The Bay State Monthly, Volume II. No. 2, November, 1884
Author: Various
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A Massachusetts Magazine.



No. 2.

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Save only that of Ulysses S. Grant, no name in America has come from comparative obscurity into national eminence in so short a time as that of GROVER CLEVELAND.

The fame of Grant was wrought out through the exigencies of a great civil war, in which the unity of the Republic was the issue involved. The distinction which Cleveland has achieved comes of valiant service in another field of conflict, wherein the issue involves the perpetuity and dominance of the great principles which constitute the framework and fibre of republican government itself. Under ordinary circumstances, probably, neither Grant nor Cleveland would have risen above the plane of every-day life. The same, too, might perhaps justly be said even of Washington. In the history of human progress it will be seen that every great crisis involving the triumph of the principles and tendencies which make for the moral, social, or political advancement of mankind has developed a leader endowed with the special qualities demanded by the occasion.

The brilliant and self-assertive men who press forward to leadership in ordinary times, whether impelled by mere love of notoriety, personal ambition, or an honest desire to promote the welfare of their fellow-men, seldom become masters of the situation when a supreme emergency arises. They may set in motion great contending forces; they may precipitate conflicts whose ultimate outcome brings inestimable benefit to mankind; but other hands and other minds are required to direct the issue and shape the result. The master spirit of the occasion is born thereof. Ulysses S. Grant had absolutely no part in bringing about that great conflict of ideas and systems which culminated in the war of the rebellion; nor had he even figured prominently in the field of military achievement until long after hostilities were commenced, and the struggle had assumed proportions entirely unforeseen by, and actually appalling to, not only the people themselves, but those In control of active operations in the field. But the emergency developed the man required to meet it, and Grant came to the front.

So, too, in this later and greater conflict, which is to test the virtue and determine the durability of popular government—whose outcome is to decide whether political parties are to be the mere instruments through which the people express their will, and whose relations can be changed as the public good may seem to require, or whether the government itself shall be subordinated to party, and its functions prostituted for the perpetuation of party ascendency and the aggrandizement of corrupt and selfish individuals—the leader in whom the hopes of those who contend for the supremacy of the popular will, the surbordination of party-power to public welfare, and the administration of the government in the interests of the whole people, are now thoroughly centred, is one who has gained no distinction in shaping partisan contests, and won no laurels in the halls of legislation or the forum of public debate. He is, simply, the man who, in the last few years, first in one, and then in another still more important position of official responsibility, has demonstrated more emphatically than any other in recent times (possibly because circumstances have more generally drawn attention in his direction) his thorough devotion to the doctrine that public office is a public trust; and has, therefore, been selected as the best representative and exponent of the popular idea in the great political conflict about to be brought to an issue.

The purpose and scope of this brief article permit no detailed account of the private life or public career of Grover Cleveland. Those who have cared to do so have already familiarized themselves with the same through the ordinary channels; yet, as a matter of record, a few salient facts may be presented.

Grover Cleveland was born in the village of Caldwell, near Newark, New Jersey, March 18, 1837. His paternal ancestry was of the substantial English stock.

I. Aaron Cleveland, an early settler in the valley of the Connecticut. He was liberally educated, and, ardently devoted to the interests of the Church, he determined to take holy orders, and returned to England for confirmation therein. Coming back to America he settled in the ministry at East Haddam, Conn. Some fifteen years later, in August, 1757, he died, while on a visit to Philadelphia, at the residence of his friend, Benjamin Franklin, then publisher of the Pennsylvania Gazette, who spoke of him, in an obituary notice in his paper, as "a gentleman of a humane and pious disposition, indefatigable in his ministry, easy and affable in his conversation, open and sincere in his friendship, and above every species of meanness and dissimulation."

II. Aaron Cleveland, born at East Haddam, Conn., February 9, 1744. He was a hatter by trade and located in Norwich, which town he represented in the Legislature, where he introduced a bill for the abolition of slavery, of which institution he was a determined opponent. Subsequently he became a Congregational clergyman, and a power in that denomination. He died at New Haven in 1815.

III. William Cleveland, second son of the above, a silversmith by occupation, also dwelt in Norwich. His wife was Margaret Falley. He was prosperous in business, respected in the community, and deacon of the church of which his father had been pastor for a quarter of a century previous to his decease.

IV. Richard Falley Cleveland, second son of William, born in 1804, graduated from Yale in 1824 with high honors. He, too, became a clergyman, having adopted the Presbyterian faith, and pursued his studies at Princeton Theological Seminary, after serving a year as a tutor in Baltimore, where he made the acquaintance of Miss Anne Neale, daughter of a prominent law publisher of Irish birth, with whom he united in marriage after completing his studies, in 1829. He was located in pastorates, successively, at Windham, Conn.; Portsmouth, Va.; Caldwell, N.J., and Fayetteville, N.Y. Subsequently, moved by failing health, he sought a change, and, as agent of the American Home Missionary Society, located at Clinton. Two years later he returned to pastoral service, though still In feeble health, establishing himself and family at Holland Patent, a few miles north of the city of Utica. Here he died suddenly, a few weeks after his removal, leaving to his wife and nine children no other fortune than the legacy of an honorable name, and the enduring influence of a true and devoted life.

V. Grover Cleveland, third son and fifth child of Richard Falley and Anne (Neale) Ceveland, was sixteen years of age when his father died. The sad event necessarily marked a turning-point in his career. He was forced to look life and duty seriously in the face, and he proved himself equal to the emergency. It had been a cherished hope of his boyhood that he might secure the benefit of a classical education at Hamilton College, from which his eldest brother, William (now a Presbyterian clergyman at Forestport, N.Y.), had then recently graduated. But this was now out of the question. He had not only to provide for himself, but he felt bound to aid his mother in the support of the younger members of the family. The idea of the college course, for which he had partially fitted himself in the preparatory school at Clinton, was relinquished, and the battle of life commenced in earnest. He had already learned something of the lesson of self-reliance, having served for a year or more as a clerk in a grocery at Fayetteville, and he soon secured a situation as an assistant in the Institution for the Blind in the city of New York, where his brother William was then engaged as a teacher. Here he remained nearly two years, faithfully discharging the duties assigned him, and promptly forwarding to his mother such portion of his moderate wages as remained after providing for his own personal necessities. The situation, however, grew irksome. As the young man's capabilities developed his ambition was aroused. There was no way of advancement open before him here, and he felt that his duty to himself, as well as others, demanded that he make the best practicable use of the powers with which he was endowed. Returning home for a short visit, and taking counsel with his mother, he soon set out for the "West," the field toward which ambitious young men have turned, with hearts full of hope, for the last half century.

His proposed destination was Cleveland, Ohio; his cherished ambition the study and practice of the law. He was accompanied on his journey by a young friend of kindred aspirations. Arriving at Buffalo he called on an uncle, Mr. Lewis F. Allen, who had a fine stock farm, just out of the city, and who finally induced him to remain there, promising to secure him admission to a law office in Buffalo. He remained with his uncle for a time, assisting him in the preparation of the manuscript of the "American Herd Book," a work upon which he was then engaged; but in the course of a few months (in August, 1855) he secured admission as a student in one of the best known law offices of the city—that of Rogers, Bowen, & Rogers. Blessed with good health and industrious habits, with an earnest determination to succeed, he entered upon the work before him. For a time he boarded at his uncle's house, taking the long walk to and from the office at morning and night; but after a few months he was enabled to be of such assistance in the office in clerical and other work, that, from the modest compensation allowed, he secured lodgings in the city and provided for all his humble wants.

After four years of unremitting study and toil, he was admitted to the Erie county bar, having laid the foundation for future professional success in a thorough mastery of legal principles and all the details of practice, and in those well-established habits of thought and application by which his subsequent life has been so fully characterized. He had gained, also, the confidence and esteem of his preceptors and employers, and after his admission continued with them as confidential clerk in charge of the office business, receiving a salary which enabled him, then, to contribute materially to the assistance of his mother in providing for the wants of the family and maintaining the comforts of the humble home in Holland Patent, toward which his fondest thoughts have turned in all the years of his busy life, and where such periods of recreation as he has felt warranted in indulging have mainly been spent.

In 1863 Mr. Cleveland received an appointment as assistant district attorney for Erie county, a strong testimonial to the legal abilities of so youthful a practitioner, considering the array of professional talent in the county and the responsibilities of the position. The war was then in progress; two brothers, one the next older, and the other younger than himself, had enlisted in the Union army; and when, a few months after his appointment, as he had fairly familiarized himself with the details of important cases intrusted to his care, he was himself drafted, he pursued the only practicable course, and provided a substitute for the service. In the fall of 1865, while yet serving as deputy, he was unanimously selected by the Democratic Nominating Convention as candidate for district attorney. The county was strongly Republican, but young Cleveland received a support beyond his party strength and was beaten, by a few hundred majority only, by the Republican nominee, Lyman K. Bass, then and since his warm personal friend.

