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Samuel A. (Samuel Abbott) Green.

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

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bore diflferent names in different towns along its
course even at the same time. In the record of " The
lands of Mr. Samuell Willard, which is layd out to
him in the towne of Grotten," on Sept. 29, 1680, ref-
erence is made to the Nashawag River — another form
of spelling.

The Squannacook River forms the divisional line
with Shirley for perhaps four miles, which is the whole
distance of contact with that town. This stream
rises in Ashby and flows through Townsend and by
West Groton, emptying into the Nashua. The name
is found in the Proprietors' records as early as the
spring of 1684.

PoxDS. — Baddacook Pond — lies about two miles
from the village, near the Lowell Road. It covers an
area of 103 acres, and is the largest pond in the
town. It is mentioned in the record of James Par-
ker's land under the date of July 6, 1666.

Outlet : Baddacook Brook, which flows into Cow
Pond.

Cady Pond — a small and deep pond, covering per-
haps two acres, lying less than a mile from the village
in a southeasterly direction, near the Boston Road.
It was named after Nicholas Cady, one of the early
settlers, who owned land in the neighborhood. This
pond and Flat Pond, both very small, are the only
ones in the town whose waters ultimately reach the
Nashua River.

Outlet: a small unnamed brook running south-
westerly into James' Brook.



GROTON. 219

Cow Powc?— sometimes called Whitney's Pond, in
the easterly part of the town, covering an area of
seventy-one acres. Cow Pond Meadow is mentioned
in the record of Ralph Reed's land before the year
1664.

Outlet : Cow Pond Brook, which flows into Massa-
poag Pond.

Duck Pond— near the Ridges, east of Knop's Pond,
and separated from it by a ridge only— lies perhaps
half a mile south of Cow Pond. It covers fifty-five
acres, and has no outlet.

Flat Pond— 2. small sheet of water near the Throne,
in the west part of the town.

Outlet : a small unnamed brook into the Squanna-
cook River.

Half- Moon Potid—Si small pond in the upper part of
the meadow, which lies south of the Hillside Road.

Knop's Pond— near the Ridges, west of Duck Pond,
and is of the same size as that pond, covering fifty-
five acres. So called from James Knapp, or Knop,
an early settler who owned land in the neighborhood.

Outlet : a brook into Cow Pond.

Long Pond — lies on the southern border of the
town, partly in Groton, but mostly in Ayer, covering
forty -five acres.

Outlet: a brook into Sandy Pond.

Martin's Pond— nesir the foot of Gibbet Hill, on its
northeasterly side— covers sixteen and two-thirds
acres; it was named after William Martin, an early
settler. In the record of James Parker's land, on
July 6, 1666, ''the pond called Goodman Martin's
Pond," is mentioned. The following article, found



220 GROTON.

in the warrant for the town-meeting held on Septem-
ber 17, 1792, seems to show that the outlet of the
pond was formerly through Hog Swamp and Half-
Moon Meadow into James's Brook, though there is
now no other evidence to confirm this view :

•* Art. 8. To see if the town will order the water running from Mar-
tin's Pond to be turned into the old Channel as it formerly used to run,
through the Town, and appoint some proper person or persons to remove
the obstructions and Effect the Business."

In the proceedings of the meeting, it is recorded
that this article was " Past in the ^N'egative." A
measurement of the pond was lately made, when
frozen over, which proves it to be much smaller than
it was half a century ago.

Outlet: Martin's Pond Brook into the outlet of
Knop's Pond, half-way between that pond and Cow
Pond.

Massapoag Fond — on the easterly border of the
town, but lies mostly in Dunstable and Tyngsborough,
covering an area of fifty-dx acres. It is now used as
a storage basin of water by the Vale Mills Manu-
facturing Company, of Xashua, New Hampshire, and
in dry seasons it is drawn upon for a supply.

Outlet: Salmon Brook, which empties into the
Merrimack River at Nashua.

Springy Pond — a small sheet of water connected
with Knop's Pond by a brook.

Wattle's Pond — three miles north of the village, on
the road to East Pepperell, with no outlet. The origin
of the name is unknown ; but perhaps from Wattle,
" a rod laid on a roof for the purpose of supporting
the thatch." Many of the houses of the early settlers
were thatched.



GROTON. 221

The area of the ponds, with the exception of
Martin's Pond, is taken from the Fourth Annual
Report of the State Board of Health of Massachu-
setts (January, 1873), as ^iven on pages 124 and 125.

