Town of Grafton

Grafton was originally occupied by a tribe of Nipmuc Indians and was called Hassanamisco. In 1671, an English missionary named John Eliot established a Native American church and school where the Bible was studied in the Native American language. The church and school were located near the current common. Today there is a Native American homestead on Brigham Hill.

In 1724, a group of 39 men and one woman, mainly from Marlborough, Sudbury, Concord, and Stow, presented a petition to the General Court and were granted the right to purchase 7,500 acres of land from the Native Americans. The Town of Grafton was established in 1735 and named in honor of Charles Fitzroy, Duke of Grafton, and grandson of Charles II.

The first meetinghouse of the Congregational Puritan settlement was built in 1730 and stood at the center of the common. This meetinghouse remained on the common for 100 years. The cross behind the pulpit in the present Congregational Church is made from timber from this building The present bandstand was built in 1935 by Hollywood filmmakers for a scene in the production of “Ah, Wilderness,” which was filmed in Grafton.

Some notable residents of Grafton include Joel H. Johnson, a poet and Mormon pioneer, playwright Frank O’Hara. John Adams Whipple, a pioneer photographer and inventor, clockmaker Simon Willard, inventor Jerome Wheelock and NFL coach Steve Spagnuolo.

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