Andover Town Government

As in most small towns the form of government dates back to the Mayflower Compact made by the Pilgrims in 1620. Like Plymouth Colony, East Andover, Mass. developed the kind of government they knew about and drew up the Compact or Town Charter:

Acts, 1804--Chapter 34

East Andover incorporated. Authority of the same, that the Plantation heretofore called East Andover in the county of York; as described within the following bounds, with the inhabitants therein be, and hereby are incorporated into a town by the name of East Andover -- Beginning at the Northwesterly Corner of the Town of Rumford, thence running East eighteen degrees North and bounded by the North line of said Rumford about three miles and a half to a beach tree marked T.L. standing in the said North line of Rumford, thence North eighteen degrees West eight miles, thence West eighteen degrees South six miles, thence South six miles, thence South eighteen degrees East eight miles, thence East eighteen degrees North about two miles and a half to the first mentioned bound. And the said town is hereby invested with all the powers and Privileges, rights and immunities to which other towns are entitled by the Constitution and Laws of the Commonwealth.

First meeting Sept. 2nd. And be it further enacted, that Eli Twitchell, Esquire or any other Justice of the Peace in the County of York be, and is hereby authorized to issue his Warrant, directed to some suitable inhabitant of the said town of East Andover, requiring him to notify and warn the Inhabitants of the said town of East Andover to assemble and meet at such Convenient time and place as shall be expressed in said Warrant, to choose all such officers as towns are by law required to choose in the months of March and April annually.

Approved June 23, 1804

1804--Chapter 33

An Act to incorporate the plantation of East Andover in the County of York into a town by the name of East Andover.

Sec. 1st. Be it enacted by the Senate and the House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the Act and Resolves Maine 1820, Chap. 2, name changed from East Andover, Mass. to Andover, Maine.

The Plymouth Colony and the Pilgrims have become for all Americans a lesson of how people with little more than courage, perseverance, and hard work could build for themselves a home in a hostile world. The Pilgrims laid the basis for the "Town Meeting" form of government and for the Congregational Church.

The population of the Colony grew to three hundred in ten years. They began to spread out and form small towns. Back in 1639 these small towns sent representatives to the General Court at Plymouth. In the 1600's, a man was appointed as "Town Crier." This method of public announcements lasted until the 1750's, when the printing press made newspapers possible and other forms of communication came into general use.

The Colonial Town Meetings were held once a year by the voters of the town. This town meeting form of government is the purest form of democratic government known. It is a government of the people, strictly nonpolitical. The people elect their town officials:

Moderator, Town Clerk, Selectmen, Assessors, Overseers of the Poor, Tax Collector, and Treasurer.

Selectmen -- This board of Town Officials is used in New England in all states exclusive of Rhode Island. They are chosen each year to Administer the local government.


(From Rumford Falls Times) [Date unknown]

A contract for the purchase of the township having been made, the parties interested therein entered into a compact or agreement for the management and disposition of the same, as follows:

"Know all people whom it may concern that we, Thomas Poor of Methuen, Jonathan Abbott, Benj. Poor, Ebenezer Poor, Enoch Adams, Ingalls Bragg, Theodore Stevens, Samuel Farnum, Philip Abbott, Samuel Johnson, Abiel Lovejoy, and Eben Poor, Jr., all of Andover in the County of Essex and Commonwealth of Massachusetts; Joseph Frye of Fryeburg, John York, Isaac York, Ezekiel Merrill and Joseph Bean, all of Sudbury Canada, (now Bethel), in the County of York and Commonwealth aforesaid, adventurers, partners or proprietors of a certain township or tract of land lying on the Ellis River in the County of York or Cumberland, and Commonwealth aforesaid, comprehended in a parallelogram of eight miles long and six miles wide; have, for certain good reasons and considerations, and do by these presents mutually agree, acknowledge and assent to and with each other, each person for himself respectively, that he is immediately interested in said township in the proportion following, respectively annexed to his name (viz.); the said Thomas Poor, Jonathan Abbott, Benj. Poor, Ezekiel Merrill, John York, Isaac York, Joseph Frye, Samuel Johnson, Samuel Farnum, and Josiah Bean, in the full share of one-twentieth part each; the said Philip Abbott, Abiel Lovejoy, Eben Poor, Jr., and Theodore Stevens in the full share of one fortieth part each; Enoch Adams in full share of three and one-third twentieth parts; Jonathan Stevens in full share of one and a half and one third twentieth parts; and we said adventurers, partners, or proprietors, the more effectually to bring forward the settlement of said township, and until we shall be invested with sufficient authority to transact business in a legal way, we do this by present writing or agreement form ourselves into a union or compact, agreeing and assenting to and with each other, that twelve of said proprietors shall constitute a quorum for doing business, and the majority shall always govern.

