Picture of Portsmouth School Found in 1896 The Granite Monthly

Published in 12-page spread about Andover

By Rita Norander
Picture of the former Portsmouth School in East Andover, found in Rita Norander’s history files, in an article published in The Granite Monthly in 1896.

After saying last month, in my article in the March issue of the Beacon, I hadn’t previously seen a picture of the Portsmouth School in its original setting, I was surprised to rediscover this early photo – and it was right in my own Andover history files!

The picture appears in a twelve page article of the October 1896 issue of “The Granite Monthly” magazine. The article is simply titled “Andover” by Miss M. J. Hersey. The author, Mary J. Hersey (known to her family as May J), and my great grandfather, Benjamin G. Hersey, were first cousins. This is probably why the article was saved and passed on to other family members.

According to Ralph Chaffee, in his book East Andover and Its People, May J. Hersey and her sister Edith grew up on Tucker Mountain. Their home was just before the Little Red Schoolhouse, and had belonged to their grandparents, Jacob and Polly Rowe. In 1867, Frank G. Hersey, who lived on the other side of Tucker Mountain in Hill, became a hired hand on the Rowe farm, and two years later he married the Rowes’ daughter, Ellen.

In the early days of the 20th century, the farm was known as the ‘Old Mountain Home’, and the Herseys took in summer boarders. After May J and Edith’s parents died, the unmarried sisters continued to live on the farm for a time, but in 1922 they sold the family homestead, and moved to California. The sisters kept in touch with their Andover family and friends, and visited New Hampshire a few times. They especially liked to return for the Hersey Reunion, which they had often hosted at their ‘Old Mountain Home’ on Tucker Mountain.

May J died in 1964 at age 90, and Edith in 1967 at age 90. They are buried in the Lakeview Cemetery in East Andover. Sadly, all of the buildings at their ‘Old Mountain Home’ on Tucker Mountain were destroyed by fire in 1934.

The Granite Monthly article and its pictures provide an interesting glimpse into Andover’s past. Within its pages are twenty small pictures of public buildings and private homes, as well as twenty-five pictures of early, prominent, Andover citizens. It was a wonderful find!