Abby’s entries from June 1867 continue
Tues. 4 Went to ride with Mr. F. after tea with his span. Had a nice ride. Stopped at Hattie’s. He said he would call there next Tuesday and I think he will take her to ride.
Wed. 5 It is so warm and beautiful. To day Louise, Mr. F. and I sat out on the steps a long while. I felt quite jolly and acted so I suppose.
Thurs. June 6 Intensely warm. Went to Mary Dove’s wedding. Quite a grand affair. Mr. F and Willie came up in the evening. I had on a barege. I do not remember of pulling one on so early before.
Fri. 7: School. Very warm. Had a Thunder shower in the afternoon. W.M. up and as usual played all the time. Took a short ride after tea with Louise.
Sat. 8 Edie came up to our house after Tea and we went down to see Hattie. Mr. F. was up and had some nice candy. I finished my hat to day. All the girls think it sweet, pretty, beautiful and so it is. Father came home with a sore throat from Washington.
Sun. June 9 Mr. F. was up and came to meet us. I didn’t like that very well. Went to the Episcopal Church in the morning, to No. Andover in the afternoon. Went with H. to Sunday School concert in the evening. Mr. Gilmore escorted me home. Mr. Tyler came in with H. We walked up as far as Mr. Clarke’s and then stood talking in front till 9 oclock.
Mon. June 10 Beautiful day though rather cool in the morning. Went to walk with Edie, Mary Means and Hattie up by Phillips A. at prayer time. Of course we accomplished one object.
The wedding of Mary Dove and Francis Howe Johnson on June 6, 1867 was one of Andover’s biggest social events of 1867, linking as it did members of prominent “Hill” and “Mill” families. The ceremony at the Free Church (on Railroad Street) was officiated by Professor Austin Phelps, the groom’s brother-in law. Mary Johnson, the groom’s sister, was Professor Phelps’ third wife. She was the mother of his two youngest sons, and stepmother to his daughter, budding writer Elizabeth Stuart Phelps. It is very probable that 23 year old Elizabeth attended the wedding (she admired and respected her stepmother and her family, and was included along with her half-brothers in their grandmother’s will). Abby mentions that the weather was “intensely warm,” and that she wore that day a “barege,” or a dress made from a fashionable gauzy summer fabric.
The bride, Mary Dove, was the 27 year old daughter of John Dove, a co-owner of Andover’s Smith & Dove Company – the first fully- mechanized manufacturer of flax threads in the United States. Born, like his partners John and Peter Smith, in Brechin, Scotland, Dove was the mechanical and inventive genius of the three and was responsible for building the company’s original machinery from plans he obtained in Scotland. They were the wealthiest men in Andover, well known in town for their philanthropy. John Dove was also an ardent abolitionist and was, with John Smith, one of the founders of Andover’s Free Christian Church.
The Dove family were the original owners of 276 North Main Street, the beautiful Gothic Revival-style house that was later purchased by American Woolen Company president William Wood and renamed “Arden.” The house, now on the National Register of Historic Places, was built in 1847 by Andover builder Jacob Chickering, who was known for his attention to detail. The house’s interior wood paneling and especially the carved, mahogany staircase would have made a lovely setting for Mary Dove’s wedding reception, which may not have taken place until the evening of June 20. The property’s grounds and ornamental gardens were also especially admired, and were later described in detail in an 1876 issue of the national magazine, The Cultivator and Country Gentleman.
Despite all this luxury, it was said of John Dove (in his Andover Advertiser obituary) that his “pet extravagance was the education of his children. In this direction, he spared nothing, employing in every department the very best talent obtainable.” Mary apparently shared her father’s interest in education and philanthropy. Mary Dove taught for a short time before her marriage at Abbot Academy, and established, along with her brother and sisters, an evening school in Frye Village “for the free instruction of the boys and girls employed in the mills.”
As wealthy as John Dove was – he gave each of his daughters upon their marriage the sum of $7530 (almost the same sum he had paid on contract for the building of his house and barn) — his fortune was modest compared to that of the groom’s family. Francis Howe Johnson was a member of an old Boston family, who had been for at least five generations prosperous city merchants and importers, and were known for charity and benelovence. Francis had been educated at Phillips Academy, Harvard and the Andover Theological Seminary. He was ordained in April of 1861, but soon after requested dismission from his ministry and spent most of the rest of the War years travelling in Europe. He returned to Andover, where he devoted himself “to the country life, interspersed with study, occasional preaching and writing, principally on philosophical subjects.” In his marriage record, and subsequent Andover directories, his occupation is listed only as “gentleman.”
Mary and Francis Johnson had two sons and lived together in a handsome house at 106 Elm Street in Andover (quite near to Abby’s father’s house) until her death in 1893. Francis Johnson’s second marriage, which took place in October 1894 at his summer home in Bar Harbor, Maine, was covered extensively in the society pages of the New York Times – the bridegroom was described as “a widower and the owner of a large fortune.” Descendants of Mary and Francis Johnson —including Edward Crosby Johnson, the chairman of Boston’s Fidelity Investments and his daughter Abigail Johnson — have continued to prosper financially and also to display the same interests in philanthropy and education as their 19th century forebears.