Samuel A. (Samuel Abbott) Green.

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

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Nunae-ohkuk-es-et. Nunae, " dry," ohkuk, " earthern pot," es, di-
minutive et, " at or in," " at the small dry earth pots," or possibly
" at the small earth pots where water sifts through," derived from
Nanah-kinig, a sieve. Nunae-cowaewesuck, or Nunae-koowas, " dry

NuBANUSSuCK, a pond in Westford. This name must have belonged
to the stream which flowed from the pond, as the termination signifies
(sank, suck, "outlet "), not to the pond itself. In its present shape it
is untranslatable.

Petaupaukett, a name of pond in the original petition to the gen-
eral court for the grant of the town and used in connection with the
territory and the neighborhood. It is sometimes written Petapawage
and Petapaway. In a letter written to you December 22, 1S77, Dr.


Trumbull says " Petaupauk," and other similar forms literally means,
*'a place into which the foot sinks," represented by the Chippeway-
petobeg, and the Abnaki-potepaug, a bog or marsh.

QuosoPANAGON, a meadow in Groton, " on the other side of the
river." In my notes referring to the name Quasaponikin, made in
1905, I find the following: "A hill in the N. E. part of Lancaster,
also the same name given to a meadow and brook in the early records
of the town. A village in Lancaster is now called Ponikin. I believe
this name applied first to a shallow part of the river near where the
brook enters the Nashua. The northern Indians have the word
Poonichuan, "where the current stops." The Natick dialect has
Ponquag, " a ford," also Penaekinnu, " it spreads," and Josiah Cotton
gives Pongqui as " shallow," in his vocabulary. Dr. Trumbull says in
his definition of Quassapaug, K'chepaug, " greatest pond," a name
easily corrupted to Quassapaug. (Trumbull, Indian Names of Con-
necticut, p. 59.) Quassaponikin corrupted, from k'che-ponquag-
in, would mean, *'at the greatest fording place." Probably the
same name in Groton would signify a fording place, although the name
m Groton is spelled Quosopanagon.

Shabikin, Shabokin, Chaboken, etc., early name of a tract of land
in the northwest part of Harvard, formerly a part of Stow Leg. I
believe this name must have been originally Chepiohkin. ''Chep-
iohke," the Indian name for "hell," "the place apart," " the place of
separation," with the locative suffix in or en. A curious indication
that this was the original signification is the fact that the pond in this
tract of land has always been called " Hell Pond." " Shabikin " seems
to have been the original designation of that part of Stow Leg which
includes Hell Pond. (Nourse, History of Harvard, p. 72.) "The
pioneers always called it Hell Pond, and so it is recorded in the worn
and yellow documents of their day that have come down to us."
(Ibid. p. 66.)

Squannacook, a river in the western part of Groton, rises in the
northern part of Townsend, forms the boundary between Shirley and
Groton, and flows into the Nashua. Possibly the name is a corrup-
tion of Squamicuk, which would mean salmon place, m'squamaug,
"salmon," and auke, " place," or with ut would signify the "place
for taking salmon." We know from early records there were many
salmon in these rivers, however this is not a satisfactory explanation.
It is also the name of a village in western part of Groton. A very
similar name is found in Rhode Island. Squannakonk is the name
of a swamp in Rehoboth, where Annawon was captured by Captain


Church, in 1676. Mr. Drake (in his edition of Mather's Brief His-
tory, p. 180) says that this name probably signifies " Swamp of
Night," but Dr. Trumbull wrote : " I can make nothing of this name :
it is certainly corrupted, and has lost at least one (initial) syllable.",
^Church's Philip's War, part I, p. 163, note.)

Tadmuck, a brook and meadow in Westford. This name is vari-
ously spelled in the old documents, Tatnoc, Tadnick, Tadnuck, and
Tadmuck. The last is more general and is adopted as the true one.
Tadmuck, Great Tadmuck, and Little Tadmuck were all meadows
and more or less swamp land and I have very little doubt that it has
the same signification as Tatamuckatakis, the name of a neck and
creek in Long Island. That name belonged originally to the meadows
bordering the creek, and the word signified, " meadow that trembles,"
from " tata," " to shake," " to tremble," and moskehtuash " grass,"
"pasturage." (Tooker.) The last syllable may have been lost and the
different dialects may have accounted for some change. Certainly the
Algonkin roots in this word authorize the translation. Maskituash,
"grass or hay." (Roger Williams.)

