Archive for February, 2011

Abby Locke’s Splendid Days: A Teenager’s Diary in 1860s Andover (7)

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Abby’s diary entries from February 1867 continue:

Tues. 19   Went to a sociable in the evening.  Was having a splendid time when I was taken with one sick headache and was obliged to come home.  Mr. Potter and Leighton were there.  Danced twice with Mr. P. and was going to dance once more.  He is just as splendid as he can be.  I was sorry I had to go.  Wore my black alapaca and pink ribbons and they said I never looked better.

Wed. 20: Snowy, and a fair prospect of another long storm.  Mr. Hilger came to day and we were delighted to see him.  He stays a week with L.

The Mendelssohn Quartette Club and Mrs. H.M. Smith appeared at the Andover Town Hall on February 21, 1867. (AHS object #1989.037.3)

Thurs. February 21:  Went to the Mendelssohn concert, the last of the series.  Had a very nice time.  Mrs. Smith sang.  Mr’s Hilger and Frye sat behind and all the girls were in one bunch.

Fri 22Mssrs Hilger and Frye called on us this morning.  We are going to B. tomorrow.  They promised to meet us at the depot.

Sat. 23:  Went to B. to day.  We did not have a sight at Mr. H. and we expected such a nice time.  I am real vexed.  They promised to come to dinner tomorrow and I know they staid over.

Sun. February 24: Mssrs. Hilger and Frye did come up to dinner contrary to our expectations.  Hattie and Mr. F. took a short ride after supper.

Mon. 25:  Mr. Hilger spent the day with us.  Leighton and Potter came up to spend the evening.  Had a real nice time.  Played Euchre.  They took their departure about ten o clock.

Andover residents had the opportunity to see and hear some of the country’s best professional musicians during the 1860s without travelling further than the Town Hall on Main Street.  The Mendelssohn Quintette Club, the first professional group devoted exclusively to chamber music, travelled widely throughout New England during the 1850s and 1860s, and appeared frequently in Andover.  Its leader Thomas Ryan wrote in his 1898 memoir Recollections of An Old Musician,  that the group of young men led “a kind of ‘belle’s life.’ We were in demand everywhere, not only for single concerts, but for sets of four or more.” 

   They were accompanied in 1867 by Boston soprano, Mrs. H. M. Smith.  Born Ursula Newell Greenwood in Perkinsville, Vermont, she had won acclaim as a church soloist in Nashua, New Hampshire before her marriage in Manchester to a well-known teacher of music.  She later toured the extensively throughout the Western U.S., both with the “Mendelssohns” and with her own musical “combinations.”  You can see her carte de visite for sale at

     Maurice Hilger, who sat behind Abby at the concert, is another young man who may have been, like “Frye” or “Bates” some kind of business associate or protégé of her father.  He was twenty-three years old in 1867. His father, also named Maurice, had been the President of the Germania Fire Insurance Company in the Bowery district of New York, until his death in March 1866.  His name will crop up in Abby’s diary again in the summer.


Object of the Week

Monday, February 21st, 2011

Object Id #1984.123.1c

Milk bottle lid /cap: circular disc with an indented center, where label/writing is.
Label design: Purple rim around center indentation and purple line across diameter. Writing in black.

Gift of James Batchelder

made of waxed cardboard/paper

from from Rolling Acres Farm on Argilla Road, Andover, MA. Farm bought  1928; sold 1952

imprinted: “TEL.122R” in white at top of label; MILK PASTEURIZE” “ROLLING ACRES” in black script ” ANDOVER, MASS.” at bottom in small block letters.

dates to late 1940s


Abby Locke’s Splendid Days: A Teenager’s Diary in 1860s Andover (6)

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Abby’s entries from February 1867 continue:

Wed. 13:   Mrs. Paine spent the day with us and we all enjoyed it so much.  Went to ride with Hattie.  Had a gay time while out but after I got home I don’t feel satisfied with these gay times.

