Samuel A. (Samuel Abbott) Green.

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

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apportionment of Representatives was made through-


out the State, and the town of Groton became, there-
by, in connection with the towns of Pepperell, Shir-
ley, Westford and Dunstable, the Twenty-sixth Mid-
dlesex District, with two Eepresentatives.

Date of Election.
November 3, 1857, Eliel Shumway.
November 3, 1857, Eobert Parker Woods.
November 7, 1860, George Henry Brown,
November 4, 1863, George Samuel Gates.
November 8, 1865, Benjamin Franklin Taft.

Mr. Shumway's election was contested before the
General Court by Alien Cummings, of Dunstable,
and a hearing was given by the Committee on Elec-
tions; but the matter was decided in favor of Mr.
Shumway. For a full statement of the case, see
"Reports of Controverted Elections in the Senate
and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth
of Massachusetts from 1853 to 1885 inclusive " (page
41), by Edward P. Loring and Charles Theodore
Russell, Jr. (Boston, 1886).

By another apportionment, made under Chapter
cm.. Acts of 1866, Groton and Pepperell became
the Thirty-first Middlesex District, and were entitled
to one Representative. The town of Ayer, on its
incorporation, February 14, 1871, except that part
\vhich had previously belonged to Shirley, was added
to the district.

Date of Election.
November 7, 1866, Danial Needham.
November 4, 1868, William Livermore.
November 2, 1869, Edmund Dana Bancroft.
November 5, 1873, George Samuel Gates.

By still another apportionment, under Chapter
XV., Acts of 1876, Groton became, in connection

GROTON. l.j:3

with Westford, Dunstable and Pepperell, the Thirty-
fourth Middlesex District, and entitled to one Eepre-

Date of Election.
November 8, 1876, Asa Stillman Lawrence.
November 3, 1880, Asa Stillman Lawrence.
November 7, 1883, Closes Poor Palmer.
November 12, 1886, George Sumner Graves.

Colonel William Lawrence was a member of the
General Court during seventeen years, — the longest
term of service of any Representative from the town ;
and- after him came the Hon. James Prescott, who
served fifteen years.

Mr. Boutwell is now the senior surviving member,
and, with the exception of Phineas Gilman Prescott,
William Shattuck, Warren Fay Stone, George Henry
Brown and George Sumner Graves, all his successors
are still alive.



Date of Election. Term, of Service.
May 9, 1774 Honorable James Prescott 1774


December 26, 1774 . . . Honorable James Prescott 1775


May 22, 1775 Honorable James Prescott 1775


October 30, 1776 Oliver Prescott, declined.

November 16, 1776 . . . James Prescott 1776-1779


May 29, 1777 Oliver Prescott 1777-1779

According to the records of the General Court,
when the Board of War was first chosen on October


80, 1776, "Brigf. Prescot " was elected a member.
This referred to Dr. Oliver Prescott, at that time a
brigadier-general, but it does not appear that he ever
took his seat with the board. On November 13th the
records state that tw^o of the members, whose names
are given, had declined, and their places were at once
filled ; and on November 16th five more resignations
were announced, — though no names are mentioned, —
and the vacancies then filled. Dr. Prescott was un-
doubtedly one of the five who declined at this time.
Among those chosen at the second election was
" Colonel Prescot," who was James, a brother of
Oliver. It is a little singular that their Christian
names are not given in the records, as both were well-
known men. The " Journal of the House," October
30, 1776, prints the name of " James Prescott, Esq ; "
as one of the nine original members chosen at that
time, but this is an error. Colonet Prescott attended
his first meeting with the Board of War on Decem-
ber 18, — according to the manuscript minutes of the



Late of Election. Term of Service^

January 11, 1851 . . . Houorable George Sewall Boutwell 1851, 1852


^Under President Grant.)
March 11, 1869 .... Honorable George Sewall Boutwell . 1869-1873


March 12, 1873 .... Honorable George Sewall Boutwell . 1873-1877


November 5, 1810 . . . Honorable William Merchant Rich-
ardson 1811-1814

November 7, 1814 . . . Honorable Samuel Dana 1814,1815

November 4, 1862 . . . Honorable George Sewell Boutwell 1863-1869



October 27, 1780 .... Honorable James Prescott . . 1780-1784, 1786
May 28, 1802 Honorable Timothy Bigelow 1802


November 6, 1820 . . . Honorable Samuel Dana 1820

(The Electoral College of Massachusetts cast its vote on December 7,
1820, unanimously in favor of James Monroe for President.)

