The Andover Townsman
---- — Sharpen your broomsticks and plump up your scarecrows — it’s time for the season of ghoulish antics and hocus-pocus to return to Andover.
And the Andover Historical Society is once again stirring its cauldron to present the third annual Bewitched in Andover: A Series of Eerie Events, a month-long line-up of Halloween-themed tours and talks designed to beguile the souls of mortals of all ages.
While the actual witch trials are attributed to Salem, the historical society says Andover had more accused witches than any other village during the hysteria of 1692. Three people from Andover were convicted of witchcraft and hanged: Martha Carrier, Samuel Wardwell and Mary Ayer Parker. Another woman, Anne Foster died while in prison.
The society’s events highlight the colonial history of Andover by providing a look into the town’s deep connections to the witch trials. Presentation topics will range from life in the early settlement days of Andover to a close examination of what is was like for someone accused of and convicted for witchcraft.
The Andover Community Business Association and Andover Coalition for Education are also getting into the act this year with their first Scarecrow Festival.
Students at Andover’s schools are creating 46 scarecrows with an educational theme to display on light poles along Main Street from Oct. 20 through 27. The display will culminate on Oct. 27 at noon with a festival gathering in front of Old Town Hall that will feature entertainment from Andover High School vocal groups and a presentation by Superintendent Marinel McGrath.
The Andover Historical Society’s series, meanwhile, kicks off this weekend. Here’s the schedule for the month ahead:
Friday, Oct. 4 — “Witch Andover? Which Andover?:” This evening lecture explores the consequences of the witch trials and the damaged psyche in the aftermath of the hysteria of 1692 that contributed to the eventual split of Andover into North and South Parishes, and Andover as we know it today. Charlotte Lyons and Graham Long, historians at South Church in Andover, lead the program. Fee $5, members free.
Saturday, Oct. 6 — Walking tour of Chapel Cemetery: Historical Society Vice President Gail Ralston leads the outing featuring stories about The Famous Dead and retraces the steps of Harriet Beecher Stowe from the spot where she first lived in Andover to the sacred ground of her final resting place. Fee $5, members free.
Thursday, Oct. 10 — “The Way it REALLY Was: 17th Century Puritan Sexuality:” Mary-Ellen Smiley, a social historian and presently the curator of exhibitions and education programs at the Salem Museum, will lecture on the complexity of interpersonal relationships and courtship in Colonial America and take a realistic look at the intimate, daily lives of these early Americans. Fee $10, members $5.
Wednesday, Oct. 16 — High Tea & History: South Church historian Charlotte Lyons highlights Andover’s role in the infamous Salem witch trials of 1692 at the Center at Punchard, 30 Whittier Court; free.
Saturday, Oct. 19 — Costume Workshop: Join exhibit curator Angela McBrien in a one-hour flapper dress workshop that draws inspiration from the current “Behind the Seams” exhibit at the society. Participants will use a one-hour method published in the 1920s. Sewing machine, fabric and basic sewing kit required. Fee $25, members $20.
Sunday, Oct. 20 — “The Family Plot — Gravestone Culture & Cemetery Lessons for Families:” Spend an afternoon with a guide exploring South Church Cemetery and some of the unique, and sometimes spooky, engravings and symbols found on early headstones. Recommended for ages 10 and up. Fee: $15 for family of four.
Wednesday, Oct. 23 — Wicked History Kids Halloween Party: Children in grades two to five will enjoy a ghoulish (but not too scary!) afternoon learning about the history of Halloween and seeing costumes from years ago. Participants will also make crafty creations and play games. Halloween costumes are encouraged. Fee: $10 per child.
Saturday, Oct. 26 — “History on Tap – A Vintage Halloween Party:” Get those costumes ready for a bewitching evening at Andover Town House (also known as Old Town Hall) on Main Street. The event will include music with DJ Ted Teichert, Victorian fortune telling, hors d’oeuvres, cash bar, a photo booth and more surprises. Vintage attire or Halloween costumes are encouraged, but not required. Fee: $40.
Unless noted, events take place at the historical society at 97 Main St. Registration is requested as space is limited. Call 978-475-2236 to reserve a spot or register online at andoverhistorical.org/bewitched.