Native American Trail in the Greater Merrimack Valley
The Native American history of Acton dates back to the Middle Archaic Period (8,000-6,000 B.P.) with confirmed sites from this period and the Late Archaic Period (6,000-3,000 B.P.) through the Woodland Periods (3,000-450 B.P.). Many areas of Acton were good campsites with presumed hunting and fishing areas along Nashoba and Fort Pond Brooks as well as Nagog Pond. European settlement began in 1655 as part of Concord’s “New Grant,” when the first Concord farmers moved west for pasture and farmland. The 1,000-acre Concord Iron Works Farm, with much of the land in Acton, was established in ca. 1660.Charcoal to fuel the ironworks was produced here on the part of the farm that eventually became South Acton.
South Acton was the center of the early industrial activity with the first fulling mill and sawmill on Fort Pond Brook in operation by 1706. Early roads followed the brook where Native Americans had made trails. School Street connected Concord with South Acton and eventually Central Street led west to West Acton where farmland was abundant. Great Road (Rt. 2A/119) and most of Main Street (Rt. 27) also were early roads following former Native American trails along Nashoba Brook.
Nagog Pond is a 284-acre Great Pond on the Acton-Littleton border, directly adjacent to the southern side of Route 2A. Nagog Pond can be viewed from several vantage points. It provides an important vista from the heavily traveled Great Road (Route 2A/119), which follows an old Native American trail along Nashoba Brook and Will’s Hole Brook to Nagog Pond. The road passes along the northeast edge of the pond. Views from Nashoba Road on the west side of the pond (in Littleton looking towards Acton) and a small glimpse from Nagog Hill Road on the southwest side also are picturesque.
Nashoba Brook is a main waterway through Acton flowing from Westford to Concord on a more or less north-south route. In Acton the northern part of the brook runs parallel to the northern part of Main Street (Route 27) until crossing under Great Road (Routes 2A/119) where it is joined by Nagog and Conant Brooks. Just south of Great Road, Nashoba Brook turns to flow in a southeasterly direction along the southwest side of Great Road and the old Framingham & Lowell Railroad. Below the pond it flows into Concord, passes under Route 2, and joins with Fort Pond Brook to flow into Warner’s Pond and the Assabet River. Nashoba Brook is rich with history from Native American campsites.
There is a stone chamber above Nashoba Brook in North Acton on town conservation land. Most likely a remnant from an historic farm; however some ask whether it may represent a Native American ceremonial site.
The Friends of Pine Hawk is an ad-hoc group of Acton citizens, town officials, and educators who came together in the summer of 2002 around one issue: to promote understanding of the archaeological and human story behind the great trove of Native American artifacts discovered at the “Pine Hawk” site in Acton. During the excavation for Acton’s new sewer plant in South Acton, an extraordinary record of Native American habitation was uncovered, a record extending back over 7,000 years. We believe a better understanding of this remarkable find enriches our community educationally and culturally. Acton is fortunate to have this “Pine Hawk” site, which is now recognized as one of the more significant Native American sites in New England.
Every October the Friends of Pine Hawk sponsor a series of events related to local archaeology and Native American topics. These events range from seminars and films to tours and family outings. They also sponsor book discussion series and events and created the Trail Through Time listed below.
Science Discovery Museum
177 Main Street, Acton, 978-264-4200 www.discoverymuseums.org
Native Americans lived along the Assabet River in Acton more than 7,000 years ago. Check out Discovery Museum programs and replicas of the artifacts uncovered by archaeologists at the Pine Hawk site.
Acton Town Hall
472 Main St., Acton, (978) 929-6620
There is a wonderful exhibit on Pine Hawk on the first floor, turn left upon entering. A number of artifacts are displayed, along with contextual information. There are site maps and photographs outside the Engineering Department in Town Hall.
Acton Memorial Library
486 Main Street, Acton, www.actonmemoriallibrary.org/pinehawk
In addition to a brochure on Pine Hawk Site, the Library also has three large, portable displays. When not traveling, the displays are mounted near the Reference Desk.
ACTON TRAIL THROUGH TIME.
The Trail Through Time (TTT) is a heritage trail in the conservation lands of North Acton, Massachusetts, which offers visitors more than a journey into the past. The two-mile trail meanders through hardwood forests and beside wetlands alive with birds and frogs during the summer. Two footbridges offer picturesque views of the Nashoba Brook as it rushes past mossy banks. Above the floodplain, the Trail connects a series of sites with archaeological remains of stone structures from two distinct cultures.
