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Samuel A. (Samuel Abbott) Green.

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

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spring of 1676 and the settlement deserted, Mr. Wil-
lard became the pastor of the Old South Church in
Boston, where he died on September 12, 1707.

The third minister was the Reverend Gershom Ho-
bart, a son of the Reverend Peter Hobart, of Hing-
ham, and a graduate of Harvard College in the class
of 1667. In the early spring of 1678, just two years
after the attack on the town, the old settlers returned
to their former houses ; and Mr. Hobart accompanied
them, or soon followed. He was not ordained, how-
ever, until November 26, 1679 ; and soon afterward
troubles between the people and the preacher began



72 GROTON.

to spring up. There was the usual controversy about
the site of the new meetiug-house, which is not pecu-
liar to this town or to that period, but is common to-
day here and elsewhere ; and there was a dispute over
the minister's salary. Mr. Hobart's pastorate was
anything but happy and harmonious, and he appears
to have left Groton about 1690. The records of this
period are very meagre, but contain brief allusions to
his absence. During the next two years there was
no settled minister of the town, though the inhabit-
ants were not without stated preaching. The Reverend
John Hancock filled the pulpit for several months
and received a call to become the minister, which
was declined. He was the grandfather of John Han-
cock, Governor of the Commonwealth and signer of
the Declaration of Independence.

The fourth minister was the Reverend Samuel Car-
ter, who came on an invitation given by the town, on
October 21, 1692. It is evident, from the scanty records,
that he accepted the call a^d remained with his peo-
ple until the time of his death, which took place in
the autumn of 1693. According to papers on file in
the Middlesex Probate Office at East Cambridge, ad-
ministration on his estate was granted on October
30th of that year. Mr. Carter was the eldest son of
Thomas Carter, first minister of Woburn, and born
on August 8, 1640. He graduated at Harvard Col-
lege in the class of 1660, and, before coming to Gro-
ton, had been preaching at Lancaster for a consider-
able length of time. He was followed in time by
Gershom Hobart, who became the fifth minister as
well as the third, in the order of settlement. Mr.



GROTON. 73

Hobart came back to his former parish in the autumn
of 1693, but it is not now known how the reconcilia-
tion was brought about between him and the town,
as the church records of that period are lost ; perhaps
t was throu gh an ecclesiastical council. He contin-
ued to preach here until about the end of the year
1704, when he gave up his charge. His dwelling
stood on the site of the present Baptist meeting-
house, and, at one time during the Indian wars, was
used as a garrison-house. On July 27, 1694, it was
captured by the savages, when one of Mr. Hobart's
children was killed, and another, Gershom, Jr., a lad
eight or ten years old, was carried off a prisoner
and held in captivity during nearly a year. Mr. Ho-
bart, the father, died at Groton on December 19,
1707.

During the year 1705 the pulpit appears to have
been filled by John Odly, as the records have it, and
probably the same as John Odlin, a native of Boston
and a graduate of Harvard College in the class of 1702.
On July 3, 1705, he received a call to be the "town's
minister and the church's officer,'' which was not ac-
cepted.

The fifth minister was the Eeverend Dudley Brad-
street, a son of Dudley Bradstreet, of Andover, and
a grandson of Governor Simon Bradstreet. He was
born at Andover on April 27, 1678, and a graduate of
Harvard College in the class of 1698. He was the
first master of the grammar school in his native town,
where he was teaching as early as the year 1704, and
perhaps earlier.

It is highly probable that he was connected with



74 GROTOX.

this school when he received his invitation to come
to Groton. On May 4, 1704, he was married to Mary
Wain^ right, and they had three sons, and perhaps
other children. Mr. Bradstreet w^as preaching here
as early as March, 1706, but was not ordained until
November 27th of that year. Under a vote of May 8,
1706, a house " of 38 foot long and 18 foot wide " was
built for the minister, which is still standing, and in
a state of good preservation. It is situated on the
east side of Hoi lis Street, and the present measure-
ments conform very nearly to the dimensions given
in the records.

