People

Historic women of the North Shore

Colonial Ipswich was a patriarchal society, and its history is all-too-frequently written by and about men. On this site, read dozens of stories about the women of Ipswich and the North Shore area.

featured Image: Mary Lyon, co-founder of the Ipswich Female Seminary

The Great Storm of 1815 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.
The Pillow Lace Tercentenary plaque on High Street in Ipswich Ipswich Pillow lace - 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.
Ipswich Female Academy The Ipswich Female Seminary - The Ipswich Female Seminary was established in April 1828 by Zilpah Grant and 24-year-old Mary Lyon for the secondary and college-level education of young women. It was the first endowed seminary for women and the first to give diplomas to its graduates.
Early American Gardens - Isadore Smith (1902-1985) lived on Argilla Road in Ipswich and was the author of 3 volumes about 17th-19th Century gardens, writing under the pseudonym Ann Leighton. As a member of the Ipswich Garden Club, she created a traditional seventeenth century rose garden at the Whipple House.
Women during the Revolutionary War The Letters of Joseph Hodgkins and Sarah Perkins - Throughout the Revolutionary War, Joseph Hodgkins sent letters home from the battlefronts to his wife, Sarah Perkins Hodgkins, detailing the desperate troop conditions and longing for home. The letters were preserved and can be read online.
Jenny Slew gains her freedom Freedom for Jenny Slew - Jenny Slew was born about 1719 as the child of a free white woman and a black slave. She lived her life as a free woman until 1762 when she was kidnapped and enslaved by John Whipple. Jenny Slew is believed to be the first person held as a slave to be granted freedom through trial by jury.
Massachusettts women who opposed woman suffrage November 2, 1915: Massachusetts women are denied the right to vote - On November 2, 1915, Massachusetts men rejected universal suffrage with only 35% voting yes. Four years later, Massachusetts was the eighth State to ratify the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, with the MA Senate voting 34 aye, 5 no.
Mary Perkins Bradbury charged as a witch Mary Perkins Bradbury, charged as a witch - Mary Perkins was born in 1615, the daughter of Sergeant John Perkins, Sr. and Judith Perkins. She became the wife of Capt. Thomas Bradbury of Salisbury, and was sentenced to death as witch in 1692, but was not executed. Over a hundred neighbors testified in her support.
Rebecca Rawson The tragic story of Rebecca Rawson, 1679 - Rebecca Rawson of Newbury became one of the most popular young ladies in Boston society. She married a charming but cunning young man who left her desolate in London. On her return to America, the ship was swallowed by a tsunami.
The Burley Tavern, Green St., Ipswich MA Two Taverns for Two Susannas - 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.
Mark Quilter and Rebekkah Shatswell arguing over a porridge A 17th Century neighbors quarrel - 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.
Native American Influence on English Fashions - In contact situations in the early 17th century, Europeans were quick to grasp the essential humanity of Native Americans and admired their appearance and physical fitness. Soon, upper-class English wore American feathers and furs, Native Americans prized English woven fabrics and garments, especially tailored shirts.
Abigail Adams to John Adams: “All men would be tyrants if they could.” - John Adams and his future wife Abigail Smith began writing each other during their courtship, as he was frequently away on legal matters from his home in Quincy, often taking him to Salem, Ipswich and as far as Portsmouth. Over the next two dozen years they wrote over […]
Bundling in Colonial America Bundling - As settlers moved west into the cold New England frontier away from the Puritan strongholds, it was not uncommon for unmarried persons to be invited to sleep in the same bed for warmth. The definition of bundling evolved and developed over time into a ritual of courtship.
Nancy Astor, Hamilton MA Nancy’s Corner - Google Maps used to show "Nancy's Corner" at the intersection of Highland Street and Cutler Road in Hamilton. I wondered who Nancy was and discovered an amazing story.
Lydia Wardwell on her presentment for coming naked into Newbury meeting house - In 1661,  Lydia Perkins of Newbury had become a Quaker, and the church issued demands that she appear and give reasons for her withdrawal. Her angry response was to appear naked in the Meeting House. She was ordered to appear at the Salem court, and was then taken to Ipswich and severely whipped.
Chebacco women build a meetinghouse The women of Chebacco build a Meeting House, March 21, 1679 - 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...
“Kiss of Death” at New England textile mills - The weaver, after loading a new pirn wrapped with thread into a shuttle, drew the loose end through the hole with her breath. Certainly no one connected this habit with the observation, made sometime in the nineteenth century, that weavers were dying of what was then called consumption at a higher rate than the general public.