Here, Native Americans, who lived in this region for at least eight thousand years, conducted ceremonial practices along a swath of sacred landscape that extends from present-day Lincoln through these Acton lands to Littleton. Though modest, many small stone structures related to these ceremonies remain scattered through the woodland.
European-descended farmers began to establish farms here in the mid-1600s, and after King Philip’s War in 1676, the Native American presence diminished rapidly. By the 1700s, the new ‘Americans’ were raising beef cows, vegetable crops, and apples for cider where formerly the Indians had hunted, raised corn, squash, and beans, and fished the plentiful streams. And by the 1800s, many mills were using Nashoba Brook to grind flour, cut lumber, and manufacture pencils.
Rock quarries, rock-strewn sluiceways, stone walls, and enigmatic stone piles remain as evidence of these bi-cultural activities and beg to be explored by children of all ages. A storage chamber built into a hillside beckons visitors to explore its dark interior. Sites sacred to Native Americans, but hidden for centuries by the encroaching forest, guard the Trail.
Well-marked trails, sturdy bridges, and boardwalks guide visitors through this ancient and peaceful landscape to view the intriguing remains of a once vibrant focus of human activity.
ACTON TRAIL THROUGH TIME map: http://www.actonmemoriallibrary.org/pinehawk
Native American sites in Ashby have not been documented; yet there are known artifact findings (according to the history in the Open Space and Recreation Plan) and it is likely that Native Americans traveled along trails following Willard and Trapfall Brooks. European settlement in this hilly town near the New Hampshire border was later than most other Middlesex County towns. In 1767 Ashby was incorporated from parts of Ashburnham, Fitchburg and Townsend. At the time only 43 families were living here; that number rose substantially to 422 persons living in Ashby in 1775, for unidentified reasons. These first settlers traveled along roads that followed Native American trails. County Road to Main Street was an east-west route leading out to Watatic Pond.
Jewett Hill Caves: Some refer to these large rock outcroppings as the “Indian Caves” which are part of Ashby’s oral tradition about the town’s Native American heritage. They are located in the woods on Jewett Hill near West Road. Large slabs of rock form overhangs, which can be used as shelters. It has been reported that some artifacts have been found in the vicinity of these natural occurring caves.
Willard Brook State Forest: State Forest with more than 2,500 acres of park land in Ashby and Townsend. Land along the banks as well as the Lower Willard Brook and Trapfall Brook are protected by park ownership.
The Native American history of Ayer dates to the Early Woodland Period (3,000-2,000 B.P.*) with confirmed sites from this period and the Late Woodland Period (1,000-450 B.P.). The land along the Nashua River made good campsites with hunting and fishing nearby. Contact Period Nipmuck sites are suspected along the Nashua River, Nonacoicus Brook, Long Pond and Sandy Pond. Native American trails included Sandy Pond/Main Street along Nonacoicus Brook.
MacPherson Road extends along the east side of the Nashua River between Bishop Road on the north and West Main Street on the south. It is presently a two-lane paved road that is valued by community residents for its rural and scenic qualities. Land along the Nashua River and MacPherson Road iscontrolled by U.S. Fish & Wildlife as part of the Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge. The area also has a high likelihood of having archaeological resources associated with Native American use of the river corridor.
Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge: Many relics of early people found in the vicinity date back to 5500 B.C. Thousands of stone artifacts have been found in Concord alone. River meadows and plains were burned over to provide cropland an pasture for game, and the waters provided fish in great quantity for both food and fertilizer. The river provided transportation for the Native Americans’ annual summer movement to the sea, where the greater portion of their winter food was gathered and dried. Native Americans named the Concord River “Musketahquid,” meaning grassy banks. The early settlers called this area “Great River Meadow” because they could harvest hay along the grass banks when the water retreated each summer. Today, this 12-mile (19 km) stretch of freshwater wetlands is a sanctuary for migratory birds and wildlife. There are deer, cottontail rabbit, fox, raccoon, muskrat, beaver, weasel and over 200 species of birds seen here.
The city of Billerica originated from a Native American village of the early 1630s. At that time it was known as Shawsheen. There is a Native American burial site in the city that dates back to 1000 B.C. In 1638, Lt. Governor Thomas Dudley and Massachusetts Bay Governor John Winthrop were granted the land of present day Billerica and for the first time the city was settled by whites. They named the land Shawsheen Plantation. During the 1650s, families from Cambridge and Charlestown Village settled in this area. In 1655, the town of Billerica was incorporated.
