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
From this backdrop of survival in a howling wilderness, the paths of the Barrons and the Bowers crossed. Samuel Barron's father, Ellis Jr., and grandfather, Ellis Sr., were not in good health. A place closer to the center of town would be safer and a lot more convenient. Samuel Bowers from Chelmsford, on the other hand, had recently married Esther Satley Sawtell and needed a place to live. The two parties came together in 1710. Samuel Barron purchased a house near the center of town, presumably to be close to his ailing father and grandfather.
Samuel Bowers' first child was born in Groton. The birth couldn't have happened in Groton unless the Bowers were living in Groton, even though Samuel Bowers didn't become the owner of record to Samuel Barron's house until April 11, 1711. That same year, Samuel Barron's father, Ellis Jr., died at the estimated age of 56. Then, in 1712, Samuel Barron's grandfather, Ellis Sr. died. Ellis Senior's wife died the same year. As for Samuel Bowers, all seven of his children were born in Groton in a house on land that became part of the Mistress's domain. Samuel and his seven children were the enticing appeal for Samuel's father, Jerathmeel Bowers. coming to Groton. All he needed was his freedom. It came on March 4, 1721 when Jerathmeel's wife, Elizabeth died. Jerathmeel had two other sons besides Samuel. The eldest lived in Billerica and the youngest remained in Chelmsford. He also had three daughters, but it was his son Samuel he chose to be near.
While Samuel Bowers and the three generations of the Barrons are important, Jerathmeel Bowers is the star. If it weren't for him, the Mistress would not have been built in 1722, but Jerathmeel's uniqueness runs much deeper than the Mistress. Jerathmeel Bowers wasn't an ordinary person. Other men looked up to him as a man's man because he didn't wait for things to happen. He made them happen. The trait was learned at an early age.
When Jerathmeel was two years old, his father was in court for voting in Cambridge where he wasn't a freeman. If he stayed in Scituate where he was a freeman, there wouldn't have been a problem. Being a freeman in Scituate didn't guarantee the privileged status that existed in Cambridge. The next year, in 1653, Jerathmeel saw the wrath of Puritanism when his half brother was fined, whipped and jailed for marrying a non-Puritan. When he was six, his father died. The following year, in 1657, his mother married Henry Bowtell. Henry and Jerathmeel's mother may not have set the best example to follow for the period prior to their marriage.
In 1770, at the age of 20, Jerathmeel was convicted of premarital fornication with Elizabeth Wilder. State statute said, "That if any man commit fornication, with any single woman, they shall be punished, either by enjoining marriage, or fine, or corporal punishment, or all or any of these, as the judge of the Court that hath Cognizance of the case shall appoint". To knowingly allow this sort of activity to exist out of wedlock with a single maiden was against the law, dishonored God and damaged the parties. That would have been 1671. Jerathmeel called Elizabeth an ordinary whore, a burnt tail bitch, and a hopping toad.
There were only three ways Jerathmeel could have gotten caught. The first was to be found engaged in the actual act itself. The second would have been for some of Jerathmeel's wild oats to sprout, leaving his mistress holding the bag while it grew bigger and bigger each day, until it could no longer be hidden, or when the child was born. Not only was sex outside of marriage illegal, but unwed mothers were required to give the name of their child's father.
In any event, no formal marriage ever occurred. Jerathmeel and Elizabeth were enjoined by the court. On March 26, 1671, Jerathmeel's stepfather, Henry Bowtell, was ordered out of Cambridge. Of course, Jerathmeel's mother followed her husband to Chelmsford. Jerathmeel's mother and stepfather had to know Jerathmeel and Elizabeth were cavorting around the house engaging themselves in premarital activities. Most dwellings of the period were no more than three or four rooms clustered around a central chimney. Interior walls weren't much thicker than a strong smidge over two and a half inches. Insulation didn't exist to deaden the sound of each labored breath and gasp for air. The euphoric ecstasy could be heard from every corner of the house. Sexual activity of any description would be observable in such close quarters. On April 4, 1671, the court in Cambridge prohibited Jerathmeel from going to Chelmsford with his parents, but it didn't stop him from going there after turning 21. The 1671 date is the giveaway. It keeps reappearing. On April 20, 1671, just a few days before Jerathmeel turned 21, his guardians, Edmond Oakes and John Cooper, released their guardianship of the estate that was left to Jerathmeel by his father.
Sometime after the first few days of May, and no later than the end of December 1671, Jerathmeel and Elizabeth had their first child in Chelmsford.
To be continued.