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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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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The Lawrence Homestead at Groton

In his book, Historical Sketches of Some Members of the Lawrence Family, Boston, 1888 Robert Means Lawrence describes the location of the three Lawrence homesteads that were home to our family from the 17th century through to the mid-20th century. Keep in mind his references to “current” landmarks are well over a hundred years old, but I have added some notes from Uncle Johnny, John Endicott Lawrence Sr., to make locations a little more researchable.

The first homestead:

The original Homestead at Groton, built by John Lawrence when he came up from Watertown, stood “southwest of Gibbet Hill, a short distance east of the First Parish Meeting House, and near where Love Lane joins the present road to Lowell. This farm has been for many years the property and residence of Joseph F. Hall.” [And, according to John Endicott Lawrence, Sr., was more recently owned by Marion Daniels. —LSL] See Historical Sketches, p.9.

The second homestead:

John’s second son Nathaniel started out married life living in Sudbury with his wife, then moved back to Groton where he lived with his father for about twenty years, before moving in 1683 into his own Homestead, “on the ‘Mill Highway,’ so called, now the road to Ayer, about three-quarters of a mile south of the center of town and near the Indian Hills…. This estate is now the residence of William Peabody.” [According to John Endicott Lawrence, Sr., this land recently belonged to Mrs. Orick Bales. —LSL] In 1694, after a long series of Indian wars, with promise of more to come, Nathaniel moved his family out to Concord, and from there to Charlestown. The farm passed through several hands, until it was purchased again by Amos Lawrence in 1748. Amos’ children, including Samuel were born here, and when Amos died it went to his oldest son, Amos Jr. See Historical Sketches, pp.11-15, 93-94.

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The Abduction of the Tarbell Children: Part 3

The account below is taken from Butler’s History of Groton, Pepperell, and Shirley, published in 1848.

It is the last of the historical accounts which I could find relating to the abduction of the Tarbell children, and it is both the oldest, and the least accurate.

For example, note that the author believed the mother of the boys was Elizabeth Blood. He was mistaken in this.  (It was Elizabeth Woods.) Also, note their abduction is said to have taken place on a Mr. Sanderson’s property. This may or may not conflict with the other stories, which place the event squarely on Tarbell property.

A brief note on language: The following is a historical account dating from the mid-19th century. There are instances here of the kind of language that typifies the ethnocentrism and rank prejudice of that period. These sentences are included – have been allowed to remain –  because they are integral to the meaning and substance of the document, and not because I as an individual in any way agree with or endorse these characterizations.

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from Caleb Butler, History of Groton, Pepperell, and Shirley, Boston, 1848. pp.96-7

 

…Besides these instances of alarm, attack and suffering from a savage foe, others are known to have occured, of which there is more or less authentic evidence. One, of which the tradition is undoubtedly nearly correct, is that of the two lads, John Tarbell and Zachariah Tarbell, brothers, and sons of Thomas Tarbell, who were taken and carried to Canada. The story runs thus. One evening, a little after sunsetting, the Indians came suddenly upon the inmates of a garrisoned house, which stood where the Rev. Mr. Sanderson’s house now stands, or near that spot. They all escaped and got safely into the garrison except these two boys, who being on a cherry tree had not time to descend and save themselves from captivity. The precise time of this event is not known, but it is said that Zachariah was so young, that he entirely lost his native language, and the records of Groton show, that John was born July 6, 1695, and Zachariah January 25, 1700. So it was probably between 1704 and 1708. Some years after, they both came to Groton on a visit, but having become accustomed to savage life, no persuasion prevailed upon them to return and live with their friends and relatives. The present inhabitants of that name are their collateral kindred. Their descendants are still among the Indians in Canada.

The Abduction of the Tarbell Children: Part 2

This article, From Groton During the Indian Wars, by Samuel A. Green, Groton, 1883, pp. 109-124, is written more from the point of view of a historian. Many of the primary records relating to the incident are included, as are alternate versions of the story as it had come to be told in 1883. Apparent misspellings, punctuation abnormalities, and other errors have been checked and simply are period usage.