A story is told relative to Massapoag Pond, based
on tradition, which probably has no real foundation.
It is said that —

"Its outlet was on the easterly side, and as it was the reservoir into
which Cowpond brook poured its waters, a considerable mill-stream is-
sued from it. The waters passed without any rapids for a considerable
distance, affording no favorable site for a mill. The north end of the
pond was bounded by a ridge of loose sand, rising but little above the
surface of the water, and being about six rods only in width ; on the op-
posite side of which was a descent of about forty feet. Here, then, was
an eligible spot for an overshot mill. At a town-meeting held May 21,
IGS^a grant was made to Samuel Adams of a small pond near Buck
meadow, and leave given to drain it by a brook running into ' Tyng's
cove.' At the same meeting, for the encouragement of any who would
set up iron-works at Massapoag, a grant was offered of the wood, on the
easterly side of Unquetenassett brook. It is said that Adams, who is
supposed to have accepted the grant, erected a grist-mill at the site'above
mentioned, conducting the water across the sand-bank to the flume of
his mill. At the time of a flood about the year 1700 (the precise time is
not known), a breach was made across the sand-bank, and it being very
loose and moveable, the whole bank was soon torn down by the water
to the depth of more than thirty feet ; and consequently a sheet of water
of that depth, where the pond was so deep, and where of less depth the
whole water upon the surface, flowed suddenly off (all in one night),
with irresistible violence. The mill, of course, was demolished, and the
stones, though diligently sought for, and even the skill of the famous
Moll Pitcher, of Lynn, employed in the search, have never yet been
found. The bottom of the pond being uneven, fish in abundance were
left in the cavities, which were easily taken, and the inhabitants of the
neighboring towns, as well as of Groton, came and carried off loads ot
them. Where the water formerly issued from the pond, a small brook
now runs in, and the outlet is, at the place of disruption, called the
'gulf.' The water finds its way into the old channel, two or three
miles from the pond, in a northwesterly direction from Dunstable meet-
ing-house."

[Butler's History of Groton, pages 246, 247J.



222 GROTON.

The name of Buck Meadow, which has been in use
for more than two centuries, is firmly established,
and the site well known. The -meadow lies near
Lovewell's Pond, formerly within the limits of Groton,
but now in Nashua; and Adams's mill stood undoubt-
edly at the outlet of this pond, where there is a
small water-power. This theory would tally with the
town records ; and furthermore a tradition is still ex-
tant that there w^as once a mill in the neighborhood.
Lovewell's Pond is much smaller than Massapoag,
and at that time probably had no designation. It
was named after Captain John Lovewell, who was
killed by the Indians on May 8, 1725. The following
is the entry in the records : ^

"May : 21. 1688. The inhabitants of Groton Granted to Samull
Adams y« pond that lyes neare buck medow which hath its outlet into
the medow known by ye name of Tyngs Couee, and the swampy land
adioyeng ther to prouided y^ sd land do not exceed fifteen accers ;
" atest ; Josiah Pahker Clarke

and sd adams hath liberty to drean the s^ pond at ye small brook that
runes in to Tyng'sCoue prouided sd Adames macks good all dameges that
shall be don ther by "

There are now three small brooks running into
Massapoag Pond on the easterly side, and their fall
is too great for any one of them ever to have been the
old outlet to the pond. Furthermore, it would have
been impossible for any of these brooks to drain the
pond (which even at the present time covers fifty-six
acres) without causing too great damage for Adams to
make good. There is no indication along their banks
that they have been much larger streams than they are
to-day. While the formation of the banks at the
mouth of the pond, or the " gulf," so called, is pecu-



. GROTON. 223

liar, there are no signs that the water-line was ever
any higher than it is at the present time. None of
the local antiquaries are able to identify Tyng's Cove,
which is a name undoubtedly derived from Jonathan
Tyng, one of the earliest settlers of Dunstable.

At the same town-meeting, held on May 21, 1688,
the inhabitants of Groton —

" Deed then b}' the maior uoat grant for the incoregment of such men
as will set up loran works at masabog pond ; that thay shall haue y« ues
& improument of the woods and timbr yt is now common one the est sid
of uncuttanaset brook and so to nashua riuer and groton line est wai'd &
south ward to good man greens' masabog medow. . . ,"

I give this extract from the town records in ord^r to
show that the inhabitants at that period knew the
pond by its present name ; and if they had seen fit
then to grant Adams any special privilege connected
with it, they would have called it *'Massapoag," and
would not have said " y^ pond that lyes neare buck
medow."

Hills. — Barralock Hill — is mentioned in the record
of Samuel Woods' lands ; but I am unable to identify
it. Perhaps it is the hill due north of Baddacook
Pond.