Thurs. 14I expected such a nice time.  Got all ready to go to the Mendelssohn concert in the evening but I was [struck] with a sick headache.  I was so disappointed.  Mr. Frye told Coffin that he never saw such [nice] girls and any better company than Hattie and I were.

Fri. February 15:  Louise Hattie and I called on E. Raymond.  Had a nice time.  Hattie and I went out to ride in the afternoon.  Had a real nice time though it was quite cold.  Met Leighton.  Mother ever so much better. 

Houses advertised for sale in Andover in the 1860s (including, I think, the Lockes') described "nearly new" Stewart Stoves as an attractive selling point.

Sat. 16:  Very rainy and unpleasant.  Made Cornballs in the evening.  Burnt our hands two or three times. 

Sun. 17Went to church at No. A in the morning.  Hattie and I went down to Aunt Abbie’s in the afternoon.   Mr. Frye was up in the afternoon.

Candy-making of all kinds became a lot easier in the 1860s as improvements in cooking technology made it easier for home cooks to achieve nice even heat on the stovetop.   All of the treats Abby mentions in her diary – caramels, meringue kisses, and cornballs – involve a long boil of sugar or molasses.   The popcorn balls she makes this week were “among the most popular confections in the late nineteenth century” according to popcorn historian Andrew F. Smith in his book Popped Culture: The Social History of Popcorn in America.  The first recipe for the treats was published in 1861 by New York cookbook author E.F. Haskell.  Her instructions were simple: “Boil honey, maple or other sugar to the great thread, pop corn and stick the corn together in balls with the candy.”  Recipe variations became common after the Civil War, and commercial tools — that would mold and eject six balls at a time, without burnt hands – were developed. 

When the Lockes bought their house in 1861, I believe it came with a “large size Stuart cooking stove, nearly new.”  This was the “Large Oven and Air-Tight cooking Stove” patented in 1859 by Philo Penfield Stewart.  Stewart was a mechanically-inclined missionary and one of the founders of Oberlin College.  His large and successful factory in Troy, New York began manufacturing the famous “Philo Penfield Stewart Summer and Winter Cooking Stove” in 1836.  It featured a removable covering, an original concept in the 1830s, by which its user could regulate the amount of heat generated.  The 1859 model was larger with an improved heat reservoir, and effectively combined gas and coal-burning devices with hot water and other attachments.  It was a huge success, selling more than 90,000 units within thirty years.


And Now, For One Day Only…

Monday, February 14th, 2011


at the

Andover Historical Society

February 26, 2011

We are looking for volunteers to inventory the Blanchard House Museum collection.

The day will consist of handling collections objects and recording their name, object number, and location. Ultimately, all of this information is going into the PastPerfect database so we will know where everything in the collection really is.

We have three shifts throughout the day.

9 am – 12 pm

12 pm – 1 pm (lunch provided by AHS)

1 pm – 4 pm

4 pm – 7 pm (light snack and refreshments provided by AHS)

Any time you can give would be invaluable.

Please mention this to friends and family.

The more the merrier (and the faster we will finish).

To sign up or for more information

contact Mark at 978-475-2236 or


Object of the Week

Monday, February 14th, 2011

Object ID #1998.056.49

Happy Valentine’s Day to all the sweethearts we know!

This charming valentine likely dates to the 1920s based on the illustration style and clothing of the young sweethearts.

It’s one of over 150 valentines in the collection of the Andover Historical Society. While this one had no other information attached to it, many of our valentines have hand written notes, or even envelopes indicating who the sender and recipients were.

Measuring 9″ high by 7″ wide, this example feature a young girl wearing a yellow dress being stopped by a young boy dressed as a policeman. The verse reads:

Stop! And mend
my broken
Go Ahead!
and be my

While we don’t wish for any broken hearts today, the Andover Historical Society does wish everyone a very Happy Valentine’s Day!


Abby Locke’s Splendid Days: A Teenager’s Diary in 1860s Andover (5)

Friday, February 11th, 2011

Abby’s diary from February 1867 continues:

Wed.  Feb. 6  Went down town with Hattie.  Met all the boys.  And up to Mary Means.  There is talk of a Calico Ball in about 4 wks.

