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
It's not known when Ellis Barron or any of the other settlers arrived in Groton. The town received its charter on May 23, 1655, but it didn't mean any of the named settlers were living in Groton. Four years later, in 1659, the town remained unpopulated. As a result, an investigation was conducted based on a complaint from John Tinker. He arrived in town a few years earlier and established a trading post on the Nashua River to trade with the Indians. The problem was, none of the expected settlers showed up. They were a needed component for carrying on a successful trade with the Indians. Tinker said the town, "continueth unpeopled, and so like to remain, unless by this honourable Court some wise and judicious committee be empowered to order and dispose of all points thereabout; after which no doubt it will grow and prosper."
The delay might have been due to apprehension over some serious dangers. Many of the early settlements located 30 and 40 miles outside of Boston were established as a ring of protection to keep Boston safe from the Indians. There were no houses for immediate occupancy and no cleared land ready for planting. By late 1662 or early 1663 several of the originally named settlers were in Groton. Ellis Barron appears to be one of the settlers. He would have been about 31 years of age. He served the town in a variety of ways by being one of the town's highway surveyors. In 1666 Ellis was about the business of making two doors, two pair of stairs and the upper floor to the town's first meeting house. Then, in 1667, Ellis was one of four agents in charge of getting a grist mill up and running.
John Prescott from Lancaster was chosen to build and operate the mill. To lure Prescott into coming to Groton, Ellis Barron, James Parker, James Knopp, and John Page offered Prescott a five hundred acre grant. The location of the land would be Prescott's choice, as long as it was in town. There would be no taxes and no competition for twenty years, provided the mill was conveniently constructed on the five hundred acres. Ultimately, the selected mill site was located on what is now called Baddacook Brook. Once in operation, two days of work at the mill had to be given for each house lot or family living in Groton. Ellis's service to the town continued as a fence viewer in 1670, and as a selectman in 1671. Barron's contributions to the town may appear to be marginal on the surface, but he contributed and risked significantly more than a majority of the other original settlers.
Toward the end of King Philip's War, tragedy struck the town in the spring of 1676. On March 2, the Pequawket Indians launched an attack against the town. A week later on March 9, they returned, and then on March 13, they leveled the town. Not a single house was spared from the torch's wrath. Only the town's four garrisons remained standing. Discouraged and worn, dodging ambush and war-hoops, the settlers fled to neighboring towns. At some point, Ellis Barron might have returned to Watertown. If he did, it wasn't soon enough. News of the attack in Groton may have caused the second tragedy. On October 30, 1676, seven months after the full force and vengeance of the final Indian attack, Ellis Barron's father died. The exact cause of death is unknown, but emotional duress can't be eliminated.
Once the War was over and things settled down, Ellis was back in Groton rebuilding everything he had lost. On a list of seventy-three heads of families returning to Groton sometime after 1680, Ellis Barron and an Ellis Barron, Jr. appear. Ellis, Jr. would have been 25 years old and just turning 21 at the time of the Indian attack. By 1693, an Ellis Barron was again serving the town as a Groton Selectman. The question is, was the selectman the senior Ellis or the Junior Ellis? From 1683 until the early 1700s, Groton's settlers continued their daily struggle to produce adequate quantities of food and secure whatever meager comforts they may have had in a menacing and unforgiving wilderness. Indian attacks were a constant threat until the early 1740s. Afterwards the attacks were significantly reduced when a belt of protection was drawn along the westerly side of Groton by establishing several new frontier settlements.
Continued next week.