Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

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August 25, 2011

Andover Stories: Pompey Lovejoy - 'lection cake and ginger root beer

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.

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