Archive for December, 2011

Director’s Blog: What can you do at the Historical Society this week?

Monday, December 26th, 2011

Take a break from the busy season and visit the Historical Society

The Historical Society, Blanchard House, Library & Archives, and history-inspired tree exhibit will be open Tuesday, December 27 through Saturday, December 31, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.

You can spend a quiet afternoon reading in the library.  Explore yearbooks from Punchard High and Andover High School.  Read through 19th century street directories to learn about Andover neighborhoods and residents.  Delve into the research files to discover recent research on Andover houses and historic topics.

An original real estate card from the first sales of Shawsheen Village properties.


Photo of the Week

Sunday, December 25th, 2011

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! Hope you’re having a great holiday. I’m on holiday too, so I’ll keep this post short and sweet after last week’s novel.

150 years ago today, our country was at war. The Civil War was just starting up, and men from all over the country were being recruited. This is a picture of the 14th Massachusetts Regiment. Here they are marching up Pennsylvania Ave in Washington during a storm. How was our town involved in the Civil War?

716 men from Andover gathered at Town Hall in June, 1861. Named the 1st Massachusetts Heavy Artillery, they mostly guarded Washington to the disappointment of eager soldiers. 92 men died, mostly due to disease. Andover got the spotlight when Harriet Beacher Stowe, a town resident, reported the death of Walter Raymond. Raymond enlisted in the army in 1862 at age 16. Two years later he was captured on Malvern Hill, VA and died on Christmas Day.

To end this article on a high note, 3 Andover men recieve the Medal of Honor. As quoted from the Andover Townsman: “William Marland safely rescued his men who were surrounded by the enemy’s cavalry. Frank S. Giles’s actions enabled the U.S.S. Lehigh to be freed from a helpless position while under enemy fire. Though seriously wounded, Henry F. Chandler remained with his regiment and helped to carry the breastworks at Petersburg.” I hope you get lots of gifts today!

Happy holidays. Here’s that Townsman article:


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. “


Director’s Blog: What can you do at the Historical Society this week?

Monday, December 19th, 2011

Share the Blanchard House Blog with your friends and family

The Society will be closed December 25 and 26, but you can still explore and share Andover’s history!

If you enjoy reading the Blanchard House Blog, consider sharing it with your friends and family.  You can share your love of Andover and its history by clicking the “share” button that follows each entry.  You can also sign up to receive our bimonthly e-newsletter by joining our email list so you can keep up with all the news.

Help us share Andover's stories!


Photo of the Week

Sunday, December 18th, 2011


Just 6 months ago, I was sitting next to that fireplace talking to a friend. It was summer, and being bored teenagers, my friend and I decided to just sit in the Andover Bookstore. We sat in the comfy chairs next to the fireplace for hours. In just a few days, I’ll be at the Bookstore buying my textbooks.

The Andover Bookstore, established over 200 years ago, was taken over by HugoBooks Inc. in 1992. Robert Hugo started his first book store in Marblehead in 1965, just as he was graduating from college. It was a 500-square-foot room with a small inventory of books. Things were hard for Robert at first, and he had to take odd jobs working all night to keep his business afloat. Things changed when Hugo got into a motorcycle accident.

Hugo couldn’t afford the dental work his teeth required after the crash, so his dentist said he’d give him a loan for his teeth and the book store if Hugo moved his bank account to the bank that the dentist had just established. Hugo used that money to expand the store and book inventory. Hugo quit his other jobs to focus on his bookstore, then called The Spirit of ’76. He even stayed in the same 1-room apartment to save money. As things changed for Hugo, however, he bought another space in Newburyport and then a third store in Andover in 1992.

The Andover Bookstore still thrives downtown today. How does the book store compete with new eReaders, Kindle’s, and eBooks? Hugo says that customers are investing in their communities when they buy local, and customers truly enjoy human interaction. Hugo’s bookstores offer many free events, including poetry readings and book signings. The staff there is always helpful for recommendations. And I know I’ll always buy my Phillips Academy there.


Santa’s Coming to Town!

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,

Not a Creature was stirring, not even a Mouse.

The Stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

In hopes that St. Nicholas, would soon be there.

Santa visiting the Andover Historical Society

Join Santa, staff, and members of the Andover Historical Society on December 22nd at 5:30 p.m. for a reading of Twasthe Night before Christmas. Visit with Santa and make reindeer crafts!

To register for this event, call the Andover Historical Society, or register online.

Happy Holidays from the Staff at the Andover Historical Society!


Director’s Blog: What can you do at the Historical Society this week?

Monday, December 12th, 2011

Bring in a family photograph and tell us the story behind it

We can now collect family photographs digitally, so we can scan your photograph, record your story, and return the original to you.  Historical society and museum collections grow through community donations, and we would like the Society’s collection to represent the entire Andover community.  That’s a big order to fill, so if you have a photograph you’d like to share, please give us a call!  978-475-2236.

Family photo from the Society's collections. Do you have any photos of your family car?


