This is a serialization of the new book written by Carl Flowers, owner of Silveus Plantation, the subject of "Groton's Anonymous Mistress." This 300-year-old house is accessed by Kemp Street near the boundary of Groton and Dunstable.
By Carl Flowers
In 1932, a new road by the name of Dan Parker Road comes into the Mistress' drama of anonymity. At the February 1, annual town meeting, Groton voted to abandon Dan Parker Road from Martin's Pond Road to the Dunstable Road. Of course we don't know where Martin's Pond Road really ended in 1932. The only way this could be accomplished is for Dan Parker Road to exist south or east of Martin's Pond Road. Prior to 1932 there is no record of a road being laid out by the name of Dan Parker Road...
William Wharton owned many acres south and east of the 100-plus acres once owned by Dan Parker, abutting Shattuck Road. Parker purchased a farm with twenty-six acres more or less in 1865. An additional seventy-five acres with buildings was purchased in 1890.
According to the Resident and Business Directory of Ayer and Groton for 1888, Dan Parker lived on Shattuck and not Dan Parker Road. Seven years after Daniel Parker's 1890 purchase, he died from heart failure at the age of seventy-five. The hundred or so acres once owned by Daniel Parker became the possession of William P. Wharton in 1930. The Wharton ownership explains a few things.
Wharton's ownership unscrambles the riddle of why the warrant to abandon Dan Parker Road is so flawed. William P. Wharton was a town favorite. He was born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth and went to Harvard University. A Harvard classmate of Wharton's was the newly elected President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt. With this connection, Wharton's pedigree seized the attention and cooperation from attendees at the 1932 town meeting. Specifics about the location of Dan Parker Road weren't important. The blemished warrant said, "To see if the Town will vote to close certain roads within the limits of the Town of Groton." State statute at the time said, "No action shall be valid unless the subject matter thereof is contained in the warrant."
The question is this. Does the word "roads" meet the state requirement of the subject being stated in the article? On the other hand, must the name of the road be given to satisfy the subject matter requirement? A road name isn't given in the warrant because it never had a name until it was abandoned, nor was it shown on any map or listed in any of the assessor's records. The section of town in which the road is located is not given. The names of residents affected by the change are not given. You don't even know if the road being closed was a public road or private road. The town could close both types.
You have to question why would anyone want to sit through a town meeting on a cold February morning if the road being considered for closing didn't pass by your front door? The fact of the matter is, the overwhelming majority of the town's voting residents didn't bother to attend the town meeting on February 1, 1932. The vote was seventy-six in favor and three against closing Dan Parker Road. That makes the total number of voters attending the February town meeting a paltry 79 individuals or eight percent of the 976 folks who voted that same day for individuals seeking election to various town offices.
Obviously, the town meeting was a hefty jaw-breaking yawn to the vast majority of voters. Polls were open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. The town meeting began at 9 a.m. leaving the town's business in the hands of the "Town Hall Club" who followed the request of one of its favored members. Dan Parker Road had to run exclusively through William Wharton's land because no one had ever heard of Dan Parker Road prior to the February 1, 1932 Groton Town Meeting.
Aside from the flawed article on the 1932 town warrant and the mesmerizing charisma of the favored resident, the town didn't follow its own established practices in use for years before and years after the February 1, 1932 town meeting. At all other town meetings articles looking to discontinue a town way provided specific information about the road.