GROTON -- At first, it was something to keep him busy over the long winter months until the planting season came around again.
But in writing his new book, local farmer Carl Flowers also wanted to correct the record regarding the almost 300-year-old house he calls home.
"It's a history of my house and has to do with all the people who've lived in it over the years," said Flowers whose farm, Silveus Plantation, is accessed by way of Kemp Street.
"But what was very interesting to me was that my house has not really been covered in any of the histories of Groton. There's a book written on Groton houses that is supposedly the last word on houses in Groton but my house isn't mentioned in it at all. And my house is one of the oldest in Groton! It was built in 1722. I spent three, four, five years researching all the houses in Groton built before 1960 and my house was not included in that study.
"In fact, my house isn't really mentioned in any of the books published about Groton history," said Flowers. "James Fitzpatrick Sr., who lived from 1842 to 1943 and whose family was the first Irish Catholic to live in Groton, lived in my house, a house that also has connections to the Longley and Shattuck families."
Flowers' new book, titled "Groton's Anonymous Mistress," refers to his house which, like seafaring ships or "Star Trek's" Enterprise, he prefers to characterize in feminine terms.
"I call my house 'mistress' because the word is a feminine
Flowers really began to be acquainted with his house in 1980, after he inherited the farm from his aunt and uncle who first bought it themselves in 1949.
Since then, Flowers has worked the farm which, among other things, included the growing of Christmas trees. More recently, Silveus Plantation has branched out to chickens, bees and sheep in an experiment to find out how many different kinds of activities can be supported on the same piece of acreage.
But like any farm, there was still a lot of down time during the winter months, time that Flowers decided to use productively by researching and writing a book about his house.
"I decided to write a book about the house because nobody knows about it and also because of the attitude that certain people have taken about it," said Flowers. "When it comes to the history of my house, some people have said that I don't know what I'm talking about."
The result was a years-long effort beginning over a decade ago, when Flowers spent most of his time haunting places where records were kept of real-estate dealings in Massachusetts.
"I've done a lot of research for the book," said Flowers. "I went through the records in the Groton Town Hall, the state archives and the Lowell registry of deeds. I also spent a lot of time doing a title search at the Cambridge registry. In addition, I've read all the histories of Groton and so have been able to make the connection with the Longley name and genealogy. I found out for instance, that Lt. John Woods and his wife, Sarah Longley, both died in the house. Sarah was Lydia Longley's aunt. And Lydia, as everyone knows, was the girl who was kidnapped by Indians and taken to Canada where she eventually became the first American nun."
Not unfamiliar with the rigors of historical research, Flowers was finally able to garner enough information to draw a good picture of people and events surrounding his house.
"I have had a couple of things published in the past," said Flowers of previous experiences that helped him in preparing his most ambitious literary project to date. "I wrote a history of the Lyndeborough Glass Works for the New Hampshire Quarterly and an article about the Georgian four-mile portions for the Georgia Historical Quarterly."
"Groton's Anonymous Mistress" is scheduled to be serialized with illustrations in the Groton Landmark newspaper beginning with the July 27 edition.
Although Flowers said he has not yet lined up a publisher for the book, he intends to do so soon after the serialization.
When published, said Flowers, the book is expected to come to 179 pages and cover the history of his house from builder and first owner Jeraphmeel Bowers to Flowers' own possession.
"I just enjoyed doing it," said Flowers of the entire project. "It's written for anybody that's interested in history."
Flowers said that anyone with such information or who would simply like to talk to him about the book can either write to him the old fashioned way or telephone.
"If there's anyone with more information on my house that didn't make it into the book, I'd love to hear it," said Flowers.
But with the conclusion of "Groton's Anonymous Mistress," Flowers' winter months are once again open. Will there be a new literary project in the works?
"I don't know yet," admitted Flowers. "But I'm thinking of another book project that I might call 'Christmas With the Mistress,' about my experiences growing Christmas trees. I've got a number of interesting stories I could tell about it."
Hopefully, however, Flowers' readers will not have to wait another 10 years to enjoy his next product.