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
Another reason (for conflicting street listings in the early directories) could be attributed to the fact that all the directories weren’t made by the same publisher, but they all describe Martin’s Pond Road as going to the Dunstable town line, just as Dunstable Road did.
Common sense tells you two roads can’t cover the same identical ground at the same time. The assessors were still placing the Fitzpatrick residence on Shattuck Street, just as they did in the 1880s, and not on Martin’s Pond Road or Dunstable Road. The discrepancy makes you wonder who gave the directory publishers their information. It certainly wasn’t obtained from the assessors.
This certainly helps to explain the Mistress’ anonymity. No one knew where she was.
Confusion about roads didn’t end with the directories. In 1910, the United States Census has James Fitzpatrick Jr. living on Shattuck Street. This was the first time the Federal Census used street names to show where people lived. The 1920 Federal Census has James Jr. living on Island Pond Road, but according to the 1930 census, he was back on Shattuck Street.
In the 20-year period from 1910 to 1930, James Fitzpatrick Jr. never left the Mistress. During the 1920s and 30s, the tax assessors had to visit every building in town. The poll tax was the reason. If you didn’t pay it, you didn’t vote, because the poll tax lists were given to the registrars of voters.
Poll tax and street lists for the years between 1930 and 1942 place James Fitzpatrick Jr. and his widow on Shattuck Street. Even when the Fitzpatricks were exempt from paying the poll tax due to their old age, the assessors still had them living on Shattuck, Shattuck Street or Shattuck Road. The Shattuck name was commonly accepted for the road passing by the Mistress.
The first known map showing the location of Shattuck Road is Groton’s 1923 precinct map. Not a single resident’s name can be seen. Only names of streets are shown; however, many streets are not named. The map was made when Groton voted to divide itself into two precincts with the Nashua River being the dividing line. The map had to show this division because it was required by law. Everything east of the river was Precinct 1 and Precinct 2 was west of the river. The precinct map was prepared by selectmen and approved at a special Town Meeting on June 21, 1922.
According to the map, Shattuck Road began at what is now called School Street, instead of beginning at Lowell Road. This is a change from Caleb Butler’s 1828-29 description. The precinct map had Shattuck Road ending at the Dunstable line, where the Fitzpatricks lived. You can’t tell whether the road passed on the east or west side of the Mistress. More than likely it passed on the east side.
Martin’s Pond Road began at Hollis Street and ended at the Shattuck Road intersection with School House Road, instead of the earlier 1828 intersection with Lowell Road. The 1923 precinct map does not name the road commonly known today as School House Road or the road that earlier was part of Shattuck Road beginning at Lowell Road.
Physical location of a road without a name isn’t the only thing that’s missing. Illustration of known roads is an issue. Absence of Raddin Road clearly exemplifies this. Fortunately, Shattuck still passed by the Mistress in 1923, according to the precinct map.