The Francis Wyman House, designated a National Landmark, is one of the three oldest houses in Massachusetts. Francis Wyman built it in 1666 to serve as a garrison house to which farmers in the vicinity could flee in case of Indian attacks. The house has been restored by the Francis Wyman Association whose members meet here every year. It is known that during the early years of the house’s existence Indians did camp in the field across the road when they wished to barter with the settlers, although the main Indian encampment was on ground now occupied by Chestnut Hill Cemetery. Woburn records indicate that Francis Wyman was living on his farm during the King Philip’s War. The Wyman family tradition has the house occupied as a frontier post for the protection of farmers in the Shawshin area of Woburn, since 1799 a part of the Town of Burlington.
Located at the edge of the central highlands at the headwaters of the Merrimack River and Concord River, Boxborough’s lack of rivers and ponds suggests that it was not a major site of permanent native occupation prior to European settlement; however there are some documented sites dating to the Late Archaic Period (6,000-3,000 B.P.). In the late 17th century it may have been used as a resource area by the Indians of the Praying Town of Nashoba. Native trails leading to the interior may have followed the western corridor around Wolf Swamp; other trails are likely along the Beaver Brook esker near Muddy Pond and in the northeast part of town.
Beaver Brook: Flows from Boxborough to Littleton down the western edge of Boxborough under Route 495 to Wolf Swamp. Muddy Pond One-acre pond near esker in Beaver Brook Preserve west of Rt. 495.
The Boxborough Esker: The site is a series of three large earthen circles, each surrounded by a ditch, that Mavor and Dix believe to have Indian ritual significance. It is located next to Muddy Pond on the eastern side of the Boxborough esker on Beaver Brook. Owned by The Nature Conservancy, it may be accessed by a trail at the end of Swanson Road.
Half Moon Meadow Brook Reservation, Littleton Rd, Sudbury Valley Trustees: The stone structures in the reservation are allegedly Native American ceremonial sites
The geographic area that is now Carlisle was once part of four surrounding towns: Acton, Billerica, Chelmsford and Concord. Carlisle’s earliest inhabitants were Native Americans – the Musketaquid Indians who lived in this area for many thousands of years before the diseases brought by European settlers greatly reduced their numbers.
Heald House, 698 Concord Street: The Heald House, is the Carlisle Historical Society’s museum. It is open for visitors the third Sunday of the month, 2:00 – 4:00 pm, from April through October. During those times, free guided tours are offered of the house and its collections on both floors. The collections include documentary artifacts (books, photographs, letters, town records and a collection of 1,000 postcards). The artifacts document Carlisle’s history from its earliest times. There are a number of representative stone tools and points from the Native American period. Geological specimens also occur, in the form of rocks and minerals.
Great Brook State Farm 165 North Rd, 978-368-6312: Great Brook Farm State Park stands as a jewel in northern Massachusetts! Agriculture has been part of Great Brook’s history for centuries. Holsteins have been kept here for over 60 years and current farmer Mark Duffy continues the tradition with his black & white ladies. Native Americans used sections of Great Brook Farm as sacred sites. Seventeenth century cellar holes comprise “the city” where early English settlers worked one of numerous mill sites on the 1,000 acre park. There are over 20 miles of trails available for walkers, hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders. During the winter months, cross-country skiing is available and one trail is lantern lit for a “moon light” experience! Amidst the beautiful scenery lie 20 miles of trails for hiking, bicycling and horseback riding. Notable Native American sites can be seen from these paths. During the winter months, trail-grooming allows skiing enthusiasts to take part in cross-country skiing. One of the farm buildings has been converted to a ski rental concession.
The Chelmsford Historical Society, Inc, 40 Byam Rd, (978) 256-2311 http://www.chelmhist.org/indians.htm. The society is an educational and cultural resource for the Town of Chelmsford and the Merrimack Valley, dedicated to the preservation of the historical heritage of our town for the good of all of the people of Chelmsford. Open by appointment. The website includes Native American origins from History of Chelmsford by Wilson Waters. Part of collections include:
Native Americans called the Concord area Musketaquid or Marsh Grass River. The open grassy areas along the Assabet, Sudbury and Concord Rivers were critical to Concord’s earliest residents, important to Concord’s early European settlers, and are still a distinctive landscape type that is highly valued by Concord residents.
