Samuel A. (Samuel Abbott) Green.

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

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Mr. Todd could write, in addition to all the labor they expended,
" In one year my people have raised $8,873." The union of the
two churches, which was contemplated at the time when the name
was given to this church, was not consummated until the year 1830,
when one pastor of the first Orthodox Church (so called to distinguish
it from the present first Parish Church) with several of his flock was
formally received into the Union Congregational Church, and the two
churches became one in name, as they had been from the first in
sympathy and fellowship.^

During the sixty-two years that this house has stood, there have
been nine pastors, who have labored with the church for a year or
longer, all but two of whom have been regularly installed. The
longest pastorates have been those of Reverend Mr. Bulkley, of
thirteen years and four months ; Mr. Phelps, twelve years and eleven
months ; and Mr. Robie, nine years and eight months. The average
term of service has been six years and four months. The church
building itself has been remodelled three times. In 1846 the ques-
tion was agitated about raising the building, but it was finally decided
to raise the floor four feet, and the old Vestry was then put in. Be-
fore that time the prayer meetings were held in the little room over
the church.

The greatest change in the audience room was made in 1S69,
when the choir-gallery was lowered, the old-fashioned pulpit taken
away, and new and more comfortable seats put in.

^ This refers to those members of the First Parish Church who had
from the beginning sympathized with the new Society, but who had not
as yet dissolved their connection with the old one. — Editor.


The change on which we are congratulating ourselves to-day has
long been thought desirable, and many of»us have cherished the
hope that sooner or later it might come about.

If any work was ever begun and carried on in prayer, I am sure
that this work has been. When the Spirit of God, I believe, led me
to present the subject to you on the eleventh of last March, he also
prepared your hearts to open wide to give, even as the children of
Israel, with willing hands for the carrying on of the work. I remem-
ber with what hesitancy I entered the old Vestry on the following
Saturday, not knowing what would be the result of the meeting, and
a little later came out with a light and grateful heart at your generous
subscription of ^1800. During the following week the sum swelled
to over $3000. The movement seemed to be spontaneous ; and
whenever any movement in the interests of God's Kingdom or in
obedience to his will is thus taken up by his people, he often blesses
them far above that they even dared to expect. So has it been with
us. We planned for a chapel, without any thought of improving the
church, and lo ! we have as beautiful and attractive a vestry as any
one could wish. The church building itself has been wonderfully
improved externally, and our eyes have already caught the transfor-
mations that have taken place within. Who would have dared to
hope, six months ago, that all these changes could have been made
without incurring a large debt, and best of all, with hardly the sound
of a discordant note. And yet this is what God has wrought. And
shall I tell you the secret of our marvellous success ? In a word, I
believe it was prayer. Not a meeting of your Committee has been
held without first invoking the special guidance of our God, and
when we have been unable fully to agree at first, we have fallen on
our knees and besought the Lord to direct us, and we have heartily
agreed on the work to be done. And more than the Committee
even dared to hope has been accomplished.

That there are many things that we could improve upon were
we to do the work again, is only too true ; that others might have
done the work better, we do not doubt : but I do not believe that
any work was ever done on a church building or on any public
building where there has been more outward harmony and fraternal
good-will than has characterized our work ; and to God alone shall
be all the praise.



The late Reverend Dr. John Todd, in a letter dated De-
cember 2, 1826, and printed on page 175 of his Life, gives the
origin of the name Union Church, as applied to the Orthodox
Society in Groton, which is now generally forgotten. Few
persons of the present day remember the bitter controversy
that raged in New England when the Congregational churches
were torn asunder by internal dissensions, and the deep sec-
tarian feeling that followed the division of the parishes. Dr.
Todd writes : " The church was consecrated by the name of
' The Union Church of Christ in Groton,' a name of my selec-
tion, as I hope the two orthodox churches will one day be
united." At the time of their separation both societies were
considered orthodox.


The church in Groton, a mission of St. Mary's Parish, Ayer, was
dedicated on Sunday, Oct. 8, by the Rt. Rev. Mgr. Wm. Byrne,
D. D. R A., of Boston, vicar-general of the archdiocese. A solemn
high mass followed, during which the Rev. T. I. Gasson, S. J., of
Boston College, preached. The church was for nearly 20 years the
chapel of Groton School. It was bought by the archbishop about a
year ago, and moved from Farmers' Row, the fashionable residential
street, to its present site on Main Street.

