Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


August 23, 2012

Hussey's Pond, Poor Street probably named for Underground Railroad men

Is Poor's Pond gone, or was it moved?

Hussey’s Brook, mentioned recently in the Townsman, got me wondering where the brook and Hussey’s Pond acquired their names. The likely answer is they were named for Elijah Hussey, who owned a sawmill in Frye Village, now Shawsheen Village.

In the years before the Civil War, Hussey was active in the Underground Railroad and provided a safe place for fugitive slaves to eat and rest.

William Poor worked with Elijah Hussey in the Underground Railroad, but while Hussey and others in Andover provided a safe place for fugitive slaves, Poor had the job of transporting them. In a letter quoted in an Andover History Book a Miss Marion La Mere wrote: “When Mr. Poor heard a gentle rap on his door or other subdued sound in the night, he dressed quickly, went out, harnessed his mare Nellie into a covered wagon and started with [the fugitives], probably for North Salem [N.H.]. On top of a hill in that place were several excavations, lined and covered with slabs of stone, which had furnished retreat for neighboring inhabitants when the Indians were on the warpath, but which now afforded refuge to fugitive slaves. Mr. Poor was always back in time for breakfast.” (”Andover: Symbol of New England,” Claude M. Fuess, Andover and North Andover Historical Societies, 1959.)

William Poor owned a wagon factory on a section of Poor Street that no longer exists; it was south of Lowell Street on a 1,000-foot roadway that Bessie Goldsmith said was discontinued in 1899 (”The Townswoman’s Andover,” Andover Historical Society, 1964); however, it still appeared on a 1904 map attached to the “Townsman Directory.” This southern portion of Poor Street was 200 feet west of Main Street and parallel to it before cutting back to Main Street at a 45-degree angle to avoid Poor’s Pond. Poor’s wagon factory, which existed from before the Civil War to the beginning of the 20th Century, was in the V at the junction of Poor and Main streets, within a stone’s throw of Poor’s Pond. Is Poor’s Pond gone, or was it just moved a little?

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