Upon the expiration of his term of service as deputy district attorney, in January, 1866, he entered actively into practice, having formed a partnership with the late Isaac K. Vanderpoel, a prominent lawyer and ex-State treasurer. The burden of the labor fell to the share of the junior partner, and through his close attention to the interests of clients the business of the firm soon became extensive and the income fairly remunerative. Three years later the partnership was dissolved, through the election of Mr. Vanderpoel as police judge, and soon after the new firm of Cleveland, Laning, & Folsom was formed. In 1870 Mr. Cleveland was urged by leading Democrats of Erie county to accept the party nomination for sheriff. The proposition was by no means in accordance with his desires or inclinations. The office, although a most important one in a large and populous county, and commanding liberal compensation in fees, was a most thankless one in many respects: its duties, always delicate and exacting, sometimes disagreeable in the extreme, and its responsibilities great. It was felt, however, that the acceptance of this nomination by one who so thoroughly commanded the confidence of the people, and whose professional training and experience gave him superior qualification for the office, would insure to the county ticket of the party, with due care in the selection of other candidates, the strength necessary to success in the election. As a loyal member of the party to whose principles he had ever been devotedly attached, and in the support of whose cause he had labored in every consistent capacity since becoming a voter, he finally yielded, accepted the nomination, and, as had been hoped, was duly elected along with the entire ticket. He administered the office, upon which he entered in January following, upon strict business principles, and to the eminent satisfaction of the courts, the bar, and the public at large, during the full term of three years. There were no duties, however irksome, from which he shrank; no responsibilities which he failed to meet in a becoming manner; and when, on the first of January, 1874, his term expired and he returned to his legal practice, it was with a larger measure of popular esteem than he had ever before enjoyed.

In resuming professional labor he formed a partnership with his friend and former antagonist, Lyman K. Bass, Mr. Wilson S. Bissel also becoming a member of the firm. Now thirty-seven years of age, with mental powers thoroughly developed, and a capacity for labor far greater than that with which most men are favored, he was eminently well equipped for substantial achievement in his chosen field of effort; and it is not too much to say that, in the next seven years, during which he gave uninterrupted attention to the work, he accomplished as much in the way of honest professional triumph as any lawyer in Western New York. He sought no mere personal distinction, but put his heart into his work, and practically made his clients' interests his own. His judgment was sound, his industry indefatigable, his integrity unquestioned. He was eminently well fitted for judicial service, but could never be induced to put himself in the way of preferment in that direction. He was always the "working member" of the firms with which he was connected. As an advocate, he made no pretensions to brilliancy; but in the preparation of cases, and in the cogent statement of principles involved, as well as in the effective presentation of pertinent facts, he found no superiors, and few equals, among his associates at the bar.

Caring nothing for the pecuniary rewards of labor, beyond the provision for his own modest wants and the comfort of those, in a measure, depending upon his assistance, Mr. Cleveland has accumulated no large fortune; although, with the opportunities at hand, had he made wealth his object, he might have secured it. On the other hand, he has befriended many a poor client to his own cost; and, while failing in many cases to collect the fees which were his due, he has contributed to public and private charities with a liberal, but unostentatious hand. Though he has never posed as a "working-men's candidate" for official preferment, the laboring people of his city and section have long known him as the true and sympathetic friend of every honest son and daughter of toil.

When, in the autumn of 1881, the people of the great city of Buffalo, the third in the Empire State in population, and the second in commercial importance, tired of the corruption, the robbery, and oppression of the ring rule, which had fastened its grip upon them under long years of Republican ascendency, turned at last to the Democratic party for relief, the Democracy of the city saw in Grover Cleveland the one man of all others with whom as their candidate for mayor, they might reasonably hope to win, not simply a partisan triumph, but a victory for honest government in which all patriotic citizens might well rejoice. Much against his own will, after repeated solicitation on the part of leading Democrats, and many Republicans, who appreciated his character and fitness, he again consented to become the candidate of his party for responsible office; and, at the election which followed, so great was the desire for a change in municipal matters, and so general the confidence in Mr. Cleveland as the man under whose direction the needed reform might be effected, that his majority for mayor was about three thousand five hundred, or nearly the same figure with which the Republican ticket had ordinarily triumphed.

Entering upon the duties of his office as mayor, January 1, 1882, he soon gave practical assurance of the fact that the people of Buffalo had made no mistake in the selection of their chief municipal servant. In his first message to the Common Council, which was replete with sound, practical suggestions, he said:—

It seems to me that a successful and faithful administration of the government of our city may be accomplished by constantly bearing in mind that we are the trustees and agents of our fellow-citizens, holding their funds in sacred trust to be expended for their benefit; that we should at all times be prepared to render an honest account to them touching the matter of its expenditure; and that the affairs of the city should be conducted as far as possible upon the same principles as a good businessman manages his private concerns.

It suffices to say that, so far as the mayor himself was concerned, and so far as his power and influence extended, he lived up fully to the letter and spirit of this suggestion. Although hampered by an adverse political majority in the Common Council, still measurably under the influence of the old rings, and more intent upon preventing the mayor from winning public favor which might, perchance, inure to the benefit of his party (though standing himself entirely beyond party in his relations to the public welfare), than upon the faithful discharge of their own duties, he succeeded, by the force of his own earnest personality, by searching investigation into the workings of all the departments of city affairs, by the ruthless exposure and denunciation of various corrupt schemes of jobbery and plunder, and by the persistent recommendation of measures and methods which commended themselves to his judgment, in accomplishing much in the way of the reform for which his election had been sought. He used the veto power with a vigor and a significance which had characterized the action of no predecessor in the office, and often regardless of the fact that its exercise might be distorted by designing enemies, personal or political, to insure him at least the temporary disapprobation of large classes of citizens; but he used it only when fully satisfied, through patient research and careful deliberation, that duty and obligation imperatively required it. It is conceded that in his brief year's administration he saved a million of dollars to the city treasury, stamped out numerous abuses, and stimulated the spirit of faithful devotion in various branches of the municipal service. Men of all parties unite in saying that the city of Buffalo was never favored with the services of a more faithful, conscientious, and thoroughly impartial executive head.

But he was not to continue the work of administrative reform in that particular field of labor. The people had called him "up higher." His reputation as a true Democrat, an honest reformer, and a faithful public servant, had spread abroad through the State, and when the Democratic State Convention assembled in the early autumn of that year it was clearly apparent that the nomination of Grover Cleveland, the reform mayor of Buffalo, as the candidate of the party for the supreme magistracy of the Empire State, was the one certain guaranty of overwhelming Democratic victory at the polls. That nomination was promptly made, and the result which followed was without parallel in the annals of American political history. He was elected governor by a majority of nearly two hundred thousand, and, although internal dissensions in the Republican party, then existing, contributed largely to the general result, the most significant feature of the election is found in the fact that the largest relative Democratic gain was made in his own county of Erie, where he received upwards of seven thousand majority against more than three thousand majority for Garfield in the last presidential election, showing him strongest before the people where his personal character and attributes, as well as his qualifications for positions of high public trust, are most thoroughly known.

As governor of New York, which position he has occupied for the last twenty months, first with a Democratic and later with a Republican legislature, Mr. Cleveland has followed the same rule of official conduct adopted for his guidance in other positions. Mindful of all proper obligations to his own political party, he has never permitted party demands to stand in the way of his duty to the public and the State. Believing, to quote his own language, "in an open and sturdy partisanship which secures the legitimate advantages of party supremacy," he also believes that parties were made for the people, and declares himself "unwilling, knowingly, to give assent to measures purely partisan which will sacrifice or endanger the people's interests." In the office of governor, as well as in that of mayor, he has made vigorous but discriminate use of the veto power, and in the one case, as in the other, it has invariably been found, upon candid investigation, that his action has been taken under a profound sense of the binding authority of the fundamental law, and with an unflinching regard for the rights and interests of the whole people,—however violent, at times, may have been the denunciation of demagogic opponents, or clamorous the protests of those who sought merely temporary advantages in particular directions, regardless of ultimate results upon the general welfare. In this, as in other positions, his general line of action has been such as to command the hearty approval of patriotic men of all parties; and if he has incurred the hostility of any, it has been through his opposition to the schemes of corrupt rings and the purposes of selfish individuals, which he regarded detrimental to the public good; or through his support of wholesome measures, calculated to protect the body politic, and thwart their illegitimate designs in other directions.

And now, Grover Cleveland stands before the people of the whole country the duly nominated candidate of the Democratic party for the highest office in the gift of the Republic; while his candidacy is indorsed and enthusiastically supported by tens of thousands of pure and unselfish men of the opposite party, who see, through his election, the only hope of a return to constitutional methods and honest practices in the administration of the Federal Government, without which ere long the complete and irremediable subversion and destruction of the government itself will be accomplished. This candidacy comes not through his own seeking. Grover Cleveland never sought an office in all his life. He has consented to serve his fellow-citizens in public station only at their solicitation and command. He has served them faithfully and well so far as he has been called, and none need fear that, if called to still higher responsibilities and a broader field of duty, he will not prove equal to the emergency—equally true to himself and his trust.

