NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

October 5, 2013

Towns keep a spirited battle over 'Old Nancy'

Cannon drawings will be presented to Georgetown selectmen Monday

GEORGETOWN — It sounds like a crime novel: local militias, undercover operations, secret hiding places, and accusations of lies and deceit.

In reality, it is all part of a playful feud that for the past 200 years has engaged residents of Georgetown and Rowley in mischief to once and for all prove which town is the true owner of “Old Nancy,” a Revolutionary War-era cannon.

“We are, there’s no question about that,” said Bob Merry, a Rowley selectman and the town’s official cannoneer.

“Don’t believe them,” countered Bud Spaulding, a former Georgetown fire chief with clear memories of concealing the bulky cannon in the basement of the old fire station.

The friendly dispute is once again back in the spotlight with a ceremony Monday evening at Town Hall in Georgetown. At the ceremony, Ed DesJardins, a retired architect and a director of the local historical society, will present two framed drawings to the Board of Selectmen, one depicting the original construction document of the cannon carriage and one showing the cannon itself in minute detail.

The “Old Nancy” of Georgetown is on the display in the basement of Town Hall and DesJardins said he hopes the drawings will add to the authenticity of the historic muzzleloader.

Merry quickly dismissed such notions.

“There’s a rumor about it,” he said, sounding secretive, “I’ve heard it was bought at a yard sale in Topsfield.”

DesJardins meticulously researched the cannon before he produced the drawings in time for the bicentennial celebration of American independence back in 1976. Spaulding, who at the time ran Spaulding Colonial Reproductions with his brother Arthur, then used a reprint to build the carriage, which was used to show off the big gun during the festivities.

Spaulding, now 86, will attend the Town Hall ceremony with his son, Gary Spaulding.

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