033597 2 3
3 / 7/2006
ALLEN COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY
i m G916T
(Bwf vHjfJvJFtSf yfi
tNLl'.Lm ftf iv
MWMwMyf w m* L %, l; } / ,wAif, KYrKT f/w
0sJ®TO$Sfl ¥W/Y l a
rjWSwEenfcL,<o *fh Aj \
tiATK 1 \ jr*l\
‘.•us Vi *hw
i* r 11 m V *T '
ii 4 > i%« a
i*Hjfk : (T -’'r \a\, ffwA w i<VtY iftlT Yl( A0«KS 'V
Jr vi? M* I&yJi, ) WkI \IMS W uli,if.
f»iv. Tr VmI 'UiViti IIVa'v > I , c V i n'^t.i N.Jv vV AW ^
GROTON TOWN HALL
TERCENTENARY EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
Frank A. Torrey. Chairman Ruth T. Bennett. Clerk
George E. Wheatley, Treasurer
Charles B. Ames
Rudolph V. Bixby
Thomas S. Lawrence
Virginia A. May Susie H. Shattuck
Mary L. Sabine Daniel N. McCarthy
Roland W. Sawyer
And the Board of Selectmen
Thomas L. M. Park Harold T. Barber Joseph Madigan
Virginia A. May
GREETINGS FROM GROTON, ENGLAND
The occasion of the Ter¬
centenary of the founding
of Groton, Massachusetts,
must be one of great pride
to this delightful New
England town. It is also an
occasion of pride to the
cattered Suffolk village of
Groton in Old England,
after which it was named.
As Rector of Groton, Suf¬
folk, England, and a mem¬
ber of the Parish Council.
I would like to take this
opportunity of sending, on
behalf of the Parochial
Church Council and the
Parish Council, our very
best wishes for your Ter¬
We are indeed proud that your town was named by one of its founders,
Deane Winthrop, after Groton, Suffolk, where he was born on March 16th, 1623.
We are conscious of the bond that joins our two communities, so different
in many ways, yet sharing the same name, and guided by the same traditions,
which we owe to men such as the Winthrops, — men who were prepared to
labour unceasingly for the common good, sustained by a faith in God and his
purpose for them.
May there never be wanting men of such calibre to serve your town and
our village. Your town crest, with its Holy Bible and plough, and the motto, —
“Faith and Labour,” would certainly indicate that you have followed in the
worthy footsteps of your celebrated forebears.
Long may you continue to do so!
Srf. 73mm 3/jw,/
Rector of Groton, Suffolk, England.
CHRONOLOGICAL HISTORY OF GROTON
1655 — A petition for the Plantation of Groton was granted at a General
Court held at Boston the 23rd of May, and the name of Groton
was given to the town by Dean Winthrop, the first named
petitioner and selectman, who came from Groton, England.
1656 — Due to the “remoteness of the place’’ and the difficulties attend¬
ing settlement, the town petitioned the General Court to be
freed from rates for three years from the time of the grant. The
petition was granted.
1659 — John Tinker, who conducted an Indian trading post on the
banks of the Nashua River at Nod Road, petitioned the General
Court for an investigation of conditions in town. The plantation
“continueth unpeopled,” and there were “entanglements.” A
committee was empowered to examine the town affairs.
1661 — The report of the committee sent to investigate affairs at Groton
was accepted, and their suggestions put into effect.
1662 — The earliest town records extant and probably the first made
were dated this year. The book of records from 1662 to 1707,
kept during the Indian w 7 ars and preserved for a while rolled
up, was called “The Indian Roll.” All these records w 7 ere copied
by Dr. Samuel A. Green and printed in book form.
The first entry in the records is a vote to build a meeting-house
“sett upon the right hand of the path by a small white oak.”
1665 — The travel from Groton to Boston at this time w r ent through
Chelmsford and Billerica, where there was a bridge over the
Concord River, built by several towms, of which Groton w 7 as
one. and supported jointly by them for many years. The first
assessment paid by Groton occurred this year.
1666 — The meeting-house was built probably on the rise of land over¬
looking the present Memorial Common at the junction of Hollis
Street and Martin’s Pond Road. Up to this time the inhabitants
met for worship at the minister’s house.
It was voted to build a town pound. “The place to be set up is
near the meeting-house.” It stood on the west side of Hollis
Street, near the junction with School Street and remained there
for nearly two centuries.
1667 — At a “general town meeting” it was voted to build a town mill.
A contract was made with John Prescott of Lancaster, who with
his son, Jonas, built the mill in the southerly part of Groton,
now the northerly part of Harvard.
1676 — During King Philip’s War the Indians assaulted the town. On
March 2 came the first attack. On March 9 the enemy returned
and on March 13 it came in full body. The Indians burned all
the houses in town except four garrison houses. One of these
stood on the site of the High School, the second on the land just
north of the Town Hall, the third at the beginning of Court
Street, and the fourth’s location is uncertain. The discouraged
inhabitants departed from the town and while travelling over
the “ridges” were fired upon by the Indians but eventually
found haven in Concord and nearby places.
1678 — King Philip’s War being over, the inhabitants returned to
Groton to rebuild their homes and till their land.
1679 — It was voted to build a second meeting-house. This stood on the
corner of Legion Common where School Street and Hollis Street
The first mention of schools in the town records was made.
The Indians were warned out of the town, as they were undesir¬
able neighbors, even when not in a state of war.
The town purchased title to the township from the Indians. The
price paid was about eight shillings and four pence for a ten
acre right, or about twenty cents an acre.
Capt. James Parker was chosen moderator of town meeting,
first on record.
1694 — The General Court passed an act prohibiting the desertion of
frontier towns, of which Groton was one.
During King William’s War the Indians again made attacks on
Mr. Gershom Hobart, the minister, and his family, who lived
where the Baptist Church now is, suffered at the hands of the
Indians. Two of his children were taken, one of whom was
killed and the other rescued from captivity. The story is told
that one child was saved by hiding in a wash tub in the cellar.
Another family attacked by the Indians was the William Long-
ley family, who lived on the present East Pepperell Road near
Mr. James Fitch’s home. The Indians early in the morning of
the fatal day turned Mr. Longley’s cattle out of the barnyard
into a cornfield, and lay in ambush. This trick drew out some
of the family unarmed to drive the cattle from the corn. The
Indians fell upon them, and either killed or took captive the
whole family. John, one of the sons, was carried to Canada,
where he remained five years, was ransomed and returned to
Groton to live. Lydia, the daughter, was likewise taken to
Canada, where she entered a convent and remained the rest of
1699 — The town voted on August 22 to “build a cart bridge over
Lancaster River,” which was the name formerly given to the
1704 — During Queen Anne’s War, the frontier towns were again ex¬
posed to Indian warfare. John Davis, who lived below the
Groton School on the Shirley Road, was killed by the Indians,
while he was in his yard at dusk taking in clothes from the line.
1707 — Three children of Thomas Tarbell, who lived on the location
of the James Lawrence mansion, were made captives by the
Indians. One evening the Indians attacked and all inhabitants
of the neighborhood, except the three Tarbell children, found
refuge in the garrison house, which stood where Mr. Rarrett’s
home now is. The children were in a cherry tree near their
house, and were captured before they had time to escape. John
and Zachariah were taken to live with the Indians, and there
remained, married Indian women and became chiefs of their
tribes. Their descendants, some with the Tarbell name, may
still be found among the Caughnawaga Indians in northern
New York and Canada. Sarah, the sister, was placed in a con¬
vent in Montreal where she lived all her life.
1709 — John Shattuck. who lived near the “mill” at North Main Street
and his son, John, twenty years of age, were killed by the In¬
dians when returning from their field on the west side of the
river at Stony Fordway.
1713 — The General Court passed an act separating the proprietors,
who divided the common lands, and the inhabitants. Previously
no distinction had been made.
1714 — The third meeting-house was built “at Green’s,” the site of
the present First Parish Meeting-House.
The first dismemberment of the town took place this year,
when Nashoba was incorporated a town by the name of Little¬
ton, and a large portion of Groton at the south-east part was
included within the bounds of the new town.
1716 — The town voted to make a schoolhouse out of the second meet¬
1724 — John Ames, who lived on the west side of the Nashua River
near Primus, was killed by an Indian as he entered his gate.
His son, who was in the house at the time, shot and killed the
Indian when he tried to force entrance through the doorway.
This was the last man killed by an Indian within the bounds of
1725 — It is recorded that John Shepley had “drawn forth twenty men
out of his company at Groton to be snowshoe men.” Capt.
Jonas Prescott also took twenty men from his company for the
same purpose. Snow shoes were first used by soldiers in Dum-
mer’s or Lovell’s War.
The Indians were again troublesome and bounties were offered
for their scalps. Capt. John Lovell or Lovewell, of Dunstable,
organized a company of volunteers from surrounding towns,
six of whom were from Groton, and set out on an excursion into
enemy territory. He and his men made several trips into the
wilderness, and on May 8 encountered the enemy near what is
now Fryeburg, Maine. There ensued, “Lovell’s fight.” Paugus,
the Indian chieftain, was killed by John Chamberlain of
Groton. Years later, legend says that Paugus’ son came to
Groton to avenge his father’s death, but was himself killed by
John Chamberlain at his mill off the Lowell Road..
1726 — Col. William Prescott was born, February 20. in a house, which
stood where Mr. Kenney’s house is on the Old Ayer Road.
1730 — Upon the incorporation of Harvard, Groton gave up a consider¬
able territory to that new town, comprising the “old mill” dis¬
trict. About the same time a portion on the east line of Groton
was annexed to Westford.
1735 — Groton Gore, a triangular piece of land in the present towns
of Milford, Wilton, Mason, Greenville and Brookline, New
Hampshire, was granted Groton as compensation for loss of
Nashobah in 1715. It w r as used for pasturing cattle.
1741 — Groton Gore was lost by the running of the provincial line be¬
tween New Hampshire and Massachusetts.
1753 — Shirley and Pepperell were set from Groton.
1755 — The fourth meeting-house, which is the present First Parish
Church building, was built on the same location as the third
An expedition including many Groton men was sent to Nova
Scotia to expel from their homes the French settlers called
Acadians. Two families of ten persons were sent to Groton to
1760 — The last division of common lands was made by the proprietors.
1 770 — The southern-most section of the Groton Inn was built this year
as a dwelling-house, and was the home of Rev. Samuel Dana
and his family. It became an inn when Jonathan Keep took it
over sometime during the Revolution, and has been an inn
1771—Land in the western part of the state, located in Berkshire
County in the vicinity of Becket, was granted to the proprietors
of Groton in compensation for the loss of Groton Gore.
1775 — Two companies of one hundred Minutemen gathered on the
common in front of the meeting-house on April 19th to go to
the Battle of Concord and Lexington.
Col. William Prescott commanded troops at the Battle of Bunker
Prudence Wright’s Guards, a band of women dressed in men’s
clothes, guarded Jewett’s bridge over the Nashua River between
Pepperell and Groton, and captured a spy.
1776 — The Court of Common Pleas first met in Groton at the First
1778 — The Groton Artillery, a military company of the State Militia,
was organized with William Swan, first captain.
1780 — The land in the western part of the state granted to the proprie¬
tors of Groton was sold.
The famous dark day occurred May 19.
1786 — Job Shattuck led Shays’ Rebellion in this vicinity, was captured
Aaron Brown’s potash works located on Broadmeadow Road
where the gates to the town field now are, were burnt by insur¬
gents of Shays’ Rebellion. Aaron Brown was the constable who
served the warrant for Job Shattuck’s arrest.
1793 — The Groton Academy, later the Lawrence Academy, was in¬
About twenty families in the north part of Groton with their
farms were annexed to Dunstable.
1795 — First Parish Meeting-House was set on fire by lightning on July
26. The fire was quenched with milk, which was believed to be
the only thing to put out such a fire.
1797 — Main Street, which originally went up Hollis Street, was built
through from the present corner of Hollis Street to Elm Street.
St. Paul’s Lodge of Free Masons was instituted.
1800 — The first Post Office was established in town on September 29,
with Hon. Samuel Dana as postmaster. Mr. Dana kept the post-
office at his law office on the site of the Boutwell House.
1802 — The first Groton fire
engine, the Torrent,
was built in town by
1805 — On November 18, the
town adopted a re¬
port, “By - Laws of
Groton, Relative to
Schools,” which is
the earliest public document of the town.
1815 — The Groton Fire Club was organized.
1819 — The bell in the First Parish Meeting-House was cast by Paul
Revere and son this year.
1826 — The cornerstone of the Union Meeting-House was laid, July 4.
1827 — The Chapel, now a house, sometimes called “Chapel House,”
which is the second building above the store on Pepperell Road,
West Groton, was built for Rev. John Todd.
1828 — The soapstone ledge, on the east side of Common Street near
where the railroad crosses, was discovered by John Fitch on his
farm and was first quarried.
1829 — The earliest newspaper, The Groton Herald, was printed in
Groton by Stacy and Rogers, “next door to the Postoffice,” which
was then in the building known later as Gerrish’s Block near
1840 — The First Parish Meeting-House was given a quarter turn to
face the west, and was remodeled.
1842 — The Baptist Meeting-House was built.
1844 — This was the year that the Millerites expected the end of the
1845 — Groton Academy changed its name to Lawrence Academy to
honor the Lawrence brothers who were benefactors of the school.
1846 — The Union Meeting-House was remodeled.
1847 — The new cemetery at the end of Hollis Street was consecrated.
1848 — The Worcester and Nashua railroad was opened.
1850 — The Post-office in West Groton was established on March 19.
Adams Archibald was the postmaster and kept the office in the
The town voted to procure a new site for the pound. The loca¬
tion of the new pound was on Fagot Lane, the former name of
West Street, near its western end at the railroad.
1851 —George S. Boutwell became governor of Massachusetts.
1854 — The free Public Library was established in town.
1855 — The Bi-centennial celebration was held.
The Groton Farmers’ and Mechanics’ Club was organized, and
held its first Fair.
1856 — Groton Cornet Band was organized.
1857 — More land was given Pepperell. It comprised that part now
known as East Pepperell, which sprang up and grew after the
railroad went through that area.
1859 — The Town Hall was built.
1861 —Groton Artillery became Co. B. of the
Sixth Regiment of Massachusetts and
took part in the Civil War. “The Old
Sixth” was the first to volunteer, the
first in the field and the first to see
actual service. It fought on the streets
of Baltimore, Md., on April 19th.
1867 — A public well was dug at the corner of
Hollis and Main Streets, and a town
pump was installed there.
1868 — The old Lawrence Academy building
was burnt on July 4th.
LAWRENCE ACADEMY, 1860
1869 — The town voted to abolish school districts.
The Chaplin School, now Legion Hall, was built. President
Ulysses S. Grant visited Groton, and a reception was held for
him by Governor Boutwell at his home.
1871—The new Lawrence Academy building and the Butler High
School, on the same location as the present High School, were
Ayer was set off from Groton, and incorporated February 14.
The town was named after the late James Cook Ayer of Lowell.
1873 — The town voted to establish street lamps in the village.
Miss Clarissa Butler and Mrs. Mary T. Shumway were the first
women elected to the school committee.
1874 — School houses were named instead of being designated by
Music Hall, on the top floor of the Butler High School, was
dedicated. A free public singing school for children and adults
was conducted there.
1875 — The Baptist Church was remodeled.
The first Board of Fire Engineers was appointed by the select¬
1876 — The Centennial of the Declaration of Independence was cele¬
brated in town, July 4.
1880 — A telegraph office was opened on March 20 in the railway
station. The first message was sent to Nashua.
The tax rate this year was $4.00 on a thousand.
1881 — A telephone office was first opened, April 29, in the building at
the south corner of Main Street and Station Avenue.
1884 — Groton School was founded.
1885 —Christian Union Church in West
Groton was built.
1893 —- The Public Library Building was dedi¬
1894 — The Groton Historical Society was or¬
1897 — Groton Water Company was organized.
1898 — Groton Engine and Hose Company was
The town seal, designed by Dr. S. A.
Green, was adopted by the town on
1900 — Lawrence Playground was given to the
town by Amory Lawrence.
1901 —Mrs. E. G. Low established Lowthorpe School.
1903 — Milestones were set on the right hand side of the main roads
leading into town. There is only one five-mile stone, which is in
1905 — First Groton School chapel was moved to town, and became
the Catholic Church.
Groton celebrated its 250th anniversary, July 12.
1908 — Groton Lodge I. O. O. F. No. 95 was instituted.
1909 — Electric lights were introduced into town.
1910 — The first train ran over the straightened track near the depot.
Previously there was a much deeper curve toward the village.
1911 —The new railroad depot was built.
First Chief of Police was appointed.
1913 — Groton Woman’s Club was organized.
1915 — Tarbell and Boutwell Schools were built.
Odd Fellows Hall on Station Avenue was built.
West Groton Branch Library was started.
1919 — Lawrence W. Gay Post No. 55 American Legion was formed.
1922 — Groton Town Forest was established.
Auxiliary to Lawrence W. Gay Post was organized.
1923 — Garden Club was formed.
1924 — The development called Lost Lake began this year.
1928 — New High School on site of Butler High School was built.
1929 — West Groton Catholic Church was built.
1931 —Boston Consolidated Gas came into town.
1932 — The railroad depot was burned.
1936 — A flood inundated large areas in town.
1938 — Hurricane did great damage in town on September 21.
1939 — Governor Boutwell House was opened as a museum.
1940 — Fire Station was built from I. O. O. F. Hall
1941 — Bad forest fire raged east of the village on April 29 and 30.
Groton Fire Tower was built on Gibbet Hill.
Rotary Club was organized.
Hazel Grove Park was given to the town by Mr. W. P. Wharton.
1943 — Groton dedicated Second World War Honor Roll near the Town
Hall on August 15.
1946 — Two-way Radio system was installed in Fire Station for the use
of Police and Fire Departments.
1947 — The property, which formerly was Lowthorpe School, became
the Convent of the Holy Union of the Sacred Hearts.
Town adopted a by-law establishing a Planning Board.
1949 — League of Women Voters was formed.
1951 —The new elementary school was first used.
1952 — First mercury vapor street-lights were installed.
1953 — New Groton Community Hospital was completed.
1954 — World War II Memorial was set up, and all war memorials
placed on common on Hollis Street.
An addition to the Fire Station was built.
GROTON SOAPSTONE MILL
They made possible this souvenir of Groton’s Tercentenary.
Rev. and Mrs. Charles B. Ames
Mr. and Mrs. Harris L. Badger
H. L. Badger and Son
Mrs. Oric Bates
Miss Ruth T. Bennett
Mr. and Mrs. William Bentinck-Smith
Miss Gail Emerson Bixby
Boots and Saddle, Inc.
Dr. and Mrs. Edward B. Branigan
Mrs. William L. Bruce
Mrs. Elizabeth Blood Chapman
Clover Hill Farms
Dr. and Mrs. Cyrus Cominos
Craven’s Package Store, Inc.
Rev. and Mrs. John Crocker
Mr. and Mrs. Richard E. Danielson
Mr. and Mrs. John J. DeJongh
Mr. and Mrs. David F. Dickson
Mr. and Mrs. Walter H. Dodge
Miss Betty Dumaine
Elm Street Garage
Mr. Claude C. Farwell
First National Stores
Miss Helen F. Gay
Mr. and Mrs. Bravel Goulart
Groton Country Club, Inc.
Groton Leatherboard Co.
Groton Super Market
Mr. and Mrs. Charles Harrison
Mr. and Mrs. Mark Hollingsworth
Hollingsworth and Vose Co.
Mr. and Mrs. Harry J. Hosking
H. Huebner and Son
Dr. James R. Joy
Mrs. Arthur G. Kilbourn
Mr. and Mrs. George Kilbourn
Mrs. Vera Lawlor
Mr. and Mrs. Carl A. P. Lawrence
Mrs. Richard Lawrence
Drs. F. Woodward and Elizabeth Lewis
Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Madigan
Mr. and Mrs. Edward F. Marshall
Mr. and Mrs. Robert M. May
May and Hally, Inc.
Maynard Cleaners, Inc.
George L. Moison Co., Inc.
Mr. and Mrs. Douglas E. Nathan
Gen. and Mrs. Daniel Needham
Mr. and Mrs. Hugh A. Nisbet
Mrs. Herbert Norris
Mr. Dana T. Norris
Mrs. Lawrence Park
Miss Elizabeth R. Peabody
Miss Margery Peabody
Rt. Rev. and Mrs. Malcolm E. Peabody
Mr. and Mrs. Clifford Pinkham
Mr. and Mrs. Walter Powers
Mr. and Mrs. Donald L. Priest
Mr. and Mrs. Henry H. Richards
Mr. and Mrs. Stephen W. Sabine
San-Vel Contracting Co.