Grover Cleveland is a man "cast in nature's noblest mould." Of commanding presence, with a physical development commensurate with his mental powers, thoroughly democratic in habit and manner, accessible to all, meeting the humblest and highest upon equal terms, sympathizing heartily with the honest laborer in every field of action, frank and outspoken in his opinions, hating hypocrisy and sham with all his soul, fighting corruption and dishonesty wherever he finds them, respecting the opinions and listening to the suggestions of others, but acting invariably in accordance with his own convictions of right, he fills the perfect measure of honest manhood; and whether he be President of the American Republic, or simple citizen, he will never, it is safe to assume, forfeit either his own self-respect, or the confident regard of his fellow-men.

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About this time it was proposed to form a new township from Groton, Lancaster, and Harvard, including a small parcel of land, known as Stow Leg, a strip of territory perhaps two hundred rods in width and a mile in length, lying west of the Nashua river. This "Leg" had belonged originally to Stow, but by the incorporation of Harvard had become wholly detached from that town. The proposed township covered nearly the same territory as that now occupied by Shirley. The attempt, however, does not appear to have been successful. The following covenant, signed by certain inhabitants of the towns interested in the movement, is on file, and with it a rough plan of the neighborhood; but I find no other allusion to the matter either in petitions or records.

We the Subscribers being Inhabitants of the Extream Parts of Groton Lancaster and Harvard as allso the Proprietors of the Land belonging to the Town of Stow (which Land is Scituate, Lying and being Between the Towns above said Namely Groton Lancaster and Harvard) Do Covenant and Promise to and with Each other And We Do Hereby of our own Free Will and Motion In the Exercise of Love and Charity Towards one another with Mutual Consent in the strongest Manner Binding our Selves the Subscribers each and every of us Conjointly one to another (for the Gosples Sake) Firmly Covenanting and Promising to and with Each other that we will as Speedely as may be with Conveniency Petition the Several Towns to which we Respectively belong and Likewise the Great and General Court That we may be Erected or Incorporated into a Destinct and separate Township of our Selves with those Lands within the Bounds and Limits Here after Described viz Beginning at the River called Lancaster [Nashua] River at the turning of Sd River Below the Brige called John Whits Brige & Runing Northerly to Hell Pond and on Still to the Line Betwixt Harvard and Groton Including John Farwell then to Coyecus Brook Leaveing the Mills and Down Said Brook to the River and down Said River to the Rye ford way then Runing Westerly to the Northerly End of Horse Pond & so on to Luningburg Line, Including Robert Henry & Daniel Page and then Runing Southerly Extendig Beyound Luningburg So far Into Lancaster as that Running Easterly the Place on which Ralph Kindal formerly Lived Shall be Included and so on Running Easterly to the Turn in the River first mentioned

Moreover we Do Covenant Promise and Engage Truly and Faithfully that will Consent to and Justifie any Petition that Shall be Prefered in our names and behalf to our Respective Towns and to the Great & General Court for the Ends and Purposes above Mentioned

Furthermore we Do Covenant Promise and Engage as above that we will advance money for and Pay all Such Reasonable and necessary Charges that may arise in the Prosecuting and Obtaining our Said Petitions and that we will Each and Every of us Respectively Endever to Promote and Maintain Peace Unity Concord and Good Agreement amoungst our Selves as Becometh Christians

And now haveing thus Covenanted as above Said We Do Each and Every one of us who have Hereunto Subscribed Protest and Declare that Every Article and Parigraph and Thing Containd in the above Writen Shall be Absolutely and Unacceptionably Binding in Manner and form as above Declared and Shall So Continue upon and Against Each and Every one of us untill we are Erected or Incorporated Into a Township as above said or that Provedance Shall Remove us by Death or Otherways any thing to the Contrary Notwithstanding

Witness our Hands the Eight Day of December one Thousand Seven Hundred and Fourty Seven and in the Twentieth Year Of His Majesties Reign Georg the Secund King &c


Richard hall Jon'n Bigelow Joseph Hutchins Simeon Farnsworth Timothy hall Phenihas Farnsworth Amos Russll Johnathan—Read (His mark) Jonathan Read iu Abijah Willard

Groton Samuel Hazen Joseph Preist Samell flood John pearce Charles Richards Daniel Page John Longley jn'r Abijah Willard Manasser Divoll John Osgood Abijah Frost John Peirce hous rite

Lancaster Henry Haskell John Nicholls Thomas Wright William Willard Joshua Johnson Daniel Willard Joseph Priest William Farmer Joseph Bond Henry Willard Benjamin Willard Jacob Houghton Corp Elias Sawyer Amos Am Atherton (his mark)

Stow John Houghton Ju John Sampson Joseph Brown Hannah Brown Samuel Randal Benjamin Samson

[Massachusetts Archives, CXV., 220-222.]

Hell Pond, mentioned in this covenant, is situated in the northwest part of Harvard, and so called "from its amazing depth," says the Reverend Peter Whitney, in the History of Worcester County (page 158).

Two years after this covenant was signed, another attempt was made to divide the town, but it did not succeed. The lines of the proposed township included nearly the same territory as the present ones of Shirley. The following references to the scheme are found, under their respective dates, in the printed Journal of the House of Representatives:—

A Petition of sundry Inhabitants of Groton and Lunenburg, praying they may be erected into a distinct and seperate Township or Precinct, agreable to the Plan therewith exhibited, for the Reasons mentioned.

Read and Ordered, That the Petitioners serve the Town of Lunenburg, and the first Parish in Groton, with Copies of this Petition, that they shew Cause, if any they have, on the 29th of December next, if the Court be then Sitting, if not on the first Friday of the next Sitting of this Court, why the Prayer thereof should not be granted.

Sent up for Concurrence.

[Journal of the House of Representatives (page 100), November 30, 1749.]

Samuel Watts, Esq; brought down the Petition of sundry Inhabitants of Lunenburg and Groton, as entred the 30th of November last, and refer'd. Pass'd in Council, viz. In Council December 29th 1749. Read again, with the Answer of the Town of Lunenburg, and Ordered, That the Consideration of this Petition be refer'd to the second Wednesday of the next Sitting of this Court. Sent down for Concurrence.

With a Petition from sundry Inhabitants of Lunenburg, praying to be set off from said Town of Leominster. Pass'd in Council, viz In Council December 29th 1749. Read and Ordered, That the Petitioners serve the Town of Lunenburg, with a Copy of this petition, that they shew Cause, if any they have, on the second Wednesday of the next Sitting of this Court, why the Prayer thereof should not be granted.

Sent up for Concurrence.

[Journal of the House of Representatives (page 143), December 29, 1749.]

John Chandler, Esq; brought down the Petitions of John Whitney, and others of the westerly Part of Groton, and the easterly Part of the Town of Lunenburgh, and Edward Hartwell, Esq; and others of said Town, Pass'd in Council, -viz. In Council April 4th 1750. Ordered, That Samuel Watts, James Minot, and John Otis, Esqrs; with such as the honourable House shall join, be a Committee to consider the Petitions above-mentioned, and the several Answers thereto, hear the Parties, and report what they judge proper for the Court to do thereon.

Sent down for Concurrence.

Read and concur'd, and Mr. Rice, Capt. Livermore, Col. Richards, and Mr. Daniel Pierce, are joined in the Affair.

[Journal of the House of Representatives (page 214), April 5, 1750.]

Joseph Wilder, Esq., brought down the Report of a Committee of both Houses, on the Petition of John Whitney, and others, as entred the 30th of November last, and refer'd. Signed James Minott, per Order.

Pass'd in Council, viz. In Council June 21, 1750. Read and Voted, That this Report be not accepted, and that the Petition of John Whitney and others therein refer'd to, be accordingly dismiss'd, and that the Petitioners pay the Charge of the Committee.

Send down for Concurrence. Read and concur'd.

[Journal of the House of Representatives (page 41), June 22, 1750.]

A Petition of sundry Inhabitants of the westerly Part of Groton, and the easterly Part of Lunenburg, praying that their Memorial and Report thereon, which was dismiss'd the 22'd of June last, may be revived and reconsidered, for the Reasons mentioned.

Read and Ordered, That Mr. Turner, Mr. Tyng, and Major Jones with such as the honourable Board shall join, be a Committee to take this Petition under Consideration, and report what they judge proper to be done thereon. Sent up for Concurrence.

[Journal of the House of Representatives (pages 76, 77), October 3, 1750.]

John Greenleafe, Esq.; brought down the Petition of sundry Inhabitants of Groton and Lunenburg, as entred the 3d Currant, and referr'd. Pass'd in Council, viz. In Council October 3d 1750. Read and nonconcur'd, and Ordered, That this Petition be dismiss'd.

Sent down for Concurrence.

Read and nonconcur'd, and Ordered, That the Petitioner serve the Town of Lunenburg with a Copy of this Petition, that they shew Cause, if any they have, on the second Wednesday of the next Sitting of this Court, why the Prayer thereof should not be granted.

Sent up for Concurrence.

[Journal of the House of Representatives (page 93), October 9, 1750.]

A Memorial of John Whitney and others of the Southwesterly Part of Groton, praying that their Petition exhibited in November 1749 may be revived, and the Papers prefer'd at that Time again considered, for the Reasons mentioned.

Read and Ordered, That the Petition lie on the Table.

[Journal of the House of Representatives (page 64), October 9, 1751.]

