When the name Stevens is mentioned in North Andover, many think of the grand Stevens Estate. But that name also has ties to the battle for, and birth of, our nation. The diary of Private James Stevens from those early days of the Revolution can be found at the and records his service in that struggle in his own words.
Stevens was born 1751, a descendant of one of Andover's earliest families -- a family that owned several farms in the North Parish. James, who worked on one of those farms for his father, joined the local militia to stand against the British.
In April 1975, Stevens and his regiment heard about the British march to Lexington to seize weapons, and they headed there to help the rebels. They arrived just after the battle and found several men dead, both British and colonial, along with burned homes. The regiment marched onward to Cambridge, but they did not catch the British.
A few weeks later, James Stevens also missed the Battle of Bunker Hill because he was ill. He was sent back to North Parish and treated by Dr. Joseph Osgood. When he returned to duty, he went to Cambridge to build barracks and guard houses. He lived a military life of mostly cooking and building before returning to North Parish after his year of service ended.
Stevens returned to North Parish after his service was up, and he married local woman Elizabeth Lacy. They eventually settled in New Hampshire, where they raised a family of seven children. Stevens lived a long life, dying at the age of 85.
Stevens' diary gives readers a glimpse into the early days of the American Revolution through the eyes of the common man. The diary can be found at the North Andover Historical Society, along with several other pieces of local history from America's founding.