Abiel Frye (1703-1757)

This gravestone is in the Old Burying Ground in what is today North Andover, MA. The burying ground was next to the site of the original meetinghouse in the North Parish of Andover. The stone is in very rough shape. Parts of it are difficult to read and it appears to be slightly puffed out at where the dark spot is on the stone. It seems, perhaps, that over the centuries, water has seeped between the layers of slate and is causing the stone to begin to crumble. I'm hoping to someday be able to pay to have it restored, but I want to make sure it is done correctly. I suspect it is not cheap!!

Stones like this are reasonably common in parts of New England in many of the oldest burial grounds. The swirls along the border of the stone and the unique angel with rather large lips is typical of many stones carved in the Merrimac Valley at about this time. Several people have done extensive research on these old gravestones. In many cases, stones can be tied back to the original carvers who made them. One such stone carver was Jonathan Leighton. Though I can't be certain he carved this stone, the style is typical of other stones known to be his work.

The inscription reads:

Here Lies Buried
the body of
Who Departed
this Life March
the 22nd
in yo 54th
year of
his AGE

Abiel Frye, like his father, was a farmer in Andover. His land holdings were significantly smaller than his fathers, owing to the fact that the land of his father was essentially divided up among the four sons who survived him (a fifth son, John, also survived his father, but died a year later). This pattern of dividing land amongst siblings eventually means the parcels become smaller with each passing generation. To survive, it was at about this time that many descendants of original Andover settlers began to move to new areas as we will see with the children of Abiel.

Abiel was born July 5, 1703. He married Abagail Emery, daughter of Joseph Emery and Elizabeth Merrill on February 10, 1731/32. She was two years younger than Abiel, having been born November 5, 1705. The couple had six children:

Isaac Frye, born February 6, 1747/48, died November 3, 1791 (my line)

Abigail Frye, born February 18, 1732/33, died December 20, 1738

Abiel Frye, born November 8, 1734, died 1806

Simon Frye, born September 29, 1737, died October 1, 1822

Sarah Frye, born either in April of 1742 or May of 1743 (I have conflicting information)

Abigail Frye, born march 16, 1742/43, died December 21, 1810

Of the three sons, only the eldest, Abiel, would die in Andover. The youngest, Isaac, ended up in Wilton, NH from where a long history of notable Frye's would descend. In fact descendants of Isaac Frye remain in Wilton, NH to this day, as does his original homestead. The other son, Simon, died in Fryeburg, ME is 1822 at the age of 85. His uncle, Joseph, had been given the original land grant for Fryeburg, and perhaps Simon left Andover in search of more land to the north.

Like most towns of the time, Andover had a local militia. Abiel was a Captain in the local militia and fought during the French and Indian Wars. He had resigned his position as Andover Treasurer in September of 1755 and entered the service as a cornettist (he played the cornet). He was Captain at the battle of Lake George, NY. All of this must have occurred early in the conflicts, given his death date in 1757. I have no records as to the reason or cause of his death.


Send me an e-mail