Groton History Center

Groton History Center Founded in 1894 to preserve and share the history of Groton The Groton Historical Society was incorporated in 1894 and since then has acquired artifacts, documents and historical memorabilia that are significant to the history and lives of the residents of Groton.
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In 1933 the Society received the generous gift of Governor George S. Boutwell’s home from the estate of his daughter and founding member of the Historical Society, Georgianna A. Boutwell. This gift has allowed the Groton Historical Society to display and house the collections that it has acquired. In addition to serving the community as a museum, the Groton Historical Society actively publishes books and pamphlets and works with other organizations in town to promote Groton’s history. It also publishes a quarterly newsletter for members, holds quarterly historical programs which are open to the public and cover a wide range of topics relating to Groton’s history. The society provides assistance to genealogical researchers and offers educational tours of the Boutwell House.

Operating as usual

This week 183 years ago on November 7, 1837, Elijah Parish Lovejoy was killed by a pro-slavery mob in Illinois while def...
11/02/2020
Today in History - November 7

This week 183 years ago on November 7, 1837, Elijah Parish Lovejoy was killed by a pro-slavery mob in Illinois while defending the press he used to print his anti-slavery newspaper "The Saint Louis Observer."

After the murder of Rev. Lovejoy, the Anti Slavery Society of Groton met and resolved that "the horrible tragedy recently enacted at Alton in the state of Illinois calls for an expression of indignant rebuke from every man...the time has arrived when silence in relation to slavery is eminently criminal..."

In it's Collection, the Groton History Center has a book of records of the Anti Slavery Society of Groton created in 1834 to "adopt the principle that man cannot hold property in man, and that it is the duty of all men to unite their efforts in the use of appropriate means to obtain the immediate abolition of slavery without the expatriation of the enslaved." 115 Groton men's names followed the drafting of the organization's Constitution. The book contains records of the group's quarterly meetings until 1842.

https://www.loc.gov/item/today-in-history/november-07/

Elijah Lovejoy | Hawai’i

10/29/2020
Fire Fighting Then and Now

Recently our members received our Fall 2020 newsletter with a fantastic article by Alex Woodle about the 1938 hurricane and subsequent drought and eventual devastating forest fire. Several years ago we hosted a program on Groton Firefighting, Then & Now. Check out the video: https://vimeo.com/showcase/5420543/video/214573401

And visit our website to sign up for an annual membership so you will receive our quarterly newsletter (which is pretty awesome, if I do say so myself): http://www.grotonhistory.org/membership/

A presentation on the history of firefighting in Groton as well as an update on how modern day firefighting and fire protection is done. Speakers Roy Johnson a…

Long before before women gained the right to vote in 1920, campaign objects were created to appeal to them like tortoise...
10/26/2020

Long before before women gained the right to vote in 1920, campaign objects were created to appeal to them like tortoiseshell combs and sewing boxes bearing candidates' names or political slogans. Women were targeted during this time because, as the center of the home and family, they were responsible for raising patriotic and civic-minded children.

After World War II, the numbers of women registered to vote climbed greatly and campaigns began to make larger efforts to appeal to them. Here is an example of local campaign material geared towards female voters: an emery board and a potholder from 1969 imploring "Vote for Frederic W. Eddlem. Republican Representative, Nominee, 11th Middlesex District."

We have a number of state and national political campaign materials. Here is a Theodore Roosevelt and Charles E. Fairban...
10/22/2020

We have a number of state and national political campaign materials. Here is a Theodore Roosevelt and Charles E. Fairbanks campaign pin from 1904.

Look at this sweet little guy. Small duck by Harvey Sargisson.
10/12/2020

Look at this sweet little guy. Small duck by Harvey Sargisson.

That sunset last night: the sky is on fire! Thanks to Peter Benedict for the great photo of the Boutwell House under a b...
10/08/2020

That sunset last night: the sky is on fire! Thanks to Peter Benedict for the great photo of the Boutwell House under a beautiful October pumpkin sky!

Details of labels on a bandbox in the history center’s collection. Forwarded to ‘Mrs. John G. Park, Groton Centre’ from ...
10/05/2020

Details of labels on a bandbox in the history center’s collection. Forwarded to ‘Mrs. John G. Park, Groton Centre’ from Boston. These lightweight boxes were usually covered in wallpaper and held various articles of apparel.

