The temptations of John Dane, a Declaration of Remarkable Providences

This handwritten narrative from 1682 is the personal memoir of John Dane, who immigrated to Ipswich by 1638. In England he was acquainted with the Rev. Norton, who also became a minister in Ipswich. His home was on Turkey Shore Road near the Green Street Bridge on land he bought of Daniel Hovey. He also had … Continue reading The temptations of John Dane, a Declaration of Remarkable Providences

General Michael Farley

In 1774, the Town of Ipswich chose Captain Michael Farley, a tanner, as a delegate to the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts. Farley fought for the Continental Army and was appointed major-general of the Militia of Massachusetts in 1777. He is buried at the Old North Burying Ground beside his wife Elizabeth. His house was demolished in the 20th Century, replaced by a service station that is now the Richdale store.

Walking tours of historic Ipswich

Walking tours of the historic neighborhoods of Ipwich are led by Town Historian Gordon Harris, who shares the histories of our historic houses and the stories of the people who lived in them

John Adams: "The liberty of the press is essential to the security of freedom in the state."

The Free Press

We hold it therefore our duty and safety whilst we are about the further establishing of this Government to collect and express all such freedoms as for present we foresee may concern us, and our posterity after us, And to ratify them with our solemn consent." Nathaniel Ward, pastor of Ipswich, in The Massachusetts Body of Liberties (1641)

Wreck of the Angel Gabriel at Pemaqud Harbor, August 15, 1635

The Great Colonial Hurricane and the wreck of the Angel Gabriel, August 25, 1635

Historic Ipswich

Featured image: Pemaquid Point plaque commemorating the wreck of the Angel Gabriel

On the last Wednesday of May, 1635, the Angel Gabriel, a 240 ton ship set out from England, bound for New England. The ship had been commissioned as the Starre for Sir Walter Raleigh’s last expedition to America in 1617. It was stout and built for combat armed with 16 guns, but on this final journey, it would cross paths with the most intense hurricane in New England history.

1280px-great_colonial_hurricane_of_1635_trackMost likely track of the Great Colonial Hurricane of August 26, 1635, with hourly positions and central pressure in millibars. Source: Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory

Alan Dunham of the National Weather Service office in Taunton reviewed accounts from mariners and settlers of New England and pieced together an estimated storm track and surge pattern for the Great Colonial Hurricane of Aug. 25-26, 1635, which reportedly “caused ye…

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Civil War monument in Ipswich MA

Ipswich, Slavery and the Civil War

In 1765, Jenny Slew, a slave in Ipswich, successfully sued John Whipple Jr. for her freedom. In the mid-19th Century, the lines between ardent abolitionists, moderate anti-slavery people and those who avoided the discussion divided families, churches and the town of Ipswich.

Mary Perkins Bradbury tried 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, who arrived with her in Boston in 1631 and settled in Ipswich. 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. Mary (Perkins) Bradbury died in Amesbury in 1700, at the age of 85 years. 

Workshop Cleaning Stones at The Immigrant Cemetery in Ipswich

SAT, JUN 2 AT 11 AM Workshop Cleaning Stones at The Immigrant Cemetery in Ipswich For more information contact Rachel Myer at epochpreservation@gmail.com. Looking forward to seeing you Saturday. The Highland Annex Cemetery, better known as the Immigrants, Greek or Polish Cemetery, is located on Fowlers Lane in Ipswich. Take Town Farm Road just past the … Continue reading Workshop Cleaning Stones at The Immigrant Cemetery in Ipswich

Saugus Iron Works

Saugus Iron Works and the Appleton house.

Reprinted in part from MASS Moments. Featured image: National Park Service.  When the Great Migration of the 1630s ended, the number of ships bound for Massachusetts fell off steeply. The supply of iron products went down and the price went up.Among the men interested in seeing an iron industry develop in the colony was John Winthrop, Jr., son … Continue reading Saugus Iron Works and the Appleton house.