Mr. and Mrs. Alvin R. Sawyer
Mr. and Mrs. Roland W. Sawyer
Mrs. Harry A. Schaupp
Mrs. Carleton A. Shaw
Mr. and Mrs. Winthrop L. Sheedy
Stan’s Auto Electric Service
Mr. Theophilus G. Smith
Mrs. Winifred M. Stoffel
Mr. and Mrs. Arthur P. Stone
Mr. and Mrs. Lindley R. Sutton
The Reading Club
Trimount Bituminous Products Co.
Mr. and Mrs. Herbert W. Taylor
Mr. and Mrs. George H. Timmins
Mr. and Mrs. Frank A. Torrey
Mr. Fred Torrey
Utility Oil Co.
Harold H. Webber Laboratories
Col. and Mrs. E. J. Wells
Mr. and Mrs. William P. Wharton
Mr. and Mrs. George E. Wheatley
Mr. and Mrs. Harvey A. Wilder
Mr. and Mrs. Elmer J. Wood
Dr. and Mrs. John A. Wyant
iBtoteb jHen tn Proton ffyi&taxp
Preceptor at Lawrence Academy
1818 • 1905
GEORGE S. BOUT WELL
Court of St. James
Governor of Massachusetts
Secretary of the Treasury
On Governor BoutwelVs Staff
Representative and Senator
in Massachusetts Legislature
WILLIAM A. BANCROFT
President of Boston
May or of Cambridge
Founder of Groton School
SAMUEL A. GREEN
Mayor of Boston
FIRST PARISH CHURCH
In May of the year 1655, upon a petition presented to the General
Court at Boston for a plantation, a tract of land eight miles square was
granted. This began slowly to be settled and
soon the inhabitants of Groton attended to the
important matters of settling a minister among
them and building a church. Rev. John Miller
came in 1662, the first church was built in 1666;
as the town grew, larger buildings became
necessary, and by the year 1755 the fourth
building, the present First Parish Church, was
To realize that changes have been made in
the building itself, one needs only to look closely
and note irregularities in the outside boarding.
The following description and diagram is taken
from an unpublished account of the church as
it looked about the year 1825:
“The building then fronted the west and the bell-porch was on the
north and towards the road that runs down by Mr. Joseph Hall’s. There
were three doors opening into the inside, one at the middle of each end,
and one in the middle of the front; and there were three small porches —
those at the ends with two outer doors each and that in the front with
three. There were galleries on three sides, with sloping floors. The situa¬
tion and ground plan of the house with the aisles, etc., was something
like the following: ”
J Porch |_
1_Square Teys. _
r~ • .
u r J
1 J Slips
! slips j i
L_ _ ,
r - 1
1 Square Pews
Square Pews i
In 1839-40 the building was turned, the north end to face the west
and made the front, which brought what had been the main entrance
to the south. Two galleries were removed, one remaining for the organ
and singers. A floor was built between the two tiers of windows, making
a two story building. Thus, the church services could be held upstairs,
with entrance at the west, and town meetings held on the first floor, with
entrance at the south side door.
In 1877 the interior was again altered. The remaining gallery and
high pulpit were removed and the pews were changed to make a center
aisle with rows of pews on each side.
In January 1916, the Parish voted to “restore the interior of the
building so that it will be in harmony with the exterior.” To date this
has been altered very little, and the present auditorium is a large, oblong
room, with the organ at the west end, and the pulpit opposite, a center
aisle with two rows of pews on either side, and aisles along the outer
sides. Along the walls are placed, on the north side a tablet containing
the names of the eight ministers chosen by the town from 1662 to 1826,
and tablets placed in memory of former church members, namely, Judge
Samuel Dana, a son of one of the town ministers, and his wife, Rebecca;
Major Joseph Moors, who served during the Revolutionary War in Col.
Prescott’s regiment; and Harriett Elizabeth Edmands Dix. a president
of the National Alliance from 1891 to 1901. Opposite, on the south side,
are the ministers chosen by the Parish, from 1826 to the present, and to
the left and right of the pulpit are memorials to Joshua Young, D.D.,
the minister who became unpopular in his own church because he con¬
ducted John Brown’s funeral service, but was afterwards twenty-seven
years minister in Groton and George Sewall Boutwell. a former Gover¬
nor of Massachusetts.
The first floor has undergone changes at various times and at present
is arranged and used as a vestry and class rooms for Sunday School.
The town clock in the belfry was made by Francis Ridgeway, and
placed in position in 1809 and the bell was cast by Paul Revere in 1819.
At first the clock did not strike but later the clock and bell were con¬
nected and made to strike the hours.
As in other New England towns, town meetings were held in the
meeting-house. It was not until 1859 that the Town Hall was built and
town meetings were transferred to that building. During the Revolu¬
tionary War period, the Court of General Sessions sat here in the
meeting-house for eleven years.
The Church has been Unitarian since 1826, but has maintained its
traditional organizations of church and parish with parish meetings
called by a warrant as are town meetings. The records of the town and
church meetings reveal to the reader a fascinating excursion into old
New England. Many and spirited were the meetings, occasionally the
comments terse. For example:
“April 5, 1803 — At a church meeting in the centre school house,
. . . Voted to attend to the cases of delinquent members on the approach¬
ing Fast, either at noon or night, as the Pastor may think most con¬
“March 21, 1775. — Chh Met according to appointment and after
a few hours Spent in Saying but little and doing Nothing adjourned to
next Monday 2 o’clock P. M.”
UNION CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH
Until 1825, the First Parish Meeting-House was the only church in
Groton. At that time, Rev. Daniel Chaplin had been minister here for
forty-nine years, and had become quite feeble.
On a hot Sunday that summer, Dr. Chaplin
fainted in his pulpit, was led out of the meeting¬
house, and never preached there again. Soon a
young man from Andover Theological Institu¬
tion, John Todd by name, at the request of Dr.
Chaplin, came to conduct the church services.
In November, the Church voted to give Mr.
Todd a call to become colleague pastor with Dr.
Chaplin. Soon afterward, at a town meeting
called to see if the Town would concur with the
Church in its vote, it was voted “to pass over the
article,” and to appoint a committee to hire
preaching, if Dr. Chaplin was unable to preach
himself. In those days, the minister was hired and paid by the town, and
it was the feeling of the townspeople that they should choose the min¬
At the same time within the churches of New England there had
developed a deep sectarian feeling, which caused dissension and in many
cases divided the parishes. As the result of this religious agitation that
was common in this part of the country and doubtless was reflected in
the Groton church, and the controversy over the minister, there was a
division within the Groton First Parish. A majority of the Church and
a minority of the Town left and formed a new society. At first, meetings
of the group were held in Lawrence Academy hall with the Rev. John
Todd as their leader. In time, there was built a new church, the corner¬
stone of which was laid July 4, 1826. The society was organized as the
Union Church of Christ in Groton in the fall of the same year with the
Rev. John Todd as the pastor. The church was often referred to as the
Since then many changes have been made in the building. Mr.
James Lawrence in 1850 gave an organ to replace the bassoon, viol and
bass viol, which till then had furnished music for church services.
Fifteen years later, the meeting-house was renovated and the gallery
lowered, and in 1887 the structure of the building was raised several
feet. In 1933, the Andrew Robbins Memorial organ replaced the old
organ, and the John Robbins Memorial window was installed.
In 1874 the Adams estate across the street was purchased to be used
as a parsonage. In 1896, the church and society were incorporated under
the name of the Union Congregational Church.
In more recent times we find the lighting of the steeple at Christ^
mas an outstanding project, which has, since 1950, been continued
throughout the year.
For about ten years, the minister of this church has also been the
minister of the Christian Union Church in West Groton and has con¬
ducted services in both churches each Sunday.
In 1950, Rev. Margaret Blair Johnstone received a call to the two
churches, and is the present minister.
THE FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF GROTON
“Baptist preaching commenced in Groton by Rev. Amasa Sander¬
son on Lord’s day, November 6, 1831, and thus continued every third
Sabbath until April following, when the society
gave him a call to become their stated pastor,
which call was accepted, and he entered upon
his labor among them on the first of April,
1832.” This note in the earliest known records
of the church, presenting, as it does, the bare
statistics of Baptist beginnings, indicates little
of the human interest which attended the first
efforts of Baptists to establish themselves in an
organized church. Following so closely upon the
dissolution of the “parish church,” it was natu¬
ral that there should be general feeling in the
community that there was no room in Groton
for another church. Moreover, those were the
days when the Baptist movement was still seen as a despised sect, and it
is recorded that passers-by would look up at the first Baptist meeting
place to “wonder what kind of creatures those Baptists were.”
The first meeting place was in the upper story of the house which
is presently the home of Dr. Ayres. However, when on December 5,
1832, a counsel of neighboring Baptist churches met to give recognition
to the group as a distinct Church, the use of the Congregational meeting¬
house was generously extended to the council. The initial membership
of the church consisted of twenty-eight persons, including Pastor San¬
Mr. Sanderson continued as pastor of the little group for twelve
years. During this time the church grew, the first baptisms having taken
place in September of 1832 in an outdoor ceremony in the brook located
on the left of Breakneck Road on property then in the possession of
Warren Clark. On November 4th, 1840, the little group undertook the
task of erecting the present church building. This was completed, free of
debt, and dedicated on February 2nd, 1842. A fitting memorial to Mr.
Sanderson’s memory exists in the church building in the form of a
beautiful stained glass window which depicts the “Sower of the good
seed” from Jesus’ parable, “The Sower and the seed.” This memorial
was made possible by Mrs. Susan Blood, a daughter of Mr. Sanderson,
who patiently saved over a period of many years for this purpose.
In 1873 the church building was extensively renovated and en¬
larged. The original building had been erected on a small hill; this was
removed from beneath it to make possible the present vestry and other
ground-floor rooms. The interior of the sanctuary lost much of its
original simplicity during this time, but fortunately, the exterior of the
building still retains its plain white dignity so characteristic of old New
Through the years the Baptist church property has been extended
to include the parsonage on Main Street, beside the church building,
and the cottage on School Street, thus giving the church complete owner¬
ship of the triangle of land between Main Street and the two branches
of School Street. The Howard clock in the steeple of the church was
the gift of Dr. Samuel Green, and since 1897 its faithful striking of the
hours of our days has been one of the friendly and comfortable sounds
of our peaceful community. Within the last three years all of the build¬
ings have been freshly painted and stand today in clean white dignity
as a suitable center for the activities of the First Baptist Church of
SACRED HEART CHURCH
In 1855, a mission was established in South Groton (Ayer), four
miles from Groton village, served by priests from Fitchburg. In 1858,
the first church edifice was erected in this area, servicing the village of
Groton, among others. In 1868, this pastorate numbered 3000.
By the year 1890, there were enough Catholic families in Groton
to warrant a mission priest coming over from Ayer to say Mass, so a
group obtained permission from the Groton Selectmen to use an aban¬
doned school house for religious services.
In 1903, the Groton School chapel had outgrown its usefulness to
the School, and when a new stone chapel was built, Dr. Endicott Pea¬
body, with the approval of the Trustees, gave
the original chapel to the Roman Catholics of
the town. It was moved to Groton on rollers,
horse drawn, and the sides of a narrow bridge
over which is crossed, were removed to allow
Some of the stucco was damaged, so that
clapboards were used to partially cover it when
repaired. The foundation was dug by Catholic
men of the community on a Main Street corner
lot purchased from Mrs. Jennie R. Hemenway.
It was consecrated in October, 1905, as a Roman
Catholic Church, The Sacred Heart Church, by
Archbishop John Williams, and was used as a
mission Church serviced by priests from Ayer until January, 1907, when
a permanent pastor, Rev. Charles Finnegan, was sent here. For a while
he roomed and boarded in various homes of the town until the rectory
was built on the lot of land across the street from the church. At the
present time there are about five hundred Catholic people in Groton.
ST. JAMES CHURCH — WEST GROTON, MASS.
In the section of Groton known as West Groton, stands the beautiful
field stone church of St. James the Apostle. Situated on the northerly
side of West Groton, its sloping slate
roof and buttressed tower stand some
fifty feet above the ground. A huge
bronze cross overlooks the entire village,
making the complete structure an im¬
For a number of years the Catholic
population of the whole town of Groton
was numbered among the parishioners
of the Sacred Heart Parish in Groton
Center. For years the priest would come on Sunday to say Mass in the
Town Hall at West Groton. Around the year 1927 Father Mitchell, who
was then Pastor in Groton, conceived the idea of building a Mission
Church in West Groton to take care of the increasing Catholic population
of that section of town. Land for the new church was donated by Mrs.
Ellen Fallon, a resident of West Groton. Work was soon started and due
to the untiring labor and great zeal of Father Mitchell, who worked daily
as a laborer in the construction of the church, the building was com¬
pleted and finally dedicated by Bishop John B. Peterson, then Auxiliary
Bishop of Boston, in June of 1929. A fitting celebration was held this
year in honor of the Silver Anniversary of the completion of St. James
Shortly after the Most Rev. Richard J. Cushing became Archbishop
of Boston he decided that West Groton should become a parish by itself.
So in 1945 it became an independent parish with the Rev. Francis C.
Egan as its first Pastor. After less than a year he was succeeded by the
Rev. Francis McGrath who in turn was succeeded by its present Pastor,
Rev. Charles H. Hyland.
CHRISTIAN UNION CHURCH, WEST GROTON
Public religious services in West Groton date back to the year 1865,
when a Sunday School with about fifteen members was organized at a
private house in the village.
In a short time the membership increased to sixty and the meetings
were conducted in the Dana school house. Later that same year Rev. J.
T. W. Barnes, a Methodist minister of Boston, became interested in
West Groton and began preaching occasionally at the school house.
During the next nineteen years, preachers of various denominations
conducted services at the little school house until the year 1884 when,
with the consent of the Town Fathers, the meeting place was changed
to the school on Main Street.
In December of the same year, a group of men met and formed the
Christian Union Society of West Groton for the purpose of erecting a
church building and for “the support of public worship in West Groton.”
The Building Committee raised the sum of $1,500.00 and a roll of
eighty-five names of donors was among the records placed in the corner
stone. The new building was dedicated on October
7, 1885. The church members at that time and up
to the present day have always welcomed new
members from all faiths and creeds.
In 1907, realizing the need of a resident
minister, the Society purchased the house on Pep-
perell Road and Bixby Hill to be used as a parson¬
Extensive repairs were made to the church in
1927 and at the rededicatory service on November
18th, two memorial windows were presented by
Mrs. Lilia J. Shepley and Clifford E. Bixby. The
church was renovated in 1943. At this time, by
rearranging the pews, the broad center aisle re¬
placed the two aisle arrangement. On November 15, 1948, the Church
and Society merged and a new set of by-laws was voted.
As the church grew there was evident need of a building for the
Sunday School and activities of the Parish. With the same minister
serving the Christian Union Church and the Groton Congregational
Church in 1943 there was no further use for the parsonage. It was sold
and plans were made for a new Parish House. Following a building fund
drive in November 1950, with a total result of $4,077.00, the work on
the building was started. The Ladies’ Aid was entirely responsible for
the modern kitchen, but it was the combined efforts of members and
friends of the church in work and money that made possible the Parish
House connected with the church. It consists of a large auditorium with
a fireplace and stage, two classrooms upstairs and one classroom down¬
stairs, and a large room with a fireplace in the basement. The new build¬
ing was dedicated on May 3, 1953.
CONVENT OF THE HOLY UNION OF THE
In 1947, with the authorization of His Excellency Archbishop
Richard J. Cushing, the Congregation of the Holy Union of the Sacred
Hearts purchased the former property of the Lowthorpe School of Land¬
scape Architecture. The Congregation established a convent, a novitiate,
whose official name is the Sacred Heart Teacher Training School, and a
grade school called the Country Day School of the Holy Union, which
opened in September 1949, with fifteen pupils for pre-primary, and
Grades 1, 2, and 3. Since that time a new building and one grade a year
have been added. There are now eight grades and one hundred eighty
pupils from Groton and surrounding towns.
Although the Convent has been in Groton only a few years, the spot
where it is located has some interesting history. There was another
house there before the present one was built. The original house was the
home of Dr. Oliver Prescott, and was sold to a Mr. Wethered. who owned
it only three months when it was burned. Dr. Prescott’s grandniece,
Miss Susan Prescott, built the present house on the same site and made
it her home. There she established, about 1820, a school, which continued
for ten years. A building was erected expressly for the school in the
yard north of her home. This school building was subsequently removed
to Hollis Street, and is the last house on the west side before reaching
the old cemetery.
The school had a wide reputation and a large number of scholars. In
the library of Harvard College there is a catalogue of the institution for
the year ending November 1826, which gives the names of one hundred
pupils. Miss Mary Oliver Prescott, a sister of the teacher, was the assist¬
ant teacher, and there were art and music teachers. Miss Prescott was
married in 1829 to John Wright of Lowell, and at that time the school
It was at this school that Margaret Luller, the authoress, passed two
years of her girlhood. A few years later, her father, the Honorable
Timothy Luller, impressed with the natural attractions of the town,
bought the place on Larmers Row, now owned by Mrs. William L.
Wharton, and brought his family to Groton. He remained here as long
as he lived, which was two years, and his family remained about five
Lor many years, thereafter, Miss Susan Prescott’s house remained
a private home, and for a short period was a tavern. In 1901, Mrs. Ed¬
ward Gilchrist Lowe, sister of Col. Thomas Motley, bought the property
and started a school of landscape architecture, gardening and horticul¬
ture for women. It was known as Lowthorpe School, and flourished for
several years. In 1945. it closed its doors, and became incorporated in the
Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island. A few years
later, the place became the Convent of the Holy Union of Sacred Hearts.
THE NEW ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
The first indication of schools in the Town of Groton is contained
in the instructions given to the Selectmen in 1681: “They are to take
care that there be a school, or college, of learning of children the English
tongue to read.” During the next century a system of “angles” or “squa¬
drons” developed wherein inhabitants living in the same portion of the
town belonged to that “angle” or “squadron” for educational purposes.
In the year 1805 the Town adopted a by-law separating the town
into twelve school districts. Later two of these were divided, making
fourteen. The inhabitants of each district became responsible for build¬
ing a suitable schoolhouse and maintaining it.
About 1827 and for several years thereafter, there was considerable
agitation about the condition of these buildings, and they were replaced
by brick structures, often on the same site or in the same vicinity as the
previous wooden houses. A few of these one-room brick schools still
stand; Number 2, “Moors School,” on Old Ayer Road; Number 3,
“Lawrence,” on Farmers Row; Number 7 on Chicopee Row; Number
10, “Prescott School” on Boston Road (now used as a dwelling); Number
15, “Winthrop” (now a dwelling) on Main Street near the old paper
mill; and Number 11, “Sandy Pond School.” This last mentioned school
house was closed as a school in 1906. It was soon bought by a group of
former pupils, teachers and interested friends, who formed the Sandy
Pond Schoolhouse Association which has since maintained the place,
kept it in repair and held there many parties, suppers, social gatherings
and reunions. The first house for this district stood nearer Sandy Pond,
and the second was on the present site; both were wooden buildings. In
1820, the second school was moved away and a brick building erected.
This burned and the present schoolhouse was built from material sal¬
vaged from its predecessor. /
One-room schools took care of educational requirements for many
years, attended, however, by various difficulties. Families asked to be
changed from one district to another; school buildings fell into disrepair
causing a reprimand by the central committee; some districts had finan¬
cial troubles and asked for help, and there were the usual complaints of
“apathy” and “indifference.”
In 1869 the Chaplin School (Legion Hall) was built to take care
of the central part of the village. Gradually the need was felt for a high
school and for several years there ensued a controversy over its advis¬
ability or necessity. By 1860 some sort of high school had been organized
and met in the lower town hall, and one term in Gerrish's store. The
town hall arrangement was not entirely satisfactory, as the noise when
the hall above was in use interfered with the concentration of the pupils
below. In 1871 the Butler High School was erected on land on Main
Street purchased from Andrew Robbins, and presently the high school
was moved there. On September 22, 1874 Music Hall, on the third floor
of the Butler School, was dedicated as quarters for a public singing
school for children and adults. It was said that very soon the quality of
group and church choir singing improved.
As conditions changed, it was deemed advisable to bring students to
the central schools, and the “little red schoolhouses” were closed. For a
time Chaplin School took care of several grades, the Butler High the
rest. In 1913 a brick schoolhouse was built in West Groton (Tarbell
School), and in 1914 one on Hollis Street in Groton (Boutwell School),
the latter said to be of the very latest design and efficiency.
By the early 1920’s it was becoming evident that the Butler High
School was outmoded and overcrowded. In 1927 the present Groton High
School was erected on the site of Butler
High, and has since served high school
needs. Two years ago a modern ele¬
mentary school was completed, near
the corner of Champney and Main
Streets. Boutwell School was sold and
is now occupied by Groton Associates,
Inc. Each of these new schools is
equipped with classrooms, administra¬
tion quarters, gymnasium, cafeteria,
playgrounds. Students are brought by buses from all parts of the town
to the three central schools, one in West Groton and two in Groton.
