Copyright
Samuel A. (Samuel Abbott) Green.

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

. (page 14 of 19)
Online LibrarySamuel A. (Samuel Abbott) GreenAn historical sketch of Groton, Massachusetts. 1655-1890 → online text (page 14 of 19)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


February 19, 1808. Spaulding's widow subsequently
married John Spalter, who was the landlord for a
short time. A^bout 1812 the house was rented to
Dearborn Emerson, who had been a driver of a stage-
coach, as well as the owner of a line. He remained
in possession of it for a few years.

During the War of 1812 it was an inn of local re-
nown ; and a Lieutenant Chase had his headquarters
here for awhile, when recruiting for the army. He
raised a company in the neighborhood, which was
ordered to Sackett's Harbor, near the foot of Lake
Ontario. The men were put into uniforms as they
enlisted and drilled daily. They were in the habit
of marching through-the village streets to the music
of the spirit-stirring drum and the ear-piercing fife;
and occasionally they were invited into the yard of
some hospitable citizen, who would treat them to



190 GROTOX.

" the cups that cheer but not inebriate," when
taken in moderation. William Kemp was the drum-
mer, and Wilder Shepley the fifer, both noted musi-
cians in their day. Sometimes Moses Kemp, a
brother, would act as fifer. William, who died on
September 28, 1885, at the advanced age of ninety- six
years, used to give many reminiscences of that period.
He was born at Groton on May 8, 1789, and began to
drum in early boyhood. His first appearance in the
public service was during the year 1805, as drummer of
the South Company of Groton, commanded by Luther
Lawrence, Esq., afterward the mayor of Lowell.
Among the men enlisted here during that campaign
were Marquis D. Farnswprth, Aaron Lewis, William
Shepley and John Woodward, of this town; and
James Adams and his son, James, Jr., of Pepperell.

During his boyhood Mr. Kemp knew Major Daniel
Simpson, the veteran drummer of Boston, whose
mother was Sarah, daughter of Job and Sarah (Hart-
well) Shattuck, of Groton. The major was born at
Harrison, Maine, on September 29, 1790, and died in
Boston on July 28, 1886. In former years he used to
spend considerable time at Groton, where many a
trial of skill between the two drummers has' taken
place.

It was about the year 1815 that Dearborn Emerson
left the Richardson tavern, and moved down the
street, perhaps thirty rods, where he opened another
public-house on the present site of Milo H. Shat-
tuck's store. The old tavern, in the mean time, passed
into the hands of Daniel Shattuck, who kept it until
the year before his death, which occurred on April 8,



GROTON. 191

1831. The business was then carried on during a
short time by Samuel Clark Tenny, who has the fol-
lowing advertisement in The Groton Herald, June 12,
1830:

" Old Stand.
" HHHE Subscriber would respectfully inform his friends and the public
generally, that he has taken the Tavern lately occupied'by
Mr. Daniel Shattuck, in Groton ; and having thoroughly fitted up the
same for the reception and accommodation of travellers, he flatters him-
self he shall obtain a share of their custom.

" No pains shall be spared to give satisfaction to all those who may be
disposed to patronize him.

" Samuel C. Tenny.
" Groton, June 12, 1830."

The next landlord was Lemuel Lakin, and after
him Francis Shattuck, a son of Daniel, for another
brief period. About the year 1833 it was given up
entirely as a public-house, and thus passed away an
old landmark widely known in those times. It stood
well out on the present road, the front door facing
down what is now Main Street, the upper end of which
then had no existence. In approaching the tavern
from the south, the road went up Hollis Street and
turned to the left somewhere south of the Burying-
Ground. The house afterward was cut up and moved
off, just before the Baptist meeting-house was built.

Dearborn Emerson married a sister of Daniel
Brooks, a large owner in the line of stage-coaches
running through Groton from Boston to the north-
ward ; and this family connection was of great ser-
vice to him. Jonas Parker, commonly known as
'' Tecumseh " Parker, was now associated with Emer-
son in keeping the new hotel. The stage business
was taken away from the Richardson tavern, and



192 GROTOX.

transferred to this one. The house was enlarged,
spacious barns and stables Avere erected, and better
accommodations given to man and beast, — on too
large a scale for profit, it seems, as Parker & Emer-
son failed shortly afterward. This was in the spring
of 1819, during which year the tavern was purchased
by Joseph Hoar, who kept it a little more than six
years, when he sold it to Amos Alexander. This
landlord, after a long time, was succeeded in turn by
Isaac J. Fox, Horace Brown, William Childs, Arte-
mas Brown, John M. Gilson, Abijah Wright and
Moses Gill. It was given up as a hotel in 1854, and
made into a shoe- factory, owned by Messrs. Bigelow
& Randall ; and finally it was burned on Wednes-
day evening, December 19, 1855. Mr. Gill had the
house for seven years, and was the last landlord. He
then opened a public-house directly opposite to the
Orthodox Church, and called it The Globe, which he
kept for two years. He was succeeded by Stephen
Woods, who remained only one year, after which
time this also was given up as a public-house.

