Samuel A. (Samuel Abbott) Green.

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

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w^ere taken off, " Joe " Stewart was the driver of the
passenger-coach from the village to the station on the
Fitchburg Railroad, which ran to connect with the
three daily trains for Boston. The station was three
miles away, and now within the limits of Ayer.

Among the drivers to Keene, New Hampshire,
were Kimball Danforth (1817-40), Ira Brown, Oliver
Scales, Amos Nicholas, Otis Bardwell, Abel Marshall,
the brothers Ira and Hiram Hodgkins, George Brown,
Houghton Lawrence, Palmer Thomas, Ira Green,


Barney Pike, William JohnsoD, Walter Carleton
and John Carleton. There were two stage routes to
Keene, both going as far as West Townsend in com-
mon, and then separating, one passing through New
Ipswich and Jaffrey, a northerly route, while the
other went through Ashby, Rindge and Fitzwilliam,
a southerly one.

Anson Johnson and Beriah Curtis drove to Wor-
cester ; Addison Parker, Henry Lewis Lawrence,
Stephen Corbin, John Webber, and his son Ward,
drove to Lowell ; the brothers Abiel and Nathan
Fawcett, Wilder Proctor and Abel Hamilton Fuller,
to Nashua.

Micah Ball, w^ho came from Leominster about the
year 1824, drove to Amherst, New Hampshire, and
after him Benjamin Lewis, who continued to drive as
long as he lived, and at his death the line was given
up. The route lay through Pepperell, Hollis and

The forerunner of this Amherst stage was a one-
horse vehicle, which used to go over the road each
way two or three times a week, and carry the mail.
It began to run about the year 1820, and took pas-
sengers as occasion required.

Other reins-men were John Chase, Joel Shattuck,
William Shattuck, Moses Titus, Frank Shattuck,

David Coburn, Chickering, Thomas Emory and

William Kemp, Jr.

The sad recollection of an accident at Littleton, re-
sulting in the death of Silas Bullard, is occasionally
revived by some of the older people. It occurred on
February 3, 1835, and was caused by the upsetting of


the Groton coach, driven by Samuel Stone, and at the
time just descending the hill between Littleton Com-
mon and Nagog Pond, then known as Kimball's Hill.
Mr. Bullardwas one of the owners of the line, and a
brother of Isaac, the veteran driver. The Colum-
Man Centinel, February 5, 1835, contains the fol-
lowing account of the affair :

*'■ From Bri'jgs's News Boom Bulletin.''^

" On Tuesday afternoon [February 3], as the Groton and Keene mail-
stage was returning to this city, in a narrow pass of the road in Little-
ton, one of the fore wheels of the stage came in contact with the hind
wheel of a wagon, which suddenly overturned the stage. — There were
eleven passengers in the vehicle at the time, who, with the exception of
Mr. Silas Bullard, of this city, and Mr. Washington Shepley, of Groton,
escaped uninjured. Mr. Bullard was seated with the driver at the time
of the accident, and was thrown, with great violence, to the ground, the
stage falling immediately upon him. His collar-bone and two of bis
ribs were broken, shoulder blade dislocated, and otherwise injured. He
was conveyed to a private dwelling, where he has the best medical aid,
but his recovery is very doubtful. Mr. Shepley's injuries were of an in-
ternal nature, but not such as to prevent his immediate return to Gro-
ton. A passenger states that no blame can be attached to the driver."

Mr. Bullard died on February 5th, and the Centinel
of the next day pays a worthy tribute to his char-

Besides the stage-coaches, the carrier-wagons added
to the business of Groton, and helped largely to sup-
port the taverns. The town was situated on one of
the main thoroughfares leading from Boston to the
northern country, comprising an important part of
New Hampshire and Vermont, and extending into
Canada. This road was traversed by a great number
of wagons, drawn by four or six horses, carrying to
the city the various products of the country, such as


grain, pork, butter, cheese, eggs, venison, hides ; and
returning with goods found in the city, such as mo-
lasses,, sugar, New England rum, coffee, tea, nails,
iron, cloths, and the innumerable articles found in
the country stores, to be distributed among the towns
above here. In some seasons it was no uncommon
sight to see forty such wagons passing thrc^ugh the
village in one day.

In addirion to these were many smaller vehicles,
drawn by one or two horses, to say nothing of the
private carriages of individuals who were traveling
for business or pleasure.