Ordered, That the Petition of John Whitney and others of the Southwesterly Part of Groton, lie upon the Table.

[Journal of the House of Representatives (page 81), January 3, 1752.]

The Memorial of John Whitney and others, as entred October 9th 1751, Inhabitants of the Southwesterly Part of Groton and the Eastwardly Part of Lunenberg, setting forth that in November 1749, they preferred a Petition to this Court, praying to be set off from the Towns to which they belong, and made into a distant [distinct?] and seperate Town and Parish, for the Reasons therein mentioned; praying that the aforesaid Memorial and Petition, with the Report of the said Committee thereon, and all the Papers thereto belonging, may be revived, and again taken into consideration.

Read again, and the Question was put, Whether the Prayer of the Petition should be so far granted as that the petition and Papers accompanying it should be revived?

It pass'd in the Negative. And Voted, That the Memorial be dismiss'd.

[Journal of the House of Representatives (page 92), January 9, 1753.]

The discussion in regard to the division of the town resulted in setting off the district of Shirley, on January 5, 1753, three months before the district of Pepperell was formed. In the Act of Incorporation the name was left blank, as it was in the one incorporating Pepperell, and "Shirley" was filled in at the time of its engrossment. It was so named after William Shirley, the governor of the province at that period. It never was incorporated specifically as a town, but became one by a general Act of the Legislature, passed on March 23, 1786. It was represented, while a district, in the session of the General Court which met at Watertown, on July 19, 1775, as well as in the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts, and thus tacitly acquired the powers and privileges of a town, which were afterward confirmed by the act just mentioned.

The act for establishing the district of Shirley is as follows:—

Anno Regni Regis Georgii Secundi Vicesimo Sexto.

An Act for dividing the Town of Groton and making a District by the Name of....

Whereas the Inhabitants of the Southwesterly part of the Town of Groton by Reason of the Difficulties they labour under being remote from the place of the publick worship of God have addressed this Court to be Sett off a Separate District whereunto the Inhabitants of Said Town have Manifested their Consent Be it therefore enacted by the Lieutenant Governour Council and House of Representatives that the Southwestwardly part of the Town of Groton Comprehended within the following boundaries viz begining at the the [sic] mouth of Squanacook River where it runs into Lancaster [Nashua] River from thence up Said Lancaster River till it Comes to Land belonging to the Township of Stow thence Westwardly bounding Southwardly to said Stow Land tilll it comes to the Southwest Corner of the Township of Groton thence Northwardly bounding westwardly to Luningburgh and Townsend to Squanacook River afores'd thence down said River and Joyning thereto to the mouth thereof being the first bound—Be and hereby is Sett off from the said Town of Groton and Erected into a Separate and Distinct District by the name of ... and that the Inhabitants thereof be and hereby are Vested with all the powers priviledges and Immunities which the Inhabitants of any Town within this Province do or by law ought to Enjoy Excepting only the Priviledge of choosing a Representative to represent them in the Great & General Court, in choosing of whom the Inhabitants of Said District Shall Joyn with the Inhabitants of the Town of Groton, as heretofore has been Usual, & also in paying said Representative

Provided nevertheless the Said District Shall pay their proportionable part of all such Town County Parish and Province Charges as are already Assessed upon the Town of Groton in like manner as though this Act had never been made.

And Be it further Enacted that M'r Jn'o. Whitney be and hereby is impowred to Issue his Warrant directed to Some principal Inhabitant in s'd District requireing Him to Notifie & warn the Inhabitants of S'd District qualified by law to vote in Town affairs to meet at Such Time & place as shall be therein Set forth to Choose all such officers as Shall be Necessary to manage the affairs of s'd District

In the House of Rep'ives June 4, 1752

Read three several times and pass'd to be Engross'd


Sent up for concurrence

In Council Nov'r. 28, 1752 Read a first Time 29 a second Time and pass'd a Concurrence

THO's. CLARKE Dp'ty Secry.

[Massachusetts Archives, CXVI., 293, 294.]

This act did not take effect until January 5, 1753, when it was signed by the governor.

On June 3, 1771, thirty years after Groton Gore had been lost by the running of the provincial line, the proprietors of the town held a meeting, and appointed Lieutenant Josiah Sawtell, Colonel John Bulkley, and Lieutenant Nathaniel Parker, a committee to petition the General Court for a grant of land to make up for this loss. They presented the matter to that body on June 7, and the following entry in the records gives the result:—

The Committee on the Petition of Josiah Sartel, and others, reported.

Read and accepted, and Whereas it appears to this Court, That the Proprietors aforesaid, had a Grant made to them by the General Court in April 1735, of Ten Thousand, Eight Hundred Acres of Land, in Consideration of Land taken from said Groton by Littleton, Major Willard and Read's Farms being prior Grants, and for their extraordinary Suffering in the former Indian Wars and in June 1736 said Grant was confirmed to said Proprietors, since which Time, the said Proprietors have been entirely dispossessed of said Land by the running of the Line between this Province and New-Hampshire: And whereas it appears there has been no Compensation made to the said Proprietors of Groton, for the Lands lost as aforesaid, excepting Three Thousand Acres granted in November last, to James Prescot, William Prescot, and Oliver Prescot for their Proportion thereof. Therefore Resolved, That in Lieu thereof, there be granted to the Proprietors of Groton, their Heirs and Assigns forever, Seven Thousand and Eight Hundred Acres of the unappropriated Lands belonging to this Province, in the Western Part of the Province, to be layed out adjoining to some former Grant, and that they return a Plan thereof, taken by a Surveyor and Chainmen under Oath into the Secretary's Office, within twelve Months for Confirmation.

Sent up for Concurrence.

[Journal of the House of Representatives (page 44), June 13, 1771.]

These conditions, as recommended by the report of the committee, appear to have been fulfilled, and a grant was accordingly made. It lay on the eastern border of Berkshire county, just south of the central part, and was described as follows:—

The Committee on a Plan of a Tract of Land granted to the Proprietors of Groton, reported.

Read and accepted, and Resolved, That the Plan hereunto annexed, containing three Thousand nine Hundred and sixty Acres of Province Land, laid out in Part to satisfy a Grant made by the Great and General Court at their Sessions in June 1771, to the Proprietors of Groton, in Lieu of Land they lost by the late running of the New-Hampshire Line, as mention'd in their Petition, laid out in the County of Berkshire, and is bounded as followeth, viz. Beginning at a Burch Tree and Stones laid round it the Southwest Corner of Tyringham-Equivalent Lands standing on the East Branch of Farmington River; then North eighteen Degrees East in the West Line of said Equivalent five Hundred and sixty-one Rods to a small Beach Tree and Stones laid round it, which Tree is the Southeast Corner of a Grant of Land called Woolcut's Grant; then running West eighteen Degrees North in the South Line of said Grant two Hundred and forty Rods to a Beach Tree marked I.W. and Stones laid round it, which is the Southwest Corner of said Grant; then running North eighteen Degrees East in the West Line of said Grant four Hundred Rods to a Heap of Stones which is the Northwest Corner of said Grant; then running East eighteen Degrees South two Hundred and forty Rods in the North Line of said Grant to a large Hemlock Tree and Stones laid round it, which is the Northeast Corner of said Grant; it is also the Northwest Corner of said Equivalent, and the Southwest Corner of a Grant called Taylors Grant; then running North eighteen Degrees East one Hundred and sixty Rods in the West Line of said Taylors Grant to the Northwest Corner of the same; then running East nine Degrees South in the Line of said Taylors Grant eight Hundred Rods to a Stake and Stones standing in the West Line of Blanford, marked W.T. then running North eighteen Degrees East in said Blanford West Line five Hundred and thirty Rods to a Beach Tree and Stones laid round it which is the Northwest Corner of said Blanford; then running East ten Degrees South forty-two Rods in the North Line of said Blanford to a Stake and Stones which is the Southwest Corner of Merryfield; then running North ten Degrees East in said Merryfield West Line three Hundred and three Rods to a Heap of Stones the Southeast Corner of Becket; then running West two Degrees South in said Becket South Line four Hundred and twenty-six Rods to the Northeast Corner of a Grant of Land called Belcher's Grant; then running South in the East Line of said Belchers Grant two Hundred and sixteen Rods to a small Maple Tree marked T.R. which is the Northwest Corner of a Grant of Land called Rand's Grant; then running East in the North Line of said Rand's Grant two Hundred and fifty Rods to a Hemlock Pole and Stones laid round it, which is the Northeast Corner of said Rand's Grant; then running South in the East Line of said Rand's Grant three Hundred and thirty-one Rods to a Hemlock Tree marked and Stones laid round it, which is the Southeast Corner of said Rand's Grant; then running West in the South Line of said Rand's Grant two Hundred and fifty Rods to a Beach Pole marked T.R. the Southwest Corner of said Rand's Grant; then running North in the West Line of said Rand's Grant eighty-three Rods to the Southeast Corner of said Belcher's Grant; then running West bounding North three Hundred and forty-eight on said Belcher's Grant and four Hundred and fifty-three Rods on a Grant called Chandler's Grant, then running North on the West Line of said Chandler's Grant four Hundred and sixty to said Becket's South Line; then running West in said Becket South Line twenty Rods to a Stake and Stones the North West Corner of additional Lands belonging to the Four Housatonick Townships; then running South two Degrees West one Thousand four Hundred and eighty-eight Rods in the East Line of said additional Lands to the Place where the said East Line crosses said Farmington River; then Southerly or down Stream three Hundred and thirty Rods to the first Bounds, bounding Westerly on said River, be accepted, and is hereby accepted and confirmed unto the Proprietors of Groton aforesaid, their Heirs and Assigns forever. Provided the same doth not exceed the Quantity aforementioned, nor interfere with any former Grant.

