The Old Burying Ground and the Groton Cemetery

Our earliest Groton ancestors, i.e. Lawrences, Tarbells, Parkers, and others who preceded Samuel and Susanna Lawrence, are interred in the Old Burying Ground in the center of town. (Many of the graves are worn and illegible, but  Samuel Abbott Green compiled an interesting book of the headstone inscriptions there, Epitaphs from the Old Burying Ground in Groton, Massachusetts.) The Old Burying Ground is located here.

 

 

Our more “recent” kin, recent by New England standards, starting with Samuel and Susanna Lawrence, are buried in the Groton Cemetery, a little further towards the outskirts of town.

 

Both of these places are well worth the trip.

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William Lawrence on His Grandmother, Susanna Lawrence

This next passage, which closes out the material on Samuel and Susanna Lawrence, is devoted exclusively to Susanna. I have always thought she would have to have been an amazing woman. She managed a household with a husband away at war; was herself a currier for secret correspondence; delivered and raised 9 children in a pre-vaccination/ pre-antibiotic era with one child dying in his teen years and the other eight surviving to adulthood; and lived to the somewhat extraordinary age of 89.

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from Extracts From The Diary And Correspondence of Amos Lawrence, by William R. Lawrence, M.D., Boston, 1855

Of his mother Mr. Lawrence [Amos–LSL] always spoke in the strongest terms of veneration and love, and in many of his letters are found messages of affection, such as could have emanated only from a heart overflowing with filial gratitude. Her form bending over their bed in silent prayer, at the hour of twilight, when she was about leaving them for the night, is still among the earliest recollections of her children.

She was a woman well fitted to train a family for the troubled times in which she lived. To the kindest affections and sympathies she united energy and decision, and in her household enforced that strict and unhesitating obedience, which she considered as the foundation of all success in the education of children. Her hands were never idle, as may be supposed, when it is remembered that in those days, throughout New England, in addition to the cares of a farming establishment, much of the material for clothing was manufactured by the inmates of the family. Many hours each day she passed at the hand‑loom, and the hum of the almost obsolete spinning‑wheel even now comes across the memory like the remembrance of a pleasant but half‑forgotten melody.

William Lawrence on the War, His Grandparents’ Wedding, and the Family They Raised

In the Introduction to this project, I wrote about having the realization…

…that people whose names have almost been forgotten, or have been forgotten, were as real as I am in all respects…

If there’s one line, one phrase, that sums up my entire motivation to do this work, to gather in all this information, and take so much time and effort and life energy to make it available to others, so that these stories can live and be passed on, it is this idea. “People whose names have almost been forgotten, or have been forgotten, were as real as I am in all respects…”

As real as I am.

I’ve often wondered if, as our lives unfold, we don’t go through a very early period of more or less secretly believing that all of those around us – mother, father, siblings, neighbors, cousins –  exist as actors in some sort of play for our benefit and our benefit alone. Then, as we add neurons and synaptic connections and gain experience, we move on to a stage where we somewhat grudgingly acknowledge that while others might be real, the time period in which we find our young selves is in fact the only time that has ever existed, that there is just the present, this present, and all pieces of evidence to the contrary, i.e. history, art, culture, language, are more or less elaborate fictions that have been thought up as embellishments to our current period. (A mentality not dissimilar to the way creationists explain away the fossil record as being placed in the ground by God, but I digress.) And then, in this “unfolding” of our consciousnesses, if we’re lucky, we enter a phase in our development, where we connect with the truth, not intellectually but viscerally, that we and every other person we know, have ever known, will ever know, are only the latest chapter of humanity’s broad narrative arc; the last few ticks of a clock whose hands have been circling for eons.

As I said, this is just  something I’ve wondered. Perhaps a child psychologist, or a pediatric neurologist, would say all the above is hogwash. I have no idea. But when I think back on my own earliest days, it feels true.

As for the last phase, connecting with the reality of other people in other times, for me there was no one single  “Aha!” moment; there were several.

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Family Memories of Samuel and Susanna Lawrence

 

The following is the complete text of A Minute Man, by Mary Fosdick. Fosdick, was the daughter of Sarah Lawrence (Woodbury) Fosdick, daughter of Mary (Lawrence) Woodbury, daughter of Samuel and Susanna (Parker) Lawrence. I have included this in its entirety because, in spite of its children’s-book-like tone, and obvious license where dialogue is concerned, it as close as we will ever get to an actual oral history of our family during the Revolutionary War and the earliest days of the new United States.

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A MINUTE-MAN[1]

By Mary Fosdick

CHAPTER I

Captain Amos Lawrence was an estimable farmer in New England, who was born in the first quarter of the eighteenth century, and at a suitable age married Miss Abigail Abbott. She brought him as part of her dowry various handsome pewter articles, among them several large plates, or platters, on which her initials were stamped or cut, as was the fashion in her day, a handsome hall clock with mahogany case and brass face, and other articles of household furniture; though, as her father was also a farmer, it is not probable that she brought Captain Lawrence very much else beside the bedding which every bride [was] expected to provide. As to her personal attractions I have no means of knowing. Though born in Boston’s neighborhood, Captain Amos Lawrence made his way to Groton, a thriving village farther inland, and there our minute-man was born in the spring of 1754. He was a bright boy, and “did well,” as people said, both as a son and brother at home and as a scholar in school; and when he had exhausted the best educational advantages the place then afforded, he went to work on a small farm, which he took on a mortgage, hoping probably to make it profitable enough to enable him to support a wife. Whether he had in mind the lady whom he afterward married, I am unable to state, but in his twenty-first year he became engaged to a handsome girl, a year younger than himself, whose acquaintance he probably made while visiting his grandparents Lawrence, as her stepfather lived in a town (Concord) adjoining the one in which his mother, Miss Abbott, had been born (Lexington); so we may naturally suppose that he desired to make the farm as successful as possible. His parents had other children, and having given him the benefit of the best educational facilities in Groton, could not afford to do more, though they must have realized that such a boy as he would have been glad to go through college, as at least two of his contemporaries did, and would be an honor to any profession, for he was beloved and respected by his fellow townsmen as few young men of his age were, and was as fond of books as if he had been a rich Tory’s son.

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An Account of Samuel Lawrence’s Military Career, and a Brief Sketch of His Subsequent Civilian Life

The following brief biography is, almost verbatim, taken from Historical Sketches of the Lawrence Family, by Robert Means Lawrence, 1888. I have made only a few edits for the sake of clarity.

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from Robert Means LawrenceHistorical Sketches of the Lawrence Family, 1888

MAJOR SAMUEL LAWRENCE

The third and youngest son of Amos and Abigail Lawrence, and grandson of John of Lexington, was born in Groton, April 24, 1754. His early life was passed on his father’s farm.

Military Career

He was a corporal in one of the Groton companies of minute-men. Late in the afternoon of Tuesday, April 18, 1775, several brass cannon arrived in Groton, having been sent there by a vote of the Committee of Safety of the Provincial Congress.

Tradition says that the minute-men held a meeting that same evening; and that nine of them set out after dark, carrying lighted torches, and, marching during the night, reached Concord very early on Wednesday morning. Having breakfasted, they joined the minute­men of Concord and the adjoining towns, and were participants in the fight at the North Bridge, and in the pursuit of the British troops as far as Lexington or beyond.

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