(from Commemorative of Calvin and Luther Blanchard, Acton Minute-men 1775 by Alfred Sereno Hudson
The causes that led Joseph to take up his abode there, were, we believe, two-fold, viz:
The purchase of a large land tract there by Ralph Shepard, a neighbor of his family;
and the marriage of Joseph, his father, son of George Blanchard, to Hannah Shepard, who, we conjecture, was a daughter of Ralph Shepard, formerly an inhabitant of the territory of Charlestown, now Malden. As this conjecture, however, is not based directly on the data of record, but is the result of inference, it is proper to state our reasons for the inference, which are as follows:
1st. We are informed, as a matter of history, that Joseph, son of George Blanchard, born 1654, married Hannah Shepard.
2d. In 1635, Ralph Shepard, with his wife, Thanklord or Thankslord, aged 23, and his daughter Sarah, aged 2, came to America from Stepney Parish, London, England, on the ship Abigail, and after living for a short time in Dedham, Weymouth and Rehoboth, settled in Malden.
3d. The following record is found in the Proceedings of the Littleton Historical Society: "Sarah, born 1633; Abraham, ; Isaac, born June 20, 1639; Triall, born December 19, 1641, married, 1660, Walter Powers; Thankful, born February 10, 1650; Jacob, born June, 1653; (perhaps) Ralph, who died January 20, 1711 or 12; (perhaps) Daniel ; Mary, born about 1660-62."
4th. We are informed that the foregoing record is made up, at least in part, from tradition, and is not claimed to be complete.
5th. In that early period of our country, probably, a record of births and deaths was not so carefully kept as in an age which makes the keeping of records compulsory; and, as a matter of fact, as is well known to historians, omissions on public records, of names and dates pertaining to families, are not unusual.
6th. The sons, Ralph and Daniel, who have, by conjecture, been assigned to the years 1653 and 1660, may have been born between 1641 and 1650, and in the interim between 1653 and 1660 one or more children may have had birth and, if so, they would be of about the age of Joseph Blanchard, who married Hannah Shepard.
7th. We have found, upon examination of the genealogy of other Shepard families, no one, of which we consider it probable, that Hannah, the wife of Joseph Blanchard, was a member.
8th. The homesteads of the Blanchards and Shepards were not far distant from each other. Ralph Shepard's house was situated in what was called "Bell Rock pasture," which was, probably, in the vicinity of what is known as " Bell Rock burying ground," near which there is a station on the Saugus branch of the Boston & Maine railroad. This burying ground, and probably also the pasture here referred to, took their names from the fact that a bell was placed near there which, in the early settlement of the town, was used to call the inhabitants to meeting. The house of Ralph Shepard, and a lot of land, of about fourteen acres, which belonged to the homestead, was purchased in 1666 by the Rev. Benjamin Bunker, a minister, who was ordained in Malden, December 9, 1663, and who, at one time, owned land in Charlestown, about Bunker Hill. The Shepard homestead is described as lying north of the parsonage and meeting-house lots, on both sides of "Penny Ferry," which crossed the Mystic river, in the locality of the present Malden bridge.
9th. The location of the Blanchard and Shepard farms made the families, for those times, neighbors. They were probably worshipers at the little meeting-house near Bell Rock, where the children associated on Sundays, and, perhaps, they attended the same school, which may have been the one which Ralph Shepard petitioned might be kept at his house, but which petition was not granted. The marshes, outstretching between Blanchard's Point and the home of Ralph Shepard at Bell Rock, were only at times overflowed with the tide water, which came up the Mystic river, and the little estuaries, which may have run between the two places here and there on the marsh land, would hardly form a barrier, at low tide, to the neighborly visits of the two families.
10th. Ralph Shepard, some time subsequent to 1663, purchased a large land tract of six hundred and ten acres, of Lieutenant Joseph Wheeler, of Concord, who in turn received it from the government. This land lay in the form of a triangle, according to Mr. Harwood, the local historian, and was situated between the Indian plantation of Nashoba, and what is now Westford. It is stated, that in the tract of land, at or near the Elbridge Marshall farm, was the home of Joseph Blanchard.
Nagog pond formed the base of the triangle, and the apex was two miles one-quarter and sixty rods north from the south-west end of Nagog pond, which would bring it to a point on the Westford line, on or near the Deacon Manning farm, but south of the road.
11th. A large part of the Shepard family moved to the Littleton territory, and settled on land in the locality of the paternal purchase; and among these was Walter Powers the husband of Triall Shepard, who bought land of his father-in-law, and took possession of it as early as 1666.
In view of these circumstances, we believe the fair inference is, that Joseph Blanchard married Hannah, a daughter of Ralph Shepard, and that her name, like that of many another member of a large family, in that busy and practical period of colonial life, was not placed on record, as may have been the case with others of his children; and we believe that the prime cause of Walter Powers and Joseph Blanchard's going to Littleton territory was the land purchase of their father-in-law, Ralph Shepard.