Old Sporting Equipment Week 12

September 25th, 2013 by Janak Shah


These skates above might look familiar, as they were produced by Barney and Barry in the late 1800s, the same company that produced the skates I wrote about several weeks ago. These skates are almost identical to those, except for the heel plate, which is more oval-shaped than the previous model. The heel plate is also smaller, despite the the runners being the same size. Aside from this however, the toe plates are exactly the same, and there are clamps underneath the toe plates in both skates. However, these skates, unlike the previous ones, are not attached together with leather straps.

These came to be known as Barney and Barry’s second model of skates, which were meant to be more advanced than the first model. Recall that Barney and Barry was formed by Everett H. Barney during the Civil War and revolutionized ice skating. These skates were just another example of the improvements that took place with skates in the late 19th century.


Andover Dairyman

September 19th, 2013 by Joshua Dallal
At the Wild Rose Farm

At the Wild Rose Farm

The biggest dairy farm run and owned by an Andover family in the 20th century was the Wild Rose Farm.  Its owner, Sidney P. White, could be considered the Dairy Lord of Andover during the 20th century.  His success in dairy affected the everyday lives of Andover residents for over half a century.

Sidney P. White was born in 1899, in Andover.  His parents raised him on the family farm located at the Baker Family Homestead at 5 Argilla Road.  He went to the Essex Agricultural School in Hawthorne, MA after attending Andover Public Schools.[1]  The time spent milking cows on the family farm and studying dairy production at school must have made a firm impression on Sidney; he became an active member of the Essex Agricultural Society with a focus on dairy research.

The family farm was renamed the Wild Rose Farm in 1929, when Sidney took over running the family business at the age of 30.  Dairy farming changed from just one of many of the farm’s products to its main product in less than a decade.  The size of his herd was maintained at 93 cows.  Sidney was skilled at breeding cows in addition to being skilled at business.  His pure- bred Holstein cows and their milk were winning prizes at state fairs by the mid 1930s and continued to do so until 1965.

World War II brought a surge of prosperity to the Wild Rose Farm.  The increased price of gas combined with rationing resulted in an increase in the price of dairy products.  This came at time when the government wanted to increase the supply of dairy products to meet the dietary needs of both soldiers and civilians.

Sidney struck upon the idea of once again using horse-drawn vehicles to transport the milk he couldn’t transport by truck.[2]  This actually saved him money because his farm was easily adapted to care for horses in addition to cows. As a direct result, he was able to keep his prices down and even increase his supply of dairy products.  Many Andover residents continued to buy Wild Rose Farm milk after the war ended.  Sidney’s home delivery milk service grew by leaps and bounds after the gas shortage ended in 1945.

Sydney retired from dairy farming in 1966, when he sold his herd of Holsteins and closed the Wild Rose Farm.  The Merrimack Valley region, as a whole, was moving away from farming, and Sidney had a hard time finding people who met his standards of skill at handling cows.

The closure of the Wild Rose Farm was not Sidney’s exit from the dairy business.  He started the Rose Glen Dairy Bar on Andover Street in 1960.  It was the most popular ice cream place in town, and sold the best priced milk in town. Sidney inspired his employees at the Rose Glen Dairy Bar by working alongside them, performing many of the same tasks.  He worked there until his death in 1983, at the age of 84.

Sydney P. White worked with dairy his entire life.  He was so devoted to the profession of dairy farming that he quit farming rather than lowering the standards of the farm he ran.  All dairy businesses in Andover were compared to his dairy business during the 20th century.  He was the Andover Dairyman.

[1] Sidney P. White Obituary, 1983, Andover Historical Society Archives, White Family Folder

[2] Barbara Loomer, Sidney P. White’s Farms tape transcription, Andover Historical Society Archives, White Family Folder.


Old Sporting Equipment Week 11

September 18th, 2013 by Janak Shah


Yet another sled in the barn, this one is slightly different from its predecessor last week. The base of this sled is a flat, rectangular, board. The sled is mostly brown, but traces of worn down green paint are found at the edges. The runners are the hallmark of the sled, as they extend above the base and giving the sled a greater length. The runners are also flat at the top, and hole is drilled at the tip of each runner. Knotted through these holes is a thin rope used as the reins of the sled.

This sled was made in Boston in an unknown year. It was donated by Lucile White to the Andover Historical Society in 1968. Although the original date of creation is unknown, the sled was owned by Marcus M. Hill, who was born in 1862. He most probably used it as a child, which results in the sled existing in the 1860s-70s. Hill lived on High Street here in Andover, so this sled originated and still is in Andover.


