Excerpts from


by M. V. B. PERLEY

The Linebrook School was located at the intersection of Linebrook and Leslie Roads

This is ancient territory.

There were vested rights, upon the southeast, as early as 1635. Before 1653 Ipswich-Linebrook was all improved. The earliest settlers were Batchelder, Foster, Sherwiii, Howe, Perley, Fowler, Davis, Grant, Burnham, Cooper, Burpee, Tenney, Pingree, Kimball, Chapman, Dodge, Jewett, Dresser, etc. The earliest settlements were upon the south and north where the rivers led. It has always been a farming community. The surface is agreeably diversified with hills, plains and meadows. Hunsley hill upon the northeast, 300 feet above the level of the sea, is the highest elevation in the county, except Baldpate in Georgetown, 392 feet, and Holts hill in Andover, 423 feet. The plain land is somewhat sandy and not now particularly adapted to farming. When the soil was new it was very satisfactory for raising the cereals, and our early ancestors sought and valued it for corn, wheat, flax and others. The valleys are rich and fertile. The meadows were highly prized by the settlers, for they were the principal source of feed for their cattle in winter. One hundred and twenty-live years ago Mr. Job Pingry owned three thousand acres of this territory.

Linebrook Church circa 1900, photo by Edward Darling

Within our southwestern border is Hood Lake, fifty acres of beautiful water, lately stocked with choice fishes. Near the former site of the ancient church is ”pulpit rock,” having a perpendicular frontage of some ten feet, overlooking a broad plain, where Kev. George Whitefield electrified the multitude with the spirit of his power, as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and a judgment to come. Near the present church is one of the largest farms in the county, with excellent equipment. Opposite this barn is the site of the old garrison and tavern, where at a militia election the successful candidate was accidentally shot by his opponent, who was tried and convicted, but pardoned by the Governor before sentence was pronounced, and where upon an election day a Mr. J. P. climbed the flag-staff, unaided, to the top of the mainstaft, for the reward of a bowl of punch that had been placed there by means of ladders. Having reached the top and secured the prize, he offered to share it with any who might earn it as he had. Several attempts with as many failures made him Monarch of all he surveyed With rights that none could dispute.

Corporal John Foster’s sign hangs at the Ipswich Museum

Early in the present century there was the very eccentric sign of a very eccentric man. It has found its way into literature, and has been told as an entertaining story by travelers far and wide.

From the Diary of William Bentley, 1802:

“I left Salem with Mr. H. C. Crowninshield to see Line Brook vulgarly known as Firetown, a section of Ipswich Topsfield & Rowley at the acute angle in which they meet. Never did I find so many opinions about the distance & the course of any place. I took my own way & went to Topsfield meeting house. There at a tavern I found an intelligent woman who had lived in the neighbourhood. She directed me to proceed on the Haverhill road leaving the road to Ipswich on my right hand till I had passed two miles, then to take the right hand & about half a mile from the meeting house or four miles from Topsfield Meeting, I turned to the left & came to Line Brook Meeting House. I visited the Minister whose house is near the Meeting house upon rising ground west of it. Upon my return through Ipswich as the road near the Meeting House went to Rowley I returned the half mile into the former road from which I had turned & continued towards Ipswich & in about a mile I crossed Newbury turnpike at a Tavern kept by one Foster in Linebrook about three & a half miles from Topsfield hotel so that the best road from Salem is by Topsfield Hotel to Foster tavern or the crossroad at that place. Foster by trade was a blacksmith by business, a landlord.”

John Foster house, Turnpike Road in Ipswich
John Foster’s inn still stands at the corner of Linebrook and Turnpike Road in Ipswich

His sign hanging near the tavern door read as follows: 

“I shoe the horse, I shoe the ox, I carry the nails in my box, I make the nail, I set the shoe, And entertain some strangers too.”

At times he would not reply When questioned unless addressed by his title. He was as obliging and generous as he was eccentric.”

During the Revolution, report said one day that the enemy was sailing up Batchelder’s brook, and men, women and children fled for their lives. But one Dresser, whom they met, called them fools and deliberately taking out his pipe and lighting it, said, “I’ll take a little smoke before they get here.” They did not come, but we are not to infer that he is smoking now. Linebrook fought in the Indian wars, in the Revolution, in the war of 1812, and furnished some fifteen or twenty soldiers against the Rebellion.