Unquetenassett, a brook in the northern part of Groton. The
first syllable " unque " is probably the same as ongkaue, " beyond,"
"further," and the last syllable is a locative, but in its present form I
cannot translate it.

Wabansconcett, found in the original petition for the grant of the
town of Groton and used in connection with the territory of the
neighborhood. Waban, a sachem living at Nonantum in 1676, prob-
ably owned much land about Groton, for a deed of 1683 of "all and
every part of that Tract of land which is called Groton " was signed
by Thomas Waban, of Natick, and a few other Indians. Thomas
Waban is supposed to have been the son of Waban the Sachem, the
first Indian to receive the gospel from John Eliot and who became
one of his most trusted and eflficient workers among the Praying In-
dians. Waban, " the wind," keon, signifying " going over," and the
locative set, " at or near." Possibly the name signified, " where the
wind blows." The elder sachem probably took his name from some
part of his land at Groton, as was customary.


(H. C, 1S06), OF WESTFORD.

Groton, Aug. 10, 1836.

Dear Sir, — On examining my old minutes I find there was an
uncertainty respecting the distance fi-om Prescott's hill to Westford
Meetinghouse, «& as I made that no part of the route from Lowell to
Worcester, I never corrected it. I have now measured a base line
from Prescott's to another hill, of 350 rods, by which I find the dis-
tance to be 18 1 7 rods. I also find the distance of Jo. Ingall's
[Joe English] hill from Prescott's to be — 24 Miles 279 rods. Unco-
noonock, 26 miles 66 rods. The groves 40 miles 227 rods, Kysarge 54
miles 154 rods, what you call Mt. Washington about the last distance.
I suspect your needle was attracted in the bellfry about one degree
to the east, & in making these calculations I have so estimated
the bearings of the objects.

It only remains to be ascertained, whether I see from Prescott's
hill, the same mountain which you see at Westford & call Mt. Wash-
ington. When you have leisure, on a clear day & will come to
Groton, I think I can satisfy you on this score.

Yours in haste,

C. Butler.


A LIFE of Dr. Wm. T. G. Morton, of Boston, the discoverer
of the anaesthetic properties of sulphuric ether, was published
at New York in the year 1859. It was written by Dr. Nathan
Payson Rice, and is entitled " Trials of a Public Benefactor,
as illustrated in the Discovery of Etherization." In this book
is given an account of the first operation ever performed on
a patient, while under the influence of ether, which was the
extraction of a tooth. The subject was Ebenezer Hopkins
Frost, a native of Groton now dead, who is still remembered
by many persons. He was a son of Solomon and Dorcas
(Hopkins) Frost, and was born on December 7, 1824. He
became quite noted as a singer and teacher of music, and
was a member of the Handel and Haydn Society in Boston.


Dr. Morton tried first on himself the experiment of inhaling
ether, and after describing the effect it produced he goes on
to say :

Delighted with the success of this experiment, I immediately an-
nounced the result to the persons employed in my establishment, and
waited impatiently for some one upon whom I could make a fuller
trial. Toward evening, a man, residing in Boston, came in, suffering
great pain, and wishing to have a tooth extracted. He was afraid of the
operation, and asked if he could be mesmerized. I told him I had
something better, and saturating my handkerchief, gave it to him to
inhale. He became unconscious almost immediately. It was dark
and Dr. Hayden held the lamp, while I extracted a firmly-rooted
bicuspid tooth. There was not much alteration in the pulse, and no
relaxation of the muscles. He recovered in a minute, and knew
nothing of what had been done to him. He remained for some time
talking about the experiment. This was on the 30th of September,
1846. This I consider to be the first demonstration of this new fact
in science. I have heard of no one who can prove an earlier demon-
stration. If any one can do so I yield to him the priority of time
(pp. 62, 6^).

Immediately after the operation Frost gave a certificate
corroborating these statements, vi'hich is printed in the book,
and signed by him as then living at No. 42 Prince Street,
Boston. Nearly twenty years afterward he died at Fitchburg,
on September 7, 1865.


