Samuel A. (Samuel Abbott) Green.

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

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of Groton, and practised his profession for a few years, when
he gave it up to become an engineer. In his new calling he
soon attained distinction, and his services were in constant
demand throughout the country, particularly in the construc-
tion of canals. While studying law at Groton, Mr. Baldwin


made, in the year 1802, a fire engine, of which the town then
stood in great need; and this small machine is still in active
use, after a service of more than a century, and to-day will
throw a stream of water over the highest roof in the place.
The Canal Commissioners, in their Report (page 57), say:

The route, from the Nashua, continues over plains, on quite level
land, without any very great impediments, through the southern part
of Groton, to the Cuttecoonemugkeag, the outlet of Sandy Pond ;
thence along the southern side of that pond to Spectacle Pond, situ-
ated between Groton and Littleton. These ponds can be used as

I make this extract, in order to give the name of the outlet
to Sandy Pond, as used by the Commissioners. Cuttecoone-
mugkeag is a word evidently akin to the name of the river in
Shirley, but I have never seen it applied before to any stream
in Groton. At the present time the outlet to the pond is
called Sandy Pond Brook.

Mr. Baldwin, in his Report (page 112), says: —

From Sandy Pond, in Groton, near the schoolhouse No. 11, the
water may be turned with great ease, to Spectacle Pond, into which
falls Shaker's brook. The stream from Spectacle Pond passes
through Forge Pond, in Westford, from which it is called Stony
Brook, until it drops into the Merrimack River, in Chelmsford.
From information derived from intelligent gentlemen, and from my
own observation of part of this section of country, it will be quite
easy to open a communication through the valleys of these ponds
and brooks, to the Middlesex Canal, in Chelmsford. Whether it
would be expedient to carry the main line of the proposed canal
in that direction ; or whether a branch only should be taken off
from it that way, are questions which it may be important to have
the means of settling. It will therefore add much to the valuable
hydrographic information which these surveys will furnish, to cause
a level and examination to be made, between the Nashua at Staples'
mills, and the Middlesex canal.

School-house, No. 11, mentioned by Mr. Baldwin, was situ-
ated at the crotch of the roads, a short distance east of Sandy
Pond, and is now in Ayer. Shaker's Brook at the present

SAMUEL Lawrence's recollections. 6i

time is called Bennett's Brook, named after an early settler of
the neighborhood. Staples's Mills were on the right bank of
the Nashua, near the site of William Mitchell's woollen mill in
Ayer, which was burned on the afternoon of August 4, 1873.
The heights of certain points along the proposed route of
the canal are given in the Report, and are counted from low
water mark in Boston harbor. I copy from page 113 those
which were then in Groton, but are now in Ayer, as follows :


Shaker's Brook, on line between Littleton and Groton, 220.28

Spectacle Pond, in Littleton and Groton, 212.54

Sandy Pond, Groton. 226.90

Top of under-pinning of school-house, No. II, do. 237.64

Stone's saw-mill pond, on Sandy pond brook, do. 223.89

Sandy pond and Bear hill brook, do. 213 03

Stone at corner of Nuttings barn, do. 224.95


The following reminiscences were written at my request,
more than thirty-five years ago, by the late Samuel Lawrence,
who was born at Groton on January 15, 1801, and died at
Stockbridge on March 18, 1880. He was the youngest child
of Major Samuel and Susanna (Parker) Lawrence, and the last
survivor of his generation. He was the only child of his
generation that was born in the present Lawrence mansion
on Farmers' Row. . The other children with the exception of
Luther, the eldest child, were born in the old Tarbell house,
which stood substantially on the same site. Luther was born
in the house, occupied when I was a boy by Stow Hildreth,
about a mile from the village on the road to Harvard. The
old elm in front of the present Lawrence farm is said, on good
authority, to have been set out in the year 1740.

My earliest recollection of Groton is the death of Capt. Henry
Farwell in the year 1804. Dr. Chaplin was the only minister. Hon.
Timothy Bigelow, one of the most prominent lawyers of the State,
resided there, and being a graduate of Harvard College, as was Dr.