Brown Loaf Hill — commonly called Brown Loaf —
is a handsome, symmetrical hill standing alone, more
than a mile from the village, near the Lowell road.
Brown Loaf Hill Meadow is mentioned in the descrip-
tion of Joseph Parker's lands, December 2, 1664, which
would imply that the hill was so named before ihat
time. Brown Loaf Hill is also mentioned in the
record of James Parker's lands made on July 6, 1666;
and Brownloafe Playne and Brownloaf Hill are given
in the record of James Fisk's lands in John Morse's



224 GROTON.

handwriting, of which the date is absent, but which
was certainly made at a very early period. The
height of the hill is 448 feet above mean tide on the
coast line.

Chestnut Hills — the range lying northerly of Mar-
tin's Pond ; so called from the abundant growth of
chestnut-trees on its sides. The highest hills in the
town, their greatest elevation being 544 feet.

Clay-Pit Hill — the small hill at the corner of the
East Pepperell road and Break Neck.

Gibbet Hill — a noted landmark overlooking the vil-
lage on its easterly side. It is mentioned in the land-
grant of Sergeant James Parker, which was entered in
the town records of Richard Sawtell, the first town
clerk \vho filled the office from June, 1662, to Jan-
uary, 1664-65. The tradition is that the hill was so
called from the fact that once an Indian was gibbeted
on its top. If this ever occurred, it must have hap-
pened before Sawtell's term of oflice. The town was
incorporated by the General Court on May 25, 1655,
but no public records are known to have been kept
before June 23, 1662. Its height is 516 feet.

Horse Hill — in the eastern part of the town, near
Massapoag Pond. It lies partly in Dunstable, and is
covered with woods.

Indian Hill, or Hills — the range beginning near
James's Brook, a mile south of the village, and run-
ning in an easterly direction on the south side of the
Great Eoad to Boston. The height is 524 feet above
mean tide. ^

Naumox — a low hill or ridge a short distance west
of the road to East Pepperell, near the Longley mon-



GROTOX. 225

ument, and runniDg parallel with the road. The
name is also used in connection with the neighbor-
hood.

Prospect mil— very near Cady Pond, and east of
it ; perhaps 250 feet or more above the Nashua, and
503 feet above mean tide.

Bidge Ifill, or The Ridr/es— the name of a peculiar
ridge, three miles southeasterly from the village,
along which the Great Road runs. It also gave the
name to a tavern formerly kept in the immediate
neighborhood.

Bocky Hill— there are two hills of this name, one
lying northeasterly of Baddacook Pond, near the old
District School- house No. VIII. (now the Trowbridge
School), which is also known as the Rocky Hill
School, and the other situated in the southeast part
of the town, between Long Pond and the Ridges. A
visit to either of these hills will show why it was so
called.

Sandy mil— a. small elevation on the road to East
Pepperell, below the Longley monument, near the
place where the Nashua road branches off.

Shepley Bill— lies west of the East Pepperell road,
near Naumox. The name is rarely heard now'
though it was in use as far back as February 28^
1670,— evidently so called from the Shepley family.

Snake mill— in the south part of the town, but
lies mostly in Ayer. Rattlesnakes have been killed
on it within the memory of the present generation.
Its height is 497 feet.

The Throne— a high hill in the western part of
the town, on the summit of which is a level field of
15



226 GROTON.

perhaps sixty acres, containing a small pond, — near
the Townsend line. A map of Groton resembles a
tea-kettle, the portion west of the Nashua River
forming the spout, and the Throne comes in the
spout. It is 484 feet high.

Meadows. — The early settlers of Groton, accord-
ing to the town records, had many parcels of meadow
allotted to them in the assignment of land. Sergeant
James Parker owned in twenty diflferent meadows,
and the other settlers also were large owners. It is
probable that they did not attach the same significa-
tion to the word " meadow" which now belongs to it
in Xew England, where it means low, swampy land,
without regard to the mowing. They called by this
name all grass-land that was annually mown for hay,
and especially that by the side of a river or brook ;
and this meaning of the word was and still is the
common one in England, whence they brought their
language. They sometimes spoke of a "swamp,"
meaning by it what we call a "bog;" but much of
this kind of land has since been reclaimed, and is
now known as "meadow." As a matter of fact, it
happened that the lands which could be mown for
the fodder were low lands; and it would require per-
haps less than a generation to transfer the meaning
of mowing lands to the low lands, which were nearly
the only ones that could be mown in the early days
of the Colony. This explanation will make clear the
following vote of the town, passed on February 18>
1680-81 :

"At the same meeting it was agreed vpon and voted that M^ Hubberd
should haue all the comon which was capable to mak medow in swan



GROTON. 227

pond medow vp to the vpland for seauen acre and a halfe for to mak
vp his fifteen acres of medow."

