His gravestone still stands in the Lovejoy lot of the South Church cemetery. His epitaph reads "Born in Boston a slave; died in Andover a free man; February 23, 1826; Much respected as a sensible; amiable and upright man."
Pompey Lovejoy was born in 1724 in Boston, Mass., as a slave to Captain William Lovejoy. Pompey took his last name from the family he served. At age 9, he and his master moved to Andover. The captain was so fond of "Pomp" that in 1762 he granted him an early freedom "from all slavery and servitude." This occurred 18 years before slavery was officially abolished in Massachusetts. Later, Capt. Lovejoy's will stipulated that Pompey "be given some choice acreage so that he might better enjoy his later years." Pompey's land was located close to the road that led to the pond that would eventually bear his name.
On Dec. 26, 1751, Pompey wed Rose, a servant of Andover's John Foster. A remnant of Rose's 200-year-old wedding dress may still be seen at the Andover Historical Society.
Pompey and Rose built their cabin on the land inherited from Captain Lovejoy. It was said "he crooned songs while he fried his ham and eggs. He darned his own socks if they ever were darned." It was written that he played the fiddle until "his fingers grew stiff" and "his elbow lost its elasticity." And it was said, "They had smiles for you even if Pomp was 'bad with rheumatiz', or Rose was laid up for a spell."
At 52, Pompey served one and a half days in the Revolutionary War under Captain Henry Abbot's company. He never saw combat because by the time the Andover soldiers arrived in Lexington the battle was over. A march to chase the retreating British enemy lasted until dark and only resulted in a tiring 35-mile march.
Pompey was a town fixture. The custom of New England Town Meeting days provided special occasions where the townspeople could socialize and discuss politics. Pompey and his wife would host gatherings at their cabin in the woods, and they were in charge of making the 'lection cake and ginger root beer. The original recipe for "Pomp's" cake, as it was called, was one pound of sugar, four pounds of flour, one pound of butter and one-half pint sweet lively yeast mixed with warm milk. This would yield four to five loaves that would be spiced with cinnamon or nutmeg. It was said "Pity the town meeting house crowd on election day if Pompey was not custodian of the cake and beer. Woe to the funeral wake if Pompey did not mix the grog and serve it."
Even the Phillips Academy boys knew Pompey. Clause Feuss, in his campus history, related, "When lessons were over, there was plenty of chance for exercise in the pond near which Pomp still had his cabin. In 1824 Pomp was still alive and told the boys that he was over a hundred years old."
Pompey died on Feb 22, 1826 at the reported age of 102. His wife, Rose, died Nov. 8, 1826, at age 99. The land, by that time, was owned by William Foster. Foster's daughters were said to have lived in his cabin after Pompey died. In later years, even though the cabin was gone, the cellar hole of the cabin was still visible with a pine tree growing up through what was once the floor.
Pompey Lovejoy provided 19th century townfolk with food, drink and support. In the 20th century, Andover paid tribute to Pompey by naming Pomp's Pond in his honor.
"Andover Stories" is a weekly column about interesting local people and events, told to celebrate the Andover Historical Society's 100 anniversary in 2011.