The card game of Euchre was popular during the Civil War and brought home to many respectable parlors by returning soldiers.

Thurs. 7     Mr. Swifts came up to teach Louise chess, and Hattie, Mr. Frye, Clara and I played euchre. Our side was one game ahead all the eve.

Fri 8        O these warm beautiful days. Nearly all the snow has gone and it seemed like spring.  The air is so mild. Mother is sick again but I do not think it is serious.  Anything more than natural.

Sat. Feb. 9   Rain and mist.  Mother about the same.

Sunday 10Went to church at No. Andover in the morning.  Mother a little better at night.  She managed to get up to have her bed made.

Monday 11:  Mother a little better.  Sat up a little while at night but did not feel quite as well after it. 

Tues. Feb. 12 Went to ride with Hattie after school.  Had quite a nice time.  Made a pledge that I wouldn’t dance a single round dance next sociable. 

Abby wrote much later in her life that “Andover in the main was strictly orthodox – no cards, no dancing or any other sport.  To go to a horse race was to lose one’s reputation for good character,” yet describes in her diary her family’s participation, and that of many of their friends, in all of these activities.  Abby’s father, belonging to “a small card club with a few Andover men.  . . who did not think cards belonged to the devil” played the game of whist, a highly strategic trick-taking game that was the forerunner of the modern game of bridge.  Younger people more commonly played euchre, another four-handed game which uses a smaller 24-card deck and was quicker-playing and easier to learn.  Euchre was also extremely popular in the ranks during the Civil War, and was likely brought home to many towns by returning soldiers. 

Catherine Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe acknowledged this ongoing controversy in their  1869 American Women’s Home :   “In regard to home amusements, card-playing is now indulged in, in many conscientious families from which it formerly was excluded, and for these reasons:  it is claimed that this is a quiet home amusement, which unites pleasantly the aged with the young; that it is not now employed in respectable society for gambling, as it formerly was; that to some young minds it is a peculiarly fascinating game, and should be first practiced under the parental care, till the excitement of novelty is past, thus rendering the danger to children less, when going into the world.  .  . Still, as there is great diversity of opinion, among persons of equal worth and intelligence, a mutual spirit of candor and courtesy should be practiced.  The sneer at bigotry and narrowness of views, on one side, and the uncharitable implication of want of piety, or sense, on the other, are equally ill-bred and unchristian. “


Object of the Week

Monday, February 7th, 2011

Object Id #2001.077.1a-c

This week’s object is a brass and iron banker’s balance scale with a complete set of weights, formerly used by Andover Bank, just down the street from the the Historical Society. The Andover Bank made a gift of the set in 2001. The cast iron base is painted red and gold with handles on each end and two opposing birds with beaks in the middle for exact balance point. The brass scale bar has three calibrations:

  • 0-200 gold
  • 0-100 = 1 oz
  • 0-13 in 1/4″ increments marked “sub”

The two brass pans have rolled lips and are 2″ high and the diameter of each is 13.75″ across. The scales is marked with the tag ” Henry Troemner, Maker, Philadelphia, PA Cap 45 lbs. no 187″

According to the Troemner website, Henry Troemner founded Troemner over 160 years ago in 1838. The company started as a manufacturer of scales and weights in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. From the beginning, Troemner earned a reputation for being a manufacturer with high quality standards. In 1856, Troemner received a contract to make scales for the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia. The success of this contract led the company to expand its product line of scales to include bankers’ scales, precision weighing equipment for jewelers, prescription scales for pharmacists, and laboratory scales and balances for chemists.

By the time of Henry Troemner’s death in 1873, the Troemner name had become internationally respected in the commercial world of weights and balances. The company was inherited by Henry Troemner’s sons and remained a family business for three generations until 1955.

