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The town is part of the Merrimack Valley. North Andover was first settled in 1646 and was officially incorporated on February 22, 1710. It includes what were once the separate villages of North Andover (now a neighborhood within modern-day North Andover), Ballardvale, South Lawrence (also known as Old Town), and parts of Methuenport (now Methuen). The town's name most likely comes from its location north ("northerly") to another parish named "Andover". In 1853 it became part of a new county called Essex County which also included Haverhill; this would later be renamed Essex County in 1881 when Lowell split off from Haverhill to become its own city. During World War II, many soldiers trained at Camp Edwards on nearby Plum Island because they were not allowed to train near their homes for security reasons during wartime.