Samuel A. (Samuel Abbott) Green.

An historical sketch of Groton, Massachusetts. 1655-1890 online

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Online LibrarySamuel A. (Samuel Abbott) GreenAn historical sketch of Groton, Massachusetts. 1655-1890 → online text (page 1 of 19)
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Groton, Massachusetts.







^0 t|)0 ilffllemorg


(TowxN Clerk, 1855-1893),






THE following pages were written originally
for a " History" of Middlesex County,"
published in Philadelphia four years ago ; and a
few copies were then separately struck off. The}'
were intended merely as a sketch of the town,
and not as a full or formal history. In justice to
the writer this statement seems to be necessary,
as the annals of Groton, so rich in material, and
covering so long a period of time, are here
treated in a very scant}' way. Through some
misunderstanding the work was not divided
into Chapters, as had been the intention of the
author, who had no opportunity to see the revised

With the exception of the notice of Major
Palmer, the brief biographies at the end of the
book were not written by the author of this His-
torical Sketch. Luther Blood, a notice of whom
tiiere appears, died on September 22, 1893.

S. A. G.
Boston, :\[arch It), 1894.




The town of Groton lies in the northwestern part
of Middlesex County, Massachusetts, and is bounded
on the north by Pepperell and Dunstable ; on the east
by Tyngsborough and Westford ; on the south by Lit-
tleton and Ayer; and on the west by Shirley and
Townsend. The First Parish meeting-house — or " the
tall-spired church" — is situated in latitude 42° 36^
21.4^^ north, longitude 71° 34^ 4^^ west of Greenwich,
according to the latest observations of the United
States Coast Survey. It is distant nearly thirty-one
miles in a straight line from the State House at Bos-
ton, but by the traveled road it is about thirty-four
miles. The village of Groton is situated principally
on one long street, known as Main Street, a section
of the Great Road, which was formerly one of the
principal thoroughfares between Eastern Massachu-
setts and parts of New Hampshire and Vermont.
The Worcester, Nashua and Rochester Railroad passes

1 Reprinted from " The History of Middlesex County, Massachusetts."



through it, and traverses the township at nearly its
greatest length, running six miles or more within its
limits. It is reached from Boston by trains on the
Fitchburg Railroad, connecting with the Worcester,
Nashua and Eochester road at Aver, three miles dis-
tant from the village.

The original grant of the township was made in the
spring of 1655, and gave to the proprietors a tract of
land eight miles square; though subsequently this
was changed by the General Court, 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, large parts of Dunstable and Littleton,
and smaller parts of Harvard and Westford, in Mas-
sachusetts, and small portions of Hollis and Nashua,
in New Hampshire. The present shape of the town
is very irregular, and all the original boundary lines
have been changed except where they touch Town-
send and Tyngsborough.

The earliest reference to the town on any map is
found in the Reverend William Hubbard's " Narra-
tive of the Troubles with the Indians in New-Eng-
land," a work published at Boston in the early spring
of 1677, and in London during the ensuing summer
under a different title. The map was the first one cut
in New England, and of course done in a crude man-
ner. It was engraved probably by John Foster, the
earliest Boston printer. The towns assaulted by the
Indians in Philip's War are indicated on the map by
figures; and at that period these places were attract-
ing some attention both here and in the mother


There were two petitions for the plantation of
Groton, of which one was headed by Mr. Deane
Winthrop, and the other by Lieutenant William
Martin. The first one is not known to be in exist-
ence, but a contemporaneous copy of the second is in
the possession of the New England Historic Genea-
logical Society. The signatures vary in the style of
handwriting, but they do not appear to be autographs,
and may have been written by the same person. The
answer to the petition is given on the thir.d page of
the paper, and signed by Edward Rawson, secretary
of the Colony, which fact renders it probable that this
is the petition actually presented to the General Court
as the original one, after it had been copied by a
skillful penman. It was found many years ago among
the papers of Captain Samuel Shepley, by the late
Charles Woolley, then of Groton, but who subse-
quently lived at Waltham ; and by him given to the
New England Historic Genealogical Society. The
petition is written on the first page of a folio sheet,
and the answer by the General Court appears on the
third page of the paper. Near the top of the sheet
are the marks of stitches, indicating that another
paper at one time had been fastened to it. Perhaps
the petition headed by Deane AVinthrop was attached
when the secretary wrote the action of the General
Court, beginning, "In Ans'" to both theise peticons."
The grant of the plantation was made by the Court
of Assistants on May 25, 1655 — as appears by this
document — though subject to the consent of the
House of Deputies, which was given, in all proba-
bility, on the same day. In the absence of other evi-


dence, this may be considered the date of the incor-
poration, which is not found mentioned elsewhere.

In the early history of the Colony the proceedings
of the General Court, as a rule, were not dated day
by day — though there are many exceptions — but the
beginning of the session is always given, and occa-
sionally the days of the month are recorded. These
dates in the printed edition of the records are fre-
quently carried along without authority, sometimes
covering a period of several days or even a week;
and for this reason it is often impossible to learn the
exact date of any particular legislation, when there
are no contemporaneous papers bearing on the subject.

