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Robert Andrews
A Hero of Bunker Hill


THE TIME was June 17, 1825, and the place Charlestown, Massachusetts. An immense throng had assembled to witness the laying of the corner stone of Bunker Hill monument and to enjoy the many features of this historic occasion. A distinguished guest was the friend of Washington, the beloved Gen. Lafayette, and fully as much honored by their countrymen were the two hundred Revolutionary veterans, forty of whom were survivors of the battle, many of them wearing their time-stained uniforms. The speaker was the great orator, Daniel Webster. The gay trappings of the military orders, the splendid regalia of the Masonic fraternity and the presence of the members of Bunker Hill Monument Association, made a procession of great length and brilliancy.

Following the impressive ceremony, the crowd moved to an amphitheatre on Breed's hill, where the oration was delivered, which has since become a classic:

"Venerable men!" rang out the voice of the orator. You have come down to us from a former generation. Heaven has bounteously lengthened out your lives that you might behold this joyous day. You are now where you stood fifty years ago, this very hour, with your brothers and your neighbors, shoulder to shoulder, in the strife for your country."

Among the veterans who thrilled at these words was Robert Andrews, who had journeyed from his home in Bridgton, Maine, to be present on this memorable occasion. A young man of twenty-three, he had left his native town of Boxford. Mass., at the alarm of April 19, 1775, and had stood with the "embattled farmers" at Lexington and Concord. He was a private in Capt. William Pearley's company; was one of the brave defenders of his country at the battle of Bunker Hill. He was stationed at Ticonderoga. He was among those who suffered hunger, cold and nakedness during the bitter winter in camp. He served at different periods until Dec. 16, 1780, when we find his discharge recorded.

It was his privilege to be present at the celebration of the completion of the monument, eighteen years later, and he s mentioned by Webster in that address. He was ninety-one years of age at the time.

At the close of his service in the Revolution, Robert Andrews, filled with the spirit of adventure which his years n camp had stimulated, decided to join a party of men from his home town of Boxford, which was going into the Maine wilderness to found homes in the new and but partially explored land. Some of his friends were interested in a tract of land which had been granted to them by the Legislature of Massachusetts, in place of certain territory granted to their ancestors for service under Sir William Phips in the so-called King William's war of 1690. It was later found that the first grant was in the boundaries of New Hampshire, and so a township seven miles square, east of the Saco river, in the District of Maine, was substituted. The owners were called proprietors, their agents being Benjamin Milliken, Thomas Perley and Moody Bridges.

This township was first called Pondicherry, it is claimed on account of the great number of beautiful ponds within its boundaries and the numerous wild cherry trees, though some assert the name is of Indian origin. It was, apparently, too fanciful for the hardy pioneers, for later it was changed to Bridgton, in honor of Moody Bridges, one of the proprietors.

The conditions of the grant were that a plan of the land should be returned to the secretary's office within twelve months for confirmation, and also that within six years they settle thirty families in this township, build a house of public worship, settle a Protestant minister and lay out one sixty-fourth part of the township, each, for the use of the first settled minister, the support of the ministry, and for Harvard College. They obtained the confirmation, the township being nine miles in length and six and a half in width, but eighty-two families were required instead of thirty, within the specified time.

An interesting document is the journal, kept by Solomon Wood, of Boxford, who, with his assistants, ran out that part of the township lying west of Long Pond, into lots of half a mile in length, and one hundred rods in width, containing one hundred acres each. Moody Bridges, Richard Peabody and Col. Thomas Poor accompanied the party, as a committee of the proprietors. The following are extracts, given exactly as it was written. The reader must supply his own punctuation.

"Monday, August ye 25, 1766, Set of to Newbury Port Lodged there.

30. Saturday Set Sail ye 2nd time for Casco bey (their destination was Falmouth, now Portland) about 7 o'clock in ye morning A fresh N. wind got Down within about 3 or 4 Leags of our port ye wind failed us. Lay all Night Rouling on the seas.

Septemr. 1. Monday a cloudy morning and afterwards a Rainy Day got a teem to Carry us to goraham town for 45s got to conants about sundown Peabody and 1. lodg there ye Rest went with ye stores.