Statue of Liberty Born in a refuge camp - By Ingrid Miles, Ipswich  I was born in a refugee camp and I feel as if I am reliving my parents nightmare after World War II when my dad had to modify his name and identify himself as Christian; my mother was Catholic in order to come to […]
Moll Pitcher, the fortune-teller of Lynn and Marblehead - By Sidney Perley, published March 1899 in the Essex Antiquarian “Moll Pitcher,” the famous fortune-teller of Lynn, has no birth record. So the place of her first appearance in life cannot be thus determined. The tenement house, known as the ” Old Brig,” situated at the junction of Pond and Orne streets […]
Lowell Offering, publication of mill workers in Lowell MA The Lowell Offering - The Lowell Offering was a monthly periodical, first published in 1840, which featured poetry and fiction by female workers at textile mills in Lowell, MA. Known as the Lowell Mill Girls, they often wrote about situations in their own lives, including labor unrest in the factories. The Offering ceased publication in 1844 but was revived […]
Measuring time by an hourglass by Kitty Robertson Measuring Time–by an hourglass - Kitty Robertson’s Measuring Time—By an Hourglass is an exquisite collection of essays, reflections on a 20th century life in small town New England, that first were published in the Ipswich Chronicle. Kitty is also the author of “The Orchard: A Memoir”. “Look through my eyes for a little […]
Peg Wesson the Gloucester witch Peg Wesson, the Gloucester witch - An old legend about the Gloucester witch Peg Wesson is often mentioned, but never was it told in such detail as in this story, written by Sarah G. Daley and published in the Boston Evening Transcript, October 14, 1892. It was carried in papers throughout the country.
The Christian Wainwright house, Market St. - The home of Christian Wainwright house originally sat next door to the Nathaniel Treadwell house at 12 North Main Street. In 1845 Joseph Baker moved it to the corner of Market and Saltonstall Streets. The Ipswich Historical Society tore down the house in order to create a better view of the Whipple House before it was moved to the South Green.
Remembering Susan Howard Boice - by Beverly Perna Sue Boice died on July 16, 2013, but word got around town slowly that she had passed. I didn’t know until August 24th when a friend called and asked me to go to a Native American memorial for Sue, hosted that morning at Wolf Hollow by […]
Ipswich telephone exchange story by Harold Bowen The Hello Girls - Harold Bowen wrote, "My family was more or less a telephone family. My father, two brothers and a sister-in-Iaw were all telephone operators. The dial system is quicker and more efficient, but it still cannot compare with that personal touch you had with the Hello Girls."
The Proximity Fuze: How Ipswich women helped win WW II - The former Ipswich Mills, now owned by EBSCO, was the site of one of the most closely guarded secrets of the Second World War. The VT proximity fuze (variable time fuse) resembled tubes found in radios, and made it possible to detonate antiaircraft shells in the proximity of their target, rather than on impact. Fearing that the […]
The little old lady from Ipswich seen around the world The “Little Old Lady from Ipswich” who was seen around the world - In 1934, Mrs. Mary C. Hayes became the centerpiece of a poster that was placed in 25,000 English-speaking theaters throughout the world. Mrs. Hayes was chosen as the model by famous Ipswich artist M. Leone Bracker (1885 – 1937) as the personification of the great body of movie-goers. The theme of this […]
letter from an Ipswich mill girl The mill girl’s letter: “I can make you blush.” - (Thanks to Linda George, who shared with me “this little piece of paper depicting a day in the life of a ‘mill girl’ from March, 1911.” March 20, 1911, Ipswich Mr. Jewett Dear Sir, I received the ribbon you sent me by mail, and I thank you ever […]
Hannah and Samuel Loring, a Christmas romance and tragedy - On Christmas Day, December 25, 1809 Samuel wrote a poem to Hannah while "on Board the Jennifer at sea near Bermuda" over 700 miles away. Hannah and Samuel married two years later on Christmas Day, 1811. In 1843, Samuel Loring died at sea.
Agnes Surriage, Marblehead Marblehead tavern maid Agnes Surriage becomes becomes the lady of the manor, 1742 - Thanks to the New England Historical Society for this romantic old tale from Marblehead. In 1742, Charles Henry Frankland, the king’s collector for the port of Boston, visited Marblehead. Staying at the Fountain Tavern, he was gobsmacked by the beauty of Agnes Surriage, the tavern’s 16-year-old maid. Charmed by […]
Mary Walcott The witchcraft accusations against Sarah Buckley and Mary Witheridge - On May 23, 1692, a complaint for witchcraft was filed against Sarah Buckley and her widowed daughter Mary Witheridge. The "bewitched" girls of Salem Village claimed that the women's specters had attacked them. Held in shackles in the cold crowded jail, both were acquitted in January,1692
Elizabeth Cole Ipswich MA selectman Elizabeth S. Cole is elected as first female Ipswich selectman, March 10, 1970 - IPSWICH, March 10, 1970: “For the first time in as long as anyone can remember, a woman has been elected a member of the Ipswich Board of Selectmen. Trouncing three male contenders, including the incumbent, Mrs. Elizabeth S. Cole of Argilla Road swept into office Monday, poling 1401 […]
Historic women of the North Shore - Colonial Ipswich was a patriarchal society, and its history is all-too-frequently written by and about men. On this site, read dozens of stories about the women of Ipswich and the North Shore area. featured Image: Mary Lyon, co-founder of the Ipswich Female Seminary
Elizabeth Morse Witch of Newbury The Witchcraft Trial of Elizabeth Morse of Newbury, 1680 - Elizabeth Morse of Newbury was accused and found guilty of being a witch. She was initially sentenced to be hanged, but after spending a year in the Boston jail, she was sent home
The Legend of Goody Cole, 1680 - Some said that Goody Cole took the shapes of eagles, dogs, cats and apes. At last she lay under sentence of death in the Ipswich jail for changing a child in its cradle.
