Diamond Stage and Treadwells Island in the 1832 Ipswich mapPlaces

Diamond Stage

In 1673, two fishermen, Andrew Diamond and Henry Maine, arrived together in Ipswich. William Roe and Obadiah Wood conveyed to Andrew Diamond and his business partner Henry Maine, land and a house on Water Street. They had previously purchased a house together in 1660 on the Isles of Shoals. Thomas Franklin Waters wrote:

“William Roe came from the Isles of Shoals and bought a house and lot by the river bank in 1671 which he sold two years later to two other fishermen from the same islands, Andrew Diamond and Henry Maine. Capt Diamond became an important citizen and his name is still attached to the outlying island part of the ancient Robert Paine farm where he established his fishing stage. Henry Maine, reputable citizen so far as we know has attained mythical renown as an evil-doer and suffers endless punishment shovelling the shifting sands on Ipswich bar.”

obadiah-wood-lot

About a mile and a half heading out along the Ipswich River, Mr. Diamond set up a fishing stage, a platform on which fish are landed and processed for salting and shipping, and became quite successful and respectable. A road was built through the marsh to the stage, following today’s Newmarch Street and Arrowhead Trail. Fishing became a successful early industry, and wharves were built on the Necks and at Diamond Stage in the 17th and 18th Century.

Diamond Stage Ipswich MA

Photo of Diamond Stage by Kerry Mackin

Diamond Stage on Google maps

The location of Diamond Stage on Google maps

In 1689 Robert Paine purchased land on Jeffreys Neck Road known today as Greenwood Farm, and constructed a new road to his farm which is today’s Jeffreys Neck Road. The old road gradually went out of use, but traces of the roadbed are visible crossing the tidal creek. His extensive properties included the small tidal island where Henry Diamond established his business. Diamond Stage is shown on the Ipswich maps through 1856.

Diamond Stage

Diamond Stage is the small coastal island on the right, one of three that were part of the Payne estate that became Greenwood Farm. Jeffreys Neck Road and Island Park are on the upper left.

Andrew Diamond, born in Devon, England, 1642 married Joan Grant in 1668 in Smuttynose, Isles of Shoals, and became a merchant of considerable worth and property after moving to Ipswich. He was on a committee appointed to assign stations at the Neck for fishermen, and was appointed to a seat among the most considerable of the inhabitants in the new meeting house, with the title of “Mr.” The Diamond Stage became a well-known wharf.

diamond-stage-town-landing

The 1832 Ipswich map shows the Town Landing at Diamond Stage

Andrew Diamond first married Joan Grant, and later Elizabeth Elliot of Marblehead. After his death at Smuttinose in 1707, the house was transferred to her, including “all the household stuff, money, plate etc.” A year later she married Rev. Theophilus Cotton of Marblehead, but she died in 1710, and a deed shows the property is transferred to Theophilus Cotton. The silver plate mentioned in the will was created by silversmith Jeremiah Dummer of Newbury, and bears a monogram of AJ over D for Andrew Diamond, and survives today. It recently sold for $149,000 through Christie’s Auctions.

The Diamond lot was purchased by Samuel York by 1713, who is believed to have built at least a portion of the house still standing at 36 Water Street, dividing the rest into two small lots he sold to Jabesh Sweet and Daniel Ringe, whose houses still stand today.

1920 Ipswich MA aerial photo

This 1920 aerial photo of Greenwood Farm shows an old road to Diamond Stage.

Harry Maine was a different story. The old Ipswich legend is that he began salvaging wrecked ships, and was found guilty of being a mooncusser (purposely causing ships to wreck by building fires at night to confuse the captains, then plundering the ships). As punishment he was chained to a stake on Ipswich Bar at low tide and allowed to drown. His ghost was said to haunt his house on Water Street until it was demolished around the end of the 19th Century.

