Samuel A. (Samuel Abbott) Green.

Facts relating to the history of Groton, Massachusetts (Volume 2) online

. (page 11 of 18)
Online LibrarySamuel A. (Samuel Abbott) GreenFacts relating to the history of Groton, Massachusetts (Volume 2) → online text (page 11 of 18)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


The following letter will explain itself:

Boston, May 28, 1913-
Dear Doctor, —

Here is a copy of the memoir of Dr. Bancroft, the original of
which is in my grandfather's handwriting. I sent General Bancroft a
copy of it, and he writes me in part as follows :


" Of the highly prized remains of Samuel Frost I think I became
cognizant at an early age. They reposed in the loft of the carriage
house of Charles Bancroft (my father) during my boyhood, and were
regarded by the children with something akin to indifference. There
are several stories in connection therewith, which are amusing. I be-
lieve one was to the effect that they were at one time decently buried
(of course long after my grandfather's death), and then accidentally
dug up in some farming operation by some one unacquainted with
their antecedents, resulting in a suspicion of foul play. I have been
told also that the skeleton was once the stake in a game of cards. What
finally became of the thing I don't know, but I have the impression
that Dr. Samuel A. Green has some information about it."

Yours sincerely,

F. C. Shattuck.

Amos Bancroft was the fourth son of Captain Edmond
Bancroft, a farmer and Militia officer, occupying a reputable
position in society at Pepperell, Middlesex County, Massachu-
setts. His mother's maiden name was Rachel Howard, daugh-
ter of a respectable farmer in Chelmsford. She had been
previously married to Jonathan Barron, a subaltern officer in
the provincial army, who was killed in battle on the shores of
Lake George in what was called the morning fight, a battle be-
tween the English and French, the English army commanded
by Sir William Johnson. The first fruit of this second marri-
age was a daughter, who was married to Timothy Farrar, for
more than forty years judge in the courts of New Hampshire,
and who died recently at an advanced age, exceeding a cen-
tury. Amos was born May 23, 1767, in a heroic age when
fathers were wont to offer up to their country on the altar of
liberty their oldest sons. Edmond and Jonathan his elder
brothers belonged to Prescott's regiment, the oldest of whom
while encamped on the tented field spread out on Prospect
Hill, Charlestown, died of the natural smallpox. Jonathan,
a mere stripling, fired with the enthusiasm of the day enlisted
during the war, the War of Independence. He recently de-
parted at the age of eighty-six. Thomas, the third son, re-
mained at home to aid in cultivating the farm for the support
of the family and payment of the taxes levied to carry on the


war. He also recently died at the age of eighty-two. The
fourth son, the subject of our present notice, was sent by his
father to Harvard University, where he was graduated in the
Class of 1 791. He afterwards studied medicine with Dr.
Oliver Prescott, of Groton, simultaneously attending the medi-
cal lectures delivered in Cambridge by Drs. Warren, Water-
house, and Dexter. Experience as an army surgeon in the
War of Independence had impressed on the mind of Dr.
Warren the importance of a knowledge of anatomy. He
founded the medical school, taking on himself the two most
difficult branches, anatomy and surgery. I say difficult, be-
cause the people demanded skill in surgery, and at the same
time were ready to stone to death any violation of the sanctuary
of the grave, however ignominious or vile had been the life of
the tenant. At this time was confided to young Bancroft
procuring a subject for dissection. He had recourse to the
gallows at Worcester, where had been hung a murderer and
parricide. Bancroft had marked the grave, and favored by
darkness cautiously proceeded to the spot, determined to
present an acceptable offering to science. While exhuming,
he learned he was watched. He fired from a pistol a blank
cartridge, frightened from the field the conscientious oppo-
nents of dissection, and conveyed to the eloquent professor
of anatomy the subject. Ever afterwards Dr. Bancroft had
the friendship of his teachers and of his medical brethren.
This parricide and murderer had first killed his own father,
and afterwards on the hypothesis of insanity, was delivered
over to the keeping of a humane deputy sheriff", who took
pity on him, and afterwards slew this humane interceder for
his life. The bones of Samuel Frost, the name of the
criminal, born in No Town, county of Worcester, have taught
osteology in the cabinet of Dr. Bancroft to not a few who
have since been useful members of the medical profession,
his pupils. Dr. Bancroft commenced the practice of medi-
cine at Westford, Massachusetts, and on the death of Dr.
Ward, of Weston, removed to that town, where he acquired
an extensive practice. In 181 1 an opportunity to purchase
an eligible farm in Groton, the residence of the accomplished


speaker of the house of representatives, the Hon. Timothy
Bigelow, Dr. Bancroft removed to Groton. Here he divided
his attention between medicine and agriculture, in both of
which he acquired reputation. The sustaining corn and the
rescued from the grave both did sound his praise. As a
physician his characteristic was discrimination, decision,
and unflinching fidelity to his patient. He enjoyed ex-
tensively the friendship of his professional brethren. His
youngest son he educated to the profession to inherit his

