Posts Tagged ‘Andover Townsman’

My Trip Abroad 1909: John Radford Abbot’s Diary: Biography

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

Adapted from obituary in the Andover Townsman, July 11, 1985:

John Radford Abbot was born on April 30, 1893 in Melrose, Massachusetts. He was educated at Roxbury Latin School, and graduated from Andover Academy in 1910. He was also a 1914 graduate of Harvard College, and a 1916 graduate of the Harvard Architectural School. A decorated veteran of both World Wars, he joined the American Field Service in 1916, and was attached to the French Army. He joined the U.S. Army Ambulance Service as a first lieutenant and section commander a year later. He went on to serve in the French Army of the Occupation in Germany. He was decorated with the Croix de Guerre and the Purple Heart. He was commissioned a major in the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II, serving as a group intelligence officer. Part of the 319th Bombardment Group in England, North Africa, Sardinia, and Corsica, he was honored with the Legion of Merit.

A noted architect, Mr. Abbot began his career in 1919, when he joined the Boston firm of Strikland, Blodgett and Law. He started his own Cambridge firm in 1929, and later worked in Andover before he retired in 1974. Among the homes and schools he designed and renovated were Abbot, Andover and Milton academies, and the Noble and Greenough, Middlesex, Groton and Applewild schools.

Mr. Abbot was a trustee of Abbot Academy, a member and former president of the Andover Historical Society, and a trustee and member of the investment committee at the Andover Savings Bank. He belonged to the Union Club, the Harvard Faculty Club, and the Duxbury Yacht Club, where he was a former commodore.

At 92 years old, John Radford Abbot died on July 9, 1985. The widower of Helen Maxwell Abbot, and the father of the late John Abbot and Maxwell Abbot, he left one son, David Maxwell Abbot; three grandsons, John Radford, Ames, and Stephen Abbot; as well as two great-grandsons.


Photo of the Week

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013


Last week I wrote about the Eagle Tribune, North Andover’s daily newspaper. This week, I am writing about our very own Andover Townsman, which provides local information to the inhabitants of Andover and nearby towns. Pictured on the left are townsman photographers Donald Surrette and Joe Hanson, who worked for the paper in 1941. This photograph was found in the Andover Historical Society collection.

The Andover Townsman was formed in 1887 as a weekly paper, with the first issue appearing on October 14th. The first editor of the townsman was Charles C. Carpenter. The idea of a paper for only Andover came from John N. Cole, who used the paper to support his career in the House of Representatives. The paper flourished under Cole’s ownership until his death in 1922.

The paper had some bad years after Cole’s death, and was bought in 1949 by Irving Rogers Senior, who was the at the time the owner of the Eagle Tribune. In 1887, the Andover Townsman celebrated its centennial under Irving Rogers III, who sold the Townsman along with the Tribune to Community Newspaper Holdings in 2005. Today, the Andover Townsman is delievered every Thursday, and provides wonderful weekly information for many town  residents.


Photo of the Week

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

Andover Townsman, October 1992

Meet Andrew Coburn, an Andover native who has written 13 novels about murder mysteries. Coburn was born in New Hampshire and attended Haverhill High School. After he graduated, he went into the army and was stationed in Germany. He married his wife, Casey, in 1955, and that’s when the couple moved to Andover. Coburn moved to Germany for a little while without his family, but when he came back broke, he took a job writing crime reports for the Tribune. His first book, Trespasses, was published in 1974.

Many novels followed, including Goldilocks, which was voted a best novel of 1989 by the Mystery Writers of America. In the same year, it was nominated for an Edgar Award. When this Andover Townsman article was written about him, his book No Way Home was coming out in October.

Coburn said in an interview that he writes from 1 AM to 6 AM. When he gets a writer’s block, he thumbs through a dictionary for inspiration. If that doesn’t help, he shaves or goes to his yard. In the winter he shovels late at night. Coburn calls himself crazy, but his novels are wildly popular in Europe. The Andover Townsman reported that “three of his books have been made into French films.” Andrew Coburn is now 78. I find it amazing that we have so many cool people living in Andover.