The following advertisement in The Groton Herald,
March 13, 1830, shows that the selectmen of the town
at that time, wishing to be impartial in distributing
their official patronage, used to meet equally at all
the taverns in the village for the transaction of public
business:

"Stated Meetings of the Selectmen.

" 'p HE Selectmen sf Groton will meet on the last Saturdays of each
month the present municipal year, at 3 o'clock, p. m., viz. :— At
Hoars Tavern in March, April, May and June ; at Alexander's in July,
August, September and October ; and at Shattuck's in November, Decem-
ber, January and February.

" Caleb Butlke, Chairman.^'



GROTON. 193

Another hostelry was the Ridge Hill tavern, situated
at the Ridges, three miles from the village, on the
Great Road to Boston. This was built about the year
1805, and much frequented by travelers and team-
sters. At this point the roads diverge and come
together again in Lexington, making two routes to
Boston. It was claimed by interested persons that
one was considerably shorter than the other, — though
the actual difference was less than a mile. In the
year 1824 a guide-board was set up at the crotch of
the roads, proclaiming the fact that the distance to
Lexington through Concord was two miles longer
than through Carlisle. Straightway the storekeepers
and innholders along the Concord road published a
counter-statement, that it had been measured by
sworn surveyors, and the distance found to be only
two hundred and thirty-six rods farther than by the
other way.

The first landlord of the Ridge Hill tavern was
Levi Parker, noted for his hearty hospitality. He
was afterward deputy-sheriff of Middlesex County,
and lived at Westford. He was followed, for a short
time, by John Stevens, and then by John Hancock
Loring, who conducted the house during many years,
and was succeeded by his son Jefferson. After him
came Henry Lewis Lawrence, who kept it during one
year; he was followed by his brother-in-law, Mosea
Gill, who took the tavern in April, 1837, and kept it
just five years. When Mr. Gill gave up the house,
he was followed by one Langdon for a short time,
and he in turn by Kimball Farr as the landlord, who
had bought it the year previously, and who remained
13



194 GROTON.

in charge until 1868. During a part of the time
when the place was managed by Mr. Farr, his son
Augustus was associated with him. Mr. Farr sold
the tavern to John Fuzzard, a native of Brighton,
England, who kept it as the landlord for a while, and
is still the owner of the property. He Avas followed
by Newell M. Jewett, and he in turn by Stephen
Perkins, a native of York, Maine, who took it in
1880. The building had been vacant for some years
before that time. It was given up by Mr. Perkins in
the spring of 1884, when it ceased to be a public-
house, and was occupied again by Mr. Fuzzard as his
dwelling. A fair used to be held here on the first
Tuesday of every month for the sale of horses, and
buyers were attracted from a long distance. At one
time this property was owned by Judge Samuel
Dana, who sold it to John H. Loring.

As early as the year 1798 there was a tavern about
a mile from the Ridges, toward Groton. It was kept
by Stephen Farrar, in the house now standing near
where the brook crosses the Great Eoad. Afterward
one Green was the landlord. The house known
as the " Levi Tufts place," in the same neighborhood,
was an inn during the early part of this century, con-
ducted by Tilly Buttri'ck. Also about this time, or
previously, the house situated south of Indian Hill,
and occupied by Charles Prescott, — when the map in
Mr. Butler's History was made, — was an inn. There
was a tavern kept from about the year 1SV2 to 1818
by a Mr. Page, in Mr. Gerrish's house, — near the
Unitarian Church in the village, — which was built
by Martin Jennison, about 1803. Last spring the



GROTON. 195

same dwelling was newly furnished and opened as
a boarding-house for transient or permanent guests,
according to an advertisement in The Groton Land-
mark, May 3, 1890. There was also a tavern, near
the present paper-mills of Tileston and Hollings-
worth, kept for many years (1820-45) by Aaron
Lewis, and after him for a short time by A. M.
Veazie. It was originally the house of John Capell,
who owned the saw-mill and grist-mill in the imme-
diate neighborhood. Amos Adams had an inn near
Squannacook, a hundred years ago, in a house now
owned by James Kemp.

