Posts Tagged ‘Andover History’

Bessie’s Day at the Beach

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

Today I am blogging about a fun day on Plum Island with Bessie. She took a walk with her feet in the sand, climbed on rocks, and even went to the top of a lighthouse! Enjoy!

July 31st 1896

“This morning mamma woke me up quite early and asked me if I did not want to go to the beach for it was going to be quite a lovely day. I hopped out of bed and we hurried up and got the work done and at twenty minutes past eight we were on the train for Haverhill. Papa could not go, and there was not time to ask anyone else and so mamma and I had to go alone. We walked from the station to the landing and on the boat we met some people whom mamma knew and so we rode down with them. When we got to Black Rocks mamma asked me if I did not want to go to Plum Island and so we went over in a dory. It does not take but ten minutes to row over and it is perfectly lovely in the water. First we went to the lighthouse and the keeper took (us) up to the top, The light is a very small affair but it can be seen for fourteen miles and as it was the first one I had ever seen it was quite interesting. The house is not very big and from Black Rocks it looks as if it was built of brick and painted white but really it is shingled. Next we walked down the dummy track to the saving station. As they were not training and there was not much to see we went down to the beach. There was not anybody there….but the flies….and we ate our dinner. At two o’clock we went back to Black Rocks and as the dummy did not go for those quarters of an hour we thought that we would walk up to the beach. The tide was high and we had to walk in the soft sand and we were terribly tired before we got to the hotel. There had been a stiff breeze all day and it was rather tiresome and so we went upon the hotel piazza where it was sheltered.  We rode to the landing on the dummy and when the boat reached Haverhill, we were too late to go home in the steam cars and so we had to go on the electrics and we didn’t get home till after nine o’clock.”

This entry in Bessie’s diary makes me wish it were summer! Everything except  the flies and the heat sounds absolutely great. Bessie really did a great job in her descriptions. Plum Island is really is beautiful. The dummy must be some sort of  a public transportation system, sort of  like a bus.  Below is a picture  of a sketch of a small harbor which shows a lighthouse in the distance. It is by an architect who lived in Andover named Addison Le Boutillier. He was not only an architect, but he also made greeting cards, pottery, and lots of sketches and models which can also be found in the Historical Society’s collection.



Bessie and the Fire of Draper Hall

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

Today I a blogging about a fire Bessie witnessed that occured in Draper Hall, a building on Phillips Academy campus. Draper Hall is still located in Andover today, so I hope that after reading this, you might look for it.

July 24th 1896

“This morning I went down to Miss. Millet’s to practice and as she is not going to give me a lesson till Monday I brought my books home and tomorrow I  shall practice at Mr. Shipman’s.

Very soon after I got home the fire bell rang. I have never been to a fire of any account and we could see the smoke through Florence Street when we were down to the corner and it looked as if it was going to be quite large. I tried to get some of the girls to go with me but none of them were at home and so I set out alone on foot for my bicycle was let. I thought that by that  by the time I should get there whatever it was would be all burnt up. I went through Bartlett Street and I found I was too far east and so I went through Morton Street and saw the steam fire engine and quite a crowd of people. It was Draper Hall. There was quite a hole burnt in the roof and the fire was just starting out in another part when I got there. I soon saw Miriam and when I had stayed out with her for a few moments I saw Clarence. I didn’t see how he could have got up there before me when he was at home when I started. He had borrowed one of the workmen’s wheels . There was not much to see in front and so we went around behind. The grounds were strewn with beautiful things furniture and pictures; and mattresses and bedding were flying out of the windows. A great many women and girls were helping. Clarence took Miss. Alice Carter way up into the building but he wouldn’t take me. Behind the building, I found Helen and about half past eleven we started home. The fire was mostly out. It had only been in the top of the building and most of the damage will be by water. Water is standing on many of the rooms and everything is soaked. “

Draper Hall is located on the Abbot Academy campus, an all girls school that later merged with Phillips Academy. It was designed by Henry Hartwell and William Richardson, the same people who designed Christ Church. In 1896, Draper Hall was basically used as a dorm and study center, along with rooms for teachers, multiple music rooms, a principal’s suite, and a library. The fire that ocurred happened in the back of the building, and would’ve been an important event for nearly everyone in Andover. Just like many of the other buildings on Phillips Academy campus, it is an old, large, and beautiful building.It was completed in 1891, so it must’ve been a relatively new building while Bessie was alive. The picture below is the front view of Draper Hall. Does it look familiar? If you live in Andover, you’ve probably driven past it thousands of times, but now you know a bit of the history behind it.