The Grotox Fire Department. — The first fire-
engine in Groton was made in the year 1802, by Lo-
ammi Baldwin, Jr., then a law-student in the office
of the Honorable Timothy Bigelow, but who after-
ward became a civil engineer. He was a son of
Loammi and Mary (Fowle) Baldwin, and born at
Woburn on May 16, 1780 ; and after his graduation
at Harvard College, in the class of 1800, he came to
Groton in order to study the profession of law. Like
many others he does not seem to have found out at the
start his proper calling, as his tastes were naturally
for mechanical science and the kindred arts. While
following his studies here, a house, situated just south
of the academy grounds, was burned down in the
winter-time and there was no fire-engine to stop it.
The neighbors had to fight the flames as best they
could, with snow as well as water. By this incident
he became so impressed with the need of an engine in
Groton, that with his own hands he constructed the
first one the town ever had. This identical machine,


known for a long time as Torrent, No. 1, is still ser-
viceable after a use of more than eighty- eight years,
and will throw a stream of water over the highest roof
in the town. It was made in Jonathan Loring's shop,
then opposite to Mr. Boynton's blacksmith-shop,
where the ironwork was done. The tub is of copper,
and bears the date " 1802." Mr. Baldwin, soon after
this time, gave up the practice of law, and became
distinguished in his new profession.

The following description of the engine is found in
The Firemen's Standard (Boston) for April, 1884:

" The old ' machine ' has a quaint appearance with its copper tub on
which is inscribed its name, Torrent, No. 1, and its ancient tool box
which bears the date of its birth, 1802, The said tub is three feet six
inches long, two feet two inches wide, and twenty-two inches deep. On its
bottom rests an oak plank in which are set the valves and in which
stand the brass cylinders and air chamber, the former of which being
each five inches in diameter and sixteen inches high. A gooseneck on
the top of the air chamber serves as the outlet for the water and a reel is
attached to the hind part of the tub capable of carrying one hundred
feet of two-inch hose, the first supply of which was made at the harness
shop and sewed with waxed thread" (page 4).

Among the active members of Torrent Company,
nearly fifty years ago, was Elijah Tracy, a deaf-mute,
who attended the stated meetings, and turned out at
the fires, with as much regularity as his more favored

At two different times within sixteen years, Torrent,
No. 1, has done most excellent service in putting out
fires, and it is the testimony of all acquainted with
the facts, that on each of these occasions it prevented
a serious conflagration. Notably this was so at a fire
which took place early on Sunday morning, October
26, 1884, when a dwelling-house, owned by Andrew


Robbins, was burned down. At this time Mr. Dix's
buildings, in very close proximit}', were in great
danger, but they were saved through the efforts of the
Fire Department and the use of the old engine, which
was worked to good advantage in narrow quarters,
where the other engine could not be taken. The
other occasion was when Walter Shattuck's store was
burned down on November 17, 1874 ; and largely by
means of this engine the Congregational meeting-
house was saved from destruction.

Torrent, No. 1, until recently, was housed at the
end of a row of horse-sheds, near the First Parish
meeting-house, but in the year 1885 it was transferred
to West Groton, for the protection of that part of the
town. It was there placed in the charge of a volun-
teer company of young men ; and on April 5, 1886,
the town voted to authorize the Board of Engineers
to form a permanent company in that village, which
was accordingly done, with the volunteer association
as a nucleus. The engine has been re-named, and
is now know^n as the Squannacook. An engine-house,
next to the new church on Groton Street, has been
built, which was formally opened with appropriate
ceremonies, on the evening of December 30, 1887. In
the upper story is a hall for public meetings, where,
on January 6, 1888, the company gave a ball. A
pamphlet was printed (Ayer, 1887, 12mo, pp. 8), enti-
tled "Constitution and By-Laws of Squannacook En-
gine Co., No. 2, West Groton, Mass.," which sets forth
the rules of their government.

The Union Engine Company was organized in the
spring of 1830, and the immediate occasion of its for-


mation was the series of incendiary fires that occurred
during the year 1829. Presumably the name of the
engine comj3any was taken from the Union Congre-
gational Church in the immediate neighborhood ; and
the engine was housed at the easterly end of the
horse-sheds, situated on the northerly side of the

The following notice in the Groton Herald, May
8, 1830, is addressed to the subscribers for the engine :

'^ r I iHE Subscribers to the New Eugine are hereby requested to meet
-*- at Alexander's Hotel, MONDAY the 10th inst., at6 oclock,
P.M. to hear the report of their Committee, chosen for the purpose of
purchasing an Engine, and to transact any other business which they
may think expedient.

"Elijah Whiton, ) ^
.._ . ^ y ComtiiMee.

"T. A. Staples. J
"Groton, May 8, 1830."