" The Pilot," Boston, October 21, 1905.


Rev. Father Charles A. Finnegan, who for twelve years has
been a member of the Boston diocese and associated with a number
of Boston pastors as their assistant, has been rewarded for his long
and faithful service by being assigned as pastor of the Church of the
Sacred Heart at Groton. This is an independent parish and was
formerly connected with the parish at Ayer.

" The Boston Journal," February 20, 1907.



During the year 1888 there was privately printed a small
edition of a book entitled " Some Reminiscences of the Life
of Samuel Kirkland Lothrop," which gives in an easy and
graceful style the recollections of the reverend author. Mr.
Charles Robinson, who is mentioned in the following extract
from the volume, for a short time in 1818 taught a school at
Cambridge, which young Lothrop attended. He afterward
was the settled minister of Groton.

I was sorry to lose Mr. Robinson. He was an excellent teacher,
and our little school under him was a good and pleasant one. Two
experiences with him afterwards I may as well relate here. He
studied Divinity and was settled at Groton, where he had a suc-
cessful ministry of fifteen or eighteen years, resigning about 1840.
At this time I had been four years at Brattle Street. Our church
was invited to the council to install his successor, and I went up
with Mr. William Lawrence, a native of Groton, as my delegate.
Robinson made the installing prayer, and he made it forty-five
minutes long, — spreading before the Lord the whole history of the
town and the church, as well as offering at the close some earnest
petitions in behalf of the new minister. During the prayer I was
in the front pew, standing next to Andrew P. Peabody, then of
Portsmouth. He was to preach the sermon (it was shorter than the
prayer), and as he was passing me to go up to the pulpit, he said,
"If Brother Robinson had begun where he left off, and remembered
that it may be taken for granted that God knows some things, he
would have done better."

After leaving Groton Mr. Robinson was settled at Medfield, and
in the summer of 1S45 we had some correspondence about an
exchange. He proposed one Sunday, which I declined, proposing
another, if I had a favorable answer from him. I heard nothing ;
but on that Sunday, the moment I entered my own church I saw a
head in the pulpit, and on reaching the top of the pulpit stairs found
it was Mr. Robinson, who said rather sharply, "How is this, sir?
Why are you not at Medfield? " " Because I did not hear from you,"
I answered, " There was nothing said in your note about hearing
from me," was his reply. " I think there was," I said ; " at any rate,


there is no use in disputing about it now; the mistake, whosever it
is, can't be remedied. I can't get to Medfield or you get back in
season to conduct services there. You are here, and we shall be
very glad to hear you preach." Mr. William Lawrence invited us all
home to dinner. Mrs. Lawrence, a kind hearted, excellent, hospit-
able woman, presently said to Mr. Robinson, whom she had known
at Groton, " I hope Mrs. Robinson is well, sir. I should have been
very glad to have seen her with you." The answer came short, crisp,
sharp, " My wife is dead, madam." There was an awful silence, the
tone of the answer being such that no one knew what to say. Mrs.
Lawrence was the first to recover herself. She said, " I am very
sorry, sir ; I had not heard of Mrs. Robinson's death. The children
I hope are well; I wish you had brought one of them with you."
Again the answer came m a worse tone than before, " We never had
a child, madam! " (pp. 71, 72).


Salem, May lo'*" 1782

This may Certify that I Peter Stevens of Groton was taken on
Board the Ship venus, from Boston Commanded by Cap*- Babcock.
was Carried into Hallifax put on Board the prison ship, from which
I made my escape ; was taken up and put on board the Attalanta
sloop of war I made my escape from her travelling towards Caper-
sue. About six or seven miles from Hallifax met a man by the name
of Albro who carried me aside gave me two Dollars and Directed me
on my Rhode, told me that if I got to Capersue to enquire for one
Cap' Foot who he knew would assist me. I got safe to Capersue by
the help of many Friends that I met with on the Rhode, I went to
Cap.' Foots and staid at his House some time with several other pris-
oners. He came on purpose with his Boat to fetch us home, and
refused pay for it, saying that he never made a practice of taking any-
thing from prisoners in Distress this is the usage I met with and
have reason to Believe hundred others have receiv'd the same from
Capt Foot. — I can but Greatfully Acknowledge his favours and sin-
cerely wish that he may meet with Due incouragement and protection
from this State —

Massachusetts Archives, 237 (Revolution Resolves, etc., 1782, p. 19).