Photo courtesy of the Andover Historical Society #1987.598.1491


Bessie’s Fourth of July

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

Although it may be winter, and the Fourth of July may not be on your mind, I found this diary entry of Bessie’s particularly interesting.   It sounds remarkably similar to our traditions today, even though Bessie lived in 1896. Enjoy!

July 4th 1896

After breakfast I went down to Elise’s with my firecrackers. Mary was there and she came home with me. About twenty minutes of twelve May Locke came down and offered Mary her bicycle to go for a little ride. We went towards the pond but as it was so near dinner time we did not go way up. When we returned the bicycle, May said that she might take it again in the afternoon. So after dinner we started for the Smith’s side of the pond. We were not sure of the way but we got there and found Susie at the farm barn. She showed us seven little baby pigs. They were so clean and their little tails curled. Then Susie took us out on the boat for a little while. When we were in the boat the boys took our bicycles and let some girls ride them. The Smiths thought that it was a very crazy thing for us to ride up through the woods unaccompanied and asked us if we were not afraid to go home. When we got home we went into the Lamonts’ and each had a dish of ice cream.

After supper I went over to the Chandler’s and set off the rest of the fire crackers and my fireworks.

Bessie’s day sounds like something I would enjoy! Who couldn’t enjoy fireworks,bike riding, firecrackers and ice cream?  Bessie certainly has a lot of friends! Another thing that interested me about this entry was that Bessie’s friend Suzie’s family owned a farm! That just proves how much of Andover was farmland back then. The picture above is of a 1930s  Fourth of July parade in Ballardvale. I wonder if Bessie ever marched in Andover’s Fourth of July parade……



Punchard High School’s Graduation

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

Today I am blogging about the graduation at Bessie’s school, Punchard Hall. This was an exciting day for both the graduates and Bessie. After the graduation there was a dance, and Bessie writes about that, too. Enjoy!

June 18th 1896

We went up to school only for a little while today, to pack up our books and have our seats assigned for tonight. After that I went down and did my practicing.

It has been very hot today  and for the first time have been able to wear a whole thin dress.

This afternoon I went to Lawrence with mamma.

This evening I went to the Punchard graduating exercises. They were very good and more interesting to me for I knew more of the graduates. The first prize for composition was given in the senior class, the second prize in the third class, and a composition poem in our class was the next best although there was no prize for it.

June 19th 1896

There was no school today. Mary came over this morning to bring the dress that she is going to wear tonight. It has been terribly hot all day. This afternoon I went to the graduating exercises at the Stowe school. When I got home I dressed myself for the reception all except for my dress.

Mary walked over before supper and we were dressed in season. Mamma and papa went in a carriage for they received. Clarence and I went into the hall together and Mary went with one of the wishers. As we went in quite early it was not quite as “queering” as it was afterwards. Quite a lot of the fourth class was there.  Miss Berry introduced me to George Marland and I had to Promenade with him. I t was so funny every time I went by the girls I wanted to laugh out loud. The dancing began about half past nine. I only had two dances engaged. One to Clarence and one to Ralph Coleman and I missed the one with Clarence when I went down stairs in the intermission. Papa and mamma went home at ten o’clock but Clarence and Mary and I stayed till almost twelve. I danced everything but the schottische, the gallop and the lanciers.