The scale and weights shown here are dated 1850-1900, but we hope further research will narrow those dates in the future. Organized in 1834, the Andover Bank was located on Main Street. Eventually purchased by Fleet and then Bank of America, one of Andover’s oldest banking institutions still has a home in downtown Andover. Balance scales were more commonly used at banks in the early 20th century and earlier, when it was more likely customers were carrying non-paper currency such as gold or silver coin. By using a balance scale, a customer (and the bank) could learn the precise weight and value of non-standardized coins or objects.

From the Wikipedia website – The balance scale was the first mass measuring instrument invented, In its traditional form, it consists of a pivoted horizontal lever of equal length arms, called the beam, with a weighing pan, suspended from each arm (which is the origin of the originally plural term “scales” for a weighing instrument). The unknown mass is placed in one pan, and standard masses are added to the other pan until the beam is as close to equilibrium as possible. In precision balances, a slider mass is moved along a graduated scale. The slider position gives a fine correction to the mass value. Although a balance technically compares weights, not masses, the weight of an object is proportional to its mass, and the standard weights used with balances are usually labeled in mass units.

Object ID#2001.077.2a-k

The Andover Bank also gifted this set of Troy weights with the scale.  Troy weight is a system of mass units typically used for the measuring of precious metals. Named for its used in medieval France at the fairs in Troyes, this standardized system has been in use for hundreds of years. The maker of these weights is assumed to Henry Troemner, although the weights are marked with the initials LA and their weight plus troy. The knobbed weights are made of brass in the following weights:

  • 200 oz (2 weights measuring 10cm x 10cm each)
  • 100 oz (1 weight measuring 8cm x 8cm)
  • 50 oz (1 weight measuring 6cm x 6cm)
  • 20 oz (2 weights measuring 5cm x 5cm each)
  • 10 oz (1 weight measuring 4cm x 4cm)
  • 5 oz (1 weight measuring 3cm x 3cm)
  • 2 oz (2 weights measuring 2cm x 2cm each)
  • 1 oz (1 weight measuring 1.5cm x 1.5cm)

It’s hard to imagine the more slow-paced visits to a bank in the past. However, if you needed to have your precious metals weighed and possibly converted to paper currency or deposited to add to your account, wouldn’t you be glad that such precision was being used?


Sweethearts Tea on Valentine’s Day

Monday, February 7th, 2011

Celebrate Valentine’s Day with your Sweetheart at the Andover Historical Society.

On Monday, February 14th from   2:00 – 4:00 p.m., guests are invited to treat their sweethearts to a romantically entertaining afternoon Tea Party with delicious fare, warm tea, and delightful historical love stories. Guests will hear the written words of a young Andover man struck by cupid’s arrow while also viewing pieces from the Society’s collection dating to the era of Victorian elegance.  This specialty program is based on a true love story to enjoy on Valentine’s Day.

Costumed interpreter and Merrimack College student Tommy Doucette will read from the diary of the love-struck David Bates Douglass. Douglass, who lived in Andover in 1878, kept a diary for the months of January, February and March of that year. In his private journal, Douglass wrote of little else but his love for his future bride, Abby Morton. Historical Society staff will provide additional details and background about 1870s Andover. Always touching, often comical, this local love story is sure to touch the heart of anyone attending the Sweethearts Tea at the Andover Historical Society.

Tickets-$25 per person


Call 978-475-2236

or purchase tickets online at our website.


Abby Locke’s Splendid Days: A Teenager’s Diary in 1860s Andover (4)

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Abby’s diary from January/February 1867 continues:

Wed. 30   Went to walk with Hattie up to Mary Means.  Had a nice time.  We danced, laughed, ate candy with Mary Morton and [all].

Thurs. 31  Went to sleigh ride with Mary Morton and Means.  Had a nice time but got nearly tipped over several times. 

Most women who wore the “bloomer costume” in the 1850s, including its most enthusiastic proponent magazine editor Amelia Bloomer, were subject to ridicule in the press and harassment on the street, and dropped the fashion by the beginning of the Civil War. But the fashion survived in the form of “gymnastics suits” worn by girls in the 1860s.

Sat. 2   Mr. Frye came up in the evening and Hattie and I made some caramels.  We wore our gymnastics suits all the evening.

