The Town of Groton lies on Fishers Island Sound between the Thames and Mystic Rivers where from times past its rugged hills and lush green woods have sloped down to sandy beaches and rocky shores. When Dutch explorer Adrian Block charted the coast in 1614, this was the stronghold of the Pequot Indians, the dominant native tribe, who were displaced in 1637 when Captain John Mason led a punitive expedition against their Mystic fort.
Groton was settled by Europeans as part of New London when John Winthrop, Jr., came from Massachusetts Bay in 1646 to found Pequot Plantation at the mouth of the Thames. By 1705 the population east of the river had increased sufficiently for the General Court to allow the inhabitants to incorporate as a separate town, which they named Groton in honor of the Winthrop estate in England.
Early settlers were primarily farmers, but they turned early to shipbuilding and the maritime trade to supplement their livelihood scratched from the rocky soil. Groton vessels traded with Boston and New York and soon found their way to the West Indies and across the Atlantic.