In the summer of 1712 Mr. Bradstreet was dismissed
from his charge in this town, presumably for his
Episcopal tendencies ; and soon afterward he went
to England to apply for orders in the Anglican
Church. It appears from a copy of the original docu-
ment in Latin, made in a manuscript volume, (page
90), by President John Leverett now deposited
among the archives of Harvard University in the
College Library, that he was ordained a deacon by
the Bishop of London, on April 18, 1714, and a priest
one week later, on April 25th. He died of small-pox
during the next month, only two or three wrecks after
receiving priestly orders ; and tidings of his death
reached this country in the following summer.

The sixth minister was the Reverend Caleb Trow-
bridge, a son of Deacon James Trowbridge, of New-
ton. He was born on November 17, 1692, and grad-
uated at Harvard College in the class of 1710. On
March 10, 1715, he was married, first, to Sarah Oliver,
of Newton ; and on September 18, 1718, to Hannah



GROTOX. 75

Walter, of Roxbury. Mr. Trowbridge was blessed
with a family of nine children, and until recently
some of his descendants were living at Groton. He
died on September 9, 1760, and lies buried in the old
burying-ground, where the inscription on a slab of
slate laid over his grave makes a just statement of his
religious and social character.

The seventh minister was the Reverend Samuel
Daua, son of William Dana, and born in that part of
Cambridge which is now Brighton, on January 14,
1738-39. He was a graduate of Harvard College in
the class of 1755, and ordained in the ministry at
Groton on June 3, 1761. No articles of faith or
church covenant appear on the church records until
the period of his settlement. On May 6, 1762, he
was married to Anna Kenrick, of Newton ; and they
had five children born at Groton. His pastorate
appears to have been harmonious until the political
troubles of the Revolution began to crop out, when a
sermon preached by him in the early spring of 1775
gave great offence to his parish. Mr. Dana's sympa-
thies were with the Crown, while those of the people
were equally strong on the other side; and the ex-
citement over the matter ran so high that he was
compelled to give up his charge. After his dismissal
from the tov/n and church he remained at Groton
during' some years, preaching for a year and a half to
a Presbyterian society, then recently organized ; and
later he removed to Amherst, New Hampshire,
where he died on April 2, 1798.

The eighth minister was the Reverend Daniel
Chaplin, a son of Jonathan Chaplin, of Rowley,



76 GROTON.

where he was born on December 30, 1743. He grad-
uated at Harvard College in the class of 1772, and
studied theology under the tuition of the Reverend
Samuel Haven, of Portsmouth, Xew Hampshire. He
was ordained at Groton on January 1, 1778, when he
became pastor of the First Parish, and he continued
to hold this relation until the time of his death, on
April 8, 1831, being the last minister settled by the
town. The degree of D.D. was conferred upon him
by his Alma Mater in the year 1817. On June 24, 1779,
he was married to Susanna, eldest daughter of the
Honorable James and Susanna (Lawrence) Prescott,
of Groton. After their marriage they lived for awhile
in the house built by Colonel William Lawrence, who
was Mrs. Chaplin's grandfather. It was situated on
the north corner of Main and Court Streets, lat-
terly the site of Liberty Hall, which was burned
on March 31, 1878; and subsequently they removed
to the dwelling built by Major William Swan, and
situated on School Street, north of the burying-
ground.

Dr. Chaplin's youngest daughter, Mrs. Sarah
(Chaplin) Rockwood, died in Cortland, Cortland
County, New York, on November 26, 1889, at the re-
markable age of 104 years and eighteen days.

The ninth minister was the Reverend Charles Rob-
inson, the eldest son of Caleb Robinson, of* Exeter,
New Hampshire, where he was born on July 25,
1793. He graduated at Harvard College in the class
of 1818, and was ordained over the Unitarian Church
at Eastport, Maine, where he remained two years and
a half. Mr. Robinson was installed at Groton on No-



GROTON. 77

vember 1, 1826, and resigned his charge in October,
1838. He was afterward settled at Medfield and at
Peterborough, New Hampshire, but in the year 1860
he returned to Groton, where he resided until his
death, on April 9, 1862. During his residence here
he was married, on July 3, 1827, to Jane, only daugh-
ter of the Honorable Stuart John Park, of Groton,
who died on March 23, 1828 ; and subsequently to
three other wives.