Punchard Free School was founded by Benjamin Punchard in the mid nineteenth century.  As you may know, in Andover , there is a street called Punchard Street, and so now you know where it got its name! It also must have provided important experiences for Bessie, because Punchard became her middle name.  I’ll look into that next week!  Below is one of Bessie’s school pictures. She graduated Punchard in 1899.


Legacy: Osgood Farm

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

Osgood Farm holds a significant place in Andover’s farming history. The oldest part of the Osgood House was built in 1699 for Stephen Osgood and Hannah Blanchard, but it was not until 1739 that their son Isaac expanded it. In later years, Isaac’s son Jacob, who fought in the battles of Lexington and Bunker Hill during the Revolutionary War, became a reputable farmer in Andover.

Osgood Farm House

After inheriting the land from his father, Jacob became quite the agricultural entrepreneur and philanthropist. He frequently went into to town and gave milk away to the poor. However, Joseph’s specialty was in apples, specifically cider.

He built a cider mill, which he used to make cider from freshly picked apples. The cider was stored in barrels in Joseph’s cellar, ready to be sampled by visitors. Jacob, very social and open, often invited people to visit the farm and help themselves to his product.

One of the more well-known visitors of Osgood Farm was famed Revolutionary War veteran James Otis, a close friend of Jacob’s brother David. Otis lived at Osgood Farm during the last days of his life, when he was killed after being struck by lightning. The account of his death is a popular topic in Andover history, as the Osgood house eventually became known as “The House Where James Otis was Killed.” Ironically enough, Jacob Osgood always maintained that if Otis had not wanted a drink of cider, he would not have been struck by lightning while exiting the house to go to the cider mill.


Legacy: Potatoes Come to Andover

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Many believe the potato was first grown in Europe, but it was actually in South America where this hearty vegetable was discovered.  Originating from Peru and Chile, potatoes were regarded as an important crop by the natives. Now, potatoes are currently the most frequently produced crop in the entire world given the variety of foods that require their use.

The potato was planted in Italy purely for decoration, but was extensively harvested for food in Ireland as early as 1663 and in Scotland around 1740. Scotch Irish Pioneers were responsible for bringing the crop to North America, specifically Londonderry, New Hampshire, which they founded in 1719. However, they spent their first North American winter right here in Andover, one of the first places in America where the potato crop was planted.

One particular account of these Scotch Irish immigrants is provided by author Edward L. Parker in A History of Londonderry. Parker claims that the Scotch Irish planted potatoes before leaving Andover to settle in Londonderry.

Excerpt from A History of Londonderry:

“On taking their departure from one of the families with whom they had resided, they left a few potatoes for seed. The potatoes were accordingly planted; came up and flourished well; blossomed and produced balls, which the family supposed were the fruit to be eaten. They cooked the balls in various ways, but could not make them palatable, and pronounced them unfit for food. The next spring, while plowing their garden the plough passed through where the potatoes had grown, and turned out some of great size, by which means they discovered their mistake.”

Parker claims that these settlers accidentally harvested potato crops left behind by the Scotch Irish. While staying with a local family, some of the Scotch Irish began growing potatoes, but left Andover long before these crops could flourish. The Andover family unknowingly harvested the potatoes the following spring while tending to their own crops. What they were left with was a healthy, bountiful crop, which could be used to compliment a variety of meals.

How about that? Andover’s first encounter with the potato was an accidental discovery of the crop during the spring of 1719!

Get fresh local pototoes at the Andover Farmers’ Market located on the property of the Andover Historical Society every Saturday from 12:30-3:30 June  30-October 6.