Chaplin, our winter district schoolmasters were all from Cam-
bridge. Dr. Oliver Prescott was the oldest physician. There were
three stores; their owners were called merchants with great pro-
priety, for the number of articles they dealt in was never dreamed
of by the merchants of Tyre or Venice. Squire Brazer was the
richest and most important ; he was quite old and corpulent, with
reddish face, and wore a blue broad-tail dress-coat, with bright
brass buttons two inches in diameter, white vest and cravat, and
deep ruffled shirt, with black trousers, a high crowned hat with very
broad brim. In the course of my life I have seen some of the
mercantile magnates of Europe and this country, such as the
Barings and Rothschilds, Stephen Girard and Astor, but I have
never been so impressed as when in the presence of Squire Brazer.
My most painful early memories are with the bitterly cold church,
where there was no stove or furnace in winter.

There were two grist and saw mills, Capell's on the Nashua and
Tarbell's on the Squannacook ; on the last named river was also a
carding and clothing mill of three brothers Rockwood. At that
time all farmers kept sheep for food, but mainly for clothing. The
wool was scoured in the family, carded into rolls about eighteen
inches long and two inches in diameter by the Rockwoods, spun in
the family on a stand-up wheel, backward and forward movement of
the spinner, and generally woven into flannel by the same person,
milled into cloth, dyed and finished by the Rockwoods. Some-
times a portion of wool was dyed a dark color, and mixed with
white wool to get a pepper and salt color. The flannels for both
sexes were made in the family, as well as sheets for winter. Flax
was universally raised, rotted (stiff" covering over the fibre), broken
and hetchelled, and spun on the small wheel with power from the
foot, making linen thread, which was woven into fabrics for domestic
use. The tow from the flax after hetchelling was made into a
coarse fabric for men's frocks and trousers. Men's and women's
underclothing, beyond the linen alluded to, was from the East
Indies. A cotton fabric from China, called nankeen (nankin), was
much used in summer by gentlemen. Carpets made from rags
were very common. I do not think there was any other kind in
Groton, and not one piano.

The habit then was for all who could get it to use spirits, and drink
some before dinner, — even the most temperate. The better class
drank West India rum, and the poorer class New England rum.
French brandy was seldom taken. Cider was universally used till


the temperance movement was started about the year 1817. Dr.
Woods, of Andover, one of the leaders in this cause, told me
forty years afterward the reason he engaged in it so actively was
that he saw such abuse of ardent spirits among ministers ; for
he knew forty-four who drank so much as to affect their brains,
and he had assisted in putting four to bed on occasions like

At the period above mentioned there was neither a woollen or
cotton mill in the State, and but few turnpikes ; the Middlesex
canal had just been opened from Chelmsford to Charlestown.

The mode of living in Groton was economical in the extreme.
Books were rare indeed, few were published in the State, and
Paternoster Row was on the titlepage of all the juvenile literature
of that period.

In my earliest years my father's house was thronged by Revolu-
tionary officers and soldiers, and I heard so much that I almost
thought I was at Bunker Hill on the glorious Seventeenth. My
father was an orderly to Col. Prescott, and knew all about the
doings at Cambridge after the troops arrived there till they went
to Bunker Hill. These soldiers acted Hke veterans in consequence
of their two months' daily drilling. Enough has not been said
on this point. The claim of Gen. Putnam's admirers never was
dreamed of till long after both generals had been dead.

S. L.

Stockbridge. Sept. 5th, 1877.


To the Honourable the General Court of the Commonwealth of
Massachusetts now Convened at Boston —

Humbly shews Amos Lawrence of Groton that Captain Samuel
Tarbell late of said Groton Deceased — died Seized of a Farm con-
taining about one hundred acres of Land that after his Death the
same was divided into nine shares two whereof has been set off to his
son Samuel Tarbell now a Refugee in New York that the same two
shares have been since taken in execution for a Debt Due to the
Government, and your Petitioner having purchased the other shares,
it hath become necessary in order to his making a proper improve-
ment of the same that he should have the two shares aforesaid


wherefore he Humbly prays your Honours to take the matter under

Consideration and to suffer him to purchase the same

the Consideration which he gave for the other shares was sixty

pounds silver money for Each and he humbly hopes that your

Honours would not demand more of him than the other proprietors

he would further observe that the buildings are not fit to Live in

& no part can be repaired without the whole that the Fences are

decaying and the Land Continually growing the worse and these

together with the Rates Constantly arising will render the Interest

but of very Little Value in a year or two whereof he hopes for the

Interest of the Government as well as for his own inconvenience that

he may be allowed to purchase and he will pray &c

February i6th 1781 Amos Lawrance

This may Certify that the subscribers with some of the other heirs

of Captain Samuel Tarbell Deceased sold their shares in said Tarbells

Farm in Groton for sixty pounds a share to Captain Amos Lawrence

February i6th 1781

Henry Farwell

Samuel Reed

[Indorsed] Amos Lawrence^ Petition & Report Cap* Mitchell
Capt Waterman M' Lewis

Massachusetts Archives, CCXXXI. 452.