No history of a public school system is complete without mention
of the patient labors of its school committees. In early times there was a
central committee, plus a local one for each district. The local com¬
mittee’s troubles were brought before the central body, and many are
the reports of action taken after due investigation of “lack of funds,”
inability to find a sufficiently rugged teacher “for the winter term,” or
to replace the loss of a good teacher. The early committees were all men,
Miss Clarissa Butler and Mrs. Mary Shumway were the first to break
this tradition in 1873, and at the present time it is quite customary for a
woman to be elected to this office.
GROTON MAIN STREET
THE LAWRENCE ACADEMY
The Academy was incorporated by the General Court, September
25, 1793. For fifty-two years, it was known as “The Groton Academy”;
and then, in consequence of the munificent gifts
of William Lawrence and Amos, his brother, the
name was changed by legislative enactment to
“The Lawrence Academy at Groton.” From
1807 to 1898, the school was maintained for both
sexes, then, by vote of the trustees, the policy of
the school was changed and it became a school
for boys only. At the time of its centennial in
1893, it had instructed eight thousand boys and
The Dr. Samuel A. Green Foundation,
1918, added appreciably to the present endow¬
In recent years, the plant has been enlarged
and modernized. In addition to the Shumway Field, the Spaulding-
Stearns Playing Field now provides thirty-seven acres of playing area
and a pond for hockey. Bigelow Hall and five former residences, which
have been converted to dormitories, house the boarding students. In the
Fred C. Gray Building, completed in 1949, are the dining hall the
MacNeil Lounge, and the gymnasium with its complete facilities for the
Groton School was founded in 1884 by the Rev. Endicott Peabody,
who had been educated in England and at the Episcopal Theological
School, Cambridge, Mass., and who had previously established a church
in Tombstone. Arizona. He was a man of great ability and force of char¬
acter and proved to be a great headmaster.
The land for the school was given by the brothers, James and
Prescott Lawrence, of Groton, and the necessary money was contributed
by various interested persons. The original trustees were: Rev. Phillips
Brooks, Rev. William Lawrence (both later bishops of Massachusetts),
S. Endicott Peabody (father of Endicott), William C. Endicott (Secre¬
tary of War under Cleveland), J. Pierpont Morgan, James Lawrence,
and Endicott Peabody, who was named as headmaster.
Groton is a church school; that is, the religious services, which all
boys must attend, are those of the Protestant Episcopal Church, and the
constitution requires that the headmaster be a minister of that church.
The school started with twenty-four boys and three resident mas¬
ters, the Rev. Sherrard Billings and William Amory Gardner being
Peabody’s assistants. Now, seventy years later, there are some thirty
masters and about two hundred boys.
The school has prospered through the years. There have always
been more applications than vacancies, and generous gifts and bequests
have built up an endowment fund which makes it possible to have only
first-rate men as masters and provides scholarships for about a third
of the boys. Entrance is entirely on a competitive basis, and, aside
from required chapel attendance and religious instruction, there are no
restrictions in the matter of race or creed. The graduates have on the
whole carried out the idea of service which Mr. Peabody constantly
preached and taught. Groton has probably had a larger percentage of
alumni holding important positions in public life than any other
American school. These include: a President of the United States, three
Cabinet members, three United States senators, four United States con¬
gressmen, six ambassadors, four governors, nine assistant- or under¬
secretaries, and many others.
Endicott Peabody was headmaster for 56 years until 1940. Since
then the Rev. John Crocker, a graduate of the school, has ably carried on
the work begun by his predecessor.
THE GROTON PUBLIC LIBRARY
On February 3, 1854, a letter from the Hon. Abbott Lawrence, a
Groton boy, who had become Minister to England and who was then
living in Boston, was received by George S. Boutwell, John Boynton,
Noah Shattuck, Caleb Butler, and Joshua Green. It read in part as fol¬
lows: “It appears to me that the time has arrived when such Institutions
(public libraries) can be made eminently useful throughout the State,
and I have thought that a Public Library judiciously selected would
greatly benefit my native Town.” Mr. Lawrence went on to offer
$1,000.00 for such a library, provided that the Town would match his
initial gift and “vote annually a moderate sum” to insure “a gradual
increase of modern and other books in order to insure the success of this
Thus was founded one of the first public libraries in Massachusetts,
antedating even the Boston Public Library. The original library, with
about 800 books, was kept by Mrs. Margaret Blake at her little store on
the corner of Main Street and Station Avenue. In 1860 it was moved to
a room in the Town Hall, thence, in 1867, to Liberty Hall, a building
on the site of the present Groton Drug Store, and in 1876 back into the
Town Hall, in what is now the Selectmen’s room, where for sixteen
years Miss Jennie H. Thayer was the enthusiastic and faithful keeper
In 1891, Mrs Charlotte A. L. Sibley offered the Town a plot of
ground on Main Street, and $4,000.00 toward a new building, if the
Town would appropriate an additional
$15,000.00 for the purpose. Under the
vigorous leadership of a group of citizens
headed by Michael Sheedy, Jr., the
Town made the appropriation and
raised an additional $10,000 bv private
subscription. On May 17, 1893, our
present building was dedicated. Its
architect. Arthur Rotch, was a grand¬
nephew of Abbott Lawrence, and, true
to tradition, donated his services.
The West Groton Branch was begun in 1898, simply as a “delivery
station” fed from the Main Library. In 1915 it was firmly established,
in one room but with its own books and librarian, Miss Kate Tarbell. In
1933 it moved to its present quarters in Rockwood House.
The history of the Library has been the story of steady development
from a one-room Library of 800 books to one maintaining its own build¬
ing and a flourishing Branch, each with its separate Children's Room,
with a combined collection of 25,000 books and a yearly circulation of
over 20.000. Any history of our Library, however brief, would be incom-
plete without mention of Miss Emma F. Blood, who, as Librarian from
1891 to 1948, made the Library her life-work, guiding it with unselfish
dedication and skill through more than half of its first century.
GROTON COMMUNITY HOSPITAL
Dr. Arthur Goss Kilbourn in 1907 began caring for the sick and
injured in a remodeled dwelling on Main Street, Groton’s first hospital.
When Dr. Kilbourn died in 1932, Dr. Cyrus Comninos took over his
practice and private hospital, and in the fall of 1948 turned over title to
the property and administration of the hospital to a Board of Trustees.
Thus the proprietary Hospital became the Groton Community Hospital.
For nearly half a century, the old hospital building, with its twenty-
five beds, including seven temporary ones and four bassinets, cared for
the people of this area.
By 1950 overcrowding at the hospital had become extremely serious.
Also the building, of wooden construction, was judged by State author¬
ities to be a bad fire risk which could not be made safe by repairs or
The Trustees and Directors decided that a new functional hospital
building should be erected. Building costs were high and modern hospital
equipment was and is extremely expen¬
sive. Nevertheless, plans were drawn
for a forty-one bed and eight bassinet
hospital with every modern facility and
scientific device for adequate diagnosis
and treatment of the ill and injured
people of this community.
A drive for building funds was
undertaken and the public responded
generously. On July 20, 1953, the build¬
ing was officially opened, patients were transferred from the old hospital
and the public was invited to inspect the new structure, which is located
on Moison Hill with an unsurpassed view of the Nashua River valley
and the hills and mountains beyond.
In a letter to the Selectmen of Groton, dated September 1, 1900,
Mr. Amory A. Lawrence offered a tract of land 14% acres, on the south
side of Broadmeadow Road, to the Town of Groton, “to be called the
Lawrence Playground in memory of the many Lawrences who have lived
there.” The Town accepted the gift, and the next year the land was
surveyed and partially drained to make it usable as a baseball field. In
1904 two bronze tablets were placed on the northerly gate post. Granite
posts, also the gift of Mr. Lawrence, were placed about the entrance.
These for many years had been at Harvard College.
At the Annual Town Meeting of February 4, 1946, $16,000 was
appropriated for the improvement of Lawrence Playground and other
recreational purposes, and a Playground Committee of five members
was appointed. The Committee report of 1946 describes the problems
and work accomplished at this time. Work was completed the following
year, and the field was inaugurated Sunday, September 21, 1947. At
this same time basketball facilities were installed at Squannacook Hall,
West Groton, and the hall was opened for supervised basketball on
In 1954 the Town decided to build a tennis court on the Lawrence
Small portions of the “common lands” of early times still belong to
the Town. The American Legion has erected memorial markers on these
“commons” and they are now called Francis W. Sawyer Square (Hollis
Street), William H. Boynton Square (at Legion Hall near the old grave¬
yard), Charles R. Gordon Square (Main Street), Byron H. Wilson
Square (junction of Main Street and Old Ayer Road), and Jack Arm¬
strong Square (near Groton School) in Groton; and Joseph E. Cutler
Square (center of West Groton).
Hazel Grove Park, for many years the site of the annual Groton
Fair, run by the Groton Farmers and Mechanics Club, became the prop¬
erty of the Town in 1941, by gift of Mr. William P. Wharton, to be used
as a public park, and was placed under the care and jurisdiction of the
Joseph E. Cutler Memorial Park, off Townsend Road, West Groton,
is a fine field developed by the townspeople living in that part of Groton.
It was dedicated in 1948 at the Joseph E. Cutler Memorial Field Day
THE GROTON POLICE DEPARTMENT
The first record of any form of Police Department is found in the
year 1911 when the first Chief of Police was appointed and began his
duties on April 15th. Previous to that time the police duties were carried
out by three elected constables and special police officers.
From 1911 to 1925 the Chief and other officers used their own cars
or hired cars to carry on their duties, but in 1925 the Town bought a
motorcycle for the use of the Department. In the year 1928 a car was
purchased for the Chief to use in carrying out his duties.
All of these years the Chairman of the Board of Selectmen was,
according to law, the actual Chief of Police, and the officer who was
appointed was the Acting Chief. In July 1938 the Town voted to accept
the provisions of Section 97 of Chapter 41 of the General Laws which
established a Police Department under the direction of the Selectmen
who were to appoint a Chief of Police and such police officers as they
In February 1941 the first night police officer was appointed. Prior
to this, the Chief had been the only full time officer. The Department
moved into new quarters in the rear of the Town Hall in July of that
year where they are still located.
From 1938 to 1946 the police cruiser was equipped with a radio
receiver that was tuned to the State Police frequency and they were able
to receive some emergency calls. This system was of some help but it
did not answer the needs as there was no way in which the State Police
could know if the message had been received. In July of 1946 a new two-
way radio system was installed in the Fire Station for the use of the
Police and Fire Departments. This system has been of tremendous value
to both of these units and has given the Town added protection. Soon
after the radio system was installed the Pepperell and Shirley Police
Departments joined the system soon to be followed by the Ayer and
Townsend Police forces. Today we are connected by radio to Ayer,
Shirley, Pepperell, Townsend and Dunstable Police and the Ayer,
Shirley, and Pepperell Fire Departments. This is one of the most modern
protection systems in use and has meant added protection to all of the
communities. This network has resulted in splendid cooperation between
all the towns, and mutual aid is spontaneous.
The Groton Police Department today consists of a Chief and one
full time officer, three full time radio operators, three constables, and
twelve spare police officers.
GROTON FIRE DEPARTMENT
The town had no conveniences for extinguishing fires until the year
1802. At that time a house, which stood where Brazer House now is, was
burned, and an enterprising young man,
Loammi Baldwin, Jr., then studying
law in Groton, watched the fire and
noted the helplessness of the towns¬
people in extinguishing it. He concluded
that he could build a fire engine and
proceeded to do so. The wood work was
done in the cabinet shop of Jonathan
Loring, which stood where Bruce’s Drug
Store is, and the iron work was made in
the blacksmith shop across the street. This engine, known as Torrent No.
1, was in active use almost a century and is now on exhibition at the
On February 1, 1815, another fire which consumed the house that
stood on the site of the Convent, prompted a group of men to organize
as the Groton Fire Club. The first meeting of this club was February 4,
when Honorable James Prescott was chosen President and Caleb Butler,
Secretary. The club met annually for choice of officers at one of the
public houses, where supper was served. Each member was required to
be supplied with “two good ten quart leathern buckets and a suitable
bag, which he shall always keep in a conspicuous place, easy of access in
his dwelling house.” The last entry in the record book of the Fire Club
was January 1872.
At this time the town built five reservoirs holding 4000 gallons each.
These reservoirs were placed respectively near the three meeting-houses,
the Town House and the High School, filled by the water from the roofs
of these several buildings. A few other cisterns were built later.
On March 1, 1875 the town voted to adopt certain laws of the
General Statutes, by which action there was no longer need of a private
organization. A Board of Fire Engineers was first appointed by the
Selectmen in that year, and the first chief engineer was George Sumner
Engine Companies were organized at various times, and were often
entertained at the supper meetings of the Fire Club. There was at one
time the Torrent Engine Company. In 1830, the Union Engine Com¬
pany came into existence, immediately following a series of incendiary
fires. The company doubtless took its name from the Union Congrega¬
tional Church near where their engine was housed in the horseshed.
About the time the Groton Fire Department became organized two
engine companies, the Paugus and the Lawrence companies, came into
existence. There was rivalry between these two companies for many
years until 1898 when they were disbanded and one new company called
the Groton Engine and Hose Company was formed. This Company has
been our town fire company ever since. The fire apparatus was kept in
the back part of the Town Hall, horses from Johnson’s stable directly
across Station Avenue were hitched to the engines to go to fires. Alarms
were given by ringing the bell at the First Parish Meeting-House and
later by bells in the other churches as well. It was 1912 when this method
of sounding an alarm was given up and a steam whistle was installed
on the Town Hall roof.
In 1886, the Town authorized the organization of a permanent
company in West Groton, and when formed it was named the Squanna-
cook Engine Company. There the fire engines were kept in Squannacook
Hall, and alarm was given by blowing the mill whistles until quite re¬
cently when a fire whistle was installed in that area.
In 1940, the Odd Fellows Hall was converted into the Fire Station
for the village of Groton and equipment was moved from the Town Hall
to the new quarters. A two-way radio belonging to the police depart-
ment, but used in cooperation with the fire department, has been in¬
stalled in the fire station at a more recent date. Due to the radio and
added equipment and duties, it has been necessary to have a man on
duty there at all times. Also the need for more room arose so an addition
to the present fire station has been built this past year.
ELECTRIC LIGHT DEPARTMENT
At a town meeting held November 3, 1908, Henry K. Richards,
Myron P. Swallow and Frank F. Waters were appointed a committee
to investigate the advisability of the Town building an electric lighting
system. Upon a favorable report of that committee at a town meeting
the next summer, it was voted to proceed with construction.
The Town contracted for construction of a plant, and for current
from the Ayer Electric Light Co. to be delivered at the town line on Old
Ayer Road from whence it was transmitted to the sub-station on Station
Avenue. Approximately four months after the construction contract was
signed the street lights were in service and three homes had electric
lighting. Seven more were added within a year.
A new transmission line was built in 1922 to meet the greatly in¬
creased demand for light, heat and power. Within the last five years an
additional transmission line has been built along the railroad right-of-
way but the old line has been retained for emergency. This new line
will meet the demands of the town for many years. All wires and cables
at the sub-station and on Station Avenue have been placed underground.
Major changes have been made in the sub-station, and mercury vapor
street lighting system of the most modern type has been installed in the
center of the town.
A few comparisons are of interest. Forty-five years ago the Depart¬
ment served ten customers; today there are over 1400. If a customer
had used 200 kilowatt hours of current in a month in 1909, it would
have cost $32.00; but the monthly cost is now $6.45.
Henry K. Richards may be called the “Father of the Groton Electric
Department” for it was largely due to his interest and devotion that
brought it into being. However, it is Walter H. Dodge who worked
during the construction and has engineered, operated and managed the
system ever since.
GROTON WATER COMPANY
At a town meeting on November 3, 1896, the following articles
were acted upon:
Article 3. To see if the Town will take such measures as are
needed to bring about legislation in order to secure Baddacook Pond as
a source of water supply for the town, or take any action thereon.
Article 4. To see if the Town will take the necessary steps to
secure a charter for a system of Public Water Works for the Town, or
take any action in relation to the same.
After much discussion both Article 3 and Article 4 were indefinitely
As the town was not interested in establishing a water system, the
Groton Water Company came into existence as a private organization.
Henry W. Whiting was the man most responsible for bringing this
about. The idea of a water system originated with him, and after it was
turned down by the town, he made every effort to interest a group of
citizens to form a company. He was successful in doing this. The Groton
Water Company was incorporated in 1897, and Honorable George S.
Boutwell was the first president.
The water was turned on for general use in December 1897. From
the first Annual Report of 1898 the following is taken: “The number of
water takers at the present time is eighty.” In 1899 the water takers
numbered one hundred twenty-three. Now there are four hundred
seventy-three customers. The only sources of revenue are the sale of
water and the charge for hydrants.
At the present time the company is in the process of obtaining a
new well. It is located in a meadow off Martin’s Pond Road, formerly
called Flaggy Meadow, in a spot which was explored as a water source
in the original survey.
From its beginning the company has had only two superintendents,
Charles B. Eddy, who served for thirty-nine years, and Thomas S.
Lawrence, the present superintendent.
THE WEST GROTON WATER SUPPLY DISTRICT
The citizens of West Groton were called to a meeting in Squanna-
cook Hall on January 10, 1911 for the purpose of considering a water
supply for the village. A committee of seven men was chosen to look
into the matter and report later. After thorough investigation, it was
decided that the best procedure would be to form a West Groton Water
Supply District, and, therefore, petitioned the Legislature to grant the
right to establish the same. This was done, as is shown in Chapter 641 of
the Acts of the Commonwealth 1911.
A meeting was held; the Act was accepted by the people; and the
following Board of Water Commissioners was chosen: Messrs. Arthur
W. Lamb, George H. Bixby and A. Howard Thompson.
Work was commenced on construction of pipe lines and on Janu¬
ary 10, 1912, water was first pumped into the stand-pipe for the use of
the people. By the end of 1912, the District had three miles of pipe lines
and eighty takers, and at present, it has about five miles of pipe lines
and nearly two hundred takers including two large industrial customers.
GROTON TOWN FOREST
The Groton Town Forest was established by vote of the town at
Town Meeting in April, 1922. It then included the woodlands and old
pastures of the town farm, and considerable areas along the Nashua and
Dead Rivers given by Mr. William Amory Gardner, — a total of about
180 acres. This forest was set up as a memorial to the Groton men who
gave their lives in the first World War. From time to time since then
adjoining wood lots have been acquired, until at the present time the
total area of the forest is about 420 acres.
The first activity on the forest was the harvesting of a substantial
amount of fine chestnut trees which were dying from the chestnut bark
disease, and a limited amount of pine. The sale of this timber brought in
enough money to pay for the planting of the open pasture area with
about 30.000 pine trees. Two years later another planting of a similar
number of trees was made in the extreme southern portion, which had
been burned over ten or more years previously, and was left in poor
Since these initial operations, there have been a considerable num¬
ber of others, which have harvested not only pine but also hardwood
for fuel purposes, the latter especially during the depression which be¬
gan in about 1929. The income from the forest has always been fully
sufficient to maintain it in satisfactory condition, and promote its value
to the town. No artificial planting has been necessary, because the forest
soil and other conditions are ideally suited to reproduction of white
pine by natural methods, the result being that young white pines of all
ages are growing up in almost every section of the forest.
OLD BLACKSMITH SHOP
THE OLD CEMETERY
Go where the ancient pathway guides,
See where our sires laid down
Their smiling babes, their cherished brides,
The patriarchs of the town;
Hast thou a tear for buried love?
A sigh for transient power?
All that a century left above,
Go, — read it in an hour!
O. W. Holmes
The Old Cemetery was the only common burying place in Groton
from the time of the founding of the town until 1847. As was the custom,
it was located near the meeting-house,
which stood on what is now known as
Legion Common. Its position, its natural
features, and its more or less seclusion
from the heavily traveled thoroughfares
made it a spot wonderfully adapted to the
purpose for which it was chosen.
The burying ground was originally
purchased from the Rev. Gershom Hobart
toward the end of the seventeenth or early
in the eighteenth century. The town neg¬
lected to pay for the land until Mr. Hobart
became very much out of patience, and
though several burials had been made, he threatened that if the amount
agreed upon were not forthcoming and the transaction closed, he would
proceed to plough and cultivate the land. This threat had no effect, and
so he commenced to carry it into execution, but only a few furrows
around the outer edge of the ground were required to bring the town to
terms, and to get the money paid. Mr. Hobart, as the minister, had more
or less trouble with the people, and the ill feeling that prevailed on both
sides no doubt had its influence in this matter. For many years ridges
were noticeable around the outside of the burying ground, that were
said to be the remains of Mr. Hobart’s furrows. Later a wall and side¬
walk were added so all traces of the furrows were obliterated.
Within these grounds, which have been practically disused since
the new cemetery was established, lie many of the first settlers. The
earliest inscription. May 9, 1704, is on the monument of James Prescott,
son of Jonas Prescott. In 1949 bronze markers were set for those of the
original proprietors, whose burial spots were known, namely —
Simon Stone, died 1741. Aged 85 years.
