Reverend Ezekiel Rogers was the rector of a church in Rowley, Yorkshire England. In 1638 after being discharged from his post, he gathered a company of twenty families and sailed for the new world. The company consisted of men of means and learning along with farmers, weavers, smiths and carpenters. Reverend Rogers and his company took a place between Ipswich and Newbury where a land boom had developed. This settlement was called Roger’s Plantation and later Rowley after the English town. The town was incorporated in 1639 and comprised what later became Rowley, Georgetown, Groveland, Boxford and Bradford. As the number of settlers increased the name of the settlement, “Rowley on the Merrimack” was changed to Merrimack and finally Bradford. The first mention of Bradford, Massachusetts was in town records of 1665.
Early settlers farmed the land growing apple orchards, peaches, plums and pears. Rowley led the way for the country in the textile industry when John Pearson build the first fulling mill in America in 1643. Water power came from Johnson’s Creek for four saw mills, five grist mills, three fulling mills, two bark mills and five tan yards. Ship building became an important business. Small shoe shops made fifty thousand pairs of shoes yearly. The larger shoe shops later moved to Haverhill.
Groveland was incorporated in 1850. E.J.M. Hale from Haverhill bought a factory in 1859 in South Groveland and changed it to a woolen mill. In 1861 he built a new mill. A third mill was later built in 1869. The mills known as Groveland Mills were located in South Groveland and operated until 1928.
Reference: An Outline of Groveland History 1850-1950 by Sarah Dewhirst Parker. Printed in 1950 by Boyd-James Press, Inc., Groveland, Massachusetts.