Groton is a town in northwestern Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 10,646 at the 2010 census. It is home to two noted prep schools: Groton School, founded in 1884, and Lawrence Academy at Groton, founded in 1793. The historic town was a battlefield in King Philip's War and Queen Anne's War, experienced incidents of insurrection during Shays's Rebellion, and was the birthplace of William Prescott, who commanded the rebel forces at the Battle of Bunker Hill.
The area 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.
The town was officially settled and incorporated in 1655, named for Groton in Suffolk, England, the hometown of John Winthrop, an early selectman. Called The Plantation of Groton, it included all of present-day Groton and Ayer, almost all of Pepperell and Shirley, large parts of Dunstable and Littleton, plus smaller parts of Harvard and Westford, as well as Nashua, New Hampshire and Hollis, New Hampshire.
During King Philip's War, on March 13, 1676, Indians burned all buildings except for four Groton garrisons. One of those killed was John Nutting, a Selectman at Groton. Survivors fled to Concord and other safe havens, but two years later returned to rebuild.
Indians attacked the town again during Queen Anne's War. On June 20, 1707, several citizens, including the children Sarah, John and Zachariah Tarbell, were captured. The raiding party took them on a difficult overland journey of hundreds of miles to Kahnawake, a Jesuit mission village in Canada, across the St. Lawrence River from the village of Montreal. The two young boys were adopted into Mohawk families and became thoroughly assimilated. They married daughters of chiefs and became chiefs in their own turn; as successful fur traders, they were among the founders of the new community of Akwesasne upstream in the late 1750s. Sarah was "sold" (or ransomed) to a French family. About a year later, after being baptized Catholic and renamed Marguerite, she entered the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame, a teaching order founded in Montreal in 1657.
Today, members of the Akwesasne and Kahnawake reserves still carry the surname Tarbell. During the first decades of the 20th century, many families from the reserves lived in Brooklyn, New York - the men were ironworkers on the skyscrapers and bridges. The women also worked and created community. Reaghan Tarbell, a descendant of one of the Mohawk Tarbell brothers, made a documentary about the Brooklyn families: To Brooklyn and Back: A Mohawk Journey, produced by the National Film Board of Canada and shown on PBS-TV in the fall of 2009.