Commonwealth of ) In the House of Representatives

Massachusetts — ) March 3^*1781

On The Petition of Amos Lawrence of Groton in the County of
Middlesex, praying that he may be allowed to purchase Two ninth
parts of the Farm in the said Town of Groton which Cap' Samuel
Tarbell deceased died seized of, which Two ninths was Set of to his
son Samuel Tarbell, & has since been taken by Execution for a debt
due to this Government

Resolved that the Committee who are appointed to sell Confis-
cated Estates in the County of Middlesex be & hereby are Author-
ized & impowered to sell at publick or private sale as they shall
think most Beneficial for this Commonwealth, the above mentioned
Two ninths of the Farm which the above said Cap! Samuel Tarbell
Deceased, died seized of, & was set of to his son Samuel Tarbell
t& make & Execute a good & legal deed or deeds of the same, &
they are hereby directed to pay the neat proceeds Arising by said
sale or sales into the Treasury of this Commonwealth taking dupli-


cate Receips therefor one of which to be lodged in the Secretary's

Sent up for concurrence Caleb Davis Spe!

In Senate March 3"f 1781 —

Read & Concurred Jer : Powell — Presi!!!
Approv'd John Hancock

[Indorsed] Rec'' pge 320 Resolue on the Petition of Amos Law-
rence empowering the Agents appointed to sell confiscated Estates
in the County of Middlesex to sell the Farm mentioned March 3*:
Massachusetts Archives, CCXXXI. 451.

At this time the Honorable James Prescott, of Groton, was
one of a Committee of three, appointed for Middlesex County,
to sell forfeited estates. Amos Lawrence, the petitioner, was
the father of Deacon Samuel Lawrence, who died on June 20,
1785, when his son inherited the farm.

It may be worthy of note that Caleb Davis, the Speaker of
the House at this time, two years later married the widow of
William Bant, a wealthy resident of Groton, who came here
from Boston, probably on account of the political troubles
there at that period. The two following items have a certain
connection with Mr. Bant, and I print them as I find them
in the newspapers. Ezekiel Lewis was a trader of Groton,
whose shop stood on a slight elevation just north of the
Town House. Among my earliest recollections I remember
the building, but it disappeared before Dr. Amos B. Bancroft
built his house on the site. In my boyhood that whole
square between Main Street and the present railway had no
buildings thereon. It was then owned by Dr. Bancroft, Senior,
and was called the Lewis lot.

Married — At Groton, on Wednesday the 20th ult. the Hon. Caleb
Davis, Esq ; to Mrs. Mary Anne Bant, Widow of the late Mr. Wm.
Bant, and Daughter of Ezekiel Lewis, Esq ; of this Town.

"The Boston Gazette, and the Country Journal," September i, 1783.

Died] — In this town, on Friday last [January 12], Mrs. Mary-
Ann Davis, Consort of the Hon. Caleb Davis, Esq.
" The Massachusetts Gazette" (Boston), January 16, 1787.


The two following epitaphs are taken from a copy of
Mr. Edward Doubleday Harris's " Lexington, Epitaphs," in
manuscript, now in the possession of the Massachusetts
Historical Society.

Here Lyes the
Body of Deacon

Nathaniel Lawrance

Formally of GROTON


April the 14"' 1724

in the 85* Year

• of His Age.