Convention for forming the Constitution of Massachusetts, September 1, 1779.
Date of Election. Term of Service.

August 16, 1779 .... Honorable James Sullivan 1779, 1780

(Mr. Sullivan was afterward Governor of the Commonwealth, and
died on December 10, 1808, while holding the office.)

Convention for adopting the Constitution of the United States, January

9, 1788.

December 3, 1787 .... Dr. Benjamin Morse, Joseph Sheple, Esq. 1788

(Both these delegates opposed the adoption.)

Convention for altering the Constitution of Massachusetts, November 15, 1820.

August21, 1820 Ifonorable Samuel Dana, y _ ^^^^

( Luther Lawrence, Esq. J

Convention for altering the Constitution of Massachusetts, May 4, 1853.

March 7, 1853 John Gray Park, Esq 1853

(Mr. Boutwell, of Groton, represented the town of Berlin, Worces-
ter County, in this Convention.)



Date of Appointment. Term of Service.

June 3, 1803 . . . Honorable James Prescott, Jr 1803

(By an Act passed on June 21, 1811, the Court of Common Pleas
became the Circuit Court of Common Pleas.)


October 14, 1811 . . Honorable Samuel Dana 1811-1820


December 21, 1782 . . Honorable James Prescott 1782-1800



July 1, 1779 Honorable Oliver Prescott 1779-1804

(Reappointed on March 27, 1781.)
February 1, 1805 . . . Honorable James Prescott, Jr 1805-1821


September 6, 1775 . . Honorable James Prescott 1775-1780


May 28, 1783 .... William Swan, Esq 1783-1789

" The Massachusetts Register and United States
Calendar for the year of our Lord 1806" (page 75)
gives Ephraim AVood, of Groton, as one of the jus-
tices of the Court of Common Pleas in Middlesex
County, but the place of residence is without doubt a
mistake. I cannot find that Judge Wood ever lived
at Groton.


Of Groton who held Commissions from the Governor
and Council, during the Proviyieial Period.

Date of Appointment .

August 27, 1713, Captain Jonas Prescott, Justice of the Peace.

December 9, 1715, Captain Jonas Prescott, Justice of the Peace.

December 26, 1727, Benjamin Prescott, Justice of the Peace.

October 10, 1729, Benjamin Prescott, Justice of the Peace.

March 19, 1729-30, Captain Nathaniel Sartle, Justice of the Peace.

July 9, 1731, Benjamin Prescott, Justice of the Peace.

July 9, 1731, Nathaniel Sartle, Justice of the Peace.

June 27, 1735, Benjamin Prescott, in place of Paul Dudley, a Special
Justice of the Superior Coiart of Judicature.

January 2, 1735-36, Benjamin Prescott, Justice of the Peace and of the

November 10, 1737,Benjamin Prescott, in place of Paul Dudley, a Spec-
ial Justice in divers cases.

December 29, 1739, William Lawrence, Justice of the Peace and of the

August 12, 1749, William Lawrence, Special Justice of the Inferior
Court of Common Pleas.


June 21, 1751, William Lawrence, SpecialJustice of the Inferior Court
of Common Pleas.

January 2, 1753, James Prescott, Justice of the Peace.

June 26, 1755, William Lawrence, Justice of the Inferior Court of Com-
mon Pleas, in place of Francis Fulham, resigned.

November 20, 1761, William Lawrence, Justice of the Peace and of the

November 20, 17G1, James Prescott, Justice of the Peace.

June 8, 176i, Abel La%yrence, Jiistice of the Peace.

