Samuel A. (Samuel Abbott) Green.

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

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ley, Co. D, on October 25, 1862; Spencer Stockwell,
of Athol, Co. E, November 20th ; and Daniel P. Hem-
enway, of Barre, Co. F, December 1st.

The veterans of the war have organized a post of
Grand Army of the Republic, which is called the
E. S. Clark Post, Xo. 115. It is named after Major
Eusebius Silsby Clark, of Groton, a gallant officer of
the Twenty-sixth Massachusetts Volunteers, who was
mortally wounded at Winchester, Virginia, on Sep-
tember 19, 1864, and died on October 17, 1864.

The Population of Groton at Different
Times. — The town of Groton was formerly a much
more important place relatively, both in size and in-
fluence, than it is at the present time. According to


the census of 1790, it was then the second town in
Middlesex County, Cambridge alone having a larger
population. At that time Groton had 322 families,
numbering 1840 persons; and Cambridge, 355 fami-
lies, numbering 2115 persons. Charlestown had a pop-
ulation of 1583, and Newton, 1360. Reading, with
341 families (nineteen more than Groton), numbered
1802 persons (thirty-eight less than Groton). Woburn
then had a poj^ulation of 1727 ; Framingham, 1598 ;
Marlborough, 1554, and Waltham, 882. ' Pepperell
contained 1132 inhabitants; Shirley, 677 ; Westford,
1229, and Littleton, 854.

There were at that time in Middlesex County forty -
one towns, which number has since been increased to
forty-seven towns and seven cities ; and in the mean-
while Brighton and Charlestown have been merged in
the municipality of Boston, and thus have lost their
separate existence. Major Aaron Brown, of Groton,
and General Henry Woods, of Pepperell, were the
marshals who took the census of the county, with the
exception of that small portion lying on the further
side of the Merrimack River.

A comparison of the population of the town at dif-
ferent periods is somewhat interesting to those famil-
iar with its history. John Tinker, in a petition to the
General Court, dated October, 1659, four years after
the incorporation of the town, says that the planta-
tion "Continueth vnpeopled." The report of the
committee, — of which Thomas Danforth was chair-
man, — dated May 23, 1661, and already quoted, states
that there were four or five families " planted " at
that time. In March, 1676, when the town was


burned by the Indians, it was estimated by the Rev.
William Hubbard, in his narrative, that there were
then sixty families in the place. Another writer of
that period puts the number of dwellings destroyed
at sixty-six, and says that only six houses were left
standing. From these estimates it would appear that
the population of the town at the time of its destruc-
tion was between 300 and 350 inhabitants. From
March, 1676, until the early spring of 1678 the settle-
ment was abandoned and entirely deserted. In
March, 1680, there were forty families in the town, as
appears by some statistical returns printed in " The
New England Historical and Genealogical Register "
(V. 173) for April, 1851. In March, 1707-8, there
were sixty-seven polls (" Collections of the American
Statistical Association," p. 146), which would indicate
a population of about 300 persons. At the beginning
of the year 1755 there were fourteen negro slaves in
town — seven men and seven women — who were six-
teen years old or upwards.

On June 2, 1763, Governor Francis Bernard sent a
message to the General Court, expressing his wish that
a census of the Province might be taken ; but that
body paid no heed to the suggestion. On January 19,
1764, he renewed the proposition, and apparently
with better success ; for the Legislature, on February
2d, adopted an order carrying out his wishes. The
popular heart, however, was not in the work, and no
interest was taken in the measure. The people were
suspicious of the rulers in England, and jealous of
all political interference ; and it is but natural that
the census proceeded slowly. On March 5, 1765, an


act was passed by the General Court to carry into ef-
fect an order which had previously been passed for
numbering the people within the Province. This ac-
tion shows that the Governor's pet scheme was not re-
ceiving a warm support.