As a gentleman he was courteous, as a citizen patriotic, as
a neighbor obliging, as a friend given to hospitality, as a
husband kind and faithful, and as a father he instructed his
children to prepare for independence by wholesome lessons
of self dependence. His infirmities were those familiar to
his profession and to old age. He often deferred claims for
compensation until his services ceased to be sufficiently re-
membered, and then enforced payment. He was sometimes
offensively tenacious of the rights of property, especially
where boundaries in land title were involved.

He left a widow and six children, three sons and three
daughters, the latter of whom were all married to educated
men ; the oldest daughter Abigail to the Reverend Ephraim
Abbot, of Harvard, Massachusetts; the second, Lucy Mi-
randa, to George Thacher, Esq., of Monroe, county of Waldo,
Maine ; and the third, Sarah Savage, to the Hon. Asa F.
Lawrence, Esq., Counsellor at Law, of Pepperell, county of
Middlesex, Massachusetts. He lost a few years ago an ac-
complished daughter, Mary Ann, who died of consumption.
The oldest son Charles is a farmer on the homestead, the
second is in commerce in the city of New York, and the
third, the youngest child, is a physician in Groton, his native

There is a thrilling interest in the account of the last day
of his life and the incident of his death [on July 12, 1848].
At ten o'clock in the forenoon, he called on a beloved sister
of a departed wife at the house of the Chief Justice of this
Commonwealth, and at half-past ten he went to State Street,


where he declined the further attendance of a friend, such
was his indomitable habit of independence, or rather of
self dependence.

From the Granite Bank he passed upon the south side of
the street in front of the Merchants' Exchange, when he was
knocked down by a spirited horse moving with the acquired
momentum of rapid driving over the slippery pavement not-
withstanding a vigorous effort of the driver to rein him in
until brought upon his haunches. Deaf and purblind the
aged physician was a ready victim to the stunning blow.
Senseless and with blood pouring from his ears, a vigilant
and humane police officer, stationed there by a good city
government to protect the citizens from accident, bore him
in his arms to a neighboring apothecary shop, where a re-
cumbent posture, rest, and volatiles favored returning circu-
lation and respiration. When sufficiently revived he was
conveyed in a carriage accompanied by Dr. Kneeland and
Dr. Salter to the residence of his lady's brother, Mr. Samuel
Kneeland, where the anxious wife met him to witness his
death. He revived into a consciousness of his condition and
sufferings, and exclaimed, " Help me if you can ! " Soon
after an ineffectual effort to puke, he sank into a lethargy,
experiencing a death-like one by apoplexy.


Adam Richardson was the sixth son, and eighth child, of
Deacon Stephen and Bridget (Richardson) Richardson, and
was born at Woburn, on April 10, 1709. He graduated at
Harvard College in the Class of 1730; and the given name
of his wife was Rebecca. For some years he lived in Groton,
where he practised medicine, and where he had three chil-
dren, born between December 14, 1737, and July 6, 1743.
According to the town treasurer's book he was teaching the
Grammar School from January 2, 1 741-2, to August 13, 1745,
as at different times payment for teaching was made to him


between those dates ; and in these several entries he is given
the title of Doctor. The last date found in the records, when
any payment was made, is August 13, and perhaps about this
time he left town. On February 3, 1745 [-6] there was paid
to " William Lawrence for his keeping the Grammar School
the term of six months in said town in old tennor 60-0.0," —
which extract from the treasurer's book bears out the suppo-
sition that Dr. Richardson's service as teacher ended in the
summer of 1745. He was teaching the Grammar School at
Woburn during the years 1747 to 1749. No trace of him is
found among the files of papers at the Middlesex Probate
Office in East Cambridge.


Dr. Benjamin Shattuck was the second son of Stephen
and Elizabeth (Robbins) Shattuck, and was born at Littleton,
on November 22, 1742. He graduated at Harvard College
in the Class of 1765, and studied medicine under the
instruction of Dr. Oliver Prescott. After learning his pro-
fession, he settled at Templeton, on the special invitation
of the inhabitants of that town, where he had a large

On April 12, 1772, Dr. Shattuck married Lucy, only daugh-
ter of Jonathan and Rachel (Howard) Barron, who outlived
her husband. The widow married, secondly, on July 7, 1796,
the Reverend Asaph Rice, of Westminster. She was born at
Chelmsford, on December 19, 1753, and died at Templeton,
on April 5, 1821.