Andover Stories – November thru December 2010

Friday, January 21st, 2011

As a regular readers know, the Andover Townsman newspaper has been publishing a weekly feature, “Andover Stories.” The feature will run for two years, from April 2010 through April 2012, celebrating the Society’s 100th anniversary.  One story will run on the Society’s actual 100th birth date, Thursday, April 14, 2011.

The Andover Stories project is chaired by volunteer Gail Ralston and co-chaired by volunteer Mike Simo.  Writers are all volunteers and interns.  Historical Society volunteers include Jim Batchelder, Joan Patrakis, Gail Ralston, Don Robb, and Mike Simo.  Interns past and present include Francesca Balboni, Amanda Beveridge, Katie Gohn, and Jennifer Tarbox.  If you would like to join the 104 Stories team as a researcher or writer, please call Elaine Clements at the Historical Society.

Andover Stories will be archived on the Andover Townsman’s website the week after they appear in the paper.  We will post a link to the most recent article each week on The Blanchard House Blog so you can stay up to date with the series.

Follow these links to the stories from November and December 2010 in the series:

November 4, 2010 – Andover Stories: Le Boutillier’s indelible mark, By Tom Adams

November 11, 2010 – Andover Stories: Immigrants always drawn to Andover, By Amanda Beveridge

November 18, 2010 – Andover Stories: A sailor from ‘Greatest Generation,’ By Mike Simo

November 24, 2010 – Andover Stories: Thanksgiving in Andover, By Gail Ralston

December 2, 2010 – Andover Stories: Andover’s Big Screens, By Lorraine DeLucia

December 9, 2010 – Andover Stories: League of Women Voters celebrates 90 years, By Karen Wakeling

December 16, 2010 – Andover Stories: Independent Andover Bookstore remains a rare business, By Katie Gohn

December 30, 2010 – Andover Stories: Andover’s early churches: A history of helping others, By Amanda Beveridge


Calling All Storytellers!

Monday, March 29th, 2010

Have you ever visited the Historical Society and wondered about the folks who first lived in Andover? Do you have information about farming in Andover and all the out-of-the-ordinary things people grew or raised? Would you like to share the history of your organization?

As part of the Society’s 100th Birthday celebration, a volunteer committee has identified 104 stories to highlight during the year leading up to the BIG 1-0-0 (!)

Beginning this week, on April 1st – no fooling – the Andover Townsman will highlight one topic each week as a way of telling Andover’s Stories through the many subjects of its history – stories to intrigue, stories to inform, stories that lead to even more stories!

Would-be storytellers should contact the Society (or Committee Chair Gail Ralston) for a list off topics that are still in need of writers. The Society will walk you through the process, help you select a topic, guide you through the research and have fun selecting a photo for your article. 104 Story Committee members include Mike Simo, Don Robb, Norma Gammon, Joan Patrakis, and Committee Chair Gail Ralston. Join us as we keep our stories alive!


Turkey Day Facts

Friday, November 20th, 2009
Andover Townsman Nov. 22, 1945

Andover Townsman Nov. 22, 1945

Andover Townsman Nov. 18, 1943
Andover Townsman Nov. 18, 1943

In 2009 Pilgrims, turkey, and pie equal Thanksgiving, but is this how the holiday really started? While it is true that the Plymouth colonists and the Wampanoags did hold a harvest feast, this was not the beginning of the annual holiday we now celebrate, but just a one time harvest feast. In early colonial America thanksgivings were days of solemn prayer and worship much like the Sabbath. These thanksgivings could happen throughout the year and could be held for many reasons. Fall was a time of great harvest and it was not uncommon for thanksgivings to be held in autumn as a way to be thankful for the bounties of the harvest.


As time went on autumnal harvest feasts grew and began to be combined with religious days of thanksgiving. By the mid-18th century a singular day of Thanksgiving was becoming more popular and was predominantly held in the autumn months from October to the end of December. These Thanksgiving days were often proclaimed a week prior to the actual day of Thanksgiving by the church, town, or local government. Thanksgiving by the mid-18th century was a day of prayer and church services as well as a day of feast and fun.