Joseph Bradley Varnum was a prominent character in
this neighborhood during the Revolutionary period and
many following years. At the date of this letter, partisan
politics ran high in this State, but General Varnum lived to
fill some of the most responsible and honorable positions in
the Commonwealth, He had been Speaker of the House of
Representatives at Washington and for one term a United
States Senator. He was born at Dracut, on January 29,
1749-5O) and died on September ii, 1821. Notwithstanding
the opposition to him from certain citizens of Groton, he was
commissioned as Brigadier-General by Governor Strong, and
some years later as Major-General. When he died in 1821
he had filled the long term of over forty-five years of active
and continued service in the history of military affairs in
the Commonwealth.

Groton Aug. 7. 1798
May it please your Excellency —

The present crisis in our publick affairs gives to political events,
even of a local nature, a degree of importance which they do not
commonly possess. By the late resignation of General Woods, who
commanded this brigade for upwards of ten years, the office of
Brigadier became vacant. — Pursuant to division orders which had
been issued for that purpose, the field officers of the brigade, nine in
number, assembled yesterday in Westford for the choice of General
Wood's successor. It has long been known, and that, even from
Col. J. B. Varnum's own declaration that he has anxiously desired
this appointment and has continued in the command of his regiment
many years more than is customary in order to stand a candidate for
it — . But Col. Varnum's known political sentiments not agreeing
with those of a majority of the electors, and at this particular junc-
tion, being considered as dangerous in a man high in military office,
he has not been elected, — there being but three votes in his favour
and his own vote being solitary for another person. Nevertheless,
though there were five other voters, they did not make a majority for
any person. Four of them were for Col. Benj'. Sawin — and his own
vote would have determined the election in his favour — But he had


too much independence and sense of propriety to vote for himself.
Therefore after a great number of trials, no choice was made ; and
the electors seeing the impossibility of an agreement, concluded to
give over the attempt and leave the appointment with your Excellency
and the Council according to the Constitution.

We take the liberty to address this concise history to your Excel-
lency, because from the known disposition of a certain party we are
not without suspicions that attempts will be made to impress your
mind with colourable statements — At the same time we beg leave
to add an expression of our hope, that as Middlesex seems to be
emerging from the mist of error by which she has long been remark-
ably obscured, an appointment will not now be made that shall
force her under the influence of a restless and designing character ;
and we have the more confidence in this expression on account of
the sentiment advanced by your Excellency and the Legislature dur-
ing their late session, that it was the duty of good citizens at this
time to discountenance such characters as propagate sentiments and
opinions incompatible with the safety and honour of our Country. —
We have the honour to be
with the highest respect
your Excellency's most obedient
and very humble Servants

Timothy Bigelow


Aaron Brown
Samson Woods
Saml Dana


Oliver Prescott Jun"^
[Addressed to]

His Excellency

Increase Sumner Esq.



According to a memorandum among the Isaac Stearns
papers in the library of the Massachusetts Historical Society,
the intention of marriage between John Emerson Ross, 01
Bedford, and Jane Priest, of Groton, was duly published by
Samuel Lawrence, Town-clerk of Groton, on December 5,



The first settled minister of Leominster was the Reverend
John Rogers ; and the first marriage ceremony performed by
him in that town was that of Ezra Hale, of Leominster, and
Lydia Frost, of Groton. My authority for this statement is
found on page 15 of the Reverend Rufus P. Stebbins's "Cen-
tennial Discourse " (Boston, 1843), delivered on September 24,
1843. The date of marriage, as given in the Groton Historical
Series (I. No. XIH. 49), is June 5, 1744.


The following account of several Groton families is furnished in
order to correct certain errors which appear in the Rev. John Law-
rence's " Genealogy of the Family of John Lawrence " (Boston, 1869).
The leading error is printed on page 79, where it is said that John

Lawrence, born at Groton, Nov. 13, 1741, married Sarah , and

had seven children. According to the author " Mr. John Lawrence
died Dec. 26, 1799, having been thrown from a sleigh in Cambridge,
in the sixtieth year of his age, the same person, // is believed [Italics
mine], who was born in Groton, 1741. The widow Sarah died
Nov. 16, 18 10, aged sixty-five years." This belief on the part of the
author, based on an entire misapprehension of facts, has led to much
confusion in the record of many families, as printed in the book. In
fact it breaks utterly the connection of these families with this line of
descent, and without authority adds another line of descendants.

