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Bewitched in Andover

Find out whether ghosts lurk in the Amos Blanchard House and more among new spooky programs at the Andover Historical Society.

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Double, double toil and trouble; fire burn, and cauldron bubble! In 1692, Andover was involved in one of American history’s most infamous events, the Salem witch trials. In fact, Andover has the distinction of having the most confessed witches and the highest number of children arrested during the trials. Between July 15 and Sept. 17, 1692, 48 of the 158 people accused of witchcraft in Essex County were from Andover, a town with a population of only 600.

Marking Andover’s involvement in the witch trials, the Andover Historical Society has scheduled a series of bewitching events sure to enchant you throughout October.

Have you ever wondered what ghosts may lurk in Andover?

On a hot evening earlier this summer, a group of brave individuals stayed awake until the witching hour looking to uncover the mysteries that lie within the Amos Blanchard House. To share the investigating team's findings, we're hosting Ghost Hunting 101 at the Blanchard House on Saturday, Oct. 1 at 7 p.m. At this spooky event members of G.H.O.S.T.S (Ghost Hunters of Southern Tri State) will reveal what they found in the Blanchard House and the methods they use to search for ghosts and spirits!

However, if ghosts aren't your cup of tea, you can join us the following week to learn about The Witches of Andover. On Tuesday, Oct. 4 at 7 p.m. Kimberly Whitworth, local historian and Regent of the Old Concord Chapter of the Daughters of the Revolution, will present her research on this eerie and very local history.

Kimberly has traced her own genealogy back to the witch trial era and done extensive research on both North and South Parish since the founding of Andover. Her program focuses on how Andover and its people were involved during the witch trials. Bring questions and tell us about your family. Do you have any witches in your broom closet?

On Friday, Oct. 14, the Bewitched in Andover series is thrilled to host An Evening with Kathleen Kent, author of The Heretic's Daughter and The Wolves of Andover. Kathleen is a tenth-generation descendant of Martha Carrier. Carrier was accused of being a witch and was subsequently executed during the trials.

A masterful storyteller, Kathleen paints a haunting portrait of Puritan New England and a family rocked by the events of the witch trials. Her great-grandmother, Martha Carrier, not only professed her innocence, but admonished judges who refused to listen to her. Kent has said of the 19 accused executed during the trials, “these men and women were not witches—Devil sympathizers, or participants in rituals of dark magic—but rather brave and unfortunate victims of intolerance, superstition and greed.” Kathleen Kent’s evening visit will include a short reading and discussion of her book, followed by a book signing.

To keep you captivated by Andover’s bewitchery, on October 22nd from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. we will open the house of Carriers’ accuser, Benjamin Abbot, for a Tour of the "Witch's House." Located at 9 Andover Street, the home of Martha Carrier’s accuser was ironically later passed on to descendants of the Carrier family. Martha Carrier was known as an outspoken and bold woman in her time. Following an argument with Carrier over a plot of land granted to him by the town, Abbot claimed to be “tormented by a pain in his side which developed into a sore” bringing him close to death. It was only after Martha Carrier was arrested and taken away to Salem did he begin to mend. Abbot was not the only person suspicious of Martha. Samuel Preston of Andover had also argued with Carrier and testified that shortly afterward his cow became ill and died. The Carrier family was also accused of bringing smallpox to Andover leading to the deaths of thirteen individuals. 

Tours of the house will be available on the hour and half-hour, beginning at 1 p.m. The last tour will take place at 3:30 p.m. Advance registration is recommended. For information, please call (978) 475-2236. Don't miss your chance to learn about this fascinating family and the Benjamin Abbot house.

Martha Carrier is not the only individual our Halloween events will focus on. On Tuesday, Oct. 18, from 3:30 to 5 pm, the Historical Society will be hosting Tea with Sarah Carrier: A 1692 Andover Girl. Girls ages 7-11 are invited to join us for the first of our Andover Girl events, based on the life of Sarah Carrier, Martha Carrier’s daughter. Sarah was only 7½ when accused of witchcraft and taken to Salem as a prisoner. Girls are invited to bring their favorite doll and enjoy crafts, games, and a Colonial tea party filled with history.

As Halloween approaches, we will bring to you a frightful evening for adults, Cocktails from the Crypt. On Oct. 28 from 7 to 9 p.m., join local historian, Jim Batchelder, for an evening with a special brew made in the light of the moon as he explores the history of West Parish Garden Cemetery. Admission is $10 for members, $15 for non-members.

To make sure you’re Bewitched in Andover, mark your calendar for all of these eerie events.  The Andover Historical Society tells the unique stories of Andover in order to foster a strong community that knows its history, values what it inherits, and takes pride in what it passes on to future generations. 

The Society offers a variety of educational programs to individuals and groups of all ages.  For further information about Bewitched in Andover call 978-475-2236; or visit www.andoverhistorical.org/bewitched.  New history stories are added weekly to the Society’s blog, www.andoverhistorical.org/blog.  The Andover Historical Society is funded in part by a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Commission.

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