1 - The Movement into the Interior

Venturing westward, beyond the bounds of their settlement, the Rowley men discovered meadowlands. It was thought the land might have been cleared by the Indians who would prepare land for planting by burning shrubs and brush. The many artifacts discovered in various locations in Georgetown indicate evidence that this region was a favorite Indian camping ground. Household utensils, cutting instruments and stone points have been uncovered near brooks, the Parker River and by the shores of the ponds.


The colonists found the meadowland was ideal for pasturing cattle and a path soon extended from Rowley to the area around the present Union Cemetery near Penn Brook. As further explorations were made, the villagers recognized the opportunities this wilderness offered. A bog iron works began operating in 1697 near the brook connecting Rock Pond to Pentucket Pond and is the first record of a business here. Soon, others followed.


John Spofford, the first permanent settler in this western section of Rowley, built a log hut on the plateau at the crest of Andover Street in 1669. The village elders gave him a lease with certain conditions to farm the western end of the "Old Town Field on the Gravell Plain." "He is to have the benefit of the land for 21 years and the rent shall be used for the ministry or town. He may only use timber for buildings and what is necessary for farming. Any timber he may wish to sell may only be sold to the town of Rowley and no more than five loads of hay will be sold each year. Further, manure may not be given away or sold but must be placed back into the land. Finally, any buildings or fences erected by Master Spofford are to be maintained and left in good order at the end of his lease." At the end of his lease, John Spofford bought the land and, over time, many Spofford families made their homes on what became known as Spofford’s Hill. On the northerly side of Andover Street close by West Street is a boulder monument with the inscription, "John Spofford, descendant of Orme and of Candlebar of Spofford, England, with his wife, Elizabeth Scott founded the race of Spofford in America, a race respected for integrity, courage, generosity and intelligence."


Before John Spofford settled here, young Samuel Brocklebank would bring cattle during the summer months to be penned near the brook referred to as Pen Brook also known as Penn Brook; a name it retains to this day. Samuel became a strong influence in the village and was planning to make his permanent home here in the West Parish of Rowley (Georgetown) where he had already cleared some farmland. However, this was not his destiny.


In June 1675, several Indian tribes led by the Indian chief, King Philip, declared war on the settlers. To fight the Indian uprising, all villages and towns were required to impress a company of men. Capt. Samuel Brocklebank recruited a company of twelve Rowley villagers. This Rowley contingent joined those led by Capt. Wadsworth of Milton and Lt. Sharp of Brookline. They marched on to Sudbury where, on April 21, 1676 they encountered a large Indian war party. Casualties were heavy and Brocklebank, Wadsworth and Sharp were among those killed. Of the twelve Rowley recruits only six returned home. An obelisk stands in Sudbury Cemetery dedicated to the memory of those who died in that battle.


Capt. Brocklebank died at the age of 46. His eldest son, Samuel, occupied the farm with his family in 1685. The Brocklebank House is still standing and is owned and maintained as a museum by the Georgetown Historical Society.
Only one tragic encounter with Indians occurred in this area. On a Sunday in late October, 1692, a small band of Indians was searching for a Newbury individual with whom they had a grudge. Unfortunately, they found the Goodrich family in their home on North Street near the Newbury border and vented their anger on the hapless members. Mr. Goodrich, his wife and all but one of the children were killed. Their seven-year-old daughter was taken captive and ransomed the following spring at the expense of the Province. A sign on North Street marks the nearby site of the tragedy.
There once was an Indian watchhouse on the knoll in Harmony Cemetery. It’s size and shape, similar to a telephone booth, required a sentry to remain standing thus preventing his falling asleep while on duty. Today, a granite marker in the cemetery indicates the site of the watchhouse.