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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.

Part 20

By Carl Flowers

As for supplying Lowell (during prohibition), James Jr. took care of that when runners came to the Mistress. She was in the perfect spot because of her isolation and remoteness from other human activity. In addition to the Mistress’s location, prohibition laws may not have been actively enforced.

In 1928 Edward J. Leavitt, Groton’s Chief of Police, was charged and found guilty of corruptly accepting gifts or gratuities so that he would refrain from enforcing the liquor laws of Massachusetts.

John H. Trayne, a Groton Selectman, Assessor, Overseer of the Poor, and the Superintendent of Streets, was also charged and found guilty of conspiracy to corrupt town officials for personal gain, but got off on the charges of violating the state’s prohibition laws.

Frank A. Torrey, another selectman and assessor, was found guilty of conspiracy to corrupt for personal gain. Other Groton men were charged and convicted, but their names were withheld and referred to in their indictment as John Doe, Richard Roe, James Doe, Frank Roe, and Robert Doe.

Edward Leavitt, John Trayne, Frank Torrey, and the unknown individuals, were on the Ku Klux Klan list of office holders to be booted out of office in the 1927 Groton Town Elections because of their non-enforcement of prohibition laws. George Lawrence was endorsed by the Klan over Frank A. Torrey, but Torrey won. If George Lawrence had been elected, there would have been enough votes on the board of selectmen to remove Edward J. Leavitt from office as Groton’s Police Chief; thus, his indictment.

John H. Trayne would have been the other selectman in favor of keeping Leavitt as the chief of police. One’s curiosity has to be aroused about the five unnamed boys, relative to their being the other office holders the Ku Klux Klan wanted out of office, because of their manufacturing, transporting, and selling of intoxicating liquors. As assessors, Trayne and Torrey had to know the location of every moonshine operation in town. State statute required assessors to make annual visits to every building in town for the purpose of making street and resident lists. They may not have known the location of every still, but they had to know where the majority of them were located.

James Jr. didn’t actually involve himself in making any of the moonshine. Instead, he siphoned it from barrels brought to him from surrounding farms. There were plenty of them close by. One of the larger stills in the area was known as the, “still at the old Krugal place”. It was about a mile and a half from the Mistress. Because of its size and location, this may have been the only still to supply James Jr. with moonshine. It was easily accessed from the east by Nashua Road and the west by Longley Road.

Rather than using either of these public roads, an old cart path was probably used that ran over the property just around the corner from the Mistress off of Groton Street in Dunstable. When the liquor arrived at the Mistress, it was siphoned from the barrels into five gallon cans so that it could easily be picked up by runners and delivered to speakeasies in Lowell.

As a young man, Jerry Simmons of Dunstable remembers seeing the front of the barn stacked with five gallon cans. Even Lillian’s great nephew, Leroy Johnson, knew something was going on with the bootlegging business. One thing is certain: James Jr. didn’t transport the five gallon cans.

They had to be delivered by someone else because James didn’t drive, didn’t have a driver’s license or own a motorized vehicle.