Posts Tagged ‘Bessie Goldsmith’

Old Sporting Equipment Week 16

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013


These ice skates resemble somewhat elvish shoes, and are another one of the vast collection of skates in the West Loft of the barn. These skates have a base of thin metal with a curved tip. These skates are made of wood, with the sole mounted onto the blade. There are leather straps attached to the toe and heel end of the skates, and three straps with buckles connect the two straps at the toe end. These straps help one’s foot fit more comfortably inside these skates as well.

Unfortunately, not much is known about these ice skates, with the exception being the owner, Bessie Punchard Goldsmith. The maker’s note is also visible on the skate, Aug. H Perry of Salem, Mississippi. Aside from their place of origin, these skates do not have a plethora of information about them. However, they are another example of the  vintage skates that can be found in the Andover Historical Society collection.





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……



A Picnic with Bessie

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Today I am blogging about a fun summer day with Bessie that features a few activities that I’m sure we can all relate to. Enjoy!

July 1st 1896

Today I went on a picnic to Lakeview with Miss Jenkin’s Sunday school class. We started at half past eight and got there about half past ten. Before dinner most of the girls rode in the flying horses three or four times. We ate dinner in the piazza. We had a great variety of things to eat and a plenty of everything. After dinner I rode in the flying horses twice and the second time I caught the brass ring and so I had another ride free. We went around the lake on the steamboat. I didn’t take money enough and so I borrowed ten cents of Annie Johnson and ten of Ethel Coleman and Miss Jenkins treated me to my rides on the steamboat and on the flying horses. We started home a little after three but we didn’t get there till about half past five for we missed a car and had to wait half an hour in Lowell. I was very tired and so I went upstairs directly after supper but I came downstairs again for Miss McLaulin and Miss Robinson and May Locke came in.

I really like this entry because once, I caught the brass ring at a carousel at Martha’s Vineyard.  At some carousel’s if you grab the brass ring, you win a free ride!  I think it’s cool that Bessie and I shared similar experiences, even though we live in such different time periods. Also, Bessie certainly had a lot of friends!

Below is a picture from Andover Historical Society that shows young children picnicking near Haggett’s Pond, which was a popular spot for picnics until the town started using it for drinking water. Rules prohibiting swimming, boating, and other water activities, were set into place.

Doug Cooper, a researcher at the Historical Society found this information about Haggett’s Pond:

“In 1889, Haggett’s Pond was named as the official water supply for the town and swimming was no longer allowed. The prohibition was routinely ignored by people and cows alike. (Joan Patrakis. “What Our Ancestors Did For Summer Fun). In 1908, the state of Massachusetts took further steps to protect the pond from pollution so that nobody got sick from drinking bad water. (Report on Water Supply & Sewerage pg. 26 [1984.10] ).  The state regulations helped bring an end to organized activities at the pond.”

In another one of her entries, Bessie mentions having a picnic at Haggett’s Pond with some friends.

#1992.803-Picnic at Haggett's Pond


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.


Treasures in the Attic: Winter Sports with Alan French

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

Visit the Andover Historical Society this Saturday from 10:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. for our special event Treasures in the Attic: Winter Sports with Alan French.

Treasures in the Attic programs  offer visitors a chance to view collections that are not regularly on display.  This Saturday, Alan French will explore the history of winter recreation in Andover.  Alan French, owner of Moor and Mountain, Chairman of the Bay Circuit Alliance, and former member of the AVIS Board of Trustees will present history and stories associated with objects all related to winter sports from Andover’s past.

Young Bessie Goldsmith

Included in the Andover Historical Society winter sport collection is a pair of ice skates and a child’s sled donated by former Andover resident Bessie Goldsmith.  An eccentric Andover character, Bessie left a large collection to the Andover Historical Society including personal items, diaries, and photos.  During Treasures in the Attic, Allan French will recount stories of

Bessie Goldsmith and how the Goldsmith Woodlands were saved.  Bessie, a strong and independent woman of Andover’s past, is said to have pointed her shotgun at trespassers caught picking blueberries on her land.  In 1974, Bessie Goldsmith, donated her woodlands and land to the Fund for Preservation of Wildlife and Natural Areas.  AVIS became the caretakers in 1977.

Alan French of Moor and Mountain Sports

Alan French is an expert in sporting equipment and an avid outdoorsman. With a total of  172 miles of multi-use, recreational trail, Andover conservationists have preserved the land and its history for future generations.  Come learn about how winter recreation in Andover and sporting equipment has changed and evolved Saturday, November 12th.  This event is free to members of the Andover Historical Society and $5 for non-members.  Please call to make reservations.

To learn more about the Treasures in the Attic program, call 978-475-2236 or visit the Andover Historical Society website at


Andover Stories from the Trails… this Sunday!

Monday, July 19th, 2010

Watercolor by Bessie Goldsmith, from the Society's collection (Acc. 1992.114.16)

The Andover Trails Committee and the Andover Historical Society have joined together and will be hosting a historic hike at the Goldsmith Reservation on Sunday, July 25th from 1pm to 4pm. Led by Andover Historical Society Board Member Jane Cairns, it’s a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon and learn more about Andover’s history, and one its best known former residents, Bessie Goldsmith!

Free & Open to Public
Meet at Goldsmith Reservation