The following names of meadows are found in the
town records, and in a few instances I have indicated
their locality :

Accident ; Angle, in the northerly part of the
town ; Big Spring, in the neighborhood of Hawtree
Brook ; Broad, immediately west of the village ;
Brook; Brown Loaf, east of the hill; Buck, now
lying within the limits of Nashua, New Hampshire ;
Burnt, in the vicinity of Baddacook Pond; Cow
Pond, near the pond of that name; East; Ferney,
near Brown Loaf; Flaggy, to the southward of the
Baddacook road, near the pond ; Flax ; Great
Flaggy, presumably near Flaggy, and perhaps the
same; Great Half-Moon, the same as Half-Moon,
which lies east of the village ; Little Buck, probably
a part of Buck Meadow ; Little Half-Moon, a part
of Half-Moon, being an offshoot from it; Lodge;
Long; Maple; Massapoag, evidently near Massapoag
Pond; New Angle; Pine; Plain; Pretty; Provi-
dence; Quasoponagon, "on the other sid of the
riuer," near the Ked Bridge, through which Wrang-
ling Brook runs ; Reedy, known by this name to-day,
lying north of the Reedy Meadow Road ; Rock,
south of Snake Hill ; Sallo, perhaps Sallow, a kind
of willow ; Sedge ; Skull, through which Unqueten-
assett Brook runs, near the Dunstable line ; Sledge,
north of Reedy Meadow, near the Sledges ; South ;
South Brook ; Spang ; Spot ; Spring ; Spruce ;
Swamp; Swan Pond; and Weavers.

In the record of Daniel Pearse's land, by William



228 GROTOX.

Longley, town clerk, on July 6, 1666, reference is
made to the " iland lying within the meadow called
Litle Halfe Moone Meadow." This land now be-
longs to Governor Boutwell, and there is upon it a
small knoll which is always spoken of as the island,
undoubtedly a survival of the expression applied to it
when more or less surrounded by w^ater.

Brooks. — Cold Spring Brook — a small brook, rising
in Cold Spring " on y* Left hand of the high way
that goe to Eeedy medow." It runs across the Nashua
road, the East Pepperell road, through Hazen Swamp
and Libby Lobby Moat, into the Nashua River.

Cow Pond Brook — has its source in Cow^ Pond
Meadows and Cow Pond, and empties into Massapoag
Pond. Formerly there was a dam between the mead-
ows and the pond, where there was a saw-mill ; and
later on the same site a paper-mill, which disappeared
about thirty-five years ago.

Gift Brook — in the north part of the town, rises in
Gift Meadow, crosses Chicopee Row, and empties into
Unquetenassett Brook.

Jameses Brook — one of the longest brooks within the
limits of the town. It takes its rise in Half-Moon
Meadow, crosses Main Street in the village, and runs
southerly and w^esterly for three or four miles into the
Nashua River. At its mouth is the beginning of the
line separating the town of Ayer from Groton. For-
merly there was a tannery on the banks of the brook,
near Indian Hill, known as Dix's tannery; and a mile
below, on land of the late Benjamin Moors, east of the
road, at one time there was a mill, — but now no traces
of either are left, except some remains of the mill-



GROTO^\ 229

dam. The stream took its name from an Indian,
who was a famous hunter and trapper in very early
times. It empties into the Nashua River, nearly-
opposite to the mouth of the Squannacook.

Hawtree Brook — in the northerly part of the town,
near Chicopee Eow ; after it unites with Walnut Run
and two or three other small streams, it forms Unque-
tenassett Brook. In the early records of the town the
Hawtrees are frequently spoken of, which refer to the
neighborhood of this brook.

Nod BrooJc — rises near the Soapstone Quarry, crosses
the Nod road, and runs into the Nashua River.

Reedy Meadow Brook — rises in Reedy Meadow and
flows northerly, emptying into the Nashua River
below East Pepperell. It is sometimes called John-
son's Brook.

Sedge Brook — a small brook from Sedge Meadow,
running into Reedy Meadow Brook.

Tuity Brook — contracted from Gratuity — a very
small stream which rises near the head of Farmers'
Row and runs through Hazle Grove into the Nashua
River below Fitch's Bridge.

Unquetenassett Brook — often called Unkety — A
stream formed by the union of Walnut Run, Haw-
tree Brook, and one or two small tributaries, and run-
ning northerly through Skull Meadow and that part
of Dunstable formerly Groton into the Nashua.

Walnut Run — a brook issuing from the sides of
Chestnut Hills and uniting with Hawtree Brook and
one or two other streams, forms the Unquetenassett.