A Mistake Corrected. — Mr. Butler, in his History of Groton
(p. 449), prints a list of illegitimate births that have occurred in the
town before the year 1782, giving the names both of the mothers and
the children. It is not claimed that the list is complete, but in one
case at least it is incorrect, and by implication unjust to the memory
of a worthy family. It is there stated that Eleazer, son of Phebe
Lawrence, was born " 24 d. 12 m. 1675 ; " and this is the only instance
where the date is given, without mentioning specifically the name of


the month. The birth does not appear at all in the Groton records,
but in the Middlesex County Records at East Cambridge it does
appear that " Eleazer son of Phebe Lawrence [was] born 24, 12, 75."
The entry is made with three others, where in each case the name
of the father is given, but not that of the mother. The omission to
give the father's name was doubtless due to the fact, that Thomas
Danforth, Recorder at Cambridge, read the return made at the time
by Janies Fisk, clerk of the Writs, as Phebe instead of Peleg, which
was the father's name ; and from this fact the confusion has arisen.
Mr. Butler probably thought that Phebe was not married, and so
placed her among the unfortunate women in the list. There is no
other record to show that there was a Phebe Lawrence in Groton at
that period.

Now to the main support of my theory : Eleazer, the third child of
Peleg and Elizabeth (Morse) Lawrence, was born on February 28,
1674-5, as appears by another entry in the records made a few years
later, which is only four days after the time assigned in the list.
Without doubt the two Eleazers were one and the same person. See
the Groton Historical Series, Vol. I., No. XIIL (pp. 9, 10).

Parker. — -William Parker, of Groton, married first, on March 30,
1736, Susanna Kemp ; and secondly, on January 9, 1755, Mrs. Sarah
(Boynton) Richardson, of Pepperell, born in the year 1721. She
was the eldest child of Nathaniel and Hannah (Perham) Boynton, of
Westford, and the widow of Abiel Richardson, a native of Billerica.
By the second marriage there were three children, namely :

Susanna, who married Samuel Lawrence of Groton ; Ruth, who
married Samuel Taylor, of Dunstable ; and Elizabeth, who married
David Rogers, of Concord.

Widow Sarah (Boynton | Richardson) Parker, after the death of
her second husband on February i, 1761, married thirdly, on July 23,
1767, David Taylor, of Concord. See Volume I, of the Groton
Historical Series, No. X. (p. 28) ; also No. XHL (pp. 31, :^;^).

Lieutenant William Parker died in Groton, January 9, 1833, aged 71.

Mercy and Mary. — Some time ago I sent a query to the New
England Historical and Genealogical Register, about the interchange-
able use of the names "Mercy" and " Mary," which-was printed in


the April number (p. 225) for 1896. Since then I have noted two
other instances of the kind which are here given : —

In Dr. Bond's History of Watertown (p. 309), under Jennison, the
author mentions " Mercy (' Mary ') bap. Ap. 22, 1753 " — evidently
showing that he had found both forms of the name.

Again, in the second edition of Binney's History of the Prentice
Family (p. 172), the author speaks of one Mary Jennison, and then
adds in a note that in the Lancaster records she is called Mercy
Jennison. These two women were not identical, though bearing the
same name, as the first one was married in 1774, and the other
died in 1756.

I do not think that any misspelling of the word " Mary " clears up
the confusion or explains away the difficulty.


James Dana and Thomas Hopkinson were graduates of
Harvard College in the Class of 1830; and soon after gradu-
ation, for a term of one year, they were fellow law-students
under the instruction of Judge Samuel Dana, of Groton. His
office at that time was in the building just north of Mr. Dix's,
and nearly opposite to Mr. Hoar's tavern. It was afterward
made into a tenement-house, and subsequently burned on the
morning of October 26, 1884. While engaged here in the
pursuit of their chosen profession, these two law-students had
their first case in court. The late General Dana, of Charles-
town, gave me the following account of it; which will call up
in the minds of the older citizens of the town the recollection
of Training-day, when the militia companies used to meet on
the Common and go through with certain evolutions, then
called drilling:

More than half a century ago, two young Harvard graduates were
reading law in a quiet country town in this State, when one day in
April a notice, of which the following is a copy, was served upon
each of them : •


Groton, April IS, 1831.
To Thomas Hopkinson of said Groton :

You being duly enrolled in the Company at Groton, within whose bounds you

reside, and commanded by Capt. , are hereby ordered to appear,

armed and equipped as the law directs, on the Common in front of the Meeting-
house in Groton, on the first Tuesday of May next, at one o'clock, in the after-
noon, for inspection, exercise and discipline. Fail not of appearance at your


, Clerk.

