Grape Island is a part of Ipswich that was once a small but thriving community, and briefly a popular summer resort. In 1941, 3000 acres of Plum Island including Grape Island were purchased by the U.S. government to establish the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. Lewis Kilborn, the island’s last resident, was allowed to continue living in the family home, where he died in 1984.
A rumor spread that two British ships were in the river, and were going to burn the town. The news spread as far as New Hampshire, and in every place the report was that the regulars were but a few miles behind them, slashing everyone in sight.
In the 1700’s two of the finer inns in town were run by women, a mother and daughter both named Susanna. Although the two houses are both on corners of County Street, they were separated by the river.
The town voted in 1861 to build County Street and its stone arch bridge, connecting Cross and Mill Streets. A Woolen mill, saw mill, blacksmith shop and veneer mill operated near the bridge.
In 1642, a dam and fulling mill were built on the Mill River in Rowley. The stone arch bridge on this property was constructed between 1850 and 1870.
The house at 21 Lakemans Lane was constructed by John Manning 3rd by the early 19th Century. The barn on the property features hand-hewn post and beam framing with gunstock corner posts, and may predate the house.
The town of Ipswich is fortunate to have a considerable number of barns still standing behind the houses in its Architectural Preservation District. While many of the barns date to before the 20th Century, this barn appears to be one of the oldest.
The earliest recorded sighting of a Sea Serpent in North American waters was at Cape Ann in 1639. In 1817, reports spread throughout New England of a sea serpent sighted in Gloucester Harbor.
Sarah Dillingham Caldwell was born in 1634, the daughter of John and Sarah (Caly) Dillingham. Her father died less than a year after she was born, and her mother two years later. At nineteen years of age she married John Caldwell. The years entrusted them with eight children, countless descendants, and their home on High Street still stands.
The Ipswich Town Landing is one of several locations along the River where wharves were located over the centuries.
When Chebacco Parish (now Essex) began building their own meeting house, Ipswich authorities obtained an order that “No man shall build a meeting house at Chebacco.” Abigail Proctor saw a glaring legal loophole…
Mark Quilter was a cow-keeper on the north side of town with a reputation for drinking. When Goodwife Shatswell visited Goodwife Quilter and insulted both of them, Quilter lost his temper.
An epidemic of “throat distemper,” believed to be diptheria, raged in New England between 1735 and 1740. Some Ipswich households were left without a single child surviving.
In the late eighteenth century, Ipswich had 600 women and girls producing more than 40,000 yards of lace annually. In the 1820’s Ipswich industrialists opened a factory and imported machines from England to mechanize and speed up the operation, which destroyed the hand-made lace industry.
At the foot of Hovey Street along the Ipswich River is a plaque dedicated to the memory of Ipswich settler Daniel Hovey, whose home and wharf were across the river on what is now Tansey Lane.
In 1737, Captain Nathaniel Treadwell opened an inn in the house still standing at 12 N. Main St. Nathaniel Treadwell of the next generation built the second Treadwell’s Inn at 26 N. Main St. For over one hundred years it was the town’s first-class hotel. Guests at the two inns included John Adams, President Monroe, Daniel Webster and the Marquis de LaFayette.