With these drawbacks, and under such conditions,
the first census of the houses, families and number of
people in the Province of Massachusetts Bay ever
taken w^as finished in the year 1765. Singularly
enough, there are now no returns of this enumeration
among the Provincial or State Archives, where they
were undoubtedly placed. How or when they disap-
peared is a matter of conjecture; but probably they
were lost amid the confusion that naturally prevailed
during the Revolutionary period. Fortunately a copy
of this census was found by the late Judge Samuel
Dana, of Groton, among some papers of a deceased
friend, which had then lately come into his posses-
sion ; and by him seat to the Columbian Centinel
newspaper, where it was printed for the first time in
the issue of August 17, 1822, more than half a cen-
tury after the enumeration was made. From this
source is derived all the information concerning the
figures of the census of 1765 ; and the printed copy,
in the absence of any other, is an authority second in
importance only to the original manuscript returns.
At that time the town of Groton had 1408 inhabit-

Akin to this subject, there is in the Library of the
Massachusetts Historical Society a memorandum-
book, which contains some interesting facts con-
nected directly or indirectly with the population of


the Commonwealth during the Revolutionary period.
According to this authority the population of Groton
in the year 1776 was 1639; the number of ratable
polls in 1778 was 362, and the number in 1781 was

In compliance with a resolution of Congress, an
act was passed by the General Court of Massachu-
setts on July 2, 1784, requiring the assessors of towns
to make certain returns, from which it appears that
there were at that time 418 polls in Groton. This
was the largest number returned by any town in the
county, with the single exception of Cambridge,
which had 457 polls ; and after Groton came Reading
with 399 polls, and Woburn with 395, followed closely
by Framingham with 389.

At the several decennial dates of the United States
census, the population of Groton has been as follows:
In the year 1790, 1,840; 1800, 1,802; 1810, 1,886;
1820, 1,897; 1830, 1,925; 1840, 2,139; 1850, 2,515;
1860, 3,193; 1870, 3,584, and 1880, 1,862. The town
of Ayer was incorporated on February 14, 1871, and
made up almost entirely from the territory of Gro-
ton, which accounts for the great diminution in the
population between the last two decennial periods,
as given above. The new town started on its corpo-
rate existence with a population nearly equal to that
of the parent town, and, with all the vigor of youth,
soon surpassed it in size.

The population of Groton, as taken by the State
in the quinquennial years, has been as follows: In
the year 1855, 2,745; 1865, 3,176; 1875, 1,908, and
1885, 1,987. By all the enumerations. National or

1 52 GROTOX.

State, made during the present century, it will be
seen that there has been a steady increase in the
population of the town, with the exception of the
period between the years 1860 and 1865, when there
was a slight decrease of seventeen inhabitants, and of
the period between 1875 and 1880, when there was a
falling off of forty-six inhabitants. The loss in the
first instance was due, of course, to the disturbing
effects of the Civil War.

The population of Ayer in the year 1885 was 2190 ;
and if that village had not been separately incorpor-
ated, the population of Groton would now be consid-
erably more than 4000 inhabitants. According to
the last State census there were thirty-two towns or
cities in Middlesex County larger than Groton, and
twenty-one towns smaller.

The original Groton Plantation, as granted by the
General Court on May 25, 1655, has furnished the
entire territory of Ayer; the whole of Pepperell, with
the exception of a narrow strip lying along its north-
ern boundary, which once belonged to the West Par-
ish of Dunstable (Hollis); the whole of Shirley, with
the exception of a small portion formerly known as
"Stow Leg;" one- half of Dunstable; and has con-
tributed more or less to form five other towns, namely.
Harvard, Littleton and Westford (including a part
of Forge Village), in Massachusetts, besides Nashua
and Hollis, in New Hampshire. The total popula-
tion of this territory is now more than 10,000 inhab-

Summary. — Population of Groton at Different
Times. — Town incorporated on May 25, 1655 ; in Oc-


tober, 1659, " vnpeopled ;" in May, 1661, four or five
families; in March, 1676, about 300 inhabitants; in
March, 1680, forty families; in March, 1708, 67 polls;
in March, 1765, 1408 inhabitants ; in 1776, 1639 in-
habitants; in 1778, 362 polls; in 1781, 395 polls, and
in 1784, 418 polls.

Year. Inhabitants. Tear. Inhabitants,

1790 1840 i 1855 2745

1800 1802 j I860 3193

1810 1886 ' 1865 3176

1820 1897 1870 3584

1830 .... ..... 1925 1875 1908

1840 2139 1880 1862

1850 2515 1885 1987

The approximate population of the town, under
the national census of 1890, is 2071, though these
figures are subject to change in the official count.