The students at once endeavored to inform themselves upon
military law, and found that to be " armed and equipped as the law
directs," they must provide themselves with a good musket or fire-
lock, with a bore sufficient for balls of the eighteenth part of a pound,
a bayonet and belt, two spare flints, a priming wire and brush, a
knapsack, a cartridge-box to contain not less than twenty-four car-
tridges suited to the bore of the musket, each cartridge to contain a
proper quantity of powder and ball.

Unfortunately, although they had been members of the Harvard
Washington Corps in college, they did not own the aforesaid im-
plements of war or any of them, and had not any bank account to
draw upon for the "wherewithal." What was to be done? There
seemed no alternative but to " run the gauntlet," and they did ; and
failed to obey the summons, and only had the privilege of hearing
at a distance the notes of " Yankee Doodle " and " Hail Columbia "
from the inspiring fife and drum.

They soon heard that those college fellows were to be " put over
the road ; " and erelong the constable entered and served a sum-
mons upon each, as follows :

Middlesex, ss. To the Sheriff of said County, or either of his Deputies, or
either of the Constables of the town of Groton, in the County aforesaid,
Greeting :

[L. S.]

In the name of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, you are hereby required
to summon Thomas Hopkinson, of Groton, in the County aforesaid, to appear
before me, Caleb Butler, Esquire, one of the Justices of the Peace for the
County aforesaid, at my office in said Groton, on the second Monday of June
next, at two o'clock in the afternoon, then and there to show cause, if any he
has, why judgment should not be rendered that he has forfeited the sum of four
dollars for neglecting and failing to appear at the meeting for inspection, exer-
cise and discipline of the Company in said town, commanded by Capt.

, on the Common in front of the Meeting-house in said Groton, on the

first Tuesday of May, inst., at one o'clock in the afternoon.


Hereof fail not and make due return of this writ and your doings tliereon unto
myself, on or before the said hour of the said third day of June.
Dated at Groton aforesaid, the sixteenth day of May, A. D. 1831.

Caleb Butler, Justice of the Peace.

The students decided to stand trial, and act as lawyers for each
other ; and they studied the law pretty thoroughly, fearing that they
might make a failure on their first attempt in the legal forum.

On the day appointed they presented themselves before the
Justice ; and soon ten other delinquents, mostly farmer boys, filed
in, causing an overflow in the small ofiice ; and the court was ad-
journed to the hall of the neighboring tavern, which was then kept
by Joseph Hoar.

As it was noised through the village that those college boys were
to be put on their trial before Mr. Justice Butler, and that they were
foolish enough to attempt to play the lawyer for each other, there
was quite a gathering of the villagers, who came to witness some

Bradford Russell, Esquire, a legal light of Groton, appeared as
counsel for the complainant, and the proceedings began. The case
against Thomas Hopkinson was called. The Court, after ordering
him to stand up, read the complaint and inquired : " Thomas Hop-
kinson, what say you to this complaint? Do you plead guilty, or not
guilty?" Hopkinson. " Not guilty." " Have you any counsel? "
" Yes, your Honor ; my friend James Dana is to defend me." Court.
"Mr. Russell, proceed with your case." "Yes, your Honor; " and
he offered his documentary evidence, and his witnesses in support
of the allegations in the complaint, and then said, "We rest our
case here."

Mr. Dana, for the defence, then arose and addressed the Court
as follows :

" May it please your Honor, our defence will consist of eleven
points, some of which we flatter ourselves will be considered an
ample defence to the annoying and unjust prosecution of innocent
law-abiding citizens of this ancient town ; and we trust that our
defence will be such that the complainant and his associates will
not have opportunity to gratify their spleen against those college
fellows, — a fellowship of which we are in no way ashamed, but
justly proud."

Mr. Dana then elaborated six of his points, and proceeded :

" We have now presented and argued six of our points. Our
seventh point is that although we are liable to be enrolled in the


Massachusetts Militia, the law requires that notice of such enrol-
ment shall be seasonably given to a citizen thus enrolled. The
reason for this is obvious ; otherwise a citizen might be dragged
away to fight in battles in defence of his country, before he has any
information or knowledge that he is a soldier; and further, such
notice affords him time and opportunity to procure a priming wire
and brush, twenty-four cartridges, and the numerous other weapons
of war required by Massachusetts Militia Law. My chent has not
received any notice of his enrolment. The learned counsel for com-
plainant, ingenious as he is, has not offered any evidence of such
notice to our client ; and he cannot, for it is not a fact. Without
waiving the force and strength of our six points, we confidently
assert and maintain that this seventh point is conclusive, and fatal
to the maintenance of this prosecution."

