AYER is a town in Middlesex County, originally part of Groton. It was incorporated February 14, 1871, and became a major commercial railroad junction. The town was home to Camp Stevens, a training camp for Massachusetts volunteers during the American Civil War. Later, Fort Devens was established by the federal government to train New England soldiers for World War 1.
Ayer was originally inhabited by the Nashaway, a Nipmuc people that inhabited the lands along the Nashua River and its tributaries. A small settlement was located along the banks of the Nonacoicus Brook, located in the western part of the town.
The town of Groton, which originally included Ayer as well as several other towns in the region, was settled by English colonists as early as 1655. The first settlement in the portion of Groton that would become Ayer was in 1667, when a mill was constructed to serve a small hamlet that had developed around the Nonacoicus Brook.
The community eventually came to be known as South Groton, or with the arrival of the railroad, Groton Junction. This area was later partitioned and incorporated as the town of Ayer in 1871. The town was named Ayer in honor of Dr. James Cook Ayer, a prominent resident of Lowell and one of the wealthiest pharmaceutical manufacturers of his day. Dr. Ayer provided the funding for the construction of the Town Hall.
With access to Route 2, Ayer is located 44 miles west northwest of Boston. It also has a train station in the center of town for the business commuters or for leisurely trips into Boston. The towns population as of 2017 was 8,145.
A town that was the home to many military men, women, and families. With the close of Fort Devens it has evolved into a small New England town offering new neighborhoods, a variety of restaurants, coffee shops, bike trails and more.
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