Littleton was first settled in 1686 and was officially incorporated by act of the Massachusetts General Court on November 2, 1714. The town was also the location of the sixth Praying Indian village established by John Eliot called Nashoba Plantation, on the land between Lake Nagog and Fort Pond.
The first book published about Littleton, An Historical Sketch of the Town of Littleton, was written by Herbert J. Harwood and printed in 1890. It is available at the Reuben Hoar Library, the Historical Society, or on the Cornell University Library internet archive.
In his book, Herbert Joseph Harwood wrote:
It is said that the name Littleton was given as a compliment to Hon. George Lyttleton, M.P., one of the commissioners of the treasury, and that in acknowledgment he sent from England a church-bell as a present to the town but on account of the error in spelling by substituting " i " for "y," the present was withheld by the person having it in charge, who gave the excuse that no such town as Lyttleton could be found, and sold the bell."
The minutemen and militia of Littleton marched and fought at Concord and the Battle Road on April 19, 1775. The militia company and the minutemen squads mustered at Liberty Square located on the southwest side of town on the Boxborough line (then part of Littleton). They marched from there through what is now Boxborough Depot and over Littleton Rd/Boxborough Rd to Newtown Road (Littleton), up over Fort Pond Hill (stopping briefly at the Choate Farm) and along Newtown Rd (Acton) to Acton Center. From there they marched the Isaac Davis Trail to Old North Bridge. Some writing suggests that the minutemen sped ahead to join the other minutemen at the bridge.
The Littleton Historical Society published, "Images of America", Littleton, through Arcadia Publishing in 2002. The book contains a collection of photographs from the Littleton Historical Society and its members. There are also photographs inspired by "Images of America" on the historical society's web site that compare many of the original photographs in the book with recent photographs taken by Andrew Bowers and Andrea Curran at the same exact locations. Visit the “Images of Littleton: Then and Now” photo project to see how many of the familiar places around Littleton have changed (or not) over the years.
The 300th Anniversary Book Project
The Littleton Historical Society embarked on a book project to connect Littleton's past with its 21st century face. The goal was to prepare an accurate, inclusive, and up-to date record of the events and people that shaped the town where we live. Work got underway by many volunteers and staff to get this book ready for publication in time for the town's Tercentennial. Only one book, An Historical Sketch of the Town of Littleton, has ever been published about Littleton’s history. Over 50 years ago, an up-dated account, Highlights of Littleton’s History, was prepared by Carolyn Webster and printed in the 250th Anniversary Program Book in 1964. The tercentennial enabled the Historical Society the opportunity to retell the story of our town, connect it to the present, and to celebrate Littleton’s 300th Anniversary.