Nearly 125 years ago – on Oct. 14, 1887, to be exact – the first Andover Townsman was published.
At the time, there was great interest in founding a newspaper in town. Back then there were no televisions, radios or even telephones to broadcast the news, and people had to rely on their newspapers for not only news about what was happening in town, but also about what was happening nationally and worldwide.
The Townsman’s founders included “over two dozen outstanding citizens of the town” who were participants in the Andover Press, Limited. With great pride, the Townsman founders noted that the effort to start a newspaper has not been done “as a money making venture, but in furtherance of what they thought might be a public good.”
The look and feel of the first Townsman was very different from today’s paper. First of all the newspaper itself was much larger in size than today’s Townsman. It was a full-size tabloid measuring 13 by 18 inches with five columns on the front page. The top of the paper was decorated with seven encircled sketches of prominent Andover buildings of the day among them, the Memorial Hall Library, various mill buildings, historic buildings and a Church. The caption under the heading read “Andover, everywhere and always — first, last, she has been the manly, straight-forward sober, patriotic, New-England Town” attributed to Phillips Brooks. The paper ran to eight pages.
During these early days, the front page of the Townsman was full of local news such as who was getting married to whom, who was moving onto which street, and who had taken ill and therefore would be unable to work in the mills that day.
On the front page of the very first issue, advertisements showcased the lifestyle of Andover 125 years ago. For instance, local businesses such as O. Chapman’s Dining Rooms on Main Street, Thomas P. Harriman’s Horse Shoeing and General Blacksmithing on Park Street, “7 percent guaranteed mortgages at Farmer’s Loan & Trust,” and an enterprise called B.B. Tuttle, Express and Jobing are examples of the true horse and buggy days — with ample “dining” opportunities as well.