Sent up for Concurrence.

[Journal of the House of Representatives (pages 182, 183). April 24, 1772.]

I am unable to say how or when this territory was disposed of by the proprietors. Seven or eight years before this time, James, William, and Oliver Prescott, acting for themselves, had petitioned the General Court for a tract of land to make up their own losses. They were the sons of the Honorable Benjamin Prescott, through whose influence and agency the original Groton Gore was granted, and they were also the largest proprietors of the town. The following extracts from the Journal of the House relate to their application:—

A Petition of James Prescot, and others, Children and Heirs of Benjamin Prescot, late of Groton, Esq; deceased, praying a Grant of the unappropriated Lands of this Province, in consideration of sundry Tracts which they have lost by the late running of the Line between this Government and New-Hampshire.

Read and committed to Col. Clap, Col. Nickols, Col. Williams of Roxbury, Col. Buckminster, and Mr. Lancaster, to consider and Report.

[Journal of the House of Representatives (page 187), January 12, 1764.]

On February 3, 1764, this petition was put over to the May Session, but I do not find that it came up for consideration at that time. It does not appear again for some years.

A Petition of James Prescot, Esq; and others, praying that a Grant of Land may be made them in Lieu of a former Grant, which falls within the New-Hampshire Line.

[Journal of the House of Representatives (page 129), November 2, 1770.]

This petition was referred to a committee consisting of Dr. Samuel Holten, of Danvers, Colonel Joseph Gerrish, of Newbury, and Mr. Joshua Bigelow, of Worcester.

The Committee on the Petition of James Prescot, Esq; and others, reported.

Read and accepted, and Resolved, That in Lieu of Lands mentioned in the Petition, there be granted to the Petitioners, their Heirs and Assigns, Four Thousand Four Hundred Acres of the unappropriated Lands belonging to the Province, to be laid out in the Westerly Part thereof, adjoining to some former Grants, provided they can find the same; or Five Thousand Eight Hundred and Eighty Acres of the unappropriated Lands lying on the Easterly side of Saco River; it being their Proportion in said Grant: And return a Plan thereof taken by a Surveyor and Chainman under Oath, into the Secretary's Office within Twelve Months.

Sent up for Concurrence.

[Journal of the House of Representatives (page 156), November 14, 1770.]

The Committee appointed to consider the Plan of two Tracts of Land granted to James Prescot, Esq; and others, reported.

Read and accepted. Resolved, That both the above Plans, the one containing Four Thousand one Hundred and thirty Acres, the other containing two Hundred and seventy Acres, delineated and described as is set forth by the Surveyor in the Description thereof hereunto annexed, be accepted, and hereby is confirmed to James Prescot, Esq; and others named in their Petition, and to their Heirs and Assigns in Lieu of and full Satisfaction for Four Thousand four Hundred Acres of Land lost by the late running of the Line between this Province and New-Hampshire, as mention'd in a Grant made by both Houses of the Assembly, A.D. 1765, but not consented to by the Governor. Provided both said Plans together do not exceed the Quantity of Four Thousand four Hundred Acres, nor interfere with any former Grant.

Sent up for Concurrence.

[Journal of the House of Representatives (page 73), June 22, 1771.]

It is evident from these reports that the Prescott brothers took the forty-four hundred acres in the westerly part of the province, rather than the fifty-eight hundred and eighty acres on the easterly side of the Saco river, though I have been unable to identify, beyond a doubt, the tract of land thus granted. I am inclined to think however, that it is the one mentioned in the Memorial of the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Incorporation of Middlefield, Massachusetts, August 15, 1883. The town is situated on the westerly border of Hampshire County,—forming a jog into Berkshire,—and was made up in part of Prescott's Grant. A map is given in the "Memorial" volume (page 16) which shows that the Grant was originally in Berkshire county, very near to the tract of land given to the proprietors of Groton.

Professor Edward P. Smith, of Worcester, delivered an historical address on the occasion of the anniversary, and he says:—

Prescott's Grant, the nucleus of the town, appears as a large quadrilateral, containing more than a thousand acres in the north and west part of the town. Who the Prescott was to whom the grant was made is not known, further than that he must have been some one who had rendered military or other services to the State. That he was the Prescott who commanded at Bunker Hill is, indeed, possible; but, as the grant was probably made before the Revolutionary War, that supposition seems hardly tenable. (Page 15.)

By an act of the General Court, passed February 25, 1793, a large section of territory was taken from Groton and annexed to Dunstable. This change produced a very irregular boundary between the two towns, and made, according to Butler's History of Groton (page 66), more than eighty angles in the line, causing much inconvenience. The following copy from the "Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts" gives the names of the families thus transferred:—

An Act to set off Caleb Woods, and others, from Groton, and to annex them to Dunstable.

BE it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives, in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, That Caleb Woods, Silas Blood, Amaziah Swallow, Nathaniel Cummings, Ebenezer Procter, Silas Blood, jun. Silas Marshall, Levi Parker, Amos Woods, Isaac Lawrence, Peter Blood, Caleb Blood, jun. Henry Blood, Caleb Woods, jun. and Silas Marshall, jun., together with their families and estates, and also the estates of Doctor Jonas Marshall, the heirs of Captain Solomon Woods, deceased, and Joseph Parkhurst, which they now own in said Groton, be, and they are hereby set off from the town of Groton, in the county of Middlesex, and annexed to Dunstable, in said county, and shall hereafter be considered a part of the same, there to do duty and receive privileges, as the other inhabitants of said Dunstable. Provided, nevertheless, That the persons above-mentioned shall pay all taxes that have been legally assessed on them by said Groton, in the same manner as if this Act had never been passed.

[This act passed February 25, 1793.]

The zigzag line caused by this act was somewhat modified by the two following ones, passed at different times a few years later. I think that the very irregular boundary between the two towns, with its eighty-six angles, as mentioned by Mr. Butler, was produced by the subsequent annexations to Dunstable.

An Act to set of Nathaniel Lawrence with his Estate, from the Town of Groton, and annex them to the Town of Dunstable.

BE it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives, in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, That Nathaniel Lawrence of Groton, in the county of Middlesex, together with his estate, which he now owns in that town, be, and hereby is set off from said town of Groton, and annexed to the town of Dunstable, in the same county; and shall hereafter be considered as part of the same; there to do duty and receive privileges as other inhabitants of said town of Dunstable: Provided nevertheless, That the said Nathaniel Lawrence shall be holden to pay all taxes that have been legally assessed on him by said town of Groton, in the same manner as if this Act had not been passed.

[This act passed January 26, 1796.]

An act to set off Willard Robbins with his estate from the town of Groton, in the county of Middlesex, and to annex the same to the town of Dunstable, in the same county.

Sec. 1. BE it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives, in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same. That Willard Robbins, of Groton, in the county of Middlesex, with his estate, be, and hereby is set off from said town of Groton, and annexed to the town of Dunstable, in said county, there to do duty and receive privileges in the same manner as other inhabitants of the said town of Dunstable.

Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That the said Willard Robbins shall be holden to pay and discharge all legal assessments and taxes, that have been assessed upon him by said town of Groton prior to the passing this act.

[This act passed June 18, 1803.]

The boundary between the two towns now remained unchanged until February 15, 1820, when another act was passed by the Legislature making a further surrender of territory. It took a considerable parcel of land and gave it to Dunstable, thereby straightening and simplifying the jurisdictional line, which at this time formed but five angles.

In the autumn of 1794 a plan of Groton, Pepperell, and Shirley was made by Dr. Oliver Prescott, Jr., which gives a few interesting facts. The following notes are taken from the copy now in the office of the Secretary of State. It will be seen that Dr. Prescott refers to the land set off by the Act of February 25, 1793:—

This Plan contains the Bounds of three Towns, viz. Groton, Pepperrell & Shirley,—all which, together with whatsoever is delineated on said Plan, was taken by an actual Survey, agreeably to a resolve of the General Court, passed June 25, 1794, & under the Inspection of the Selectmen & Committee's from the respective towns, appointed for that purpose in the month of Sept'r. 1794.

By OLIVER PRESCOTT, Ju'r. Surveyor.

The reputed distance of Groton from Cambridge [the shire-town] is Thirty two Miles, & from Boston Thirty five miles; The River Nashua is from 8 to 10 rods in width. The River Squannacoock 4 or 5 rods in width. In Groton are twenty natural Ponds, six of which are delineated on the Plan, by actual Survey. Several of the other Ponds are in size, nearly equal to those on the plan, & may in the whole contain about two Thousand Acres. There are no Mines in said Town, except one of Iron Ore, nearly exhausted. Every other Matter directed to be delineated, described or specifyed, may be found on the Plan.