Flood Meadows: While there are many flood meadows along Concord’s rivers and streams, the area that is best known and most visible is at the junction of the Sudbury and Assabet Rivers where they meet to form the Concord River. Egg Rock, a distinctive glacial erratic, is located here as well. The flood meadows are most visible from Lowell Road (where there is a boat launch), from Nashawtuc Road and from Sudbury Road, with views also from Monument Street and Elm Street. Other important areas include land along the Concord River that is part of Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge and land along the Sudbury River in the southern part of town.
Minute Man National Historic Park, 231 Liberty Street www.nps.gov/mimia/. The collection includes objects from the late 17th through the early 20th centuries, as well as earlier Native American artifacts. Through historical records artifacts from many sites can be related to specific families and to homes that are no longer standing.
Concord Museum 200 Lexington Street 978-369-9763 • www.concordmuseum.org. The collection includes Paleo Indian Spearhead and information on the Patriots of Color. Between 20 and 40 colonists of the approximately 4,000 who fought on the Battle Road on April 19, 1775, were African or Native American.
Prior to the area’s European settlements in the mid-17th century, Dracut and the surrounding area was known as “Augumtoocooke,” and was the site of important Pennacook Indian settlements, due to the fishing grounds at Pawtucket Falls on the Merrimack River and the abundant hunting game in the surrounding marsh areas. From the late 16th to mid 17th centuries, the legendary sachem, Passaconaway and his family, spent much of their lives on this land.
Parts of the community were part of the Wamiset Praying Town, one of the preserves set aside by the colonists for Christianized Indians. The town has several large ponds, bogs and swamps, and numerous brooks (most notably Beaver Brook).
The Dracut Historical Society 1660 Lakeview Ave (978) 957-1701. The Society is open on Sunday afternoons from September through May and includes papers written on Native American History of the region.
Dunstable is a relatively rural town on the Massachusetts/New Hampshire border located along the eastern edge of the Nashua River. The documented Native American history of the community dates to the Late Archaic Period (6,000- 3,000 B.P.) with two confirmed sites from this period. In the 1600s the Nipmuc tribe was probably active in the Dunstable area, particularly along the Nashua River and Salmon Brook, and around the ponds. European settlers arrived in the area in the late 17th century and the town of Dunstable was established in 1673 with a total area of 200 square miles extending from Londonderry, New Hampshire to Chelmsford. The area was unstable after King Philip’s War and conflicts between Native Americans and European settlers continued into the 1730s. The boundaries of Dunstable fluctuated throughout the 18th century with large sections split off as new towns, many of which are now part of New Hampshire. Dunstable annexed a portion of Groton in 1747. The eastern portion of Dunstable was set off as Tyngsborough in 1789.
Blodgett House and Land: The Blodgett House (ca. 1726) on Pond Street is one of the earliest houses in Dunstable. It is a 2½-story five bay Colonial house with attached ell that is much different than the original homestead. The house is located back from the road and at a slightly lower elevation. The setting consists of 95 acres of land, primarily woodland. In its early years the house was reportedly used as one of four local garrison houses during conflicts with Native Americans.
Salmon Brook Corridor: Salmon Brook flows north through the center of Dunstable with Massapoag Pond at its southern end. It is wide and meandering for most of its length, with wetlands and beaver ponds along the edges in some places. Salmon Brook is typical of many heritage landscapes in that it has both natural and cultural assets.The corridor was probably used by Native Americans and was later dammed to provide a source of power for early mills.
Groton had for thousands of years been the territory of various cultures of indigenous peoples. They settled along the rivers for fishing and transportation. Historic tribes were Algonquian-speaking Nipmuc and Nashaway Indians. The Anglo-American Groton started with the trading post of John Tinker, who conducted business there with the Nashaway at the confluence of Nod Brook and the Nashua River. The Nashaway called the area Petapawag, meaning “swampy land.” Other pioneers followed the Algonquian trails from Massachusetts Bay, as Tinker had. They found the region productive for fishing and farming.
Groton Historical Society 172 Main Street, (978)-448-0092, Groton’s history extends far beyond its official land grant in 1655. On view is a selection of Native American artifacts found in Groton, a contemporaneous copy of the General Court’s reply to the petition for Groton Plantation, and other artifacts detailing Groton’s history before the Revolutionary War.
Native American trails passed through the Lexington area, which was probably used for hunting and gathering but to date has not been documented as a primary Native American settlement. Some evidence of campsites in the Middle and Late Archaic Periods (8,000-3,000 B.P.) has been found.
