Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Luke Drury Papers
Scope and Contents of the Collection
The Luke Drury papers (1746-1831) comprise the personal and business papers of Colonel Luke Drury of Grafton and Marlboro. They represent three generations of his family, which settled in Grafton in the 1720s. The collection also includes the papers of four families related to the Drurys by business or marriage. These are the Darling, Goulding, Place and Sherman families. In addition, the collection contains documents from Grafton's town government, with an extensive series of tax records. Correspondence and business papers involving various Grafton citizens are included.
Most of the documents in the collection are from the years between the Revolution and the War of 1812. They consist primarily of business papers, including correspondence, notes of hand, bills and receipts. There are also many legal papers, such as leases, deeds, and court papers. These documents provide important information about the Grafton area and Massachusetts for these years. Specifically, the documents demonstrate the problems that led to Shays' Rebellion in 1786, in which Luke Drury took a prominent role. The documents also illustrate the fluid economic situation that persisted into the 1800s. This can especially be seen in the sheer volume of the notes of hand. Many people were in debt, for various amounts to various people. Yet these same people were loaning out money. Luke Drury is a good example. Folders 15-17 in the collection contain notes of money he borrowed and lent. In addition, in Folder 19 there is an account book dated 1802 which lists notes he had acquired, perhaps as partial payments for still other notes. The economic situation was complicated, to say the least.
Grafton itself was originally one of John Eliot's "praying villages," reservations to Christianize and civilize local Indians. The Grafton Indians sold small parcels of land over the years, and by 1727 several English families had settled in what would become Grafton. That year both the Indians and the English petitioned the legislature to allow large-scale land purchases. This permission was granted in March 1728, and the English proprietors began dividing the lands. From the time of settlement, agriculture was a crucial factor in the town's economic life. In the 19th century manufacturing interests developed, producing finished cloth and shoes. Tanneries also played an important role, both in their own right and as part of the shoe industry.
The Luke Drury papers have been organized into the following series, including Drury papers, (1750-1829), Related families (1757-1831), Grafton materials (1741-1823), and Miscellaneous materials (n.d.).