Without attempting to trace the various branches as there men-
tioned, I will give the correct record of John Lawrence, together, with
an account of some of his descendants. The facts in the main are
taken from the family Bible, now in the possession of Abel Lawrence,
a grandson.

Nathaniel Lawrence, Jr., and Dorothy Chambedain, both of Groton,
were married by the Rev. Caleb Trowbridge, on Feb. 4, 1728-9;
and they had eight children, of whom John was the youngest son,
born Nov. 13, 1741, and died Nov. 26, 1S22. See Groton Histori-


cal Series (III. 388) for a reference to the funeral of " Widow Law-
rence y*" mother of John Lawrence aged S;^ years," which took place
in April, 1790. John married Abigail, eldest daughter of Ezekiel

and Abigail ( ) Nutting, born Oct. 10, 1753, and died July 10,

1847 ; and they had eight children, as follows :

John, born April 4, 1777, died July 9, 1834. On July 16,
1799, he married Margaret Gragg, who died May 20, 1845.
(See Groton Epitaphs, p. 183.)

Nathaniel, born April 28, 1779, and died June, 1779.

Nathaniel, born July 25, 1780, and died July i, 183 1 ; his
widow Sally died Sept. 19, 1840.

Ezekiel, born July 20, 1783, and died Sept. 30, 1789.

Abigail, born Sept. 6, 1786.

Abel, born June 12, 1789, and died May 4, 1835.

Sarah, born April 8, 1792, and died Oct. 26, 1S22.

Mary, born April x, 1795.

Nathaniel, son of John and Abigail (Nutting) Lawrence, was mar-
ried to Sally Shattuck, daughter of Job and Elizabeth (Blood) Shat-
tuck, born May 2, 1790. He died July i, 183 1, and his widow,
Sept. 19, 1840.

Their children were :

Nathaniel, born August 4, 1808, married Eliza Hubbard, had
two children, and died about sixty years ago.

Abigail, born Jan. 3, 181 1, and died Aug. 23, 181 2.

John, born Feb. 26, 1813, and died Aug. 13, 1816.

Daniel, born June 14, 1815, and died May 15, 1843.

Abigail, born Aug. n, 1817, and died in Lowell, June 15, 1835.

John, born Sept. 22, 18 19, and died unmarried in Townsend,
Sept. 7, 1897.

Elizabeth, born Dec. 26, 1821, married Aug. 31, 1849, Alvin
Davis, son of Silas and Patty Davis, of Hubbardston. They
lived for fourteen years in Elmira, N. Y. ; and after her
husband's death she returned to Groton, and is now (1907)
living with her brother Abel, on Hollis Street.

Abel, born Aug. 5, 1824, was married, March 5, 1849, at
Townsend, by the Rev. Luther H. Sheldon, to Eliza, daugh-
ter of Minot and Sophronia (Hall) Baldwin, of Townsend.
His wife died at Groton, Sept. 14, 1893.


William, born Dec. 9, 1827, and now living at Laconia, N. H.
He has been married, and has had two daughters, but the
wife and both children are dead. He died at Laconia on
September 6, 1908.

The children of Abel and Eliza (Baldwin) Lawrence are Abel
Lorenzo, born at Groton, March 2, 1850, married Nelly Payne, of
Detroit, Mich., and died there, Sept. 12, 1893, leaving two sons, both
married, of whom one, Harold Payne Lawrence, took the degree of
M.D., at the Detroit College of Medicine in May, 1905 ; and

Charles, born atTownsend, April 23, 1851, married, Aug. 18, 1880,
Fanny D. Marsh, daughter of Charles D. and Margaret (Quackenbush)
Marsh, of Marlboro ; now living at Groton, no children. He died in
Boston, November 22, 1909.

The will of the first Nathaniel, here mentioned, is on file in the
Middlesex Probate Office at East Cambridge. It is dated August
30, 1775, and was received at the office on October 4, 1775; ^"^
his death must have taken place between those dates. It was not
probated at Cambridge — where the office then was — until May 28,
1776. The delay, doubtless, was due to the confusion in the neigh-
borhood during that Revolutionary period when the town was occu-
pied by the American troops. The assent to its probate was signed
by five of the children, and by a grandson Nathaniel, only son and
surviving heir of Nathaniel, Jr. In his will he mentions son John,
whom he made executor, daughter Dorothy Hudson, sons Thomas
and Isaac, daughter Abigail Gilson, and daughters Eunice and Martha.
His daughter Dorothy was married to Benaiah Hudson, of Pepperell,
on March 7, 1754, and his daughter Abigail, to Nehemiah Gilson, of
Groton, probably in the year 1765 ; and they both had large families.

