Grafton, Massachusetts - Encyclopedia

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GRAFTON, a township in the S.E. part of Worcester county, Massachusetts, U.S.A. Pop. (1905) 5052; (1910) 5705. It is served by the New York, New Haven & Hartford, and the Boston & Albany railways, and by interurban electric lines. The township contains several villages (including Grafton, North Grafton, Saundersville, Fisherville and Farnumsville); the principal village, Grafton, is about 7 m. S.E. of Worcester. The villages are residential suburbs of Worcester, and attract many summer residents. In the village of Grafton there is a public library. There is ample water power from the Blackstone river and its tributaries, and among the manufactures of Grafton are cotton-goods, boots and shoes, &c. Within what is now Grafton stood the Nipmuck Indian village of Hassanamesit. John Eliot, the "apostle to the Indians," visited it soon after 1651, and organized the third of his bands of "praying Indians" there; in 1671 he established a church for them, the second of the kind in New England, and also a school. In 1654 the Massachusetts General Court granted to the Indians, for their exclusive use, a tract of about 4 sq. m., of which they remained the sole proprietors until 1718, when they sold a small farm to Elisha Johnson, the first permanent white settler in the neighbourhood. In 1728 a group of residents of Marlboro, Sudbury, Concord and Stowe, with the permission of the General Court, bought from the Indians 7500 acres of their lands, and agreed to establish forty English families on the tract within three years, and to maintain a church and school of which the Indians should have free use. The township was incorporated in 1735, and was named in honour of the 2nd duke of Grafton. The last of the pure-blooded Indians died about 1825.

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