The village of Potter Place in the town of Andover is named for celebrated magician, ventriloquist, and showman Richard Potter (1783-1835), who made his home here from 1814 until his death in 1835. A small graveyard adjacent to the Potter Place Railroad Station contains his remains and those of his wife Sally.
According to church records, Richard Potter was born in 1783 in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, the son of a slave on the estate of Sir Charles Henry Frankland (who died 15 years before Potter’s birth). His father was George Simpson, a local minister. Potter was educated until he was ten years old when he went to England as a cabin boy. He traveled throughout England and perhaps elsewhere in Europe as a circus performer until 1801 when he returned to America as the assistant to John
Potter was educated until he was 10 years old, when he went to England as a cabin boy. He traveled throughout England and perhaps elsewhere in Europe as a circus performer until 1801, when he returned to America as the assistant to John Rannie. He learned his craft from Rannie and started to perform on his own when Rannie retired in 1811.
He became a celebrity from Quebec to New Orleans and is described as “the most famous ventriloquist and sleight-of-hand performer of his day.”
Richard had often performed at Benjamin Thompson’s tavern in Andover and liked the area and the people. He purchased a 175-acre farm in 1814 and built a home that became a showplace. The neighborhood soon became known as “Potter’s Place.” In 1871, the post office made the area officially Potter Place.