Dr. Shattuck's wife was a half-sister of the late Dr. Amos
Bancroft, of Groton. Their mother for her first husband
married Jonathan Barron, who was killed at the Battle of
Lake George, on September 8, 1755; and they had three
children, Jonathan, Lucy, and Benjamin. She married as
his second wife, Captain Edmund Bancroft, of Pepperell, the
father of Dr. Bancroft; and this kinship accounts for the


intimacy that formerly existed between the Bancroft and
Shattuck families.

Dr. George Cheyne Shattuck (i 783-1 854), Dr. Benjamin's
son, for many years was a prominent physician of Boston ;
and Dr. George Cheyne Shattuck, Jr. (1813-1893), was also
a distinguished member of the profession, and a professor
in the Harvard Medical School, who told me once that, when
a medical student himself, he used to drive with Dr. Ban-
croft on his circuit while visiting patients. A sister of his,
Lucy Cheever, died at Dr. Bancroft's house in Groton, on
December 22, 1835. Dr. George Brune Shattuck (H. C.
1863) and Frederick Cheever Shattuck (H. C. 1868), of the
next generation, are also well-known and eminent physicians
in Boston.


Dr. Isaac Hurd was the third son of Benjamin and Grace
(Easterbrook) Hurd, and was born at Charlestown, on July
27, 1756. He graduated at Harvard College in the Class of
1776, and immediately after leaving Cambridge entered upon
the study of medicine under Dr. Oliver Prescott. For several
months during the year 1777 he served as surgeon in the
Revolutionary army. In 1778 he settled at Billerica as a
practising physician ; and while living there, on September
13, 1778, he married Sarah, eldest child of William and Sarah
(White) Tompson, who died on June i, 1789. By this mar-
riage there were five children. After the death of his wife
he removed to Concord, where he continued to live until his
death, which took place on November 19, 1844.

Dr. Hurd married, secondly, on November 21, 1790, Mrs.
Polly, daughter of Gershom and Mary Flagg, of Boston, and
widow of Dr. Josiah Wilder, of Lancaster, who died on No-
vember 26, 1821; and thirdly, on February 3, 1825, Mrs.
Mary Bates, widow of Captain Caleb Bates, of Concord,
whose maiden name was Douglass. She came originally from
Scituate; and she died on February 22, 1854.



Albert Jones Bellows was the eldest child of Asahel
and Hannah (Valentine) Bellows, and was born at Groton
on July 28, 1804. His mother was Hannah, third daughter
of WiUiam and Elizabeth (Jones) Valentine, who was born
at Hopkinton, on March 25, 1781, and died at Groton, on
September 11, 1843. [He graduated at the Harvard Med-
ical School in the Class of 1829, and practised his pro-
fession at Milford, Salem, Charlestown, and Roxbury. He
was married, first, on February 5, 1829, to Pamela Fitch, of
Worcester; secondly, to [ ] Cleaves, of Portsmouth,

New Hampshire ; and, thirdly, to Maria Snow. His death
took place in Boston, on December 11, 1869.

Albert Fitch Bellows, his eldest child, was an artist of some
note, and in our boyhood we were schoolmates at Lawrence
Academy. The son painted a picture which has been en-
graved, and through the reproduction is somewhat famous.
The engraving bears the title of " The Village Elms," with a
secondary legend of " Sunday Morning in New England,"
and was copyrighted in 1878. One day on meeting him in
the street, out of curiosity I asked if he did not have Groton
in mind when he painted the picture, as the view might well
apply to many a country village. He replied at once that he
did not, but that the scene lay mainly in Hadley. The view
represents the coming together or converging of two streets
in a country town ; and I am told that one street, the princi-
pal one, is supposed to be in Hadley village, and the other
in Northampton, before that town became a city, and while
it still had a rural aspect.


Dr. William Newcomb Stone was a son of Dr. Thomas
Newcomb and Hannah (Atwood) Stone, and was born at
Truro, on August 7, 1845. He began to attend school at


Lawrence Academy in i860, and remained there for nearly
three years. He studied medicine under the tuition of his
father and graduated at the Harvard Medical School in the
Class of 1869, and soon afterward joined the Massachusetts
Medical Society. He began the practice of his profession at
Wellfleet, where he acquired a wide reputation as a skilful

On October 24, 1875, he was married at No. 154 Dorches-
ter Street, South Boston, to Adeline, daughter of Joshua and
Adeline (Higgins) Hamblen. She was a native of Wellfleet,
and died there, on March 20, 1898, at the age of 49 years,
10 months, and 26 days. A few months later Dr. Stone died
there also, on October 17, 1898, aged 53 years, 2 months,
and 10 days. They were survived by two children, a son
and a daughter.


