"It was in this house that William Poor, under blanket of darkness, ferried runaway slaves to Salem, N.H….,” he told Andover Townsman readers. “It always filled us with pride when, on a warm summer evening, the Historical Society would conduct walking tours of Shawsheen and stop in front of our house to tell the group about her proud history." That's where William Poor, one of the founders of Andover, lived, he later told the Andover Planning Board. He mentioned, too, its underground railroad aspect, and said that a slave, who had fought at Bunker Hill, had also lived there.
Mr. Deacon was, undoubtedly, well-meaning, but he got some of his facts wrong on his way to helping score a victory. (Andover's Zoning Board of Appeals voted against issuing the special permit that would have allowed the original project to go forward. Instead, the house stayed a single-family residence and a four-unit condo was built beside it.) William Poor was not a founder of Andover, although his ancestor Daniel Poor was. Nor did William Poor ever live at 66 Poor Street. Neither did the slave, actually a freed slave, Salem Poor, who had been sold his freedom by one John Poor and honored with a U.S. postage stamp issued during our Bicentennial year. The house is circa 1830, long after the American Revolutionary War was over. And yes, Joseph Poor did once own it, but not until October 9, 1865. By then, the Civil War had ended and with it, any need to hide fugitive slaves on his property.
To be continued.