The patriotic song America was written in 1831 by Samuel Francis Smith while attending the Andover Theological Seminary. Andover is often referred to as the "Home of America".
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History of Andover

Within the past several years archaeologists have uncovered evidence that primitive people who survived as hunters and gatherers lived in the Merrimack Valley area as early as 7000 B.C. When the first European settlers arrived, the Native Americans living where Andover is now located were probably part of the Pennacook Confederacy who spoke the Algonquian language. They lived in seasonal camps, planting corn and tobacco, and catching salmon and alewives. During 1615 and 1616, archaeologists believe a plague reduced the Native American population in eastern Massachusetts from 100,000 to about 5,000. This may be why the early European settlers reported that they met little resistance when they settled into the Merrimack Valley.

English Settlement

In 1634, the Great and General Court of Massachusetts reserved the land around Lake Cochichewick for an inland plantation. This included what is now Andover, North Andover and South Lawrence. Early colonists were offered three years' immunity from taxes, levies and services, except military service, as inducements to settle in the Andover area. A group of Newbury and Ipswich residents, led by a man named John Woodbridge, established the first permanent settlement in the Andover and North Andover area in 1641.

Shortly after they arrived, the local Pennacook tribal chief Cutshamache sold a parcel of land that included what is now Andover to Woodbridge and his followers. The price was "six pounds of currency and a coat" and permission for Roger, a local Pennacook man, to plant his corn and take alewives from the brook. A small brook, named in his honor, still meanders its way through the eastern part of town.

This notable bargain is commemorated in Andover's official seal, which can be seen on all official town stationery and is displayed in a tile mosaic on the lobby floor of the Old Town Hall on Main Street. The settlement was incorporated as a town in May of 1646 and was named Andover, most likely after Andover, England, which was near the original home of some of the first residents. The first recorded town meeting was held in settler John Osgood's home in 1656.

The old burying ground in what is now North Andover marks the center of the early town. Nearby was the meeting house and around it were clusters of homes on lots of four to eight acres. Homes were grouped together for protection from feared Indian attacks, but the Indians were fairly peaceful until King Philip's War began in 1675. "King" Philip was an Indian who organized a revolt against the white settlers throughout most of New England. Six Indian raids occurred between 1676 and 1698 until ever-increasing numbers of white settlers established control of the land.


Andover did not escape one of the darkest periods of colonial history, the witchcraft trials and executions of the early 1690s. In 1692 in Salem Village, Joseph Ballard asked for help for his wife from several girls in the village who were said to have the power to detect and cure disease. After seeing Mrs. Ballard, the girls claimed that several people in Andover had bewitched her. Following a frenzy of false accusations that swept Salem Village. Andover and surrounding communities, more than 40 Andover citizens, mostly women, were eventually accused of being in league with Satan. About a quarter of them were condemned to death; as many as three were executed. Many of the rest were imprisoned for months.

The Two Parishes

Andover's first settlement was clustered around the Congregational Church meeting house, which was established in 1645. By 1705, Andover's growing population was expanding southward and a proposal was made to build a new meeting house in the south end of town. This met with strong opposition from people living near the original meeting house in the north. The dispute was finally settled in 1709 when the Great and General Court divided Andover into two parishes, North and South.

As a result, South Parish was established with Samuel Phillips as minister. A meeting house was built on Central Street where South Church now stands. Even though there were two distinct parishes the town remained politically one unit.

Revolutionary War

Records show that as early as 1765, Andover residents were feeling the desire to pull away from English rule and opposed to the growing number of taxes imposed on them by England. In 1774, Andover settlers passed a resolution prohibiting the sale of imported tea. When the first shot of the Revolutionary War was fired in April 1775, Andover men picked up their arms and headed toward Lexington. Records show that on the morning of April 19, approximately 350 Andover men marched toward Lexington. Although they did not arrive in time for battle that day, they did go on to participate in the battle of Bunker Hill two months later and fought in subsequent skirmishes with the Redcoats during the war.

