Saturday, April 16, 2011

In My Footsteps: Trip 112: Georgetown, Mass.

In My Footsteps
Christopher Setterlund

Trip 112:  Georgetown, Massachusetts
March 9, 2011

Sign marking site of Goodrich Massacre.
            Originally settled as the West Parish of Rowley by a group of farmers looking for fertile meadowlands the small town of Georgetown has a long history.  Georgetown was called New Rowley until it was large enough to be incorporated on its own in 1838.  It is now considered a distant suburb of the amazing North Shore.
Brocklebank House
            Though the colony was not directly involved in King Philip’s War, from 1675-76, it was the recipient of Native American raids.  This tied in directly to the first place I visited once I entered Georgetown.  On North Street sits an unassuming sign, what it says is very important though.  It marks the site of the Goodrich Massacre which happened in 1692.  The story is that Benjamin Goodrich, his wife, and two daughters were killed by a group of Native Americans during their evening prayer.  There is no known reason for the slaughter but it is an anomaly as there are so few Native American massacre sites on the North Shore.  Besides the sign there is not much to see.  There is a regular home on the grounds and I was not okay with walking the ten ‘rods,’ or about 165 feet, to the proper site of the massacre.
            While stopping periodically to photograph various historic homes I ended up having a pretty odd experience.  The spot I was supposed to shoot was the Samuel Brocklebank House.  I parked across the street from it at the end of Elm Street in front of a very eerie dark green antiques shop building.  The name said Auntie Lil’s and I cannot find much information about it.  The reason it was an odd experience was the banging on the windows when I stepped out of my car.  I made a point to stop and look around for any people moving around in a neighboring house but there was nothing as far as I saw.
Auntie Lil's antiques, haunted?
            I went and shot the Brocklebank House and returned to my car only to hear the same banging on the windows of the old antiques shop.  It intrigued me so much that I took a few photos of the building hoping to maybe see something in one of the windows.  There was nothing but I would love to hear if anybody else ever heard or saw something around that building or if it was just my imagination.
            The Brocklebank House was built in the late 1600’s with the land the house stands on being deeded to surveyor Samuel Brocklebank in 1661.  Brocklebank was killed in 1676 during King Philip’s War but the house remained in his family until 1754 when it was sold and turned into a tavern.  There is a sign depicting a redcoat soldier with the year 1754 on it which I figure represents the time the home became a tavern.  It was under repair while I was there which made visiting inside impossible.
Georgetown Town Offices, home of 'Old Nancy.'
            Something I found interesting about Georgetown was the fact that their town hall was not always used as such.  The yellow building where the town offices reside was formerly a school, the Central School built in 1905.  Inside the historic old school sits ‘Old Nancy.’  Old Nancy is a Revolutionary War cannon supposedly taken from the British warship ‘Nancy’ which was captured off of Gloucester.  The best part of the story is that the cannon was left by major Eben Boynton to his two sons, one from New Rowley(Georgetown) and the other from Rowley.  The cannon has spent time in both towns and they both lay claim to it as their own.
            A small town with a rich history Georgetown is a spot that everyone will enjoy.  Take the time to visit the historical society at the Brocklebank House and gaze upon ‘Old Nancy’ the Revolutionary War cannon.  Also if anybody knows whether Auntie Lil’s antiques shop is haunted let me know.  Have fun and happy traveling!

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DirectionsBrocklebank House:  From I-95 N take exit 54B for Rt. 133/E. Main St.  Follow 2 miles, house will be on the right.  Auntie Lil’s antiques is across the street.
            Georgetown Town Hall:  From I-95 N take exit 53B for Rt. 97 N.  Follow 3.5 mi., turn right at Library St., town hall is on right.

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