Photo of the Week

Sunday, December 11th, 2011

Okay okay, I know it’s not a “photo”. But this artifact is so cool I just had to post it. Continuing my research on Madam Pheobe Foxcroft Phillips, here is a letter from her to her future husband, Samuel Phillips. While Samuel was living in Cambridge, he became “intimately acquainted” with Pheobe. Ms. Foxcroft had a lot going for her; she was pretty, smart, and came from a noble family. One thing stood in the way, however: her age. Pheobe was 9 years older than Samuel, thus Sam’s parents said they could not marry. In a sick rebellion, Samuel fell ill after he graduated from Harvard. In the hospital, he admitted to his doctor that it wasn’t just a physical illness that kept him bedridden. Samuel was sick from disappointment. The doctor spoke to the parents, and they granted their permission for the marriage. Samuel miraculously got better and the two married in 1773.

They went on to have two sons together, John and Samuel Jr. Samuel Jr. died at age 14 of fever. Samuel Sr. loved his wife. Their contrasting personalities made them a great couple. Pheobe was young in every way. She was energetic, lively, and extravagant, while Sam was quiet and economical. Sometimes he proved to be passionate under his composed mask, as demonstrated by his illness. For their 12th anniversary, Samuel presented his wife with verses from Benjamin Franklin:

Of their Chloes and Phillises poets may prate,
I sing my plain country Joan,
Now twelve years my wife, still the Joy of my Life,
Blest day when I made her my own.
In peace and good order my Household she keeps,
Right careful to save what I gain;
Yet cheerfully spends, and smiles on the friends
I’ve the pleasure to entertain.
Am I laden with care, she takes off a large share
That the Burden ne’er makes me to reel;
Does good fortune arrive, the joy of my wife,
Quite doubles the pleasure I feel.
Was the fairest young princess with millions in purse
To be had in exchange for my Joan,
She cou’d not be a better wife, might be a worse, —
I’ll cling to my lovely old Joan.

So what is the picture above? This is a letter written by Pheobe to Samuel before they were married. It was written on September 19th, 1768. She seems to be saying that she can’t wait to see him. She knows he is visiting her area soon, and she would clear her engagements to be with him. It sounds like she needs him to do something, like visit or talk to his family. Although I can’t read most of the script, I picked out a few phrases that were just beautiful (the ___ represents words I can’t read):

“…may you experience no misfortune but by a ___ uniform ___ of virtue may you gain admittance to ___ mansions where trouble never enters.”

“I long’d to ___ after you…”

This letter was amazing… I can’t believe we have such old documents right here in Blanchard House!

Go read last week’s post to see more on Pheobe. Here’s my source for the info, again:


A Colonial Williamsburg Christmas in Andover

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

Colonial Inspired Wreath Created by Susan DeLarm-Sandman

Pineapples, oranges, apples, and boughs of holly?

While fruits and natural plant life adorn modern day Colonial Williamsburg wreaths, this was not always the case.  The tradition of decorating Colonial Williamsburg homes with wreaths, swags, and roping embellished with fruit, vegetables, flowers, and herbs was only recently started in the 20th century.  Although Williamsburg is well-known for its holiday decorations and events, the first year homes were decorated for Christmas in such a splendid fashion was not until 1936.

Holiday Wreath created by Susan DeLarm-Sandman

This year the Andover Historical Society will be celebrating the season with our own event based on the beautiful decorations of Colonial Williamsburg.  Join Susan DeLarm Sandman of Andover’s Spade and Trowel  Garden Club at the Andover Historical Society for a special wreath making workshop on December 15th, 2011 at 7:00-9:00 p.m.  All wreaths will be decorated with natural materials that would have been available to the colonists, a standard rule for the Williamsburg Wreath contest.  The Colonial Williamsburg Wreath Making Workshop will take place at the Andover Historical Society inside the new Christmas tree exhibit with warm drinks and treats as well!

Registrations are required in advance for this event, please call 978-475-2236 or sign-up online.


“The Devil Made Me Do It”

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

“The Devil Made Me Do It!” Crime and Punishment in Early New England is the title of author, historian, and former Andover Historical Society educator Juliet Haines Mofford’s new book.  I ordered my advance copy last month, and started reading as soon as it arrived.  Julie is an engaging and entertaining author who mined Massachusetts’ historical archives for fascinating stories about New England’s original criminals.

“Whether it was Sabbath-breaking, blasphemy, or public drunkenness, colonial laws were strict and frequently broken, and those who broke them could expect swift punishment….Some of the ways that seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century New England communities dealt with murder and mayhem seem brutal to modern sensibilities.”  For example, rebellious children were often taken away from their parents and “bound out” as servants to other households.  “….such as Andover’s Mary Lacey caught outside past (the public) curfew (of 9:00 pm) got accused of nightwalking and ‘refusing to shun bad company.’ …… she was sent to live with her uncle’s family.”

Through December, The Devil Made Me Do It will be available by special order through the Andover Book Store and will be in stock in the store starting January 2012.  The book can also be purchased now online.

Congratulations, Julie, on another terrific local history book!

~Elaine Clements