Exhibit Highlight: The Smoking Cap of the Lord Mayor of London

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012
In 1911, an elderly widow named Winifred Tyer lived on the outskirts of town on Spring Grove Road in Andover.  Her wealthy husband, Henry George Tyer, had died nearly thirty years before, yet she still corresponded on stationery under the heading:
Mrs. Henry G. Tyer
100 Spring Grove Road
Andover, Massachusetts 01810
Winifred’s beloved son, Horace, had passed away in 1907.  Mrs. Tyer was left with a rather extensive collection from her husband’s colorful past, and that she still remembered him proudly and fondly is to be expected.  In 1911 she donated much of the collection to the newly-formed Andover Historical Society.  One of those items is displayed in the current exhibit, Common Indecency.
The object is a Turkish-style fez made of deep purple velvet, also called a smoking cap.  It originally belonged to Henry George Tyer’s uncle, Sir John Musgrove.  Musgrove made his fortune in real estate, and by 1850, he was in the booming textile business.  In November of that year, Musgrove was elected Lord Mayor of London, a post discrete from the position of Mayor of London, and largely a ceremonial title.  On May 1st of the following year, John Musgrove, along with the rest of London, attended the opening of the Great Exhibition at the recently constructed Crystal Palace.  Queen Victoria herself opened the festivities under a great canopy of royal purple trimmed with silver before countless spectators.  The intention of this exhibition was to create “an occasion which might be celebrated by the whole human race without one pang of regret, envy, or national hate.”(London Times, 2 May 1851)  As was customary for an elected Lord Mayor of London, Musgrove was, upon leaving his position in 1851, granted a knighthood.
Henry George Tyer was born in Hackney, London, a neighborhood populated by middle class merchants.  He emigrated to New Brunswick, New Jersey, and started a business in rubber.  Throughout the 1840s and 50s, Tyer was granted no less than six U.S. patents for his novel rubber weaving techniques, and in 1856, he established the Tyer Rubber Manufacturing Company in Ballardvale, and soon afterward he opened a shop in Andover.  His biggest seller was, unsurprisingly for New England, a “Compo” shoe guaranteed to keep out melting snow.  Tyer became big enough in the business that he even found himself peripherally involved in legal action against the more famous Charles Goodyear over patents.
In 1881, when his uncle John Musgrove died with no heirs, Henry Tyer inherited his estate, as the oldest living male relative.  Amongst the vast amounts of money and real estate, Tyer inherited some personal effects, including the fez.  Before Musgrove’s estate could be entirely settled, however, Henry George Tyer himself passed away, leaving Winifred to inherit everything.
In 1988, possibly because of the hat’s festive look, it was put on display for a Christmas exhibit.  Little was known about the piece at that time; it was dated to circa 1880s – probably because this was when Musgrove and Tyer both died.  In 2004 the fez was reexamined by the Andover Historical Society.  It was found to contain “some small bugs and frass in [the] brim…bugs looked old and long dead.”  It is beyond question that in the late nineteenth century, smoking caps were considered very stylish in England, particularly among “aesthetes” like Oscar Wilde who frequented opium parlors.  However, the fez currently on display must date to before 1881.  The fact that it has such an unusual provenance strongly suggests it was either made for or purchased from the 1851 Great Exhibition.  Often, the simple fact that a particular object has been preserved rather than thrown away makes an argument for its past.
Consider this painting of Victoria opening the ceremony.  In the foreground are some officers dressed in purple coats, and wearing hats in much the same style as the one on display.  Could one of these attendants depict the Lord Mayor himself, standing at a respectable distance from her majesty?
It is entirely possible that the fez was made or purchased later as a novelty by the Musgroves.  But the other possibilities are very intriguing indeed.
James Miele, AHS Staff

Tea with Bessie: A 1892 Andover Girl

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Growing up during the Victorian era was very different than today.  On Tuesday, January 31st, the Andover Historical Society is offering an opportunity for children to learn about Bessie Goldsmith,  a real Andover Girl who grew up during the late 19th century at Tea with Bessie Goldsmith: An 1892 Andover Girl.

William Goldsmith

Bessie Goldsmith was born in 1882, the daughter of William Gleason Goldsmith and Joanna Baily Holt.  Bessie was born and lived  at 60 Elm Street in Andover.  On her mother’s side, she is a descendant of Nicholas Holt who made his home on Holt hill in 1635.  Bessie’s middle name is Punchard; she was named after the Punchard Free School of which her father was principal for 25 years.