Coroners. — The first three names mentioned below
are taken from the Couneil records ; but the others
are found in the "Record of Civil Commissions," in
the office of the Secretary of State. Under the Con-
stitution coroners were appointed for life, unless
sooner removed ; but by an act passed on April 29,
1862, their tenure of office was limited to seven years,
subject to reappointment. By another act passed on
May 9, 1877, the office was abolished, and, so far as
related to inquests, the medical examiner was substi-
tuted in place of the coroner.

Date of Appointment.

March 8, 1759, Israel Hubbard [Hobart].

November 20, 1761, Israel Hobart.

(These two persons were the same.)
July 12, 1769, Isaac Farnsworth,
August 28, 1775, Isaac Farnsworth.
September 24, 1778, Ephraim Russell,
March 27, 1781, Ephraim Russell.
March 2, 1790, Samuel Lawrence.
March 2, 1790, Peter Edes.
January 7, 1801, Samson Woods.
February 3, 1803, William Farwell Brazer.
July 4, 1803, James Lewis, Jr.
July 5, 1809, William Lawrence.
February 20, 1810, Abel Farnsworth.
August 20, 1811, Jacob Lakin Parker.
March 2, 1813, Amos Lawrence.
May 26, 1817, Benjamin Moors.


February 9, 1820, William Austin Bancroft,

(Mr. Bancroft was a resident of Townsend at the time of his
January 16, 1822, David Childs.
June 29, 1852, Jacob Pollard.
May 15, 1856, John Mason Porter.
April 2, 1858, Eusebius Silsby Clarke.
April 10, 1860, Asa Stillman Lawrence.
January 24, 1866, John Quincy Adams McCoUester.
April 16, 1867, Asa Stillman Lawrence.
April 30, 1869, Benjamin Lincoln Howe.
April 30, 1874, Asa Stillman Lawrence.


And Residents of the Town, who have Afterward Filled
Important Positions Elsewhere.

Honorable John Prescott Bigelow, born at Groton
on August 25, 1797, Harvard College, 1815 ; Secretary
of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1886-43 ;
Member of the Executive Council, 1845-49 ; Mayor
of Boston, 1849-51. Died in Boston on July 4,

Honorable Henry Adams Bullard, born at Groton
on September 9, 1788, Harvard College, 1807 ; Justice
of the Sixth District Court of Louisiana, 1822-31 ;
Representative in Congress from Alexandria and New
Orleans, Louisiana (Twenty-first, Twenty-second and
Thirty-first Congresses), 1831-34, '50, '51; Justice of
the Supreme Court of Louisiana, 1834—46, with the
exception of a few^ months in 1839, when he acted as
Secretary of State. Died in New Orleans on April
17, 1851.

Mr. BuUard's father was the settled minister at
Pepperell, but all the printed accounts of his life say


that he was born at Groton, which is my authority for
the statement.

Honorable Willard Hall, born at Westford on De-
cember 24, 1780, Harvard College, 1799 ; studied law
with the Honorable Samuel Dana at Groton ; Secre-
tary of the State of Delaware, 1811-14, '21 ; Repre-
sentative in Congress from Wilmington, Delaware
(Fifteenth and Sixteenth Congresses), 1817-21 ; Judge
of the United States District Court in Delaware,
1823-71. Died in Wilmington on May 10, 1875.

Honorable John Harris, born at Harvard on Octo-
ber 13, 1769, Harvard College, 1791 ; studied law with
the Honorable Timothy Bigelow at Groton ; Justice
of the Superior Court of Judicature of New Hamp-
shire, 1823-33. Died at Hopkinton, New Hampshire,
on April 23, 1845.

Honorable Amos Kendall, born at Dunstable on
August 16, 1789, Dartmouth College, 1811 ; studied
law with the Honorable William Merchant Richard-
son at Groton ; Postmaster-General under Presidents
Jackson and Van Buren, 1835-40. Died in Wash-
ington, D. C, on June 12, 1869.