2. Tuesday. Rise as soon as it was light went to Mr. Hamblens (probably near Little Falls on the Presumpscott, 3 miles from Conant's) agreed with him to carry our stores to Sabaguck (Sebago) pond for 5 and 4 Qr. of Rum got to Pond a bout 6 o'clock at Night with Part of stores.

* * * * * * * * * *

4. Thursday I took ye Point from ye landing at Pearsontown to ye grate mountain which bears N 20 D.

5. friday Set of with the Rest of the Stores and got part of them up the Ripples (in Songo river) into ye Little (Brandy pond) and campt till adams came with the rest at ye Ripples.

6. Sat. got to west cove near the head of long pond Landed our stores sent 2 back for ye Rest of ye stores. Peabody and I Lodged at ye Camp. Killed Dear in long pond.

7. Sunday we went to Pickwacet (Fryeburg) got there about 8 o'clock."

Various incidents mentioned on different days are: "Indian dog came to camp." "chitch 14 1/2 of fish." "chased a Bear " "a good day Run 10 miles by the chain." "killed two Bares young ones boath." "built a Burch camp." "We laid out without fire wood or Blankets got no cold." "this Night Dismist my hands and Left Surveying good weather. a grand frolick at Night." "Rode my horse." "Drank some flip with Mr. Bridges."

The party arrived in Boxford Oct. 29.

The explanatory notes are by Isaac Bassett Choate of Boston, who published the journal some years ago.

* * *

Fourteen years later, when Robert Andrews and others came, they entered a practical wilderness, for while a few scattered families had located in different parts of the township at that time, but little progress had been made toward clearing the land. A trail had been "swamped out" through the woods between the township and Pearsontown, now Standish, where a fort was located, while a natural waterway route was provided by Sebago Lake, Songo River, and Long Pond.

The farms were scattered over the various parts of the township, but in the southern part was a group which might almost be called a neighborhood, though the farms were separated by several miles.

It was in this group that Robert Andrews was located, his farm nearly surrounding Adams pond, with the exception of the land of Daniel Perley, located on the heights toward the Center. We can imagine the keen pleasure of this young soldier as he arrived, either by way of Capt. Kimball's boat, or on horseback over the trail from

Pearsontown, or possibly tramping in true soldier fashion from some landing on Long pond, with knapsack on his shoulder. The country through which he came must have reminded him somewhat of Box-ford, although he doubtless gazed in wonder at towering Mt. Washington and the foot hills of the Presidential range. He chose his own farm near the picturesque pond, which should have been named Andrews, instead of Adams. The surrounding land rose to considerable height on all sides, although there were level places, where his fields were located later on. The memories of his part in the great struggle for liberty were fresh in his mind and he entered upon another struggle, this time to conquer the wilderness, build his little log cabin in which he lived alone, fell the great pine trees and clear the land for the fruitful farm which was to reward his faithful years of labor and industry, and which was to be passed on to other generations.

Great forests must have covered the sloping hills, for even to this day there are beautiful pine groves along the shore, and trees of birch, maple, and other growth, which give to the country a gorgeous appearance in the fall and a delightful opening of leaf and bud in the springtime. In some places there are Lombardy poplars and English willows of great age.

It has been stated that the Andrews farm covered 400 acres, but how near the correct figures these are, it is difficult to say. If one stands today on Parsonage hill and looks toward Adams pond, a great portion of the land which he can see, stretching to the right and to the left, was formerly a part of this estate. Today one looks upon the center of a thrifty village, with well tilled fields, attractive homes and winding roads, but in the early days it must have been largely primeval forest.

At the time the First Parish church was formed, Enoch Perley and Robert Andrews each gave $1,000 toward its support. A proviso was inserted, which was not fully discussed at the time, that it revert to the church in the southern part of the town, should one be formed. One was organized in 1825, and Robert Andrews donated $1,000 to the First Parish to replace the amount of his first gift, and always retained his membership there.