James Robinson, died 1720. Aged 88 years.
Joshua Whitney, died 1719. Aged 83 years.
As one saunters through the cemetery there are a number of inter¬
esting stones to be seen. One is to Capt. John Sheple, who died in 1736.
He was the only one of his father’s family, who escaped being massacred
by the Indians in the assault of 1694. He was carried off and held a
prisoner for four years before he was able to return to Groton.
The stone to Samuel Bowers reads that he ‘’departed this Life the
Sixteenth Day of December Anno Domini 1768. Half a hour after Three
of the Clock in ye Afternoon, and in the Fifty Eight year of his age.” He
kept a tavern during many years in the present Champney house at the
corner of Champney and Hollis Streets.
Another stone is to Joshua Bentley, who rowed Paul Revere across
the Charles River on that memorable night in 1775, and passed away at
the age of ninety-five on April 15, 1819.
The stone to Mrs. Abigail Parker, wife of Joseph Parker, reads that
she “left two Hundred or upwards of Children and Grand-children.”
She was the mother of fourteen children and died February 19, 1787 in
her ninetieth year.
Many eminent in public life also rest here, among them being—
Honorable Benjamin Prescott, 1696-1738, who was the father of
Colonel William Prescott.
Major-General Oliver Prescott, 1731-1804.
Rev. Caleb Trowbridge, 1691-1760.
Rev. Samuel Dana, 1767-1835.
Capt. Abram Child, 1741-1834, who was at the capture of Ticon-
deroga and Crown Point, was in the Concord Fight and Battle of Bunker
Hill, crossed the Delaware with Washington, was at Valley Forge and
at the surrender of Burgoyne, and received his only wound at Stony
Aaron Corey, 1784-1857, who was for many years a well known
stage-driver between Boston and Groton.
On July 28, 1748, Groton was the scene of a terrible hurricane.
Again on September 21, 1938, the town was devastated similarly, and
the havoc in the cemetery was severe. Many large trees and old stones
were damaged. All were taken care of, and efforts are continuously made
to keep them in proper condition.
The Town of Groton is much indebted to the late Samuel A. Green,
M.D., who published in the year 1878 a most useful and valuable ac¬
count of the epitaphs on the stones standing at that time. It is the only
printed record of those resting there.
THE NEW GROTON CEMETERY
“This Association shall be called the PROPRIETORS OF THE
GROTON CEMETERY; the Cemetery shall be known as the GROTON
CEMETERY. Any person owning one or more lots therein shall be con¬
stituted a Proprietor.”
So reads Article 1 of the By-Laws. The Association was organized
April 10, 1847 with twelve original subscribers.
The first section was purchased that spring and the Proprietors
proceeded to “lay out and ornament” a site for a cemetery, and it was
consecrated August 24 by appropriate religious ceremonies. The next
year notice was given that a Committee would “be in waiting at the
Cemetery on the first day of May for the purpose of planting . . . trees
that may be brought and furnished by the public as a gratuity.” From
this and subsequent plantings developed the exceptionally beautiful and
serene burying ground known locally as the “new cemetery.”
By 1877 the Proprietors had decided on a perpetual care arrange¬
ment for the lots, and considered purchasing more land. A new section
was added in 1890, and was soon laid out
and the stone posts erected along the fence
adjoining land of Mrs. S. H. Williams.
At the front entrance there had been
a wooden arch and fence, but in 1905 this
was replaced by the present stone gate¬
Eleven years later town water was
added for the convenience of those who
wished to keep flowers at the graves.
At the April meeting of 1939 the
Trustees accepted the gift of Mrs. Samuel
H. Williams of her land adjoining the cemetery, given in memory of her
husband, to be known as the Samuel H. Williams Addition to the Groton
Cemetery. This section awaits development.
THE HISTORY OF
GROTON’S THREE HUNDRED YEARS
The First Settlement
In the early days, Groton was a frontier town. At the time that the
first white men came here, Indians roamed over its hills and valleys,
and made their home in this place. They called it Petapawag.
A few families as early as 1656 or 1657 left their home in the Massa¬
chusetts Bay colony and came out into the wilderness to trade with the
Indians. They settled near the Mote, which is that part of the Nashua
River at the mouth of Nod Brook. At this place a trading post was set up.
Cellar holes in the vicinity indicate the location of the homes of these
It was not until seven years after the granting of the township, and
three or four years after the arrival of the traders, that people came in
any number to make the plantation of Groton their home. Then was the
first real organization in the town and the first division of land.
These settlers, the original proprietors, spread sparsely over the
whole town, clearing the land for farming, and building roads. Several
homes were erected as garrison houses, where the inhabitants could
gather for protection from the Indians. Saw-mills and grist-mills were
built to take care of the needs of the settlers, and most important of all
a meeting-house was erected.
The first road into Groton from the Bay colony lay through Billerica
and Chelmsford. To cross the Concord River in Billerica, a bridge was
built at the expense of neighboring towns, including Groton, and was
supported jointly by these towns for many years.
The Indian Wars
The first inhabitants of Groton lived on the rough edge of civiliza¬
tion, and nothing stood between them and an unbroken wilderness. Just
above the Red Bridge on the west side of the river was an Indian village,
and families of Indians were scattered along the interval land of the
Nashua Valley from Lancaster to the Merrimack River.
For several years before King Philip’s War the Indians had been
supplied with arms and ammunition. The French in Canada and the
Dutch in New York had carried on considerable traffic with the natives
in these articles; and occasionally some settler would barter with them
to let them have firearms. The colonists, aware of this and of the bold¬
ness which the Indians had acquired, grew suspicious and fearful of their
exposed situation. For their protection and emergencies, a military com¬
pany was organized.
King Philip’s War broke out in 1675. It was during the following
winter that a small band of Indians alarmed the town by pillaging eight
or nine houses and driving off some cattle. This was a sufficient warning
to send the inhabitants to the garrison-houses. A week later, on March
9, the Indians again threatened the town, and, by a cunningly contrived
ambush, managed to entrap four men at work, of whom one was killed,
and one captured, while the other two escaped. The final attack came
on the 13th, w 7 hen the enemy appeared in full body, — thought to be
not less than four hundred in number. The first volley of shot that morn¬
ing was a signal for the general burning of the town; and in this con¬
flagration the first meeting-house of Groton was destroyed, together with
In this assault, John Nutting's garrison, which stood about wdiere
Court Street leaves Main Street, was taken by stratagem. The men
defending it had been drawm out by two Indians, apparently alone, when
the savages in ambush arose and killed one of the men, and wounded
three others. At the same time the garrison-house was attacked in the
rear and the palisades pulled down, allowing the enemy to take posses¬
sion. The women and children escaped to Captain Parker’s house near¬
by. After the garrison-house was taken, the leader of the Indians, John
Monaco, or Monoco, (nicknamed “One-eyed John,” from the loss of an
eye) entered into a long conversation wdth Captain Parker, calling him
his “old neighbor'’ and boasting of his success in burning and pillaging
The night following the burning of Groton the enemy remained,
some in the garrison which they surprised, but most of them in a nearby
valley, perhaps the northern end of the meadow between Gibbet Hill
and the village. Here they made themselves merry. The next morning
they shot tw 7 o or three volleys at Captain Parker’s garrison, and disap¬
peared. A few days later the towrn was abandoned altogether by the
In the early spring of 1678, just tw 7 o years after the attack the in¬
habitants returned to re-establish the town. After King Philip’s War
the colonists were at peace with the Indians, but it was a suspicious kind
of peace. It required watching, and a show of strength of keep it.
During King William’s War there was further trouble with the
Indians. In the assault of July, 1694, the loss on the part of the inhabi¬
tants was considerably greater than when the town w r as burned. A large
majority of the prisoners taken at this time by the Indians were chil¬
dren. They had learned that captives had a market value; and children,
when carried off, could be more easily guarded than adults. It was more
profitable for the savages to exchange prisoners for a ransom, or sell them
to the French, than it was to kill them.
The Hobart, Shepley, Longley, Parker and Rouse families all suf¬
fered in this attack. Indians appeared suddenly, coming from the other
side of the Merrimack River, and began the attack at Lieutenant William
Lakin’s house, which was situated in the vicinity of Chicopee Row.
They were repulsed with the loss of one of their number. They followed
it up by assaulting other houses in the same neighborhood, making quick
work of it, and leaving town as rapidly as they came. The Indians
massacred all the Shepley family except John, sixteen years old, whom
they carried captive to Canada and kept four years, after which he re¬
turned to Groton. The knowledge which John obtained of the customs
and language of the Indians was of much use to him in his later life. It
is said that when trading furs with the Indians, he put his foot in one
scale of the balance instead of a pound weight. In the summer of 1704,
while he and thirteen men were reaping in a field at Groton, they were
attacked by about twenty Indians. After much skirmishing, Shepley and
one of his comrades, Butterfield by name, succeeded in killing one of
the assailants, for which act they each received four pounds from the
In 1697, one man was killed at Groton, and another, with two chil¬
dren, carried into captivity. The prisoner was Stephen Holden, who was
captured with his two oldest sons, John and Stephen, Jr. John was
released a year or more later. It was not long before the father and the
other boy were freed.
When England declared war against France and Spain in 1702, the
American colonies were drawn into the contest, commonly called in
America, Queen Anne’s War. The Indians in New England were in
sympathy with the French and kept the frontier settlements continually
on the alert.
The inhabitants, upon the renewal of hostilities, were obliged to
ask for help from the General Court. They had suffered much in life
and property, and were little able to bear new burdens. They lived in
constant dread of the Indians. Sometimes an outlying farmhouse was
attacked and burned; sometimes a farmer was shot down while working
in a field. John Davis, who lived on the old Shirley Road, was killed in
his own dooryard. John Shattuck and son, who lived near the old mill
site on North Main Street, were killed while returning from work across
the river, and the Tarbell children were carried into captivity. Near the
end of this war there were eighteen garrisons in town, containing, in
all, fifty-eight families.
During the summer 1723, the “Indian enemy” was again trouble¬
some. Lieutenant-Governor Dummer, at that time the acting Governor
of the Province, ordered detachments of men, varying from three to six,
from the inhabitants of the several towns along the line of outer settle¬
ments, to be constantly employed in scouting and ranging the woods in
their respective towns. About this time the governments of Massachu¬
setts and New Hampshire offered a bounty of a hundred pounds for every
Indian’s scalp that was taken and shown to the proper authorities. This
stimulated volunteers to scour the wilderness for the purpose of hunting
Indians; and Captain John Lovewell of Dunstable, organized a company,
which soon became famous.
It was in the spring of 1725 that Captain Lovewell, with thirty-four
men, fought an Indian chief, named Paugus, at the head of about eighty
Indian warriors, near the shores of a pond in Pequawket. now within the
limits of Fryeburg, Maine, and known as Lovewell’s Pond. Of this band,
seven belonged in Groton, and one of them was John Chamberlain, who
distinguished himself by killing the Indian leader. Lovewell marched
from Dunstable to Pequawket. On the morning of May 8, while engaged
in prayers, the men heard a gun and shortly afterward discovered an
Indian on a point of land which ran into the pond. Lovewell ordered his
men to move forward cautiously; and they soon reached a place where
May 15, 2:30 P. M. Apple Blossom Festival and
Cake Lighting Ceremony
May 22, 7:30 P. M. First Parish Church Tercentenary
®emntenarp OTeefe, June 26 to July 4
SUNDAY, JUNE 26
4 P. M. Community Religious Service
Groton School Grounds
6 to 8 P. M. Strawberry Festival Supper
First Parish Church
MONDAY, JUNE 27
10 A. M. to 12:30 P. M. Open Houses
2 to 5 P. M. Open Houses with Tea at First Parish
8 P. M. Street Dance Main Street
2-6 and 7-8:30 P. M.
2 to 6 P. M.
8 P. M.
TUESDAY, JUNE 28
Groton Products Exhibit
Gray Building, Lawrence Academy
Old Pictures Exhibit
Sibley Flail, Public Library
Street Dance (If rainy the night before)
2-6 and 7-8:30 P. M.
1 to 8:30 P. M.
2 to 6 P. M.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 29
Groton Products Exhibit
Flower Show and Tea
Old Pictures Exhibit
6:30 P. M.
7 to 9 P. M.
8:45 P. M.
2-6 and 7-8:30 P. M.
10 A. M. to 6 P. M.
2 to 6 P. M.
5 to 7 P. M.
8:45 P. M.
2-6 and 7-8:30 P. M.
2 to 6 P. M.
5:30 to 7:30 P. M.
8:45 P. M.
4 to 6 P. M.
5:30 to 7 P. M.
7 to 9 P. M.
8:45 P. M.
2 to 6 P. M.
9 A. M. to 12 M.
Old Pictures Exhibit
Pageant. “The Outer Frontier’’
Groton School Grounds
THURSDAY, JUNE 30
Groton Products Exhibit
Flower Show and Tea
Old Pictures Exhibit
Supper, Christian Union Church, W. Groton
FRIDAY, JULY 1
Groton Products Exhibit
Old Pictures Exhibit
Grange Program Groton School Grounds
Baked Bean Supper Congregational Church
SATURDAY, JULY 2
Groton Products Exhibit
Parade and Governor’s Day Program
Chicken Barbecue Town Field
Old Pictures Exhibit
SUNDAY, JULY 3
Main Street to Hazel Grove Park
Firemen’s Hand Tub Muster
Hazel Grove Park
Groton Products Exhibit
MONDAY, JULY 4
Sports Hazel Grove Park
Groton Driving and Riding Club
Trotting Matinee and Horse Show
Hazel Grove Park
The Program is under the Direction of Donald H. Martin of Domar
STAFF FOR THE PAGEANT
“THE OUTER FRONTIER”
Mary Wightman Kirkpatrick, Pageant Master
Ralph Mills, Sound Technician
Leo Langlois, Lighting
Donald Moll, Production Manager
they halted, took off their packs and piled them together. Leaving these
behind without a guard, and advancing a short distance they came upon
the Indian whom they had previously seen. The white men opened fire,
but they missed their mark. The Indian returned the fire and wounded
Lovewell and another man; but the colonists eventually brought the
Indian down. The company then turned back with their wounded leader
to the place where they had left their packs. Meanwhile, Paugus, the
chief of the Pequawkets, at the head of eighty warriors on their way
home from a maurading expedition had discovered the pile of packs, and
by counting them, learned how many were in Lovewell’s party. Paugus
placed his men in ambush and awaited the return of Lovewell. When
the company came up for their packs, the Indians rushed forth from
their hiding places and began to fire. Lovewell himself fell at the first
shot, and eight of his men soon shared the same fate. Ensign Wyman of
Woburn then assumed command, and ordered a retreat to the pond,
where he took his stand. The fighting continued, and during the day
the savages vainly endeavored to compel the little band to surrender.
Paugus was slain in the action by John Chamberlain of Groton. After
the death of their chief, the Indians became somewhat disheartened, and
for a time withdrew from the skirmish. Later in the day the fighting was
resumed but with no decisive result. As night approached, they again
withdrew, and left this forlorn band master of the field. The survivors
fell back and directed their course to a nearby fort, which they found
abandoned. Disappointed, they made their way back to the settlements
as best they could, coming in at different places along the frontier line.
Another incident of this frontier conflict was the attempt to avenge
Paugus’ death some years later. Young Paugus, the son of the chieftain,
came to Groton, and entered a tavern to inquire where “one Chamber-
lain dwelt.” The landlord directed him to Chamberlain’s home and his
mill, which was near Brown Loaf Hill. An old hunter overhead the
conversation, and his suspicions were aroused. After the Indian’s de¬
parture, the hunter stepped out and followed a winding path, that led
to the saw-mill, where Chamberlain was working. The hunter warned
Chamberlain of Paugus’ presence in town, and of the probability that
he had come to avenge the death of the Indian chief. Chamberlain took
down his gun and charged it. He hung near the saw-gate the garment
he had worn at work, hoisted the gate of the mill and set it going. He
then withdrew to a knoll a short distance from the mill and crouched
behind a clump of thick bushes. Chamberlain waited, and in the gather¬
ing dusk caught sight of Paugus creeping toward the mill. The young
Indian apparently heard the noise of the saw-frame, and cautiously and
watchfully moved forward. At last he stopped short, brought his rifle
to his shoulder and with quick aim fired. Young Paugus crept out upon
a mill-log, that extended over the rapid, and stretched himself to full
height to ascertain the success of his shot. Chamberlain could spare him
no longer so levelled his gun and shot him dead. Paugus' lifeless body
fell into the rapids below. It is said that Chamberlain took the body of
Paugus to the other side of Brown Loaf Hill, and sank it in a deep hole
in Paugus Brook, known later as Paugus Hole. When Chamberlain went
back to the mill, and removed his coat from the saw-gate, through its
center was a bullet hole.
st. John’s chapel groton school
Dummer’s War, or Lovewell’s War, as it is sometimes called, ended
early in the year 1726; and peace reigned for twenty years. When King
George’s War broke out between England and France in 1744, the belt
of frontier towns had pushed forther west; and Groton was no longer
exposed to the assaults of the Indians.
The Boundary Lines
The original grant of Groton was for a track of land eight miles
square, though this was modified so that its shape varied somewhat from
the first plan. It comprised all of what is now Groton and Ayer, nearly
all of Pepperell and Shirley, more than half of Dunstable, a large part
of Littleton, smaller parts of Harvard and Westford, and a portion oi
Nashua, New Hampshire.
In the southeast part of Groton, and adjoining it, was a small town¬
ship granted, in 1654, by the General Court to the Nashobah Indians,
who had been converted to Christianity by Apostle Eliot and his follow¬
ers. They were few in number, comprising perhaps ten families or
about fifty persons. During King Philip’s War, the settlement was en¬
tirely deserted by the Indians, and the colonists living nearby took this
opportunity to encroach upon the reservation. The territory of Nashobah
was the subject of considerable dispute among the neighboring towns,
and an effort was made to incorporate a township from this tract. Nasho¬
bah, including this part of the original Groton, was incorporated in 1714,
but soon the name was changed to Littleton. Through neglect, the plan
of the original grant to Groton made in 1668 had never been returned
to the General Court for confirmation, as was customary. Through this
oversight, the Nashobah tract was lost to Groton. After Littleton had
been set off, the town of Groton undertook to repair the damage and
petitioned the General Court for an unappropriated piece of land north
of the town in what is now New Hampshire. This land was a triangular
piece lying between old Dunstable and Townsend, and was called Groton
Gore. Benjamin Prescott of Groton was at that time a member of the
General Court and the most influential man in town. His petition was
presented, and in time was granted to the proprietors of Groton. The
Gore was destined to remain only a few years in possession of the pro¬
prietors because in 1741 a province line was drawn between New Hamp¬
shire and Massachusetts leaving this piece of land, as well as territory
in what is now Nashua, in New Hampshire.
Thirty years after the Gore was lost, the town again sought to peti¬
tion the General Court for a grant of land to make up this loss. The
petitioners were granted a tract of land in the western part of the state.
A few years earlier, three Prescott brothers, sons of Honorable Benjamin
Prescott, petitioned for some land to make up for their own losses, and
they were granted land in Hampshire County. These properties were
Further dismemberment was suffered by Groton, when a slice of
its territory was given to Westford; and that part of the town, known
as the Old Mill, was incorporated in the town of Harvard. A few years
later the section of Groton known as Joint Grass was set off to Dun¬
stable; and the boundary line between the two towns was changed
several times before it became as it is today. Then the west parish of
Groton became the town of Pepperell; and the western part of the town
with small parts of Lancaster and Harvard formed the new township
of Shirley. The last piece of land to be taken from the old town of Groton
was that of South Groton, later called Groton Junction, to make up the
town of Ayer in 1871.
Bog-ore, a kind of iron-ore, sometimes called swamp-ore, was found
in Groton by the earliest settlers of the town, and to a small extent was
worked by them. In 1689, records show that two Dunstable men at
Massapoag Pond in Groton did “help both to dige for and to sett up some
part of an Iron Works.”
“The Sledges,” which means strips of meadows or parcels of low
lands abounding in iron ore, is the name of a meadow lying northeast
of Reedy Meadow in the north part of town near the Dunstable line, and
is mentioned in the early records of the town.
About 1768 Jabez Keep, of Westford, established a forge and bloom-
ery on the site of Jonas Prescott’s first grist-mill in Harvard, where ore
from the Groton swamps was smelted. His son Jabez and his grandson
Jabez, “bloomers,” succeeded him in the business. The latter probably
returned to Westford and carried on the business.
Just before the town of Lowell was incorporated an iron foundry
was established at North Chelmsford, where bog-ore was smelted. The
supply was furnished largely from towns in that neighborhood, and it
was carried to the foundry for the most part by farmers with their own
teams. A considerable amount of native ore was dug from various
meadows in Groton, principally in the eastern part of the town, and
taken there to be smelted; and in this way the farmers during dull times
would obtain a little ready money.
