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 Witchcraft Trial of Elizabeth Howe - Elizabeth Howe and her husband James resided on outer Linebrook. After James lost his sight at about the age of 50, Elizabeth assumed the dual responsibility of managing the family and the farm. She was charged with bewitching her neighbor’s child and was arrested on May 28, 1692. Elizabeth Howe was one of the five women hung in Salem on July 19, 1692. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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’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. “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. No one connected this habit with the observation that weavers were dying of what was then called consumption at a higher rate than the general public. 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 […] 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 - 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 - 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 […] 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” 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 […] 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. 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 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 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 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. 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 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. The Amazing Story of Hannah Duston, March 14, 1697 - Hannah Duston was born in Ipswich in 1657 while her mother was visiting her relatives the Shatswells. A bronze statue in Haverhill honors her daring escape, killing and scalping a dozen Abanaki captors. 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 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 - Often alone in Ipswich while her husband Simon was engaged in government, Anne Bradstreet wrote a collection of poems which was published in London in 1650 without her knowledge, "The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung up in America...by a Gentlewoman in these Parts." 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 […] 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 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 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. 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 […]