Also the name of a place — perhaps it was the mouth
of a stream — on the Nashua River where in olden



2:30 GROTOX

times there was a bridge. It stood farther up the
river than Fitch's Bridge.

Wrangling Brooh — in West Groton, a mile and a
half in length — meanders through Quasoponagon
Meadow, and then empties into the Xashua a short
distance below the Red Bridge.

Roads. — Baddacook Pond Road — a continuation
of the Martin's Pond Road to the neighborhood of
the pond.

Break Neck — the short strip of road from the East
Pepperell road to Common Street, south of the soap-
stone quarry.

Chicopee Row — running north for three miles from
the Cemetery. The district to which it leads is
known as Chicopee, a name given long ago.

Farmers' Row— applied to the road on the height
of land west of the village. It begins at the west end
of Pleasant Street, and runs in a southerly direction
for two miles, passing by the GrotoH School.

Great Road — one of the principal thoroughfares
between Boston and parts of New Hampshire and
Vermont. The section of the road through the vil-
lage is known as Main Street.

Hillside Road — the highway along the southern
slope of the Indian Hills.

Love Lane — the highway from the Lowell Road,
near the First Parish Meeting-house, to the Great
Road near Cady Pond.

Martin's Pond Road — the highway from the site
of the first meeting-house to the neighborhood of the
pond, where it becomes the Baddacook Pond Road.

Reedy Meadow Road — from the Nashua road to
Chicopee Row, immediately south of Reedy Meadow.



GROTON. 231

Squash Path — through the woods from the East
Pepperell road to the Nashua road — a short distance
beyond Cold Spring Brook.

Tuity Road — a contraction of Gratuity Road — the
road leading to Fitch's Bridge from the Great Road
near the railroad bridge, half a mile north of the village.
The name had its origin in the early history of the
town, when grants of land were made to the inhabit-
ants as gratuities. Tuity Brook, a very small stream,
crosses this road and empties into the Nashua River,
below Fitch's Bridge.

Miscellaneous. — Brickyard — on the north side
of the Great Road, about a mile from the First Parish
Meeting-house. It was much used during the last
century ; and probably was the place where the bricks
were made for the parsonage, as mentioned in the
town-records, June 20, 1706. Only a few traces of it
are now left, though a clump of elms by the road-
side is a good guide to the site.

Brown Loaf Plain — to the west of Brown Loaf.

Community — the name of a district or neighbor-
hood beyond the Groton School, where many of the
residents formerly held similar religious views. It
had its origin nearly fifty years ago, when the Sec-
ond Adventists, or "Millerites," gave up their regu-
lar services in the village.

Dead River — the old course of the Nashua River,
around the island which was formed by the cutting
through of the " neck."

Deep Soil — in the neighborhood of the race-course,
in Hazle Grove; so-called on the lucus a non lucendo
principle.



232 GEOTOX.

Fitch's Bridge — over the Nashua Eiver, a mile and
a quarter below the Red Bridge.

General Field — often mentioned in the early town,
records, refers to land owned in severalty by the pro-
prietors of Groton, who kept it as one field, for rea-
sons not now understood. It was upland, and lay in
the southwest part of the town, near the river. It
appears to have been allotted to the proprietors, ac-
cording to the number of acre-rights which each one
owned. Perhaps it was land already cleared when
the first settlers came.

The Gift — a parcel of land near Reedy Meadow,
in the north part of the town.

TJie Hawtrees — mentioned several times in the early
records, and referring, doubtless, to some native
shrubs or trees ; for instance, Zachery Sawtell had
meadow-land " Xeare the hawtrees " confirmed to him
on November 18, 1670. It evidently became the name
of a limited district or neighborhood in the north part
of the town, and from it undoubtedly Hawtree Brook
was named. The late Professor Asa Gray, the distin-
guished botanist, wrote me that there are three or four
species of wild hawthorn in Massachusetts. He says :
" One of the forms of the Black or Pear Thorn {Cra-
tcegus tomentosa) would be the likeliest for Groton, of
perhaps the Cockspur Thorn. The former has the
more edible fruit, and would be sure to attract atten-
tion."

Hazen Swamp — near the mouth of Cold Spring
Brook.

Ifazle Grove — the neighborhood of the east bank of
the Nashua River above Fitch's Bridge.



• GROTON. 233

HicJcss Hole— 2. small piece of meadow, lying north
of Eeedy Meadow.

High Plain— on the north side of the Baddacook
road, in the neighborhood of the pond. It lies in the
angle of the roads, west of the house of John John-
son, Jr., as laid down on the map of Groton, made


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