& 3 M'> DIED

BR e th

OCTO Y 8 1715

He belonged to



The following account of the gathering of a religious
society at West Groton, and the dedication of their house of
worship, is taken from the " Zion's Herald " (Boston), Octo-
ber 14, 1885 :

The editor of this paper [Rev. Bradford Kinney Pierce] was in-
vited to preach the sermon at the dedication of a house of worship in
West Groton, Mass., last Wednesday [October 7]. This village has
been connected with Ayer Junction, and a minister from the Confer-
ence has supplied both preaching places. Worship is held in a hall
in Ayer, and had a very incommodious room heretofore for its services
in West Groton. This year one of our enterprising and devoted
young men, Rev. H. G. Buckingham, has been the pastor of the
circuit. There is no church edifice in West Groton. The church
members, of various orders, are connected with distant bodies. The
village is small, and there was little wealth that could be summoned
in aid of a new religious enterprise. The neighbors met together and,


opened a subscription which proved much larger than their anticipa-
tions. And now they have a beautiful church, of the Queen Anne
style, neatly furnished, seating three hundred when crowded, with a
pleasant toned bell, and without debt. No separate church has been
organized, but they heartily invite the Methodist ministry and enjoy
its forms of service and administration of the ordinances. The ritual
of the church was used as the form of dedication. The house was
filled on the occasion. The Congregational, Baptist, and Episcopal
ministry were represented. Rev. Bros. Gould and Ichabod Marcy,
with these brethren from sister churches, assisted in the exercises of
the occasion. Everybody seemed to feel that the neat little chapel
was a great benediction to the village. We trust a blessed revival of
religion will show that the divine seal is set upon the enterprise.


During the pastorate of Rev. Alfred S. Hudson, on May 20, 1893
the Union Evangelistical church of West Groton was formed. After
the preaching service all members of evangelical churches, who had
taken their letters and were ready to unite themselves together in a
new church with such others as desired for the first time to identify
themselves with the church of Christ, were invited to come forward.
Of the first class were Charles Bixby, Edward K. Harrington, Mrs.
Laura A. Harrington, Mrs. Mary E. Bixby, Mrs. Lynnet W. Bixby,
Mr. and Mrs. Charles Gleason and Emma Gleason. Of the second
class were Everett H. Small and Miss Annie F. Blood, the last two
receiving the rite of baptism.

The creed, which was very simple, was read and assented to then,
the covenant with God and with each other. They were then pro-
nounced the Union Evangelical church of West Groton. The cere-
mony ended with receiving the right hand of fellowship. After this
the Lord's supper was administered and the congregation dismissed
with the benediction.

Immediately afterward the church came together and chose its offi-
cers as follows: Mrs. L. W. Bixby, clerk and treas.; Charles Bixby,
E. K. Harrington and E. H. Small, standing committee.

This brief account of the forming of the Union Evangelical church
in West Groton is written by request of the pastor.

" The Groton Landmark," Saturc'ay, May 17, 191 3.



The meeting house of the First Parish in Groton, having been
thoroughly repaired and remodelled into a more commodious and
beautiful church, was dedicated on Wednesday, May 20, to the service
of Almighty God and the religion of His Son. Rev. Mr. Chandler of
Shirley made the Introductory Prayer and read the Scriptures. Rev.
Mr. Bates of Ashby made the Dedicatory Prayer. Rev. Mr. Wells, the
pastor, preached the Sermon. Rev. Mr. Babbidge of Pepperell offered
the concluding Prayer. After some happy allusions to the thoughts
that must fill the minds of the worshippers in leaving their old seats,
and to their present anticipations and prospects, the preacher took
for his text, i Cor. iii. 11, " For other foundation can no man lay than
that is laid, which is Jesus Christ," and divided his sermon into three
heads, viz. Jesus Christ the foundation of our faith, practise and peace,
— each of which was forcibly and happily illustrated. The discourse
was well adapted to the occasion, was characterized throughout by its
charitable spirit and practical bearing, and listened to with profound
attention and interest by a large audience. The day was pleasant, the
house was full, and the singing was of high order. We sincerely con-
gratulate this ancient society in their efforts to secure the blessings of
Public worship and a more convenient church. A floor has been
thrown under the galleries, the lower part is finished off for a town
house and vestry, and the upper part taken for the church, which is
neat and finished. The pulpit, with the communion table and chairs
are of black walnut, the expense of which was over $300. May the
society long enjoy the worship of God in the church they have thus
fitted up for his service, and long be blessed with the ministrations
of their devoted Pastor. We hope their example will be followed by
other parishes, who worship in those large and inconvenient houses
which were erected for the use of the town, when there was but one
religious society ; have pulpits of some twelve or fifteen steps ; pews
several feet square and seats facing in every direction ; in which the
worshippers are annoyed by the heavy falling of seats ; which require
double the amount of fuel that modern churches do, to warm them in
the winter, and in which, with all the means used to warm them, the
worshippers are shivering with the cold and consequently can profit
but little by the instructions imparted. No pains ought to be spared
to render our places of Public Worship attractive, not by their splen-


dor and show, but by their comfort and convenience. We have
understood that in all cases in which churches have been thus re-
modelled, the sale of the pews has more than met the expenses, and
that there has been an increased interest on the part of the societies
in attending on the ministrations of the sanctuary.

