Revolutionary War

As early as 1768, the town records of Andover note that if the inhabitants wish to transmit “…to Posterity those Invalluable Rights and Privileges both Civil and Religious which have been dearly purchased by our predecessors the First Settlers of this Country…” than they should immediately work to promote…

…Industry & Economy and good Morals; And by all prudent means Endeavour to discountenance the Importation & use of Foreign Superfluities and to promote and Incourage Manufactures in the Town.

Following the tragic events of the Boston Massacre in March of 1770, the town selectmen voted several measures to support and encourage “Frugality, Industry and the Manufacturers of this Country” by May of that year.

Over the next five years, as events lead up to the Battle at Lexington and Concord, Andover began to prepare for the anticipated conflict, calling men to militia and providing arms and training.

By February 1775 there were “…four militia companies at Andover, containing in all four hundred men.” (S.L. Bailey, Historical Sketches, 1880) Two companies were from the South Parish, and two were from the North.

The enrolled men from the North Parish of Andover drilled on a piece of land known as the town Training Field which was located at the top of Court Street where it meets Academy Road, behind what is now the Kittredge Mansion.

Over fifty males, aged between 15 and 65, fought for the Patriot cause from 1775 to 1783. Deacons, doctors, tradesmen, men from families that had lived in the area since the town’s incorporation, and recent inhabitants gave service to help forge the United States of America.

Biographies

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Colonel James Frye (1710 ― 1776)

Homestead: 169 Chestnut Street

James Frye was an experienced soldier who held the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the French and Indian War of 1756 ― 63. By 1775, Frye was 65 years old and promoted to Colonel of a regiment of Minutemen ― which included the Andover Militia- that fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Frye family lore records that during the action Frye was struck in the thigh with a musket ball (which allegedly passed through the leg into the back of his horse) at which point he dismounted, tended to the horse, and rallied his men by commenting on the lack of British aim. It is known that he died approximately six months after the battle of his wounds. James Frye is buried in the Old Burial Ground with the epitaph “…departed this life January the 8th 1776, aetatis 66, While in the Continental Service Supporting the Independence of the United States of America”

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Captain Benjamin Farnum (1746-1833)

Homestead: 397 Farnum Street

Benjamin was a deacon in the North Parish Church, a position he held for nearly 40 years. He was also at the Battle of Bunker Hill, and like James Frye, was shot in the thigh. Family tradition holds that Captain Farnum was discovered lying wounded by a fellow Andover resident, John Barker, during the retreat. Local historian S.L Bailey recounts the tale “He assisted him onto his shoulders and took off on the run shouting ‘the Regulars sha’nt have Ben’. “ While that story is unproven, it is known that Farnum survived his wounds managed the 220 mile journey to participate in the Battle of Bennington in Vermont, a decisive victory in the Patriot cause. After a brief time in New Hampshire, Farnum returned to the North Parish and continued to have a long life, passing away aged 87. He is buried in the Ridgewood Cemetery.

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Private Daniel Carleton (1760 ― 1807)

Daniel born in the North Parish and marched as a Private in Captain Nathaniel Lovejoy’s Company via Billerica and on to Cambridge when he was only 15. He only served a few days, but he enlisted again in 1777 at 17 to help reinforce the Northern Army. 1777 was a critical year for the American side as their increasing victories enticed French support. He did not further serve in the military but married Mary Kimball in 1778 and they had 11 children, including a set of twins. He died in 1807 and is buried in the Old Burial Ground.

stevens-diary-april-1775

Lieutenant James Stevens (1749 ― 1834)

As a private Stevens marched to Concord from Andover was the alarm was raised that the British were seizing arms. The First Andover Company took nearly 12 hours to arrive, and did not participate in the conflict. For several weeks he drilled and did guard duty, which he recorded in a journal that still survives today. He missed the Battle of Bunker Hill due to illness but he continued to serve until March of 1776. His diary is an insight into the life of an ordinary man, caught up in an extraordinary series of events. He left the North Parish not long after the war ended and settled on a farm in Jaffrey, New Hampshire where he became a pillar of the community.