But what of the parish as such? Of what use is it when churches and ministers are not particularly necessary to lead the great majority in the contemplation of truth when saving truth is uttered only by the most popular preachers when converts can be made on a Sunday pleasure-ride, as in a prayer-room when seasides and groves are as hallowed, as the place where prayer is want to be made? Of what use when men, therefore, are under no especial obligation to support it, except as a matter of charity to the church and tire so much during the week in the service of the world, that they feel too tired to serve God on Sunday? There is little use of it, and there is a corresponding ignorance of its function.

But there was a time when the parish had its use when every man understood and obeyed its precept or felt its rod of correction when the parish was a power for good in social life and moral conduct, to say nothing now of the exemplary piety fostered by that old regime. There was a time when a man should labor six days and rest on the seventh when he must belong to some parish, must contribute proportionally of his substance for the gospel support, must be in his place of worship, with his family, on Sunday, or give a good and substantial reason for his neglect, and so bring up his children in rectitude. The parish was not a regime of compulsion more than any rule of right conduct of to-day. Worship is naturally inherent and is the foundation of religious life, and no well-ordered life exists without a time and place for every thing. So every community for religious worship and instruction must have its metes and bounds, its corps of officers, its laws and by-laws and means of support.

The Old Linebrook Cemetery at the intersection with Newbury Rd.

The inhabitants of this precinct were burdened in being so far remote from their respective places of worship. Besides, many living within that distance would be better accommodated here and with ample territory and consequently ample means, it was thought advisable to employ a religious teacher as early as 1739 or 40. Shortly afterwards the propriety of a corporate parish began to be discussed, and a petition was sent to the Great and General Court of Massachusetts Bay. Finally, a committee of that body repaired to the several parishes, took a view of the situation and circumstances and heard the parishes concerned,” and submitted their report March 21, 1745, old style. “In Council June 4, 1746, it was ordered that the inhabitants and their effects by the report set off together with such other persons exempted as may join them.

Leslie Road Burying Ground
Leslie Road Old Linebrook Burying Ground
The Rev. George Whitfield preached at Leslie’s Pulpit, near the Leslie Road Cemetery.

Thus the parish obtained its status, the right to command its parishioners and to tax their property. The perimeter of the parish is in part composed of five different brooks, and it was, therefore, determined by vote Jan. 27, 1746-7, to name it Linebrook. The genealogy of the Fowler family reads that James Davis, who married Abigail Metcalfe, gave the land on which the house stood. The parish records read that the price of pew No. 11, bought by Joseph Metcalfe and Jonathan Burpee, was “3 acres of land to build the house on.” The house was removed to the location of the present church and rebuilt in 1828 and dedicated Jan. 1, 1829. The rebuilding followed the old model. The present church was erected in 1848.

Their method of psalm singing was quaint. The tuner, as the leader was called, would read a verse or line and then strike some symmetrical movement, when all the organs vocal followed. In 1791, the singing-school was invited to assist the tuners, and their office began to decline.

“Rev. George Leslie was the first pastor.. He was a native of Scotland, a graduate of Harvard College, a divinity student of Rev. John Emerson of Topsfield, was ordained here when the church was organized, married Deacon Burpee’s youngest daughter, had eight children (six sons), removed to Washington, N. H., where he was installed in 1780. He was an eminent scholar, intellectually powerful, and a pious and successful minister…”Through all these years the church has been a power for good and no well-minded, thoughtful parishioner, who loves his own, who cherishes his neighbor, who seeks good society, who would purify social life, who would help to elevate the moral standard, would throw wholesome influences about his children, and so make his own name redolent with praise, — will stand complacently by and see the old society need any good thing.

linebrook_439John, Silas and Allen Perley house, 439 Linebrook

Original parts of the Allen Perley house at 439 Linebrook Rd. in Ipswich are listed by the Massachusetts Historical commission as having been constructed in 1784. The house was constructed at this location before the beginning of the 19th Century.

new_linebrook_cemeteryNew Linebrook Cemetery

This cemetery is about 100’ wide by 275’ deep. There is an antique house just to the east, and a modern house just to the west.

old_linebrookOld Linebrook Cemetery

The Old Linebrook Cemetery is at the corner of Linebook and Newbury Road about 6 miles west of Ipswich center where the road fork. The 275 stones are quite old.…

Harry Purintpm wotj Edward Chapman in the doorway. Photo by E. L. Darling, from the collection of William J. Barton. Photo courtesy of Bill Barton.Chapman house, 297 Linebrook Rd.

The Chapman house at 297 Linebrook Rd. was built circa 1720.