Honorable Abbott Lawrence, born at Groton on
December 16, 1792 ; Representative in Congress from
Boston (Twenty-fourth and Twenty-sixth Congresses),
1835-37, '39, '40 ; Presidential Elector, 1844 ; Envoy
Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Great
Britain, 1849-52. Died in Boston on August 18,

Honorable John Locke, born at Hopkinton, Massa-
chusetts, on February 14, 1764, Harvard College,
1792 ; studied law with the Honorable Timothy

1 40 GROTOX.

Bigelow at Groton ; Representative in Congress from
Asliby, Massachusetts (Eighteenth, Nineteenth and
Twentieth Congresses), 1823-29; Member of the
Executive Council, 1831. Died in Boston on March
29, 1855.

Honorable Thomas Rice, born at Pownalborough
(now Wiscasset), Maine, on March 30, 1768, Harvard
College, 1791 ; studied law with the Honorable
Timothy Bigelow at Groton ; Representative in Con-
gress from Augusta, District of Maine, Massachusetts
(Fourteenth and Fifteenth Congresses), 1815-19.
Died at Winslow, Maine, on August 24, 1854.

Honorable William Merchant Richardson, born at
Pelham, Xew Hampshire, on January 4, 1774, Har-
vard College, 1797 ; Preceptor of Groton Academy,
1799-1802; studied law with the Honorable Samuel
Dana at Groton; Postmaster, 1804-12; Representa-
tive in Congress from Groton (Twelfth and Thirteenth
Congresses), 1811-14; removed to Portsmouth, New
Hampshire, and afterward became Chief Justice of
the Superior Court of Judicature of that State, 1816-
38. Died at Chester, New Hampshire, on March 23,

Honorable Ether Shepley, born at Groton on No-
vember 2, 1789, Dartmouth College, 1811 ; Senator in
Congress from Maine, 1833-36 ; Justice of the Supreme
Judicial Court of Maine, 1836-48 ; Chief Justice of
the same Court, 1848-55. Died in Portland on Janu-
ary 15, 1877.

Honorable Samuel Emerson Smith, born at Hollis,
New Hampshire, on March 12, 1788, Harvard Col-
lege, 1808 ; studied law with the Honorable Samuel


Dana at Groton ; Justice of the Court of Common
Pleas of Maine, 1822-1830; Governor of Maine,
1831-1833; Justice of the Court of Common Pleas
again, 1835-1837. Died at Wiscasset, Maine, on
March 3, 1860.

Honorable Asahel Stearns, born at Lunenburg,
June 17, 1774, Harvard College, 1797; Preceptor of
Groton Academy during a short period iuimediately
after his graduation ; studied law with the Honorable
Timothy Bigelow at Groton ; representative in Con-
gress from Chelmsford, Massachusetts (Fourteenth
Congress), 1815-1817; University Professor of Law at
the Harvard Law School, 1817-1829. Died in Cam-
bridge on February 5, 1839.

Honorable James Sullivan, born at Berwick, Maine,
OQ April 22, 1744; Member of the three Provin-
cial Congresses, from Biddeford, 1774, 1775; resident
of Groton, 1778-1782; delegate to the Continental
Congress, 1782; Member of the Executive Council,
1787; Judge of Probate, Suffolk County, 1788-1790;
Attorney-General, 1790-1807 ; First President of tne
Massachusetts Historical Society, 1791-1806; Gov-
ernor of the Commonwealth, 1807, 1808. Died in
Boston on December 10, 1808, while in office.

Honorable John Varnum, born at Dracut on June
25, 1778, Harvard College, 1798 ; studied law with
the Honorable Timothy Bigelow at Groton ; Repre-
sentative in Congress from Haverhill, Massachusetts
(Nineteenth, Twentieth and Twenty-first Congresses),
1825-1831. Died at Niles, Michigan, on July 23 '

