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
Aside from the flawed article on the 1932 town warrant and the mesmerizing charisma of the favored resident (William Wharton), the town didn't follow its own established practices in use for years before and years after the Feb. 1, 1932, Town Meeting. At all other Town Meetings, articles looking to discontinue a town way provided specific information about the road.
For example, the last road to be discontinued before 1932 was on Feb. 3, 1930. Article 12 of the 1930 Town Meeting read, "To see if the Town will vote to close Short road on property of F.A. Martin, between School House No. 10 and Red Barn, which runs from State Highway to Prescott Road."
The first road to be considered for discontinuance after 1932 was on May 2, 1936. Article 11 was, "To see if the Town will vote to close as a public highway the road running from Lowell Rd. to Martin's Pond Road, starting back of Howard Gilson's house and known as Shattuck Street, or take any action thereon."
The challenge today is knowing the precise location of Martin's Pond Road and Shattuck Street/Road. They both had the habit of changing their location from one year to the next. The most consistent location of Shattuck Street/Road are the street listings prepared by the assessors.
The Shattuck referred to in Article 11 at the 1936 Town Meeting has to be where today's Shattuck Street is located. If all the games over the location of Martin's Pond Road didn't take place, Shattuck would have remained the same road described by Caleb Butler in 1828 as the road to John Woods' house. Article 11 from the 1936 Town Meeting and James Fitzpatrick Jr.'s 1938 death certificate make it abundantly clear there were two roads with the Shattuck name.
To eliminate confusion, Shattuck Road as it ran past the Mistress might have had its name changed to Dan Parker Road. If this were the case, the newly named Dan Parker Road where it met Martin's Pond Road was abandoned to the east or to the south to the Dunstable Road. This makes you question why all the assessors and poll tax lists after 1932 show the Fitzpatricks living on Shattuck? Did anyone in town hall bother to talk to each other?
The first map to use the name Dan Parker Road is Groton's 1936 Traffic Flow Map. None of the roads shown on the map are classified as discontinued or private, therefore, Dan Parker Road has to be a public road and not the road eluded to at the Feb. 1, 1932, Groton Town Meeting. This is a paltry four years after Shattuck was renamed Dan Parker Road and then abandoned from Martin's Pond Road to the Dunstable Road.
You have to ask, why would town officials want to know how many cars were using an abandoned road? By looking at the map you can see Dan Parker Road from the Dunstable Town Line to its intersection with Raddin Road had more traffic than Raddin Road. The same section of Dan Parker Road had a traffic flow similar to Chicopee Row and Martin's Pond Road. From where Raddin Road began at Chicopee Row, the traffic flow was no different from Dan Parker Road as it ran south to Martin's Pond Road. According to the map, without question, there was measurable traffic on Dan Parker Road.
Then, there's the 1940 Groton Assessors Map E. It clearly shows everything you would want to see about the 1772 layout as well as the 1868 and 1869 layouts for Raddin Road and the road on the east side of the Mistress. The assessors map doesn't have a legend; therefore, all the roads shown on the map must have the same status. Just as the selectmen's minutes from 1930 to 1956 are missing, so are the town's directions for creating the 1940 assessors map. Disposal of information that should be kept in perpetuity invites interpretations by individuals with uninformed fantasies and poor research skills.
Those individuals are not capable of finding information that's not at their immediate fingertips. The missing information allows the town to see only what it wants to see rather than what the facts tell. If anyone knew the real status of Groton's roads, it would be Harlan Fitch.