A brief note on language: The following is an account from the 19th century that draws on and quotes primary material written in the 18th century. There are multiple instances here of language that ranges from racially insensitive to downright repugnant, when read from a 21st century perspective. These passages are included – have been allowed to remain –  because they are integral to the meaning and substance of the unique and irreplaceable historical documents being referenced, and not because I as an individual in any way agree with or endorse these characterizations.

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from Samuel A. GreenGroton During the Indian Wars,  Groton, 1883, pp. 109-124

II.

IN a list of prisoners held by the French and Indians in Canada, March 5, 1710-11, are the names of “Zech. Tarbal, John Tarbal, Sarah Tarbal, Matt. Farnsworth [and] Lydia Longley” (Archives, LXXI. 765), all of Groton, though no date of capture is given. Lydia Longley was taken by the Indians on July 27, 1694, and the particulars of her case have already been told. The Tarbell children were carried off on June 20, 1707; but it is unknown when Mathias Farnsworth was captured, and this entry appears to be the only record of the fact. Sarah, John, and Zechariah were children of Thomas and Elizabeth (Wood) Tarbell, who, with a large family, lived on Farmer’s Row, near where James Lawrence’s house now stands. Sarah was a girl nearly fourteen years of age, John a lad of twelve years, and Zechariah only seven, at the time when they were taken. They were near kindred of the Longley family, who had been massacred thirteen years before. The father was unquestionably the Corporal Tarbell who commanded, in the autumn of 1711, one of the eighteen garrisons in the town.

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The Abduction of the Tarbell Children: Part 1

The account below, of the abduction of our relatives, niece and nephews of one ancestor, and cousins of another, by the Caughnawaga Mohawks, is in a way the most readable because it was written for a popular magazine. I found it, as a reprint, in The Groton Historical Series, edited by Samuel Green, Vol. III, pp. 126-134, Groton, 1893.

For an absolutely excellent historical look at the French practice of encouraging Native Americans to kidnap English settlers, and the terrible cultural identity crises this would provoke among the captives themselves, see The Unredeemed Captive, by John Demos. The book is history that reads like a novel, and describes an actual abduction that took place in Deerfield, at roughly the same time the Tarbells were taken. It details the assimilation process many of the captives went through, as they became members of tribes, and their agonized choices of whether or not to later return to white society— as well as their white relatives’ anguish to have them back.

A brief note on language: The following is an account from the 19th century that draws on and quotes primary material written in the 18th century. There are multiple instances here of language that ranges from racially insensitive to downright repugnant, when read from a 21st century perspective. These passages are included – have been allowed to remain –  because they are integral to the meaning and substance of the unique and irreplaceable historical documents being referenced, and not because I as an individual in any way agree with or endorse these characterizations.

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from  Samuel GreenThe Groton Historical Series,  Vol. III, pp. 126-134, Groton, 1893.

THE following story of a Groton family appeared originally in the “Boston Daily Traveller,” March 8, 1890. It was written by Mr. Stephen Olin Sherman, a well‑known journalist of Boston, who has been connected with that newspaper for nearly twenty years. Mr. Sherman is a son of the Reverend Dr. David and Catherine Bardwell (Moody) Sherman, and was born at Blandford in this State, on April 29, 1849. He entered Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, in 1868, but left college during his Sophomore year.

A FATED FAMILY

A True Story of Provincial Life in New England

The Indian troubles which are known in our early history as “Queen Anne’s War” broke out in I702, when England resumed hostilities with France and Spain, and continued up to the time of the Peace of Utrecht, which was signed in 17I3. For many years prior to that time the Indians all along the northern border of New England had been trading with the French settlers in Canada, and with the Dutch in northern New York, neither of whom were friendly to the little English colonies, and the savages in many instances acting under the direction of the French, and always with their active sympathy and co‑operation, made frequent incursions upon the frontier, where even the utmost vigilance did not always insure the lives and property of the inhabitants.

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