It was in the spring of 1755 that the territory of Acadia, or Nova
Scotia, fell under British authority; and the conquest was followed by
a terrible act of cruelty and violence. The simple Acadians, unsuspicious
of the designs of the English leaders, were assembled in their churches,
in obedience to military proclamation; and. without being allowed to
return to their homes, were driven at the point of a bayonet on board
ships, to be scattered over all the English Colonies in America. This was
done with so little regard to humanity that, in many instances, wives
were separated from husbands, and children from parents, never to see
one another again. It was upon an incident connected with this act that
Longfellow’s poem of “Evangeline” is founded. Two of the French fam¬
ilies, ten persons in all, were sent to Groton, where one of the mothers
died not long after her arrival. Our pity for these people will be stronger
when we reflect that they were among a race who spoke a strange lan¬
guage and followed other customs. Under these circumstances their
homesickness must have been bitter, but we have reason to believe that
they were treated with compassion by the people of Groton. Many
Groton men were in the expedition sent against Nova Scotia, which
brought away these poor French families. Copies of various muster-rolls
for this expedition have been preserved and contain names of soldiers
from this town.
The Prescott Family
Although we find no Prescott on the list of first proprietors of
Groton, the name soon appears in the early records, and for many years
the family was probably the most influential in town. The first one of
the family to come to Groton was Jonas. His father, John of Lancaster,
set up the first mill in that part of Groton, which is now Harvard, and
Jonas operated it. The town made a contract with him to grind the town’s
corn. Later Jonas built a mill at Stony Brook, where Forge Village now
is. However, he lived and conducted a blacksmith shop on the north side
of James Brook on the road now known as the Old Ayer Road, which led
directly to his mill in the southern part of the town. It is said that a
grant of land made by the town, which was in need of a blacksmith,
induced him to come here.
His descendants for three or four generations have all lived in the
same vicinity, not far from the heater piece, the triangular plot of land,
where the monument to Col. William Prescott stands. Jonas’ youngest
son, Benjamin, built himself a house on his father’s property a little to
the north on the location of Mr. Kenney’s house. Benjamin married the
daughter of Honorable Thomas Oliver of Cambridge, and had three sons
and four daughters born in this house. The three sons were James,
William and Oliver, all of them distinguished citizens of Groton.
Col. James Prescott married his cousin, Susanna Lawrence, in 1752,
and lived on the hill near the present home of Mr. Canavan, The house
was taken down about a century ago when the house now standing, and
occupied for many years by Prescott descendants, was built. In the
militia James Prescott passed through all grades of the service to Colonel
of a regiment. He was clerk of the proprietors of Groton for fifty years,
was employed in laying out the town’s lands, was representative to the
General Court for fifteen years, and held many other public offices.
Col. William Prescott, although born and brought up in Groton,
lived most of his life in Pepperell. He was commander of the American
forces at the battle of Bunker Hill, and it was for him that the monument
near his birthplace was erected.
The third brother, Honorable Oliver Prescott, graduated from Har¬
vard College and studied medicine. He married Lydia Baldwin, by whom
he had ten children, and lived where the Convent now is. He was a prac¬
tising physician for nearly fifty years, and was noted for having acquired
the habit of sleeping on the back of his intelligent and trusted horse when
returning home from his professional visits. He held many public offices
like his brother, and was appointed Major-General for his work muster¬
ing and organizing the militia of Middlesex County.
Dr. Oliver Prescott’s son, Oliver, Jr., was a physician as was his
father. He married a daughter of Leonard Whiting of Hollis, New
Hampshire, the Tory who was captured by the women at Jewett’s
Bridge, brought to Groton and put in the custody of his daughter’s
future father-in-law. Dr. Oliver Prescott, Jr. lived not far from the
homes of his ancestors in the house now owned by Donald Priest. He, too,
had an extensive practice and was highly respected and beloved by
James Prescott, Jr., son of Col. James Prescott, was an influential
man in town, was a judge, and lived in the house formerly known as
the Fosdick place, now gone. His daughter, Susan, lived nearby in the
house on Main Street at the head of the Old Ayer Road, and conducted a
school here known as Miss Prescott’s School for Girls.
The Minute-Men of Groton
Several days before the Battle of Concord and Lexington, a hostile
raid by the British soldiers, stationed in Boston, was expected by the
people living in and around Concord and Acton, where quantities of
ammunition were stored. The aim of the raid was the destruction of these
stores collected for the use of the Provincial cause. Consequently every
movement of the British troops was closely watched by the patriots. At
this time the Committees of Safety and Supplies voted that ammunition
should be scattered among some of the towns to the north. On i\pril 17,
these committees meeting in Concord voted that four six-pounders, cer¬
tain ammunition and other supplies should be transported for safe¬
keeping from Concord to Groton, and put under the care of Col. Oliver
Prescott. It was also voted that one-half of the musket cartridges be
removed from Stow to Groton.
Upon the recommendation of the Provincial Congress, companies
of minute-men had been formed in towns around Boston, and two com¬
panies had been enlisted in Groton. These companies were expecting a
call, and were prepared to leave at short notice.
The story is told that on the day previous to the Concord fight a
Groton man, Nathan Corey, while ploughing in his field, received a call
of a meeting of minute-men. He unhitched his plough, drove his oxen
to the barn, took his gun and, leaving his wife to take care of the oxen,
hastened to the center of the town to join his comrades. The circum¬
stance which prompted this call was the arrival in Groton of cannon
from Concord, probably some of the ammunition voted to be sent here on
the 17th. The presence of the cannon gave rise to speculation as to the
reason of their being sent, and being suspicious, a proposition to proceed
at once to Concord was made. When put to a vote most of the group pre-
ferred to await further information. This vote was not entirely satisfac¬
tory to a few, who decided to set out for Concord that evening. This
group included young Corey, Capt Abraham Child and probably Capt.
Job Shattuck. The men travelled all night, carrying lighted torches, and
reached Concord early in the morning of the 19th. They had breakfast at
the house of Col. Barrett, which was later visited by British soldiers in
search of cannon and supplies, most of which had been removed to safe
places. After breakfast, the Groton men proceeded to the center of the
town and joined the men of Concord. They were amongst the minute-
men, who fought at North Bridge, and followed the retiring troops to
Lexington, and beyond.
There was an alarm, probably a continuation of the one spread by
Paul Revere, which reached Groton soon after sunrise on the memorable
day of April 19. The minute-men hurriedly gathered on the common, at
that time unfenced, in front of the meeting-house and prepared to march
toward the scene of the first blood-shed of the Revolutionary War. A
powder house, or magazine, stood nearby on the hill south of the meeting¬
house, and was doubtless the place of storage for the ammunition which
was given out by the selectmen of the town to the men rallying on the
common. Both Groton companies, one under the command of Capt.
Henry Farwell, and the other under that of Capt. Asa Lawrence, were
on their way to the scene of action by midforenoon, but arrived too late
to take part in the hostilities.
During the Revolution, Groton was a shire town. The Court of
Common Pleas was removed from Charlestown to Groton in 1776, and
here remained for about ten years. The sessions of the Court were held
in the First Parish Meeting-House; and the Court was sitting there
during the famous dark day of May 19, 1780, when candles were used.
It is highly probably that the Shays’ Rebellion, which broke out in
the summer of 1786, had some connection with the removal of the
sessions from Groton. In Middlesex County, the uprising was confined
exclusively to this neighborhood, and the insurgents always felt a bitter
spite against the Court of Common Please, which they tried hard to
The leader of the Rebellion in this vicinity was Capt. Job Shattuck,
an honorable and patriotic citizen, who had a good military record in the
Revolutionary War. He and his followers, discouraged and incensed over
the conditions of indebtedness and heavy taxation, which followed the
war, determined to do something about it. Their plan was to prevent the
meeting of the Court of Common Pleas, which had been moved from
Groton to Concord and was the source of most of their troubles. About a
hundred of these men assembled at Concord, and succeeded in their aim
so far as to prevent the sitting of the court. Flushed with success, the
rioters decided to suppress the session of the same court to be held in
Cambridge on November 28. The day before the meeting they marched
into Concord on their way to Cambridge, but there the group broke up
and scattered, most of them returning home. Something had gone wrong
with their plans. Warrants for the arrest of the leaders were at once
A company of horsemen from Boston was ordered to assemble in
Groton to help in the arrest of the leaders of the rebellion. Two of the
insurgents were promptly captured and sent to jail in Boston. Capt. Job
Shattuck could not be found, although a thorough search was made of
his home on the Pepperell Road, across from Wattle’s Pond, sometimes
called Reed’s Pond. The next morning the search was renewed, and the
arresting officers went to the house of Samuel Gragg (now the home of
Clifford Pinkham, although at that time the house was located close to
the barn), where they learned Capt. Shattuck had spent the night. He
had left by then, and started to walk down Common Street and along an
old road which led to the north. By tracks in a light snow which had
fallen during the night, he was traced and overtaken within sight of his
home. Here he made desperate resistance, and during the encounter he
was wounded in the knee and leg by a broadsword. Thereupon his cap¬
ture was accomplished and he was delivered to the county sheriff, who
committed him to prison in Boston with the other two men.
Excitement was high in the town at the time of these arrests, as is
indicated by the fact that on the night before Job Shattuck’s arrest,
Aaron Brown’s potash works located on Broadmeadow Road where the
gates to the playground are, were burned by insurgents. Aaron Brown
was one of the two constables who served the warrants against Shattuck
and his men, and feeling toward him was bitter. An attempt was also
made to fire a small office building, which stood on the location of the
Boutwell House, but it was discovered before it was too late.
Capt. Shattuck, for his part in the insurrection, was tried before the
Supreme Judicial Court, convicted of treason, and sentenced to be
hanged, but, as the day of execution approached he was granted a re¬
prieve. This happened twice and later he received a full and uncondi¬
tional pardon. He paid dearly for his errors, as he was crippled for the
rest of his life and walked with the aid of a crutch.
The earliest legislation in this Commonwealth on the subject of
guide-posts bears the date February 28, 1795. An act was passed requir¬
ing selectmen of towns and districts to erect guide-posts at the corners
and angles of roads in such towns and districts. Before that time, indi¬
viduals in some places set up stones by the roadside, marking the distance
and direction to an important town, and these persons often added their
own initials, as well as the year the stones were placed.
DECORATED FOR THE 250th
ABOVE: TOWN HALL 1905
BELOW: BUTLER HIGH SCHOOL 1905
Wc\t (Eton jlhutori'ir aito ^Fiftieth
^mitbersarjj of lf|5 tin ton of (Srntnn
piebncsbay, 3uly thndbe
nineteen hnnhreh anh fine
Oration in Town Hall at 11 A. M., by
DR. SAMUEL ABBOTT GREEN
Dinner at 1 P. M. in Tent on Shumway Field
MAJ.-GEN. WILLIAM A. BANCROFT
President of the Day
Speeches may be expected from
HON. GEORGE A. MARDEN
HIS HONOR. LIEUT.-GOV. CURTIS GUILD. JR.
HON. CHARLES Q. TIRRELL
HON. CHESTER W. CLARK
HON. CHARLES S. HAMLIN
MAYOR ANDROS B. JONES
HON. GEORGE A. SANDERSON
HON. GEORGE .1. BURNS
Concert in Town Hall at 4 P. M., by
CHILDREN OF THE TOWN SCHOOLS
Reception in Town Hall at 8 P. M.
ORCHESTRA AND SINGING
MUSIC GROTON CORNET BAND
There are several mile-stones in Groton, which were set up during
the eighteenth century. Two of them were placed by Dr. Oliver Prescott,
and two others were set up, probably by him or at his suggestion during
the same period. They all are of slate. The largest stands at the southerly
end of the village street and a smaller one stands across the street. A third
stone is on the easterly side of Farmers Row at Peabody Street and an¬
other is in front of the Groton Inn. There is another stone on the Boston
Road about a mile and a half from town.
Guide-stones, which were set up somewhat later, have nearly all
vanished, but one good example still remains at the corner of Lowell and
In 1902 and 1903, the town placed stones, about twenty-five in all,
marking each mile from the Town Hall on all the main roads of the
town. These are now standing and read, — TO GROTON-MILES.
The Soapstone Quarry
This quarry was discovered in the year 1828 by John Fitch on his
farm in Groton, now the property of Mrs. Charles E. Ware. Mr. Fitch
owes his discovery to the fact that part of a stone adhered to his axe, as
he struck it inadvertently, while cutting wood. Many fragments were
scattered over the surface of the ground, but they had never excited
attention until this late period.
Mr. Fitch worked the quarry in a small way for several subsequent
years, sawing the stone by hand at a shop by the roadside, near his
house; but afterward he built a steam mill at the quarry, forty or fifty
rods away. In the year 1855 the establishment was bought from the
Fitch heirs by Samuel Adams of Townsend and Daniel McCaine, and
during 1857 the quarry was worked by Mr. Adams.
Three years later after Mr. Adams’ death, Mr. McCaine with his
twin brother, David and another brother, William, removed from
Francestown, New Hampshire, to Groton, and took charge of the busi¬
ness. They enlarged the shop, improved the machines, and worked the
quarry on a grand scale. In the spring of 1859 the building burned down,
and on the same site another and larger one was put up.
In 1861 the Adams heirs sold out their interest to the McCaine
brothers, who continued the business till 1864, when the mill again
burned down The next month the property was sold to a stock company
known as the Groton Soapstone Company, which represented a capital of
$100,000. The next year the new company completed their mill with
engine-house attached. It had the latest improvements in machinery,
and was considered the best equipped and largest factory of its kind in
The McCaine brothers invented and patented a process for making
artificial stone. The patent was subsequently sold to the Groton Soap¬
stone Company, which soon afterward became the Union Stone Com-
pany. The affairs of the corporation, however, did not prosper, and the
establishment was abandoned and dismantled. The capital stock was then
increased, and another mill built at Revere, Massachusetts, where
artificial stone was made under the same patent.
There are still in the homes of Groton many samples of soapstone
from this quarry, and articles made of soapstone such as fireplace
hearths, sinks, stoves, a pump, and smaller objects such as paper weights
and soap dishes.
One pleasant autumn day in 1840. four young men, Theodore
Parker, George Ripley, Christopher Cranch and A. Bronson Alcott were
walking together along the Great Road from Concord to Groton. They
were on their way to a convention called by the Second Adventists or
Millerites, and the Come-outers, who believed in the abolition of slavery,
and in Groton were led by Rev. Silas Hawley and called Hawleyites. The
purpose of the convention was to establish a new church or denomina¬
tion, but this was not accomplished. To fully appreciate the conditions
of the times, we must remember that there was a great wave of religious
interest in all parts of our country, and several movements such as trans¬
cendentalism at Brook Farm, the colony at Fruitlands, abolition, political
action and others were popular. Groton had a reputation as a center of
religious, political and anti-slavery agitation, and many were the meet¬
ing held here. People of independent thought and initiative were attract¬
ed to the town, and it was this spirit that led the four young men to walk
to Groton to attend the convention.
The Millerism movement was named for its founder, William
Miller (1782-1849), a farmer born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and
living at the time in a small town in New York. He prophesied that the
second coming of Christ and the beginning of the millenium would take
place. Meetings of Millerites were held in all the New England states
and in some of the states to the westward. At times large camp meetings
were held in this vicinity, especially in Littleton. Mr. Miller explained
by elaborate charts the certain end of the world, which he computed
would come to pass between the vernal equinoxes of 1843-1844, first
set for March, 1844, and then again for October 12, 1844.
There was a group of Miller’s followers in Groton Centre with
Elder Luther Boutelle and Benjamin Hall as leaders. They erected a
building, which stood on Hollis
Street at the north side of Willow
Dale Street, and it was called Polli-
wog Chapel from its location near
a pond hole. This little chapel was
the meeting-place not only of the
Millerites but also the Hawleyites
and others, including the conven¬
tion previously mentioned.
As the day set for the second
advent approached the Millerites
gave away their belongings, made
white ascension robes to wear
when they would be taken up into
heaven, and spent their time in
prayer. The house of the long roof,
called the Ascension House, which
stood at the top of Culver’s Hill on
the road to Ayer until about two
years ago, was said to be the gath¬
ering place of some of these people,
who in their robes awaited the
second advent on its roof. When the end of the world did not come the
Millerite movement was discredited, although many of the followers
Soon after, Polliwog Chapel was sold and moved to Main Street,
where it became Liberty Hall and was later burned. Advent meetings
were continued in a small way at the home of Benjamin Hall on Shirley
Road, Minot Leighton, who lived in the Moses Gill house next to Mrs.
William F. Wharton’s residence, and Aaron Mason, whose home was
the present old Groton Hospital.
After 1846, that part of town for many years called the Community,
where the Groton School now is, became a gathering place of kindred
spirits, who came together because of their faith in the second advent of
Christ as set forth by William Miller in the early 40’s.
The upper floor of a house built from a barn was used as a hall,
where the first meetings of the adventists in the Community were held
and continued for about four years. In 1850, a community shop was
erected to furnish employment to some of the residents. This building
stood where Parents House now is, and was a huge affair with a shingle
roof and sides covered with pebble plaster. At first it had a roof sloping
to the road but soon in order to provide a new hall this roof was removed,
and a larger one placed upon it with gable facing the road. On the
ground floor was a large horse power tread mill, which set a drum under¬
neath in motion. From this drum various machines were operated for
sawing and cutting out stock for wooden boxes, doors, windows, and
lumber prepared for house finishing. On the second floor were benches
for setting up the wooden ware, and other machines. The top floor was a
hall and school, which was the general gathering place, and might prop¬
erly be called the second advent meeting-house in the Community. Every
night and Sunday, services were held for five or six years during the
ten year period when the Community flourished.
Groton Cornet Band
About a hundred years ago, local bands were organized in many
communities, and for years, were a popular source of entertainment and
accompaniment to parades and celebrations. Soon each village had its
bandstand from which concerts were given on summer evenings. Groton
like other towns had its own band, and place for concerts centrally
located. The townspeople, on concert nights, gathered around the band¬
stand, sometimes sitting in their carriages and sometimes standing or
walking about while enjoying the music. Usually, in later years anyway,
a pop-corn vendor was present and his stand was an attraction particu¬
larly to the young people. In the early days of selling ice cream, Mrs.
Badtman, who lived in one of the two little houses on Pleasant Street,
served home-made ice cream in her house, and always had plenty of
customers on such evenings.
On September 29, 1856, sixteen Groton men met and organized a
band, which they named the Groton Cornet Band. These men voted to
each pay $2.94 into the treasury to engage a “band teacher,” and ob¬
tained one from Nashua, who began rehearsals in a few days. They
made their first public appearance in Liberty Hall for the Farmers Club
on the following December 15th.
The Groton Cornet Band kept many varied engagements through¬
out its life playing for the usual Memorial Day parades in Groton and
Littleton, the Groton Fair, outdoor concerts sponsored by the Town of
Groton, St. Patrick’s Day parades in Lowell, a parade in Boston in 1871,
the public reception for President Grant at the home of George S. Bout-
well in 1869, the Old Sixth Begiment reunion in 1875, the Dedication of
the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument in Boston in 1876, and the 250th
anniversary of the town in 1905. It played for a “send-off” for those
going to the Spanish-American War in 1898, and one of the members,
Howard Souther was amongst those to go. Up until about 1900 serenad¬
ing was popular, and the band took part in many house warmings, anni¬
versaries and reunions. The idea seemed to be to serenade anyone they
could, especially if there were refreshments and a social time afterward.
It is interesting to note that in the records of the first band it says
“These sixteen men practised diligently for four or five weeks and then
one night Walter Shattuck asked them if they would serenade a friend
of his. The members did not know whom they were going to serenade.
but readily agreed to make their debut for their devoted sponsor. He took
them for a long hike down to the farm of Charles Prescott (the place
known as the Barrows’ place, off North Main Street near the railroad)
and there, in the lane leading to the house, the band played for the first
time outside the rehearsal room. This was a complete surprise to Mr.
Prescott, but his wife had been notified and had baked quantities of food
and invited them all in for a social time.”
The first bandstand was built of wood in 1882 on the Butler High
School grounds next to Bruce’s Drug Store. During the latter part of the
century it was moved to the common on Main Street headed by the
James Lawrence drinking fountain. In 1917, Mr. James Woolley, a
charter member of the band, gave the Town a new bandstand with con¬
crete base and wooden canopy top, which replaced the former one, then
removed to Hazel Grove Park. The Groton Cornet Band disbanded in
1931; the Woolley bandstand fell into disuse, and was removed in 1954.
Members of two, three and four successive generations of several
different families have been represented in the membership of the band.
Their first leader, Charles Blood, had two sons, George and Frank, who
played in the band for about sixty years, and George’s son, Leslie,
played for several years. Frank Blood was the only piccolo player the
band ever had. Other families represented for more than one generation
were Gale, Raddin, Bywater, Donahue, Shattuck, Hemenway, and Fitch.