Lexington Historical Society, 13 Depot Square 781-862–1703. From its founding in 1886, the Society has gathered key collections and artifacts to preserve for future generations. While much of the focus in Lexington is often given to the Revolutionary era, the Society’s curatorial and archival holdings, more than 20,000 items, reflect Lexington’s rich history from the 1630s through present day.
Littleton was the location of the sixth Praying Indian village established by John Eliot called Nashoba Plantation, on the land between Lake Nagog and Fort Pond.
Littleton Historical Society 4 Rogers Street, 978-486-8202. The museum is open May- Sept on Wednesday afternoons or by appointment.
Sarah Doublet Forest, access on Nashoba Road. A 500 acre area set aside in 1714 for the remaining Indians after they sold off the Village that remained in Indian hands until 1736 when the last surviving member, Sarah Doublet, passed away. The site, now conservation land owned by the Town of Littleton, has interesting rock formations, remnants of corn planting mounds and stone springs.
The Native American history of Lincoln dates back to the Middle Archaic Period (8,000-6,000 B.P.) with confirmed sites from this period through the Contact Period (1500-1620). The banks of the Sudbury River and areas along the brooks made good campsites with hunting and fishing nearby. In the Contact Period the Massachusetts Indians were active in the area, especially along rivers, and established an early trail system that became the basis of later roads.
Archeological Site Old Bedford Road: At Battle Road Farm. Reported Native American burial ground. In poor condition.
Lincoln Public Library, 3 Bedford Rd, Lincoln, ( 781) 259-8465. Lincoln Historical Society creates engaging exhibits on local history displayed at the Lincoln Library.
In the 1600s, the two Native settlements that could be found within the limits of what is today the city of Lowell were called Pawtucket and Wamesit. In the first decades of the seventeenth century, the town of Pawtucket was a major New England Indian settlement. The community was situated close to the falls, which today are named after the town. Typical for New England Native settlements, where town or village sites were not infrequently moved, Pawtucket’s location sometimes changed in the general area around the falls. In 1653, the Puritan missionary John Eliot lobbied for the establishment of a “praying town,” a community for Native “Christian converts,” called Wamesit. This community, located where the Merrimack and the Concord rivers meet, just a short distance down river from the settlement of Pawtucket, was in what is today downtown Lowell, for more info on the two pennacook communities—Pawtucket and Wamesit. http://library.uml.edu/Clh/OH/ETHNO/EthnicityinLowell.pdf
Pawtucket Falls: A waterfall on the Merrimack River, named for the Indian Tribe whose members were the earliest known inhabitants of this area. The waterfall and rapids below it drop a total of 32 feet in a little under a mile. The Pawtucket’s village was on the north side of the Merrimack River near the falls. The residents took advantage of the Spring migration of Salmon, alewives and shad and would hunt and grow corn during other months of the year. The Wamesit Village was located few miles downstream on the south side of the river where the Concord River flowed into the Merrimack. There is a monument to Sachem Pascomway at the Falls.
Eliot Church 273 Summer St, Lowell, MA, US, 01852 · (978) 452-3383. Named after Puritan Leader John Eliot who first discovered Pawtucket falls in 1647 and for 24 years came in the Spring to preach to the Pawtuckets according to Daniel Gookin, superintendent of Indian Relations for the Massachusetts Bay Colony. His interest was not limited to saving their souls, he also advocated for their rights that their settlement would remain under their control. Praying Indian is a 17th century term referring to Native Americans of New England who converted to Christianity. While many groups are referred to by this term, it is more commonly used for tribes that were organized into villages, known as praying towns by Puritan leader John Eliot.
Fort Hill, 53 Park Ave E. Likely the site of settlement on the eastern bank of the river built as defensive structure. Pawtucket weakened by disease and war were vulnerable to attacks from neighbors. Repeated raids by and conflicts with MicMac, Narragansett and later years members of Iroquis Confederacy, likely built as a defensive structure in 1660-1670s.
Lower Locks on back of Pawtucket canal West. Location of the Wameset settlement, east side is Fort hill
Edson Cemetery, 1375 Gorham Street. City cemetery includes a statue of lower order of red men chief with headdress. Post civil war organizations. Also Pasaqunway leader of Penacook
Lowell National Historic Park 67 Kirk Street 978-970-5000
Sponsored Lowell Ethnicity report including Native American history; http://library.uml.edu/Clh/OH/ETHNO/EthnicityinLowell.pdf
The Greater Lowell Indian Cultural Association www.glica.net. GLICA is a family orientated group of Native American Indians that come together to acknowledge and share their religion, culture, spirituality and traditions in accordance with the ways of their Ancestors. GLICA is composed of many different tribes of people from various Indian Nations. Our strength lies in our diversity and our ability to live in the present while holding on the past and looking forward to the future of our people.
