This is part one of a two-part story about Amos Blanchard, who built the Andover Historical Society home.
Many citizens of early Andover are known for their success in specific areas: through education, through their parishes, through their business savvy, or even through their philanthropic endeavors. The story of Amos Blanchard is the story of a man who saw success in all of these areas and who can surely be described as one of the town's great "movers and shakers." But to understand his achievements, one must go back and examine the family ties that set this story in motion.
The Blanchard Family were all Huguenots, or French Protestants. According to a family descendant, the family homeland was on an old estate in Normandy, their fathers' homeland for nearly 1,000 years, located at the Cape of the Hague in the north of France. Before their emigration to America, the family was said to have lived for two years in a small city in the north of England - Halifax in Yorkshire.
Essex County records suggest they came from Andover, England, although this clearly contradicts the above account. And we don't know why Thomas Blanchard, his brothers and their families decided to leave Old England to settle in New England. What is known for sure is that Amos Blanchard was in Thomas' line, and that Thomas sailed in the ship Jonathan from London to Boston in 1639 with his children, his wife and her mother, and the latter's niece. His wife did not survive the voyage; his mother-in-law only lived until the ship anchored in Boston Harbor.
Thomas' son, Samuel, had been born in England on Aug. 6, 1629. His occupation was "husbandman" and he lived in Charlestown until about 1683, at which time he located to West Andover, and from him came the former name of Haggetts Pond - Blanchard's Pond. The land around the pond was called Blanchard's Plains. Thomas was clearly public-spirited, as he had served as a constable while in Charlestown and was elected selectman in Andover.
A couple generations later, Amos' father, Joshua Blanchard, left Andover for Wilton, N.H. in 1769. The next year, Joshua married Elizabeth Keys. Amos was born there on Jan. 14, 1773. But the family ties remained in Andover, and in 1787, at the age of 14, Amos was sent back to Andover to live with his Uncle John who owned a "comfortable house" on Salem Turnpike (now Salem Street), on the campus of the newly-formed Phillips Academy. This was to be Amos' home for the next 32 years. Amos was enrolled at the academy while with his uncle, and was part of a household that included other academy boys. (For the first 100 years of its existence, Phillips Academy did not provide dormitories for the boys, and local families of "good reputation" took on the responsibility of boarding students.)
Graduating from Phillips, Amos stayed on with his uncle and, in 1791 at the age of 18, became an administrative assistant to Judge Samuel Phillips, the school's founder. Here he worked with the school in surveying and land transactions. He married Elizabeth Jenkins in 1802, the year his uncle died. The young family remained on campus in their uncle's home and took up the task of boarding students themselves. Later that year, Amos added "clerk to PA Treasurer Squire Samuel Farrar" to his ré©sumé©. Amos and Elizabeth were received into the South Parish on Dec. 26, 1802, member number 1089, a membership that would prove to be very significant throughout their lives.
At an Academy Trustees meeting in 1804, it was voted to have Amos complete a survey of all lands belonging to the academy. (We do not have on record where or how Amos received such training.) That same year, Amos entered into a partnership with David Gray and purchased one-half interest in 120 acres of land in Milford, N.H. (next to Wilton). Amos clearly caught the "land acquisition" bug, as by 1807 he began purchasing and selling land in the Andover area, and continued this activity throughout his life.
On March 19, 1812, Amos was named moderator of South Parish Church, a position of no small status. He was named moderator two more times, in 1815 and 1817. Here he also served as trustee and treasurer of the Ministerial Fund of the parish, from 1812-1847. Clearly, Amos was someone to count on, someone well respected.
By 1818, Amos began to eye new-home property in town, perhaps a location more befitting his up-and-coming status. He purchased the property for $440 from the holder, South Parish, and an adjoining lot in 1819 for $100. A barn was raised first, for $320, and by 1819 the house, which he designed, was completed for a total of $3,250. [Editor's note: This property is now the Andover Historical Society at 97 Main St.]
Comfortably settled in his new "trophy" home in November, continuing the tradition of boarding academy students, and securing his position as a town business man, Amos was poised to further his influence and contributions in his beloved Andover.
"Andover Stories" is a column about interesting local people and events started as a two-year project to celebrate the Andover Historical Society's 100 anniversary in 2011. Because of the success of the weekly series, the column will continue as a regular feature in the Townsman.