Emma Safford, Ipswich MA Emma Jane Mitchell Safford - Emma Jane Mitchell Safford was a descendant of Massasoit, Sachem of the Wampanoag. Her daughter, also Emma, tried to help her relatives regain land taken from them on the reservation.
Eunice Stanwood Caldwell Cowles - Eunice Caldwell attended Ipswich Female Seminary from 1828 to 1829, where she began a lasting friendship with Mary Lyon. She married the Reverend John Phelps Cowles in 1838, and returned to Ipswich in 1844 to reopen the Seminary, which they ran until it closed in 1876.
Ipswich MA 16 Elm Street house at the Smithsonian Museum Choate-Caldwell House, 16 Elm St. (Now at Smithsonian) - In 1963 this house was slated for destruction, but through the efforts of local preservationists was relocated to the Smithsonian where it resides as the Museum’s largest artifact on permanent display.
“Hatchet Hannah” leads raid on Rockport liquor establishments, July 8, 1856 - On the morning of July 8, 1856, two hundred women, three men and their supporters gathered in Rockport's Dock Square and unfurled a banner with a black hatchet, determined to destroy all the alcohol in the town. The leaders of the mob was a 75-year-old seamstress named Hannah Jumper.
The hanging of Ezra Ross and Bathsheba Spooner, July 2, 1778 - In 1778, sixteen-year-old Ezra Ross of Ipswich was condemned to death for the murder of Joshua Spooner of Brookfield. Spooner's wife Bathsheba became the first woman executed in the newly-created United States of America. Ezra Ross is buried in an unmarked grave at the Leslie Road Cemetery.
Rachel Clinton arrested for witchcraft, May 28, 1692 - Everything about Rachel Clinton's life went wrong, and in her old age she became a beggar and a ward of the town of Ipswich, She was an easy target for the witchcraft hysteria that spread from Salem throughout Essex County, and on May 28, 1692, Rachel Clinton was arrested, and was kept in the Ipswich or Salem jail, shackled with iron fetters.
Ipswich MA and the Salem witchcraft trials Ipswich and the Salem witchcraft trials - During the Salem witch trials the Ipswich jail was filled with the accused. Elizabeth Howe of Linebrook Road was tried and hung. The ministers of the town opposed the trials as a delusion.
Four-year-old Dorothy Good is jailed for witchcraft, March 24, 1692 - On March 24, 1682. a child, Dorothy Good of Salem was taken custody, and interrogated by the local magistrates for two weeks. Hungry, cold and missing her mother, Dorcas broke down and told the inquisitors what they wanted to hear, that her mother was a witch, and consorted with the devil.
Lowell women’s suffrage activist Florence Luscomb - Florence Luscomb was among the first women to graduate from M.I.T. with a degree in architecture. In her career she designed designed public buildings and housing for workers, while working tirelessly for women's suffrage.
Hannah Duston The Amazing Story of Hannah Duston, March 14, 1697 - Featured image: “Hannah Duston Killing the Indians” by Junius Brutus Stearns, (1847); Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville Maine. Hannah Duston of Haverhill was born in Ipswich on High Street in 1657 while her mother was visiting her relatives the Shatswells. In 1879, a bronze statue of Hannah Duston […]
Haselelponiah Wood, buried in the Old North Burying ground in Ipswich Haselelpony Wood, November 27, 1714 - Obadiah Wood married 35-year-old widow Haselelponiah, whose scriptural name means "A shadow falls upon me," the only person in modern history with that name. Haselelpony Wood's tombstone is located at the Old North Burial Ground in Ipswich.
Sally Weatherall - Sally's Pond on South Main St. is dedicated to the memory of Sally Weatherall, who volunteered many hours to her Town as a member of the Conservation Commission and helped achieve development of the Open Space Plan.