The following epitaph was copied by me, on September 13,
1892, from a slate slab standing near the south-eastern corner
of the Burying-ground at Charlestown, New Hampshire.
Elizabeth Shepley was the second daughter and third child
of John and Abigail (Green) Sheple, of Groton, and an aunt
of the late Ether Shepley, Chief-Justice of the Supreme
Court of Maine. The surname was originally written Sheple,
though pronounced Shepley. See also the Reverend Henry
Hamilton Saunderson's History of Charlestown (p. 628), for
an account of her own family.

Elizabeth Shepley

wife of

William Willard

Born Groton Mass. June '5*

1759. Died Sept. 25, 1851

^. 92 yrs. 3 mos. 20 ds.



The following extract from the Reverend William Hub-
bard's " General History of New England, from the Dis-
covery to MDCLXX" (second edition, Boston, 1848), refers
to the naming of the town of Groton.

Two more Plantations or townships were this year [1655] granted,
the one at Shashin, upon a river falling into the Merrimack, called
Billerica ; the other higher above Concord, called Groton.

Thus did the inhabitants of New England, that it might not be
forgotten whence they had their original, imprint some remembrance
of their former habitations in England upon their new dwellings in
America (p. 545).


In the year 1841, " A Census of Pensioners for Revolution-
ary or Military Services " was published under the direction
of the United States government, which gave the names, ages,
and places of residence of all pensioners then living, as well as
the names of heads of families with whom they were residing.
The list includes presumably all the surviving Revolutionary
soldiers at that period ; and among them are the names of ten
Groton men, as follows : —

Names. Ages. With whom living.

Abel Prescott. 80 Abel Prescolt.

William Prescott. 72 Merrick Lewis.

Joshua Parker. 76 Joshua Parker.

William Tarbell. 76 William Tarbell.

Jacob Nutting. 93 Jacob Nutting.

Isaac Patch. 78 Isaac Patch.

Joseph Sawtell, 2d. 76 Joseph Sawtell, 2nd.

David Lakin. 89 David Lakin.

Amos Farnsworth. 86 Amos Farnsworth.

Stephen Pingrey. 82 John Pingrey.


Abel Prescott was the second son of Jonas and Rebecca
(Bulkley) Prescott, and was born at Groton, on December 12,
1759. He was married to Hannah Spalding, of Ashburn-
ham ; and among his children were Phinehas Oilman Prescott
and Charles Prescott. He died on September 18, 1841, and
his widow on August 17, 1854.

William Prescott was the youngest son of the Honorable
James and Susanna (Lawrence) Prescott, and was born at
Groton, on September 5, 1768. At a Fourth of July celebra-
tion he was severely wounded in the hand by the premature
discharge of a cannon ; and in consequence of the injury he
received a pension from the United States government. For
many years after the death of his father he lived in the family
of Major James Lewis, and after Major Lewis's death in the
family of Merrick Lewis, the youngest brother of James. Mr.
Prescott died at Groton, on August 31, 1843. He was a
nephew of Colonel William Prescott who commanded the
American forces at the Battle of Bunker Hill, and a brother
of Benjamin who fell in that action.

Joshua Parker was a son of Ephraim and Azubah (Farns-
worth) Parker, and was born at Groton, on May 26, 1764.
He was in the army near the end of the War, and he died on
September 15, 1843. His son the late Andrew Johnson
Parker, of Charlestown, told me that he remembered his
father's discharge paper.

William Tarbell was the second son of Benjamin and
Azubah (Farnsworth) Tarbell, and was born at Groton, on
October 19, 1764. He was married, on April 8, 1788, to
Polly Simonds, of Groton; secondly, on April 24, 1823, to
Susan Blood, of Groton; and, thirdly, on May 13, 1840,
to Mrs. Sarah (Wetherbee) Nutting, of Townsend. Mr.
Tarbell's mother died on March 14, 1838, at the age of 97
years, 8 months, and 19 days, the oldest person in town at
that time; and he died on August 3, 1851, aged 86 years,
9 months, and 16 days. The date of his birth is taken from
the family Bible and differs by a few days from that given in
the town records.

Jacob Nutting, a son of Isaac and Lydia (Nutting) Nutting,


was born at Groton, on January 23, 1747, and died on May
14, 1841.

