Geographic position

42.4850° N, 71.4333° W


Acton Historical Society. A Brief History of Acton. Acton, MA: Beacon Publishing Company, 1974. Print. Acton Historical Society. Acton: A Second Look. Acton, MA: Beacon Publishing Company, 1985. Print.

General note

Acton is a town in Middlesex County, and located in eastern Massachusetts, twenty-four miles northwest of Boston. Native Americans lived in the area as early as 7000 years ago, and by the 17th century, the area was settled by the Pawtucket tribe, who used it for agriculture. An epidemic brought to the area by Europeans killed 90-percent of the Native Americans in Massachusetts Bay in the first quarter of the 17th century, and was followed by a smallpox outbreak in 1633, killing even more of the Native American population. In 1655, Concord appealed to the Massachusetts government to receive the land that would become Acton. The government agreed and the land, which they used mostly for sheep grazing, was called New Grant. By the end of the 17th century, the people of Concord began referring to the land as Concord Village. After several petitions, settlers in Concord Village were granted permission to become a separate town in 1735. After this point, the town was called Acton. There is no official record of how the town got this name; however, it is likely that the name comes from Acton of Middlesex County in England. In the mid-17th century, colonists began converting Native Americans in the area to Christianity, and the Praying Town of Nashobah was located on the town line between Acton and Littleton.