Matthias Farnworth (his name was first written and pronounced "Farnoth") first
appeared at Lynn, Mass., where he was a resident in 1657. (This is the earliest date his name appears in the Lynn records.) When he came to America and how or with what families is unknown. But, that he resided there as a farmer near what is now Federal Street in very certain. He lived until 1660 or 1661. According to the records, his son Joseph was born there 17 November 1657. As far as we can learn from the records, Matthias Farnsworth had only one wife, Mary Farr. If Mary Farr was the mother of all of Matthias' children, she must have borne them during a period extending over thirty-one years. (Mary Farr was the daughter of George Farr of Lynn, Mass.). There is a probability that Matthias Farnsworth had married and lost one wife before he married Mary Farr and that his first three children were by his first wife. Mary Farr writes "To my well beloved son, Benjamin", her first bequest to her son who probably was her first born living son at that time.
The birth place of Matthias Farnsworth (born in 1612) was probably in or near Farnworth, Lancastershire, England. He likely was related to Joseph of Dorchester, as he named two sons Joseph. He was interested in that name and there was a possibility that Joseph was his younger brother. The record spells his name as Matthias Farmouth. He was the member of the church and no doubt, brought up his children in the fear of the Lord. His children all became communicants of the church (at least all of his dons did and probably all of his daughters). Matthias Farnsworth brought none of the titles of rank from England that are so attractive to vanity. He came to America with a sturdy independence, a rugged integrity and a due regard for morality and a simple faith. He was respected and honored by those with whom his lot was cast. He was honored for the brave, true and manly qualities he possessed. It was such as he that made the Puritan stock the peer. Matthias and his wife Mary brought nine children to the age of maturity. As far as can be discerned from the records, only two children died.
Matthias probably moved to Groton in 1660, though it is uncertain when the settlement of Groton was made. The records of the town commenced in a very brief way in 1662, but likely some of the settlers had moved there two or three years before. They lived far from the sea coast and far away from markets. All the clothing and food for the family was the product of the land they had cleared and was a result of their continued labor. The clothes they wore were spun woven and made by the women. Sheep furnished the wool and flax and was made into linen. These materials came from the farm. Matthias was admitted as a free man of the colony, May 16, 1670. He was a weaver by occupation.
In the year 1675, King Phillip's War broke out between the Indians and the New England settlers. These were frightening, disheartening times. The Indians hit Groton with all their savage furry when the inhabitants were on their way to Concord. The only possessions save were the clothes on their backs and what things could be loaded in carts. The Indians were all around them. Their houses were burned. The product of fifteen years of hard labor in the wilderness had to be abandoned. At this time his wife, Mary, his daughter Sarah (about fourteen years old), his son Samuel (six years old), his daughter Abigail (nearly five) and his son Jonathan (an infant under a year) were with Matthias. Also with him were three of his sons who were in the armed guard. His daughter, Mary had been sent to her mother's relation because of the danger in Lynn and they feared for her safety. His son, Joseph, had been sent there for the same reason, but he died there. What hardships and suffering Matthias and his family endured in that forced emigration! They and all the rest of the Groton settlers stayed at Concord for two years.
How they lived during that time we can only conjecture. It is not recorded. However, many heart aches and disappointments were evident. The loss of their baby boy, Jonathan, to the thieving savages was one great experience they had to bare. Jonathan grew up among the Indians. Because of his knowledge of their ways and because he was known by the Indians, he was able to make peace between the Indian people and the white people before he left to rejoin his family. This must have been a happy day for Matthias and his wife Mary. There were other hard times in store for the family as there was a droughtand Jonathan's undecided mind was difficult to contend with.
In the spring of 1678 the danger from the Indian rifles and the tomahawks was over. The inhabitants of Gorton thought they could try their fortunes in the wilderness again. Some of the original settlers had given up their interest in the settlement, but Matthias and his family and his three adult sons went back to the old clearing where the ashes of their old homestead were still visible. They commenced anew the work of life with the few household things they had, the farm tools and stock they were able to save and their hands. They were able to save and rebuild their home. They carried on their work under constant fear of the merciless Indians. (Who some sixteen years later again fell upon the exposed settlement and murdered many of the settlers.)
Matthias filled many offices in the town. The most important position being Constable and Selectman. The office of Constable seems to have been singularly different in its duties form the office at present. The principal duty was the collection of taxes for the settlement. The last time he held the office was in 1689 when he was 72 years old. He lived far from the center part of town, therefore, duties of the town office must have been very difficult for him. He seemed to have been one of those men who naturally drew others to him. This is our ancestor and there are many of his descendants scattered throughout the United States.
Matthias was not a learned man, None of the pioneers of Groton were, but he had as much education as the people of his time and of the middle class usually had. It is shown that he signed his will with a mark. His will was evidently made only a short time before his death when his eyes were disabled by sickness.
There are records and returns still in existence made and signed by him, as he filled the office of Constable for several years and was tax collector. By virtue of his office he must necessarily have been able to write sufficiently to keep the accounts. On January 12, 1688-9, feeling his days were drawing to a close, he dictated his will. His wife survived him many years. She died between the years 1716-1717. In her will she mentioned her great bible which she gave to her son as her blessing. This gives a view of her simple faith that should be appreciated by her descendants.
How we're related:
Jessica B Brown --> Virginia Sorenson (living) --> Hazel June Butterfield (living) --> Thomas Solomon Butterfield (1882 -1964) --> Thomas Jefferson Butterfield II (1853 - 1926) --> Thomas Jefferson Butterfield I (1853 - 1926) --> Zachariah Butterfield (1782 - 1866) --> Abel Butterfield (1742 - 1836) --> Hannah Farnsworth (1716 - ?) --> Johnathan Farnsworth (1675 - 1748) --> Matthias Farnsworth (1612 - 1688) & Mary Farr (1644 - 1717)