The tenth minister was the Rev. George Wads-
worth Wells, sonof Seth and Hannah (Doane) Wells,
of Boston, where he was born on October 17,1804.
He graduated at Harvard College in the class of
1823, and then pursued his theological studies at the
Harvard Divinity School. For a while he preached
in Boston and Baltimore, and, on October 24, 1827,
was ordained at Kennebunk, Maine, as colleague pas-
tor of the first Congregational Church in that town,
where he remained during eleven years. On Novem-
ber 21, 1838, Mr. Wells was installed over the First
Parish in Groton, where he preached with great ac-
ceptance and success until his death, which took
place on March 17, 1843. The last time that he of-
ficiated in the pulpit was on Sunday, February 5th of
that year. He was married on May 30, 1833, to
Lucia Gardner, daughter of John Fairfield, of Bos-
ton. Just before graduation at college, his middle
name was inserted by an Act of the Legislature, on
June 14, 1823.

The eleventh minister was the Reverend Joseph
Couch Smith, a native of Waltham, where he was
born on July 18, 1819. He graduated at Bowdoin



78 GROTON.

College in the class of 1838, and subsequently passed
two years at the Andover Theological Seminary. On
October 11, 1842, he was ordained in Portland as an
Evangelist. After Mr. Wells's death he came to Gro-
ton, and was installed on July 12, 1843. Here he re-
mained during eight years, working diligently and
faithfully in the cause of his Master, to which he had
devoted his life. Finally the loss of his health com-
pelled him to ask a dismission, and his relations to
the society ceased in August, 1851. After passing
six or eight months in foreign travel, and returning
home much invigorated, he was called to the Chan-
ning Congregational Church, at Newton. Here he
preached for four years, when his physical infirmi-
ties again compelled him to seek retirement from his
cares and labors ; and he sailed for tlfe Sandwich Isl-
ands in the hope that he would still be able to act as
an agent of the American Unitarian Association, but
in this he was disappointed. After. a rapid decline
he died at Honolulu, of consumption, on December,
29, 1857.

Mr. Smith was twice married,вАФ first, on August 31,
1843, to Augusta Hepsibah, daughter of Ivory and
Louisa (McCulloch) Lord, of Kennebunk, Maine ;
and secondly, on December 8, 1846, to Margaret Ann,
daughter of George and Margaret (Shattuck) Brig-
ham, of Groton. His first wife died at Groton, on
June 20, 1844, and his widow in Lowell, on March
31, 1864.

The twelfth minister was the Rev. Crawford Night-
ingale, a son of Samuel and Elizabeth Kinnicut,
(Thompson) Nightingale, and born in Providence?



GROTON. 79

E. I., on November 3, 1816. He graduated at Brown
University in the class of 1834, and at the Harvard
Divinity School in 1838, and was ordained as an
Evangelist, in Providence, on November 7, 1838. He
was married, on May 13, 1846, to Mary Hoyt, daugh-
ter of William Henry ai^ Frances Wiswall (Hum-
phrey) Williams, of Athol. Mr. Nightingale was
settled over the parish on January 26, 1853, and
received his dismissal on September 1, 1866, though
he continued to be a resident of the town until the
year 1875. Before coming here he held a pastorate
at Chicopee, and had previously acted as a mission-
ary in Toledo, 0., and in Chicago. He has now re-
tired from the laborious duties of his profession,
though he preaches occasionally, and is living at
Dorchester.