James Brook flows south and west through Groton before meeting the Nashua River in what is now Ayer.  The origin of the ...
09/28/2020

James Brook flows south and west through Groton before meeting the Nashua River in what is now Ayer. The origin of the name of James Brook is disputed but it is a name that was given early on in the town’s development. The Indian Roll contains the earliest written records in Groton-1662 through 1707-and James Brook is mentioned numerous times. Caleb Butler reported in his "History of Groton" that there were once nine town bridges over James Brook.

On November 11, 1885 Susanna Prescott was found on the floor in the kitchen of her house near the area known as the Ridg...
09/17/2020

On November 11, 1885 Susanna Prescott was found on the floor in the kitchen of her house near the area known as the Ridges. She died soon after from her injuries and her caretakers, George Francis Baker and his wife Mary Ann Jane Baker, were tried for her murder. George was eventually acquitted and Mary Ann was sentenced to serve a life sentence at the Middlesex House of Correction at East Cambridge.

Detail of ‘Report of the Selectmen of Groton, for the year 1854-1855.’
09/16/2020

Detail of ‘Report of the Selectmen of Groton, for the year 1854-1855.’

Frederick A. Sherwin’s store was located near the train depot at the center of Groton.  The store sold not only grain an...
09/14/2020

Frederick A. Sherwin’s store was located near the train depot at the center of Groton. The store sold not only grain and feed but also sold some larger pieces of farm equipment. The 1906-1907 Annual Report of the town shows that the Town Farm (or Poor Farm) purchased $220.79 worth of supplies from his store. He was also paid for “teaming” which may mean he supplied (for rental fees) both animals and the implement to which they were harnessed.

09/11/2020
Remembering the Hanson Family Garden | National September 11 Memorial & Museum

Remembering those who lost lives, family, and friends on this day 19 years ago. If you're able, please take time today to visit the Hanson Family Memorial Garden next to the Smith Social Pavilion on Playground Road.

https://www.911memorial.org/connect/blog/remembering-hanson-family-garden

9/11 Memorial Museum to Reopen to 9/11 Families on September 11; Museum Tickets Now Available for General Public Reopening on September 12

In April 1917, the MA State Guard was created as those in the MA National Guard began to be called up for duty in the Na...
09/09/2020

In April 1917, the MA State Guard was created as those in the MA National Guard began to be called up for duty in the National Army. The State Guard was made up of volunteers who drilled at least once a week. This uniform belonged to a Groton resident.

Perhaps most notably, a medical detachment of the State Guard was deployed to Halifax, Nova Scotia after the December 6, 1917 explosion in the harbor after two vessels collided. This was one of the first groups to arrive there to offer aid. In appreciation, the city of Halifax sends a Christmas Tree to Boston each year.

Newest addition to the collection: binoculars and pocket knife belonging to William P. Wharton. #grotonma #grotonhistory...
08/20/2020

Newest addition to the collection: binoculars and pocket knife belonging to William P. Wharton. #grotonma #grotonhistory #birding @ Gov. George S. Boutwell House

Someone is looking mighty fine today. Looking back to the Boutwell House from our beautiful garden. Photo Credit: Carly ...
08/17/2020

Someone is looking mighty fine today.
Looking back to the Boutwell House from our beautiful garden.
Photo Credit: Carly Detwiller

Post updated with possible location
08/06/2020

Post updated with possible location

1922 announcement of the ‘First Grand Annual Halloween Harvest Festival.’ Anyone know where Hale’s Apple House was?

Edited 8/6/20: Mosely Hale lived at what is now 270 Boston Road (he occupied the property after the death of Captain Moses P. Palmer who died in 1920). According to Virginia May, he was the son of John Howard Hale -the "Peach King" of Glastonbury, CT.

1922 announcement of the ‘First Grand Annual Halloween Harvest Festival.’ Anyone know where Hale’s Apple House was?Edite...
08/05/2020

1922 announcement of the ‘First Grand Annual Halloween Harvest Festival.’ Anyone know where Hale’s Apple House was?

Edited 8/6/20: Mosely Hale lived at what is now 270 Boston Road (he occupied the property after the death of Captain Moses P. Palmer who died in 1920). According to Virginia May, he was the son of John Howard Hale -the "Peach King" of Glastonbury, CT.

Happy Monday! This morning we would like to give a special thanks to Karen Johnson Brackett for keeping our Boutwell Hou...
08/03/2020

Happy Monday! This morning we would like to give a special thanks to Karen Johnson Brackett for keeping our Boutwell House grounds so beautiful. Sometimes even risking life and limb (bees!) to do the job. We're so appreciative, Karen, thank you!

