Saturday, August 04, 2007


Way back here in my series of posts about John Ames’
Revolutionary War pension file, I listed several questions I had.
One of them was this: One of the witnesses, William Spaulding,
testifies that he knewJohn Ames from childhood and that when
he “was a boy I went to school with him at his fathers house in
Groton.” If John’s father,who was also named John Ames, was
a school master, this is the first I’d seen mention of that. Was
this true?

I have known the answer for a few weeks now but pushed the
topic to a back burner while transcribing my Aunt Dot’s

A search at Google Books brought me to “History of the Town of
Groton: Including Pepperell and Shirley, from the First Grant

of Groton Plantation in 1655” by Caleb Butler. It seems that the
town hadn’t a school house but instead held classes in several
different locations. In 1741 it was voted to hold school “in five
places, six weeks a place.” In 1742 seven places were chosen, and
in 1745 only four. Eventually there was a school house built in
the middle of the town but those living more than two miles away
could have classes held closer to their homes.

As I said, I’d not seen any records to indicate any of the Ames of
colonial Groton were schoolmasters or teachers. But in 1717 the
town was charged as being in violation of the law by the General
Court of Massachusetts for not having a school master. A petition
was sent to the General Court which pointed out that Groton was
at that time a small town with fewer than a hundred families and
many were not able to contribute funds for a school. But it also
explained that the town had hired a school master the previous
December. In light of that fact the town hoped that the charge
against it would be dropped, and it was.

The petition was presented to the General Court for Groton by
John Ames. Given the year was 1717/8 that would have to be
either the first John Ames, son of Robert Ames and Rebecca
Blake, or his son John Ames, Jr. John Ames 3rd would have
owned the house where William Spaulding went to school with
the fourth John Ames.

Too many Johns there! Almost the genealogy equivalent of
"Who's on First?"

So, while there were no schoolteachers in the Ames of Groton of
that period, they seem to have been one of the families active in
seeing the town’s children were getting an education.

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