The clock tower at Hamilton First Church
Hamilton First Church in the early 20th Century
A parish of the town of Ipswich known as the Hamlet established a Meeting House in 1713. The town parish broke away from Ipswich in 1793 to become the Town of Hamilton. The present meeting mouse for the First Congregational Church of Hamilton was constructed in 1762, reusing some of the framing from the earlier structure. By 1843, the new meetinghouse was showing its age. The building was picked up and turned 90 degrees to face the Bay Road, and the present bell was installed in the belfry. In 1888 a clock manufactured by E. Howard & Company of Boston was added to accompany the bell.
Pastor David Horn graciously gave a couple of us the opportunity to climb into the clock and bell tower, where I took the photos shown below.
The first thing you see when you climb into the attic is this large weight swinging from the clock, which sits on the floor above.
The church roof has the original 1762 rafter and purlin construction. Some of the beams are believed to have been repurposed from the earlier structure.
The gears in the clock belfry at Hamilton First Congregational Church
This shaft operates the heavy weight shown in the photo above.
The 1843 bell is higher up in the steeple above the clock.
The First Church Clock
As the parish records of First Church in Ipswich tell us, “A clock purchased by subscription was landed in Ipswich May 29, 1762. The Parish on May 31st voted their readiness to receive it into the steeple of this meeting house and September 16, 1762 they voted to be at the charge of putting it up there.”
Stories from Hamilton
Matthew Whipple house, 638 Bay Road, Hamilton (c 1680) - The Matthew Whipple house in Hamilton (originally part of Ipswich) is an early example of a lean-to incorporated into the original framing of a First Period house. Transom windows in the front and sides were replaced by Georgian-era double hung windows, and have been restored. 935 Bay Road, Hamilton MA, the Dane house - The date of construction is not available. The 1872 Hamilton map shows the owner of this house as Captain Dane. The owner in 1884 is "L. Dane." Several members of the Dane family lived in the vicinity.
The Mill Road Bridge and the Isinglass Factory - The triple stone arch Warner Bridge that connects Mill Rd. in Ipswich to Highland St. in Hamilton was constructed in 1829, and rebuilt in 1856. The isinglass mill sat on the downstream Ipswich side of the bridge. The clock tower at Hamilton First Church - In 1843, the Hamilton meetinghouse was turned 90 degrees to face the Bay Road, and the present bell was installed in the belfry. In 1888 a clock manufactured by E. Howard & Company of Boston was added to accompany the bell. The Bones of Masconomet - On March 6, 1659 a young man named Robert Cross dug up the remains of the Agawam chief Masconomet, and carried his skull on a pole through Ipswich streets, an act for which Cross was imprisoned, sent to the stocks, then returned to prison until a fine was paid. 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. Ipswich to Marietta, December 1787 - In December 1787, a group of Revolutionary War veterans and adventurers set out from Ipswich on an 800-mile journey through the wilderness by horseback and rafts to establish the first settlement in the Ohio Territory. Colonial houses of Hamilton, Massachusetts - The part of Ipswich known as the Hamlet (now Hamilton) was “set off” as a separate parish (church) in 1714-15. The Hamlet was incorporated by the name of Hamilton on June 21, 1793. Asbury Grove Methodist Camp Meeting, Hamilton MA - The Asbury Grove Methodist Camp Meeting on Asbury St. in Hamilton is listed in the National Register of Historic Districts, and has a collection of historic buildings that were built between 1870 and 1960. 12,000 people, most from Boston, attended the first camp meeting in 1859. 1793 and 1818: the “Burden of the Poor” divides Ipswich into 3 towns, Ipswich, Hamilton and Essex - As the people of the Hamlet were financially stable, the burden of taxation for the support of the poor in the old town of Ipswich was considered to be an unjust imposition. The leaders of the parish petitioned Ipswich to be allowed to incorporate as the new town of Hamilton. 25 years later, the men of Chebacco petitioned the Legislature for incorporation as a separate town, and to not be held for any part of the new establishment for the relief of the poor in Ipswich. The following year, Chebacco Parish became the Town of Essex