In the spring of 1765 the odious Stamp Act was


passed, which did much to hasten public opinion to-
ward the American Revolution. This town sympa-
thized warmly with the feeling, and prepared to do
her part in the struggle. A large number of her in-
habitants had received their schooling in the French
War, as their fathers before them had received theirs
during the Indian troubles. Such persons did not
now enter upon camp life as raw troops, but as ex-
perienced and disciplined soldiers. The town had
men willing to serve and able to command. The
leaders of the Revolution displayed great foresight in
the careful attention paid to the details of their work ;
and the final success of the struggle was due as much
to their sagacity as to the deep feeling of the people.
On the side of the patriots the skirmishes of April 19,
1775, were fought by companies made up of minute-
men, organized on a recommendation of the First
Provincial Congress of Massachusetts, in a resolve
passed at Cambridge on October 26, 1774. It was at
that time recommended to the field officers of the
various militia regiments that they should enlist at
least one-quarter of their respective commands, and
form them into companies to be held in readiness, at
the shortest notice by the Committee of Safety, to
march to the place of rendezvous. Such soldiers
soon became known as minute-men, and proved to be
of very great help and strength to the popular cause.
Two companies were enlisted at Grotpn ; and at the
desire of the officers, the Rev. Samuel Webster, of
Temple, New Hampshire, on February 21, 1775,
preached a sermon before them, which was afterward
printed. It was there stated that a large majority of


the town had engaged to hold themselves in readi-
ness, agreeably to the plan of the Provincial Congress,
to act in the service of their country. The sermon is
singularly meagre in those particulars which would
interest us at the present time, and is made up largely
of theological opinions, perhaps as valuable now as
then, but not so highly prized.

On the memorable 19th of April two compa-
nies of minute-men, under the respective commands
of Captain Henry Farwell and Captain Asa Law-
rence, marched from Groton to Concord and Cam-
bridge ; and on the same day for the same destination
two other companies of militia, under the respective
commands of Captain Josiah Sartelland Captain John
Sawtell . According to the company rolls at the State-
House, there were in FarwelFs company, at the time
of marching, three commissioned officers and fifty-two
men, and in Lawrence's three officers and forty-three
men; and in the two militia companies (Sartell's)
three officers and forty-five men, and (Sawtell's) one
officer and twenty-five men, respectively, though in
Sawtell's company some of the men were from Pep-

In the battle of Bunker Hill, on June 17, 1775, one
commissioned officer and eleven soldiers, residents of
Groton, were either killed in the fight or mortally
wounded. This roll of honor comprises the names of
Lieutenant Amaziah Fassett, who fell wounded and
died a prisoner on July 5th; Sergeant Benjamin
Prescott, a son of the Hon. James Prescott, and a
nephew of Colonel William Prescott, who commanded
the American forces, and privates Abraham Blood,


Chambers Corey, James Dodge, Peter Fisk, Stephen
Foster, Simon Hobart, Jonathan Jenkins, David
Kemp, Robert Parker and Benjamin Woods. This
was the largest loss experienced by any town in the
battle, and it shows ihe patriotic character of the citi-
zens at that period. Colonel Prescott, the commander
on the American side, and three of the Pepperell
soldiers who lost their lives in the fight, were natives
of Groton.

During the War for the Union the record of the
town is equally honorable. According to General
William Schouler's " History of Massachusetts in the
Civil War" (ii. 409), she furnished four hundred men
for the public service, which was a surplus of forty-
nine over and above all demands; of whom twenty-
four were commissioned officers. Forty of these sol-
diers were either killed in battle or died of their
wounds, or of sickness contracted in the army. A
marble tablet with their names cut inthe stone has
been placed in the hall of the Town-House in grate-
ful recognition of their services and dedicated to their
memory. The whole amount of money raised and
appropriated by the town for war purposes, exclusive
of State aid, was thirty-one thousand seven hundred
and twenty-four dollars and forty-seven cents ($31,-

Camp Stevens at Grotox.— During the War of
the Rebellion, in the autumn of 1862, the Common-
wealth of Massachusetts established a military camp
at Groton, on the triangular piece of land situated in
the southwesterly part of the town, and bounded by
the Peterborough and Shirley Railroad, the Nashua


River and the road to Shirley Village. . It contained
eighteen or twenty acres, more or less, and at that
time belonged to Joseph Cutts ; the entrance was near
the angle made by the railroad and the highway.
The Fifty-third Regiment of Infantry, Massachusetts
Volunteer Militia, while its ranks were recruiting,
was encamped on this ground. The regiment w^as
raised from Groton and Clinton, Leominster, Fitch-
burg and other towns in the neighborhood belonging
to Worcester County, and was mustered into the
public service for nine months.