The reputed distance of Pepperrell from Cambridge is thirty seven miles; from Boston forty Miles.

The River Nissitisset is about four Rods in width.

The reputed distance of Shirley from Cambridge is thirty five Miles; & from Boston thirty Eight Miles.

Catacoonamug & Mulpus Brooks are from one to two Rods in width. The Plan contains every thing relative to the two last mentioned Towns necessary to be described.


What is enclosed in this Blue line, contains about the quantity of Land set off from Groton to Dunstable, by Act of the General Court, passed February 25, 1793. As by said Act, the petitioners and their Farms were set off, without specifying particular bounds, Accuracy cannot be obtained, with respect to this Line, without very great expence and Trouble.

By an act passed February 6, 1798, a considerable portion of territory lying on the easterly side of the Nashua river, in the south-west corner of Groton, was annexed to Shirley. This tract continued to form a part of Shirley until the incorporation of Ayer, on February 14, 1871, when its political condition was again changed, and its government transferred to the new town. The act authorizing the annexation is as follows,—and I give it entire in order to show the loose way of describing boundary lines during the latter part of the last century:—

An Act to set off certain Lands from the town of Groton, and annex the same to the town of Shirley.

BE it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives, in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, That a tract of Land at the south western extremity of the town of Groton, bounded by a line beginning at a large white oak stump, on the southeast side of Nashua River, being the northwest corner of the town of Harvard; thence running southeasterly on Harvard line, as the town bounds direct, till it comes to the stump of a pine tree lately fallen down, an antient bound mark in said town line; thence northerly to a heap of stones by the road leading to Harvard at SIMON DABY'S southerly corner, thence northeasterly on said SIMON DABY'S line to a pine tree marked, thence northerly to a heap of stones on a ledge of rocks; thence northerly on said SIMON DABY'S line to a heap of stones on a large rock; thence northwesterly still on said SIMON DABY'S line to a stake and stones in the roots of a pine tree, fallen down, in a valley, said SIMON DABY'S northeast corner and SAMUEL CHASE'S southerly corner, thence northerly on said SAMUEL CHASE'S line, to the road leading to ABIL MORSE'S mill, at a heap of stones on the north easterly side of said road, thence northeasterly on said SAMUEL CHASE'S line by said road to a heap of stones, thence northeasterly on said CHASE'S line, to a stake and stones at the end of a ditch at a brook; thence down said brook to Nashua River, thence up said river, to the bounds first mentioned, together with the inhabitants thereof, be, and they are hereby set off from the town of Groton and annexed to the town of Shirley, there to do duty and receive privileges in the same manner as other lands and inhabitants of the said town of Shirley.

SECT. 2. Provided nevertheless, and be it further enacted, That the said tract of land and the inhabitants thereof shall be liable to be taxed by the town of Groton, their full proportion in a tax to the amount of the debts now due from said town of Groton, in the same manner as if this act had not been passed: Provided such tax be made and assessed within one year from the time of passing this act; and shall also be liable to pay their proportion of all state taxes that may be assessed on the town of Groton until a new valuation be taken.

[This act passed February 6, 1798.]

All the changes of territorial jurisdiction thus far noted have been in one direction,—from Groton to the surrounding towns; but now the tide turns, and for a wonder she received, by legislative enactment, on February 3, 1803, a small parcel of land just large enough for a potato-patch. The annexation came from Pepperell, and the amount received was four acres and twenty rods in extent. The following is a copy:—

An act to set off a certain parcel of land from the town of Pepperell, in the county of Middlesex, and to annex the same to the town of Groton, in the same county.

BE it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives, in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, That a certain tract of land, bounded, beginning at the end of a wall by the road leading by Zachariah Fitch's, in said Groton; thence running easterly, by land of Jonas Fitch, to the Nashua River, (so called;) thence up said river to said road, near the bridge over the same river; thence, bounding by the same road, to the bounds first mentioned, containing four acres and twenty rods, be, and hereby is set off from said town of Pepperell and annexed to said town of Groton forever.

[This act passed February 3, 1803.]

The Worcester and Nashua Railroad was opened through the township of Groton in the month of December, 1848. It ran at that time a distance of eight miles through its territory, keeping on the east side of the Nashua river, which for a considerable part of the way was the dividing line between Groton and Pepperell. The railroad station for the people of Pepperell was on the Groton side of the river, and in the course of a few years a small village sprang up in the neighborhood. All the interests and sympathies of this little settlement were with Pepperell; and under these circumstances the Legislature, on May 18, 1857, passed an act of annexation, by which it became in reality what it was in sentiment,—a part and parcel of that town. The first section of the act is as follows:—

An act to set off a part of the Town of Groton, and annex the same to the Town of Pepperell.

Be it enacted, &c., as follows:

All that part of the town of Groton, in the county of Middlesex, with the inhabitants thereon, lying north of the following described line is hereby set off from the town of Groton, and annexed to the town of Pepperell, to wit: Beginning at the boundary between said town of Groton and the town of Dunstable, at a stone monument in the wall on land of Elbridge Chapman and land of Joseph Sanderson, and running south, eighty-six degrees west, about six hundred and sixty rods, to a stone monument at the corner of land called the "Job Shattuck Farm," and land of James Hobart, near the Nashua River and Worcester and Nashua Railroad; thence in same line to the centre of Nashua River and the boundary of said town of Pepperell: provided, however, that for the purpose of electing a representative to the general court, the said territory shall continue to be a part of the town of Groton, until a new apportionment for representatives is made; and the inhabitants resident therein shall be entitled to vote in the choice of such representatives, and shall be eligible to the office of representative in the town of Groton, in the same manner as if this act had not been passed.

The latest legislation connected with the dismemberment of the original grant—and perhaps the last for many years to come—is the Act of February 14, 1871, by which the town of Ayer was incorporated. This enactment took from Groton a large section of territory lying near its southern borders, and from Shirley all that part of the town on the easterly side of the Nashua River which was annexed to it from Groton on February 6, 1798.

Thus has the old Groton Plantation, during a period of more than two centuries, been hewed and hacked down to less than one-half of its original dimensions. It has furnished, substantially, the entire territory of Pepperell, Shirley, and Ayer, and has contributed more or less largely to form five other towns. An examination of the accompanying map will show these changes more clearly than any verbal or written description.

* * * * *


The ship's white sails are all unfurl'd To the salt breath of the sea; And never a ship in all the world Sails on with the wind more free.

For the white sails are white hopes of youth, The breath of the future blows; But whither the vessel flies, in truth, There is no man that knows.

* * * * *



BY FRANCES C. SPARHAWK, Author of "A Lazy Man's Work."

[Footnote 1: 1884, by Frances C. Sparhawk.]



One August evening of the year 1743 a boat lay as if anchored in the beautiful Piscataqua; her sail seemed swung only to show its whiteness in the bright moonlight. Every cord upon it hung lifeless, serving only the purpose of pictured lines, one silvered in the light, the dark shadow of the other traced in clear outlines on the sail. The swash of the waves against the side of the boat was too slight to sway it; the sheet dipped in the water and swung almost imperceptibly, while now and then a few straws floated against it and caught there. The moon, high in the heavens, gave pearly tints to the clouds that floated near it; the pines on the shore flung dark masses against the oaks and maples, or stood as a Rembrandt background for the boughs of the trees on which the moonlight fell, or for some ghostly procession of the white birch trunks. The water, in the shadows as dark and smooth as a Claude Lorraine glass, showed far off in the moonlight faint quivers of its surface here and there, as if the breeze so longed for were coming to the idle boat. But it was too far off, or too faint, for it spent itself before reaching the watchers there, although at the symptoms one of them rose with great show of solemnity, and making a trumpet of his hands, blew vigorously against the sail. But neither these movements nor the concerts of whistling were successful. At last another of the company leaning over the side of the boat busied himself with the sheet.

"I'll tell you the reason this boat don't go," he said, gravely, "the rope was all twisted. I've straightened it out, and taken off the straws."

A burst of laughter greeted him as he turned around his face, still grave, but his dark eyes, roving from one to another, their laughing expression hidden in the shadow, for the moon was behind him.

"What a useful member of society you are, Stephen," cried Katie Archdale. "I don't see how we could get on without you."

"I don't think we're getting on with him very fast," remarked a young gentleman sitting opposite Katie, pointing significantly at a curve of the shore that they had not drifted out of sight of in the last half hour.

"At least he has roused us," returned the girl, "for I half believe I was sleepy before."

"I believe it wholly," answered Stephen, taking his seat beside her again and looking down into her face teazingly with a cousinly freedom. But it was not altogether a cousinly regard from which Katie drew back after a moment, tossing her head coquettishly, and with a heightened color, glancing past at her friend beyond him, who sat dipping one hand in the water and looking dreamily at the shore. Stephen Archdale and his cousin Katie lived within a few miles of each other, and there had always been constant intercourse between their families. When boy and girl, Stephen, four years the elder, the two had played together, and they had grown up, as people said, like brother and sister. But of late it was rumored that the conduct of young Archdale was more loverlike than brotherly, and that, if Katie choose, the tie between them would one day be closer than that of cousinhood. The stranger who sat opposite Archdale, watching them both in silence, was of the same opinion. He was rather portly for his age, which could not have been over thirty, and as he sat in the boat he looked a taller man than he proved to be when on his feet. His dark-brown beard was full, his eyes, like Archdale's, were in shadow, for he had drawn down his hat well over his brows, while Stephen and young Waldo sat bareheaded in the August air.

