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Transcribed by Crist Middaugh

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And over, and over, and over

By Kathryn Ross

Like the first pioneers traveling into Allegany County, motorists along old state Routes 417 and 21, drive over one hill, then over another hill, and over another hill, as they move into the county, and according to historian Mabel McCormick that is how her town came to be named Andover.

At least that is what her mother told her McCormick said recently when she was helping this write gather information on the once industrial town whose biggest claims to fame are now the annual Fourth of July Celebration, Haunted House Tour and the Lions Club Maple Festival. But those events, Andover’s history shows us, are products of its patriotic, agricultural and entrepreneurial spirit.

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However historical records show that town’s name may have first been suggested during the first official town meeting in 1824, by James Adams whose childhood home was Andover, VT.

In historian John Minard’s “Centennial Memorial History of Allegany County” in the chapter o “Andover” T.A. Burdick wrote, “Nathanael Dike was the first man who settled in the town…in Elm Valley in 1795…Thaddeus Baker, Sr., previously a surveyor for the Pultney Estate, Brough his wife and six children in June 1807 and located on 400 acres of land, a part of the present site of Andover village.

But let us not get ahead of ourselves when it comes to the history of this town. On the west side of the village Indian Creek Road, a road which skirts along the aforementioned creek and winds uphill to eventually meet Trapping Brook Road, in 1763 marked the “North-South Indian Boundary Line” protecting Indian hunting grounds to the west from intrusion from settlers by treaty with England.

Settlers wer also warned to avoid the Forbidden Trail - an Indian trail from Tioga, Pa. to Kinney Corners, Pa. which skirted the border between Pennsylvania and New York running through the towns of Canisteo, Hartsville, Andover and Shongo to the Iroquois Federation’s Western Door.

In 1976 as a Bi-Centennial Project Andover Boy Scouts identified and marked the tail with a sign located east of the village on route 417.

 

In the centennial book, “Allegany and Its People” it is noted about Andover, “the soil is admirably adapted to grazing and the principal agriculture for many years has been dairying and the potato industry was profitable.”

Indeed, potatoes (325 carloads shipped in 1920) and dairy products and an Erie Railroad depot built in the 1850s made Andover one of the leading agricultural communities in the area an promoted industry.

“At one time there was a lot more industry in Andover than there is now,” McCormick noted.

In Andover High School there is a memorial to the local men and women who served this country during war. While there are five names for veterans of the Revolutionary War, by far the greatest number of names listed, are those of the men who fought in the Civil War - 297 and World War II - 390.

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Historian William Greene who compiled a list of Andover’s Civil War veterans wrote, “In my research I read that not town in Allegany County furnished more men in proportion to its population than Andover.” Proud of its patriotic history, Andover’s Lynch-Burgett American Legion Post, named after the first Andover men to lose their lives in World War I and II (Sgt. Thomas Lynch and Sgt. Charles Burgett) has led the parades down Main Street for nearly 100 years.

Those Civil War soldiers, who returned to Andover, made the town prosper with their entrepreneurial spirit which took advantage of not only the rail road, but also the great oil and gas field located hundreds of feet below Andover’s hilltops and fields. Burdick wrote, “No event in the history of Andover has contributed more to its material advancement than the discovery of natural gas and oil.”

The Oil Boom of the last part of the 19th Century made industry in Andover boom as well. By 1903, on Rochambeau Ave. the Andover Silk Mill was paying women up to $1.75 a day. At its peak 140 people, mostly women, were employed there. Under a variety of names the mill operated off and on into the 1940s.

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In the early 1900s the Andover Stamping Co. Tin and Enameled Ware was also a big employer as well as Platts Brothers Cutlery.

Silk wedding gowns, tin ware, knives and later china from the Andover China Co., stamped with Made in Andover, NY have become valued collectors items in the 21st century.

Andover also has some “novel” historical footnotes.

*   A three-story, brick home built in 1876 by Dr. Crandall was later used as a sanitarium and maternity ward, laying foundation for its use as a haunted house. Today at “The Brick” where hundreds of babies were delivered by Nurse Hattie B. Eggleston and the sick cared for, ghost-hunters have recorded paranormal activity. For the last 16 years haunted house tours have raised funds for the Fourth of July celebration and local charities.

*   Andover is the only town in the county to have been invaded during World War I, when a troop train carrying tanks and soldiers from Texas on their way to Fort Dix, NJ derailed. The tanks and solders were unloaded and the doughboys spent their time exercising and marching up and down Main Street when they weren’t being treated to candy, bananas, coffee and sandwiches by the hospitable villagers. Schools and factories were closed for the day according to an account by Francis Cable.

*   Andover also lays claim to a possible mob-related murder mystery. On a snowy day, 43 years ago in March, an early morning motorist headed for work via the Davis Hill Road came across the headless/handless body of a man. Believed to be dumped by mobsters lost on country roads, it is still in the Cold Case files of the New York State Police.

*   More recently NUFORS (National UFO Reporting Site) received a report dated April 14, 2010 which stated that at 6:30 a.m. “a cylindrical, stainless steel-like aircraft longer and wider than two passenger airliners, with no wings, vapor trail or sound until it was out of view, (within 15 to 20 seconds) was sighted in a clear blue sky over Andover. No explanation has ever been given for the UFO.

Today terrestrial or extraterrestrial visitors to Andover may find sustenance: for their curiosity at the Andover Free Library; for their eyes, at Walker Metalsmiths or the Artist Knot where the work of local artists is on display; or for their taste buds with culinary treats served at Paradise Cafe, Maier’s Market deli and other local restaurants; over and over.

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