A Board of Engineers of the Fire Department was
originally appointed in April, 1875, by the selectmen,
in accordance with Chapter 35 of the Public Stat-
utes. Their first report was made in the spring of
1876, and printed in the Town Report of that year.
A new engine, known as the Lawrence, was bought
in August, 1875, and is kept in the town-house. The
following is a list of the chief engineers, with the dates
of their several appointments, which are made by
the selectmen :

April 10, 1875, George Sumner Graves.
April 22, 1876, Charles Blood.
April 24, 1877, Charles Blood.
April 22, 1878, Charles Blood.
April 23, 1879, Charles Blood.
April 17, 1880, Charles Blood.
April 20, 1881, John Gilson.



April 21, 1882, John Gilson.
March 20, 1883, John Gilson.
March 29, 1884, George Sumner Graves.
March 18, 1885, George Sumner Graves.
March 15, 1886, Charles WooUe}'.
March 26, 1887, Charles Woolley.
April 2, 1888, Charles Woolley.
April 1. 1889, Charles Woolley.
April 1, 1890, Charles Woolley.

Groton Fire Club. — The Groton Fire Club was form-
ed during the winter of 1815 ; and the immediate oc-
casion of its organization was the burning of John
Wethered's dwelling on Wednesday evening, Febru-
ary 1, 1815. This house stood at the lower end of
Main Street, and some years previously had been
owned and occupied by Dr. Oliver Prescott, Senior.
Mr. Wethered was from Wilmington, Delaware, and
came to Groton from that State. According to tradi-
tion the dwelling was set on fire by a negro in his em-
ploy, who had been a slave at the South.

On November 7, 1814, Mr. Wethered bought the
place of Dr. Oliver Prescott, Jr. ; and three months
later the house was burned, as has been stated. On
April 29, 1816, Mr. Wethered sold it to Robert C.
Ludlow, of Boston, a purser in the United States
Navy, who, at this time, in connection with Commo-
dore Bainbridge and Charles W. Green, was interest-
ed in the ownership of the Lakia farm, where they
were then raising sheep. On September 25, 1817,
Purser Ludlow sold it to Joshua Nash, who ten years
later became the father-in-law of the late Bradford
Russell, Esq., of Groton.

The present house on the same site was built about
the vear 1826 by Miss Susan Prescott, afterward Mrs.


John Wright, for the accommodation of her school
for girls, a famous institution more than sixty years
ago. After Mrs. Wright's occupation of the place, it
passed into the hands of Dr. Amos Farnsworth, and
since that time there have been several owners. The
house is now kept as a tavern.

The first meeting of the Fire Club was held on
February 4, 1815, when the Honorable James Pres-
cott was chosen president of the association, and Ca-
leb Butler, Esq., secretary. The club used to meet
annually, for the choice of officers, at one of the pub-
lic-houses in the village, when a supper was served ;
and sometimes on such occasions members of one of
the engine companies would be invited to join in the
festivities. Each member of the Fire Club was re-
quired to provide two leather buckets and a fire-bag,
which were to be always ready for use ; and a failure
to take them to a fire was met with a fine. Among
some of the descendants of the early members
these articles are now treasured as heirlooms.

On March 1, 1875, the town voted to adopt Chapter
XXIY., Sections 23-31, of the C4eneral Statutes of the
t^ommonwealth, by which action the need of a pri-
vate organization w^as largely superseded. The last
meeting of the Fire Club, according to the records,
was held in November, 1872, no day of the month
given. The following preamble, with a list of the
original members, is taken from the first two pages of
the record-book :

" The undersigned, Inhabitants ofGroton warned by the recent confla-
gration in this village i and feeling one common interest and duty to be

1 The dwelling-house of Mr. John Wethered was entirely consumed
by fire on the evening of the 1st day of February, a.d. 1815.



constantly in readiness to act with promptitude and effect on such dis-
tressing emergencies, agree to form and procure immediately to organize
a society for that purpose, to be called, ' Groton Fire Club,' and do
pledge ourselves to comply with and conform to all such rules and regu-
lations, as the Society may at any time adopt to promote that end.
" Dated the fourth day of February, A.D. 1815.

James Prescott

Sami Lawrance

James Lewis

Abr. Bloore

Walter Dickson

Alpheus Richardson

David Fletcher

Benjamin Moors

Thomas T. Cunningham

John Rockwood

"William Farnsworth

James Eidgeway

M'ni Livermore

George Brigham

Daniel Eaton

Joseph F. Hall "

Josiah Billings

Thos. C. Gardner in behalf
of my father [M.ajor
Thomas Gardner.]

