This is a serialization of the new book written by Carl Flowers, owner of Silveus Plantation, the subject of "Groton's Anonymous Mistress." The 300-year-old home is accessed by Kemp Street near the boundary of Groton and Dunstable.
By Carl Flowers
Presumably, all of the plaintiffs recovered their losses as the Mistress and her contents were sold from one creditor to another. The winning bidder for the Mistress at auction was Simon Farnsworth. He sold the Mistress to John Cummings in June 1831 who had loaned young John (Woods) five hundred dollars in January 1831.
Cummings lived on the same road as young John Woods, a good hardy stone's throw away. It was just over the hill and around the curve where Unkety Brook passed in back of the Cummings house. Behind the house, right in the middle of the brook sat John Cummings' saw mill. Wonderfully located, the mill had provided every salivating wish young John Woods might have had for building the Mistress's south ell, in conformity to the Early Greek Revival style of architecture. The five-hundred dollar note Cummings held was most likely the payment for mill work.
On December 15, 1831, John Cummings sold the Mistress to Isaac Woods, who was a distant cousin of young John. Isaac's twelve hundred dollars got him the Mistress and her other buildings along with fifty acres that abutted the eighty acres Isaac already owned. The transaction made the Mistress's domain one hundred and thirty acres, instead of the three hundred phony acres young John claimed to have had. Whatever the acreage was, all but fifty acres were retained by Cummings. Isaac Woods made his living by farming and brought his wife Eliza Shattuck and five of his progeny to the Mistress.
The Shattuck name is a unique association to the Mistress. Eliza's father and grandfather fought in the Revolutionary War, but it was Eliza's grandfather Job Shattuck Sr. who achieved notoriety as a leader in Shay's Rebellion. Job was tried for high treason, convicted and sentenced to be hanged but was freed two days before his scheduled execution. Shay's Rebellion was about encouraging farmers to resist paying Massachusetts high taxes and the confiscation of farms and livestock when taxes weren't paid. Taxes were extremely difficult to pay following our independence from England due to the inflated value of our currency.
Eliza's grandmother was a patrol woman in Prudence Wright's guard and dressed as a man to help prevent British sympathizers from crossing Jewetts Bridge over the Nashua River to give information to the British. During the ten years Isaac and Eliza lived at the Mistress, four additional children were born. Isaac's last child came along just four months before his death on October 29, 1841, forcing Isaac's widow to exercise her dower's right. Eliza and her under-age brood of nine were placed under the guardianship of Daniel Shattuck. Isaac's widow took up residence at the old Samuel Bowers homestead.
The Mistress and her domain was once again sold at public auction. Joel Gilson of Dunstable became the Mistress's new owner on April 29, 1843 , when he paid $1,770. Not long after, Gilson sold the Mistress and her domain to Nicholas Fitzpatrick on September 18, 1843, for $1,950. This transaction brought the first Irish Catholic family to Groton.
Chapter 5: The Fitzpatricks
Joel Gilson owned the Mistress 18 weeks when he sold her to Nicholas Fitzpatrick. From the day of his purchase, Gilson had no intention of keeping the Mistress. Instead, he wanted to help Nicholas Fitzpatrick.
The 18 weeks gave Nicholas the needed time to get his affairs in order so that he could make the purchase. Originally, Gilson paid Daniel Shattuck $1,770 for the Mistress and her 130 acre domain. The April 29, 1843 transaction between Gilson and Daniel Shattuck didn't include a mortgage.
When Fitzpatrick closed on the Mistress, his purchase included a mortgage of $1,400, payable to Daniel Shattuck. It wasn't an assumed mortgage from Joel Gilson but was instead a new mortgage. The shuffle caused the price to jump to $1,950. Gilson made $180 in profit. Nicholas Fitzpatrick made a $520 down payment on September 18, 1843. The whole transaction appears to be a statement of endorsement to Nicholas Fitzpatrick's integrity and prominence in Lowell.
Nicholas Fitzpatrick learned about the Mistress because of where he lived. His Lowell residence was just a few yards west of what would have been in the middle of the block on the north side of Lowell Street. He took residence there late in 1831 or early 1832. Eventually, his residence on Lowell Street became known as 75 Market Street. At the east end of Lowell Street, a large market-house was completed in 1837. It was a brick building 150 feet long and 45 feet wide, with three stories. The first floor was divided into 22 stalls where meat, fish and vegetable vendors gathered to peddle their goods. The second and third floors were courtrooms for the county court, police, city courts, offices and jury rooms. It was the perfect place for the Fitzpatricks to learn about the Mistress. The market-place was the most likely location for Daniel Shattuck, Joel Gilson and the Fitzpatricks to get acquainted with each other.
The Lowell Probate Court that authorized the sale of the Mistress and her domain was just down the street from the Fitzpatricks at the end of the block on the second or third floor of the market-house. Daniel Shattuck's flyers advertising the Mistress's sale could easily have been seen in the stall area where the yeomen and husbandmen sold their goods at the market-house. More than likely, Joel Gilson from Dunstable, was one of the hucksters. If he wasn't, he could have been a door-to-door peddler.
Either way, Gilson might have supplied farm products to Nicholas Fitzpatrick. Not long after the Lowell Street property was purchased by Nicholas Fitzpatrick in 1831, he started taking in boarders. Meals had to be provided to them. These meals undoubtedly necessitated frequent purchases of farm products. Dunstable wasn't a prohibitive distance to Lowell's market-house. From 1832 until the purchase of the Mistress in 1843, a relationship must have developed between the Fitzpatricks and Joel Gilson.