The Andover Historical Society has recently installed a new sign at the Richard Potter gravesite in Potter Place. Mounted close behind the small enclosure around the graves of Richard and Sally Potter, it provides information to passersby about Richard Potter’s life and significance. The sign is already attracting attention from users of the Northern Rail Trail and visitors to the Andover Historical Society Museum.
Two hundred years ago, Richard Potter (1783-1835) was the most popular entertainer in America. A masterful magician and preeminent ventriloquist, he performed to great acclaim throughout the entire country and contributed enormously to the long, gradual process of making American showmanship respectable. His story is all the more remarkable in that Richard Potter was also a black man, the son of a woman who had been captured on the Guinea coast as a young teenager and sold as a slave in Boston. Potter and his wife, Sally, moved to Andover in 1815 and made this town their home thereafter. Their gravesite lies in what was once the front yard of Potter’s estate, close by the Andover Historical Society Museum and immediately next to the Northern Rail Trail.