The thirteenth minister was the Eev. George Mc-
Kean Folsom, a son of Charles and Susanna Sarah
(McKean) Folsom, and born in Cambridge on Feb-
ruary 6, 1837. He graduated at Harvard College in
the class of 1857, and at the Harvard Divinity School
in 1866. He was ordained at Groton on December
12, 1866, and married, on January 8, 1867, to Susan
Cabot, daughter of Charles, Jr., and Susan (Cabot)
Jackson, of Boston. In April, 1869, he left Groton
and removed to Dedham, where he was installed
over another parish. He died in Boston on May 20,
1882, and his wife at Dedham on June 27, 1871. An
only child, a daughter, born at Groton on November
16, 1867, survives the parents.

The fourteenth minister was the Eev. John Martin
Luther Babcock, a son of James Babcock, of Ando-



80 GPwOTOX.

ver, Me., where he was born on September 29, 1822.
His father's family removed to Boston in the year
1825, where he remained until 1846. In early life he
studied for the Baptist ministry, and joined the cleri-
cal profession in 1852, though he was not ordained
until January, 1854. He keld pastorates at different
towns in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, but
later he changed his denominational relations and
entered the Unitarian pulpit, being settled at Lancas-
ter, N. H., before coming to this town. He was in-
stalled over the First Parish on April 26, 1871, though
he had been preaching here since December 1, 1870,
and received his dismission on August 31, 1874,
though he continued to fill ihe pulpit until April 1,
1875. Since leaving Groton he has given up the
profession. On November 30, 1843, he was married
(first) to Martha Day Ayer, of Plaistow, N. H., who
died on January 26, 1816 ; and, secondly, on April 5,
1849, to Miriam Clement Tewksbury,.of Wilmot, who
died at New Hampton, N. H., on September 22, 1888.
The fifteenth miuister was the Rev. Joshua Young,
a son of Aaron and Mary (Coburn) Young, and born
at Pittston, Me., on September 29, 1823. He gradu-
ated at Bowdoin College in the class of 1845, and at
the Harvard Divinity School in 1848. He was mar-
ried, on February 14, 1849, to Mary Elizabeth, daugh-
ter of Dr. Sylvanusand Mary Bell (Warland) Plymp-
ton, of Cambridge. Mr. Young was settled in Gro-
ton at the beginning of 1875, and still continues to
be the minister of the parish. Before coming to this
town he had held pastorates in Burlington, Vt., and
in Hingham and Fall River. On commencement,



GROTON. 81

June 26, 1890, he received the honorary degree of
Doctor of Divinity from his Alma Mater.

The formation of a second church in Groton dates
back to the summer of 1825, when the venerable Dr.
Chaplin, enfeebled by age, became so infirm that he
required the help of an assistant. At that time he
was well past eighty years, and the powers of a vig-
orous manhood were beginning to fail him. On Sun-
day afternoon, July 10, 1825, a very hot day. Dr.
Chaplin, near the end of his sermon, fainted in his
pulpit ; and soon after the question of settling a col-
league pastor came up. This matter gave rise to
much controversy and discussion, and resulted in a
division of the old parish into two societies.

It happened during a period when throughout
the Commonwealth many of the Congregational
Churches were undergoing great changes in their
creed, and were forming new lines of theological be-
lief. Few persons of the present day are aware of the
bitter animosity that prevailed in New England at
that time, when these churches were torn asunder by
internal dissensions, and of the sectarian feeling that
followed the division of the parishes. At the begin-
ning of the troubles the Reverend John Todd, a grad-
uate of the Andover Theological Seminary in the class
of 1825, had received a call to become a colleague pas-
tor with Rev. Dr. Chaplin, but which, owing to cer-
tain informalities, was never recognized by the town,
and over his settlement the main controversy had
arisen. The second society, made up of those who
had now separated from the First Parish, was duly
organized and a house of worship built, which was
6



82 GROTON.

dedicated to the service of God on January 3, 1827,
and at the same time Mr. Todd was ordained in the
ministry. He remained as pastor of this society,
which became known as the Union Congregational
Church, until January 8, 1833, when he was dismissed
at his own request.