Pingreys Plain Ipswich map

Pingrey’s Plain, the Gallows Lot

Long before the corner of Mile Lane and High Street became famous for the Clam Box, it was known as Pingrey’s Plain, where the wicked were hung. The story was written by Alice Keenan in Ipswich Yesterday: “Pingrey’s Plain was where the local hangman plied his macabre trade and was set up for the execution in … Continue reading Pingrey’s Plain, the Gallows Lot

William Franklin of Newbury, hanged for the death of an indentured child in 1644

Children in the 17th and 18th Century New England colonies generally arrived with their families, but hundreds of English children were taken from the streets and unwillingly taken without their parents to be indentured as servants. Although the practice was more common in the Southern colonies, Joshua Coffin in his History of Newbury shared a … Continue reading William Franklin of Newbury, hanged for the death of an indentured child in 1644

Ipswich MA Conservation Commission 1958

Ipswich Conservation Commission approaches its 60th anniversary

The Town of Ipswich established the state's first Conservation Commission in 1958. Commissions were given responsibility to administer the Wetlands Protection Act, and by the mid-1980s, every city and town in the Commonwealth had established a conservation commission. 

March for our Lives, Ipswich

After a gunman killed 14 students and three staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in February 2018, survivors of the shooting have mobilized to launch the #NeverAgain movement, and the March for Our Lives, a nationwide protest on March 24 to protest gun violence. A large crowd participated in the event at the Ipswich … Continue reading March for our Lives, Ipswich

Purple sand at Crane Beach

Why does Crane Beach have purple sand?

Sandy Tilton explains that the purple sand we often see on top of the light-colored sand at Crane Beach and Plum Island is garnet sand. "The mineral garnet comes to us via the streams & rivers from the White Mountains. Water & wind erode the rock & it is carried in the waters here until it meets the ocean & gets deposited on our beaches!

Voices of the Great Marsh

In March of 2001, the Eight Towns and the Great Marsh Committee in cooperation with organizations such as Mass Audubon and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as local citizens and students, produced a short videotape about the Great Marsh. The Committee promotes the value of this resource and place it in the context … Continue reading Voices of the Great Marsh

Market Square Ipswich MA new sign

Market Square, a “sign of the times?”

The traditional English-style wooden directional sign at Market Square has been replaced with something more modern, and I'm sad to see it go.

Ipswich as described by John Greenleaf Whittier

"This is Ipswich...one of those steady conservative villages of which a few are still left in New England. There is not a better preserved or pleasanter specimen of a Puritan town."

The Ipswich Town Flag

Behind the Selectmen in Meeting Room A at Town Hall are the American and Massachusetts flags, and in a frame between them is the Ipswich Town Flag. I found the history of our flag in the 1996 Ipswich Annual Town Report: "This year, the Town Clerk's office was involved in designing a flag for the Town … Continue reading The Ipswich Town Flag

An official announcement of my non-candidacy for Public Office

Well, it's that time again when the Good People of Ipswich await breathlessly for the Annual Town Meeting, the hallowed New England tradition in which we debate transfers of even the smallest sums from one bookkeeping account to another, while being mercifully spared the details of an annual budget of some Fifty Million Dollars which … Continue reading An official announcement of my non-candidacy for Public Office

An Ipswich rose by any other name

In our cold New England winter, ye Ipswich inhabitants and expatriates arm ouselves with keyboards and set out on the battling fields of Facebook to resolve the age-old questions that have long perplexed the Good People of Ipswich. Starting this round is David, a well-meaning person who posted a photo of the "Historic Crane Estate," … Continue reading An Ipswich rose by any other name

Immigration Stories, Wednesday February 21, 2018 at the Ipswich Museum

The Ipswich Museum winter / spring exhibition, Immigration Stories of Ipswich, opens on Wednesday, February 21st at the Heard House on S. Main Street. After the opening day, it will be open on Saturdays and Sundays 1-4pm through the end of April.

John Adams by David McCullough

“John Adams” by David McCullough

Last night I finally finished reading David McCullough's 2001 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, John Adams. Never before have I read a non-fiction in which I so deeply identified with the main characters. John Adams is known as one of the Founding Fathers and the one-term second President of the United States, but that's just the surface. … Continue reading “John Adams” by David McCullough

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 a thousand letters to each other, many … Continue reading Abigail Adams to John Adams: “All men would be tyrants if they could.”

Bundling

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.

Luke and Elizabeth Perkins, notorious Disturbers of the Peace and a “Wicked-tongued Woman”

Featured image: Grape Island, blockprint by Evelyn Goodale Grape Island is a part of the Parker River Wildlife Refuge at Plum Island, and was once a small, but thriving community. Jacob Perkins, Matthew Perkins, William Hubbard, Francis Wainwright, Thomas Hovey, Thomas Wade, Benedictus Pulsifer, Captain John Smith, Samuel Dutch, and Nathaniel Treadwell were among the owners … Continue reading Luke and Elizabeth Perkins, notorious Disturbers of the Peace and a “Wicked-tongued Woman”

Records and files of the Essex County Courts

Records from the Essex County Quarterly Courts, 1636-1692

In 1641, the General Court established four quarter-annual courts kept yearly by the magistrates of Ipswich & Salem, two to be held at Salem & the other two at Ipswich, with jurisdiction in all matters not reserved to the Court of Assistants. Read stories of Ipswich residents who faced the magistrates.