Slavery ix Grotox.— During a long period be-
fore the Revolution, Groton had one element in her
population which does not now exist, and which to-day
has disappeared from almost the whole civilized world.
At the beginning of the year 1755 there were fourteen
negro slaves in town, seven men and seven women
who were sixteen years old or upwards. At that
time Townsend had three slaves, two men and one
woman ; Shirley had one, a man ; and Pepperell made
no return of having any. Westford had five, but the
sex is not given. These facts are gathered from a
census of negro slaves in Massachusetts, ordered by
the Province, which is published in the third volume,
second series, of the Collections of the Massachusetts
Historical Society (pages 95-97).

William Banks, a negro or mulatto, was married at


Groton on December 21, 1719, by Francis Fullam, a
justice of peace, to Hannali Wansamug. William
appears to have been a slave belonging to Eleazer
Robbins, of Groton, and Hannah was an Indian, who
is called in the records "late of Lancaster;" but un-
fortunately the marriage was not a happy one. With
all confidence in her husband, the wife bought his
freedom, when he proved false to his plight and prom-
ise, and deserted her. The story, told in her own
words, is found in the Journal of the Massachusetts
House of Representatives, June 13, 1724 (page 39):

" A Petition of Hannah Banks Indian, shewing that she bought of
Eleazer Bobbins of Groton his Servant Plan's Time, and gave a Bond
of I. 15 for Payment of the same, that afterwards she married the said
Servant Man, who is since absconded, and the said Robbms hath put the
said Bond in Suit, and cast the Petitioner into Prison in Boston, that the
Principal Debt with the Charges hath arisen to I. 25 which Mr. Edward
Ruggles of RooAiu-y hath paid for her, praying this Court would please
to enable the said Edward Buggies to Sell such a part of her Land in
Xatick, as will satisfy him for his advance of said Twenty-Five Pounds.

" Bead and committed to the Committee for Petitions."

The following advertisement, not an unusual one
for that period, appears in The Boston Evening-
Post, July 30, 1739 :

RAX away from Ms Master, Mr. John Woods of Groton, on Thursday
the 12th of this Instant July, a Negro 3Ian Servant named Caesar,
about 22 Tears of Age, apretty short tvell sett Felloic. He carried with him
a Bine Oxxt and Jacket, a pair of Tow Breeches, a Castor Hat, Stockings
and Shoes of his own, and a Blue Cloth Coat with flower'd Metal Buttons,
a white flower' d Jacket, a good Bever Hat, a Gray Wigg, and a pair of new
Shoes of his Master's, with some other things. It is suspected there is some
white Person that may be with him, or design to make Use of his Blaster's
Apparel above described.

Whoever shall take up the said Servant, and bring him to his above-said
Master in Groton, or be a 3Ieans of convicting any person or Confederate
icith said Servant as above suspected, shall have Five Pounds Be ward for
each of them, and all necessary Charges jyaid.


Another advertisement appears in The Boston
Gazette and Country Journal, June 13, 1774, as
follows :

Ten Dollars Reward.

RAN AWAY from the Subscriber, Joseph 3Ioors, of Groton, in the
County of Middlesex, and Province of Massachusetts-Bay, a
Molatto Man Servant, named TITUS, about 20 Years of Age, of a mid-
ling Stature, wears short curl'd Hair, has one of his Fore-Teeth broke
out, took with him a blue Surdan, a Snuff-coloured Coat, and a Pair of
white wash'd Leather Breeches, a Pair of new Cow-Hide Pumps and a
Furr'd Hat with large Brims, and sundry other Articles of Wearing

Apparel. Whoever will take up said Servant and confine him in

any of his Majesty's Goals, so that the Owner may have him again, shall
have TEN DOLLARS Reward and all necessary Charges paid, by

ig®= All Masters of Vessels and others, are hereby Cautioned agaimt
Harbouring, Concealing, or carrying off said Servant, as they would thereby
avoid the Penalty of the Law.