Sun. Feb. 3    Went to church at No. An. in the morning.  Text “And the hour and the day ye know not.” Mr. Frye came up to bring my water proof home.

Mon. 4   Very warm and pleasant.  It carried off nearly all the snow and rain in the night.  Nearly finished.   I am almost agreed we can’t go over to H. Davis at the Sociable.

Tues. 5    In the evening went over to the Sociable.  We all rode between two large sleighs.  Had a perfectly splendid time.  Coming home we even tipped over.  Willie D. came up to go with us.  Wore my silk skirt, black silk jacket, green watered ribbons. 

     In most of the entries in which she discusses clothing (like that of Tuesday, February 5, above) Abby is reporting, in a self-satisfied tone, the fashionable ensemble she has put together for one of her “sociables.”  By all accounts , Abby had a right to be proud of herself – her family later remembered her as a talented seamstress – but her February 2 entry:  “we wore our gymnastics suits all the evening” is a little different.

     A “gymnastics suit” in the 1860s consisted of a dress with a short (ten inches from the ground) skirt worn over a pair of pantaloons.  While the “bloomer” costume — made notorious by dress reformers in the 1850s — was strictly forbidden at Abbott Academy, the gymnastics outfits were worn by students for all their activities before their mid-day dinner, much in the way that sweatpants might be worn by teenage girls today.  Boarding students ate their breakfasts, cleaned their rooms (and perhaps a teacher’s parlor as well, for housework was part of their education), took their indoor exercise or perhaps an outdoor botany or geology lecture  all before putting on the floor-length dresses and whalebone corsets that were required, by both fashion and school rules, in the afternoon.  Many schools, and the later the women’s colleges, required students to sew their own gymnastics suits, and provided patterns as well as strict guidelines for fabric and color choices. 

     As a day scholar, Abby was except from the house keeping and calisthenics requirements, but she apparently had a suit of her own to wear when she was active around her own house.   Another Abbott alumna, a member of the class of 1871, wrote later “I don’t think I shall ever adopt bloomers, but if anything could bring me to it, it would be the remembrance of how lightfooted and lighthearted I used to feel flitting about mornings in my gymnastics suit.” 

     The girls’ “flitting about” was not supposed to be in public or in the presence of men.  The Phillips Academy newspaper reported in 1879 an incident where twenty-one Abbott Academy “nut-gatherers” dressed in gym suits fled at the sight of a single theological student watching from a tree above them.  But this was probably another Academy rule that the day scholars, and certainly Abby’s friend Hattie Baker (who was a boarder except for the one term she lived with the Lockes) flouted.  Besides the February evening when they made candy with William Frye, Abby noted  a July morning when Hattie “came up in the morning in her gymnastics suit. White with lavender ribbons.”


Whirlwind of Events for Girls!

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

The snow isn’t slowing us down at the Andover Historical Society!

February 10 at 3:30 pm: Manners & Decorum & Valentines! View the flyer
Little Girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice!  Join us to learn about Victorian and modern-day manners while viewing fashions, making crafts, and playing games.  Make a special valentine and sit down for a delightful tea party while good manners and decorum are learned and practiced. Ages 7-9,  Reservations are Required.  Call 978-475-2236 or email

February 17 at 3:30: Disability Awareness-Helen Keller’s Visit to Andover View the Flyer
In May of 1891, Helen Keller visited Andover and spoke publicly for the first time.  Learn about the incredible story of Helen Keller during this multisensory program and experience the world with your fingertips. Program for ages 9-11, $10 per child, Reservations Required.  Please call 978-475-2236 or email

March 10 at 3:30: Little House on the Prairie (in Andover?) View the Flyer
Did you know Laura Ingalls Wilder’s ancestors lived in Andover?  Experience what life was like for Laura and her sisters.  Play games, make crafts, and get ready for your westward journey! For girls ages 7-9, $10 per child. Reservations required, please call 978-475-2236 or email

A full listing of all Historical Society events can be found on our website.