The area known today as Maynard is in Middlesex County and is located approximately 25 miles west of Boston. It was initially part of the towns of Sudbury and Stow. Prior to European settlement, the area was occupied by the Nipmuc tribe, a subgroup of the Nashaway. A recent archaeological investigation has revealed a significant number of Native American artifacts. Maynard has 24 documented ancient Native American sites dating back to the Middle Archaic Period (8,000-6,000 B.P.) and representing all periods that followed through the three Woodland Periods (3,000-450 B.P.). The town also has 13 documented historic archaeological sites.
Walking tours of Maynard: http://www.townofmaynard-ma.gov/resources/walkmaynard/. Created by Historical Commission member Peg Brown which includes Assabet River National Refuge site and Puffer pond/
Pepperell Historical Society, 50 Shattuck St. The Pepperell Historical Society is a 501(C) 3 corporation. The primary goal of the organization is to preserve and create an awareness of the legacy left by the citizens of Pepperell over the last three hundred years.
Buck Skin Gallery, 147 South Rd, (978) 433-9702. Dealers in fine Native American and western frontier art, traditional and ceremonial drums, original and collector series sculptures, handcrafted silver/turquoise jewelry, 1700’s and 1800’s clothing patterns, Native American flutes and music, garment quality hides, historical reference books, and Leanin’ Tree specialty cards.
Shirley’s first inhabitants were either Nipmuc (or Pennacook) Indians, who called the area Catacunemaug. Once part of “The Plantation of Groton,” Shirley was first settled about 1720. It broke away from Groton to be incorporated in 1753. The town was named in honor of William Shirley, governor of Massachusetts (1741–1757
Shirley Historical Society Museum 182 Center Road, 978-425-9328
The society is open most Saturdays and Mondays from 10am -1pm
Some documentation shows that Native Americans used this area as early as the Middle Archaic Period (8,000-6,000 B.P.). During more recent pre-European settlement periods of development, Stow was known as Pompositticut, a name given by the Native Americans who traveled through this territory, made paths and cleared land on which to grow maize. The first known road passing through Pompositticut (Stow) was laid out in 1646, connecting Sudbury to Lancaster. This was an important step towards European settlement, which occurred later here than in the surrounding towns. The first European settlers arrived in ca.1660 and in 1683 Pompositticut Plantation was incorporated as the town of Stow. The first meetinghouse was built two years later in 1685 on the Common at Lower Village. Other early roads followed presumed Native American trails including the new Lancaster Road of 1715 (now White Pond Road).
Stow has 27 documented ancient Native American sites dating back to the Middle Archaic Period (8,000-6,000 B.P.) Here in Stow early citizens did locate Indian artifacts. A number of these artifacts were added to Mrs. Sears Indian Museum in Harvard, MA, which is now Fruitlands Museum. Fruitlands features a Native American Gallery. There is thought that the embankment along Lake Boon, Stow, could be a possible site for artifacts. There are also thoughts that there are possible Indian mounds within the town on private land.
Stow Historic Society, http://stowhistoricalsociety.org. For more than 50 years, the Stow Historical Society has worked to share and preserve Stow’s history through publications, programs and other activities. As a private, nonprofit organization, the Society maintains a small collection of artifacts related to Stow history and carries on an active schedule of programs and events to educate and raise awareness of our town’s distinguished past. In 1683, 1684, and 1685 early town documents recorded treaties with Indians (Benjamin Bohuh) and voting to payment for the Pompositticut Plantation lands and the Registry of Deeds houses the early deeds.
Boon Hill, Barton Road. Matthew Boon purchased land here from Indians in 1660. He was killed in 1676 when Metacom swept through this area. Part of his family survived at the Sudbury Garrison. There is a large granite marker (1883) commemorating the location of his home.
Maple Street Markers: There is also a large granite marker (1883) for John Kettell and family on Maple Street (near the Hudson/Bolton line), a second early family who “escaped” to the Lancaster Garrison during the Indians raids. It inaccurately states that he was killed during the Indian raids. He did not die from this attack.
Assabet River Flows through the southeastern part of Stow from Hudson to Maynard. The name, Assabet, means “the place where materials for making fishnets grow” in Algonquin.