The following marriage is entered in the church rec-
ords under the date December 28, 1742 .• 'Triamus
(Cap* Boydens Negro man servant [)] to Margr*. Mo-
latto formerly servant to S. S. both of Groton." It is
also recorded that Margaret, the servant of Samuel
Scripture, Jr., was baptized on January 30, 1733-34,
and that she owned the church covenant at the same
time. The initials "S. S." stand for Samuel Scrip-
ture. This negro couple was afterward blessed with a
family of children, and they lived on the west side ot
the Nashua River, a short distance north of the
county road to Townsend. His surname was Lew or
Lue, and his given name became contracted into Pri-
mus ; and to this day the rise of ground, near the
place where the Pepperell road leaves the main road,
is known as Primus Hill, so called after him. Mr.
Butler thinks that perhaps Margaret's name was


Lew. See his History (page 454). Their oldest child,
— Zelah, a corruption of Barzillai, — born at Groton
on !N^ovember 5, 1743, was a famous musician, who
lived at Dracut and the father of numerous children
who were also musicians. He was a fifer in Captain
John Ford's company of the twenty-seventh Massa-
chusetts Regiment, in service at the siege of Boston,
and was present at the Battle of Bunker Hill.

About the year 1740 there was a negro slave in Gro-
ton by the name of Boad, who used to look after the
cattle sent up to Groton Gore in the spring to be pas-
tured during the summer. See " The Boundary Lines
of Old Groton "' (page 37). The church records con-
tains the entry of the baptism of Hagar, a servant ot
William Green, on August 1, 1765.

Akin to the subject of slavery in Groton is this
item, from The Groton Landmark, Xovember 14,
1885 :—

" Got. Boutwell has in an old scrap-book the following interesting
Memorandum :

''August, 1856.

"Noah Shattuck, esq., informs me that there were eleven slaves in
Groton when slavery was abolished, and he mentioned the following
names : Chloe Williams, Phillis Cutler, Phillls Sartell, Ichabod
Davis, Fanny Borden and William Case. Phineas Wait also owned one

Noah Shattuck. a son of Job and Sarah (HartwelJ)
Shattuck, was born on August 30, 1772, and died on
September 28, 1858.

The following entry is found in the town records,
and refers to the last survivor of negro slavery within
the limits of the town. The institution was abolished
by the adoption of the State Constitution in the year


1780, the courts holding that the Bill of Rights swept
away the remnants of involuntary servitude:

"Phillis Walby, servant to Josiah Sawtell, Jun., deceased, died at
Grotoii, aged 79, February — , 1821."

The following extract from the town records refers
to Titus, who is advertised as a runaway in The
Boston- Gazette, and Country Journal, June 13, 1774,
as mentioned above. The advertiser was a sun of
Abraham Moors, the owner of Zebina, the slave-
mother :

" Titus, a molato boy born of Zebinah, a negro slave to M^. Abraham
Moors, March — , 1751."

A List of the Town Clerks (from the year 1662
to the present time, with the dates of their election
and terms of service. In this list the years are given
according to the new style of reckoning, and in spe-
cifying dates, small fractions of years are overlooked.
The town was attacked by the Indians in the spring
of 1676, and abandoned by the inhabitants until
March, 1678.

The earliest records of the town were written by
Richard Sawtell, and begin on June 23, 1662, though
his election as town clerk was not recorded until De-
cember 24, 1662. During the period since that date
there have been thirty-four town clerks, of whom five,
namely, Jonathan Morse, William Longley, Jr., James
Blanchard, Jonathan Sheple and Samuel Rockwood,
died while in office — Longley being killed by the
Indians on July 27, 1694. During the early part of
1682 Captain James Parker, Richard Blood and Jonas
Prescott made entries in the records, though no one of
them appears to have been at the time town clerk. Jon-


athan Morse was the first who signed the records with
his name, though the practice with him was not con-
stant. William Longley, William Longley, Jr., and
John Longley were representatives of three successive
generations in the same family, being father, son and
grandson. On December 9, 1687, William Longley,
Jr., was chosen clerk, but he acted as such during
only a part of the next town meeting on May 21,
1688, when he was followed by Josiah Parker, who
made the entry for so much of that meeting as oc-
curred after his election. Mr. B^gham, the present
occupant, has filled the position for more than thirly-
five years continuously — by far the longest term of
service of any town clerk. Joseph Lakin, with a rec-
ord of seventeen years, comes next to him in length of
time. Of all the persons mentioned in the list, only
the last three are now living, namely, Mr. Boutwell,
Mr. Parker and Mr. Brigham ; and their combined
term of service covers just forty-four years. Since the
death of Mr. Park, which took place on September
23, 1875, these three have been the only survivors.
Mr. Butler died on October 7, 1854, and Mr. Boyn-
ton on November 30, 1854 — less than eight weeks

