Colonial times

The farm’s ownership can be traced to the Winships as far back as the 1640’s. The Winships were among the first settlers in the town then known as “Cambridge Farms” or simply “The Farms.” Although we do not know exactly when the Winships settled the farm, records indicate that Edward Winship, one of his sons, and his descendants occupied and farmed the land from the late 1600’s until the late 1890’s.

Edward Winship, son of Lyonel Winship, was born at Welton Tower, near Newcastle-on-Tyne, Northumberland, England, on March 12, 1612. Sailing from Harwich, England on the ship Defiance on August 10, 1635, Edward arrived at Boston, Massachusetts on October 3, 1635 and settled immediately at Cambridge, then a Boston suburb.

Edward grew to become a large property owner in both Cambridge and Lexington. 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 in 1642, and in a division of land on the Shawsheen River in 1652, he was allotted 200 acres. Edward left his land to his sons, and the greater part of the property remained in the Winship family for several generations. (Winship Reference)

One of the most active influential citizens of Cambridge, Edward Winship was also an entrepreneur, and is credited with establishing one of the first sawmills in Massachusetts and certainly the first in Lexington around 1650. (Sawmill Reference) The mill was located on Bow Street, where the Bike path 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)

By the time of the revolution, there were many Winship families living in Lexington, Arlington, and Cambridge, and of course, many intermarriages with the other early Lexington families. Jonathan Winship, a son of one of the earlier Edwards, established the Brighton Cattle Market, which was famous for supplying meat and provisions to the colonial army during the revolution, and the farm was likely involved in that endeavor. (Brighton Winships Reference). Oliver’s son, Charles F., is listed as a farmer on Lowell Street as late as 1895 and was probably the last Winship to own the land before the Shays, who then sold it to Dennis Busa’s father and uncles in 1919.