Isaac Patch was the second son of Isaac and EHzabeth
(Avery) Patch, and was born at Westford in the year 1762.
He was married in 1786 to Phebe, youngest child of Reuben
and Susanna (Chandler) Fletcher of that town ; and they had
eight children, of whom the youngest, Sophronia, was the
wife of the late Moses Titus, of Ayer. Mr. Patch died at
Groton, on October 21, 1841, aged 79 years; and his widow
on January 9, 1843, also aged 79 years.

Joseph Sawtell, 2d, was the second son of Joseph and
Lydia (Jenkins) Sawtell, and was born at Groton, on May 8,
1764. He was married, on February 22, 1788, to Hannah,
youngest daughter of Ebenezer and Mary Kemp. For many
years he was sexton of the town ; and he died on March
21, 1842. Another, Joseph, the father of the late Ephraim
Sawtell, was living in the year 1840, when this list of pen-
sioners was made.

David Lakin was the youngest child of John and Lydia
(Parker) Lakin, and was born at Groton, on October 10,

1753. He died on March 3, 1846, at which time he was the
oldest person in town.

Amos Farnsworth was the eldest son of Amos and Lydia
(Longley) Farnsworth, and was born at Groton, on April 28,

1754. After the Lexington alarm, on April 19, 1775, he
marched to Cambridge in Captain Henry Farwell's company
of minute-men. At the time of his death, which took place
on October 29, 1847, he was the oldest person in town.

Stephen Pingrey was the eldest son of Stephen and Anna
(Jewett) Pingrey, and was born at Rowley, on June 3, 1759.
After the death of his second wife, which took place at Fran-
conia, New Hampshire, on June 12, 1838, in order to live
with his youngest son, John, he came to Groton, where he
died on May 8, 1844.

Many years ago I obtained the following facts from a Rev-
olutionary pension-agent, whose name I have now forgotten,
though there is no reason to doubt their accuracy.

Mrs. Olive Studley died at Groton, on March 2, 1845, aged


83 years. She was the widow of Consider Studley, who
during the Revolution had served as a non-commissioned
officer from Wrentham. They were married at Franklin in
1785 ; and at the time of her death she left three children,
namely: Mrs. Olive Rugg, wife of the late Joseph Rugg, of
Groton, Oliver Studley, and Sarah Mann Studley. Her hus-
band died at Lancaster, on December 28, 1832 ; and in conse-
quence of his military services she received from the United
States government an annual pension of forty-four dollars.

Jonathan Prentiss, a native of Groton, living in Townsend,
was in the military service of his country during the years
1778 and 1779. At one time he was a member of Captain
Kimball's company, Colonel Sproat's regiment, and was sta-
tioned at Nantasket.

Samuel Gragg, a native of Groton, and a soldier of the
Revolution, was an uncle of the late Reverend William Gragg,
who graduated at Harvard College, in the Class of 1820; and
his wife's name was Rachel Blood.


By his Excellency George Washington, Esq. Commander in Chief
of the Army of the United Colonies.

To MosES Child Esq'

The Honourable the Continental Congress, having lately passed a
Resolve, contained in the following words, to Wit,

"That two persons be sent at the expence of these colonies to
" Nova Scotia to inquire into the State of that Colony, the disposition
" of the Inhabitants towards the American cause, & the condition
"of the Fortifications, Docks, Yards, the Quantity of Artillery &
"Warlike stores, and the Number of Soldiers, Sailors, & Ships of
" War there, and Transmit the earliest Intelligence to General
" Washington."

I do hereby Constitute and Appoint you the said Moses Child

to be one of the persons to undertake this Business ; And as the


Season is late & this a work of great importance, I entreat & request,
that you will use the utmost dispatch, attention and fidelity in the
execution of it. The necessity of acting with a proper degree of
caution & secresy is too apparent to need recommendation.

You will keep an Account of your expences, and upon your return,
will be rewarded in a suitable manner for the fatigue of your Journey
& the services you render your country, by conducting & discharg-
ing this business with expedition & fidelity.

Given under my hand this 24 day of Nov' 1775

G° Washington
[Modern indorsement]

Autograph of Washington, Commission of Moses Child, 1775


David Henry Felch is the fourth son of Benjamin
Franklin and Mary Elizabeth (Bennett) Felch, and was born
at Groton, on September 19, 1856. He attended school at
Lawrence Academy, first, in the year 1868, during the latter
part of the preceptorship of the Reverend William Pope
Aiken; and, later, at the opening of the present main build-

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 11 13 14 15 16 17 18

Online LibrarySamuel A. (Samuel Abbott) GreenFacts relating to the history of Groton, Massachusetts (Volume 2) → online text (page 11 of 18)