Food in Motion

September 12th, 2013 by Joshua Dallal

A farming town needs to be able to transport the food it grows in order to prosper.  Andover’s location played a major role in the way food was transported to and from town.  The efficiency of Andover’s food transportation played a role in its growth as farming town and continued prosperity as farming became less of a priority.

The primary method of overland transportation in New England during the 17th and 18th centuries was muscle based.  If someone wanted to get somewhere in a hurry, they would ride a horse.  People moved their goods long distances with animal drawn carts.  Water-based transport of large amounts of goods was limited by the size and location of rivers.  Andover’s farmers made little use of sailing. Andover’s only large river, the Merrimack River, only ran along the town’s northern border and didn’t flow to where the local farmers wanted to move most of their goods.

Andover was centrally located among the towns of northwestern Essex County during the 17th century; as a result the regional road to Salem, the location of the Essex County Court and country market town, began in Andover.  Andover quickly became the crossroads of northwestern Essex County.  In 1693, Andover became the second market town of Essex County.  As the closest market town in the region, people came to Andover to buy food.  The reduction in transportation costs contributed a great deal to the prosperity of local farmers.

Even after the American Revolution, Andover remained the crossroads of half of Essex County.  Thus people from nearby towns still found it convenient to come to Andover, even though they could hold markets of their own.  More food passed through Andover in the 1770s and 1780s than was grown in the town.

Muscle-powered carts continued to be the primary method Andover farmers used to transport their goods until 1836.  Hobart Clark started building the Andover and Wilmington Rail Road in 1833.  Andover saw the railroad in operation for the first time in 1836.  The train was so successful that it would extend to Boston, MA and Portland, ME by 1840.  That year the rail line was renamed the Boston and Maine Rail Road.

Andover farmers moved most of their food by train after 1840.  They still used muscle- powered carts to get their food to the train, but the food moved most its distance by train.  The growth of the railroads in America and especially in New England contributed to this trend throughout the 19th century and into the 20th century.  When Ford Motors began to sell trucks in the 1910s, Andover farmers used them to get their crops to the train station.

Farming in Andover was in decline by 1925 when the first factory produced the Model T Ford Pickup.  Andover would no longer be primarily a farming town by the late 1930s.  Thus there were relatively few Andover farmers by the time most people transported their goods by trucks.

Andover’s location has enabled its residents to benefit from relatively easy transportation throughout its history.  It began as regional crossroads, and survived as one until the 19th century when it became a major railroad stop.  As Andover became less of a farming town, it became less of a transportation hub.  Even though Andover is no longer a major transportation hub, no less than four state highways and two interstate highways pass through it.

Andover Train Depot 1860s 1980.733.1

Andover Train Depot 1860s


Old Sporting Equipment Week 10

September 11th, 2013 by Janak Shah


This sled is another one of the different types of sleds found in the West Loft of the Barn. This one, however, might be older than most dating back to 1840. This sled was meant for children, and has rectangular runners that taper to a point in front, and curve inward then out towards the rear of the sled. The sled seat is flat, as shown in the photograph, and is concavely curved rear and a convexly curved front. A hole is drilled through the front tip of each runner.


side view

This sled was donated to the Andover Historical Society by the granddaughter of Emily Jenks (1825-1885), who used it as a child. Emily Jenks was the great-granddaughter of Joseph Jenks, who was the first governor of Rhode Island. Joseph Jenks was actually Joseph Jenks III, and served as governor from 1727-1731. He was born and deceased in Pawtucket, and besides being governor, was the County Auditor and Deputy Speaker of the House. Not much else is known about Jenks, but this sled is an artifact that connects to him through his great-granddaughter.


Andover’s War Gardens

September 5th, 2013 by Joshua Dallal

wwii-victory-gardens-grow-at-kitchen-door-posterAndover’s history of agriculture extends beyond its farms.  Many of its citizens have and still do tend gardens.  It was only during the Second World War that those gardens became a major source of Andover’s food supply.

US citizens called personal vegetable gardens “liberty gardens” in World War I, and “victory gardens” in World War II.  Both types of garden are also referred to as “war gardens”.  April is the beginning of the growing season in New England.  The Andover Townsman first encouraged its readers to plant war garden on April 13, 1917; exactly one week after the US entered WWI.

Andover was still a farming town during WWI, so the town’s residents focused more on improving the farm yields than on gardening.  Articles like “More Seed Next Week” which was featured on the front page of the Andover Townsman on May 4, 1917, more often involved local farms rather than liberty gardens.  As a farming town, local organizations were more likely to deal with problems like the high cost of seeds, than to organize the planting of vegetable gardens.  Andover still had liberty gardens; they just weren’t part of daily life for most people.