Forty years ago an attempt was made to organize
a company for the purpose of carrying on a hotel in
the village, and a charter was obtained from the
Legislature. The stock, however, was not wholly
taken up, and the project fell through. Of the cor-
parators, Mr. Potter was the last survivor, and he
died in Cincinnati, on December 2, 1884. Below is
a copy of the act : —

"An Act to incorporatk the Groton Hotel Company.
" BE it enacted hy\ the Senate and House of Representatives, in General
Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, asfolloios:
"Sect. 1. Luther F. Potter, Nathaniel P. Smith, Simeon Ames, their
associates and successors, are hereby made a corporation, by the name
of the Groton Hotel Company, for the purpose of erecting, in the town
of Groton, buildings necessary and convenient for a public house, with
all the powers and privileges, and subject to all the liabilities, duties and
restrictions, set forth in the forty-fourth chapter of the Revised Statutes.
"Sect. 2. Said corporation may hold such real and personal property,
as may be necessary and convenient for the purposes aforesaid, not ex-
ceeding in amount twenty thousand dollars : provided, that no shares in
the capital stock of said corporation shall be issued for a less sum or
amount, to be actually paid in on each, than the par value of the shares
which shall be first issued. And if any ardent spirits, or intoxicating



196 GROTOX.

drinks of any kind whatever, shall be sold by said company, or by their
agents, lessees, or persons in their employ, contrai-y to law, in any of
said buildings, then this act shall be void." [Approved by the Governor,
May 2, 1850.]

In the spring of 1852 a charter was given to Benja-
min Webb, Daniel D. R. Bowker, and their associates,
for the purpose of forming a corporation to carry on
a hotel at the Massapoag Springs, in the eastern part
of this town ; but the project fell through. It was to
be called the Massapoag Spring Hotel, and its capital
stock was limited to $30,000. The act was approved
by the Governor on May 18, 1852; and it contained
similar conditions to those mentioned above in regard
to the sale of liquors. In the spring of 1859 an act
was passed by the Legislature, and approved by the
Governor on April 1st, incorporating Abel Prescott,
Harvey A. Woods, Levi W. Woods, Stephen Roberts,
and Levi W. Phelps, their associates and successors,
under the name of the Groton Junction Hotel Com-
pany, for the purpose of erecting a hotel at Groton
Junction, now known as Ayer. The capital of the
company was limited to $15,000, but the stock was
never taken. These enterprises are now nearly forgot-
ten, though the mention of them may revive the recol-
lections of elderly people.

The Grotox Stage-Coaches.— During the first
half of the present century Groton had one charac-
teristic mark, closely connected with the old taverns,
which it no longer possesses. It was a radiating
centre for different lines of stage-coaches, until this
mode of travel was superseded by the swifter one of
the railroad. Wayfarers from the surrounding towns
off the line of travel came hither daily in private



GROTOX. 197

vehicles to engage their seats and take their passage.
During many years the stage-coaches were a diiitinct-
ive feature of the place ; and their conaing and going
were watched with great interest, and created the ex-
citeoient of the day. In early times the drivers, 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. More than a generation has now passed away
since these coaches were wont to be seen in the vil-
lage streets. They were drawn usually by four horses,
and in bad going by six. Here a change of coaches,
horses and drivers was made.

The stage-driver of former times belonged to a
class of men that has now disappeared from the com-
munity. His position was one of considerable respon-
sibility. This important personage was well known
along the route, and his opinions were always quoted
with respect. I easily recall the familiar face of Aaron
Corey, who drove the accommodation stage to Boston
for so 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 carried
also packages and parcels, and largely what to-day is
intrusted to the express. I recall, too, with pleasure
Horace George, another driver, popular with all the
boys, because in sleighing tintie he would let us ride
on the rack behind, and even slacken the speed of his
horses so as to allow us to catch hold of the straps.
In youthful dialect, the practice was called "ketching
on behind.''



198 GROTON.

Some people now remember the scenes of life and
activity that used to be witnessed in the town on the
arrival and departure of the stages. Some remem-
ber, too, the loud snap of the whip which gave in-
creased speed to the horses, as they dashed up in ap-
proved style to the stopping-place, where the
loungers were collected to see the travelers, and listen
to the gossip which fell from their lips. There were
no telegraphs then, and but few railroads in the coun-
try. The papers did not gather the news so eagerly
nor spread it abroad as pronaptly as they do now ;
and items of intelligence were carried largely by
word of mouth.

