Join us while we travel through history in Acton and Boxborough Massachusetts. Acton-Boxborough Long Ago provides a connection to the past and an opportunity to experience local history.

Massachusetts Map

A-B Long Ago Videos are our latest project.

Listen to students talk about:
Audio descriptions of The Acton Quilt squares come from Thais Savage's class at Douglas, photos and descriptions from Acton Artifacts are from Karen Sonner's class at Merriam, and recollections from Old School Day come from Ursula Konde's class in Boxborough. Background music is courtesy of Peter Broggi's classes. 

This site is brought to you by teachers in the Acton-Boxborough Regional Schools.

Acton Long Ago

Two hundred seventy-three years ago, a tract of meadowland 26 miles northwest of Boston, now known as Acton, was called Concord Village. The villagers raised sheep and harvested hay on the land. Eventually the early settlers grew tired of the 7 to 10 mile walk to church in the village center—especially during the severe New England winters. These settlers wanted a separate town with an accessible meeting house. In 1735, seventeen families petitioned the government for township. On July 3, Acton Massachusetts was incorporated.

Davis Library

What was it like to live in Acton long ago? When did the meadows turn to forests? What part did Acton play in the American Revolution? Which industries made Acton their home in those early years? This Web site answers those questions and more. We hope you will Discover Acton, and find it is a place for learning and fun! Please check out our activities and education sections. Or take a virtual tour!

Davis Guards

Legend has it that the town was named after Lord Acton, who promised to donate a bell for the new meeting house. Some dispute this legend, and say that Acton was named for its British counterpart 12 miles outside London in the county of Middlesex. Which legend would you choose? 

Boxborough Town Seal Boxborough

In the late 1700s, a group of residents from the outlying districts of Stow, Littleton and Harvard decided their location was too remote from any place of worship. In 1775, they purchased the Old Harvard meetinghouse and moved it to the top of what is now Middle Road, then petitioned the state to become a separate town—Boxborough. Three times their petition was denied because of objections from adjoining towns. Finally Governor John Hancock and Senate President Samuel Adams signed the petition on February 25, 1783. 
Boxboro Church Model Rolling hills, beautiful forests and marshy grounds define Boxborough's topography. At 10.39 square miles, Boxborough is one of the smallest and least populated towns in Middlesex County.

Early farmers planted orchards on the high, rocky slopes and used the wetlands to grow cranberries and blueberries. Natural features such as Ridge Hill, a 10,000 year old esker left by a retreating glacier, and Inches Wood (now gone), a 400-acre oak forest, marked the town's landscape. Henry David Thoreau said of Inches Wood, "I doubt there is a finer one [oak forest] in Massachusetts."

Boxboro Model
Originally the town's boundaries were a perfect square which, rumor had it, led to the name, Boxborough. Boundary disputes with Harvard and Littleton lasted over 100 years after the town was incorporated, resulting in a less symmetrical outline on the map.

Boxborough's town seal portrays a silhouette of Luther Blanchard, the fifer for Captain Isaac Davis's Company during the Battles of Concord and Bunker Hill. Luther and his brother, Calvin, were born on a farm in Littleton that later became Boxborough.  Boxborough celebrates Fifer's Day in Luther's honor, and descendents of Calvin donated money to build the Blanchard Memorial School.