The small cottage at 12 Warren Street in Ipswich is listed on the town assessors site as having been built in 1700, but the Historical Commission does not provide a date. The front section is the oldest.
Nathaniel Bishop was among the original settlers of Ipswich and was granted a 10-acre lot that extended from North Main Street to today’s Central Street. In the 1832 village map, the animal pound exists at this location. In the 1856,1872, and 1884 Ipswich Village maps, there are two small houses at the rear of this lot, facing Loney’s Lane, belonging to J. Wells, and S. Wells/ Mrs. Wells. Warren St. does not at this time extend past Loney’s Lane, and this house is not yet shown on the corner. Nor does it appear in the 1893 Birdseye Map, even though Warren St. exists. In the 1910 Village map this house appears on the corner, owned by A. P. Hills.
The Ipswich town assessors site indicates that this house was constructed in 1700. If this is true, early in the 20th Century, this small building was probably moved from another location.
Thomas Franklin Waters wrote about the two owners of this lot in his two-volume set, Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony:
“Jonathan Wells enlisted in Capt. Abraham Dodge’s company on May 3, 1775, and took part in the battle of Bunker Hill on June 17th. He enlisted again January 1st, 1776. He was a seaman in the brigantine five months and fourteen days in 1777, being discharged July 31st. He was in the privateer “Fair Play” in December, 1777, in the “Black Prince” in July, 1778 and in the “Gen. Wadsworth’ ‘ in February, 1781. It is a family tradition that Mr. Wells was wounded during his first enlistment. While at home, recovering from his wound, he went one day to the Meeting House Green, where recruits were being enrolled, and was so fired with enthusiasm, that he re-enlisted and marched away with his arm in a sling. Entering the navy, he passed from ship to ship, without being allowed an opportunity to return home and see his family. He used to say that he thought he had seen war before he became a seaman in the navy, but his land service was not to be compared with the fight between the “Bon Homme Richard” and the “Serapis.” He stood at his gun when nine men and a boy lay dead around him. He always expressed great admiration for John Paul Jones, telling how small a man he was, and of his brilliant ability and dauntless courage. On his return home after this battle, his house was besieged for days with friends and neighbors, who desired to hear from his own lips the story of the great sea-fight. His wife picked the powder from his face with a fine cambric needle.”
Albert P. Hills
In the 1910 Village map, the house belongs to A. P. Hills, and behind it on “Wells Court” is the home of A. D. Wells. Waters notes that during the Civil War, many families made precious contributions to the Army and the Navy, including Albert St. Hills and his son, Alpert P. Hills, who was still a boy and served as the company drummer.
- Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony by Thomas Franklin Waters
- Hammatt Papers, Early Inhabitants of Ipswich, Massachusetts