Special Order, No. 916, issued by the Adjutant-
General of the Commonwealth, September 19, 1862,
contains the following:

"A camp of rendezvous is established at Groton Junction, Middlesex
Co., where barracks are being built, which is designated Camp Stevens.
Capt. W. C. Sawyer, 23d Regt. Mass. Vols., is appointed Commandant.
Due notice will be given when the barracks are ready for use."

Special Order, No. 955, under the date of Septem-
ber 23d, has the following :

"Lindsey Tilden [Charles Li nzee Tilden], 20th Regt. Mass. Vols, is
detailed for Post Adjutant at Camp Stevens, Groton."

The camp was so named in memory of General
Isaac Ingalls Stevens, a native of Andover and a
graduate of West Point, who was killed in the battle of
Chantilly, Virginia, on September 6, 1862, only a fort-
night before the camp was established.

The commandant was Wesley Caleb Sawyer, born
in the adjoining town of Harvard, on August 26,
1839, who graduated at Harvard College in the class
of 1861. Soon after leaving Cambridge he was com-
missioned, on October 8, 1861, as a captain in the


Twenty-thir(i Massachusetts Volunteers, and be left
the State with that regiment. He was attached to
Burnside expedition, that went to North Carolina; in
the battle of Newbern, March 14, 1862, he was se-
verely wounded, which resulted in the amputation of
his left thigh, and necessarily prevented him from
further participation in an active campaign.

The regiment left Camp Stevens on Saturday, No-
vember 29th, for New York, where it remained until
January 17, 1863, at which time it embarked for New
Orleans. Subsequently to the departure of the troops
from Groton, the following order was issued :

" Commonwealth of Massachusetts,

" Head Quarters, Boston, Dec. 20, 1862.
"Special Order, No. 1311.

"The troops which were enlisted and mustered into service at Camp
Stevens, Groton Junction, having left the Commonwealth for the seat of
war, Capt. Wesley C. Sawyer, Commandant of the Camp, is relieved
from further service, and I am directed hy His Excellency, the Com-
mander-in-Chief, to thank Capt. Sawyer for the acceptable manner in
which he has performed the duties of his post.

" By order of the Commander-in-Chief,

*' William Schouler,

"Adjt. General"

Since the war Captain Sawyer has studied at
Gottingen, Germany, where he received the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy. He has held the professorship
of Philosophy and Rhetoric at Lawrence University,
Appleton, Wisconsin, but is now connected, as a
professor, with the Normal School at Oshkosh, Wis-

The barracks and other structures used by the
soldiers at Camp Stevens have long since disappeared,
and not a trace of the former occupation is to be seen.


Years ago some of the buildings were taken down, and
the rest were removed, mostly to Ayer. George James
Burns, Esq., a lawyer of that town, wrote an interest-
ing article for The Groton Landmark, June 25,
1887, which traces the history of many of these build-

In the autumn of 1862, Dr. Edward Jarvis, of Dor-
chester, was appointed by Surgeon-General Dale to
visit the various camps in the State, of which there
were ten, and report on their sanitary condition. The
result of his labors may be found in two communi-
cations printed in The Boston Medical and Surgical
Journal for December 4 and 11, 1862 (LXVII. 364-
367 and 381-384, respectively), wherein he makes
some criticism on Camp Stevens.

According to the " Record of Massachusetts Volun-
teers, 1861-65" (I. 390-392), the following soldiers
died in camp at Groton : Henry A. Waters, of Shir-

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Online LibrarySamuel A. (Samuel Abbott) GreenAn historical sketch of Groton, Massachusetts. 1655-1890 → online text (page 10 of 19)