Sarah Goodhue’s advance directive, July 14, 1681 - On July 14, 1681, Sarah Whipple Goodhue left a note to her husband that read: "Dear husband, if by sudden death I am taken away from thee, there is infolded among thy papers something that I have to say to thee and others." She died three days after bearing twins. This is the letter to her husband and children.
Police open fire at the Ipswich Mills Strike, June 10, 1913 - On June 10, 1913, police fired into a crowd of protesting immigrant workers at the Ipswich hosiery mill. A young Greek woman named Nicholetta Paudelopoulou was shot in the head and killed by police. Fifteen persons, including the local leaders of the I.W.W. were taken into custody.
The Parker Brothers Game of Cycling, Salem MA The North Shore and the Golden Age of Cycling - In 1886 Boston businessman Pope introduced the Columbia Safety, a modern two wheel "safety" bicycle, priced at over $100 apiece, which enabled a cyclist from Newton to ride round-trip to Ipswich on the Newburyport Turnpike (Rt. 1) in 9 hours 50 minutes, setting a new record for a 100 mile ride. Pope advertised his bikes in a Boston publication called "The Wheelmen" and by 1890 the city had become the home of "Bicycle Fever".
Anne Dudley Bradstreet, the colony’s first published poet - Featured image: frontispiece for “An Account of Anne Bradstreet: The Puritan Poetess, and Kindred Topics” edited by Colonel Luther Caldwell (Boston, 1898) ……………………………………………………………………. Anne Dudley Bradstreet was born in 1612 in England. She married Simon Bradstreet at age sixteen. Her father Thomas Dudley, was a steward to an Earl, […]
Old photo of the Hart House Lucy Kimball - The following is from Historic Ipswich Vol III by Susan Howard Boice: “This is an old photo of Lucy Ardell Kimball, joined by her mother, Kate, and father, Phillip. Lucy was a descendant of the Jewett, Lord and Kimball families, who were big parts of Ipswich for more […]
Mathison painting, "Examination of a Witch" trial of Elizabeth Howe of Ipswich The Witchcraft Trial of Elizabeth Howe - Elizabeth Howe and her husband James resided on outer Linebrook. Her husband James lost his sight at about the age of 50 and Elizabeth assumed the dual responsibility of managing the family and the farm. Elizabeth Howe was charged with bewitching her neighbor’s child, was arrested on May 28, 1692. She was hung in Salem on July 19, 1692.
One Third for the Widow - Under Puritan law, widows could keep only one third of their property. Martha Ringe was widowed with small children after her husband died. After considering her petition, the court allowed Martha to marry John Wood before three years had passed "in order to advance her circumstances."
Martha Winthrop’s grave - The Ipswich Chronicle ran this story in the year 2000. Burial site of first settler may be revealed  A recent letter to the Zoning Board may hold some clues to the location of the gravesite of Mrs. John Winthrop and her child who may have been buried on […]
Sullivan's Farm, Ipswich MA Sullivan’s Corner - Some of the last land to be farmed along Topsfield Road was at Sullivan’s Corner. The farm there stretched from the road to the river, where they’re somewhat farther apart, and where another road intersects from the south-west. This is a story about the last years of that farm
27 East St., Ipswich MA 27 East Street, the Widow Elizabeth Caldwell house (1740-1755) - Joseph Wait sold this lot to Elizabeth Caldwell, widow of Thomas, in 1829. She moved a house from another site onto her property. The rear two story wing is believed to be the older house, joined together when the house was moved. Structural evidence suggest a construction dates of about 1740 to 1775 for the two sections.
57 South Main Street, Ipswich Mills boarding house (1876) - The building at 57 South Main Street was erected by the Ipswich Mills Corporation for use as a boarding house. In the early 20th Century, Madeline Linehan operated the Ipswich Mills Tea House in the building.
Fine Thread, Lace and Hosiery - FINE THREAD, LACE AND HOSIERY, A PAPER READ BEFORE THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF IPSWICH, APRIL 13, 1903 BY JESSE FEWKES. These two textile children of Ipswich are the Manufacture of Hosiery and the Weaving of fine Laces by Machinery. To understand the cause of this diversity of success […]
Ipswich Hosiery, page 5 - Customers came to the houses to buy the stockings or to order ones especially made. It was a business that one could carry on at home, and so the lives of the ”Stockingers’, must have been very pleasant, situated as they were in comfortable homes in a lovely […]
51 North Main Street, the Sarah Lord house (1849) - Sarah Lord was the wife of A. P. Lord, whose general merchandise store existed at Lords Square for 100 years. Italianate motifs are featured in this house.
33 High Street, the John and Sarah Dillingham Caldwell house (1660) - In 1654, Cornelius Waldo sold to John Caldwell for £26 the house and land he bought of Richard Betts. Caldwell removed the old house and built the present house with massive summer beams, a huge fireplace, a very substantial house of the 1660’s.

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