A bakery was first built on Elm Street in 1851 and burned in 1874. That same year a brick building was constructed in th...
07/30/2020

A bakery was first built on Elm Street in 1851 and burned in 1874. That same year a brick building was constructed in the same spot and a new bakery there was run by William J. Boynton (and later his brother John). The bakery was known colloquially as the 'cracker factory' and remained open until 1921 when it was remodeled into a garage. The property is now home to Groton Service Center.

ON THIS DAY......  155 years ago, this little 'love note' was penned to George Boutwell and signed by J.P. Chandler.
07/27/2020

ON THIS DAY...... 155 years ago, this little 'love note' was penned to George Boutwell and signed by J.P. Chandler.

Our newest donation came all the way from Florida!  This bottle is labeled ‘Westfield Farm, Groton, Mass.’ Located on Fa...
07/09/2020

Our newest donation came all the way from Florida! This bottle is labeled ‘Westfield Farm, Groton, Mass.’ Located on Farmers Row, the farm was owned by Stephen W. Sabine (1887-1971) and his wife Mary (Lawrence). The 1936 Yearbook of Agriculture (US Department of Agriculture) ‘herd summary’ for Westfield Farm is also shown, along with an explanation on how to interpret the summary.

This photograph was found loose in a ledger belonging to Dr. Harold Ayres. Dr. Ayers was a physician in Groton for over ...
07/06/2020

This photograph was found loose in a ledger belonging to Dr. Harold Ayres.

Dr. Ayers was a physician in Groton for over 50 years. He arrived in Groton in 1913. Sometime after his arrival he moved to William Bancroft’s abandoned bungalow atop Gibbet Hill. Dr. Ayers set up a hospital in the buildings and cared for tuberculosis and other long-term patients. The doctor also maintained a farm on the hill which supplied food for the kitchen at the hospital. Many of his record books and personal account books are in the collection of the Groton History Center.

Is it possible that this photo is from the hospital on Gibbet Hill? Does anyone have any photos from the interior or exterior while Dr. Ayres was using it?

Boutwell School, 1930, grade 6. We have a full list of names for this photo. Recognize anyone?
07/01/2020

Boutwell School, 1930, grade 6. We have a full list of names for this photo. Recognize anyone?

This needlepoint case was given to the Groton Historical Society in 1940. An accompanying handwritten note reads "190 ye...
06/24/2020

This needlepoint case was given to the Groton Historical Society in 1940. An accompanying handwritten note reads "190 years old made by Lydia Coombs. Great Grandmother of Mrs. [George] Powers of Groton, Mass." If this information is accurate, it means that it was made around 1750! While we did not trace the ancestry back to confirm the link to Mrs. George Powers, according to Vital Records there was a Lydia Coombs born in 1716 in Newbury (and died in 1794 in Newburyport). Could she have been the original owner of this piece?

We're pleased to announce that we are included in the 123 Massachusetts humanities organizations that recently received ...
06/22/2020
CARES Act Grants Awarded to 123 Organizations

We're pleased to announce that we are included in the 123 Massachusetts humanities organizations that recently received a CARES Act grant thanks to Mass Humanities and National Endowment for the Humanities! We are so appreciative of the opportunities that are offered by our generous Arts & Humanities partners!
https://masshumanities.org/cares-act/

Through support from NEH, funding is available for Massachusetts humanities organizations impacted by COVID-19 pandemic.

This Commission was received by Jonathan Lawrence of Groton on August 28, 1702 and signed by Joseph Dudley, the Governor...
06/18/2020

This Commission was received by Jonathan Lawrence of Groton on August 28, 1702 and signed by Joseph Dudley, the Governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay at the time. The document reads in part: “I do by these presents constitute and appoint you to be Lieutenant of the Foot Company of Militia in ye town of Groton…”
Donated by David T. Lawrence on behalf of his siblings, cousins, and all their descendants.

Lieut. Jonathan Lawrence is buried at the Old Burying Ground and according to Historian Samuel A. Green in "Groton Epitaphs," one of the expenses related to his death was 'Paid Benjamin Bancroft for his Journey to Charlestown in order to procure wine for the Funeral and for the wine itself."