Levi "SVait

Aaron Bancroft

Samson Weods

Luther Lawrence
James Brazer
Amos Farnsworth
Wi" Bancroft
Caleb Butler
Amos Lawrence
Aaron Lewis
Joseph Mansfield
Asa Tarbell
Aaron Lewis 2^
Asa Graves
Abel Farnsworth
Ezra Farnsworth
Jona Loring
Asa Lawrence, Jr.
Luther Woods
John Stebbeite
Sami Dana
Sami Farnsworth
£liphal< Wheeler
Stuart J. Park "

On May 6, ]872, the town voted to build five reser-
voirs, which should hold 4000 gallons each. They were
to be so situated as to give protection to the greatest
number of houses in the village, with due regard
to a sufficient supply of water. The reservoirs were
placed, respectively, near the three meeting-houses,
the Town-House, and the High School ; and they are
kept full by the water which runs from the roofs of
these several buildings. After that vote, a few years
later, another reservoir was placed in Court Street.

GROTON. . 213

Starch-Factory, Paper-Mills, Etc.— In the
spring of 1832 the following act was passed by the
General Court of Massachusetts ; and under the au-
thority of the enactment a company was organized at
Groton for the manufacture of starch.

A mill was built for the purpose on the Groton side
of the Squannacook River, three-quarters of a mile
above the village of West Groton, but the undertak-
ing did not prove to be a success. It stood on the
site of the present paper-mill in that locality; and the
place is shown on Mr. Butler's Map of Groton. It
was expected that this new industry in the town would
help the farmers of the neighborhood by encouraging
the cultivation of potatoes, which were to be used in
making the article ; but the scheme was a failure.

"Chap. CXXVII.
" An Act to incorporate the Dana Manufacturing Company."

" Sec. 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives, in
General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, That Oliver
Sheple, Samuel Dana, Samuel Dana. Jr., Oliver Sheple, Jr., James
Dana, and Washington Sheple, their associates and assigns be, and they
hereby are constituted a corporation and made a body politic, by the
name and style of the Dana Manufacturing Company, for the purpose
of manufacturing cotton and woollen goods, iron wares, and starch from
any materials, in the respective towns of Groton and Shirley in the
county of Middlesex, and for this purpose shall have all the powers and
privileges, and be subject to all the duties and requirements contained in
an act passed the twenty-third day of February in the year of our Lord one
thousand eight hundred and thirty, entitled 'an act defining the general
powers and duties of manufacturing corporations.'

" Sec. 2. Be it further enacted. That the said corporation may take and
hold such real estate, not exceeding in value the sum of two hundred
thousand dollars, and such personal estate not exceeding in value two
hundred thousand dollars, as may be suitable and convenient for carry-
ing on the business aforesaid."

[Approved by the Governor, March 13, 1832.]


The building was subsequently used as a paper-mill,
and burned many years ago, probably during the sum-
mer of 1846. Soon afterward another mill was erect-
ed on the same site, which was bought on October 22,
1852, by Lyman Hollingsworth of Jephthah Richard-
son Hartwell. The plant was sold in 1881 by Mr.
Hollingsworth to Messrs. Hollingsworth and Yose, of
Boston, who still own it. The senior partner of this
firm is a nephew of the former owner. The product
of the mill is a Manilla paper of high grade, of which
about three tons are made daily. On August 7, 1889,
I visited the mill when they were making a paper,
which is sent to England in boxes, for the manufac-
ture of sand-paper, and very likely to be returned
here in that form. In the stock-houses there were two
hundred tons of old cordage, more or less, ready to
be ground up and used in connection with " wood
pulp," which enters largely into the composition of
the article. Last year a new dam, a solid granite
structure in place of the original one, was built ;
though, in times of low water, steam-power is re-
quired to turn the machinery.

The direct road from the village of West Groton to
the paper-mill — perhaps three quarters of a mile in
length — was laid out by the county commissioners
on April 18, 1838. An attempt was previously made
by interested persons, in the spring of 1832, to have
the same piece of highway built, but it did not meet
with success, as it was then adjudged by the commis-
sioners to be " not of common convenience and neces-
sity." Of course the road was opened in order to ac-
commodate the business of the new fattorv.



The paper-mill on the Nashua River, at the Paper-
Mill Village, was originally a wooden structure, and
built in the year 1841 by Oliver Howe, who owned the
saw-mill and grist-mill in the close proximity ; and
here the manufacture of Manilla paper was carried
on. During more than a century there has been a
dam at this place across the river, and in early times
there was, also, a ford known as the Stony Ford way
or Stony Wading-place. Among the Massachusetts
Archives at the State House is a rough plan, made
probably about the year 1740, which gives the names
of the bridges, etc., in this neighborhood, at that
period. It is found in the volume marked on the back
" Maps and Plans " (XVI. 6), and bears the catalogue
number 1482.