Fortunately there were forms of relaxation from the hard work incident to the farms, for we read of the formation of a militia company. In this, Robert Andrews was particularly active, as were the other soldiers of the Revolution. The company was called the Bridgton Light Infantry and was organized in 1792. The Captain was Isaiah Ingalls; Lieut., Robert Andrews; Ensign, John Kilborn. Each officer took a long and complicated oath of allegiance to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, renouncing and adjuring "all allegiance, subjection and obedience to the King, Queen or Government of Great Britain (as the case may be), and every other Foreign power, whatsoever, and that no foreign prince, person, prelate, State or potentate hath or ought to have any jurisdiction, superiority, preeminence, authority dispensing or other power in any matters civil, ecclesiastical or spiritual within this Commonwealth."

Home of Moody Bridges, North Andover, Mass.

Home of Lieutenant Robert Andrews, South Bridgton

An important epoch in the town's history was its incorporation in 1794, there being 88 families and 471 inhabitants. Robert Andrews was first selectman, the others being James Flint and Joseph Sears. Isaiah Ingalls was town clerk; Phineas Ingalls, treasurer; Enoch Perley, moderator. At five different times, Robert Andrews served as selectman, and as treasurer, three years.

* * *

Only the public events of a man's life are inscribed on the records of the town, but there are other and fully as interesting facts, which can only be ascertained by talking with those who knew these early settlers, or who have heard from older people of the village life of that time.

We find that after Robert Andrews had cleared portions of his land and commenced tilling the ground, he built a larger and more substantial house, on the heights overlooking the pond. We can imagine the excitement of the house raisings, as the different farmers did this very thing, and how they went from one new house to another and the festivities which followed.

While Lieut. Andrews never married, his house was always filled with relatives, or whole families, or with young men who grew up under his care and worked on the farm. He did not have very good success in keeping the young women relatives who came to keep house for him, for the young men of the neighborhood soon claimed them as wives. His sister Ruth married Daniel Barnard, and another sister became the wife of Daniel Bradstreet, the maternal grandfather of "the Cleaves boys" Thomas, Nathan, Henry, Robert several of whom held positions of honor in State and Nation. A niece from Vermont, Rachel, who came to live with him, married Augustus Perley; while Abigail Gibbs, who lived at the Andrews home for a time, married Thomas Kimball.

The old "leftenant," as he was called, dearly loved to joke with the members of his household, and the story is told that when he came down one morning, suspecting that some of the boys of the neighborhood had been "courting," said, in a bantering manner:

"Rachel, did you have a beau last night?"

"No, sir," quickly responded Rachel, tossing her head.

"Weel," he said quizzically, "Weel, I wonder who did. It couldn't have been Abigail, now could it?" And Abigail blushed and ran away, because it was well known throughout the countryside that she did have a sure enough beau.

Life at the Andrews' home moved along very pleasantly. There was much to be done on the farm, while in the house the dairy work the spinning and weaving, the baking and household duties, required much time. Some of the young men who came to live there were sent to Bridgton Academy, which opened in 1808, its first sessions being held in Masonic Hall, then in North Bridgton, and in 1827 being removed to the Academy Building.

The training ground was five acres, on the westerly side of the meeting house, five acres on the easterly side being used as the burying ground. Evidently there was some opposition to this, for some time afterward, the action of the proprietors was reversed by the town, the burying ground being reduced in size to two acres, this being the old village cemetery.

The training field, with the exception of a sufficient amount for a road, was sold, together with the rest of the ministerial land. Later still, a part of the training field was repurchased by the town, and for many years was the scene of military displays attended by the settlers for miles around. The uniform of the members of this organization consisted of blue coats, with red facings, white breeches and cocked hats with white favors.

* * *

There was no resident physician until Dr. Samuel Farnsworth came in 1790, later followed by his son in 1816, who located at North Bridgton. Previous to the coming of Dr. Farnsworth, the nearest physician was in Standish. The story is told that one man, being sick, walked to Standish, got his prescription filled, and returned on foot, carrying a gallon of molasses and a bushel of salt.

Among the men who began law practice in Bridgton in these early days and later became famous in State and Nation, were Hon. William Pitt Fessenden and Hon. Nathaniel S. Littlefield. The former rose to be the leading lawyer in the State and continued his brilliant career until he became leader in the United States Senate, refusing the highest seat in the Supreme Court. He was also Secretary of the Treasury. Mr. Littlefield practiced law in town for over fifty years, being president of the Maine Senate his second term, in 1839. He was representative to Congress for Oxford District, 1840-41, and later for Cumberland District. Justice Sewell C. Strout of the Maine Supreme Court, also began his law practice in Bridgton.

