July kicks off with the celebration of our country’s independence. Sometimes our enthusiasm over get-togethers with friends and family makes way for a renewed interest in national history. Fortunately, our local history is just as interesting. With several centuries behind it, Andover could tell a lot of stories! Our community’s past characters and events are just as fascinating in 2015 as they were in 1642 or 1775. Here are just some of the major events in which Andover citizens have taken part:
- Salem witch trials
- Founding of the nation’s oldest public school system
- Revolutionary War
- Civil War
- Shawsheen Village Experiment
The history of Andover began in 1634 when settlers attracted by a temporary reprieve from taxes and other obligations began making their home on the land around Lake Cochichewick. Soon, an agreement with an area Pennacook chief soon resulted in the securing of a plot of land that would be incorporated as Andover in 1646. The town seal pays tribute to this historic pact.
Residents feared revolt by local Native American tribes, but suffered only a handful of attacks in the coming decades. In 1692, the community came under fire in a series of events still discussed in 2015: The Salem witch trials. It’s believed that three Andover women accused of witchcraft were executed during this infamous period. Townspeople went through trials of another sort in the form of the Revolutionary War, when many local volunteers took part in the Battle of Bunker Hill.
Just as many citizens of Andover longed for independence well in advance of the Revolutionary War, the town boasted a number of abolitionists long before the Civil War began. There were several Underground Railway stops here, and a 79-man unit volunteered for duty. By war’s end, 600 locals had served in the Union army.
Past and present residents have demonstrated intellect, passion and leadership. Our community is home to the country’s oldest public school system, and the fascinating Shawsheen Village Experiment took place here. The American Woolen Company built a self-contained village around its mills in 1919, with employees renting homes from the company. The village lasted over two decades, and the changing economy caused the demise of its founding company in 1953. Residents and businesses occupy the buildings today.
With such an intriguing history behind us, Andover has plenty to be proud of in 2015. As you stroll our town’s streets this July, consider the amazing events that shaped our community.
Do you have a piece of Andover history you can share with us? Please do so below.