The Reverend John Todd ^-as the eldest child of
Dr. Timothy and Phebe (Bui) Todd, and born in
Rutland, Yt., on October 9, 1800. He graduated at
Yale College in the class of 1822, and then entered
the Theological Seminary at Andover. On March 11,
1827, he was married to Mary Skinner, daughter of
the Reverend Joab Brace, of Newington, Conn., who
died at Pittsfield on April 29, 1889. After leaving
Groton, Dr. Todd held pastorates at Northampton,
Philadelphia and Pittsfield, where he died on August
24, 1873, after an illness of three months. In the year
1845 the degree of Doctor of Divinity was conferred
upon him by WiDiams College. He- was the author
of more than thirty volumes, besides many sermons
and pamphlets, including among them "The Stu-
dent's Manual," a work which has exerted a wide in-
fluence on the young men of the country.

The second minister of the Union Church was the
Reverend Charles Baker Kittredge, a son o^ Josiah
and Mary (Baker) Kittredge, and born at Mount Ver-
non, N. H., on July 4, 1806. He graduated at Dart-
mouth College in the class of 1828, and at the Ando-
ver Theological Seminary in 1832. He was ordained
at Groton on October 15, 1833, but the time of his
ministry here was short, as he was dismissed on
August 31, 1835. After leaving this town he was set-



GROTON. 83

tied over various parishes in diflferent places, and died
at Westborough on November 25, 1884. Mr. Kit-
tredge was married, on July 9, 1830, to Sarah, daugh-
ter of Charles and Susanna (Bayliss) Brigham, of
Grafton, who died on March 26, 1871.

The third minister was the Eeverend Dudley
Phelps, a native of Hebron, Conn., where he was
born on January 25, 1798, and a graduate of Yale
College in the class of 1823, and of the Andover The-
ological Seminary in 1827. He was ordained at
Haverhill on January 9, 1828, where he remained
until the year 1833, and during 1834 and 1835 was
the editor of the Salem Landmark. Mr. Phelps was
installed at Groton on October 19, 1836, where he
continued as pastor of the church until his death,
which took place on September 24, 1849. He was
the father of the late Hon. Benjamin Kinsman Phelps,
district attorney of New York, an only child by the
first wife, who was Ann Kinsman, of Portland, Me.
The second wife was Lucretia, daughter of the Hon.
Benjamin Mark and Lucretia (Gardner) Farley, of
Hollis, N. H., and of Groton, to whom he was mar-
ried on October 12, 1837.

The fourth minister was the Reverend Edwin
Adolphus Bulkley, a son of Erastus and Mary (Wal-
bridge) Bulkley, and born in Charleston, S. C, on
January 25, 1826. He graduated at Yale College in
the class of 1844, and at the Union Theological Sem-
inary in 1848, and was married, on September 28,
1848, at Huntington, Long Island, N. Y., to Cath-
arine Fredrica, daughter of Daniel and Catharine
Fredrica (Kunze) Oakley. Mr. Bulkley was installed



84 GROTON.

over the society on September 18, 1850, and dismissed
on January 10, 1864. Before coming to Groton he
was settled at Geneva, N. Y., and on leaving this
town he went to Plattsburg. At the present time he
has charge of a Presbyterian Church at Rutherford,
N. J. He has been blessed with eight children, of
whom three survive, and five of the eight were born
at Groton. In the year 1868 the degree of D.D. was
conferred upon him by the University of Vermont.

The fifth minister was the Reverend William
Wheeler Parker, a son of Ebenezer and Hannah
Brooks (Merriam) Parker, and born at Princeton on
March 2, 1824. He graduated at the Andover Theo-
logical Seminary in 1858, and on August 24th, of that
year, he was married at Holden to Emily, daughter of
Joel and Diodamia Walker. Mr. Parker was in-
stalled at Groton on May 16, 1865, and dismissed at
his own request on August 25, 1868. Since leaving
this town he has lived in several places, but is now
residing at Harwich Port.