Charles Baldwin played until he was eighty-six years old and Charles
Eddy was a member for many years. Henry Adams played from 1888
until the end of the band. He had a powerful voice and for that reason
did the announcing. He composed a march which he called “Groton,”
and it was often played at concerts. Amos Ames was a member for over
fifty years and there were many other faithful members.
The only family having four generations in the band was the Bar-
rows family. Gilman Barrows was one of the early directors and a
charter member. He was followed by his son, Ulysses Barrows, whose
sons also played in the band. At the last concert of the Groton Cornet
Band in August 1930, “Teddy” Beers, who had been playing drums in
the band for two years, was guest conductor, making the fourth genera¬
tion to conduct this band. At the time he was eleven years old and was
considered the youngest conductor in the country, who had his own
twenty-five piece band.
Progress in Modes of Travel
The earliest public conveyance into Groton was probably a covered
wagon, hung on chains for thorough-braces. It ran between Boston and
Groton in the late eighteenth century and was driven by Lemuel Lakin.
During the first half of the nineteen century, Groton was a radiat¬
ing center for different lines of stagecoaches, which were a distinctive
feature of the place. Their coming and going was watched with great
interest, and created the excitement of the day. In early times the driv¬
ers, as they approached the village, would blow a bugle in order to give
notice of their arrival; and this blast was the signal at the taverns to put
the food on the table. The coaches were usually drawn by four horses,
and in bad going by six. Here a change of coaches, horses, and drivers
The stage-driver was an important personage and was a man of
considerable responsibility. He was well known along his route, and his
opinions were quoted with respect. Aaron Corey was a familiar figure,
who drove the accommodation stage to Boston for many years. He was
a careful and skillful driver and a man of most obliging disposition. He
would go out of his way to bear a message or leave a newspaper; but his
specialty was to look after women and children committed to his charge.
He also carried packages and parcels. Horace George, another driver,
was popular with all the boys, because in sleighing time he would let
them ride on the rack behind.
The town was a scene of life and activity when the stage arrived or
departed. The loud snap of the whip gave increased speed to the horses,
as they dashed up in approved style to the stopping place, where the
loungers were collected to see the travellers and listen to the gossip
which fell from their lips.
About 1807, there was a tri-weekly line of coaches to Boston, and
as early as 1820 a daily line, which connected at Groton with others
extending into New Hampshire and Vermont. Soon there were two lines
to Boston, running in opposition to each other, — one known as the Union
and Accommodation Line, and the other as the Telegraph and Despatch.
One of the drivers of the latter line was known along the road as “Phin”
Harrington. He had orders to take but eight passengers in his coach and
the trip was made with remarkable speed for that period. Lines ran to
Nashua, Fitchburg, Lowell, Worcester, Amherst and Keene, New
Besides the stage-coaches the carrier wagons added to the business
of Groton, and helped largely to support the taverns. The town was
situated on one of the main thoroughfares into the northern country.
The road, known as Great Road, was traversed by a number of wagons,
drawn by four or six horses, carrying to the city the various products of
the country such as grain, pork, butter, eggs, venison and hides, and
returning with goods found in the city. In some seasons, it was not un¬
common to see forty such wagons pass through the village in a day.
To pass over this period of stage coaching without saying something
about the taverns in town where the stages stopped would be overlooking
an important aspect of travel in those days. The earliest tavern in Groton
was kept by Samuel Bowers, Jr., during the middle part of the eighteenth
century in the house on Hollis Street known as the Champney House.
The next tavern of which there is any knowledge was one kept by Capt.
Jonathan Keep during the latter part of the Revolution in what is now
the Groton Inn. Richardson’s Tavern, which stood on the present site of
the Baptist Church, was noted in its day. From 1815 to 1833 a public
house was open on the present location of the Red and White Store, and
another hostelry was the Ridge Hill Tavern, situated three miles out of
the village on the road to Boston. There were other taverns operated for
short periods of time in several places in town, and all accommodated
passengers for the various stage lines and people travelling on the high¬
ways of Groton.
About the middle of the nineteenth century this mode of travel was
superseded by the swifter one of the railroad. The nearest train to Groton
at first ran through Groton Junction on the Fitchburg Railroad, and a
passenger-coach was driven from this village to the station in Groton .
In 1848, the railroad was laid through Groton and trains ran fre¬
quently. In the early part of the twentieth century there were ten or a
dozen passenger trains a day and many long freights. Every train
brought mail, and morning trains took quantities of milk to Boston. Ex¬
press trains from the State of Maine to New York passed through town
daily. Besides the so-called Worcester, Nashua and Portland line through
Groton Centre, there was a railway from Ayer to Greenville, which went
through West Groton, and is still in existence. There was also a railroad
east of West Groton, with a depot named Newell, which stood by the
road to Groton. This line ran from Ayer to Milford, New Hampshire,
leaving the Greenville branch at Squannacook Junction. A railway
known as the Red Line passed through East Groton with a station there
near Lake Massapoag, and this ran from Concord Junction, now called
West Concord, to Nashua, New Hampshire. The two latter railroads are
now gone, with only abandoned road beds to show that they once existed.
The trolley car became a popular conveyance and although Groton
had no trolley lines in the village, there was a line through the southeast
part of the town running from Ayer to Lowell.
The story of the advent of the automobile and its effect upon these
modes of transportation is well known. For a time there were several bus
lines in town but these have gradually decreased until now there is only
a bus from Nashua to Ayer going through Groton one day a week, and
one bus to and from Boston daily. The passenger train has disappeared
entirely, and there is but one freight train a day on the two remaining
railroads in Groton and West Groton.
Automobiles and trucks are the accepted means of travel now, with
the airplane claiming its share. An airport privately owned has been in
use in the northwesterly part of the town for about ten years.
Fifty Years Ago
Fifty years ago Groton, like the rest of the country, was still in the
horse and buggy days. There were few telephones, no electric devices, no
automobiles and no movies, radio or television. These conveniences and
luxuries, which seem indispensable today, were unknown, and a simpler,
closer-to-home life was led.
In general, family life was more companionable than today. Each
member had daily tasks to do to have the comforts and necessities of
life, which today can be accomplished by a flick of a switch. Kerosene
lamps were the only light for homes and buildings, and it was the work
of the women of each household to keep the wicks trimmed, the lamps
filled with oil and the glass chimneys bright. Wood or coal burning stoves
and furnaces supplied the heat in homes of that day. It was the duty of
the boys of the family to keep the wood box and coal hod full, and to do
certain chores in caring for the animals, which most families had.
Evenings were spent in reading or games, and occasionally at a dance,
or play, or a Luther Blood free lecture in the Town Hall.
Each family, who could, had their own horse or horses and car¬
riages. The generous barns and stables, some still seen behind many
Groton homes, were a necessity in those days. Travelers and people with¬
out horses had to depend upon livery service which was comparable to
the taxi service of today. Groton had a livery stable on Station Avenue
operated by Henry Johnson. Older residents remember Mr. Johnson and
picture him sitting erect in his carriage, and holding his reins high as he
drove down to the depot to meet every incoming train or as he rode about
town transporting his passengers or exercising his horses. His stable was
across the street from that part of the Town Hall, where the fire appara¬
tus was housed. When the church bells rang to give the alarm for a fire,
horses were supplied at once from Mr. Johnson’s stable, hitched to the
fire engine and speeded to the fire. Blacksmith shops were as necessary
then as garages are now, and there were three in Groton, on Station
Avenue, on Main Street across from Shattuck’s Store and in West
A few of the special conveniences for horses of that day have en¬
tirely disappeared, and a person of the present day is not aware that they
ever existed. Drinking troughs and drive-in watering places were placed
on various roads. Drinking troughs were to be found on the Lowell Road
at Howard Gilson’s, at the top of “Palmer’s Hill” across the main road
from where Mr. Bascom now lives, on the curve by Donald Priest’s
house, north of Mr. Eckfeldt’s in West Groton and in West Groton
square. A handsome new stone trough, which is still standing, stood on
the common in front of the wooden bandstand to take the place of the
trough and old town pump at the corner of Hollis and Main Streets.
Watering places, those drive-ways through brooks beside the road, where
horses were driven for refreshing drinks, were located at various brooks
throughout the town.
WEST GROTON LIBRARY
AIR PHOTO OF GROTON
Although transportation around town was entirely by horse and
carriage, the traveller out of town had convenient train service. Daily
commuting to Boston was common and made use of by the leading citi¬
zens. In 1905 there were thirteen passenger trains with two additional
ones in summer and twelve freight trains daily. The first little gray
station was standing in the present roadway, which circles around from
Court Street to Station Avenue, and the railroad track leading up to it
from the direction of Ayer made a much deeper curve than now.
Familiar sights in town, which are never seen now. were the droves
of cattle that passed through the town headed north each spring. These
cows, anywhere from one hundred to five hundred head in a drove, were
driven to pasture for the summer in Rindge, New Ipswich, Ashby and
other places in that vicinity. They came from farms in Concord, West-
ford and the Actons, and sometimes spent the night at a farm pasture
in Groton before proceeding to their destination.
The year 1905 was important for certain events. Three of the well
known and influential men, George Boutwell, Dr. John Park and Dr.
William Warren passed away. The vacancy caused by the death of Dr.
Warren was soon filled by two new doctors, Dr. Herbert Priest, who
lived and had his office in the house next south of the Congregational
Church and Dr. Arthur G. Kilbourn, who occupied the small house next
to the library, where Mr. Ferguson now lives. The Sacred Heart Church,
which was the first Catholic Church in Groton, was dedicated and the
first service held there on Easter Sunday. The biggest event was the cele¬
brating of the 250th anniversary on July 12. Houses and stores were
gaily decorated with bunting, and exercises were held on Shumway
Field. Groton’s historian, Dr. Samuel A. Green was the orator of the day.
The town officers fifty years ago were Frank A. Torrey, Francis F.
Woods, and William H. Whitehill as selectmen, and Appleton A. Torrey
as town clerk.
GROTON GRANGE NO. 7,
PATRONS OF HUSBANDRY
Groton Grange No. 7, Patrons of Husbandry, is the oldest continu¬
ously active Grange in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the
third oldest in the country. This year the Groton Grange has been organ¬
ized for 82 years.
As the name would indicate, the Grange is an agricultural frater¬
nity. It is an organization for the entire family and one of the first to
admit women on an equal basis to its membership.
Moses Palmer, in his recollections at the 25th anniversary, stated
that he was approached by Reuben Lewis, and both believing something
could be gained, approached others with the idea. As a result, on October
18, 1873, twenty-three charter members were initiated into the order,
and Groton Grange No. 7 was officially born.
Only one charter member, J. N. Potter, is still represented by a
direct descendent in the present membership list (Mrs. Pauline Souther
The first master was Reuben Lewis, who served seven terms. There
are now fifteen living past masters. The oldest is James P. Fitch who
served in 1902-03.
The organizational meeting was at the home of Daniel Needham.
After that the upper part of the present Legion Hall was used as a meet¬
ing place and called the Grange Flail. For a period during the 80’s
meetings were held at the homes of the members and later at the Town
Hall. Palmer’s Block, at the corner of Hollis Street and Willowdale, also
provided a meeting place.
The present Grange Hall on Champney Street was acquired by
purchase in 1916. It originallly was a paint and carriage shop and was
remodelled for Grange use.
Members who maintained membership for over sixty years have
been Blanche Brown, Nesbit L. Woods, and James P. Fitch.
The main activities of the grange members have been devoted to
the functionings of the Grange itself. At each of the semi-monthly meet¬
ings, in addition to the routine business, has been that part of the
meeting reserved for entertainment and lectures by members and in¬
The Grange is composed of seven Degrees. A subordinate grange
such as Groton is of the 4th Degree. Many of our members have ad¬
vanced to the 5th (Pomona), 6th (Flora or State), and 7th (Ceres or
The most recent Grange accomplishment was the formation of the
Middlesex-Worcester Past Masters Association, with Past Masters of
Groton Grange being most active in its founding.
In recent years Groton Grange activities in behalf of the commun¬
ity have included a $100 scholarship, each year, to a graduate of Groton
High School; participation in sending delegates to American Legion
Boy’s State and American Legion Auxiliary Girl’s State; support of and
leadership in 4-H club work; and annual banquet for Groton High School
On January 9, 1894, a group of men and women recognizing the
importance of collecting and preserving articles and data relating to the
history of Groton, invited all persons interested to meet on the 23rd of
the same month for the purpose of forming the Groton Historical Society.
This meeting was held in the library building and was called to order by
Miss Georgianna Boutwell, who was the founder of the Society. It was
voted at this meeting to organize.
Soon the Groton Historical Society was incorporated and granted
Dr. Samuel Abbott Green became the first president and held that
office for twenty-five years, although it is not known that he ever pre¬
sided at a meeting. Francis M. Boutwell was first vice-president and
acting president from the founding of the Society until his death in 1910.
Early meetings were held in the lower Town Hall. In 1923 the
Public Library and later Odd Fellows Hall became the meeting place.
In 1939, the Governor Boutwell House, which had been bequeathed to
the Society by Miss Boutwell, daughter of the late governor, was ready
for use and the first meeting was held there.
Relics belonging to the Society were stored in Sibley Hall, in the
basement of the Library, until the Boutwell House was available. At that
time, the House was made use of as a Museum, and the ell was re¬
modelled into two apartments for renting.
The Boutwell House is now the home of the Groton Historical
Society, where meetings are usually held and an historical collection is
I. O. O. F. AT GROTON
Old Groton Lodge, No. 71, was instituted May 28, 1845, and ceased
to exist August 2, 1849.
In January of 1908 a new Lodge, No. 95, was instituted at a large
gathering. There were 350 present at the afternoon ceremonies and
over 400 at the banquet and initiation ceremonies in the evening. Three
special trains were employed to convey the visiting Odd Fellows. The
names of the twenty-three applicants for the charter were read, the cere¬
mony of institution performed and Groton Oddfellow’s Lodge began its
Groton Lodge, No. 95, has met at several places in Groton. For a
time the rooms were at Randlett Hall on Hollis Street, and much of the
equipment was burned when this building was destroyed by fire. Again,
later, the Lodge sustained a loss when Palmer’s Block, on Hollis Street,
burned. After that, meetings were held in Grange Hall on Champney
Street; then in 1915 Odd Fellows Hall was built on Station Avenue. In
1940 this building was altered for use as a fire station, and at present
the Lodge meetings are held at Lower Town Hall.
MIDDLESEX REBEKAH LODGE
On December 2, 1909, Middlesex Rebekah Lodge No. 176, under
the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of the I.O.O.F. of Massachusetts, was
instituted at the Odd Fellows Hall, then on Hollis Street opposite the
There were fifteen persons who signed the roll of membership as
Mrs. Alice Rockwood was installed as the first Noble Grand and
Mrs. Janet Wood as Vice Grand.
A real calamity came to the lodge on April 7, 1914 when the
I.O.O.F. hall was destroyed by fire, it being practically a total loss to the
Rebekah Lodge. Everything was in readiness for conferring the Rebekah
Degree that evening. The cause of the fire, which started in a corner of
Randlett’s barn adjoining the hall, was unknown.
After the fire, meetings were held in the Roy Scout Rooms. Later
the lodge met in Odd Fellows Rooms in Palmer’s Rlock until July 1915
when it moved to the newly built Odd Fellows Hall on Station Avenue,
which is the present Fire Station. The Grange Hall was the home of the
Lodge for several years, and at the present time, the lower Town Hall
is the meeting place.
While the Rebekahs are not a beneficiary organization, they are
always ready to assist members in need, donating to the Odd Fellows
Homes and also to charitable organizations outside their own ranks.
THE NEIGHBORHOOD CLUB
It was in 1911 that Mrs. Loretta H. Graves and Mrs. Julia K. Smith
conceived the idea of banding together the women in their neighborhood
by forming a club. There was little social life, here, outside the church
circles, and calling was only occasional.
On October 12, Mrs. Smith invited the ladies of the neighborhood
to her house to talk over the matter. The idea was accepted and a limit
of area set for members of this organization. This area started at Pea¬
body Street and went the length of the Old Ayer Road taking in both
cross roads. It was voted that the club be named the Neighborhood Club,
that meetings be held on Wednesday every two weeks, and that Mrs.
Smith become the first president.
The next year Mrs. Grace Dickerman came into the neighborhood
and wrote the Club Song, which is still sung at every meeting.
Soon after, the Groton Woman’s Club was formed. There arose the
question, should the club do as other clubs were doing, disband and join
the Woman’s Club? When put to a vote, there was a unanimous “No.”
So the Neighborhood Club continued.
Besides the social activities of the club, much work has been accom¬
plished, — sewing for Dr. Grenfell’s Mission in Labrador, making
slippers for convalescing soldiers in World War 1, mending for the hos¬
pitals, working for the Red Cross during World War II, sewing for Bald-
winsville Hospital, donating penny collections to the lepers, working for
the Children’s Mission and other causes. After more than forty years
the club is still active, meeting for the sake of sociability and for what¬
ever work is at hand.
BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA
The Boy Scout movement in Groton has been active almost as long
as there has been any Scout organization in the country. Through the
efforts of Miss Elizabeth Hill and others, Scout troops were formed in
Groton under the leadership of Mr. Clark of Lawrence Academy, and in
West Groton with Myron Williams of Groton School as Scoutmaster.
The appointment of Mr. Williams is dated February 19, 1913, although
it is known that the Scout movement was in existence in Groton for
several years previously.
In the records of the organizational meeting February 28, 1914
appear the names of Dr. William A. Gobie, Scoutmaster, Harry L. Bruce,
Secretary, and Frank A. Torrey, Edward Gray, Dr. E. B. Branigan,
Arthur J. Clough, Stephen Sabine, D. Edmunds, Richard Fay, H. K.
Richards, and James Hill.
During the years following, the names of Rev. B. E. Tucker, Dr.
Arthur G. Kilburn, Rev. Charles B. Ames, Harold Sargent, Leon Smith,
Edwin Mason. Harvey Dunn, Julius Dellmuth and A. Lawrence Steven¬
son appear as Scoutmasters of the Groton Troop.
In the late 1930’s the Groton troop was given a woodlot of approxi¬
mately 15 acres just off the Nathan Nutting Road. This has been used
for outdoor work and camping.
In the last fifteen years Cub Scouting has been carried on for the
younger boys, and recently an explorer Post has been organized for the
older boys under the leadership of Leroy Johnson, Jr. At one time there
was a Boy Scout Troop at Groton School.
The meeting place for Groton Troop was originally the Town Hall
and sometimes various homes in town. Around 1920 the Scouts started
meeting in what was formerly the Chaplin School and later Legion Hall,
where their meetings are still being held.
The West Groton Troop at first met at the home of Miss Hill, who
was their assistant scoutmaster, but more recently has been meeting at
Before a Girl Scout Troop was organized in Groton, Scout work
was being carried on in both Groton and West Groton under the leader¬
ship of Miss Elizabeth S. Hill, who after giving up this work, maintained
her interest in the Girl Scouts and helped many to earn their badges.
Miss Constance Jacomb started a troop in Groton in 1916, but the
first organization was two years later when Miss Margery Peabody be¬
came Captain of Troop 1, holding this office for eight years. It was in
1922, however, that the charter was obtained and the first Council was
formed with Mrs. R. H. L. Andrews as the commissioner. For ten years,
beginning in 1928, Miss Gertrude Gerrish and Mrs. A. L. Call were in
charge of the troop. A West Groton troop was formed in 1933, and was
active for two years under the leadership of Mrs. Haven Wormwood. A
Brownie troop was organized in Groton in 1946.
In 1932, the Groton Girl Scouts received a rare honor. Mrs. Call,
who had been teaching book binding to a group of Scouts, went as a dele¬
gate from Groton to the National Girl Scout Convention in Norfolk, Va.
There Troop 1 of Groton received first prize for binding a year’s issue of
the American Girl. Mrs. Call presented the bound volume as a gift to
Mrs. Herbert Hoover, who invited Mrs. Call to join a group of Scout
officials, stopping at Washington on their way home to have tea with
her at the White House.
The Groton Scouts had an excellent war record. Miss Margery Pea¬
body and five of the girls went overseas, and six joined the service in
About 1945 the Council became a Troop Committee and the title
of Commissioner was changed to Chairman of the Troop Committee.
The Groton Troop joined the Lowell Council in 1949.
The Girl Scouts are sponsored by the Troop Committee but receive
much financial help from contributions and from proceeds of cooky sales,
and an annual bridge and tea. For the past eight years, Mr. and Mrs.
Neil Barrett have let their home be used for this affair.
Since its beginning thirty-five girls have become first class Scouts,
and one Scout, Lynette Bixby, received the award of Golden Eaglet.
At present there are five Brownie troops in town and three inter¬
mediate Scout Troops.
