly. It was finally decided to straighten the road to New Ipswich somewhat by building a road between the Ralph Hill place and Asa Shed place and crossing the Townsend road at what is still know as the four corners, and proceeding an eighth of  a mile mile where it met the New Ipswich Road which came from the school house. This new road ran diagonally through the Shed girl’s apple orchard, (this orchard still existed when I lived there) digging out several apple trees and cutting off a three cornered piece of one and half acres between and new and old road. (from these descriptions I believe the New Ipswich Rd was further straightened but the remains of the old road still ran through the woods when I was a boy and we would ride our bikes on it)
This did not please the Shed girls and when the workmen began the removing of some of the orchard walls the sisters are said to have seated themselves on the wall and forbidden the moving of the wall. The men continued their work and finally the seat on the wall became so insecure that the ladies retreated to the house.
In the course of time the Misses Shed sold the place to Stephen Jones, whose family occupied it until 1842 or 3 when the Jones heirs sold to Willard Jefts who lived there a little more than 10 years and then moving to Ashby Village and leaving the farm to his son J.M.J. Jefts.
In later years the place was owned a short time by Theodore P. Carr and is now owned and occupied by Sven Maki. (We bought the farm from Maki)
The farm has varied in size from several purchases and sales from 45 to 225 acres.
The farm, as bought by Willard Jefts included the woodlot south of the present No 5 school house and is now owned by D. H. Damon, also part of the woodland now owned by A. W. Brooks. This lot which was old growth, was sold to Robert Burr, Walker Davis, and Samuel Reed Damon who cut and marketed the timber.
Many masts and white oak knees were drawn to the navy yard and Ashby’s timber must have sailed on all the seven seas.
(It is said that at the outset of the civil war someone making hay with a scythe, place his scythe in the fork of an oak sapling. The tree still stands today and the point of the scythe blade can still be seen, now some thirty feet above the ground in the north east corner of the field above the house)

Compiled by Melvin W. Jefts and read at a meeting of the Ashby historical society, April 28th 1919.

This was transcribed into digital form, word for word by David Rolfe. The words in parenthesis are David’s