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Early Settlers of Andover, Massachusetts

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  • Rebecca Grow (1688 - 1762)
    Citing This Record"Pedigree Resource File", database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 2013-07-30), entry for Rebecca Holt.
  • Captain Asa Foster (1710 - 1787)
    A Patriot of the American Revolution for MASSACHUSETTS. DAR Ancestor #: A041456
  • Elizabeth Foster (1711 - 1758)
    "(ABBOT (Abbet, Abbett, Abbott, Abbut, Abbutt, Abett)) Elizabeth, d. John and Elizabeth, bp. Oct. 28, 1711. CR2" "(ABBOTT (Abbet, Abbett, Abbot)) Elizabeth, and Asa Foster, Oct. 26, 1732.*" "(FOSTER (F...
  • Elizabeth Allen (1665 - 1745)
  • Ralph Farnum, IV (1689 - 1759)
    Massachusetts To Maine Migration Moved with his brother Daniel from Andover, Mass. to York, Maine in the year 1712 or 1713. "Ralph Farnum was born in Andover MA and died in York ME. He was a cordwa...

History of Andover


Within the past several years archaeologists have uncovered evidence that primitive people who survived as hunters and gatherers lived in the Merrimack Valley area as early as 7000 B.C. When the first European settlers arrived, the Native Americans living where Andover is now located were probably part of the Pennacook Confederacy who spoke the Algonquian language. They lived in seasonal camps, planting corn and tobacco, and catching salmon and alewives. During 1615 and 1616, archaeologists believe a plague reduced the Native American population in eastern Massachusetts from 100,000 to about 5,000. This may be why the early European settlers reported that they met little resistance when they settled into the Merrimack Valley.

English Settlement

In 1634, the Great and General Court of Massachusetts reserved the land around Lake Cochichewick for an inland plantation. This included what is now Andover, North Andover and South Lawrence. Early colonists were offered three years' immunity from taxes, levies and services, except military service, as inducements to settle in the Andover area. A group of Newbury and Ipswich residents, led by a man named John Woodbridge, established the first permanent settlement in the Andover and North Andover area in 1641.

Shortly after they arrived, the local Pennacook tribal chief Cutshamache sold a parcel of land that included what is now Andover to Woodbridge and his followers. The price was "six pounds of currency and a coat" and permission for Roger, a local Pennacook man, to plant his corn and take alewives from the brook. A small brook, named in his honor, still meanders its way through the eastern part of town.

This notable bargain is commemorated in Andover's official seal, which can be seen on all official town stationery and is displayed in a tile mosaic on the lobby floor of the Old Town Hall on Main Street. The settlement was incorporated as a town in May of 1646 and was named Andover, most likely after Andover, England, which was near the original home of some of the first residents. The first recorded town meeting was held in settler John Osgood's home in 1656.

The old burying ground in what is now North Andover marks the center of the early town. Nearby was the meeting house and around it were clusters of homes on lots of four to eight acres. Homes were grouped together for protection from feared Indian attacks, but the Indians were fairly peaceful until King Philip's War began in 1675. "King" Philip was an Indian who organized a revolt against the white settlers throughout most of New England. Six Indian raids occurred between 1676 and 1698 until ever-increasing numbers of white settlers established control of the land.

Anne (Dudley) Bradstreet (1612-1672), famed American poet, lived and died in Andover.


Andover did not escape one of the darkest periods of colonial history, the witchcraft trials and executions of the early 1690s. In 1692 in Salem Village, Joseph Ballard asked for help for his wife from several girls in the village who were said to have the power to detect and cure disease. After seeing Mrs. Ballard, the girls claimed that several people in Andover had bewitched her. Following a frenzy of false accusations that swept Salem Village. Andover and surrounding communities, more than 40 Andover citizens, mostly women, were eventually accused of being in league with Satan. About a quarter of them were condemned to death; as many as three were executed. Many of the rest were imprisoned for months.

The Two Parishes

Andover's first settlement was clustered around the Congregational Church meeting house, which was established in 1645. By 1705, Andover's growing population was expanding southward and a proposal was made to build a new meeting house in the south end of town. This met with strong opposition from people living near the original meeting house in the north. The dispute was finally settled in 1709 when the Great and General Court divided Andover into two parishes, North and South.

As a result, South Parish was established with Samuel Phillips as minister. A meeting house was built on Central Street where South Church now stands. Even though there were two distinct parishes the town remained politically one unit.

Revolutionary War

Records show that as early as 1765, Andover residents were feeling the desire to pull away from English rule and opposed to the growing number of taxes imposed on them by England. In 1774, Andover settlers passed a resolution prohibiting the sale of imported tea. When the first shot of the Revolutionary War was fired in April 1775, Andover men picked up their arms and headed toward Lexington. Records show that on the morning of April 19, approximately 350 Andover men marched toward Lexington. Although they did not arrive in time for battle that day, they did go on to participate in the battle of Bunker Hill two months later and fought in subsequent skirmishes with the Redcoats during the war.

Among the Andover men who were representatives to the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention were Col. Samuel Osgood, Zebadiah Abbot, John Farnum and Samuel Phillips, Jr. Mr. Phillips was later appointed by John Adams to help draft the Massachusetts state constitution.

Charlotte Helen Abbott's Unpublished Genealogies

Andover genealogist Charlotte Helen Abbott wrote unpublished genealogies on nearly all of the founding families of Andover. Earlier versions of some genealogies were published in the Andover Townsman, the local newspaper. They generally cover the older Andover families through the late 19th century. Miss Abbott's genealogies are subjective and rich with anecdotes, but list few sources. Kay O’Neil, with the cooperation of the Andover Historical Society, worked to digitize the typescript manuscript. Originals are also held at Memorial Hall Library.