The Court. " Mr. Dana, you may rest a minute." " Mr. Russell,
have you any evidence or proof, or can you produce any, that notice
of his enrolment was given to the defendant?" "I regret to say
that I am afraid we don't possess such evidence, and that we cannot
procure it." The Court. " Then I rule the point well taken, and
that it is fatal to the maintenance of the prosecution. Thomas
Hopkinson, stand up ! This Court orders that you be discharged ;
you may go without day."

" The next case is a complaint against James Dana, of Groton,
which I will read. James Dana, do you plead guilty, or not guilty?"
" Not guilty, your Honor." " Have you engaged counsel? " " Yes,
your Honor, I have retained my friend Thomas Hopkinson to
defend me."

Esquire Russell having finished his case for the prosecution, Mr.
Hopkinson for the defence addressed the Court : —

" May it please your Honor, our defence is substantially the same
as that made by our brother Dana in the prosecution against ourself,
which has just been tried before your Honor."

The Court. "Mr. Russell, you have not offered any evidence
that notice of his enrolment was given to Dana, the defendant.
Can you procure or produce any?" ''I fear not, your Honor."
"Then the Court orders that you be discharged, and go without
day." Mr. Hopkinson. " We thank the Court for the correct

The other ten delinquents, rough-looking country boys, were sit-
ting in a row, and with strained eyes and wide-open ears had listened
to the foregoing. After Hopkinson and Dana were thus summarily


discharged, they were all in great glee, for they knew they had not
been notified of their enrolment. In their ignorance they had not
engaged counsel.

They had a consultation in whisper, when one of them, who
seemed to act as boss or leader, beckoned Mr. Hopkinson and Mr.
Dana into another room. " How much will you charge to defend
me and the other nine? " "Ten dollars, — one dollar a head. What
is your name?" "Hateful W. Parkins."^ "There is an old rule,
and it is a good one, * Pay as you go.' Go back, collect your
money, and pay the coin down." This was done, and the fee

The Court. "The next case is that of Hateful Parkins." "All
ready." "Have you any counsel?" "Yes, Mr. Hopkinson and
Mr. Dana, the young lawyers, will defend me and the other nine."
The Court. " I will read the complaint ; " which is read. " Hateful
Parkins, what say you to this complaint? Do you plead guilty or not
guilty?" Whereupon Mr. Hopkinson whispered to Parkins, "They
have got your name wrong ; don't answer, keep dumb ! " The Court
repeated the question, but Parkins kept dumb. Whereupon the
Court, under some excitement, said that he would be obliged to
commit the defendant for contempt of court, and continued, " Par-
kins, why don't you answer?" Farkins. "My name ain't Hateful
Parkins." "What is it?" " Hateful W. Parkins." Whereupon Mr.
Hopkinson moved the Court that the complaint be quashed and
dismissed, because of misnomer in the complaint.

Mr. Russell then moved for leave to amend the complaint by
simply adding the capital letter "W." after the word "Hateful"
wherever it occurs, so that it would read " Hateful W. Parkins "
instead of " Hateful Parkins." To this motion Mr. Hopkinson
objected that upon every principle of good pleading as stated by the
best writers of elementary law, as well in England as in our own
country, misnomer in a criminal complaint is not a matter that can
be amended. The complainant takes his risk. For aught we know
there may be forty Hateful Parkinses, but this defendant is not one
of them. The complainant must be sure and get the right " pig by
the ear." Unfortunately for him, he has got the wrong one now, and
he must take the consequence. Mr. Russell, in reply, insisted that
his proposed amendment ought to be allowed ; but the Court said
that unless he could produce some authority to the contrary, he
would not allow the motion to amend. Mr. Russell admitted that he

^ This name is fictitious.


had not any such authority at hand. Whereupon it was ordered that
the defendant, Hateful W, Parkins, be discharged.

The next case was that of Barnabas Blackwood,^ who pleaded not
guilty, and Mr. Russell put in his case.

Mr. Hopkinson for the defence then stated that the defence in this
case and the eight others was the same as in the cases of Mr. Dana
and Mr. Hopkinson ; namely, want of proof of notice of enrolment.
The Court said to Mr. Russell that unless he could furnish such
proof in this case and the others, he should be obliged to decide in
favor of the defendants. The counsel regretted his inability to

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Online LibrarySamuel A. (Samuel Abbott) GreenFacts relating to the history of Groton, Massachusetts (Volume 2) → online text (page 13 of 18)