"And we do farther and in the most absolute and unequivocal manner, each for himself respectively, covenant and agree to and with each other that he will do, abide, and perform to the utmost of his abilities all and every matter and thing ajudged, ordered or recommended by said majority relative to the purposes above specified.

"In testimony of our assent to each and every clause of the foregoing, we have hereunto set our hands and seals this first day of September A.D. 1788."

Thos. Poor

Ingalls Bragg

Benj. Poor

Abiel Lovejoy

Samuel Johnson

Jona. Abbott

Enoch Adams

Philip Abbott

Joseph Frye, Jr.

Josiah Bean

Eben Poor

Theo. Stevens

John York

Ezekiel Merrill

Sam'l Farnum

"Upon the signing of the agreement of purchase the parties thereto, tenants in common, took action as follows:

"Andover, September 1,1788 "In consequence of an agreement bearing date herewith, the persons "hereunto subscribing hands and seals, proceeded to business in the following manner, viz:

1. Chose Lieutenant Benjamin Poor, moderator

2. Chose Ingalls Bragg, clerk to the Proprietary

3. Voted that the intervale land that shall be found within the township or tract of land which we are now acting upon shall be divided into 64 equal shares.

4. Voted to complete 64 upland lots as first division in the said township."

The sixty-four upland first division lots to be surveyed were on each side of the Ellis River, such lots to border intervale land lying on each side, so that each upland lot could have an intervale lot contiguous to it. The upland lots were, as a rule, to contain a hundred acres each, to be a hundred rods wide fronting the intervale, and extending back one hundred and sixty rods. The intervale lots were to contain twenty acres each.

At a meeting of the proprietors, held September 4, 1788, it was voted to raise one pound sixteen shillings to each sixtieth part of the township (the number of shares in it having been increased from 20 to 60 shares without any change in interest) for the purpose of completing payment for the township; also that Col. Thomas Poor and John York be a committee to view the streams of the town in order to obtain the best site for a saw and grist mill. A contract was also voted to be made with Mr. Enoch Adams to "lot" the town, he to receive therefor twenty shillings per lot.

The third meeting of the proprietors was held Sept. 29,1788, in the township, at the camp of Enoch Adams, on lot 9, the camp being on the site of the house now occupied by D. F. Richards. At the same meeting, a committee was appointed to lay a road to New Penacook (now Rumford) as far as clearing for settlement in the town has been made. It was also voted that Col. Thomas Poor have sixty pounds and Lot 1 on the East side of the river as a consideration for building a saw and grist mill in the town, he to retain ownership of the same. The mill to be built was to be on the East Branch of what is now East Andover. Built in 1791, the saw mill supplied lumber for the "Merrill House" built in that year. It was also voted that each proprietor have the right to draw two lots to each twentieth.

The Proprietors so far were tenants in common; without the power to provide means by assessment for the construction of estate. To acquire such power, they took measures to form themselves into a body corporate, as provided by the laws of the Commonwealth. By such action they were now formed into a body corporate, a body only finally dissolved by the sale at public auction of all the lands remaining to it. Down to the incorporation, in 1804, of the town, the corporation so created exercised many of the functions of a town, such as the construction of bridges, highways, and of a schoolhouse, and one that a town could not exercise, the building of mills. There was hardly any other limit to its powers but the will of the majority. By the action of the corporate body a legal validity was given to all previous acts of the proprietors at the meetings that had been held by them.

Most of the early settlers of Andover made their selection of lots, making clearings upon them, erecting buildings and moving to them, several years before they were confirmed to them by a vote of the proprietors. At a meeting held Jan. 23, 1795, upland lots were voted as follows: Lot 1, West Side, to Enos Abbott; 2, to John Abbott; 3, to James Poor; 4 and 5, to Jonathan Stevens; 6, to Holton Abbott; 7, to Jonathan Stevens, Jr.; 8 and 9, to Enoch Adams; 10, to Philip Abbott; 11, to Jonathan Abbott; 12, to Ebenezer Poor; 13, to Sylvanus Poor; 14 and 15, to Ingalls Bragg; 16, to Nathan Adams; 17 and 18, to Nathan Swan; 19, to Samuel Marston; and 20 to Peter Webster, all on the West side. On the East side the lots voted at the same meeting were 6, 15, 15,[?] and 17, to Ezekiel Merrill; 5, to Benjamin Poor; 3, to Samuel Poor; 20, to Jeremiah Burnham; 12, to Abiel Lovejoy. Of the above lots, those voted to John Abbott, Holton Merrill and Silvanus Poor have alone continuously remained in possession of their descendants.

By the votes of the corporation which remained in existence for fifty-five years, the titles to all lands in the town are now held. In no instance was its action ever questioned in, or outside, courts of law. All its proceedings seemed to have been without the intervention of anyone learned in the law. The corporation was finally brought to a close by the sale at auction in 1846 of all lands remaining to it.

