By Tim Frost
For the Beacon
“Nebessek” is an Indian word meaning “near the little lake.” The building on Highland Lake that bore that name was a stately, three-story house with attached shed and large barn, perhaps built in the late 1800s. It was owned by the Flanders family. Story has it that the house completely burned to the ground in the early 1900s. A passing neighbor saved the horses in the barn.
Atherton W. Frost (known to most as “AW”) was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts. He had infantile paralysis (polio) as a young child, so his parents sent him to East Andover to live with the Flanders family. Back in those days it was believed that country and fresh air was about the only thing that was good for kids with polio.
AW was adopted by the Flanders family and attended and graduated from Proctor Academy. He coached sports for a while there. Eventually he attended and graduated from Concord Business School; he worked for an accounting firm and then went to work in Boston for a couple of years. He took the train from Concord to Boston and back every day.
AW was an avid sportsman; hunting and fishing were his passion. He and others formed what is known today as the Andover Fish and Game Club, located here in East Andover. He taught everyone he could how to fly fish.
Somewhere along the line, he inherited Nebessek after it had been rebuilt into a 2½ story Dutch colonial with the shed and barn, looking about the same as the original building. This included about five or six acres of land with 600 feet of that on the east side of Highland Lake, across the road from the house.
AW went to work for an insurance and accounting firm in Franklin, and in 1929 he purchased the insurance agency. His first wife, Ruth, passed away giving birth at a young age. (The infant did not survive.) Later, he met and married Eula Cargill Boyle; her young husband had drowned tragically at Bradley Lake, leaving her a widow with an infant daughter, Margaret (known today as Margie Fenton). AW and his second wife, Eula, moved into the house he had inherited (Nebessek).
At some point in time, three summer cottages were built on the property; two along the shore of Highland Lake, and one up in the woods behind the house. Old family records say that families paid $10 to $12 a week to rent the cottages in the summer and that the same folks came back year after year. Some city folks stayed at Nebessek in the house for a night or two; it was sort of a B & B as we call them now. Some came by train to the Halcyon station here in East Andover for a long weekend.
AW taught and guided fishermen on Highland Lake and other small ponds in the area that were stocked by the Andover Fish and Game Club. AW often said that the men he taught to fly fish caught more trout than he did! AW’s most loved fishing spots were in Pittsburg, New Hampshire, and the Laurentides in Quebec, Canada.
Two of AW’s best friends were Ed Hamp of Andover, the former owner of the current Hamp House, and John Graves, Sr. of East Andover. In the 1940s, AW and Ed started a summer business of showing movies at area boys and girls camps. The movies were sent back to Boston on Monday, and then new ones came via the train on Tuesdays.
On Sunday nights, AW would show the movies in his big barn for the Nebessek campers and for any of the local folks who wanted to attend. Often there were folks watching from up in the loft. Of course, it was very hot up there!
Another daughter, Louise, (known today as Louise Frost Osborne) was born to AW and his wife Eula in 1938, and then a son, Tim, in 1940. AW passed away in 1949. His widow, Eula Frost, carried on the running of the summer camps and also took over his insurance business in Franklin.
In 1963, Tim and Beth Frost returned to East Andover and Tim began working in the agency with his mother. Then in 1965, Eula retired and sold the business to Tim. The agency thrived and is still located in Franklin, about 83 years later; it is the oldest insurance agency in Franklin.