Date of Election.
December 24, 1652, Kichard Sawtell, 1662-1664.
January 27, 1665, James Fisk, 1665.
December 2, 1665, William Longley," 1666, 1667.
December 11, 1667, John Page, 1668.
November 11, 1668, Kichard Blood, 1669.
November 10, 1669. John Morse, 1670-1676.

(Town abandoned during two years.)
1678, James Parker, 1C7S, 1679.
December 23, 1679, John Morse, 1680, 1681.

1682, Jonathan Morse (died July 31, 1686), 1682-1686.


December 10, 1686, Josiah Parker, 1686, 1687.

December 9, 1687, William Longley, Jr., 1688 (a short time only).

May 21, 1688, Josiah Parker, 1688-1691.

December 10, 1691, Jonas Prescott, 1692.

December 12, 1692, William Longley, Jr. (killed July 27, 1694), 1693-

March 4, 16?o, James Blanchard, 1695.
March 3, 1696, Jonas Prescott, 1696.

December 10, 1696, James Blanchard (died Feb., 1704), 1697-1704.
March 8, 1704, Thomas Tarbell, 1704, 1705.
March 5, 1706, Joseph Lakin, 1706-1722.
March 5, 1723, John Longley, 1723-1726.
March 7, 1727, Joseph Lakin, 1727.
March 5, 1728, John Longley, 1728, 1729.
March 3, 1730, Jonathan Sheple, 1730.
March 2, 1731, Thomas Tarbel", Jr., 1731-1733.
March 5, 1734, Jonathan Sheple, 1734-1744.
March 5. 1745, Thomas Tarbell, Jr., 1745-1756.
March 1, 1757, Abel Lawrence, 1757-1764.
March 5, 1765, Oliver Prescott, 1765-1777.
March 3, 1778, Isaac Farnsworth, 1778-1781.
March 5, 1782, Abel Bancroft, 1782, 1783.
IMarch 2, 1784, Jonathan Keep, 1784.
March 1, 1785, Abel Bancroft was chosen, but declined.
March 1, 1785, Isaac Farnsworth, 1785-1787.
March 4, 1788, Nathaniel Sartel was chosen, but declined.
March 10, 1788, Joseph Shed, 1788-1794.
March 3, 1795, Samuel Lawrence, 1795-1798.
March 5, 1799, Samuel Rockwood (died May 29, 1804), 1799-1804.
June 18, 1804, Oliver Prescott, Jr., 1804-1810.
March 5, 1811, Joseph 3Iansfield, 1811-1814.
March 7, 1815, Caleb Butler, 1815-1817.
March 3, 1818, Joseph 3Iansfield, 1818.
March 2, 1819, Noah Shattuck, 18 19-1822.
March 3, 1823, Caleb Butler, 1823-1831.
March 6, 1832, John Boynton, 1832, 1833.
March 4, 1834, John Gray Park, 18.34-1836.
March 6,1837, John Boynton, 1837-1845.
March 3, 184G, George Sewall Boutwell, 1846-1850.
March 4, 1851, John Warren Parker, 1851-1854.
March 5, 1855, George Dexter Brigham, 1855-



A List of the Treasurers (so far as they
are found in the town records, with the dates
of their election and terms of service). — Alden
Warren served during twenty-four years, which is the
longest term of any treasurer ; and next to him, in
length of service, was Benjamin Bancroft, who filled
the office for seventeen years. After him came Cal-
vin Boynton, who served during sixteen years, and
then Capt. Ephraim Sawtell, with a term of fifteen
years. William Livermore, who was treasurer in
1845, is the senior survivor ; and, with the exception
of the brothers George and Walter Shattuck, all his
successors are still alive.

