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.


Old Sporting Equipment Week 7

August 21st, 2013 by Janak Shah


This is an old field hockey stick located in the West Loft of the Andover Historical Society barn. Since field hockey is not as notable as ice hockey here in the United States, this stick was made in England, where the sport garners more attention.

Although not visible in the picture, the wooden shaft curves slightly at the bottom. Similar to all hockey sticks, one side of the curved end is flat while the other is rounded. This particular stick has a cord wrapped around the shaft several times, and is in decent condition. The makers of this stick were also the makers of baseball bats and tennis rackets, Wright and Ditson. Although not based in England, several of the company’s products were manufactured in England, including this hockey stick and cricket bats, a sport that is immensely popular in England. This hockey stick is just another one of the products of this phenomenal company that was once the lead producer of sports goods.


Andover’s First Farm

August 15th, 2013 by Joshua Dallal

Richard Barker was the first documented settler known to have lived in Andover.  He was the first farmer of a farming town.  The farm he started is still in operation today in North Andover.  It is a link to the history of both Andover and North Andover.

Cochickawicke was the section of Essex Country that is now North Andover.  In 1646, the town of Andover was created, and replaced the old Indian name Cochickawicke by English law.  Andover’s first business transaction took place on August 13, 1643, when Richard Barker of Cochickawicke bought 7 acres of land, some cows, and some hay from a man in Ipswich.  According to some historians including Philip J Greven Jr.[1] and Sarah L. Bailey[2], this makes Richard Barker the first individual citizen with legal documentation from the period proving that he lived in Andover.  Barker’s Farm is the oldest continually run family farm in the US.

John Woodbridge of Ipswich, and later of Andover, got permission from Governor Dudley as early as 1641, to create a permanent settlement in Cochickawicke.  Some historians like Charlotte Helen Abbot[3] and Sarah L. Bailey[4] suggest that people were living in the settlement as early as 1642.  Sarah L. Bailey made a point of informing her readers that there is no definite proof anyone living in the settlement that Woodbridge set up before Barker; all of the documentation is suggestive and may have been referring to extra legal and material preparations for the settlement.

Richard Barker was the fourth person to receive a land grant when Andover was incorporated in 1646.  This was in addition to the land he purchased in 1643.  The 51 year old farmer’s prosperity would only increase after 1646.  His heirs had a 400 acre farm to fight over when he died in 1693.  Richard Barker the younger ended up inheriting the land.

Barker’s Farm literally defined the border between the North Parish and South Parish during the 18th century.  In 1709, the General Court in Salem used “the west corner Richard Barker’s Land” as a landmark in the official boundary between the north and south parishes.[5]  The boundary between North Parish and South Parish was changed in 1826, when West Parish was established in Andover.  Thus Barker’s Farm was in the upper middle part of North Andover in 1855, when the Andover voted to split into two towns.

In the 1990s, George Barker, father of the current owner of Barker’s Farm, sold land between the dairy farm on Bradford Street and the vegetable farm on Osgood Street.  The 150 acres of remaining land is being used for farming.  While the farm may have been bisected, it has never changed location.

Today Barker’s Farm is still in business. Vegetables are sold at farm stand on Osgood Street in North Andover, and cattle are still being raised on Bradford Street.  The current owner of the farm is Diane Barker.  Andover’s first farm may not be located in Andover, but that is because Andover split in two.  This link to Andover’s past that still stands.

[1] Philip J. Greven Jr., Four Generations: Population, Land, and Family in Colonial Andover Massachusetts, (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1970), 85.

[2] Sarah L. Bailey, Historical Sketches of Andover Massachusetts, (Cambridge: The Riverside Press, 1880), 90.

[3] Charlotte Helen Abbot, Early Records of the Woodbridge Family of Andover, Memorial Hall Library Archives, accessed July 10, 2013,

[4] Sarah L. Bailey, Historical Sketches of Andover Massachusetts, (Cambridge: The Riverside Press, 1880), 7-8.

[5] Claude M. Fuess, Andover: Symbol of New England, (Andover: the Andover Historical Society, 1959), 119-120.


