A Priceless Reservoir of Early American History
Ipswich, Massachusetts was founded in 1634 in an area the Native Americans called “Agawam,” and is America’s best-preserved Puritan town. The historic neighborhoods of Meeting House Green, High Street, the East End, and the South Green are well-preserved streetscapes of 17th to 19th-century residences, with more “First Period” houses still standing than any other town in the country. Opposition by the people of Ipswich to a tax imposed in 1687 is commemorated in the seal of the town of Ipswich, with the motto, “The Birthplace of American Independence 1687.”
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The Rev. John Wise of Ipswich - The concepts of freedom about which Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence originated from the pen of the Rev. John Wise of Ipswich: "The first human subject and original of civil power is the people...and when they are free, they may set up what species of government they please." 1854: Anti-immigrant Know Nothing Party sweeps Massachusetts elections - Prejudice disguised as patriotism repeats itself in American politics. In 1854, the "Know Nothing" American Party formed in opposition to Irish immigration and carried local elections in Boston, Salem and other New England communities. The Know Nothings swept the state of Massachusetts in the fall 1854 elections but were defeated two years later. Names of the Ipswich slaves - In 1641 the Massachusetts Bay Colony adopted a code of laws that made slavery legal. In 1755, the slaves in this town above the age of sixteen numbered sixty-two, but within ten years, public opinion began turn against slavery. In 1780, the present Constitution of Massachusetts was adopted, its first article asserting that all men are born free and equal.
Portraits of Ipswich People Who Told the Truth - As part of this month’s Ipswich celebration of Americans Who Tell the Truth, the first floor of the Ipswich Town Hall is displaying portraits of local people who have affected change by telling the truth. Read about them by clicking on the captions. […] The Old Town Landings and Wharfs - Many a pleasant sail down the river are in the memories of William J. Barton. "These were the names of the places and flats along the Ipswich River before my time, and familiar to me during my time. They were used by the fishermen and clammers. I know. I was one of them. It was the happiest time of my life."
When Herring Were Caught by Torchlight - In the late 19th Century, most of the men around the river would look forward to "herringing" when fall arrived. The foot of Summer Street was the best landing. One year so many herring were caught, they were dumped in the Parker River, and Herring did not return for many years. Zumi’s coffee double duty - In the last couple of years I've composted about a ton of coffee grounds to be used in my garden. The peas received a generous helping of the compost, and this year's plants are almost 8' tall! The Grand Old Fourth - "The night before the Fourth of July, thousands of people were milling up and down Central and Market Streets and Depot Square. Every man and boy carried a revolver and shot off blank cartridges as fast as they could re-load. "At five o'clock on the morning of the Fourth, the sexton of the Methodist Church could open up the doors and let in the boys ring the church bell for an hour. Then came the parade." To live locally - “You can’t ask for anything more ‘local’ than that,” was my thought as I was writing this story about Tyler Fahey's, restoration of Glover’s Mill and his family house. His was built for one of his ancestors around 1700, and has never been sold! Jane Hooper, the fortune-teller - Jane Hooper was in 1760 a Newburyport "school dame" but after she lost that job she found fame as a fortune-teller. When the Madame made her yearly visit to Ipswich, the young and the old called on her to learn of their fates. Gathering Salt Marsh Hay - Salt marsh hay is still gathered on the North Shore today. The grass that grows between the upland and the marsh is cut. Traditionally the hay was stacked on staddles to raise it above the high tides.