The earliest line of stage-coaches between Boston
and Groton was the one mentioned in the Colum-
bian Centinel, April 6, 1793. The advertisement is
headed " New Line of Stages," and gives notice
that—

" A Stage-Carnage drives from Bobbins' Tavern, at Charles-River
Bridge, on Monday and Friday, in each week, and passing through
Concord and Groton, arrives at Wijman's tavern in Ashley [Ashby] in the
evenings of the same days ; and after exchanging passengers there ^
■with the Stage Carriage from Waljyole, it returns on Tuesdays and Sat-
urdays, by the same route to Robbins's.

The C'harlestoicn Carriage drives also from Eohhins' on Wednesday in
each VFeek, and passing through Concord arrives at Richardson's tavern,
in Groton, on the evening of the same day, and from thence returns on
Thursday to Robbins".

"Another Carriage drives from Richardson's tavern in Groton, on Mon-
day in each week, at six o'clock in the morning, and passing by i?ic/i a ;-rf-
son's tavern in Concord, at ten o'clock in the forenoon, arrives at Charles-
town at three o'clock in the afternoon. From Charleslown it drives on
Tuesday and Thursday in each week, at three o'clock in the afternoon
and returns back as far as Richardson's tavern in Concord — and from
that place it starts at 8 o'clock in the mornings, of Wednesday and



GROTON. 199

Friday, and nilis again to Charlestown. From there it moves at six
o'clock on Saturday morning, and returns to Richardion'' s tavern in
Groton, in the evening of the same day."

It was probably one of these " Carriages" to which
allusion is made in Mr. Winthrop's " Memoir of the
Honorable Nathan Appleton," as follows :

" At early dusk on some October or November evening, in the year
1794, a fresh, vigorous, bright-eyed lad, just turned of fifteen, might
have been seen alighting from a stage-coach near Quaker Lane,i as
it was then called, in the old town of Boston. He had been two days
on the road from his home in the town of New Ipswich, in the State
of New Hampshire. On the last of the two days, the stage-coach
had brought him all the way from Groton in Massachusetts ; starting
for that purpose early in the morning, stopping at Concord for the
passengers to dine, trundling them through Charlestown about the
time the evening lamps were lighted, and finishing the whole distance
of rather more than thirty miles in season for supper. For his first
day's journey, there had been no such eligible and expeditious con-
veyance. The Boston stage-coach, in those days, went no fai'ther than
Groton in that direction. His father's farm-horse, or perhaps that of
one of the neighbors, had served his turn for the first six or seven miles ;
his little brother of ten years old having followed him as far as Town-
send, to ride the horse home again. But from there he had trudged
along to Groton on foot, with a bundle-handkerchief in his hand, which
contained all the wearing apparel he had, except what was on his back."
— Proceedings of the Massachusetta Historical Society, v. 249, 250.

It has been said that the first public conveyance
between Boston and Groton w^as a covered wagon,
hung on chains for thoroughbraces ; but this was
probably subsequent to the time of the advertisement.
It was owned and driven by Lemuel Lakin, but after
a few years the owner sold out to Dearborn Emer-
son.

The following advertisement from the Columbian



1 Now Congress Street.



200 GROTOX.

Ce/itinel, June 25, 1800, will give a notion of what an
undertaking a trip to Boston was at the beginning of
the century :

" GiBOTOX STAGE.

" The subscriber respectfully informs the public that he drives the
Stage from Boston to Groton, runniog through Lexington, Concord, and
Littleton, to Groton : Starts from Boston every Wednesday morning, at 5
o'clock, and arrives at Groton the same day ; Starts from Groton every
Monday morning, at 7 o'clock, and arrives at Boston the same day at i
o'clock. Passage through, 2 dols. per mile, 4d.

" Danbobn Emekson.

" Seats taken at Mr. Silas DriTON's in BoyaJ Exchange Lane. News-
papers supplied on the road, and every attention paid to conveyances."

The given-name of Emerson was Dearborn, and
not " Danborn," which is a misprint. Two years
later he was running a stage-coach from Groton to
New Ipswich, New Hampshire; and on the first re-
turn trip he brought three passengers, — according to
the " History of New Ipswich " (page 129). Emerson
was a noted driver in his day ; and he is mentioned
with pleasant recollections by the Honorable Abbott
LaAvrence, in an after-dinner speech at the Jubilee of
Lawrence Academy, on July 12, 1854, as appears
from the published account of the celebration. Sub-
sequently he was the landlord of one of the local
taverns.