Date of Election.
[March ?], 1697, Capt. Jas. Parker.
March 1, 1709, " Samuill ^Voods

trasewer ' '
March 7, 1710, Samuel Woods.
March 6, 1711, Samuel Woods.
March 4, 1712, Jonathan Boiden.
March 3, 1713, Jonathan Boiden.
March 2, 1714, " Shebuall hobart "
March 1, 1715, Shebuel Hobart.
March 6, 1716, Jonathan Boiden.
March 5, 1*717, Jonathan Boiden.
March 4, 1718, John Longley.
March 3, 1719, John Longley.
March 1, 17^0, John Longley.
March 7, 1721, John Longley.
March 6, 1722, John Longley.
March 5, 1723, Thomas Lawrence.
March 3, 1724, Thomas Lawrence.
March 2, 1725, Thomas Lawrence.
March 1, 1726, Thos. Lawrence, Sr
March 7, 1727, Thomas Lawrence.
March 5, 1728, Thomas Lawrence.
March 4, 1729, Samuel Tarbell.

Date of Election.
March 3, 1730, Samuel Tarbell.
March 2, 1731, Samuel Tarbell.
March 7, 1732, "Justis Prescott."
March 6, 1733, Benj. Prescott, Esq.
March 5, 1734 (In the list of town
officers chosen on this day the
treasurer's name is omitted
probably through an oversight
but without doubt it was Ben-
jamin Prescott).
March 4,1735, Benj. Prescott, Esq.
March 2, 1736, Benj. Prescott, Esq.
March 7, 1737, Benj. Prescott, Esq.
March 6, 1738, "Justice Sawtell."
March 4, 1739, Nath. Sawtell, Esq.
1740 (no record is found).
March 3, 1741, Nath. Sawtell, Esq.
1742 (no record is found).
March 1, 1743, " Deacon Longley."
March 6, 1744, Dea. John Longley
March 5, 1745, Dea. John Longley
March 3, 1746, Dea. John Longley
March 3, 1747, Dea. John Longley



March 1, 1748,
Ikfarch 6, 1749,
March 5, 1750,
March 5, 1751,
March 3, 1752,
March 6, 1753,
March 5, 1754,
March 4, 1755,
March 2, 1756,
March 1, 1757,
March 7, 1758,
March 6, 1759,
March 4, 1760,
March 3, 1761,
March 2, 17b2,
March 1, 1763,
March 6, 1764,
March 5, 1765,
March 4, 1766,
March 3, 1767,
March 1, 1768,
March 7, 1769,
March 6, 1770,
March 5, 1771,
March 3, i772,
March 2, 1773,
March 1, 1774,
March 7, 1775,
March 5, 1776,
March 4, 1777,
March 3, 1778,
March 2, 1779,
March 7, 178U,
March 6, 1781,
March 5, 1782,
March 4, 1783,
March 2, 1784,
March 1, 1785,
March 7, 1786,
March 6, 1787,
March 4, 1788,


Dea. John Longley
Dea. Joha Longley
Capt. Eph. Sawtell
Capt. Eph. Sawtell
Capt. Eph. S twtell
Capt.. Eph. Sawtell
Capt. Eph. Sawtell
Capt. Eph. Sawtell
Capt. Eph. Sawtell
Capt. Eph. Sawtell
Capt. Eph. Sawtell
Capt. Eph. Sawtell
Capt. Eph. Sawtell
Capt. Eph. Sawtell
Capt. Eph. Sawtell
Capt. Eph. Sawtell
Capt. Eph. Sawtell
Benjamin Bancroft
Benjaniin Bancroft
Benjamin Bancroft
Benjamin Bancroft
Benjamin Bancroft
Benjamin Bancroft
Benjamin Bancroft
Benjamin Bancroft
Benjamin Bancroft
Dea. Benj. Bancroft
Dea. Benj. Bancroft
Dea. Benj. Bancroft
Dea. Benj. Bancroft
Dea. Benj. Bancroft
Dea. Benj. Bancroft
Dea. Benj. Bancroft
Dea. Benj. Bancroft
Lieut. Jona. Keep.
Lieut. Jona. Keep.
Israel Hobart, Esq.
Israel Hobart, Escj.

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