"I wonder"—began Katie.

"A sturgeon!" cried Mrs. Eveleigh, the last member of the party.

But the sound proved the soft dip of the paddle in the water as a canoe came toward them going down the stream. Its Indian occupant when he shot by turned his gaze stealthily upon the gay party.

"How many more of your red savages are there coming to spy upon us?" And the speaker pushed back his hat a trifle, and looked up and down the river with an anxiety that he could not quite conceal.

"You've not been out here long enough," laughed Waldo. "There's no danger; the red savages are friendly with us just at this moment, and will remain so until we forget our rifles some day, or they learn that we're short of ammunition. Shoot 'em down without mercy whenever they come spying about—it's the only way. They're friendly so long as they are afraid, and not a moment longer. For instance, why should that fellow stop? He saw three men whom he knew were armed, besides that young man who's pretending to sail the boat—why don't you do it, Kit?" and Waldo laughed good-humoredly at the lad whose office had become a sinecure. "When you get used to them, Mr. Harwin," he added, "they will not make you shiver."

"Oh, they don't do that now," returned the other, indifferently, "but, the ladies"—

"As to the ladies," laughed Katie, "one of them is quite fond of the red-skins; the other," glancing at her friend, "has gone into a brown study; I don't believe she's heard or seen anything for the last half hour. Elizabeth, when you fish up any pearls there out of the water, share them with us, won't you?"

"No, she'll do no such thing," interposed Mistress Eveleigh; "she'll give them all to you." The tone was so serious that Elizabeth cried, indignantly,—

"Cousin Patience, how can you?"

"I suppose she likes to tease you," retorted Katie, still laughing, "and so do I. It's so funny to see you wake out of a revery and find yourself."

"And not find myself, you mean," returned Elizabeth, joining in with a ripple of merriment.

"Master Waldo knows all about the red-skins," said Archdale to his opposite neighbor; "he had the pleasure of shooting one last winter."

"Did you?" exclaimed Mrs. Eveleigh, while Harwin looked at the young fellow with a new interest. "How did it happen? Tell us about it."

"Yes, tell us about it," cried Katie, turning toward Waldo. But Elizabeth was still looking at Archdale. Suppose the shooting had been necessary, how could he speak of killing a human being as he would an animal, and then lean back and look at Mr. Waldo with a smile on his face?

Kenelm Waldo, on his part, gazed at the speaker in astonishment.

"'Pon honor," he cried, "I never killed a red-skin in my life, or even had a shot at one. Oh, I know now what he means; he is talking of a fox that I shot two miles from his house, one that you ought to have secured yourself, Mr. Archdale. This was the way I did it, the best way."

When he had finished his account, Katie said:—

"I have a plan for amusing ourselves. Let us make every one tell a story, and we'll lay forfeits on the person that doesn't give us an interesting one. Mistress Eveleigh, please begin."

"That is rather arbitrary, Mistress Katie, with no warning," returned that lady, smiling. "But since we've been talking about the Indians, I will tell you something that my mother did once before she was married, while she was living down on the Cape."

"What a pity, Katie, you did not keep Mistress Eveleigh until the last," cried Archdale; "I know she will have the best story of us all."

"You have too high estimation of my powers," returned Mrs. Eveleigh, flattered; "but if I do well," she added, "it must be remembered that none of you have had forty-five years in which to find one."

The story, like a thousand others of that time, was of the presence of mind and courage of one of the early settlers of America, and was listened to with the attention it deserved. All, with one exception, were outspoken in admiration of its heroine.

"You say nothing, Mistress Royal," said Waldo; "but it may be you've heard it before, since you and Mistress Eveleigh are in the same house."

"Yes," she answered, "I have heard it before." She moved her head quickly as she spoke, and as the moonlight struck her face, Archdale fancied that he saw a moist brightness in her eyes. But certainly no tear fell, and when the next moment Katie declared it Elizabeth's turn for a story, she told some trifling anecdote that had in it neither sentiment nor heroism. It was laughable though, and was about to receive its deserts of praise when at Archdale's first word Elizabeth cried, eagerly:—

"Don't, please. It was not worth telling; only I could remember nothing else."

At this entreaty Harwin stared at her, and his lip curled disdainfully under the hand that partially covered his face. "Have you so much wealth of fascination, young lady," his thoughts ran, "that you can afford to scatter your coins in this way? I rather think not." His eyes rested upon her for a moment as she sat looking at Katie Archdale, and the scorn of his mouth deepened. "Admiration of one woman for another," he commented. "Pshaw! the girl lavishes everything; she will soon be bankrupt. She is drinking in the intoxication of Katie's beauty just as—no, not like me, of course. If ever there could be excuse for such a thing it would be here, for Katie is bewitching, she is perfect; affectionate, too, but with no nonsense about her. She reserves her admiration for—for whom does she reserve it? For the proud young nabob beside her, or for the good-humored little coxcomb over here? It shall be for neither; it shall be for me. I, too, can be fascinating when I take the trouble. Fair lady, I have plans for you."

"Master Harwin," cried the girl's clear voice, interrupting his thoughts, "why don't you begin? We're waiting for you."

"Pardon me," he answered, "I was not aware of it. Well, since you are inexorable, I'll try. I will not attempt anything in this New World, which you all know so much more about than I do, for then there'd be every chance of my being heavily fined. But if you want a story of Old England, perhaps on that ground I can barely escape my forfeit."

"We shall be delighted," said Miss Royal, courteously, for Katie, to whom she saw that he was speaking, was at the moment claimed by Archdale; he was saying something to her in a low voice, and she gave him willing attention.

Only a flash in the narrator's eyes as he began showed that he noticed this.



"Once upon a time, then," he said, "in Scotland, no matter in what part, there dwelt two disconsolate people. They ought to have been very happy, for they were lovers, but, as you may have noticed, lovers are happy only under the condition that love runs smooth, and here it was extremely rough. The suitor was of ancient family and poor, the lady was charming, and wilful—and an heiress? You are all waiting to hear me say that—no, she was poor, too. And so you see that a doubling of impecuniosity was quite impossible, for poverty rolls up fast in a geometrical progression. But the lovers had no such scruples. It's a romantic story enough if I could tell it to you in detail."

"And why not?" cried Katie, whose interest was making him wish that were possible.

"I should have to go back for generations, and tell you of family feuds as old as the families themselves, a Montague and Capulet state of affairs, although each family had so much respect for the golden amenities of life that its possession by the other would have softened the asperity of feeling. But each was poor,—poor, I mean, for people in that station.