Old Sporting Equipment Week 6

August 14th, 2013 by Janak Shah


A more modern type of ice skates, these were made by the James W. Brine Athletics Company in Boston. This company was created in 1870 at the address of 1436 Massachusetts Avenue, Harvard Square. It was incorporated under Massachusetts Law in 1906, and the founder, James W. Brine, died in1910. In 1911, an article was published in the Cambridge Chronicle about the company and how it was one of the most respected athletic companies in Boston. At the time, it was run by president Louis C. Brine and treasurer Herbert V. Brine. The store was described as having “large glass windows and a handsome interior.” There were several different goods in storage as well as various athletic supplies. The store had twenty employees as required by businesses, and was very successful. The company later published a book as well, called the Proper Equipment for Men and Women – Boys and Girls: Camp, Tennis, Golf, Base Ball, Soft Ball, Archery, Fishing, Badminton, Deck Tennis, Shuffle Board, &C. (Catalog). It made several important products including these skates, and should not be forgotten. DSC_0180


Andover and the Essex Agricultural Society

August 8th, 2013 by Joshua Dallal
Award to Charles M. Newton  1984.036.8

Award to Charles M. Newton

The Essex Agricultural Society is a large, non-profit agricultural organization.  Its purpose is to promote and improve agricultural science and activities in Essex County.  Today, most of its work is done through the Topsfield Fair, but this was not always the case.  It used to hold contests, organize research and arrange lectures throughout Essex County.  Andover citizens have been involved with the Essex Agricultural Society throughout its 195 year history.

The Essex Agricultural Society’s history began on February 16, 1818 when 20 people met at a hotel in Topsfield to create an agricultural society for Essex County. [1]  Two of the 20 attendees were influential men from Andover.  One was John Adams, principle of Phillip Academy from 1810 to 1833.  The other was Hobart Clark, who was founder of Abbot Academy and Postmaster of Andover.  On June 12, 1818, in Salem, the Essex Agricultural Society was granted a charter.

Many notable Andover citizens have been trustees of the society, Jonas Holt, Stephen Abbott, John Adams, David Gray, and Jonathan Ingalls to name just a few.  Hobart Clark had more influence in the society than any other Andover citizen.  He was a member of the board of trustees of the society from 1818 to 1846 and was vice president from 1833 to 1837.

The society encouraged most of its members to improve agriculture by giving monetary awards, called premiums, for experimentation and winning competitions.  The yearly published Transactions of the Essex Agricultural Society shows that many Andover citizens participated in both research and competitions.  Ebenezer Jenkins was awarded money in 1832 and 1834 for experimenting with new irrigation techniques.  Another Andover citizen to be awarded money was Jonas Holt, for researching techniques for cultivating new land in 1845.

Andover citizens won premiums in agricultural competitions held by the society every year.  Some of those citizens were quite prominent.  Samuel Farrar, Esq. won second place for his milking cows in 1820, and James J. Abbot won second place for his draft horses in 1881.

The Essex Agricultural Society rotated the location of its annual meetings every other year until 1910.  Andover hosted the society’s annual meeting in 1842 and 1843.  In 1910, the society bought land in Topsfield as its administrative headquarters and created the Topsfield Fair as its permanent annual event.  The Topsfield Fair became so popular that more people knew of the fair than the society itself.

Andover citizens continued to work with the society.  Charles M. Newton was given an award from the society on September 8, 1950 for “40 years of long and faithful service in agriculture.”[2]  In 2011, three Andover citizens competed in the tractor pull contests at the fair.  They won two first place prizes and a second place prize.[3]

In the early 19th century when Andover was still mostly a farming town, Andover was intimately involved with the creation and management of the society. Now that Andover only has one farm, a few Andover residents participate in the fair and a few residents help with the Essex Agricultural Society’s clerical work.  It is only natural that a town’s involvement with agriculture determines its level of participation with an agricultural society.

[1] Thomas Franklin Waters, The History of the Essex Agricultural Society of Essex County, Massachusetts 1818-1918, (Topsfield: Trustees of the Essex Agricultural Society, 1918), 4

[2] Essex Agricultural Society Award for Long and Faithful Service in Agriculture, 1950

[3] Brendan Lewis, Andover Residents Dominate in Fair Tractor Pull, Andover Patch, October 11th, 2011, accessed June 19th, 2013,


Old Sporting Equipment Week 5

August 7th, 2013 by Janak Shah


Above is another pair of antique ice skates in the West Loft of the Andover Historical Society Barn. These unique skates were created by a company called Barney and Berry, abbreviated B&B. This company was formed during the Civil War in the 1860′s by Everett Barney, who was the superintendent of small arms manufacturing for military purposes in Massachusetts. Barney was the first to create an all metal skate that could clamp on to the shoes without problem. By the end of the war, he set up a factory that produced up to 600,000 units per year. This style of skates was patented in the early 1870′s, and were produced until the early 20th century. These skates helped promote enthusiasm for recreational ice skating within America.

These specific skates are most likely from the 1910′s, made of steel that has now rusted. Identical B&B skates are being auctioned online, with bids around twenty dollars. These antique skates were some of the oldest made and were instrumental in changing ice skating.