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 March 1772, the road passing by the Mistress was officially laid out and accepted as a town road. The new road connected two existing town roads. One of the roads was Chicopee Row, which was later renamed Groton Street, when the area became a part of Dunstable in 1792.
The northeasterly end of the new road began near Unkety Brook and ran southerly over a hill, coming within six feet of the Mistress's northwest corner after descending the hill. As the road approached the Mistress, Lt. Woods and his youngest son, David, had to move a building standing between the Mistress and the hay yard. The new road ended at its intersection with the road commonly known today as Martin's Pond Road, opposite land owned by Oliver Fletcher.
The most compelling reason for approving the new road might have something to do with the brewing business. The exact location of the supposed brewery is unknown. There has to be a reason for Groton being the center of the hop trade besides its geographical location to the towns of Pepperell, Townsend, Ashby, Dunstable, Tyngsboro, Westford, Littleton, Boxboro, Harvard, Shirley and Lunenburg.
Complimentary to the brewing business and production of hops was the need for malt.
Then, in 1787, we find Oliver Fletcher purchasing the malt house and malt barn from Joseph Sheple. Sheple was the administrator of Benjamin Green's estate and guardian of his under age children, thus Benjamin Green may have been responsible for construction of the Malt house and barn. By 1805, Oliver Fletcher is no longer living in Groton.
After this date, ownership of the malt making business becomes mysteriously confusing. The process for making malt is relatively simple. Moisture and temperature control is essential. You don't want the grain being used to over germinate or die. Barley is the most traditional grain to be used, but others are not uncommon. The grain is spread over a stone floor for up to a week after being soaked 36 to 48 hours. Because of the need for frequent water changes, something more than the standard hand dug well was needed.
Within sight of the malt house and barn was a pond with a stone dam capable of providing more than enough water. During this labor intensive procedure, the grains had to be raked and then re-raked to aerate them and keep them from tangling. Once this is completed, the grain is dried to stop it from sprouting. The process produced a clean dry flavor for making beer. Other techniques may be used. Different malts will influence the color and flavor of the beer after fermentation has occurred.
The Green connection to the malt business is interesting for a couple of reasons. Benjamin Green was a decedent of William Green, who was one of Groton's original proprietors. The second reason is because David Green was related to both William and Benjamin Green. Besides this, David lived along the 1772 road. He was uniquely different.
David saved everything. He picked up every scrap of cloth and leather he could find for mending his clothes and shoes. They were so patched, you would be challenged to identify what the original article looked like. David satisfied his appetite in the same manner by eating crumbs and other fragments of food fit only for an animal. He was so disliked at a time when he was sick and away from home, his mansion house along the 1772 road was plundered and burned to the ground.
On Nov. 10, 1822, at the ripe old age of 82, David's death was cloaked in controversy. During his last illness, three or four persons procured a document touted as his last will. The persons who procured the will were the same individuals who supposedly witnessed the signing of the will on April 27, 1816. The document was offered for probate in New Hampshire's, Hillsborough County Probate Court and would have been executed if a disagreement hadn't broken out over who the real beneficiaries were. The disagreement led to the discovery of fraud.
Arguments against the will were prepared by Luther Lawrence on June 3, 1823. He said David Green never made the will. The date when the will was supposedly signed, David Green was not of sound mind or memory. He was insane and wholly incapable of making a legal disposition. Further, the will was obtained through fraud and deceit by David Green Sheple and the people who supposedly witnessed David Green's signature. Those witnesses were Sara Bancroft, Amos Bancroft and Caleb Butler.
Consistent with the will, David Green Sheple was to inherit all of David Green's property in addition to being the executor. What is so intriguing about the will is what was to be inherited. Earlier on Sept. 28, 1819, David Green deeded his homestead with 150, plus an additional 300 acres to Christopher Columbus Sheple and Americus Vespusius Sheple. The two under age boys in 1819 lived in Calais, Vermont, and were the children of David Green Sheple. They were the great-grandchildren of Sara Sheple, the sister of David Green. Caleb Butler notarized David's signing of the deed.
Based on the 1819 deed, there wouldn't have been a whole lot to inherit at the time of David Green's death. If Luther Lawrence's arguments against the will were valid about David Green's insanity, why would he not be insane and incapable of deeding all his possessions over to his sister's great-grandchildren in 1819? There's only a three-year difference.