"The lady, as I said, was a beauty; the gentleman had extra will enough when it was roused to make up for the absence of beauty, although, indeed, the lady was not lacking in that quality either, and so, opposition made them only more determined to have their own way. It was impossible to run away,—she was too well guarded; defiance was the only thing, and I must confess that from what I knew of them both, I think they enjoyed it. The Capulets, as I will call them, were dissenters, the Montagues belonged to the Established Church. Now, the Capulets were very zealous, and at this time a famous itinerant preacher came into their neighborhood. They, being the greatest people in the place, invited him to stay at their house during his visit. He often preached in the open air. One day, at the end of one of those eloquent discourses, a young man in countryman's dress came up and asked him to marry himself and a young woman whom he had been waiting upon a long time, but who had refused to be married unless this very preacher could perform the ceremony. 'She said it would be a blessed wedlock of your joining,' pursued the young fellow. The preacher, although he was a great man, was only human,—it is well, I suppose, that we never outgrow our humanity,—and felt flattered by the young girl's belief in his sanctity. He proposed the next day for the ceremony, and was arranging to marry the rustic couple on the lawn before the house of his host when the young man interrupted him by stating that it must be gone through with immediately, for his lady-love was so shy that it was with difficulty she had been persuaded to come to-night, and she would never consent if he gave her all that time to think the matter over in, nor would she be willing to come up on the lawn with the great people. She was at hand with one of her friends; everything was prepared; would he marry them then? At that moment? The bewildered minister looked up the road before him, where the carriage of the Capulets was disappearing at the top of the hill; he had been told that the daughter would remain with him, and that the carriage would return as soon as Mamma Capulet had made inquiries about a cottager who was ill; for his congregation had been crowding about him with questions and tearful confessions of sins, and the good Capulets, who had the opportunity to make their confessions in private, were in haste to be gone. Where was his fair companion? He looked about him; he had lost sight of her in the throng. But in a few moments she came forward, accompanying the bride, who the groom explained was a protegee of hers. Miss Capulet had drawn down her veil, and in answer to this statement nodded to the reverend gentleman and murmured an assent. The bride's face, too, was hidden by her bonnet and by her shyness, which prevented her from once looking up. The name of the groom lingered with surprise on the minister's lips, for it was not a clodhopper's name, I assure you; but he had heard nothing of the love affair. When he came to the bride's name, however, he did pause, for it was that of the Capulet. 'How is this?' he asked. 'How has she the same name as you, my child?' Before the veiled lady could answer, the groom informed him that the bride's family, being old retainers of the other, had the same last name, as it was in Scottish clans, and that the bride herself, born on the same day as the young lady at the great house, had received also the same Christian name, which explained her being under Miss Capulet's protection. The good man was conscious that, though his piety was eminent, his knowledge of all genealogy but Bible was deficient, and when both women softly assented to this statement, his air of perplexity gave place to the manner of a man who understands the business of the hour. He was in a hurry, and in an incredibly short time the two were one. 'Is it all over?' asked the groom. 'Are we securely married?' 'You are joined in the holy bonds of matrimony until death do you part,' returned the clergyman, solemnly, beginning to add his blessing. But this died half-uttered on his lips, for the bride slowly raised her head, threw back her bonnet, and the haughty face and laughing eyes of the Capulet were before him. 'Bear witness,' she said, her shyness completely gone, 'that I'm this gentleman's wife.' 'You are, indeed,' he stammered. 'But how—why—who is this?' and he reached out a trembling hand toward the veiled lady. 'My maid,' returned the bride; 'she came here like one of the cottagers, and we exchanged gowns while you were talking to the people.' 'I hope, I sincerely hope, it's all right,' returned the poor man; 'but if I had known, I would have spoken to your honored parent, first.' 'Yes, I'm sure of that,' she laughed, 'and then we should not have been so happy.' At the moment a post-chaise drove up, into which the bridal pair and the servant made haste to get. 'Pardon me that I cannot accompany you home,' laughed the lady, leaning out to give the minister her hand in farewell. 'You cannot know how grateful to you we are. I shall never be able to reward you; I can only give you my thanks and prayers—and be sure to tell them at home how firmly you have married us.' The chaise drove off, and the good man was left alone. He felt inclined to think that he had been dreaming, until he looked down and saw in his hand a purse of gold pieces that the groom had slipped into it, whispering, 'If you refuse for yourself, be my almoner and give it to the poor.' Before the preacher had recovered his wits the carriage of the Capulets reappeared. The lovers, however, did not re-appear for two years, and by that time Montague had unexpectedly fallen heir to a fortune and a title, and was received with open arms by the new relatives. In our days it's always the one who was not the prodigal who has the fatted calf killed for him."

"I'm afraid the poor minister was not very welcome when he had told his story," said Elizabeth.

"Clever enough, on my word," cried Archdale.

"Not quite to your liking, I fancy, though," answered Harwin.

"Do you think he would have had the wedding indoors, in the teeth of everybody?" laughed Katie.

Harwin assented, adding that he felt convinced that Master Archdale would have insisted upon all the accompaniments of a grand wedding at any cost.

"Yes, I shall have that when my time comes," returned Stephen, looking straight before him a trifle haughtily. But Harwin noticed that directly his eyes fell in passing back to their watching of the shore, and that one sweeping glance was given to Katie.

"But can people be married in such an instant?" asked Waldo. "I always thought it was a work of time—rather a formidable piece of business."

"Oh! when you come to two or three ministers of the Church of England, and the benedictions, and all that, so it is," said Harwin; "but the real business part is an affair of—I was going to say less than a minute." He sat silent after this, with his head bent, then, lifting it suddenly, before anybody had spoken, he fixed his glance, with a musing expression, upon Waldo. "I was wondering if I could remember the formula," he said; "I think I can. Mistress Royal, allow Master Archdale to take your hand a moment, if you please."

Elizabeth made no responsive movement, and Archdale, for an instant, failed to turn toward her. He had been looking at Katie while Harwin was speaking; but Katie drew back, hastily.

"Oh, do, Elizabeth!" she cried. "I want to see what it is like; do try with Stephen, and let us hear." As she spoke, Archdale turned toward Elizabeth, courteously.

"Come, Mistress Royal," he said, as Harwin was explaining that he had asked her because she happened to be on the proper side for a bride, "let us make an effective tableau for the amusement of these mariners, who, since they are becalmed themselves, persist in wanting something going on."

Elizabeth had heard the entreaty in Katie's light words. She knew that if she herself had cared for Mr. Archdale she could never have jested at marrying him. It made her all the more sure that Katie did care, because, otherwise, the girl would have found it great fun to rouse a little jealousy in the two admirers opposite, watching every movement. She yielded her hand to the light clasp that held it, and listened with less interest than the others to Mr. Harwin's distinct and rapid words until he came to the sentence, "I pronounce you man and wife." Then she shivered, and he had scarcely finished the adjuration that follows—"What God hath joined together let not man put asunder," when she snatched her hand away.

"It is too solemn," she cried, "it is too much; we ought not to have jested so."

Harwin laughed.

"Pardon me if I've made you uncomfortable," he said; "but you will forget it in five minutes, and even for that time you must blame Master Waldo's curiosity."

"And mine," added Katie, at which young Waldo gave her a grateful glance. Then he joined with her in breaking the hush that had fallen on the others. "Stephen," she said, "now for your story. Do you think you are coming off scot-free?"

"I thought we had performed our parts," he said, turning to Elizabeth with a smile.

"Mistress Royal has already told her story," cried Waldo, "There's no escape for you."

"Escape would be difficult now, I confess."

"So begin."

He began obediently, but fortune was kinder than he had expected, for he had not fairly started when Kit cried out,—

"A breeze! Here it comes. Heads to larboard!" And down went Archdale's and those of the two ladies with him as the sail was shifted and the boat began to skim the water before the breeze which freshened every minute. Soon they had gained the cove where they were to land, and Archdale's story was never finished.

* * * * *



The census of 1880 fixed the juvenile population of the United States at 20,000,000, of whom 10,158,954 were boys and 9,884,705 were girls. "From a political point of view," says the eminent philanthropist, Mr. Elbridge T. Gerry, "the future of the nation depends on the physical and intellectual education of its children, whose numbers increase every year, and who will soon constitute the sovereign people. From the moral and social point of view, the welfare of society imperatively demands that the atmosphere in which they live, and the treatment that they receive from those intrusted with their care or custody, shall be such as to establish in them habits of industry, of sobriety, of honesty, and good conduct. For injurious treatment of a child, inasmuch as it tends to result in the distortion of its physical and moral nature, constitutes an offence whose importance seriously effects the public order." But what is to be understood by cruel treatment? It consists in every act of omission or of commission which causes or procures physical injury or death. It is hardly necessary to observe that this definition must be limited to its practical meaning, rather than interpreted in its broader, philosophical sense. We must leave out of the question the results of improper or imperfect educational training and discipline. It is doubtless a cause of harm to a delicate and nervous child to force the development of its intelligence; a harsh word hastily uttered by parents may leave an ineffaceable impression upon a sensitive organization; severity degenerates into injustice when it confounds a peevish act, the result of physical disorder, with an act of deliberate disobedience. The weakness which resigns its authority In order to spare itself the care of a child's education engenders for life the spirit of insubordination. The humiliating and unjust reproach, the stinging sarcasm, wound the child in its tenderest feelings;—but these are not the forms of cruelty and wrong which fall within reach of the law. It is unable to interpose between the parents and the child, except in case of an actual and serious offence, and for the rest it must rely upon the affection planted by nature in the hearts of parents. These distinctions are more felt than expressed, and opinion will never deceive itself in regard to the conduct of unnatural parents.

But if these propositions are absolutely incontestable, how do they leave room for the function of a society? If children are beaten, abandoned, given over to odious practices, will not the authorities, on the complaint of those interested, or compelled by public opinion, be able adequately to fulfil the task? This reasoning, altogether French, would not properly take into account the American temperament, the genius of the Anglo-Saxon race, of its institutions, and of its usages. In France, since the fourteenth century, misdemeanors have been prosecuted the more generally by the public minister, acting under whose orders are numerous officers of judiciary police, who entertain the complaints of the public and send them, with the result of their examination, to our courts. The magistrates charged with the case complete the investigations, if they take place. The elements of the evidence are therefore combined when the prosecution is instituted. In the United States these intermediate officials exist but imperfectly between the injured party and the magistrate who renders judgment. From lack of sufficient evidence, the rights of this injured party run the risk of being compromised through his inexperience. Moreover, the complaint of the child, often directed against its parents or its legal guardians, involves the examination of a delicate situation, which must be conducted with much discernment. Without comparing the two systems, American and French, which correspond each to the particular genius of the two nations, it will be seen that the American system leaves much more to private initiative, and that it would become ineffectual when the victim of the offence, being a child, has neither the energy nor the knowledge necessary to demonstrate that its complaint is well founded, without the aid of some one in power. This is the aid which is given by the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children; and we can now understand how the exigency of the case, so powerfully felt by the practical intelligence of the Americans, has called into existence this potent organization, which we may call the guardian of the rights of childhood, for the repression of the offences from which it is liable to suffer. The following anecdote shows how the necessity for this institution arose, in a manner at once thrilling and dramatic:—

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