It is advertised in The Massachusetts Register, for
the year 1802, that the—

" GEOTON Stage sets off from J. and S. W'heelock's [Indian Queen
Inn], Xo. 37, Marlboro'-Street [now a part of Washington Street, Bos-
ton], every Wednesday at 4 o'clock in the morning, and arrives at Gro-
ton at 3 o'clock in the aifternoon, same day; leaves Groton every
Monday at 4 o'clock in the morning, and arrives in Boston at 6 o'clock
in the afternoon, same day." (Pages 19, 20.)



GROTON. 201

It seems from this uotice that it took three hours
longer to make the trip down to Boston than up to
Groton, — of which the explanation is not clear. In
the Register for 1803, a semi-weekly line is advertised,
and the same length of time is given for making the
trip each way as is mentioned in the Register of the
preceding year.

About the year 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 after this
time there were two lines to Boston, running in op-
position to each other, — one known as the Union and
Accommodation Line, and the other as the Telegraph
and Despatch.

One of the drivers for the Telegraph and Despatch
Line was Phineas Harrington, popularly 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.
" Phin " was a man of small size; and the story used
to be told of him that, on cold and stormy nights, he
would get inside of one of the lamps fixed to the box,
in order to warm his feet by the lighted wick ! He
passed almost his whole life as a stage-man, and it is
said that he drove for nearly forty years. He could
handle the reins of six horses with more skill than
any other driver in town. Mr. Harrington died at
Dracut, on May 23, 1870, aged eighty years, two
months and nine days.

William Shepard & Co. advertise in The Groton
Herald, April 10, 1830, their accommodation stage.



202 GROTON.

" Good Teams and Coaches with careful and obliging
drivers will be provided by the subscribers." Books
were kept in Boston at A. M. Brigham's, No. 42 Han-
over Street, and in Groton at the taverns of Amos
Alexander and Joseph Hoar. The fare was one dol-
lar, and the coach went three times a week.

About this time George Flint had a line to Nashua,
and John Holt another to Fitchburg. They adver-
tise together in the Herald, May 1, 1830, that " no
pains shall be spared to accommodate those who shall
favor them with their custom, and all business in-
trusted to their care will be faithfully attended to."
The first stage-coach from this town to Lowell began
to run about the year 1829, and John Austin was the
driver. An opposition line was established soon after-
ward, and kept up during a short time, until a com-
promise was made between the two lines. Later,
John Russ was the owner and driver of the line to
Lowell, and still later, John M. Maynard the owner.
Near this period there was a coach running to Wor-
cester, and previously one to Amherst, New Hamp-
shire.

Fifty years ago General Thomas Adams Staples was
a well-known stage proprietor. He was a man of
large frame and fine proportions, and is still remem-
bered by many residents of the town. He was born
in Boston on July 20, 1804, and died at Machias,
Maine, on November 13, 1880.

The following is a list of some of the old drivers,
who were well-known along their respective routes.
It is arranged in no particular order and is by no
means complete ; and the dates against a few of the



GROTON. 203

names are only approximations to the time when each
one sat on the box.

Lemuel Lakin was among the earliest ; and he was
followed by Dearborn Emerson. Daniel Brooks drove
to Boston during the period of the last war with Eng-
land, and probably later.

Aaron Corey drove the accommodation stage to
Boston, through Carlisle, Bedford and Lexington, for
a long time, and he had previously driven the mail-
coach. He was succeeded by his son, Calvin, the
driver for a few years, until the line was given up in
1850. Mr. Corey, the father, was one of the veter-
ans, having held the reins during thirty-two years ;
he died March 15, 1857, at the age of seventy-three.

Isaac Bullard (1817-30), William Smart (1825-30),
George Hunt, Jonathan Buttrick, Obadiah Kendall,
Albert Hay den, Charles Briggs, Levi Robbins, James
Lord, Frank Brown, Silas Burgess, Augustus Adams,
William Dana, Horace Brown, Levi Wheeler, Tim-
othy Underwood, Bacon, Horace George (1838-

45), Leonard Williams Cushing (1842-45) and Joseph
Stewart, — these drove to Boston. After the stages


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 14 16 17 18 19

Online LibrarySamuel A. (Samuel Abbott) GreenAn historical sketch of Groton, Massachusetts. 1655-1890 → online text (page 14 of 19)