Whether there is any truth to the story of Harry Maine will probably never be known. Thomas Franklin Waters was skeptical. A lot belonging to John Gratchell of Marblehead was “sold to Henry Maine of Marblehead April 30, 1683, and Mr. Maine, for a similar consideration, conveyed it to John Roads Jr. of Marblehead, Nov. 29, 1684.” This is the only other 17th Century reference to a Henry Maine, but by the following century there was a large family by that name in Marblehead.

Diamond Stage

Diamond Stage is about 7 ft. above sea level, which has risen almost a foot in the past century. It is expected to disappear permanently beneath the tide in this century. Photo by Kerry Mackiin

Sources:

More photos and additional information:

Along the Ipswich River: Historic photos of the Ipswich River from original glass negatives taken by early Ipswich photographers Arthur Wesley Dow, George Dexter and Edward L. Darling.

The Ipswich River: The 35-mile Ipswich River flows into the Atlantic Ocean at Ipswich Bay. The Ipswich River Water Association works to protect the river and its watershed. Foote Brothers Canoes on Topsfield Rd provides rentals and shuttle service from April to October.

The Industrial History of the Ipswich River: The Industrial History of the Ipswich River was produced for the Ipswich 375th Anniversary by John Stump, volunteer for the Ipswich Museum, and Alan Pearsall, who produced the Ipswich Mural with funding from EBSCO.

The Choate Bridge: The American Society of Civil Engineers cites the Choate Bridge in Ipswich as the oldest documented two-span masonry arch bridge in the U.S., and the oldest extant bridge in Massachusetts.

The Old Town Landings and Wharfs: Many a pleasant sail down the river are in the memories of William J. Barton. “These were the names of the places and flats along the Ipswich River before my time, and familiar to me during my time. They were used by the fishermen and clammers. I know. I was one of them. It was the happiest time of my life.”

When Herring Were Caught by Torchlight: In the late 19th Century, most of the men around the river would look forward to “herringing” when fall arrived. The foot of Summer Street was the best landing. One year so many herring were caught, they were dumped in the Parker River, and Herring did not return for many years.

County Street, Sawmill Point, and bare hills: The town voted in 1861 to build County Street and its stone arch bridge, connecting Cross and Mill Streets. A Woolen mill, saw mill, blacksmith shop and veneer mill operated near the bridge.

The Town Wharf: The Ipswich Town Landing is one of several locations along the River where wharves were located over the centuries.

Diamond Stage: In 1673, two fishermen from the Isles of Shoals, Andrew Diamond and Harry Maine, arrived together in Ipswich. Mr. Diamond built a platform for salting and shipping fish, and became quite successful. The location is still known today as Diamond Stage.

Water Street:  In the book, Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Volume I, Thomas Franklin Waters recorded the history of Water Street, which is part of an early public right-of-way that extended from the wharf to the Green Street Bridge, then cotinued along the Sidney Shurcliff Riverwalk to County St.

Visit the Ipswich River Watershed Association site

2 replies »

  1. Excellent retelling, Gordon.

    Growing up in the mud of the river, many of us local wharf rats spent a number aimless days scouting the marsh, jumping the creeks and visiting the old abandoned (now gone) cottage on what we called “Third Island,” more correctly known as Diamond Stage. We mistakenly believed that the cottage was actually a life boat station. And yes, if you paid attention you could see remnants of the ancient roadway leading out that way. More frightening than poor old Harry Maine’s ghost was the very real personage of Ms. Sally Dodge, the formidable resident of Greenwood Farm. Should she spy us tracking the salt marsh en-route to Third Island, she would rush to the curtilage of her property to give us hell about trespassing.We would keep moving as she kept ranting – this was half the fun of the journey anyway. The name “Third Island” referred to a series of three hummocks separated by deep creeks, Diamond Stage being, you guessed it, the third in line. For many years there were two rickety bridges spanning the creeks, which last time I checked, had fallen into disrepair. It would be nice to see them restored by the Trustees of Reservations.
    G. Keenan

    Liked by 1 person

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