Bridgton was represented in the War of 1812 by twenty-one men, who were in Capt. Rufus McIntire's Co., 3d Regt. U. S. Artillery. This regiment participated in the battle of Plattsburg and witnessed Commodore Perry's brilliant victory on the lake.

Of the fraternal orders, Oriental Lodge, F. & A. M., was organized in 1804, and Cumberland Lodge, L O. O. F., in 1845.

"The Chany Dishes"

* * *

It is impossible in an article of this length to mention all those who in the early days laid Bridgton's foundations so firmly. Such names as Abner and Nathan Dodge, Ebenezer Carsley, Ezra Gould, Jacob Hazen, Theodore and Alpheus Gibbs, William Morrison, Samuel Davis, Joseph Brocklebank, George Mead, John Chaplin, Daniel Brigham, William Bennett, Moses Gould, Horace Billings, William Cross, Rensaller Cram, and others, are known, even by the present generation.

A most important event was the dedication of the new Town House, in January, 1852, an able historical address being delivered by Hon. Marshall Cram. The story of the development of the town since that date--the establishment of the three woolen mills, and other large industries, the first newspaper, the tragic days of the Civil War, the coming of the railroad, the steady increase in population and property, the great popularity as a summer resort is a most important one in the history of Maine.

* * *

The town school system first consisted of four districts, Robert Andrews being a committee to build a schoolhouse in the southerly district. Later, in 1821, the school system was re-organized, forming eleven districts. It is interesting to note that in the winter of 1806-7 attending school in district No. 1 there were twenty-seven scholars bearing the name of Ingalls, all of one generation, brothers, sisters and cousins.

While Robert Andrews never married, he evidently wished to have his name perpetuated, for it was a standing offer that any boy, named for him, would receive a cow, in recognition of the fact. Naturally there were a good many whose family name was preceded by that of Robert Andrews. Some of these boys were relatives, as in the case of Robert Andrews Barnard and Robert Andrews Cleaves, but others were simply namesakes and some of the disagreeable people called them "cow-relations." One woman, who probably had only daughters, derisively said: "Why not call them 'Cow' and be done with it!"

But as the boys grew up, they were very proud of their Andrews cow, and also fond of the giver, and perhaps the old gentleman solved the problem of "keeping the boys on the farm." It has been said that he gave the girl babies a sheep, but this is probably only rumor.

Lieut. Andrews bought and sold a great deal of timberland, and of course many deeds were signed by him. Mrs. Fannie B. Ingalls, of South Bridgton, a descendant of the Daniel Perley family, found among some old papers, his signature, which is reproduced here. Those who read the character of a man by his handwriting, can study the firm letters, written by Robert Andrews over one hundred years ago:

Mrs. Ingalls also has the Ingalls Journal, a most valuable historic book, kept by Dr. Theodore Ingalls. Dr. Ingalls, son of Phineas Ingalls, located in South Bridgton in 1817.

* * *

It is seventy-one years since the old Lieutenant died and in that time nearly all those who knew him have passed on. While various facts and some anecdotes have been handed down, only two people could be found in Bridgton, in the spring of 1916, who remembered him. One was Mrs. Ann Davis, widow of Marshall Davis, the old-time landlord of the Bridgton House. Mrs. Davis, when a child, resided with her relatives, the family of Hugh Bennett, at the home of Robert Andrews.

The writer found Mrs. Davis at her North High Street home, sitting by her accustomed sunny window, in an easy chair, with her ever-present patchwork.

"Did you know Lieut. Andrews?" was the question.

A pleasant smile and a reminiscent look came to her face.

"Yes, indeed I did. I can see him now, going across from the house to the barn his cane in his hand. He always loved to go into the barn and look at the cattle and overhanging haymows. He talked with the men a good deal. He was rather short in stature, but very erect, with gray hair when I knew him and slightly bald. But he had a cheerful, pleasant face, somewhat ruddy, and his eyes always had a twinkle in them.

