A few months ago, my aunt, Lee Albright, asked me what we could and couldn’t say with historical accuracy on the subject of the Weld origins of the land Allandale Farm now sits on.
I actually ended up sending her a succession of emails in reply. The problem was that I initially found multiple statements online that I credulously believed; but as I dug deeper, it became apparent that there are large gaps of knowledge. And some or much of what is available online is simply wrong.
Eventually, I came up with the following, which I think is pretty solid, historically speaking, but then again, I’ve already been wrong on this several times.
The land that is home to Allandale Farm and The Apple Orchard was given as part of a larger grant from the Massachusetts colonial legislature to Capt. Joseph Weld, in the mid-1600s. It has been continuously farmed by descendants of the Weld family since the late 19th century.
Breaking this apart:
First, as of this writing, I do not know whether – following the action of the legislature – Joseph Weld actually received the land during his lifetime, or whether it was his heirs that received it at a significantly later date.
Secondly, the initial grant was for 278 acres. When people write about the transfer of the Weld Land to the Bussey Farm and from the Bussey Farm to the Arnold Arboretum, it is clear they are only talking about a portion, perhaps a majority, of those original 278 acres. Someone would have to go back through the Brookline and Boston property records to determine the chain of ownership of the land that specifically did not end up in the Arboretum, but instead became Faulkner Farm, the Weld-owned progenitor of Allandale Farm. Did other families own one or more plots? Were they ever split up, only to be reassembled, as was the case with the Tarbell/ Lawrence land in Groton? I simply don’t know, and I am unaware of anyone who does. The bottom line is that, while Weld descendants can be said to have owned the land for much of its 300+ year history, it’s not a forgone conclusion that they have owned it for all of that history. Thus, my use of 19th century and not 17th century.
Finally, for the record, I think these questions are answerable, I just haven’t taken the time to do the work to find the answers. Truth be told, I probably won’t. Consider it a research project for some future, historically curious person.