The history of the purchase, and the distribution, of which only a brief account can be here given, of the land contained in the town of Andover, forms one of the most interesting and valuable chapters of the kind in the United States, as it shows that with us no sacredness or ceremony attends the purchase and distribution than those of other kinds of property. The case with which land is acquired and transferred has been one of the most efficient causes of our wonderful progress, and of the domestic order that prevails.

A Good Thing To Know

Historical Society tells history through deeds

On Thursday, January 19, [1978] the monthly meeting of the Greater Rumford Historical Society was held in the Public Room of the Rumford Public Library with 30 people in attendance.

Arthur Gerrier, who is working for the Historical Society under the CETA program, was introduced. For about a month, he has been working on the second floor of the Municipal Building, putting papers and records in order and indexing them. He will soon begin cataloging.

The program speaker was John Davis, who described researching early land records from the area which are filed in York and Cumberland counties. He has read over 150 volumes of deeds in quill writing to try to locate these records and has copied every land transfer and deposition from the earliest land grants to 1805 when Oxford County was formed and deeds from that date were kept at South Paris.

Through 1759 much of this area was within the York County boundary. Much of the remaining portions were within the disputed land claims of French Canada and they were settled that year when the British government captured French Canada. In 1760 most of this area was set off to Cumberland County and on March 5,1805, these parts of York and Cumberland Counties were established as Oxford County. Ever since then any extensive land title search has necessitated going to Portland or Alfred.

Early in 1976 the Oxford County Commissioners authorized the research and copying of these records so that they might be brought to and included as part of the Oxford County land record files. Davis is employed as the reader under the CETA program.

Though much of the reading is repetitious, he finds it fascinating and has come to know our ancestral settlers, the land and settlements. These early deeds and depositions furnish names, occupations, and the areas they came from. They also give insight into their kindness and inhumanity toward each other, their successes and failures, as well as a great description of the wilderness.

Occasionally the deed descriptions were most unusual. One York deed described a boundary as beginning with a stake driven in the ice. Some begin with "Thence following a crooked line along the height of the land."

It took the reading of 30 odd volumes to reach the fringes of this region.

Early townships were usually granted to regimental leaders and their troops of the various military expeditions against the French and Indians by the Commonwealth as a reward for their services. The settlements included a minister, school, general court and 60 good families, each of which, in five years, must build a dwelling house 18 by 18, and clear seven acres out of a 100 acre lot. Most right holders were already established elsewhere and the transaction was usually one of selling a right rather than a specific parcel of land.

This is good to know for previous to 1976 residents of Andover simply could not track down old deeds and records.

Data of Interest taken from Town Reports

1861-62: Selectmen -- Josiah Bailey, H. R. Cushman, W. H. Talbot. Total assessment -- $2,103.49.

1869: Selectmen -- E. E. Merrill, George G. Akers, H. R. Cushman. Total assessment -- $5,669.40.

1873: Selectmen -- Eben Gregg, Elisha B. Bedell, Josiah Bailey. Total assessment -- $3,475.00. Valuation of Real Estate--$72,869.00 Personal -- $27,427.00.

1878: Selectmen -- A. A. West, John Akers, O. A. Gordon. Total assessment -- $2,649.44.

1890: Selectmen -- E. E. Bedell, L. R. Hall, F. S. Smith. Total assessment -- $6,351.75. Valuation of Resident Real Estate -- $117,611.00. Non-resident -- $33,385.00. Town Clerk -- L. E. Barnes. Treasurer -- L. M. Hewey. Tax Collector -- B. L. Akers. Road Commissioner -- H. L. Poor. Sup't. of Schools -- J. F. Keith.

1901: Selectmen -- F. S. Smith, G. O. Huse, C. M. Newton. Total valuation -- $198,626.00 Tax rate -- .022. 235 Polls @$3.00.

1904: Selectmen -- F. S. Smith, E. M. Bailey, L. R. Hall. Total valuation -- $230,156.00. Assessment -- $6,561.74.

1907: Selectmen -- L. R. Hall, Y. A. Thurston, E. M. Bailey. Total valuation -- $275,175.00.

Assessment -- $6,748.15.

1977: Selectmen -- Chas. Sidelinger, Geo. Chase, David Hutchins. Total valuation -- $22,773.564.00. Total charged to Collector -- $367,870.62.

1979: Selectmen -- J. Austin Daigle, Jane C. Rich, Roderick Sidelinger.

Remark: It is comforting to know that this form of government provides a three-way system of Checks and Balances: Collector, Selectmen, Auditor; so we can rest assured that every cent has been looked over at least three times.

Source: Andover: The First 175 Year, Prepared by the Andover Friday Club, Andover, ME, (1979), pp. 29-35. Reprinted with permission of the current owner, The Andover Educational Fund, Inc.

Copyright 1998 by Robert A. Spidell, All Rights Reserved

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