Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

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February 28, 2013

Town of Joiners II: Farmers, veterans and other histories

Second in a two-part story.

The Andover Grange, instituted on Feb. 7, 1890, was part of a national fraternal organization known as The National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry. Its purpose was simply to create better agriculture and to help the community, although members of other occupations did belong. The Grange Hall was built in 1892, originally at what is today the entrance to West Parish Cemetery. The Hall was later moved to the area on Shawsheen Road behind West Parish Church.

Much-needed in the rural West Andover area, the organization provided a gathering place for its members. It welcomed people of all races, drawn only by their love of God and their belief that “diligent labor and faith in one’s fellow man would insure a fruitful harvest.” In a paper presented in 1988, member Arthur Peatman told of how members were encouraged to take part in civic affairs, such as public works and schools. The members managed to establish a small educational fund and “gave willingly to charitable organizations that needed financial assistance.”

Following the disappearance of many local farms, membership dwindled and the Grange Hall was opened as a teen center in 1961.The building was finally removed in 1972.

Veterans’ groups were formed after each war to aid returning servicemen and women. The first such group, the Grand Army of the Republic, was founded in 1865 by Civil War soldiers. Group goals included providing employment for disabled comrades and offering general assistance. As with other organizations, the GAR was based on the principals of fraternity, charity and loyalty. The Women’s Relief Corps provided support. With numbers dwindling, the GAR disbanded in 1930.

The Soldiers’ Aid Society organized following the Spanish-American War in 1898. The American Legion, Post 8, formed in 1919. Following the motto, “In Peace, as in War, We Serve,” the increasing membership and scale of demands made upon the organization necessitated new quarters, and the Post moved to the Barnard Building.

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