Among the Andover men who were representatives to the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention were Col. Samuel Osgood, Zebadiah Abbot, John Farnum and Samuel Phillips, Jr. Mr. Phillips was later appointed by John Adams to help draft the Massachusetts state constitution.


Massachusetts has the oldest public school system in the nation. It dates back to 1647, when the towns of the Massachusetts Bay Colony were ordered to provide schools at public expense. In 1700, Andover constructed its first school house, a classical grammar school, and employed Dudley Bradstreet, Jr. as its schoolmaster. Itinerant schoolmasters also spent several weeks in each section of town instructing the younger children to "read, rite, and cypher". By the middle of the 18th century, one-room schoolhouses had been built in most of the districts.

In 1778, a young Harvard graduate named Samuel Phillips, Jr., the grandson of the first minister of South Parish, convinced his father and uncles to supply the funds for a new school for boys. From its humble beginnings of educating a handful of boys in a remodeled carpenter's shop, Phillips Academy has become one of the premier private coeducational prep schools in the nation. Abbot Academy, a school for girls, was founded in 1829 and merged with Phillips Academy in 1973.

In 1807, the Massachusetts General Court authorized the founding of the Andover Theological Seminary. The seminary remained in Andover for 100 years, training missionaries for the Orient and the Pacific Islands. An agreement was reached in 1908 with Harvard Divinity School to move the seminary to Cambridge and the school's land and buildings were purchased by Phillips Academy. In 193l, the seminary joined with the Newton Theological Seminary to become the Andover-Newton Theological Seminary Seminary.

In 1850, Benjamin Hanover Punchard left $50,000 to the town to establish a free school in South Parish. Although the trustees were given "...sole discretion and power also to determine and decide whether the school shall be for males only or for the benefit of both sexes", they chose the latter. The Punchard Free School opened on Bartlet Street in 1856 and graduated its first class of seven boys and girls in 1859. But the endowment's interest could not maintain the growing school through the years, so its support fell to the taxpayers and its management to the school committee. In 1902, voters at town meeting acted to establish the Punchard High School. The name Punchard was dropped in 1957 when the high school moved to Shawsheen Road. Five trustees of Punchard Free School are still elected by Andover voters to serve with the pastors of South Church, Christ Church and West Parish Church as administrators of the remaining funds. The interest on the original bequest is used to fund special projects and prizes at the high school.

Division of the Town

For many years Andover geographically was one of the largest towns in the Commonwealth. The population of South Parish continued to grow, and in1826 an additional parish was established and West Parish Church was constructed on Reservation Road. In 1854, voters at town meeting passed a measure to divide the town into two political units, roughly according to the old parish boundaries. The name Andover was assumed by the more populous and wealthy West and South parishes, while the name North Andover was given to the North Parish.

Civil War

The anti-slavery movement had many supporters in Andover long before the Civil War began. William Jenkins, an ardent abolitionist and friend of William Lloyd Garrison, and several others provided stops on the Underground Railway for runaway slaves. When the Confederate Army shelled Fort Sumter in 1861, a company of 79 volunteers was formed. By the time the war ended in 1865, 600 Andover men had served in the Union Army. Memorial Hall Library in Elm Square was constructed in 1873 from citizens' donations in memory of the 53 Andover men who lost their lives during the Civil War.

The Shawsheen Village Experiment

The first mills in the Andover area were built to grind corn and saw wood. In 1775, a powder mill was established to provide gunpowder for the Continental Army. Textile mills prospered in Andover from the late 1780s to the middle of this century. By 1835, Andover had six distinct mill districts: Sutton Mills and Stevens Mills on the Cochichewick River; and Ballardvale, Abbot Village, Marland Mills and Frye Village on the Shawsheen River.