Growing up in the 19th century, Bessie was used to weekly baths on Saturday night in the kitchen.  She would sit in an iron sink on a little black chair with her feet in a tub.  In the morning Bessie and her family would wash their faces and hands in their bedrooms using a bowl and pitcher on a commode with a splasher behind it.  A “splasher” was often a Christmas present with some form of embroidery on it.

60 Elm Street

 Bessie’s house was a Greek Revival 1840s farmhouse.  Across the street from her 60 Elm Street home, Bessie would fly Kites.  The old kitchen, which had no cellar under it, had an open fireplace and brick oven, an iron sink and copper pump, which required much polishing with Putz Pomade and the water was from the well.

When Bessie was very young she contacted diphtheria.  A disease that affects the upper respiratory tract it is associated with a sore throat, this disease is no longer a threat because of vaccines. The disease left a lasting effect on Bessie’s bronchial tubes.

Bessie Goldsmith

After she graduated, her first job was at the Lawrence Gas Company traveling to houses by foot and trolley to demonstrate how to cook with gas stoves in 1901.   Like many Andover women, she worked at a local factory making gas masks during WWI.  Bessie had a small dressmaking business in addition to teaching school.  She was a worker at the Andover Guild for many years, on the staff of the Andover Townsman for eleven years and wrote a column called “Siftings” over the signature “The Townswoman.”  Bessie was also Andover’s second Andover policewoman and on the force for 25 years, which gave her an acquaintance with all walks of life.

Bessie was very active in the community.  She was a member of the November Club, the Andover Garden club, a life member of the Andover Village Improvement Society, and of the Andover Historical Society.

Much of what we know of Bessie was written in her diaries, now part of the Andover Historical Society collection.  Children ages 7-11 are invited to join us Tuesday, January 31, 3:30-5:30 for Tea with Bessie Goldsmith.  Bring your favorite American Doll and come hear the stories of this real Andover Girl.  Play games, make crafts, and enjoy a delightful Victorian tea.  Reservations are required, please call in advance 978-475-2236.


Abby Locke’s Splendid Days: A Teenager’s Diary in 1860s Andover (#43 and final)

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

These are Abby’s last entries for the year 1867.

Thomas Nast's images of Santa first appeared in Harper's Weekly during the Civil War, and by Christmas 1865 had taken on many of the characteristics of the image we know today.

Wednesday December 18: Since last writing E.W.D. has been up 3 or four times. Been to ride with him once. Bob Means came up to invite me to a dancing school party at No. Andover Friday night. E.W. Donald came up to night to make a call with me but I had a cold and did not feel able to go out.

Friday 20: A large wagon carried all the Andover people to No A. It came for me at ¼ to 8. I wore my white tucked muslin, coral jewelry, scarlet sash and fan, and scarlet heels and bows on my white slippers. I had Louise’s white opera cape and lace handkerchief and looked as well as possible. Had a splendid time. Got home at ½ past 3.
Wednesday 25: Willie Donald came up in the afternoon (how nice he is) and took tea. Mother did not get us presents. She says she will New Year’s.

Friday December 27: Spent the evening at Mrs. Morse’s. Had a nice time. Mary M rode down with me. Crowley came for me at ¼ past 10. Was introduced to Mr. Tennis.