The sixth minister was the Reverend Jeremiah
Knight Aldrich, a son of Xehemiah Knight and
Sarah Bowen (Branch) Aldrich, aud born in Provi-
dence, R. I./on May 20, 1826. He became a licen-
tiate after an examination before the Windham
County (Connecticut) Association of Congregational
Ministers, on June 4, 1862, and was ordained at Cen-
tral Village, Plainfield, in that State, on February 17,
1863. He was settled at Groton on June 1, 1870, and
dismissed at his own request on May 18, 1873. Mr.
Aldrich was married, on June 3, 1848, in Providence,
R. I., to Sarah Hamer, of Taunton.



GROTON. 85

The seventh minister was the Reverend Benjamin
Adams Robie, a son of Thomas Sargent and Clarissa
(Adams) Robie, and born at Gorham, Maine, on Sep-
tember 9, 1836. He graduated at the Bangor Theo-
logical Seminary in the class of 1865, and was mar-
ried on July 6, 1869, at Vassalborough, to Lucy
Hedge Wiggin, of that town. He was settled as
pastor-elect on April 1, 1874, and resigned on April
1, 1884.

The eighth minister was the Reverend George
Austin Pelton, a son of Asa Carter and Ophelia
(Austin) Pelton, and born at Stockbridge, on April
15, 1833. He graduated at Yale College in the class
of 1861, and at Andover Theological Seminary in
1864. He was licensed to preach by the Essex South
Association in February, 1864, and ordained "to the
work of the Gospel ministry " without installation, at
Franklin, on August 9, 1865. Mr. Pelton was mar-
ried in New Haven, Conn., on April 27, 1864, to
Catharine Sarah, daughter of Seth Warner and Cath-
erine Post Brownson. He was settled as pastor-elect
on May 15, 1884, and resigned on May 15, 1886.

The ninth minister was the Reverend John Bar-
stow, a son of Ezekiel Hale and Eunice (Clark) Bar-
stow, and born at Newton Centre on February 16,
1857. He graduated at Dartmouth College in the
class of 1883, and at the Andover Theological Sem-
inary in 1887. He began his labors at Groton on
April 1, 1887, and was ordained and installed on June
29th, of the same year. Mr. Barstow was married at
Wethersfield, on July 5, 1887, to Mary Weller Wol-
cott, of that town. He was dismissed at his own re-



86 GROTOX.

quest on September 12, 1889, and is now settled over
a society at Glastonbury, Conn. At one time his
father was the principal of Lawrence Academy.

The tenth minister is the Reverend Edward Leeds
Gulick, the present pastor. He is a son of the Rev-
erend Luther Halsey and Louisa (Lewis) Gulick, and
born in Honolulu, Hawaiian Islands, on March 21,
1862. He graduated at Dartmouth College in the
class of 1883, and at the Union Theological Seminary,
New York, in 1887. He began his labors on October
27, 1889, and was ordained on December 23d of the
same year.

A Baptist Society was organized on December 5,
1832, and the Rev. Amasa Sanderson was the first
minister. Captain Josiah Clark, one of the members,
generously gave them the use of a commodious hall
in the third story of a house at the south corner of
Main Street and Broad Meadow Road. In the year
1841 the society erected a meeting-house on the spot
where the Rev. Mr. Hobart's dwelling stood, which
was a garrison-house in the summer of 1694.

Mr. Sanderson was a native of Gardner, Mass.,
wheie he was born on April 16, 1796. He was married,
first, at Weston, in 1822, to Abigail Rand, who died
on January 3, 1867 ; and, secondly, at Nashua, New
Hampshire, in July, 1867, to Mrs. Mary Rebecca
(Batchelder) Woodbury, widow of Seth Woodbury.
Mr. Sanderson supplied the pulpit until May, 1843,
when from feeble health he resigned his charge. He
died in Nashua, New Hampshire, on June 1, 1877,
and buried at Ayer.

The Rev. Alfred Pinney, of Auburn, New York,



GROTON. 87

was the second minister, and had charge of the society
from August, 1843, to August, 1844. He is a son of


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