The Native American history of Sudbury dates back to the Middle Archaic Period (8,000-6,000 B.P.) with confirmed sites from this period through the Contact Period (1500-1620). The hills overlooking the Sudbury River and areas along the brooks made good campsites with hunting and fishing nearby. In the Contact Period the Nipmucs and Musketahquids reused many of these ancient sites. The first European settlement occurred in 1638, and the name Sudbury was given in 1639 upon incorporation. The early transportation routes followed Native American trails along the river (Water Row) and an eastwest route along the Boston Post Road (Route 20) crossing Mill/Hop Brook at South Sudbury. The other main 17th century road was Old Sudbury Road (Route 27) which led from the Post Road northwesterly passing the first meetinghouse before crossing the Sudbury River.
Hop Brook Corridor: Hop Brook originates in Marlborough and flows in an easterly direction through several of Sudbury’s ponds to the Sudbury River. It is the largest tributary of the Sudbury River and was the site of Sudbury’s first mills established by Peter and Thomas Noyes in 1656. At least seven mills (saw, grist and fulling) were powered by Hop Brook and area farmers also used it for a water source for crops and livestock. Only remnants of mills and dams remain on the mill ponds. Long before the mills and farmers came to Sudbury, Native Americans traveled along Hop Brook fishing and hunting and probably occupying the area in temporary campsites.
Indian Grinding Stone: The feature known as the Indian Grinding Stone is located on private property on Green Hill Road off Route 20. It is just 30 feet back from the road within the front setback of the property on which there is a modern house. The boulder is framed by a post and rail fence that runs behind the stone and along the two sides, but not in front. The area is wooded so that the ground around the large boulder-like stone is covered with mosses and leaves. A significant piece of the boulder has been hollowed out forming a large bowl-like depression on one side of the boulder; the edges are rounded and the bottom of the bowl or mortar is smoothed as if a pestle were used repeatedly for grinding. In an unusual arrangement the Sudbury Historical Society, Inc. retains a lease on the stone and the small area around it. The lease allows people to come to view the stone and pass over the property to get to the stone. However there is nothing in the lease that requires the property owner to renew it or to not alter the stone.
Nobscot Reservation: Nobscot Reservation comprises over 480 acres of which 311 acres are in Sudbury and the balance in the town of Framingham. The reservation is owned by the Knox Trail Council of the Boy Scouts of America and is part of Nobscot Hill, an area of about 600 acres in Sudbury. A 118-acre parcel adjacent to the reservation, with trails to the top of the hill, is owned by Sudbury and known as the Nobscot Conservation Area. The reservation once comprised several farms with open farmland, stone walls and farm buildings; now only the stone foundations of buildings and the stone walls remain; and much of the land has reverted to woodland. There are a number of interesting geological features such as kettle holes and eskers that tell the history of the land formed by a receding glacier. Nobscot means “place of the fallen rock” which is descriptive of this landscape where there are scattered large granite boulders. One of note is Tippling Rock, which is believed to have served as an overlook for Nipmucs living in the area over 500 years ago. It is on the north side of Nobscot Hill, which is one of the highest elevations in the region from where one can see east to Boston or north and northwest to Wachusett Mountain (in Princeton) and Mt. Monadnock (in New Hampshire).The Native American heritage, the colonial use of the land and the present day wildlife habitats are part of the reservation story that is recognized and told by the Knox Trail Council, owners of this property. Trails throughout the reservation lead the hiker to various features that tell about former and present use of the land. The Bay Circuit Trail and the Knox Trail pass through this property.
Water Row Corridor: Water Row was laid out over an old Native American trail that followed the broad marshland of the Sudbury River. It is one of Sudbury’s most scenic roads with stunning views of marshland, the Sudbury River, meadows, an historic site and an occasional historic house. From south to north, Water Row passes through wetlands before crossing Old Sudbury Road (Route 27). On the west side of Water Row, north of Old Sudbury Road, is the site of the Haynes Garrison which is commemorated by a 1922 Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) marker and some remnants of the foundation. Water Row winds through the river meadows with stunning views across these meadows at any time of the year. On the corner of Water Row and Plympton Road is a 10-acre meadow with postand rail gate access on Water Row. Beyond this meadow are stretches of the Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge land on both sides of the road.
Driving Tour located at http://www.sudbury01776.org/tour.html
Tewksbury was first settled in 1637 and was officially incorporated in 1734 from Billerica. One of the oldest sections of town is the area around the Shawsheen River. This is where the Shawshin tribe settled, allowing them access to a great food source. According to legend, the name “Shawsheen” is actually a Native American word, meaning “serpent” or “serpentine”, which refers back to the meandering nature of the river.
