John N. Cole was the father of the Andover Townsman. He was present at its birth, and he soon owned was sole owner of the paper and was its publisher, editor, and editorial writer.
On the Townsman’s “silver anniversary,” as he called it in 1912, Cole was still the boss and writing the editorials, as he would continue until his death 10 years later. One hundred years ago, on October 25, 1912, Cole wrote about the Townsman’s birth.
“Twenty five years ago, a weak struggling infant in the shape of a five column, eight-page newspaper was born and labeled the ‘Andover Townsman,’ and thus suggesting in its very name a closer communion among the citizens of Andover, it began a struggle to serve the best interests of Andover.”
Cole was active in state and local politics, and he was elected to the Great and General Court from 1903 to 1908, serving as speaker of the house in 1905. He stayed involved in state politics until his death.
He was one of the dominant voices at Andover’s town meetings, and in his editorials he would occasionally chastise a person who opposed his views but he did so in a thoughtful, if not entirely polite, manner. And he always gave his opponents the opportunity to write letters to the editor. Lest I leave a wrong impression, Cole was a brilliant, fair, hardworking man, who was among the most important people of his era in Andover.
His imprint on the town’s center is still exists. He built the ARCO (Andover Real Estate Company) building in 1907 and owned the Press Building on the corner of Main and Chestnut streets, which housed all three of his businesses: the Andover Townsman, the Andover Press, and the Andover Bookstore.
As for the Andover Townsman on its 25th anniversary, it resembled the first Townsman, which was so capably described by Susan McKelliget on these pages three weeks ago (her article can be found online at AndoverTownsman.com).