War gardens were four times more numerous in the United States during WWII than they were during WWI.  In 1918, liberty gardens peaked at 5 million gardens, whereas victory gardens peaked at 20 million gardens during 1943.[1]  40 percent of the vegetables consumed by US residents during WWII were grown in victory gardens.  Andover was similarly more involved in planting war gardens during WII.

During WWII, the Andover Townsman began encouraging war gardens on April 2, 1942; its first issue published during start of the first growing season of the war. The war gardens helped in multiple ways.  The most obvious reason people planted them was to lessen civilian dependence on the public food supply, which increased the supply of vegetables available to the troops.  People who planted war gardens donated some of the money they saved on food to the war efforts (usually in the form of buy bonds).  War gardens were also big moral boosters.  Planting them made people feel like they were helping with war, and that helped foster community spirit.

Andover certainly did bond as a community when planting victory gardens and they were a part of daily life.  Several different Andover organizations held regular meetings during the growing seasons of WWII.  The Parent Teacher Association attended dietary lectures delivered by dietary instructor, Hope Coolidge, at Abbot Academy.  These lectures were held every Tuesday of April and May in 1942. They included suggestions on what to plant in victory gardens.  The Memorial Hall Library held weekly meetings about gardening for children in April and May of 1943.  Even as late as 1945, the top books suggested for reading by the Memorial Hall Library in April were gardening books.   Many local businesses helped residents by selling gardening supplies such as fertilizer, mulch, basic tools, seeds, and seedlings.  All of these activities were advertized in the many April and May issues of the Andover Townsman published during WWII.

The victory gardens in Andover marked the last time when the average town resident participated in major agriculture.  The number of farms and farmers in Andover decreased all throughout the 20th century and has continued to decrease into the 21st century.  Today there is only one farm still operating in Andover and only some people have vegetable gardens.

[1] Janet A Flammang, The Taste for Civilization: Food, Politics, and Civil Society, (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2009), 288.


Old Sporting Equipment Week 9

September 4th, 2013 by Janak Shah


Although the picture is somewhat cut off, these are snowshoes that were with the other sporting equipment in the barn. These snowshoes have oval-shaped wooden frames and two strips of wood have been inserted at the toe end and at the heel end. Attached to these strips and the frame is rawhide, which is animal hide that has not been exposed to tanning. This rawhide is covered in tar. At the toe end of the shoe there is also a triangular opening in rawhide.

Although the maker of these snowshoes is unknown, one company that could have created these was the James W. Brine Company. This has not been confirmed, but the James W. Brine Co. created several vintage snowshoes including models almost identical to these. These snowshoes were brought to the Andover Historical Society from the collection of Clara Louise Blood Robinson.


Acquiring the Tools of Agriculture

August 29th, 2013 by Joshua Dallal

Andover’s first settlers were farmers.  Those farmers needed tools to tend the land.  The number of tools a farm needed during the Colonial Era was large and paying for them could be difficult.  Most of the farmers in Andover obtained those tools and used them well.

The conditions of life in New England during the Colonial Era meant that most towns had to be self sufficient to some degree: a sparse population, limited forms of travel, and slow communication.  When farmers needed tools made of metal or that had metal parts such as many hoes, scythes, pitchforks, hay saws, and sickles, they had to go to the town blacksmith.  This didn’t change until the mid 19th century, when the industrial revolution was in full swing and factories were mass producing metal products at far more attractive prices.  Andover, like most other settlements in New England, had its own blacksmith.

Thomas Chandler was the town’s first blacksmith. He built his first smithy when Andover was founded in 1646.  Chandler also started Andover’s first iron foundry in 1689.[1]  The only blacksmiths in Andover during the 17th century were Chandler and his apprentices.  Chandler’s apprentice, Hopestil Tyler, became the southern part of town’s main blacksmith in 1701.[2]

Colonial farmers in Andover had much better time acquiring tools made solely of wood. According to Sarah L. Bailey, 17th century Andover had five woodworkers: Thomas Johnson, Stephen Johnson, Stephen Osgood, Joseph Parker (the younger), and Samuel Wardwell.[3]  Tools made entirely or mostly of wood were much cheaper that metal ones.  Such tools included but weren’t limited to yokes, feeding troughs, watering troughs, grain flails, crates, and many types of plows.

Wood was so abundant and vital to every person in New England that it was a big industry from the very beginning.  In the mid 17th century, most woodworkers in New England bought their wood from tree fellers directly.  By the early 18th century, most woodworkers in New England got their wood from numerous saw mills all over the region.  The number of wood workers in Andover increased steadily throughout the 18th century and the first half of the 19th century.