In 1919, the American Woolen Company announced its plans to build a million dollar mill in Frye Village and renamed the region "Shawsheen." Planned as a model industrial community, the village was completely rebuilt and became the site of the company's headquarters. By 1924, two years after the Shawsheen mills began operations, the village contained more than 200 houses and several community buildings. Residents had their own tennis courts, swimming area, bowling green, athletic field and golf course. The employees of the company rented their homes, with the brick structures reserved for upper management and wooden buildings for those of lesser position. But the life of this industrial utopia was short. By the early 1940s almost all of the houses and administration buildings were in private hands. The mills became a victim of changing technology as synthetic fibers became more popular than wool. The American Woolen Company closed its mills in 1953. The buildings today house a variety of businesses and apartments.


Andover's history is full of men and women who left their mark on the town and are still remembered today. Simon Bradstreet, one of Andover's earliest settlers was sent to England to receive official confirmation of the charter of the Massachusetts Bay Colony from King Charles II. Bradstreet later became governor of the colony. His wife, Anne Dudley Bradstreet is known as the first woman poet of the colonies.

Col. Samuel Osgood was a leader of the Minutemen, a member of the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention and was elected to the Continental Congress in 1781. He served as Postmaster General of the United States under President Washington. During the siege of Boston in the Revolutionary War, many of the books and valuables of Harvard College were taken to Osgood's house for safekeeping.

Salem Poore, a freed slave who fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill has had a postage stamp issued in his honor.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, a student at Phillips Academy during the 1820s, commemorated Phillips Academy's Bulfinch Hall when he called it the "Classic Hall" in his poem "The School Boy". The building was designed by Charles Bulfinch, who also was chief architect of the National Capitol building in Washington, D.C.

Nineteenth-century author Elizabeth Stuart Phelps wrote in the garden house that still stands on the grounds of Phelps House, 189 Main Street. Phelps House is now the residence of the head of school of Phillips Academy.

In 1832, Samuel F. Smith, a 24-year old student at Andover Theological Seminary, wrote the words of the song "America" while living in what is now called America house, 137 Main Street.

An old carpenter shop of the Andover Theological Seminary, where students once made coffins, was remodeled in 1852 as a home for Prof. Calvin E. and Harriet Beecher Stowe. It originally stood on Chapel Avenue on the site of the present Andover Inn, built in 1929 was moved to its current location at 80 Bartlet Street. In this house Mrs. Stowe wrote Dred and Pink and White Tyranny and supervised the publication in book form of Uncle Tom's Cabin. The house is now known as Stowe House and is a Phillips Academy residence. Mrs. Stowe is buried in the cemetery at Phillips.

Recent History

Much of Andover's history could be summed up by the phrase that was often used to describe the town, "the Hill, the Mill and the Till", since for many years the occupations of the residents were divided equally among the three groups. The Hill was the location of the academics, the Mill was represented by the cluster of companies along the Shawsheen, and the Till consisted at its peak of an estimated 75 farms scattered throughout the town. An examination of the relevance of this description today gives an indication of the significant changes that have occurred in Andover in recent years.

Andover remained a small New England town well into the 20th century. When the town celebrated its 300th birthday in 1946, the population was 12,000. By 1960, the town had grown to 17,134, by 1970 to 23,695 and by 1980 to 26,365. The opening of I-93 in the late 1950s and I-495 a decade later attracted commuters. The rapid population growth caused pressures on existing town services and education, with a corresponding rise in the town budget and tax rate. Seven new schools and three additions were constructed during the 1950 - 1970 period, as well as necessary expansion of town water, sewer, and public safety services.

Much of the town's farm land has given way to housing and industrial developments. Some of the main companies with facilities in Andover include Raytheon, Hewlett-Packard, Prudential Insurance, Digital Equipment Corp., Gillette, Vicor, ITT, Genetic Institute, Smith & Nephew Dyonics and Marshall's.

Although the physical changes are more apparent, the population growth has also had an effect upon the once solid Yankee Republican image. The influx of new families from all over the United States has brought new attitudes and a more cosmopolitan outlook to Andover. The atmosphere of Andover today is a blend of past and present, historical roots and recent growth, all of which will have an influence on the Andover of tomorrow.

From the Andover Town Handbook, Andover League of Woman Voters, 1994.

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