Samuel Phillips, meanwhile, was doing well for himself, politically and financially. In 1781, he had been elected to the Massachusetts State Senate and appointed Justice of the Court of Common Pleas for Essex County by John Hancock. He was called Judge Phillips thereafter. By the time George Washington visited Andover on November 5, 1789, Judge Phillips was the State Senate’s president. By then, too, his mansion, planned on a scale beyond anything then known in the town, had been completed. 
Like Judge Phillips, other early American paper makers were men of means. They needed to be, because of the capital necessary to begin such an enterprise. John Hancock's wealthy uncle, for instance, was part proprietor of the first paper mill in Massachusetts, constructed in Dorchester (in a section that is now part of Milton) in 1728-1729, after the General Court of Massachusetts passed an act designed to encourage the manufacture of paper in New England.  Thomas Hancock was otherwise a merchant engaged in bookselling, stationery sales, and printing in Boston for which he had been importing paper from Britain, at least until the Revolution, during which the commodity could scarcely be obtained at any price, and what there was, was inferior. After the Revolution, the quality problem continued. According to William Goold's Early Paper Mills of New England (1875): “Some of the paper was so poor that it crumbed to pieces in two years, owing to some impurity in the bleaching.” 
Thomas Houghton had high hopes for the mill in Andover, especially given Judge Phillips's continuing involvement in government. As he wrote to his extended family back home in the U.K: “The State printers have promised Mr. Phillips their custom. I am informed they will take at least to the amount of £1200 a year of us. He has also great interest, both in Boston, Cambridge, and Salem, and many other places.”  On June 16, 1789, however, he wrote to Phillips himself to express his clear concern about gunpowder being made in the same factory where he was trying to make paper: “I did not imagine, I could not imagine, such an engagement.”  Still, he continued with the project, motivated by Phillips's promise to him that if the paper mill became profitable the two men would become partners. When Houghton wrote home again on July 24, 1791, he was still hopeful but also still trying to make a profit for his employer, citing the competition that stood in his way: “Here is many paper-mills erected within about twenty miles to thirty miles of us.” 
From his perch in Salem, Reverend William Bentley had his characteristically long view. He observed in his diary on April 24, 1793, that Andover was blessed with both pastoral delights and the potential to develop its industries: “The situation of Andover being elevated there are fine prospects from its hills, & the view of town is opened in every part, & beautifully diversified," he wrote. "There are seven bridges over the Shawshin [today called the Shawsheen]… There is not much fishing in this river, which is obstructed by the Mills upon it. I saw some children with scoop nets amusing themselves upon it.”
By 1795, the paper mill finally turned a profit and the Phillips-Houghton partnership became a reality. Remarkably, part of the mill was still being used for making gunpowder, and Houghton remained worried about it, expressing in another letter to Judge Phillips his fears about a “misfortune by fire.”  Unfortunately, on October 17, 1796, a third explosion at the mill occurred, killing two men, including a twenty-one-year-old Frenchman named Peter "of the Island of St. Lucia, who in consequence of the Wars in the West Indies [between the British and French over the sugar colonies] came here for his education."  An epitaph on a gravestone in the South Parish cemetery gives the age of the other victim, David Hall, “32 years & 8 months," adding, "We mourn the sudden swift remove,/From earth and all enjoyments here; When Christ commands, we must obey/Without a murmur or a tear.”  The gunpowder portion of the mill, which had been destroyed by the fire caused by the explosion, was shut down after that forever.
1. See ms. of Moses Wood, Extracts from Mr. Philemon Chandler’s Diary, Andover Center for History and Culture (hereafter, ACHC). I have found no other mention of the explosion.
2. See John L. Taylor, Memoir of His Honor Samuel Phillips (Boston: 1856), 114-115.
3. John BIdwell, American Paper Mills, 1690-1832: A Directory of the Paper Trade with Notes on Products, Watermarks, Distribution Methods, and Manufacturing Techniques (Hanover, New Hampshire, Dartmouth College Press, 2013), 85.
4. William Goold, Early Paper-Mills of New England, (Boston: Historic and Genealogical Register, 1875), 11.
5. Quoted in Bailey, 582.
6. ACHC, William A.Trow Collection, Sub-group IV, Series D, Sub-series 1-b-1.4.
7. Quoted in Bailey, 584. According to Jedidiah Morse, by 1796 there were twenty paper mills in Massachusetts, including the one in Andover. (Jedidiah Morse, The American Universal Geography [Boston:Isaiah Thomas, 1796], 403.)
8. ACHC, William A.Trow collection, Sub-group IV, Series D, Sub-series 1-b-1.
9. https://ma-vitalrecords.org/MA/Essex/Andover/aDeathsM.shtml Retrieved May 4, 2022.
10. Bailey, 349.