R. B.

"Christian Register," Boston, September 19, 1840.

I can well remember how the old seats would slam down
when the worshippers would regain their places after stand-
ing up during the services. There were seats on two or three
sides of the large square pews which would lift up on hinges,
giving the occupants at times more room to stand. When
the seats were let down they made a great racket throughout
the body of the meeting-house.


Mr. James Lawrence, son of Hon. Abbott Lawrence, has recently
given an organ to the Orthodox Society in Groton. The case of this
organ is 14 feet high, 6 1-2 feet deep, and 10 1-2 wide. It has two
banks of keys, a sub-Bass, and 20 Draw Stops, as follows : —

Great Organ. Small Organ.

Open Diapason Open Diapason

Stop Diapason Bass Stop Diapason

Stop Diapason Treble Principal

Principal Viol de Gamba

Twelfth Hautboy

Fifteenth Swell Bass

Flute Tremulent

Clarabella Couple Swell & Great Organ

Dulcimer Couple Pedals & Great Organ

Sesquialtra Couple Pedals & Swell.

This large and beautiful organ was made to order by Geo. Stevens
of Cambridge, for $1000. For mechanical finish, for richness and


beauty of tone, we think it is not surpassed by any organ we have
ever seen or heard. It has sufficient power and variety of tone to
answer any needful purpose that can be answered by those which
have formerly cost two or three thousand dollars. These noble in-
struments have, until recently, been so expensive, that but few churches
out of our cities and larger towns have been able to procure them.
But now they are so cheap that almost every religious society can
afford to furnish themselves with this noble auxiliary to the praise of
God in the place of religious worship. Societies need not anticipate
any difficulty in finding persons who can play their organ well. Get
the organ, and necessity will raise up organists, those who can play
them with taste and acceptance. There are in almost every town
young ladies who can play on the piano or melodeon, and these
young ladies, with very little study and practice, can qualify themselves
to do admirable service on the organ.

"The Puritan Recorder," July ii, 1850.


Extract from a Dedication Sermon, by the Reverend
John Barstow, preached in the Union Meeting-house at
Groton, Massachusetts, October 7, 1888, and repeated by
request, October 13, 1888.

Previous to the building of this house the church met regularly in
the old Academy building. On the twenty-first of November in the
year preceding the building of the church, a council was held, and
the Union Church of Christ was organized. The members of the
old church were present at the meeting, but though they were con-
sulted in reference to all the details of the new church, its creed, its
covenant, etc., they did not then unite with the church by reason of
certain legal aspects which were then important. Thirty persons —
fifteen men and fifteen women — composed the new church, all
uniting on profession of their faith in Christ. Of that number one
is with us to-day, our good brother Milo Russell. " It is a small
church," writes Mr. Todd, " but I trust its foundations are strong and
pure. I believe it to be built on the Rock Christ Jesus. To him
would I give all the glory."


The heartiness and zeal which the people manifested in building
the house recall the spirit of those who built the Tabernacle in the
Wilderness and the first Temple in Jerusalem. For all the other
church buildings the money had been raised by votes of the town,
and it was made a town matter. Now no money would the town
appropriate, and the money must be raised by voluntary contribution.
We can get some idea of the enthusiasm that was manifested and of
the sacrifices that were made when we read " that almost all the
active women and girls cut off half of the long fringe of their shawls
to make a rug for the pulpit." " Many a poor girl offers to give half
she is worth for the object," and " one lady said she would rather her
husband should sell half his farm than that the undertaking should
fail." And it did not fail. At the beginning of the following year

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Online LibrarySamuel A. (Samuel Abbott) GreenFacts relating to the history of Groton, Massachusetts (Volume 2) → online text (page 6 of 18)