" The New-England Historical and Genealogical Register," July, 1907.


The following paper, recently brought to light, gives about
the only information we have of an Ecclesiastical Council,
held at Groton, on April 15, 1712, which was called to con-
sider the troubles between Mr. Bradstreet, the minister, and
the church. The exact nature of the complaints then made
by his parishioners is not known, but from the answers to


some of the charges, their general character may be surmised.
It has been thought that the troubles grew out of Mr, Brad-
street's Episcopal tendencies, but by the light of the manu-
script this theory seems untenable. The paper itself is not
the original report of the Council, but a contemporaneous
copy of the same. Both from the style of writing and from
the spelling it appears to be in the hand of Jonas Prescott, an
inhabitant of Groton, who at that period was prominent in the
affairs of both church and town. While he may have been
illiterate himself, like most men of his times, and unused
to scholarly wa)^s, he became the ancestor of a long line of
families distinguished in many different walks of life.

The Council consisted of five ministers or elders, and nine
lay delegates or messengers. The ministers were the Rev.
Grindall Rawson, of Mendon, who acted as Moderator of the
Council ; Rev. John Hancock, of Lexington, grandfather of
the signer; Rev. Joseph Baxter, of Medfield ; Rev. John
Swift, of Framingham ; and Rev. John Prentice, of Lancaster.
The messengers were Thomas Wilder and John Houghton,
of Lancaster; Samuel Stone and Joseph Bowman, of Lexing-
ton ; Jonathan Boyden and Samuel Roocit (Rockwood), of
Medfield; David Ryse (Rice) and Joshua Hemenway, of
Framingham ; and John Tyler, of Mendon.

At a Councel of fine Churches Called by y*" Reud mr dudly brod-
stret and the disatisfied bretherin of the Church of Crist in Groton &
held in sd Groton Aprel 15 : 1712 refering to the un hapy differince
betwen them wee the subscribers Conuened at the time and plase aboue
sd & hauing Earnstly Implored the help of all mity God and herd
& Examined Euedinces and allagations one all sids do aduise and
determin as foloueth

Impremise or Impmy That the aduise tack plase as to the furst arti-
col in the Charg which the reuernt Eldrs which were with them in
nouembr y*" \_date omitted'] 17 10 did giue them namly that nither mr
brodstret nor others should insist one the charges mad by them that
could not be mad out Concidring the ouer of temtation thay were in
& that a contry corse mit haue a tendencey to Cast them in to further
and grater confusons

II as to thee woord raysing in y^ 2 articoll the sudscribers to the


charge desiered it mit be with drawne as to mr brodstrets reporting the
story refered to in the sd Charge mr brodstret has giuen ampel satist
faction partickerly to Thomas Tarboll iuner y^ parson Imedatly
Concarned and the 4 brethren whoo sined the sd Charge publickly
de clared them selues satisfyed

III Concidring y*^ unacountabol parplexity and Contridixon of
Euedinces refering to y* 3"^ articol uise y" charge layed against mr
brodstret for abominadle Cariage towherds towerds [sic] the wife of
Samuell Keemp wee are not aboil to de termin for the present one
which side the truth lyes & there fore shall leue it to farther concidra-
tion untill wednsday y^ 18 day of June next insuing at malbray unto
which time and place we do agorne the councel hoping that thare may
bee sumthing more of lite by that time gained by the help of which
wee may be Enabled to pas to a more full determintion.

nil whers the reuorant mr brodstret is Charged with Immods-
actions at the house of Sameuell Commines one a Saturday night we
find the Euedinces in that Case so Conuyctine that we determin it to
be mr brodstrets duty to submit to the Euidences and mack satis-
faction according to gospell rull

V the fifth and sixt articls in the Charges Exhidited to us ware re-

VI caled by the disatisfyed brethren them selues & therefore we find
no reson to tack it in to our thouts too determin any thing apone them

we cannot but Expres the grat & aflicttiue sence we haue of the

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Online LibrarySamuel A. (Samuel Abbott) GreenFacts relating to the history of Groton, Massachusetts (Volume 2) → online text (page 7 of 18)