Samuel Symonds, gentleman: complaint to Salem court against his two servants, 1661

Philip Welch and William Downing, both children, were kidnapped from Ireland in 1654, and sold to Samuel Symonds in Ipswich. After 7 years they refused to continue working on his farm and demanded their freedom. They were arrested and brought to trial.

Nancy Weare

Nancy Virginia Weare passed away in Exeter on December 12 of this year at the age of 92. She taught at the Brown School in Newburyport for 17 years. She spent 33 years at her family's summer camp was at Plum Island, and after the Parker River Wildlife Refuge was established, she moved to a home … Continue reading Nancy Weare

Flight from Rooty Plain

The story of the Great Ipswich Fright on April 21, 1775  was widely told, and memorialized by John Greenleaf Whittier. Mrs. Alice P. Tenney in 1933 provided an amusing story of the fear that struck Rooty Plain, also called “Millwood," a thriving little mill community along today's Rt. 133 in Rowley: "News arrived in Rooty Plain … Continue reading Flight from Rooty Plain

First Peoples of the Ipswich River Watershed, January 27, 2018

  Mary Ellen Lepionkas will give two presentations in January, 2018 at Ascension Church, 31 County Street, Ipswich: "First Peoples of the Ipswich River Watershed," Saturday, January 13, 2018: 4 pm "Algonquians on the Ipswich River," Saturday, January 27, 4 pm Mary Ellen Lepionka is a publisher, author, editor, textbook developer, and college instructor with a … Continue reading First Peoples of the Ipswich River Watershed, January 27, 2018

Pope night in Newburyport MA

November 5: Guy Fawkes Day (“Pope Night,” “Gunpowder Day,” “Bonfire Night”)

Guy Hawkes, a Catholic, attempted to blow up the king and members of Parliament. Effigies of Guy Fawkes were burned every year on Nov. 5, accompanied by a day of odd activities. The tradition was continued by English settlers in America.

Heritage and genealogy tourism in Ipswich

Oscar Handlin wrote in his 1979 book, Truth in History: "The distinctive cultural development of the New World made history one of the early forms of American literature...Americans always had to explain who they were in a sense rarely compelling to other men who took for granted a connection that ran to a time out … Continue reading Heritage and genealogy tourism in Ipswich

The hanging of John Williams and William Schooler, July 1637

In 1637, two men convicted on separate counts of murder were executed in Boston on the same gallows.  John Williams was convicted of killing John Hoddy near Great Pond in Wenham on the road to Ipswich. William Schooler was tried in Ipswich and found guilty of killing Mary Scholy on the path to Piscataqua.

A Catalogue of the Various Sects in England and Other Nations with a brief rehearsal of their false and damgerous tenenants

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.

The same photo of East Street about 100 years later

The “new” houses on East Street

We have been researching the identities of five small houses on East Street on the south side, between North Main and County Streets, constructed after 1856. The Google Maps screenshot below is above. The identities of most of the houses on these pages are tentative, based on the 1856, 1872, 1884 and 1910 Ipswich maps, … Continue reading The “new” houses on East Street

Horses and Equestrians

Photos and stories from our archives...

IHC newsletter

Ipswich Historical Commission newsletter, Fall, 2017

Stagecoach Ipswich MA

The stagecoach in Ipswich

The first stagecoach in Essex County, drawn by four horses, was established in 1774 and connected Newburyport with Boston via Salem and Ipswich. By the early 1800's, up to seventeen stagecoaches and four post chaises passed through town each day, most of them full to overflowing. In 1803, the Newburyport Turnpike Corporation built a straight toll road … Continue reading The stagecoach in Ipswich

The Great Dying--Native Americans in the early 17th Century

The Great Dying 1616-1619, “By God’s visitation, a wonderful plague”

Featured image: Drawn by a French missionary of Abenaki in Maine during a smallpox epidemic in 1740 The arrival of 102 Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower at Plymouth in 1620 and the settlements by the Puritans in Boston, Salem and Ipswich a decade later were accompanied by the demise of the native population of North America. “Within … Continue reading The Great Dying 1616-1619, “By God’s visitation, a wonderful plague”