John Brown Sr. is mentioned in the Ipswich Town Records as early as 1640, having first lived on Heartbreak Rd. Before 1660, Mr. Brown on Fellows’s Lane at the corner with Candlewood Rd. Over the next 250 years, the Brown family extended their ownership of the finest farm land in Ipswich along the east side of Candlewood Rd.
Thomas Franklin Waters wrote a history of the Brown family properites in his essay, “Candlewood, an Ancient Neighborhood in Ipswich, Massachusetts,” and in the two-volume book, Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.”
“On the Candlewood road, leading toward Hamilton, large tracts of farm lands were granted to the first settlers. John Fawn’s 25 acre lot, on the east comer of Essex Road and Candlewood Road, was sold to Robert Kinsman in 1652. He married Mary Boardman and proceeded to build his house and bams on the lot thus acquired.”
Adjoining the Kinsman farm, Thomas Howlett, one of the earliest settlers, acquired by grant and subsequent purcheases, a hundred acre farm. Thomas Franklin Waters recorded the transfer of the early Fawn and Perkins lots to Thomas Howlett of the property, presently known now as Pony Express Farm:
“There was Granted to Thomas Howlett thirty acres of upland and ten of meadow at the head of Chebacco Creek, the meadow lying on both sides of the Creekeand the upland on the West side of the meadow.”
“Granted to John Perkins Senior, thirty acres of upland and ten of meadow lying towards the head of Chebacco Creek, having Thomas Hewlett’s Land on the Southwest.”
“Memorandum, that John Perkins the Elder hath sold unto Thomas Howlett a parcel of Land of forty acres more or less meadow and upland lying at Chebacco granted unto the sayde John Perkins in the year 1636, bounded on the Northeast by a parcel of Land formerly granted unto Mr. Faune…and partly also on the same side …by a parcel of Land granted unto the said Thomas Howlett at the Northwest end thereof butting upon a highway leading to Chebacky at the southeast.” (23d day of the second month, 1638″ (Town Records).
Thomas Bishop was in possession of the Howlett farm as early as 1652. In 1684, a farm of 60 acres with house and bam was conveved to John Brown, and 36 acres with house and barn to Sergeant John Choate. John Brown bequeathed his farm to his sons, James and William in 1721.
Waters continued the history of the farm:
“The heirs of James Brown held the farm, and his daughter Elizabeth, wife of Capt. Robert Perkins, gained possession, but in December, 1779, their daughter, Elizabeth, became the wife of Joseph Brown, of the same family line, who built a new house on the farm. His son, Gardiner A. Brown, acquired possession, and bequeathed to his son, A. Story Brown (owner at the beginning of the 20th Century). “
For over two hundred and forty years after John Brown bought the farm, it remained by inheritance in the Brown family through successive generations.
Waters wrote that the Brown family extended the great farm on Candlewood beyond Chebacco Rd into Hamilton
“The great tract of land extending from Choate (Chebacco) Road to Red Root or Red Wood Hill, was included in the early part of the eighteenth century in two great pastures, known as Gould’s Pasture and Wilderness Hill Pasture on the slope of the noble hill, which was called by that name from the earliest times.
Gould’s Pasture was included for the most part in the farm of E. Newton Brown. James Brown owned a large portion of the Wilderness Hill Pasture before 1741 and it continued in the hands of his descendants to A. Story Brown in the early 20th Century.
Sources, and further reading:
- Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony
- Candlewood, an Ancient Neighborhood in Ipswich
- Genealogical Record of the Descendants of John Brown by Thomas Franklin Waters
- Descendants of John Brown of Ipswich by Sidney Perley
- 1832 Ipswich map
- Athletic Fields Study Report, 2013
- Essex County Greenbelt projects: Pony Express Farm
Pony Express Farm
In the 20th Century, portions of the old John Brown Farm (not including the Brown -Perkins house and land at 14 Candlewood Rd.) became Pony Express Farm, occupying 128 acres between Chebacco, Essex and Candlewood Roads. It has been used for many years as a horse farm, for producing hay, and for playing polo. Its features and amenities include a large polo fieldwith adjoining parking and pond/well for irrigation, two stables, paddocks, open fields, woods, and trails and wetlands along the western bank of the Castle Neck River
A Special Town Meeting on January 24, 2017 voted to appropriate funds from the Open Space Bond for the purchase of the Pony Express Farm for open space and athletic fields. Essex County Greenbelt Association and the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife to acquire the property. Essex County Greenbelt will raise $1.4 million through private fundraising and a private sale, subject to conservation restrictions, of a portion of the northerly area of the property. The Massachusetts Division of Fish & Wildlife will contribute $500,000 from a combination of state and federal funds to protect the Castle Neck River and adjoining wetlands.