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 unofficial non-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 unofficial non-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

January 17, 2018 at the Ipswich Museum: The History of the New England Tavern

Wednesday Evening Lectures at the Ipswich Museum, South Main Street, Ipswich MA January 17th at 7:30 pm:  The History of the New England Tavern. Nutritionist and Culinary Historian Joe Carlin talks about the origins of “taverns” and the important role that they played in the country. Free for museum members; $10 for non-members. Held in … Continue reading January 17, 2018 at the Ipswich Museum: The History of the New England Tavern

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.”



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”)

The Puritans who settled Massachusetts abhorred holidays, but they turned a blind eye to Guy Fawkes Day, November 5, a British tradition which celebrated the failed attempt by Guy Hawkes, a Catholic, to blow up the king and members of Parliament and thus remove Protestants from government. On the evening of November 5, 1605, Sir … Continue reading November 5: Guy Fawkes Day (“Pope Night,” “Gunpowder Day,” “Bonfire Night”)

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.