"I used to ride with him quite often, up to the village church, for he always went there, even after the one was formed at South Bridgton. He was always joking with me and called me Ruthy,' which I guess was a favorite name with him, for he had a sister and a niece named Ruth. My name is Ruthana, you know.

"He had many queer notions and one was that he liked to sleep in a bunk. Even in the new house he had a bunk built, instead of having a bedstead. The bunk was kept at the house for years after he died, but I guess has been destroyed by this time.

"He always sold a lot of corn to the farmers and I remember one man who came for some, and while the Lieutenant, or Uncle Andrews, as some called him, was measuring it out, the man stamped on the floor, so the corn would settle down and he would get more.

That made the old gentleman so mad that he drove him off and never. would sell him any corn again. He was very kind and benevolent and gave away a great deal. Yes, I can see him now," added MI. Davis, as she looked down the long years since she was a little girl.

The other person who remembered Lieut. Andrews was Mrs. Amelia Knapp Berry and she told the writer about him as we had tea together in the old Peabody house, which is now owned and occupied by her son and family.

"It was my fourth birthday," she began and she was eighty-five when we talked, "and I was very proud of the fact. I was walking up the road, when I met Lieut. Andrews. He said: 'Good morning, little girl,' and I answered: 'Howdy do, sir,' adding, my birthday' 'Oh, is that so?' said the Lieutenant with a laugh. 'That's funny, for it's mine, too.' It was his birthday, for it was October 5. 'Let's go up to the house and see if we can't find something for a present.'

"I tied my bonnet on and he took my hand in his and off we went. I had to run to keep up with him for he walked so fast. Pretty soon we got to his house and he went in a little room where he used to keep things to give away and came out with a bolt of cloth.

"'Go and ask Mrs. Cleaves how much you need for a dress.' The Cleaves family lived in one part of the house, later moving to Hio. This was the Judge Nathan and Gov. Henry B. Cleaves family. She told him and he measured it off and gave it to me. I thought it was the prettiest cloth I ever saw and I can see it yet, white ground, with a pink flower and a sprig of green. You better believe I was proud of that dress.

"He used to tell the children stories about the battle of Bunker Hill. I remember he would say: 'We worked all night putting up entrenchments. Then in the morning the firing began. We walked up the hill, fired, whirled and went back again, loading our guns as we went.' He liked to talk about the war and we loved to listen.

"'Rot it all' was his favorite swear word and sometimes he used it with a good deal of emphasis, although he was usually jolly and ready for fun. One of the boys who was hoeing for him got rummaging up in the attic and found the old Lieutenant's uniform. He dressed up in it and came down and paraded in front of the house, much to the amusement of all, even of the Lieutenant. After a while Mr. Andrews shouted: 'You better take off your regimentals and go to work.'

"The house had a long hall, with a kitchen and pantry at one side. There was a great chimney, which had five fireplaces in it and a brick oven. I remember when they tore it down. The house was later made into two parts, the Lieutenant living in the left hand end. It is now occupied by Frank A. Moulton and George Haley.

"Mr. Andrews always had a grand dinner party in the fall, after he killed his hogs, and invited the minister and wife, the doctor and wife, my father and mother. He had a very choice set of pink lustre dishes and he used to say to his niece: 'Ruth, put on the chany dishes,' which she did and they had the most good things to eat, baked in the brick oven, while the sparerib was roasted before the open fire, with a spoon hanging by to baste it with. That dinner was a yearly event, eagerly looked forward to, and the Lieutenant loved to play the host, his small, erect figure and his glowing face making a picture which few forgot, while his jovial air and funny stories, told in his quick, original way, kept them all laughing.

"He had a fine farm and raised everything on it for his stock of which he kept a large amount. He had cows, pigs, sheep, turkeys hens, and they were always fine specimens. He said you could make money keeping pigs if you didn't get more than 4 pence a pound. That's 6f cents, you know. He always charged $1.00 a bushel for corn, no matter what the market price was and he always put his cattle out to pasture on a certain date in the spring, no matter what the weather might be. The Andrews cheese was noted far and wide, round in shape, and as big as a half bushel. He always gave one to the minister.

