They say the past is all around us and there is no place in North Andover where this is truer than in one of the town’s early burial grounds.
Located on Academy Road, both the First or Old Burial Ground (ca. 1650) and the Second Burial Ground (1817) are at the heart of the center of the settlement and later town of Andover, which in time would be known as North Andover.
People drive and walk past these sites daily, perhaps they notice the stones and their reminder of mortality, but how many realize the stories of those laid to rest, or the craftsmanship of the carving. One person who is working hard to draw more attention to these treasures is local historian John Glassford. John has worked tirelessly for years recording the data in graveyards across Essex County, often dodging the perils of poison ivy, stray dogs, savage insects, rusty wire, and uneven ground. The result: John can take you can take a journey through time, unlocking the symbolism of the art that decorated the surface of these monuments.
John has lectured in the past at the North Andover Historical Society, and given tours of the graveyards, he also has published his findings on these and several other burial grounds across Essex County. His North Andover publications explore not only the iconography of the imagery, but include genealogical information on more than 470 people buried in both locations. Taken together, John paints a vivid picture of the early settlers who founded and formed the Andovers.
So as a chill returns to the morning air here in New England, consider a visit to contemplate past inhabitants, and enjoy the care put into the beautiful stones by loving family members. John’s work can be found on-line at the “Find-A-Grave” resource (http://www.findagrave.com/) where he has contributed over 23,500 entries and moderated for years. Anyone wishing to learn more about Massachusetts gravestones can read what John has to say (http://www.lulu.com/shop/) the Society recommends in particular his recent works, Old Gravestones of Massachusetts: The First Burial Ground at North Andover and The Second Burying Ground at North Andover: A Study of a Nineteenth Century Massachusetts Burying Ground which bring his scholarship to a whole new level of excellence.
The Society will be hosting John again in future, to catch that event and others like it, please visit our website (http://northandoverhistoricalsociety.org/) and sign up for our e-blasts: we have many events this fall and into the holiday season.