Arriving from England in circa 1637, Peter Tufts was considered an early colonist and prominent citizen of Medford, Massachusetts. Within a year, he owned nearly 43 acres of land and operated a ferry along the Mystic River, eventually relocating to Malden, Massachusetts.
Peter Tufts was the first representative from Medford of the Massachusetts General Court. In the earliest days, the General Court was called the Massachusetts Bay Colony, which was a royally-chartered joint-stock company meeting of “shareholders,” known as freemen at the time. He was involved in the famous Salem witch trials. His home still stands and is considered by historians as the first, all-brick home in New England.
Later, Cotton Tufts, the grandson of Peter Tufts, was born in 1734. He was the cousin of John Adams. He graduated from Harvard University in medicine and served as one of the original founding members of the Massachusetts Medical Society.
Cotton famously wrote against the Stamp Act, a parliamentary measure to tax British colonies in America. He was a Massachusetts state senator and supported the creation of the U.S. Constitution. As a physician during the American Revolutionary War, he saved the life of farmer and oldest-known soldier, Samuel Whittemore.
In 1744, Peter’s great-grandson, Rev. Francis Tufts was born. He served three enlistments in the Revolutionary War and fought with General Washington at Dorchester Heights. After the war, he established himself as a brickmaker, using bricks from his own yard to build the Tufts House in Farmington Maine in 1810. His house still stands and is listed with the National Register of Historic Places.
Later, a direct descendant of Peter Tufts, Charles Tufts was born in 1781. Charles Tufts amassed a fortune from his brickmaking factory and eventually inherited a large amount of land. He donated nearly 100 acres of land for the home of Tufts University, which he founded.
A few generations later, Col. John Quincy Adams Tufts was born in 1840. He moved with his family to Iowa and eventually served as a member of Iowa’s 2nd Congressional district in the United States House of Representatives. He was also an Indian Agent of the Indian Territories who supported citizenship rights in the Cherokee Nation.