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Sears, Roebuck & Company

By 1890 the windmill was a looming symbol on the horizon of the push West, over 6 million were in use across the US as the advent of steel blades made them more efficient. 

No less than fifteen companies exhibited their models at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, highlighting their innovation and benefits. The ad to the left, taken from an 1895 Sears, Roebuck & Company catalogue, illustrates how easy it would have been to purchase one.

In 1890 in North Andover there were zero windmills listed in the town Land Valuation Report. By 1900 twenty-five had appeared. They were principally on farms, but they had also been installed by the wheelwright Edward Adams, soap manufacturer John Glennie, and Mary Sutton, who ran a laundry . In addition several of the wealthier households in town had invested in wind power. The town valued the windmills at between $70—$100. The Carleton farm on Summer Street had a combo ‘barn and windmill’ valued at $1130, and the Clark property on Johnson Street had a “barn, carriage house + windmill” which was valued at $1770. These structures were worth more than many of the houses in town. The craze was short lived: in the 1911 Report, only 2 of the 25 properties still had a windmill, and one more person, Elizabeth Leitch, had installed a “windmill & tank”. By 1920 Elizabeth was the only person left with a windmill, however her “windmill & tank” had held its value steady at $100.

Wind power was revisited in the 1970s when the price of oil caused fuel prices to skyrocket. According to the US government’s energy website, by 1980 large wind farms were established in California. Nearly 30 years later in 2008 the U.S. Department of Energy published their goal to have 20% of energy coming from wind power by 2030. With offshore wind turbines steadily increasing in number over recent years, this green method of energy production is back in favor.

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george greenleaf house

34 elm street

A recent inquiry into the property of 34 Elm Street, the George Greenleaf house, lead to an interesting window into the town’s past. 

Greenleaf bought the land from George Hodges, the mill owner, and built the house which still stands on Elm Street today (remodeled sometime during Greenleaf’s lifetime).

Greenleaf’s youngest child, Linnie Greenleaf, married Alba Marcus Markey in 1884 and not long after that Linnie’s mother, now a widow, with her last child left home, sold the house to her neighbor James Standring. She subsequently married again and removed to New Hampshire. Alba Marcus had his first job at 17, he worked as a clerk in a grocery store. To support his wife he first tried his hand at farming, out in Pepperell MA, where their first daughter, Daisy was born. It is unclear why it did not work out, but within a couple of years the young family had returned to North Andover, renting a house on Maple Avenue. Alba had a job as a ‘machinist’ at Davis and Furber, working down the street from his wife’s childhood home.

Alba’s mother was an Abbott, descended from Timothy Abbott (1663-1730), who as a child had the great misfortune to have been captured by Narragansett and held captive for months before being returned ‘much pined with hunger’. Timothy’s 3x great-grandson (and Eliza’s 3x great-grandfather) was Caleb Abbott (1751-1837) a veteran of the Revolutionary War who was at Bunker Hill and Valley Forge. Family lore stays he attended the ceremony in 1825 to erect the monument of Bunker Hill in Boston, and that he assisted in laying the cornerstone.

Eliza appears to have had a passionate and willful temperament, as she ran off at 16 to Maine be with a 24 year old man. They were married at Dover NH in 1858, and Alba was their son. Within a year of Alba’s arrival his parents divorced, and his mother married a man Alba would call father (he legally changed his surname at age 21) at the same time his biological father married another teenaged girl before being called up to serve in the Civil War.

Eliza’s father Caleb Abbott (1810- 1873) had a steadier temperament. He was a cordwainer, or a shoe maker. The 1850 Federal Industrial Census for Andover (North Parish) shows he employed 3 men and 1 woman making boots, shoes and “booties” (children’s shoes) from leather. The four produced 708 pairs of footwear to the value of $1510. The men earned $15 a month, the woman $8. While this seems unfair, neighbor Joel Phelps paid his men $28.50 a month and the woman he employed earned $4. It’s possible the woman did not assemble, but did the trim. That same year the Federal Census shows that the Abbott family (Caleb, his wife Frances and their four children) were sharing a property with Asa and Harriet Angier and their 3 children. The household also had 3 boarders or servants (aged 15 – 22). By 1860 the Town Land Valuation Report shows that Caleb owned his own house and shop with an adjacent barn and additional houselot worth $1100.

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harkaway road

lithuanian community

The Stevens Mill on Stevens Street was a thriving industry in town for generations. We know the story of Nathaniel Stevens’ legacy to his descendants MT and JP Stevens, the eventual closure of the mill in the 1970s and subsequent erection of Millpond Townhomes.

However a recent donation of photographs has shed more light on the individuals that worked for the Stevens family and their lives in the surrounding neighborhood.

Pictured above are sisters Rose Kopeika and Mary Yuroszius with Rose’s daughter Annie Bates. Rose and Mary were two of eight children of Mikas and Mare Zilones who immigrated to the US in the early 20th century from Lithuania.

Four of the Zilones siblings stayed in the area: Rose, Mary, Josephine and Joseph. The Zilones, with their spouses and children, took jobs in the mill as laborers, carders, weavers, or finishers. After the second world war many of the children were able to move away for better opportunities like nursing or stenography.

Through the 1920s-1940s there was a thriving Lithuanian community on Harkaway Road. They lived alongside other immigrants from England and Ireland. The photo on the right shows the families gathered in the gardens behind the mill housing, with the mill in the background. Originally called “White Row”, all of the buildings along the street were owned by the mill and occupied by employees and their families. On the left hand side (facing the mill), and still standing today, are double cottages that were built around 1870, numbered 10—34. On the right hand side was a long building (#7/9/11), a single dwelling (#17), another double cottage (#21/23), and finally #25 which was divided inside into apartments.

By 1912 the street had been renamed Harkaway Road, an acknowledgement of the history of the long building (#7/9/11) which was formerly the “Harkaway Tavern” at the corner of Osgood and Main streets. MT Stevens bought the building in 1866 and moved it down the hill (apparently ‘rolled on logs’) to repurpose it for mill housing. It is just visible in the background of the above photo. The tavern had been sold to make way for the new Johnson High School. The former tavern moved again, it is currently #355/357 Osgood Street, but the other buildings on the right hand side were pulled down to make way for the Millpond development.

Rose Kopeika lived at #17 Harkaway Road between 1920 and 1955. When the mill sold off the housing in 1955, Rose and her husband George bought one of the double houses across the street, #26-28. It was left in Rose’s will in 1969 to her daughter Mary.