Trick or Treat

Friday, October 30th, 2009

Andover Townsman Oct. 30, 1931


Andover Townsman Oct. 30, 1931

The origin of Halloween dates back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain which took place on the night of October 31st. Celts believed that on that night the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. To commemorate the event, they built huge bonfires, where people gathered and wore costumes, typically of animal heads and skins, and told fortunes.

Later under Romans rule, Roman festivals were combined with traditional Celtic celebrations. Again, celebrations were combined under the influence of Christianity. The church designated November 1st All Saints’ Day, a time to honor saints and martyrs and November 2nd All Souls’ Day, a day to honor the dead. All Souls’ Day was celebrated similarly to Samhain, with big bonfires, parades, and dressing up in costumes as saints, angels, and devils. Together, the celebrations were called Hallowmas.

As European immigrants came to America, they brought their varied Halloween customs with them. However celebration of Halloween in colonial times was extremely limited.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, America was flooded with a new wave of immigrants. They helped to popularize the celebration of Halloween nationally. Americans began to dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today’s “trick-or-treat”. Trick-or-treating probably dates back to the early All Souls’ Day parades in England. During the festivities, poor citizens would beg for food and families would give them pastries called “soul cakes” in return for their promise to pray for the family’s dead relatives.

The distribution of soul cakes was encouraged by the church as a way to replace the ancient practice of leaving food and wine for roaming spirits. The practice, which was referred to as “going a-souling” was eventually taken up by children who would visit the houses in their neighborhood and be given ale, food, and money.

At the turn of the century, Halloween parties for both children and adults became the most common way to celebrate the day. By the 1920s and 1930s, Halloween had become a secular holiday, with parades and town-wide parties. By the 1950s Trick-or-treating was a major part of the holiday.

 Today Halloween is now the second largest commercial Holiday in the united States with Americans spending a near $6.9 million annually on the holiday!

Article taken from the History Channel,


This Week in Andover History

Friday, August 28th, 2009

August 24, 1888 Andover Townsman
August 24, 1888 Andover Townsman

Canobie! Canobie! Reads the first line of an article in the August 24, 1888 issue of the Andover Townsman. Even in 1888 individuals and groups sought out fun in the sun in neighboring Salem. Canobie Lake park didn’t’ open officially until 1902 as a trolley park for the Massachusetts Northeast Street Railway Company. Trolley parks popped up all over the Northeast during the late 1800s and early 1900s as an incentive for people to use railcars.

            Even before the official opening of the park people from allover the Merrimack Valley flocked to the banks for the lack for fun and relaxation. Andover had regular service to Canobie at 8:23 and 1:09 returning at 5:13. However, because it was such a draw special trains were scheduled for large groups such as this one for the Free Church Sunday-school.


Photo of the Week

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

1993-96-203-pet-showWe don’t know much about today’s photograph, except that it was taken by Andover Townsman photographer Donald Look, probably in the late 1940s to early 1950s. This photograph of a local pet show is one of the many charming and poignant images that can be found in the Society’s photograph collection.  Images like this are at once familiar and different.  They can connect us to our community’s past in a way that few other media can.


If you enjoy our Photo of the Week blog post, consider purchasing a copy of our newest book, Images of America: Andover.  The book is filled with historic photographs that are unique to this town.  Proceeds from the book benefit the Historical Society.  If you are in town, you can purchase the book at the Historical Society and the Andover Book Store.  The book is also available on line at


Local History in the News

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

The Andover Townsman has started a new column,All Those Years Ago: From the Pages of Old Townsmans.” You can click here to read the March 26th column, or stop by the Historical Society library to page through some old Townsmans yourself.  You never know what — or who — you’ll find!


At the moment, Historical Society volunteer researchers are working on a project for the town Conservation Department.  Reading through Townsmans from the 1940s, the volunteers are learning about Andover’s wartime Victory Garden effort  that included rabbits, and chickens, and pigs…oh my!