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Private Salem Poor (1748 ― 1802)

Salem grew up in the household of Colonel John Poor in the North Parish, and later he was a servant to John Poor’s son, John. While contemporary sources list Salem as a ‘servant’ he was bought in Salem MA by Colonel John Poor’s mother (C.H. Abbott Andover Families #106, 1901), and therefore was technically a slave. Salem was able, with assistance from benefactors, to purchase his freedom in 1769. He married Nancy Parker in 1771 and they had a son, Jonas. Salem served under Captain Ames in Colonel Frye’s Regiment and was present at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Poor is credited with shooting the British leader Lieutenant- Colonel Abercrombie while the patriots were in a retreat, hence causing a fresh rally of spirit. He re-enlisted many times until he was discharged in 1780 (Ed Bell, 2016), and is reputed to have fought in other key battles. Poor was later to receive commendation for his actions in the form of a petition submitted to Congress, signed by fourteen officers attesting to his ‘brave and gallant’ behavior. In 1975 during the Bicentennial Poor was again commemorated for his actions in the form of appearing on a U.S. Postage Stamp. Salem Poor left Andover after the war and is buried in Boston.

Samuel Osgood

Samuel Osgood is arguably one of Andover’s most famous sons to emerge from the North Parish for his role in the Revolutionary War and the early Republic.

Samuel Osgood (1747 ― 1814).
Samuel Osgood (1747 ― 1814).

Osgood was born on February 3, 1747 to Captain Peter Osgood and Sarah Johnson, both of whom are buried in the Old Burial Ground. The Osgoods were early proprietors of the town, and the farm Peter held at present day 440 Osgood Street extended as far north as the Lawrence airport.

Peter Osgood gifted a silver tankard made by Issac Clark on the wishes of his grandfather Timothy Osgood to the North Parish Church. Later in 1801 towards the end of his life, he presented the church with an inscribed silver flagon made by Paul Revere.

440 Osgood Street, North Andover (1931).
440 Osgood Street, North Andover (1931).

As a young boy, Osgood attended Dummer Academy, now The Governor’s Academy. He continued his studies and eventually graduated in 1770 with a degree in theology from Harvard. After college, he returned to the North Parish and embarked on a mercantile career.

At the age of 28, Osgood joined the local militia and, because of his Harvard education, he was elected to represent the town in the Massachusetts Colonial Assembly. He entered the Revolutionary Army as a Captain and spent time in Cambridge as General Artemis Ward’s Aide du Camp. He would leave the Continental Army a Colonel and Assistant Quartermaster.

Prior to the Battle of Bunker Hill, the Provincial Congress voted to commandeer the buildings of Harvard College as quarters for the Continental Army. As the site could come under fire, it was determined that the College’s valuable library books should be removed. With the help of Samuel Phillips Jr, the founder of Phillips Academy, the library’s valuable books were carted to Andover and stored partly at his family homestead on Osgood Street as well as other locations.

During the revolutionary period, Osgood served as a member in the Massachusetts State Senate in the year 1780; he also served as member of the Continental Congress in Philadelphia from 1781 to 1784. From 1785 to 1789 he worked as a commissioner of the United States Treasury and moved his family to New York.

One Cherry Street, New York City: The first Presidential mansion.
One Cherry Street, New York City: The first Presidential mansion.

Once the United States Constitution was ratified in 1789, the seat of the Federal Government located itself in New York City. At that time, Osgood and his family lived at One Cherry Street, one of the finest homes in the City. Washington rented the house from Osgood while the Federal government was located in New York.

Washington appointed Osgood the first Postmaster General in 1789, a position he would hold until 1791. After leaving his position as Postmaster General, Osgood continued to serve having an illustrious career in banking. In addition he was appointed Naval Officer at the Port of New York, where he served until his death on August 12, 1813. He is interred in the Brick Presbyterian Church located at Fifth Avenue and Thirty-Seventh Street in New York City.