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

February 25th, 2011 by Jane Cairns

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.


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