The voyage was a long and sometimes dangerous one from Brechin, Scotland to Andover. In the early 1800s, sailing ships took about six weeks to cross the Atlantic. With adverse winds or bad weather, the journey could take as long as fourteen weeks. By 1845, Britain’s steam-powered ship, the SS Great Britain, could make the entire journey in a mere 14 days.

Answering his brother John’s call, Peter Smith and his friend, John Dove made that long voyage. John had founded a machine company in Plymouth, Massachusetts known as John Smith & Company in 1822. Both John Dove and Peter had worked in the flax mill of Dove’s father back in Scotland so they brought with them knowledge about, and a zeal for, flax products

Seeking more water power for his mill, John and his two early business partners, Joseph Faulkner and Warren Richardson, moved their company to Andover in 1824.

The first mill owned by brothers John and Peter Smith and their now business partner, John Dove, was in Andover’s Frye Village. The village was named after Samuel Frye who had built a saw and grist mill in 1718 around which the village thrived and grew. Years later it would be renamed Shawsheen Village.

With the purchase of the water power rights and several buildings in 1837, the Smith and Dove partnership began processing flax into linen yarn, twine and sailcloth. The company continued to prosper buying the stone Howarth Mill in 1837.

In 1864, the partnership incorporated as the Smith & Dove Company. Adding new buildings, enlarging others and expanding production, by 1905, the company’s visible mill complex was much as we see today, only the name has changed to Dundee Park.

The company, through its founders, also had an enormous and lasting impact on the town itself.

The company placed great value on its workers bringing many of its mill hands over from Scotland. Employee housing was erected along Stevens Street and above that on Brechin Terrace – comfortable homes close to work. There was a boarding house for female workers and a community center where groups like the Order of Scottish Clans, the Andover Cricket Club and the Indian Ridge Mother’s Club would often meet.

Smith and Dove even built recreational areas where employees could play company- sponsored football, soccer, cricket or baseball. Even bowling tournaments. One employee reminisced, “We loved to go to work. We did have a lot of fun down there!”

The Smith and Dove families left a legacy of sharing their good fortune with the community. They helped build our town’s social structure that enriches Andover to this very day.

In 1870, privately funded from a bequest by John Smith and funds raised from town residents, the Memorial Hall Library was established. As suggested by Smith, the library and reading room was located on the corner lot where Joseph Abbott’s furniture shop stood and burned in 1866. Architect F. Eaton was commissioned for the project. The cornerstone, laid on September 19, 1871, was a list of all the Andover men enrolled in the Army & Navy during the “War of the Rebellion” and of the 46 who gave their lives. Memorial Hall opened its doors in May, 1873 and remains today among Andover’s crown jewels.

Unabashed abolitionists, John and Peter Smith were among the founders of the Free Christian Church which was outspoken against slavery.

The Smith-Purdon Fund has made significant donations to those in crisis and funded a research center for the Andover Historical Society (now the Andover Center for History and Culture). Susanne Smith-Purdon was a family descendant.

Today the mills are relegated to Andover’s past. Smith and Dove closed their doors in 1928. In their wake they left Andover a far better place for their being here.

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