A Brief History of Foster's Pond

Geology and relics

Foster's Pond is a natural lake of glacial origin and the entire Foster's Pond area, with its small moraine, is of interest geologically. G. Frederick Wright noted that Rattlesnake Ledge nearby was granite, "remarkable for the size of its crystals of feldspar and lack of iron."

Archaeologists have unearthed chips and flakes of felsite. In the 1940's, Arthur M. Hofmann wrote of the "Strange Deposit of Spear-points" and described his digs along the north shore of the outlet to Foster's Pond in Ballardvale, which was at that time a lumbering area. Thirteen projectile points were excavated and it is still a mystery why so many large projectile points were found in such a small area.

Relics uncovered at Foster's Cove Site proved that there was an Indian camp here during the late archaic and early woodland periods.

Andrew Foster, Ann Foster, and the Salem Witch Trials

The pond is believed to have been named for Andrew Foster, the twenty-second man to settle in Andover, who died in 1685 at the age of 106, "leaving to my deare and loving wife Ann Foster, the use and sole liberty of living in that end of my house I now live in." The spot where Ann Foster actually lived remains a mystery, but she was one of forty-one townspeople accused of witchcraft in 1692-1693.

Joseph Ballard had a sick wife who, he thought, when the usual remedies failed to cure, might be bewitched. Having heard of the young maids of Salem Village reputed to have special powers, he fetched several of the girls to Andover to have a look at his wife. Their diagnosis was witchcraft and the evildoers were pointed out at a lineup outside the Meeting House. Ann Foster, aged and infirm, was one of those terrified souls dragged off to jail at Salem, along with her daughter and granddaughter. Four times in the heat of mid-July, Ann Foster was carried into the courtroom and mercilessly badgered by those white-wigged magistrates. Hoping to free her daughter and granddaughter and to be spared from the gallows herself, Ann Foster was ready to confess anything which, in her confused state, she thought her inquisitors wanted to hear. She admitted she had caused Goodwife Ballard's mysterious illness, bewitched John Lovejoy's hogs, "hurt Timothy Swan" and brought about the death of Andrew Alien's children. Goody Foster confessed she managed all these marvels with poppets fashioned from knotted rags representing her victims, which she then pinched, stuck with pins or burned in the fireplace. Furthermore, yes, she had accompanied the Queen of Hell herself, Martha Carrier, on a broomstick, to covenants at Salem Village where 300 witches gathered.

When they were accused, her daughter despaired, "Oh, Mother, we have left Christ and the devil hath got hold of us!" The magistrates noticed Goody Foster's lips moving and asked her what she was saying. "Praying to the Lord," the old woman murmured. "What Lord do witches pray to?" they demanded. "I cannot tell," she wept in desperation. "The Lord help me." After twenty-one weeks in prison, Ann Foster quietly died in her tiny cell and her son, Abraham, was required to pay the jailer 2 pounds/10 shillings to cart her body home to Andover for burial. . . . Of all the sorrowful tales during the witchcraft hysteria which rocked the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Ann Foster's demise is surely one of the most heartbreaking.

The name Foster's Pond can definitely be traced back to 1669, for early Andover Land Grants of that date tell us "John Frie Sr., got seven acres of meadow . . . running to ye pond and by some called Foster's Pond joining to ye pine swamp." . . .

Goldsmith's Mill and the Old Mill Reservoir

Town Records of 1772 refer to William Goldsmith's mill dam here and the fish gutter by the mill on Foster's Brook. There was a small grist mill owned by William Goldsmith, and afterwards by his son, Jeremiah, but no grinding has been done there since about 1800.

The granite base of the mill dam remains, spanning the small gap between what is now called Bessie's Point and the peninsula extending from the end of Azalea Drive. The basin upstream from the old dam is known as the Old Mill Reservoir.

Historical tidbits

In 1843, an antislavery procession, led by John Smith as chief marshall, made its way from Frye Village to Foster's Woods for a picnic after a mass demonstration.

The old carriage road leading into Goldsmith Woodlands and numerous cellar holes of former cottages are tangible reminders of the time when this was a favorite summer resort. A few families from Boston sought fresh country air and water sports here, but most of these cottages were built by Andoverites who, in the days before automobiles, couldn't go further for vacations. They were called "camps" then and Records of the Andover Natural History Society, April 16, 1910, describe a field meeting held at Andover Camp on Foster's Pond with twenty-four members present. . . .

During winters of times long past, before automatic refrigeration, ice was harvested from Foster's Pond. Slabs, three-foot by three-foot, were carved out with saws and chisels and dragged by horse-drawn ice plows to barns where, packed in sawdust, they would last into the following summer.

-- adapted from AVIS: A History of Conservation, by Juliet Haines Mofford, © 1980 by Andover Village Improvement Society