Pomp Lovejoy and ‘lection cake

An interesting character along the way…

The following is from “Andover Stories: Pompey Lovejoy – ‘lection cake and ginger root beer

By Pam Smith
Andover Historical Society

His gravestone still stands in the Lovejoy lot of the South Church cemetery. His epitaph reads “Born in Boston a slave; died in Andover a free man; February 23, 1826; Much respected as a sensible; amiable and upright man.”

pomp lovejoy grave lo-res

Pompey Lovejoy was born in 1724 as a slave to Captain William Lovejoy. Pompey took his last name from the family he served. At age 9, he and his master moved to Andover. The captain was so fond of “Pomp” that in 1762 he granted him an early freedom “from all slavery and servitude.” Later, Capt. Lovejoy’s will stipulated that Pompey “be given some choice acreage so that he might better enjoy his later years.” Pompey’s land was located close to the road that led to the pond that would eventually bear his name.

On Dec. 26, 1751, Pompey wed Rose, a servant of Andover’s John Foster. A remnant of Rose’s 200-year-old wedding dress may still be seen at the Andover Historical Society.

Pompey and Rose built their cabin on the land inherited from Captain Lovejoy. It was said “he crooned songs while he fried his ham and eggs. He darned his own socks if they ever were darned.” It was written that he played the fiddle until “his fingers grew stiff” and “his elbow lost its elasticity.” And it was said, “They had smiles for you even if Pomp was ‘bad with rheumatiz’, or Rose was laid up for a spell.”

At 52, Pompey served one and a half days in the Revolutionary War under Captain Henry Abbot’s company. He never saw combat because by the time the Andover soldiers arrived in Lexington the battle was over. A march to chase the retreating British enemy lasted until dark and only resulted in a tiring 35-mile march.

Pompey was a town fixture. The custom of New England Town Meeting days provided special occasions where the townspeople could socialize and discuss politics. Pompey and his wife would host gatherings at their cabin in the woods, and they were in charge of making the ‘lection cake and ginger root beer.

It was said “Pity the town meeting house crowd on election day if Pompey was not custodian of the cake and beer. Woe to the funeral wake if Pompey did not mix the grog and serve it.”

Editor’s Note: Pomp Lovejoy visited the Liberty Paper Mill twice. In May of 1781 he purchased 1 ¼ dozen press papers, and in May of 1782, bought one dozen press papers. He paid with 121 pounds of rags from Andover.

Pomp Lovejoy lection cake lo-res

Pomp Lovejoy’s ‘lection Cake

1 pound sugar

4 pounds flour

1 pound butter

½ pint sweet lively yeast mixed with warm milk.

(I cut the recipe by 75%, and it’s very interesting, and very good in an 18th-century sort of way.)

Any bakers out there? I would love to have a real recipe that tells what to do with the dough/batter.

Email me at peter.hopkins@comcast.net

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