Tewksbury Library, 300 Chandler Street, 978-640-4490. The Tewksbury Historical Society Archives may be viewed in the Local History Room, of the Tewksbury Library.
Shawsheen River Watershed Association, http://shawsheen.org. There are numerous opportunities for recreation on the Shawsheen including paddling, fishing, hiking and nature watching.
Tyngsborough was settled in 1661, as part of the massive Dunstable Township. The town of Dunstable, incorporated in 1673, was named after the hometown of pioneer Edward Tyng. However, a relative of his, and the source of the town of Tyngsborough’s name, was Colonel Jonathan Tyng, whose home, the Tyng Mansion House, was one of the oldest north of Boston. He settled near the Merrimack in what is now Tyngsborough in 1675. The house stood until the 1970s, when it was destroyed by arson. Early on Tyngsborough residents fought a series of small and bloody skirmishes with local Native American tribes. Evidence of this can be found in several old colonial homes in town that still have emergency passages that were used during these attacks. In 1789, Tyngsborough’s parish split from the rest of Dunstable, making Tyngsborough a recognized district. On February 23, 1809, Tyngsborough became a town.
Vesper Country Club- 185 Pawtucket Blvd. Site of Johnathan Tyng’s home. On Nov 18 1685 Wannalancit, the only son surviving of old Passaconoway who was the great chief Sachem on the Merrimack river granted Capt Thomas Hinchman 30 acres of land for much love and kindness and many gifts received for above 20 years including corn field and old Indian fort. On Sept 6, 1686 Wannalancit transferred all remaining Wameesit procperty to Johnathan Tyng, Daniel Hinchman and herahmell Bowers. Disappeared from area but returned remaining years of his life at Jonathan Tyng House.
Historical Society: The Tyngsborough-Dunstable Historical Society is a non-profit organization committed to preservation of the past for future generations.
Townsend Historical Society, 72 Main Street, 978-597-2106
The Townsend Historical Society was formed in 1896 by a group of people who recognized the importance of saving the tangible and intangible treasures of Townsend’s past. Open on Tuesday – Friday from 9 a.m. – 2.p.m.
Relatively little is known about the Native American history of Westford, which has only one confirmed site that preceded European settlement. Algonquin speaking tribes inhabited the area between the Concord and the Merrimack Rivers. The Nipmuc tribe lived along Westford’s wetlands, brooks and ponds. Several probable native sites have been identified near Forge Pond. Projectile points found in the vicinity also indicate hunting activity throughout the Westford area. Westford, located at the northeastern edge of the Freedom’s Way area, was originally an outlying part of Chelmsford. European settlers arrived here in the late 17th century and established transportation routes following native trails. The town was incorporated in 1729 with a small village center located on Tadmuck Hill (Westford Center) and roads radiating outwards.
Stony Brook: Stony Brook begins at the outflow to Forge Pond in Forge Village and meanders northeasterly through the Mill Pond in Graniteville and through several smaller ponds and eventually flows into Chelmsford. Its shores were occupied by Native Americans and it was later used to provide water power for the mills at Forge Village and Graniteville. The Westford Conservation Trust’s trail guide is enhanced with GPS-based topographic maps with accurate renderings of trails, streams, ponds, marshes, roads, and other landmarks.
Pioneer Cemetery Carlisle Road. Established 1750. At corner of Carlisle Road and Old Lowell Road. Thelast indigenous Native American from Westford, Simon, is buried here.
Nashoba Hill, Access this site via Nashoba Ski Area.Native American name means “hill that shakes.” John Mitchell in Trespassing (1998) indicates that , “[the hill] was hollow and the four winds were pent up inside. Periodically they would attempt to escape, and at these times … terrible roaring and growls and rumbles were issue forth from within the hill. The very earth would shudder, massive rocks would shift from their beds, trees would sway and creak, and were it not for the intercession of the shamans, the earth might have cracked open and revealed the dark, boiling innards.”
Woburn Historical Society, 7 Mishawum Road, (781) 933-5002. The Woburn Historical Society is made up of community volunteers and strives to preserve and promote Woburn’s rich history through various programs and events. Founded in 2006, the society has grown by leaps and bounds and usually there are anywhere from 300 to 600 people at the monthly presentations. We make history fun and educational and strive to promote civic pride in Woburn’s rich history.