Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

October 11, 2012

Townsman to turn 125 this Sunday

By Susan McKelliget All Those Years Ago compiler
The Andover Townsman

---- — 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.

Other prominently featured businesses of the day included piano and furniture movers on Essex Street and a company called Rea & Abbott Provision Dealers on Main Street.

For entertainment, the front page heralded a “Fireman’s Muster” proceeding through the Elm Square, meandering through “up-town” streets and ending with a “12 o’clock dinner for those with tickets to the event.”

Additionally, columns were devoted to items of special literary interest, to original manuscripts, and to news of special interest to groups.

Unlike today’s Townsman, the inside pages were was devoted to national and international news — again the Townsman was of the main sources of information about what was going on in the world for folks in Andover.

The 75th anniversary edition of the Townsman, heralded as the “Jubilee” edition, fell on Oct. 25, 1962, and that paper described in a series of articles, what was happening in 1887 – from budget matters, to school activities to day-to-day events. The following is excerpted from that paper and, as you can see, although the hitching posts are long gone from the town center, some of matters before the town really don’t change too much.

Banks — A photo showed the Andover Bank as it appeared in 1865. It had six hitching posts in the front of the building. It is the same building which first housed the Andover Bank which was organized in 1826. In 1865 the bank had grown and occupied the area on the lower floor generally defined by the four windows and doorway at the lower right. That bank building is now TD Bank.

Churches — The Rev. B.F. Bronson was pastor of the Andover Baptist Church in 1887. “During this period, the church was busy raising money to purchase and install on organ, and to begin a musical program.” In January of 1887, the Rt. Rev. Phillips Brooks, D.D. consecrated the Parish of Christ Church edifice. Until 1877, all night services and work at the South Church had been carried on by candle or lamplight. In that year, three parishioners equipped the entire church with electricity. St. Augustine’s was 35 years old 125 years ago and thriving under the pastor-ship of Very Rev. Maurice J. Murphy, O.S.A. who was “recalled for two generations as the most popular priest ever to serve in the parish.” West Parish started in 1826 by a group of South Church parishioners was considered the oldest church edifice in the community.

Fire Station – The fire department in 1887 consisted of five fire engineers, 16 members of Andover Steamer No. One; and 16 members of J.P. Bradlee Steamer No. Two. There were 10 members of B.F. Smith Hook and Ladder Co. The station claimed about 3,300 feet of usable hose and another “ten-hundred feet which cannot be depended upon.” Two engine houses were valued at $12,000 and fire apparatus was valued at the same amount. Each year, town meeting voted specifically on firemen’s wages, and set them at 50 cents an hour –but only when working.

Library — Memorial Hall Library in 1887 had 10,208 books and circulation reached 22,199. “1,083 overdue notices were sent to the good people of Andover, and fines totaling $47.84 were collected.” “Of interest is the fact that the Andover Townsman became a popular journal, as two copies of that newly born newspaper were taken from the Reading Room and not returned in 1888 the following year.”

Police — Forty-nine arrests were made by Andover police in 1887, according to the report of Chief George F. Cheever. Fourteen of these arrests were for assault, seven for drunkenness, six for “malicious mischief” Other arrests involved transportation or illegal sales of liquor. Chief Cheever strongly recommended that a regular officer for night patrol be hired, and that a police station or headquarters be established at or near the town house.

Schools — Public Schools were flourishing 125 years ago — there were many of them in the town and all were crammed. Punchard Free School Administrators were setting higher standards for its nearly 90 students in the 1886-87 year. Students had to attain an average of 60 percent or better in each subject to be admitted. Students at that time came from the 10th grade in the public schools and most ended their education at the 10th grade level. “It is also noteworthy at this time that Punchard offered two courses — the General course for those preparing for MIT or other technical schools, and the English course — for those whose stay in school might be for a shorter time, and who would not be going on to higher education.” In 1887, $2,500 was appropriated to buy the “Towle” land for a school site on Bartlet street. Schools took the largest single chunk of the town’s appropriation for the year. At some point around this time, someone dropped a “t” from the Bartlett street of long ago. “Old maps indicate that the street was spelled like the pear — Bartlett.”

Phillips Academy — Principal Cecil Franklin Patch Bancroft had great plans to modernize the curriculum for the 312 students who paid $60.00 a year for tuition.

Plans were in full swing to develop a physical plant. In 1887, a fire destroyed the old Mansion House originally built by Samuel Phillips Jr. which was visited by George Washington in 1789.

Selectmen — The Chairman of the Board who also acted as assessor and overseer of the poor, received $300; the other two members were paid $250.

Streets — Railroad Street was laid out in 1887 and the road commission spent $2,870 — some $371 more than was appropriated — to straighten out the culverts, put in a retaining wall and fix the street.

Taxes — In 1887, Town Meeting left some of the burden of that year’s expenditures for their townsmen to pay a year later. Voters approved $78,578 for the year and they also voted to raise $40,000 from taxes and borrow whatever else was needed — payable in 1888. Schools took the biggest chunk at $11,000 and another $1,000 for school houses. (An extra $2,500 was appropriated to buy Towle land for a new school).

Highways and bridges came in at $8,000 sidewalks, $1,000; removing snow $1,000; fire department $2,500; street lamps $1,000. Tax income was $40,925 for 1887.

Teachers — The town’s annual report urged “all girls who would seek to become teachers to get at least two years of Normal School preparation” with the following notation to “be a good instructor and not enter upon the profession simply for the money it will bring.” The average pay per week was $9 and the principal received $20 a week.

Town Owned Property – All town-owned property was valued at a total of $330,507 back in 1887. The Town Hall was worth $25,000 in 1887 including fixtures. The Memorial Hall Library was valued at $38,000.

Water Supply — 125 years ago, a special December town meeting approved acceptance of a statute, allowing Andover to set up a water supply system for the community. The first installation began in 1886 at Rabbit’s pond and ran through the center of town. Four town citizens served as a special committee for the installation of water lines for fire protection mainly but also in case the town wanted to distribute water to homes. 7,500 feet of pipe with gates and hydrants for the cost of $9,300 established the town’s first water mains.