THE GROTON WOMAN’S CLUB
The Groton Woman’s Club had its inception at a meeting of about
ten ladies held at the home of Miss Georgianna A. Boutwell, who sug¬
gested and promoted the idea. Plans laid at this meeting early in 1913
resulted in the organization of the Club on March 8 with Miss Boutwell
as its first president. It became a member of the State Federation soon
The Club motto is “Service” and during the past forty-two years it
has successfully completed many projects of service to Groton. It spon¬
sored the first school lunches, the landscaping of the upper common on
Hollis Street and the planting of trees as a Memorial to those who died in
World War I, the Christmas tree given and placed near the bandstand
by Mr. Huebner, and the lighting of it for many years, the redecorating
of the Town Hall in 1924 and the purchasing of drop curtains and
scenery for the Town Hall in 1928.
The largest project has been the Scholarship Fund, from which
$250.00 is given every year to a selected Groton High School graduate
to be used for further education. Since the establishment of this fund
twenty-eight scholarships have been given, only one of which was not
The Club has always had a children’s afternoon and now conducts
this program at the New Elementary School for the pupils in the first
It sponsored the first baby clinic which is now called the Well Child
Conference, and is still sponsored by the Club under the direction of
the Nashoba Health Association.
Its latest project is the Youth Canteen which operates with a
Woman’s Club chairman, a director and a student council.
THE GROTON PROVISIONAL COMPANY
THE GROTON RIFLE CLUB
CO. K (20) 19th INFANTRY MASSACHUSETTS
About a year before the United States entered World War I, the
Groton Provisional Company was formed, in an effort to have trained
personnel ready when or if the National Guard was called into service.
At that time Mr. Lawrence Park presented the Company with a beauti¬
ful American flag.
Under the leadership of Walter Powers, money was solicited, equip¬
ment purchased and a company of about one hundred men enlisted. The
officers of the Company were Captain Walter Powers, and Lieutenants
Harold W. Ayres and Edward B. Branigan.
Members of the Company joined the Groton Rifle Club, an affiliate
of the National Rifle Association, which furnished some rifles and au¬
thorized the purchase of others and ammunition at a very low cost.
When the National Guard was called into service the Massachusetts
State Guard was formed to take its place. Those of the Groton Provisional
Company who passed the physical examination were inducted into the
State service as Co. K (20) 19th Infantry M. S. G.
Captain Powers, a reserve officer, had left for duty and Dr. Ayres
resigned as he was more needed in the community as a physician. The
new officers elected were Captain Edward B. Branigan, First Lieutenant
Fred H. Torrey, and Second Lieutenant Phineas Parker. Regimental
headquarters were in Worcester and battalion headquarters in Concord.
Additional equipment was received from the State and weekly drills
were held, either at the Town Hall or in a flood lighted area at the
Groton railroad station.
An indoor rifle range was built in the Town Hall basement and a
two hundred yard outdoor range on land now owned by Mrs. Henry
Gilson. Both ranges were inspected, passed and approved for record shoot¬
ing. Every man in the company was a marksman, and a goodly number
qualified at Wakefield as sharpshooters and experts.
A week’s tour of duty at camp in Framingham one summer was one
of the high-lights of the Company.
At the conclusion of the war the State Guard was disbanded and the
colors were presented to the newly formed American Legion of Groton.
LAURENCE W. GAY POST, NO. 55,
The Laurence W. Gay Post No. 55, American Legion, was formed
in 1919 and was named for a son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Henry H.
Gay of this town. Laurence died in France of wounds received during
World War I.
Daniel Needham, presently of West Newton, was the first com¬
mander of this post.
The Legion first met in the Town Hall. Later it leased the house
next south of the Library for a meeting place until the town converted
the Chaplin School on Hollis Street into a hall for the Legion’s use. This
building, now known as Legion Hall, is the meeting place not only of
the Legion, but also the Legion Auxiliary, the Boy Scouts and the Girl
Scouts, and during World War II it served as the “Report Center” for
Down through the years the Post has been an active one. Each year
one or two boys are sent to Boys State at the University of Massachusetts,
and a worthy boy is sponsored at the Boy Scout camp in Dublin, N. H.
On Class Day the Legion awards sports jackets to the High School boy
and girl graduates selected for sportsmanship, improvement, team play
and faithful attendance at practice sessions. On such patriotic occasions
as Armistice Day and Memorial Day, Legionnaires give brief talks in
the schools. July 4th observances have been sponsored by the Post, and
Memorial Day exercises, in which tribute is paid to men and women of
all wars, are conducted annually by the Legion.
AMERICAN LEGION AUXILIARY,
TO THE LAURENCE W. GAY POST, NO. 55
On March 8, 1922, at the home of Mrs. Marion Torrey, it was voted
to form a Legion Auxiliary to the Laurence W. Gay Post, for the pur¬
pose of participating in and contributing to the accomplishment of the
aims and purposes of The American Legion. The person who instigated
the formation of the Auxiliary, was Robert May, then Commander of
the Legion. Mrs. Marion Torrey was appointed temporary president,
and served as permanent president for two years. Other first officers
were: Mrs. Alice Gay, vice-president; Mrs. Francis Sargent, secretary;
Mrs. Marion Moyle, treasurer; and Mrs. Fannie Harrington, chaplain.
On March 11, 1922, application was made for a charter, which now
hangs in the Legion Hall with the names of forty-seven members on it.
Many worthwhile accomplishments have been made by the Auxili¬
ary, namely: setting up a canteen for forest fire fighters some ten years
ago, the presentation of the flag pole at the Groton Community Hospital,
and the very impressive ceremony of placing a wreath on the tomb of
the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery by one of our members,
Mrs. Claudia Johnson on August 29, 1935.
A former member, Mrs. Marietta Conway, has held the office of
County President and State President, and is now a National Committee
Our Gold Star Mothers include Mrs. Alice Gay, Mrs. Selina Brad¬
ley, Mrs. Mineola Gleason, Mrs. Gertrude McKean, Mrs. Verde Clover,
Mrs. Annie Wilson, Mrs. Rose Cutler, Mrs. Mabel Sawyer and Mrs.
THE GROTON GARDEN CLUB
In April 1923 Mrs. William P. Wharton invited a group of garden-
minded neighbors to her house for the purpose of starting a small and
informal garden club. This was the beginning of the Groton Garden
Club, and it should be noted that out of the original group of twenty-two,
seven women are still members.
The Club grew and flourished from the start, although during the
war years it went perforce into moth balls for the duration. Even then,
although it held no regular meetings, members continued, as they always
had, to pack a weekly hamper of flowers from their gardens from June 1
through September and send it to the Benevolent Fruit and Flower Mis¬
sion in Boston for the benefit of shut-ins and invalids in the North End.
After the war the club met regularly once more.
The Club’s activities, past and present, are roughly as follows:
Monthly meetings from October through June.
Periodic flower shows in the Town Hall, open to the public, free.
Annual sale of plants from members’ gardens.
Civic planting such as that around the Public Library and the Town
Hall, and trees on the principal streets where needed.
Flowers and Christmas greens contributed regularly to the hospital
and chapels at Fort Devens and arranged by a committee within the
Plantings around the Community Memorial Hospital in Ayer and
the Red Cross Headquarters at Fort Devens.
Weekly hamper of flowers packed and sent to the Benevolent Fruit
and Flower Mission during the summer months.
For a number of years the Club planted and cared for a wild-flower
reservation in the Town Forest in West Groton, but the 1938 hurricane
wiped it out so thoroughly that the project had to be given up. For a
time, too, it sponsored a Junior Garden Club, which was eventually taken
over by the 4-H Club.
The Groton Garden Club is keenly interested in conservation and in
the preservation of the fine old trees which add so much to the beauty
of Groton. It believes, too, that to preserve the beauty of an exceptionally
fine example of a New England country town, zoning laws should be
passed which will safeguard that beauty for future generations.
ROTARY CLUB OF GROTON
The Rotary Club of Groton No. 5340, sponsored by the Fitchburg
Rotary Club, was organized January 15, 1941. A month later the Club
joined Rotary International, whose fiftieth anniversary is being cele¬
brated this year. Groton Rotary, including members from Pepperell and
Townsend as well as Groton, meets at the Groton Inn each Wednesday
at 12:15 P. M.
Mottoes for Rotary are “Service above self” and “He profits most
who serves best.”
The first president of Groton Rotary was Rev. John Crocker. Present
officers include two Groton men, Jean Lancaster, President and Albert
J. Hally, Secretary.
WEST GROTON COMMUNITY CLUB
In December 1946, a group of interested citizens met in Squanna-
cook Hall, and voted to form the West Groton Community Club. Accord¬
ing to By-Laws which had been drawn up, the purposes of the Club were
“to foster and promote athletics and competitive sports among the youth
of West Groton and nearby districts; to foster and maintain interest in
the advancement and improvement of West Groton.’’
Land on Mill Street was procured and cleared for a playing field.
It was dedicated on September 6, 1948, and named the Joseph E. Cutler
Memorial Park in memory of Ensign Joseph E. Cutler, who died acci¬
dentally July 27, 1943, while in training as a Naval flier at Pensacola,
At the Park, a small club house, a bandstand and a flagpole have
been erected. Swings and slides for the little children are in place, and
plantings of evergreens and flowers about the flag pole make the spot
Financially successful field days have been held on nearly every
Labor Day since the Club began, with sports being planned for children,
and with a band providing music for the enjoyment of all. The Club has
conducted social activities such as dances for the young people, and
Halloween and Christmas parties, and for a number of years has spon¬
sored the West Groton Boy Scouts.
THE PARENT-TEACHERS ASSOCIATION
In the 1940’s parents were saying to each other, “Why don’t we
have a Parent-Teachers Association in Groton?” and “How do we start
In the autumn of 1946, Mrs. Thomas S. Lawrence approached the
District Director of the Massachusetts PTA to learn how to organize
such an association. A meeting was called and an enthusiastic group
responded. Officers were elected and installed. By-laws were drawn up
and accepted, and the Parent-Teachers Association of Groton was
formed. Meetings have been held in the evening, thereby interesting
fathers as well as the mothers in fine constructive programs.
The PTA has sponsored a number of projects. In its second year it
secured the inclusion of Groton in a dental survey being made by the
state. In its third year an appropriation of $100 was made for musical
instruments for use in the High School. In its fourth year it published an
organization calendar of events for the town, and sponsored a discussion
group on child psychology. It has inaugurated a “get-acquainted tea”
for incoming first graders and their mothers, and class picnics at the
close of school. The PTA has furnished the health room at the new
elementary school and the teachers’ rooms in both elementary schools.
Its opening meeting of each year is a reception for teachers, and the
November meeting is an Open House in each of the schools. The PTA
holds a whist party to help finance the senior class trip, and awards a $50
Savings Bond for character and citizenship to a boy and a girl in the
graduating class. The PTA is now sponsor of the Groton Cub Scout Pack,
and of square dance classes at the High School for the 7th to 10th grades
and at the new elementary school for all 5th and 6th grades.
LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS
The League of Women Voters began in Groton in February, 1949,
when twenty-four interested women met and formed a provisional
League. A year later with the membership approaching one hundred,
Groton was accorded full League status and assumed a program of work
on all three levels — local, state, and national.
On the local level the Groton League has conducted a Know Your
Town survey of local officials and departments, a study of parliamentary
procedure at Town Meeting, a public health survey, a study of the
school situation before the building of the new elementary school, and
just this year a study of the long range educational needs faced by
Groton as a growing community. In addition, the League has run a
weekly Voters’ Service Station column in the Ayer paper, has distributed
and published material locally before primary and state elections, has
sponsored four annual Candidates’ Nights before Town Meeting, has
entertained two groups of foreign students and one group from the
U. N., and has held open meetings, such as the ones celebrating U. N.
Day and the Open Forum on Public Health, to which the community has
The Groton League of Women Voters will continue to work in the
future to “promote informed and active participation of citizens in gov¬
SELECTIVE SERVICE BOARD
On October 16, 1940, registration for Selective Service took place all
over the United States. On October 22nd, Local Board No. 74 was offi¬
cially opened at the Groton Town Hall.
Eleven towns were included in this board — Ashby, Ayer, Chelms¬
ford. Dunstable, Groton, Littleton, Pepperell, Shirley, Townsend, Tyngs-
boro, and Westford. Mr. Frank A. Torrey of Groton served as Chairman
and Mr. Norman P. Mason of Chelmsford as Secretary. The other mem¬
bers were Judge Lyman K. Clark of Ayer, Mr. John T. Sullivan of
Pepperell, and Mr. Otis Day of Westford.
During the busy days of World War II, four full-time clerks were
employed. 279 Groton men enlisted or were drafted from Local Board
No. 74. Of this number, six made the supreme sacrifice. Eleven women
from Groton also served during World War II.
The Board was finally moved to Lowell and became part of Local
Board No. 19. In February, 1951, Selective Service again set up an office
at the Groton Town Hall and Local Board No. 100 came into existence.
It is comprised of the same eleven towns. The Groton representative on
it is Mr. Joseph P. Mitchell.
The total number of registrants at the present time is 3,632 as com¬
pared to 7,170 registrants for Local Board No. 74.
THE GROTON LEATHERBOARD COMPANY
Records from 1662-1707 show the original proprietors of the land
now owned by the Groton Leatherboard Company were Jonathan
Morse, Thomas Tarbell Senior, and Samuel Woods. This property at
one time took the name of one of these proprietors, and was known as
It is quite clear that a saw mill was established here on the Squan-
nacook River prior to 1744. During the next one hundred and thirty
years various types of manufacturing were carried on. The saw mill
remained pretty consistently throughout this period, but at various times
a dye house, wool carding, and grist mills were established. These mills
were located on both sides of the river, the westerly side being annexed
to the town of Shirley in 1798, and more or less common use was made
of the water power, the source of which was at the present dam location.
About 1875 a strawboard mill was erected, and this was followed shortly
by the manufacture of leatherboard, which was probably the first manu¬
factured in this country.
The Groton Leatherboard Company was incorporated in 1899 for
the purpose of manufacturing and selling leatherboard and leatherboard
products. The mill was in continuous operation producing counter¬
boards, shank-boards, chair-boards, friction-boards and heel-boards until
July 23, 1914, when the buildings were destroyed by fire. The following
year a new brick building was erected, the water power improved by the
installation of two modern water wheels, and entire new equipment in¬
stalled. Manufacture of leatherboards was resumed in the new mill
In 1924 the charter was amended so as to extend the nature of its
business by adding to the corporate purposes “the manufacture and sale
of mats for use in stereotype printing and any articles or products cap¬
able of manufacture in paper or board mills.” The company commenced
the manufacture of stereotype dry mats and became the second company
to produce this product in the United States. In 1926, 1928 and 1936
substantial additions were made to the plant and production was greatly
Since 1924 the entire product of the mill has been sold through the
Certified Dry Mat Corporation, New York, who distribute it to news-
papers and commercial shops throughout the United States and foreign
countries. In 1946 control of the Certified Dry Mat Corporation was
acquired by the Groton Leatherboard Company.
The management and ownership of the Groton Leatherboard Com¬
pany has always rested in citizens of the town.
HOLLINGSWORTH & VOSE COMPANY
To trace the origin of Hollingsworth and Vose Company one must
start with a revolutionary development in the art of paper making. In
1843, the brothers, John Mark and Lyman Hollingsworth, were granted
a patent by the U. S. patent office for the manufacture of paper from
manila fiber. The patent was the result of the discovery by the Hollings¬
worth brothers, during the depression that followed the panic of 1837,
that they could utilize a scrap pile of manila bolt ropes which they had
cut from old sails.
In 1852, Lyman Hollingsworth purchased a paper mill from Jep-
thah R. Hartwell on the site of the present West Groton mill of Hollings¬
worth & Vose Company. This mill, which was originally a starch factory,
had been in existence since before 1832, and during the ensuing twenty
years passed through numerous hands. In 1846, while in Hartwell’s
possession, the mill burned down and was rebuilt. After its purchase by
Lyman Hollingsworth, and until 1881, it was used to manufacture paper
from jute and manila fiber.
In 1871, Zachary T. Hollingsworth, a nephew of Lyman Hollings¬
worth, purchased a mill in East Walpole. Charles Vose entered Mr.
Hollingsworth’s employ as a salesman in 1875, and formed a partnership
with him under the firm name of Hollingsworth and Vose in 1881.
During the year they purchased the West Groton mill from Lyman
Hollingsworth and continued to make paper there.
A major change in the organization of the firm occurred in 1921
when Zachary Hollingsworth and Charles Vose retired. Valentine
Hollingsworth and Louis E. Vose, sons of the retired partners, became
President and Vice-President respectively.
Valentine Hollingsworth died in 1942 and was succeeded as Presi¬
dent by Louis E. Vose. Aubrey K. Nicholson, who had been Superin¬
tendent of the West Groton mill for several years, was elected Vice-
President. Following Mr. Vose’s death in 1945 Mr. Nicholson became
President. In 1953 Mark Hollingsworth, a son of Valentine Hollings¬
worth, was elected Vice-President. The Treasurer of the Company is
Bruce G. Lennox, son of the late Robert W. Lennox, who was Vice-Presi¬
dent and Treasurer for many years.
Hollingsworth and Vose Company currently manufactures approxi¬
mately twenty-five tons per day of highly specialized papers for indus¬
trial use at the West Groton mill. Included in the list of uses for which
these papers are made are automotive and diesel oil filters, electrical and
cable insulation, artificial leather, wallet papers, and various filter papers
for liquids and gases.
Currently Hollingsworth and Vose Company employs approximate¬
ly 175 people at the West Groton mill. Roland W. Sawyer, a resident of
West Groton, is Superintendent.
A. H. THOMPSON AND SONS COMPANY
Many years ago a small saw-mill and stave mill, run by water
power, were doing business in the northwest corner of West Groton in
that locality known as “Thompson ville.” They were owned for almost
seventy years by John Scales, and later by his son.
In 1883, Granville Shepley, a native of West Groton, purchased
this property and two years later transferred it to his nephew, A. Howard
Thompson. Mr. Thompson added to the saw-mill a building for the
manufacture of boxes and coal screen frames. In a few years wooden
reels for electric wire and cable purposes were added to the goods pro¬
During the early 1890’s the saw-mill was moved to West Groton
village, and operated by steam, which was a more satisfactory power. A
year or two later the remainder of the wood-working machinery was
moved to the new site. Gradually the reel business superseded the box
business, and it became the chief product as it continues to be at the
present time. Sizes of reels range from 14-inch to 96-inch in diameter.
Mr. Thompson’s sons joined him in business in 1919 and formed the
corporation called A. H. Thompson and Sons Company.
Early in the 1940’s the plant was considerably enlarged. At the
present time the plant is able to consume over 2,000,000 ft. of lumber
and to manufacture material for more than 31,000 reels yearly.
OLD HOUSES OF GROTON
The Bradstreet Parsonage. The oldest house in town, so-called, is on Hollis
Street and is the home of Mr. and Mrs. Leroy Johnson. The town voted in April 1706;
“That they would
make a good house
of thirty-eight feet
long, and eighteen
feet wide, and a
lean-to of eleven
feet wide, all the
length of the house.”
So, it was built as a
parsonage for the
Rev. Dudley Brad-
street, the fifth min¬
ister of the town,
whose church stood
not far away on the
plot of land now
known as Legion
Common. Like other old houses it has passed through many hands and has undergone
various changes, but is now similar to the original without the lean-to.
The Champney House. The house,
also on Hollis Street, at the south corner
of Champney Street, often referred to as
the Champney House, is one of the old¬
est houses in town, built about 1730. It
was once a tavern before the days of
the Groton Inn, and was kept by Samuel
Bowers, Jr., who was familiarly known
as “land ’urd Bowers.” If the legend
about Paugus is true, it is natural to
suppose that this inn was where Paugus
came to inquire for Chamberlain.
The Nahum Woods House. The salt
box house on the Lowell Road was prob¬
ably built as early as 1720 or maybe
earlier by Samuel Woods or one of his
sons, and remained the property of his
descendants for almost two hundred
years. He erected a mill here to which
farmers for miles around brought their
grist on horseback.
Joshua Whitney Farm. Another
salt box house in its picturesque setting
at the foot of Prospect Hill on the Bos¬
ton Road is of an early date. It is not
known when it was built. Joshua Whit¬
ney, one of the pioneer settlers, lived
on this location before the burning of
the town. The property was in the name
of his son, William, by deed of gift, in
1713. This place is now the home of
Mr. and Mrs. Howard Leeming.
The Groton Country Club. The house now known as the Groton Country
Club was an old garrison house, and is on land which belonged to Jacob Onge, one of
the original proprietors of Groton. It was built with brick lined walls, as garrison
houses often were, and shutters on the windows had “peep-holes” from which one
would look out at the enemy.
At the time of the burning of the town in 1676, it is known that there were four
garrison houses near the center of the village and one “a mile distant.” It is believed
by some that this house is the garrison house that was “a mile distant,” although there
were several other garrisons answering that description and all but one were doubtless
built after the return of the settlers.