"Another of the Lieutenant's queer ways was to have some Bannock cooked, which he would crumb into a tin dish, then take it out in the barn and hold it under the cow while he milked into it. Then he would come in and sit by the table in the kitchen while he ate it. They had a large pewter platter which they put the hash on and divided it into portions, then each one would eat from the platter."

Thomas B. Knapp, for many years prominent in the life of the town, who was born the year Lieut. Andrews died, remembers hearing many stories of the old gentleman. Among others was one of Ebenezer Choate, who bought a cow of Lieut. Andrews, giving him his note for it. He lived in Naples and took the cow home with him. In the winter, before he had paid the note, the cow died. Early one morning Mr. Choate started on foot, going the distance of five miles to tell the Lieutenant the sad news, but to assure him he would pay the note just the same. After talking the matter over, the Lieutenant said:

"Weel, Mr. Choate, I suppose you better take another cow, for the one you had would probably have died just the same if I had kept her."

The result was that Mr. Choate returned home, leading another cow.

The "chany teaset" was given to his "nephew, Robert Barnard," and the remaining pieces of the pink lustre set are owned by Ruth Barnard Sanborn, some being shown in the picture. The old table, at which the Lieutenant sat to eat his Bannock, is also owned by the Barnard family.

Robert Andrews was the money lender of the town and whenever he had any on hand had a peculiar way of wearing his hat cocked on one side. Every would-be borrower knew this and never dared approach him on the subject unless his hat gave the proper signal. He charged a very small rate of interest, and the notes which he took were rarely ever presented. It is said that after his death a number were presented which he never intended should be collected.

One of his acts of philanthropy was to leave $1,000, the interest on which is to be used for "the worthy and industrious poor of the town of Bridgton." This is given out each year in small amounts by the town treasurer. Others have followed his example in this respect. Lieut. Andrews received a pension as a Revolutionary soldier, of $80 a year.

An anecdote is told concerning the old flint-lock musket which the Lieutenant carried at Bunker Hill. Years after his death, there was an auction of the household goods of his executor, some of his belongings being among them. A near neighbor, in rummaging around the debris after the auction, found the old musket thrown away, so took it home. When others heard of it, they tried to buy it, but without success. It is still in the possession of the widow of Robert M. Ingalls, and a picture was taken of it in that house.

One of the last public acts of his life was the journey to Charlestown, Mass., at the age of 91 years, to attend the celebration of the completion of Bunker Hill monument.

The old Lieutenant lived to be 92 years and 6 months, passing his last days in the quiet and comfort of his old home. He was tenderly cared for by one of his "boys," to whom he gave half of his house and a portion of his farm. One of his namesakes helped brick up the grave, a custom of respect shown in the old days to people of prominence.

He was laid to rest in the South Bridgton cemetery, the land for which he had given to the town. Later, a monument, topped by a miniature reproduction of Bunker Hill monument, was placed there. The inscription reads:

Born in Boxford, Mass., Oct. 5, 1752.
Died at his residence in Bridgton,
Apr. 26, 1845
Aged 92 years and 6 mos.
A firm believer of Christianity of which for more than 50 years he was a humble and consistent professor.
Friendly and sincere, he was a kind neighbor, a good citizen, a worthy and useful man.
A true Patriot, he was in the battle of Bunker Hill and a brave soldier through the Revolution.

* * *

The life of Robert Andrews is an inspiring one. For a century he lived, during the days of our country's struggle for independence, its adjustment as a republic and the beginnings of its national life. It is like a benediction to stand in the peaceful valley, where all that was mortal of him was laid to rest over seventy years ago, and view the beautiful rural scenes which he loved and which will ever hold pleasant memories of him. As we review his patriotism, his willingness to endure hardship, his thrift, his generosity, and his upright, sturdy character, we feel that he richly deserved the eulogy which is entered opposite his name in the old church records, "He was a Public Benefactor."


References: Cram's Historical Address, Bridgton, 1852. History of Boxford, Mass., Perley. Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors, War of the Revolution. Personal Interviews. Acknowledgment is made to the valuable assistance of Mrs. Mary E. Stevens, whose blessed memory is inseparably connected with the preparation of this article.

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