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
By 1834 Nicholas sectioned off a part of his house so that he could deal in West Indian Goods. He sold just about everything anyone could imagine. Rum and brandy sold for 12 and 13 cents a pint. A quart of molasses brought 10 cents. Rice was 5 cents a pound, crackers were 6 cents a dozen, sugar was 10 cents a pound, fish 4 cents a pound, and eggs brought between 16 and 17 cents a dozen. His profit margin is unknown.
In 1835 Patrick Haviland started to board at the Fitzpatricks where he began clerking. He was smitten by Catherine Fitzpatrick and married her on February 9, 1834. Then, in 1841, Nicholas sold to the City of Lowell, two forty foot lots, thereby reducing the size of his house lot. Each of the lots brought $1,500.00; thus making it possible to help his son James with the purchase of the Woods farm in Groton.
James and his wife Elizabeth Quigley were married June 2, 1842. By the time Nicholas finalized the purchase of the Mistress on September 18, 1843, James and his wife Elizabeth hardly had time to move into their new quarters before their first child arrived on September 29, 1843, eleven days after the Mistress was purchased. Elizabeth had been literally the girl across the street after her family moved to Lowell from Boston. James and Elizabeth had seven children all together. Three of them were girls and four of them were boys. Nicholas, Mary Ann, and Edward were delivered in Lowell. Catherine, Teresa, James, and John were born at the Mistress in Groton.
Shortly after James's tenure began, the Mistress's domain grew to a smidge over 200 acres. A 33 acre plot was added to the domain on November 19, 1849, and then, a second purchase of 37 acres was added on July 7, 1852. James made these purchases without the assistance of his father. In time, the farm became one of the largest dairy farms in the area. The herd averaged around 14 cows. The average for Groton was two or three, but one or two Groton farms had herds of over 20.
Additionally, James Fitzpatrick was one of the larger market gardeners. Presumably, produce was sold in Lowell through his father and brother, as well as to the store run by Potter and Gerrish on Main Street in Groton, and in Dunstable to William Dunn's store on the corner of Pleasant and Main Street.
James also constructed one of the largest barns in the area. It was largely financed by the sale of 45 acres to Daniel and Alpheus Swallow for three thousand dollars. In 1874, that was a prodigious sum to pay when most farms could be purchased for much less, including the buildings. The parcel was pretty much useless to a dairy and produce farm, due to its being primarily shale and ledge. The 45 acre sale reduced the size of the Mistress's domain to approximately a 156 acres. This would be after the original purchase of 130 acres plus the 33 acres purchased in 1849 and the 38 acres in 1852. These latter two transactions were with Catherine Cummings. She was the widow of John Cummings and it was her husband who had purchased the land out of the John Woods debacle in 1831 when John fled to Brooklyn to escape debtors prison .
As an individual, James Fitzpatrick seems to be the sort of person you would just naturally respect. He was hard working, tolerant, and exceedingly talented. If you were a person of prejudice, these sterling qualities didn't matter. James was Irish, but more important than this, he was Catholic. The environment in Groton was categorically Protestant and proudly unfettered by any of the tenets of Rome. Groton was steeped in Yankee tradition.
More than likely, James and his family were at first looked upon as a curiosity. As more Catholics moved into town, they became a nuisance, but the Fitzpatricks seem to have been the exception because they were the first Irish Catholic family to arrive in Groton. This doesn't mean the Fitzpatricks didn't encounter Yankee prejudice eyeball to eyeball. The thick Irish brogue elicited constant ridicule.
An example of some of the more extreme prejudice occurred about 1870 to Teresa Fitzpatrick. She was in high school and the only Catholic girl in the class. Toward the end of the year her teacher, Mr. Weaver, was replaced by a Miss Reed. Within a couple of weeks after Miss Reed replaced Mr. Weaver, Miss Reed started picking on Teresa. When it was time to go home at the end of the day, Teresa kept finding her hat and coat on the floor. She knew she had placed them on the proper hook and suspected someone was up to mischievous behavior.
One day Miss Reed saw Teresa picking up her hat and coat. Teresa asked her if she knew who was throwing her things on the floor. Whenever she found out who it was, she was going to fix them. Reed responded by saying she was the one that put them on the floor. It was the only place good enough for a Paddy's clothes. Teresa grabbed Reed by the collar, which at the time was made from paper and gave her a sound slap. This scared the teacher and caused her to cry and run away. Surprisingly, Teresa finished the school year. She married Patrick Flynn on September 7, 1873 and eventually lived on Tarbell Street, not far from the old Prescott Hotel until her death in 1943, at the age of 92.
Another display of Yankee prejudice occurred when Catherine Fitzpatrick married Henry R. Hartwell. He lived on Chicopee Row just a few yards from where it intersected Raddin Road.