Andover farmers got most of their agricultural tools from factory outlets by the mid 19th century.  Starting in the early 19th century, the Industrial Revolution mechanized the production of goods at an ever increasing rate. Independent artisans couldn’t compete with the volume or the prices of the factories.  The first retail catalog, Montgomery Ward, came out in 1875.  As time went on, other catalogues like Sears appeared.  With improved transportation technology, big corporations could mail products to anyone anywhere in the country at a low price.  Independent artisans no longer had the advantage of being local.

While the industrialization of farm tool manufacture was bad for independent artisans, it was unquestionable good for the farmers.  Farming tools were cheaper, easier to obtain, and more easily customized.  Factory outlets, department stores and retail catalogues sold every physical tool a farmer could need at a reasonable price. Andover farmers bought almost all their tools that way, just like the rest of the country.

People still get their tools in a similar fashion today.  The internet only makes the process of purchasing needed tools faster.  Farming has changed a lot in New England since colonial times.  The techniques, tools, and the method of obtaining the tools have greatly improved.

[1] Sarah L. Bailey, Historical Sketches of Andover Massachusetts, (Cambridge: The Riverside Press, 1880), 47-50, 598

[2] Ibid, 47-50, 125, 152

[3] Ibid, 151


Old Sporting Equipment Week 8

August 28th, 2013 by Janak Shah


These skates are another of the many pairs found  in the West Loft of the A.H.S Barn. They were built right here in Massachusetts by the S.C. & S. Winslow Company. This company originated in Worcester, Massachusetts in the early twentieth century. The firm wrote a book on its sales soon after it closed down. According to an article published in 1903 by the New York Times, the company had closed down the preceding year and was never again to be open under the same name. However, the business, originally  run by Samuel E. Winslow, was passed on to different owners including George Taft of Worcester and Thomas Perkins of Boston. At the time, the company was in massive debt reaching up to 400,000 dollars.

These skates were made for stability, and a small brass piece sits above the blade that holds up the flat wooden piece. A screw juts out of the skate at the heal, and although not visible two tacks stick out at the front of the skate. A leather strap is in the front as well, looping over where the toes would be. These skates are another example of the different types of antique skates that were made in the 20th century.


Food Storage

August 22nd, 2013 by Joshua Dallal
Canning Jar & Lid 1984.120ab

Canning Jar & Lid

Andover began as a farming town and remained a farming town for much of its history. As a farming town, Andover grew most of its own food.  Growing food is only part of feeding populace.  People need to preserve the food they grow or buy in order to feed themselves.  The citizens of Andover had many different ways of preserving food.

A common method of preserving food was drying.  Fruit, vegetables, meat, and fish all take longer to spoil when they are dry.  There were many methods of drying food including smoking, freezing, salting, airing out, and using the sun.  Flour and other ground grain products (known as corn) will last for years when dry.

Salting was an especially effective method of drying food.  Salt dries food out and keeps it dry for long periods of time, in addition to killing some bacteria that causes food to rot. Meat and fish were cured with salt, as were some vegetables like cabbage.  Salting food was so common place and so effective that salt was considered a necessity for many American cities and towns in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

Similar to salting food is smoking it.  The chemicals in the smoke used to dry food helped kill some bacteria that causes food to rot.  Mostly meat and fish were smoked.  Meat and fish were often both smoked and salted.

Many people pickled their food stuffs to preserve them.  Pickling is the process of storing a food in a solution of brine or vinegar.  The chemicals in the solution a food was pickled in preserved it for months and even years.  New England Settlers pickled many things including cucumbers, turnips, carrots, even some meat and fish.  Pickled eggs were a favorite among American settlers during colonial times.

Refrigeration was also practiced by the people of New England.  17th century American settlers built basements for food storage to keep food cool during the summer.  This continued to be common place up until the 19th century when ice boxes became common place, and was still widely practiced until the mid 20th century.  Ice cellars became commonplace in New England starting the 1830s.  Most homes in Andover had boxes by the late 1840s.  This continued up until the 1940s, when most houses had a refrigerator. The most commonly refrigerated foods were meat and dairy products.

Canned foods began to appear in New England during the early 19th century.  Frozen, salted, smoked, and other preserved foods were sealed air tight in metal cans. This kept microbes in the air from growing in the preserved food.  Canned foods could last for years.  Canning still works along the same principles today, only with better technology.

Andover farmers worked just as hard preserving the food that they grew as they did growing it in the first place.  It is important to remember that, just like today, growing and hunting food was only half the battle of feeding people.