In the years immediately following the Civil War, Andover residents celebrated the Holiday Season – which stretched, as it does now, from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day – in ways that were sometimes faithful to old New England traditions but also increasingly resembled the commercialism of the “Gilded Age” that was to follow.
The dance that Abby attended on December 20th was probably one of a series of holiday galas hosted by the Master Machinists of the Davis & Furber Company at Stevens Hall in North Andover. The Lawrence American described the hall as “nearly filled with gaily dressed ladies and gents” and “tastefully” decorated with “some forty streamers [diverging] from the ceiling and ‘the flag’ displayed from numerous points in the room. The venue, with music provided by various “Quadrille Bands” from the area, allowed as many as 75 couples to stand up for twenty dances each evening.
Christmas itself would not be designated a federal holiday by Congress and President Ulysses Grant until 1870. In Andover, many people (like Abby’s mother, apparently) still favored New Year’s Day as the more significant observance. But new traditions like Christmas trees and the use of Santa Claus as a secular symbol of gift-giving were becoming ingrained.
Local merchants placed advertisements in December 1867 suggesting their merchandise – books, toys, and various “fancy goods” — as suitable for Christmas and New Year’s gifts. One shop explained that “so universal has become the custom of giving to and receiving from our friends some token of remembrance during the Holidays, that all expect something. “ Another emphasized its superior customer service with the assurance that “the great annoyance and loss of time generally experienced in the selection of suitable articles for presents at moderate prices will be entirely obviated,” and further explained that all purchases were fully exchangeable.
Some Andover churches (Baptist, Christ Episcopal, and South Parish) had a Christmas tree hung with gifts for the children of their congregations on Christmas Eve. Others (Frye Village Sunday School, Free Church, West Parish,) held their “Holiday Festivals” on New Year’s Day, complete with a Christmas Tree, and in one case (the North Andover Unitarians) a visit from “Old Santa Claus” himself.
Santa himself was starting to behave in the manner to which we are now accustomed. The Andover Advertiser reported that “after the children had retired. . . the stocking operation commenced. Santa Claus, as usual, visited their abodes regardless of bolts and locks and dispensed favors. It is strongly suspected that some of the little urchins borrowed for the occasion, stockings of such prodigious dimensions that they could not possibly wear them unless they got into them altogether. They were nonetheless well filled, and the stock of the visitor was not entirely exhausted. “


Abby Locke’s Splendid Days: A Teenager’s Diary in 1860s Andover (40)

Friday, November 11th, 2011

Abby’s entries for November 1867 continue

Tuesday 5:  Went to a sort of Society at the Old South and after up to Mrs. Eaton’s.  Mr. Johnson took care of me.  There was quite a little party.  Went up and had a nice time.

Wednesday November 6: Louise had a little company in the evening.  I had a splendid time.  Mr. Spaulding, Babbitt, Dennis, Frye and Means, Ella Fisher, Clara and Georgia Ray.  And in the afternoon up to the Public Speaking at Phillips.  Seth Williams spoke as finely as he usually does.  The last time I went up I heard Dennis and they are both the finest speakers I’ve heard in school.  Played [spills], euchre, piano.  Had ice cream and coffee.

Friday 7: Chose readers for the prize reading next term.  The results will be given to morrow.  Dr. Moore and Mr. Frye came up.  Mr. F. brought a pound of candy.

Saturday November 8:  Father went to Washington.  Next to Hattie Tufts in our division, I had the most votes.  4 are to read from one division.  Hattie Tufts, Emma Eastern, Nannie Dillingham and myself.

Sunday 10:  Rained nearly all the day.  Went down to Mrs. Raymonds’s to hear Mr. Haines sing and play.  Frank Safford (?) and Edith took tea with us.

Monday 11:  Mr. Frye and Mr. Spaulding spent the evening.  Played euchre.  Mr. S. brought two poiunds of candy.  We had five or seven pounds last week.

John Wesley Churchill (1839-1900) was the elocution teacher for all three schools on Andover Hill from 1866 to 1900.

Abbot Academy’s Draper Reading Prize was awarded in the spring term of 1868 with a thirty dollar donation to the school by Irene Rowley Draper, and Abbot alumna and the wife of Warren F. Draper, an important trustee and benefactor of the school who had already established a similar contest for the Phillips Academy boys.  Sixteen to twenty Abbot readers were elected by the students for the first round of the contest, after which ten were chosen for private instruction from elocution professor J. Wesley Churchill.  The school’s relationship with Churchill, who was employed for thirty-four years by all three schools on Andover Hill (and was incidentally the brother-in-law of Abby’s friends Willy and E.W. Donald) became a significant source of pride for the school.  Principal Philena McKeen wrote in her 1897 history of the school (published by Mr. Draper) that the opportunity for lessons with churchill gave the school “one advantage over every other school or college for young women in the land.”