Who wants 1,000 bushels of clover seed?1849 notice of ‘Spring & Summer Goods’ at Boutwell’s store (now 148 Main Street)....
06/17/2020

Who wants 1,000 bushels of clover seed?

1849 notice of ‘Spring & Summer Goods’ at Boutwell’s store (now 148 Main Street). Boutwell joined Henry Woods at the store in 1843 and became the sole owner until 1855.

Country Day School, 1983 #grotonma #countrydayschool #grotonhistory
06/08/2020

Country Day School, 1983 #grotonma #countrydayschool #grotonhistory

Stories, stories everywhere...
06/01/2020

Stories, stories everywhere...

Transcribing some of these diaries of Groton resident Willard Torrey would be a great volunteer project for anyone who m...
05/28/2020

Transcribing some of these diaries of Groton resident Willard Torrey would be a great volunteer project for anyone who might be a tiny bit nosy! Once we reopen to the public (hopefully later in the summer) come visit us and see how you can get involved.

This diary collection has almost 60 diaries spanning from 1854 to 1906. They belonged to over 10 different people from Groton and the surrounding area, including Sturbridge and Bedford. The majority of these, however, were the journals of Groton resident Willard Torrey. Torrey documented everything from the weather to things about his children and grandchildren, writing nearly everyday.

Did you know that we have a collection of twenty-five old banks. Most of them are cast iron still banks (as opposed to m...
05/18/2020

Did you know that we have a collection of twenty-five old banks. Most of them are cast iron still banks (as opposed to mechanical) like this elephant. Perhaps inspiration for an upcoming mini-exhibit!

Check out the Boutwell House in this detail of the 1886 Bird's Eye Map of Groton. This map was drawn before a large addi...
05/14/2020

Check out the Boutwell House in this detail of the 1886 Bird's Eye Map of Groton. This map was drawn before a large addition was added and the side porch was expanded. Anything else different or missing in this view of Main Street?

Medal. Ribbon. Badge.
05/11/2020

Medal. Ribbon. Badge.

We tend to focus so much on "old stuff" that it's easy to forget that we're making history right now. The Groton History...
05/05/2020

We tend to focus so much on "old stuff" that it's easy to forget that we're making history right now. The Groton History Center is seeking your stories-in any medium you choose-to express your experiences during this Covid-19 pandemic.

The goal is to compile a comprehensive and diverse digital archive of the community's impressions of uncertainty, isolation, camaraderie, and the adjustment of living "normal life" in a time of social distancing.

Please email us your stories, videos, photos, and impressions at [email protected]

Address

172 Main St
Groton, MA
01450

General information

Office hours: Monday 10-2 Wednesday 10-2 Pre-arranged appointments for research purposes are recommended.

Opening Hours

Monday 10:00 - 14:00
Wednesday 10:00 - 14:00
Thursday 10:00 - 14:00

Telephone

(978) 448-0092

Alerts

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Comments

Do you have any idea who this was?
My husband and I are trying to figure out how the school house on School House Rd was situated. Matt thinks that at one time, the road was was moved from where it originally was? (not by a lot) Does anyone have a map of where the school house sat and where the road was located?
I see George Boutwell is getting a mention for his views on Presidential impeachment.
The Townsend Historical Society warmly welcomes you to visit for a daylong celebration of our revolutionary history. On Saturday, October 5, history will come alive at the Reed Homestead with tours, hearth cooking, and craft demonstrations. Docents will lead you through our Federal-era dwelling, which is well known for its Rufus Porter murals. Volunteer reenactors will set up camp, perform military drills and musket firings throughout the day. Civilians of the same period will be demonstrating period crafts such as candle dipping, writing, toys, and games. Last, you’ll be offered a rare glimpse into cooking on the hearth and beehive oven as our chefs prepare a demonstration of a noontime meal in the house’s kitchen. This daylong celebration is for you and your family. Admission is free but we encourage you to join the Townsend Historical Society if you like what you see. Come down and experience history hands-on. See you there! This event is rain or shine. For any questions, please contact the Townsend Historical Society: 978-597-2106. https://www.facebook.com/events/362996417638343/
Does anyone know what this is ?. Any info would be great I found it in my mother's belongings.
FYI, our Rev War cannon will be standing silent witness to veterans of the past at the Groton, MA Center Fire Station on Saturday, 11/11 and Sunday 11/12 at the Townsend, MA Rod & Gun Club Veterans' Breakfast.
Sending this along so you can share with the members. Open to the public and all welcome!