The petition and endorsement are as follows :

"To the honored Generall Courte assembled at Boston the humble pe-
tion of vs whose names ar here vnder written humbly shoeth

"That where as youre petioners by a prouidence of god haue beene
brought ouer into this wildernes and liued longe herein: and being
eumthing straightned for that where by subsistance in an ordinarie
waie of gods prouidence is to be had, and Considdering the a lowance
that god giues to the sunes of men for such an ende : youre petioners
request there fore is that you woiild be pleased to grant vs a place for a
plantation vpon the Riuer that runes from Nashaway in tomerimake at
a place or a boute a place Caled petaupaukett and waubansconcett and
youre petioners shall pray for youre happy prosedings

•' WiLLiaM Martin
EicHARD Blood
•John W^itt
William Lakin
Richard Hauen
Timothy Coopee
John Lakin
John Blood
Mathu Faerington
Robert Blood


"In Ansr to both theise peticons The Court Jmlgeth it meete to
graunt the peticonefs eight miles square in the place desired to make a
Comfortable planta^on wch henceforth shall be Called Groaten formerly
knowne by the name of Petapavvage : that M^ Damforth of Cambridge
wth such as he shall Asossiate to him shall and hereby is desired to lay
it out wi'h all Convenjent speede that so no Incouragement may be
wanting to the Peticone's for a speedy procuring of a godly minister
amongst them. Provided that none shall enjoy any part or por^on of ^
that land by guift from the selectmen of that place but such who shall
build bowses on theire lotts so given them once wthin eighteene months
from the tjme of the sayd Townes laying out or Townes graunt to such
persons ; and for the p'sent M^ Deane Winthrop M - Jno Tinker M'Tho :
Hinckly Dolor Davis. W™. Martin Mathew ffarington John Witt and
Timothy Couper are Appointed the selectmen for the sayd Towne of
Groaten for one two yeares from the tjme it is layd out, to lay out
and dispose cf particular lotts not exceeding twenty acres to each bowse
lott, And to Order the prudential! affairs of the place at the end of which
tjme other selectmen shall be chosen and Appointed in theire roomes :
the selectmen of Groaton giving Mr Danforth such sattisfaction for his
service & paines as they & he shall Agree ;

" The magist^ haue passed this w*h reference to the Consent of theire

bretheren the depu's hereto

" Edward Eawson, Secrety
" 25 of May 1655.

"The Deputies Consent hereto

" William Toerey Cleric.'*''

The entry made by Secretary Rawson in the Gen-
eral Court Records, at the time of the grant, is sub-
stantially the same as his indorsement on Martin's
petition, though it distinguishes between some of the
names signed to each petition. It is evident that the
one headed by Deane Winthrop was also signed by
John Tinker and Thomas Hinckley ; and probably
by Dolor Davis, Richard Smith and Amos Richard-
son, as is inferred from a petition dated May 16,
1656, and given later in this account of the town.
The Roman letters and Arabic figures within paren-
theses refer to the volume and page of the General


Court Records at the State-House. The entry is as
follows :

"In Ansr to the peticon of M' Deane Winthrop M^ Jn" Tincker Mr
Tho: Hinckly &c & of Lieu Wm Martin Timothy Cooper &c The Court
Judgeth it meete to Graunt etc." (IV. 204).

Charles Hastings Gerrish, of Groton, has a contem-
poraneous copy of this record made by Secretary
Rawson, which was perhaps sent originally to the
selectmen of the town. It was found among the pa-
pers of the late Hon. John Boynton, at one time town

The record of the House of Deputies is also prac-
tically the same, though there are a few verbal vari-
ations. It begins :

"There heinge a pet. p^ferd by M' Dean Winthrop M-" Tho: Hinck-
ley & divers others for a plantation vpou the riuer that Runs from Nash-
away into Merimacke called petapawage & an other from some of the
Inhabitants of Concord for a plantation in the same place to both which
the Court returned this answer that the Court Thinkes meet to graunt
etc." (III. 462).

The following letter from the Hon. J. Hammond
Trumbull, whose authority in such matters is unques-
tioned, gives the meaning and derivation of the In-
dian name of the town :

" Hartford, Dec. 22, 1877.

" Mt dear Dr. Green, — Petaiipaulet and Petapaicage are two forms
of the same name, the former having the locative postposition {-et},
meaning ' at ' or ' on ' a place ; and both are corruptions of one or the
other of two Indian names found at several localities in New England.
From which of the t%vo your Groton name came I cannot decide without
some knowledge of the place itself. I leave you the choice, confident
that one or the other is the true name.

*■"■ Pooluppog,' used by Eliot for ' baj-,' in Joshua xv. 2, 5, literally
means 'spreading' or ^bulging water,' and was employed to designate
either a local widening of a river making still water, or an inlet from a
river expanding into something like a pond or lake. Hence the name


of a part of (old) Saybrook, now Essex, Conn., which was variously writ-
ten PatUapaug, Poattapoge, Potabauge, and, later, Peltipaug, &c., so des-
ignated from a spreading cove or inlet from Connecticut River. Potta-
jjoMgr Pond, in Dana, Mass., with an outlet to, or rather an inlet from
Chicopee River, is probably a form of the same name. So is ' Port To-
bacco,' Charles County, Md. (the "-Potopaco ' of John Smith's map), on
the Potomac.

" But there is another Algonkin name from which Pelaupauk and
some similar forms may have come, which denotes a swamp, bo^, or
quagmire, — literally, a place into ivhich the foot sinks; represented by the

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Online LibrarySamuel A. (Samuel Abbott) GreenAn historical sketch of Groton, Massachusetts. 1655-1890 → online text (page 1 of 19)