The John Peabody house, 316 Linebrook Rd., Ipswich, MAJohn Peabody house, 316 Linebrook Rd.

Records of the Ipswich Historical Commission indicate that the house at 316 Linebrook Rd. was built by John Peabody in 1850. The properties surrounding the John Peabody house on either side and across the street historically belonged to the Conant family.

The Perley farmhouse at 287 Linebrook Rd.Perley Farm, 387 Linebrook Rd.

We received a couple of wonderful photographs of the old Perley farm on Linebrook Rd. from Chris Gorham. Her grandmother, Bertha Cheever Perley Moulton, was born in Ipswich in 1886 to David Tullar Perley and Elizabeth Lavalette Perley.

pineswamp_linebrook_cornerBefore and after: The corner of Linebrook and Pineswamp Roads

Wilbur Fiske Ellsworth was born in Ipswich March 30, 1843, and served for many years with the Ipswich fire department. He was the fourth son of Benjamin N. Ellsworth, the esteemed Ipswich lightkeeper, and was the brother of Civil War hero Thomas Ellsworth.

<Abraham_Howe_Barn_1725_421_LinebrookAbraham Howe Barn, 411 Linebrook Road

The western part of Ipswich was originally known as Ipswich Farms, and later became known as Linebrook Parish. James Howe’s first house along the old Indian way now known as Linebrook Road was built on the grant of 1650.

linebrook_403_morseTimothy Morse house, 403 Linebrook Road

Deacon Timothy Morse built this house at 403 Linebrook Road in approximately 1817. Morse was a carpenter by trade and the house retains much of his finish work. Antique wide pine floors and period detail have been maintained. Timothy Morse is buried in the old Linebrook Cemetery at Linebrook & Newbury Roads.

linebrook_churchLinebrook Parish Church

The Linebrook Parish was incorporated in 1746 by an act of the Massachusetts Legislature as a “parish,” a region served by a particular church and its pastor. The church building now used by the Linebrook Church was built by the members of the Linebrook Parish in 1848, their third meetinghouse.

Old Cross Farm, Ipswich MAOld Cross Farm, 41 Linebrook Road

The Old Cross Farm at 41 Linebrook Road was restored in 1999 by the Copithorne family. Information for this article is from a grant study conducted by Sue Nelson for the Ipswich Historical Commission documenting the deeds and each family that lived in the home.

The 1640 Hart House restaurant on Linebrook Rd. in Ipswich. The original section of the building is on the right.The “1640 Hart House” on Linebrook Rd.

An Irish tanner named Thomas Hart arrived in the Massachusetts Bay Colony on the ship Desire from Baddow, Essex County, England. He was briefly indentured to tailor John Brown in Boston. After ending his servitude in 1637, Thomas Hart settled in Ipswich and by 1639 had become a proprietor. In 1640 he built a one-room starter home.

Leslie Road Burying GroundLeslie Road Burial Ground

The following study and information is provided by Bruce Laing: In Memento Mori, authors Johnson and Elbridge were ambitious, thorough, and accurate. There were indeed three Burial Grounds in the Linebrook Parish, even though only two were commonly known by town historians, and only two were seen by Parish residents.

Linebrook SchoolA photographic and chronological history of the Ipswich schools

*A public forum about the elementary school building project will be held on Wednesday evening, February 10, 2016 8:00 pm at the Ipswich Town Hall, Room A (Selectmen’s Meeting room). This page contains excerpts from The History of the Ipswich Public Schools, an excellent article written in 2008 by William E. Waitt, Jr, who served as teacher.

elizabeth_howeThe Witchcraft Trial of Elizabeth Howe

The 1996 movie “The Crucible” is based on Arthur Miller’s award-winning 1953 play about the Salem Witch Trials. It was filmed on Choate Island, part of the Crane estate in Ipswich and Essex. The story and movie are based on accusations against John and Elizabeth Proctor of Salem who had once lived in Ipswich. Elizabeth Howe of Linebrook Rd. was hung.

Further Reading:

2 thoughts on “A Ramble in Linebrook

  1. I went the first grade in that school. I was repeating first grade. Dad lost his job that had provided our home and income . We moved 3 times in my first year of school needless to say none of us kids do too well in school that year. Mother had me transfers to the Winthrope school. So did not spend much time at Linebrook school. . But lived on Linebrook Rd for over 80years . Now live in apartment. Miss our home though.

  2. Hi Gordon, more great stuff. Boy that Dr. Bentley and George Whitfield were really ubiquitous in those days. Fun reading…

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