About the year 1846 the property, on which stood
these several mills, was sold to the brothers John
Mark and Lyman Hollingsworth ; and on Sept. 1,
1851, Lyman sold his share to the other brother, John
Mark, who rebuilt the paper-mill, making it of brick,
but the building was very soon afterwards burned.
The following item is taken from the Bostoii Daily
Journal, Monday, June 7, 1852 :

" Paper Mill Burnt. We learn that a paper-mill, dwelliug-house
and out-buildings adjoining, situated in Groton, and owned by Mr. J.
M. Hollingsworth were totally consumed by fire on Saturday [June 5]."

The mill was at once rebuilt, and soon again in

" 4®= J. M. HoUingsworth's extensive and costly paper mills, at Groton
Junction [Paper Mill Village], are nearly ready to go into operation.
Mr. H. intends to manufacture first quality book paper, employing
about 35 hands."

Lowell Weekly Journal and Courier, May 20, 1853.


On March 7, 1865, Mr. Hollings worth, just before
his death, on April 6th of that year, sold the property
to his brother Lyman, who himself died on April 1,
1890 ; and eleven years later it was burnt for the sec-
ond time. The Boston Evening Journal, Friday,
May 26, 1876, has the following account of the fire :

" Mill Burnt at Gkotox, Mass.
" The large paper mill of Lyman Hollingsworth at North [?] Groton
was destroyed by fire on Thursday afternoon [May 25]. It gave em-
ployment to about fifty workmen, and was valued at $140,000. The in-
surance is placed in the following companies : Etna, Hartford, and
Phcenix, of Hartford ; Home of New York ; North British and Mer-
cantile ; Springfield Fire and Marine ; Fire Association of Philadelphia ;
Meriden Fire ; Koger Williams of Providence, and Shawmut of Boston.
It is divided as follows : On mill, $5(i.000 ; machinery, S24,000, and on
stock, covering the probable loss, 88,000. It is not yet known how the
fire occiirred."

The mill was again rebuilt, this time by Lyman
Hollingsworth, and the manufacture of book paper
continued, now with a daily product of about five
tons. On Dec. 13, 1881, the establishment was sold
to Messrs. Tileston and Hollingsworth, of Boston,
and in July, 1889, by them transferred to the Tiles-
ton & Hollingsworth Company, of Boston, a corpora-
tion organized under the laws of the Common-

At West Groton there is a leather-board mill, of
which the daily product is about four tons. It em-
ploys thirty-five men, and stands on the site of a saw^-
mill and grist-mill, which were built as early as the
year 1765, and perhaps earlier. There is also a saw-
mill on the Squannacook River, near the Townsend
line, giving employment to eight or ten men, w^here
box-shooks, reels, staves, etc., are made.



EiVERS. — In early times, before the original Plan -
tation had been cut up in order to form other towns,
the Nashua River flowed through the township of
Groton for a distance of ten miles or more, and nearly-
bisected its territory ; while to-day its course within
the town's limits is hardly more than three miles.
This river is formed by the union of two branches,
known respectively as the North Branch and the
South Branch, which come together at Lancaster.
The former has its source in Ashburnham, near the
foot of the Watatuck Mountain, and in Westminster,
and passes through Fitchburg and Leominster; while
the latter rises in the neighborhood of the Wachusett
Mountain, at Princeton, and among the hills of Rut-
land and Holden, and passes through West Boylston
and Clinton. Both these branches for a considerable
distance above their confluence are known also as the
Nashua. The stream at Groton is about one hundred
feet above tide-water.

At a very early period the Nashua River was some-
times called the Penacook, and at other times the
Groton River. In Thomas Noyes's survey of the
grant of Major Simon Willard's farm, in the autumn
of 1659, the land is described as " lying and being for
the most part on the east side of Groaten Riuer."
And again, at the session beginning on Sept. 6, 1676,
the approval of the General Court was given to Jona-
than Danforth's survey of lands laid out to William
Hauthorne, " lying in the wilderness; on the North
of Groaten Riuer at a place called by the Indians
Wistequassuck," now within the limits of Townsend.


At a later period it was more frequently referred to as
the Lancaster River; and it is likely that the stream

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Online LibrarySamuel A. (Samuel Abbott) GreenAn historical sketch of Groton, Massachusetts. 1655-1890 → online text (page 15 of 19)