In 1814, David Torrey came from Weymouth and settled on this place. His son,
Reuben L. Torrey, lived here, and later Kennie Fletcher, who farmed it and carried
on an ice business. Al¬
terations during the
last century have
robbed the house of
any look of antiquity.
Mr. Fletcher sold the
farm in 1924 to Dana
C. Sherlaw, who has
conducted it for thirty
years as a golf club.
The hills on the prop¬
erty afforded a fine
opportunity for skiing.
Many came here to
enjoy this sport, and
the idea came to Mr.
Sherlaw to set up a
ski tow. In 1937 one ski tow was set up and later another. Now during the winter sea¬
son both tows are in operation.
Only this past year the property was sold again to two young men, who are
operating it as a golf club under the name of the Groton Country Club.
The Groton Inn. The oldest part of the Groton Inn, which is the southern
section, was originally built for a dwelling house about 1770. Before the Revolution
it was occupied by the Rev. Samuel Dana, minister at the meeting-house nearby. Mr.
Dana had Tory sympathies, and in March 1775, preached a sermon which gave offence
to the people. He was dismissed from the church, and tradition relates that the towns¬
people were so enraged that they shot bullets into Mr. Dana’s house.
Captain Jonathan Keep was the first landlord of the Inn. He was followed by
the brothers, Isaiah and Joseph Hall, who were landlords as early as 1798. They were
succeeded in 1825 by Joseph Hoar, and next by Moses Gill and his brother-in-law,
Henry L. Lawrence. In 1842, Thomas Treadwell Farnsworth bought the tavern and
conducted it as a temperance house, at that time considered a great innovation on
former customs. It was next sold to Daniel Hunt, who kept it until 1852, and he was
followed by James M. Colburn. It was in turn called by the names of its owners, as
Hunt’s Tavern and Colburn’s Tavern. J. Nelson Hoar, a son of the former landlord,
took it over in 1854 and it remained in his family for many years under the name of
the Central House. While operated by the Dodge family and more recently by Mr.
Marriott it has been called the Groton Inn.
There is on the wall of the reception room at the Inn an old German clock which
was brought from Germany by Captain Jonathan Keep and placed there while he was
landlord. The clock has been in operation ever since, although it has lost its ability to
play a waltz tune as it once did.
The Stone Lodge House. Near the center of town and next to the Boutwell
House is a stone wall and gateway, which makes an impressive entrance to what was
once a large estate called Shawfieldmont. If one looks
on the wall, he will find a bronze plaque, which reads
“To the fond memory of Charles Bancroft, 1802-1873,
Lydia Emeline Spaulding Bancroft, 1822-1895.”
Back of the gateway is a little stone house now
owned by Charles M. Raddin. This was built as a lodge
by Gen. Bancroft on the spot occupied by his father
and his grandfather. Just back of where the gateway
is, there had been for years an old colonial home,
which had housed many important Groton people in¬
cluding three generations of Bancrofts. In 1875, this
house was divided and moved away to the end of
Court Street, where it is now two houses.
General Bancroft, a Groton boy, who had been
away from town for a long time and had prospered,
was in 1905 president of the Boston Elevated Railway.
He was fond of his birthplace, so bought up his ances¬
tor’s old property and much more including Gibbet
Hill. He made quite extensive plans and began by
building his entrance and lodge house. From there the driveway led back across the
fields to the hill, where he built a house with a stone tower, and occupied it for a while.
Another entrance on the Lowell Road and winding driveway led to this house. Even¬
tually it was to be the stable, and on the very top of the hill was to be a castle, his
home to which he would retire.
What happened is a little uncertain. The project was abandoned, the property
divided and sold, and the Bancrofts moved away.
On one 4th of July the building on the hill was burned. All that remains of Gen¬
eral Bancroft’s dream are the ruins of the stone tower and the little lodge house back
of the gateway on Main Street.
The Job Shattuck House. Toward Pepperell from Groton stands the Job
Shattuck house near Wattle’s Pond. Job Shattuck built this house in 1782, and one
interesting feat u r e
of it is its unusually
deep cellar. Job was
in the battle of Con¬
cord and Lexington,
and Bunker Hill. At
the close of the Rev¬
olution taxes were
high and there was
unrest among the
people. In the west¬
ern part of the state
Daniel Shays had
organized a rebel¬
lion, and here Job
Shattuck led the op¬
position. He and his
men marched to Concord to suppress a meeting of the Court of Common Pleas, but
something went wrong with their plans and they scattered. Warrants for the arrest
of the leaders were at once issued. Job Shattuck was captured within sight of his own
home, and in attempting to arrest him a blow from a broadsword made a fearful
wound in his knee. This injury crippled him for life. He was thrown in jail and sen¬
tenced to death, but later pardoned and freed. Job’s wife, Sarah Hartwell Shattuck,
become famous as one of the patriotic women in Prudence Wright’s Guards. At the
beginning of the Revolutionary War fearing that spies would come that way from
Canada, these women dressed in men’s clothing and guarded Jewett’s bridge, which
was in the present town of Pepperell. They did capture one spy carrying secret orders
in his boots. Here in this house Job and Sarah Shattuck lived with their nine children.
A marker has recently been placed by the Groton Historical Society in front of this
house, which is the summer home of Mr. and Mrs. Harrison Atwood.
Home of Mr. and Mrs. Donald L. Priest. In 1793, Oliver Prescott, Jr., a
nephew of Col. Wil¬
liam Prescott, built
for his bride the
house on the Old
Ayer Road, where
Mr. and Mrs. Don¬
ald Priest now live.
This house is the
only one in Groton
with landscape paint¬
ed walls done by the
itinerant artist, Ru¬
fus Porter, and his
assistant, J. D. Poor,
whose name is in¬
scribed in one scene.
Marion Danielson Strachan’s Farm. The original Lawrence homestead in
this town was situated southwest of Gibbet Hill, a short distance east of the First
House. This farm
was for many years
part of the General
William Bancroft es¬
tate and is now the
property of Mrs.
Strachan. At least
part of the house on
this place is the old
stead, the home of
John Lawrence, who
was the ancestor of
many of the families
by that name. John
Lawrence came to America from England at quite an early time, settled first in Water-
town and in 1662 came to Groton to live. He was one of the original land proprietors,
an early official and honored citizen of the town. His son, Nathaniel, who was also an
original proprietor, lived at his father’s place some twenty years before building and
moving to a new home on the “Mill Highway,” now known as the Old Ayer Road. The
second Lawrence homestead stood where Mrs. Bates’ house is and was burned in 1915.
The Lawrence Homestead on Farmers Row. The house on Farmers Row
known also as the Lawrence Homestead has an interesting history. Samuel Lawrence,
great, great grand¬
son of the first John
with his family to
this property from
the Lawrence farm
on the “Mill High¬
way,” where he and
his brother resided
around 1778 or 1780.
They moved into the
old Tarbell house
which stood in the
corner of land,
where Farmers Row
and West Groton
road meet. The Tar¬
bell house had been the scene almost a hundred years before of a capture by the In¬
dians of three children of the Tarbell family. The children were taken to Canada,
where the girl was placed in a convent, and the two boys grew up among the Indians
at Caughnawaga. These boys became chiefs of the tribe, married Indian girls and
lived there the rest of their lives. Their descendants may still be found in that vicinity.
The old Tarbell dwelling was taken down in 1796, and the oldest portion of the
present mansion, where the youngest child, Samuel, Jr., was born in 1801, was erected
Samuel Lawrence, who was a Major but was locally known as Deacon, died in
1827. The property eventually came into the possession of one of his sons, Honorable
Abbott Lawrence. Abbott’s son, James, was the next owner and during his time the
house was enlarged and made into a mansion.
The old elm, standing in the front yard, was fully grown in Revolutionary times
so must be at least two hundred years old.
Dr. Harold Ayres House. The house on the south corner of Main Street and
Broadmeadow Road was built about 1803 by Martin Jennison. It is a three story
building with brick
ends. In the top
story there is a hall,
at one time called
Union Hall, which
was in use by differ¬
ent organiz a t i o n s
and was the home of
the St. Paul Lodge
of Free Masons for
There was a tav¬
ern kept here from
about 1812 to 1818
by a Mr. Page, and
the hall was then a
Miss Susan Prescott first started her famous school for young ladies in this build¬
ing about 1820. The school was, however, soon transferred down the street to a build¬
ing adjacent to Miss Prescott’s own residence.
In 1827, the first minister of the Congregational Church, Rev. John Todd, lived
here with his wife. Mr. Todd said that the building had “a beautiful hall for meetings
capable of holding three hundred. Here I have my Ribld class and many meetings.”
In 1828, Mr. and Mrs. Todd moved away to another house in Groton, and soon there
were rumors in town that this house which they left was haunted. The house stood
empty, and strange noises were heard in it. Neighbors became disturbed and some
said that there were secrets in the old house, perhaps a murder some time before, and
a ghost walked about the house. Hearing these rumors Mr. Todd decided to investi¬
gate his former home, and went in with neighbors gathered about the outside to see
the results. He found many signs of rats, but all was silence. Finally coming to a
closed door of a chamber, he opened it and heard a groan. There was nothing in the
room. Soon another groan was heard, and the people who had gathered about at a
safe distance were terrorized. He went to the fireplace and pulled away the fireboard
which revealed not a ghost but a shingle blown into the chimney and lodged there in
such a way that it would swing in the wind and make a deep groaning noise. It was
removed, and there were no more ghosts reported in the house.
The Raptist Church used the hall in this house as a meeting place for about a
year following its organization in 1831.
In more recent years the house has become the home and office of Dr. Harold
Ayres. About 1935, Mrs. Ayres decorated the walls in the ballroom with primitive
The Ridge Hill Tavern. The Ridge Hill Tavern is situated on the “Great
Road” to Boston at the junction of a road which was another route to Boston through
Bedford and Lexing¬
ton. There was much
which way was the
shorter to Boston,
and at one time a
guide - post at the
crotch of the road
indicated that the
distance was the
The tavern is in
that part of town
known as The
Ridges, so named be¬
cause of the forma¬
tion of land through
that area. Ridge Hill is the hill or ridge along which the main road runs.
Ridge Hill Tavern was built in 1805 and was much frequented by travelers and
teamsters. It was built near the road which was an advantage in those days. Stage¬
coaches and carriages could drive close to the building and leave passengars so that
they would not encounter the mud which was always present in the roads during the
spring and rainy weather. Many parties were held in the ballroom on the second floor.
The first landlord of this tavern was Levi Parker, noted for his hospitality. He
was followed by John Stevens, Judge Samuel Dana, and then John H. Loring, who
conducted the house for many years. Mr. Loring was succeeded by his son Jefferson.
After him came Henry L. Lawrence, Moses Gill, a Mr. Langdon and Kimball Farr,
who kept it until 1868. Mr. Farr sold the tavern to John Fuzzard. The place was
vacant for some years and then again was operated as an inn for a time, after which
it became a private residence and has since remained except for a few years recently
when Mrs. Arthur Pelton, the present owner, operated it as a tearoom under the name
of Ridge Hill House. During the late eighteen hundreds a fair was held on the first
Tuesday of every month for the sale of horses, and buyers were attracted from a long
distance. Horse racing took place at those fairs, and the road from here toward Groton
was used as a course, the turn around spot being about one mile and a half up the
road in front of the farmhouse formerly known as the Augustus Woods place.
The Dr. F. Woodward Lewis House. On Main Street near the center of the
town stands a fine old colonial house now the home and offices of Drs. F. Woodward
and Elizabeth Lewis. This house stands on land
that in the early days of the town belonged to
Captain James Parker. In the latter part of the
eighteenth century Charles and Susanna Quails
lived on this location in a little old house, which
may be the back part of the present house.
Charles Quails was the first baker in Groton, and
had a sign hanging in front of his house, “Ginger¬
bread, Cake and Bisket sold here.” His wife,
Susanna, was one of the two Groton women who
were in Prudence Wright’s Guards. She died at an
early age and is buried in the old cemetery. In
1811, Luther Lawrence, a lawyer and brother of
the famous William, Amos and Abbott Law¬
rence, built the present house and lived in it
until 1831, when he moved to Lowell. Seven
years later he became mayor of that city. For many years this house was the home of
Eliel Shumway and since then it has been a two family house, occupied by different
families but belonging to the Lawrence Academy, until a few years ago when pur¬
chased by Dr. Lewis.
The Boutwell House. The Governor Boutwell House, the present home of the
Groton Historical Society, was built by George S. Boutwell in 1851. Mr. Boutwell
was at that time
Governor of Massa¬
chusetts and later
tive in Congress dur¬
ing Abraham Lin-
and Secretary of the
Treasury in Grant’s
In 1869, Presi¬
dent Grant attended
the Peace Jubilee in
Boston, and from
there came to Groton
to visit Boutwell in
his home. He spent
the night here and the following morning a reception was held for him. About three
thousand people passed through the house shaking hands with President Grant and
his companions, where they stood in the drawing room opposite the fireplace.
After Mr. Boutwell died, his daughter, Georgianna, lived in the house until her
death in 1933. She bequeathed the family home to the Groton Historical Society, who
brought their possessions here, and have made it a museum, keeping it open on certain
days to visitors.
©pen House Bap, jftlonbap, 3fune 27
41. The Governor Boutwell House was built in 1851 by George S. Boutwell,
then Governor of Massachusetts. This was his home and the home of his daughter
until her death in 1933, when it was bequeathed by her to the Groton Historical So¬
ciety. Many noted people were entertained here including Ulysses S. Grant while he
12. The Groton Inn was originally built for a dwelling house about 1770 and
occupied by the Bev. Samuel Dana, minister at the Meeting House near by. He offend¬
ed people and was dismissed from the church. It then became an Inn and has continued
as such to the present day. There is an old clock on the wall of the reception room
which was brought from Germany by Jonathan Keep, the first innkeeper, and has
been in operation ever since, although it has lost its ability to play a waltz tune as it
26. The First Parish Church was established in 1655 when the town was incor¬
porated. but the present building was erected in 1755. It has been remodeled and was
partially turned around in 1839. Town meetings were held here until 1859 when the
present town hall was built. The first meeting house stood on the Common near the
junction of Martin’s Pond Boad and Hollis Street. It was burned by the Indians. The
bell in the belfry was cast by Paul Bevere. In this building sat the Court of General
Sessions of the Peace and the Court of Common Pleas of Middlesex County from 1776
to 1787 as Groton was then a Shire town. Tea will be served in the afternoon.
10 and 34. Lawrence Academy was incorporated in 1793. For about fifty years
it was known as Groton Academy and then, because of gifts by the brothers, William
and Amos Lawrence, the name was changed to Lawrence Academy. Dana House,
north of the brick building, was built by Judge Samuel Dana in 1793, son of the min¬
ister, Rev. Samuel Dana. The house on the south side of the brick building was built in
1802 by James Brazer. The brick Academy building was built in 1871, replacing the
wooden structure which was burned July 4th, 1868.
42. The Deming House and garden. A salt box house at the foot of Prospect
Hill on the Boston Road. It is not known when this house was built, but Joshua Whit¬
ney, one of the pioneer settlers, lived here. The property was in the name of his son
by deed of gift in 1713.
43. The Priest House. Built in 1793 by Oliver Prescott, Jr., a nephew of Col.
Prescott, for his bride. He was born in Groton April 4th, 1762, and became a practis¬
ing physician like his father. This is the only house in Groton with landscape painted
walls done by the itinerant artist, Rufus Porter and his assistant J. D. Poor.
44. The Havemeyer house. Originally built about 1726, enlarged and remodeled
by Benjamin Moors in 1826. The original slits in the cellar walls through which the
inhabitants defended themselves against the Indians are still visible. It was sold to the
Culver family in 1855, and the hill is still known as Culver’s Hill. It is now the prop¬
erty of Stephen W. Sabine.
#pen House Bap, jWonbap, 3fune 27
50. The Garden of Mr. and Mrs. Richard E. Danielson. A beautifully laid out
garden designed by Mrs. Laura McTavish.
11. The Groton School was founded by the Rev. Endicott Peabody, the Rev.
Sherrard Billings and William A. Gardner in 1884. It is a famous preparatory school
for boys and many noted men are among its graduates. For fifty years Dr. Peabody
was headmaster. Since his retirement in 1940, Rev. John Crocker has taken his place.
45. The Lawrence Homestead and Garden. Samuel Lawrence, great, great
grandson of the original John Lawrence, moved with his family to this property about
1778, into the Tarbell house. It was the scene, nearly a hundred years before, of the
capture by the Indians of three Tarbell children. The Tarbell house was taken down
in 1796 and the oldest part of the present house was built soon after. One of his sons,
The Hon. Abbott Lawrence inherited the property, which belongs to his descendant,
James Lawrence. The old elm standing in front was fully grown in Revolutionary
times and must be at least two hundred years old.
46. The Garden of Mr. and Mrs. William P. Wharton. Recently redesigned by
Mrs. C. Wharton Smith.
47. The Leroy Johnson House. The oldest house in Groton, so called, is on Hollis
Street. The town voted in April 1706 to build a parsonage for the Rev. Dudley Brad-
street, the fifth minister for the town, whose church stood not far away on the plot of
land now known as Legion Common.
49. The Ogilvie House. Built about 1775 by the Rev. Samuel Dana who, for his
Tory tendencies was dismissed from the First Parish Church where he had been min¬
ister. The presbyterian Society was formed and he held services there, probably in
the domed ceiling room on the second floor.
48. The W. Prescott Smith House. A very old house traced back to 1729 by a
former owner and charmingly adapted to modern living with a very attractive garden.
37. The Harrison Atwood, Jr., House was built by Jacob Shattuck in 1782. An
interesting feature is its unusually deep cellar. Job Shattuck took part in the battle of
Concord and Lexington and Bunker Hill. Later he took part in Shays Rebellion, was
captured and condemned to death but later was pardoned and freed. His wife, Sarah
Hartwell Shattuck, became one of Prudence Wright’s Guards. These women dressed
in men’s clothing and guarded Jewett’s bridge fearing that spies would come from
Canada. They did capture a spy carrying secret orders in his boots. The bridge they
guarded was in the present town of Pepperell where the covered bridge now is.
Places with star on map
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Executive Committee . 1
Greetings from Groton, England . 2
Chronological History. 3-14
Our Sponsors . 15
Noted Men of Groton . 16, 17
Churches . 18-24
Convent of The Holy Union of Sacred Hearts. 25
Schools . 26-30
Groton Public Library. 31
Groton Hospital . 32
Town Departments . 32-36
Groton Water Co.-W. Groton Water District . 36, 37
Town Forest . 38
Cemeteries . 39-41
Groton in 1900 . 42
History . 43-47
Program . 48, 49
History Continued. 50-57
250th Anniversary . 58, 59
History Continued. 60-69
Organizations . 70-80
Industry . 81-83
Old Houses. 84-92
Open House . 93, 94
Table of Contents. 95
Our Appreciation. 9(3
To all those who have contributed in any way to this souvenir book¬
let and particularly to Hollingsworth and Vose Company of West Groton
and Fibre Leather Corporation of New Bedford for the cover stock, to
John E. DeMelim for the art work and to Ruth and Alfred Gay for the
photography, we express our thanks.
To Donald H. Martin, Tercentenary Director, whose help has been
invaluable, we extend our appreciation.
To the following sources from which we obtained historical informa¬
tion, we are indebted —
Caleb Butler’s “History of Groton.”
Dr. Samuel A. Green’s Historical Books.
Francis M. Boutwell’s accounts of Groton’s history.
Edward A. Richardson’s “Moors School” and “The Community.”
Mary T. Shumway‘s “Groton Public Library.”
Lucy Abbott’s Diaries.
Town Records and Reports.
To the Groton Historical Society for the loan of the reference ma¬
terial listed above, we are grateful.
The Tercentenary Booklet Committee
Virginia A. May
Margaret J. Thayer
Alfred F. Gay
Mary T. Sawyer
To all those who have contributed in any way to this souvenir book¬
let and particularly to Hollingsworth and Vose Company of West Groton
and Fibre Leather Corporation of New Bedford for the cover stock, to
John E. DeMelim for the art work and to Ruth and Alfred Gay for the
photography, we express our thanks.
To Donald H. Martin, Tercentenary Director, whose help has been
invaluable, we extend our appreciation.
To the following sources from which we obtained historical informa¬
tion, we are indebted —
Caleb Butler’s “History of Groton.”
Dr. Samuel A. Green’s Historical Books.
Francis M. Boutwell’s accounts of Groton’s history.
Edward A. Richardson’s “Moors School” and “The Community.”
Mary T. Shumway‘s “Groton Public Library.”
Lucy Abbott’s Diaries.
Town Records and Reports.
To the Groton Historical Society for the loan of the reference ma¬
terial listed above, we are grateful.
The Tercentenary Booklet Committee
Virginia A. May
Margaret J. Thayer
Alfred F. Gay
Mary T. Sawyer