Gordon Harris is the town historian for Ipswich Massachusetts.
When you’re walking on Crane Beach near Steep Hill Coal, you might be surprised to see lumps of coal lying on the sand. This would be quite a mystery were it not for the tragic history of brigs and schooners transporting coal in the 19th century. Wreck of the Lucy […]
It’s been a few years now since the 2006 Mother’s Day storm knocked the Mill Road Bridge a bit askew, closing it for three years. Two fences were erected effectively making the bridge feel like a demilitarized zone between Hamilton and Ipswich Massachusetts. And thus did the Mill […]
These are photos of two and three-masted schooners, several of which wrecked at Steep Hill Beach, Crane Beach and Plum Island. Featured image: Wreckage on Steep Hill Beach believed to be the Ada K. Damon is frequently exposed by the changing tide and sands. Photo by Bruce Lord. Sand […]
With the recurring subject of the school budget override in mind, I decided to look back to the annual report for the year I was born, condensed below: IPSWICH SCHOOL REPORT The School Budget for 1950 The budget here presented for 1950 requires the expenditure of $181,524.42. Of […]
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. Wilbur Fiske and several other people in […]
On June 5, 1816 a heat wave raised the temperature in Ipswich to 92° but that afternoon a cold front swept across New England and the temperature fell to 43° by the next morning. For the next four days there were severe frosts along the Eastern seaboard, and snow was recorded in some locations. By the 9th of June ice began to form on water left standing outside overnight. Rapid, dramatic temperature swings continued throughout the summer.
in the early 1950’s, a group of young amateur archeologists men discovered one of the largest Paleo-Indian sites in North America along the banks of Bull Brook and the Egypt River in Ipswich, with over 6,000 artifacts uncovered.
On January 4, 1681, John T. Mason presented the King’s letter to the General Court, which ordered “all said tenants” to appear in Ipswich. If an ancient claim was confirmed, every land title would be worthless and a landed medieval system known as “quit-rents” could be grafted upon New England.
In 1687, a warrant was issued for the arrest of several Ipswich men for being “seditiously inclined and disaffected to his Majesty’s government.” The 62-year-old Major Samuel Appleton scorned the appearance of submission and remained imprisoned in the cold Boston Jail through the winter.
A Chronology of Ipswich Public Works: Telegraph, Telephone, Gas, Water, Electricity, Trash, Sewer and Wind
1847: Telegraph Samuel Morse obtained a patent for his telegraph invention in 1838. It came into practical use about 1843. The first use of the telegraph was to coordinate the arrival and departure of trains. The Boston line was extended to Portland in 1847 and brought Ipswich into faster […]
Private Joseph Stockwell Manning grew up on High Street in Ipswich, and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor on December 1, 1864, a year and two days after an incredible act of bravery at Fort Sanders, Tennessee.
After living here for almost 10 years, two people told me separately yesterday about a huge rock that acts as a pivoting gate on a trail that runs between the old Rose Garden and the former Casino at the Crane Estate. Mr. Richard Crane liked to surprise his […]
The following is from Historic Ipswich Vol III by Susan Howard Boice: “This is an old photo of Lucy Ardell Kimball, joined by her mother, Kate, and father, Phillip. Lucy was a descendant of the Jewett, Lord and Kimball families, who were big parts of Ipswich for more […]
1644 The following is transcribed from the Ipswich Town Meeting, May 11, 1644: “It is ordered that all doggs for the space of three weeks after the publishing hereof shall have one legg tyed up, and if such a dogg shall break loose and be found doing any harm, […]
This is a wonderful photo of the Ipswich River taken by Ipswich photographer George Dexter in 1906. He was standing on Bayberry Hill near the top of Spring Street where Arthur Wesley Dow had a studio.
On a Tuesday night in January 2001 the Collum house at 18 Lafayette Street went up in flames. Harold Bowen once wrote that this house had been built from lumber that was salvaged when a tall wood fence surrounding Bialek Park was removed early in the 20th Century. […]
Ezekiel Cheever was the Ipswich schoolmaster, followed in 1660 by Schoolmaster Andrews. An unfortunate but mischievous lad was the nemesis of the esteemed Mr. Andrews.
In 1824 citizens of Ipswich heard with “unfeigned pleasure” that General LaFayette, “the undeviating defender of rational freedom and the rights of man, the illustrious friend of America” would be passing through our area. The town prepared the most elaborate tribute it had ever paid to a visitor.
Bob Foote took this photo of a small bridge just beyond the EBSCO building that is along the tracks beyond the train station. Kimball Brook is a small stream that originates at Scott Hill off of Topsfield road, curves around Bush Hill and then crosses Topsfield Road and the […]
In the Publications of the Ipswich Historical Society I read the forgotten story of the Plum Island Salt Company. All traces of its existence have disappeared. In the 1820’s a Frenchman, Gilshenan by name made examination of many localities along the American coast to erect a salt works. Coming at last […]
Elizabeth Howe and her husband James resided on outer Linebrook. Her husband James lost his sight at about the age of 50 and Elizabeth assumed the dual responsibility of managing the family and the farm. Elizabeth Howe was charged with bewitching her neighbor’s child, was arrested on May 28, 1692. She was hung in Salem on July 19, 1692.
I looked down Market Street and fell in love with the historic old village. It’s never too late to decide what you’ll be when you grow up.
The Burke & Son heel factory at Brown Square burned on June 19, 1933. In the adjoining lot was the Canney Lumber Co., where most of the building and the lumber was destroyed. The smaller brick building on the right survived and is now the Ipswich Ale Brewery.
In 1967, Ipswich was proposed as a site for an anti-ballistic missile base, and in 1970 opponents prevented construction of a nuclear power plant on Town Farm Road that eventually was built in Seabrook.
Under Puritan law, widows could keep only one third of their property. Martha Ringe was widowed with small children after her husband died. After considering her petition, the court allowed Martha to marry John Wood before three years had passed “in order to advance her circumstances.”
High Street originally continued straight at the John Kimball Jr. house (the one with the blue tree house) until the first bridge over the railroad tracks was constructed in 1906. From 1900 when the first trolleys came to town until the bridge was built, passengers had to unload here to […]
Featured image: cows walking on Jeffreys Neck Road, photo by George Dexter, early 20th Century. The consensus of several people who have studied this photo is that Wendel Farm/Strawberry Hill is on the horizon on the right, with Island Park off to the left of the photo. Cows would be […]
The “Blizzard of ’78” raged from Sunday evening February 5 through Tuesday evening February 7. Over a billion dollars of damage occurred, including the loss of 11,000 homes and the lives of 29 Massachusetts residents. The highest total snowfall was 43.7 inches in Ipswich.
The Central Street Fire, January 13, 1894 Late in the night on January 13, 1894 townspeople were awakened to the church bells sounding the alarm that downtown was on fire. Firefighters struggled with their equipment in gale-force winds as the temperature dropped to 16 degrees below zero. The […]
In 2008 the Ipswich Chronicle ran a series of articles called “The Townie Test”. Readers responded with their answers. Q1: Name the successful Ipswich retail merchant known as “Taffy.” A: Howard “Taffy” Hill Q2: What was the name of the dry cleaning business that was once located on […]
The Ipswich Chronicle ran this story in the year 2000. Burial site of first settler may be revealed A recent letter to the Zoning Board may hold some clues to the location of the gravesite of Mrs. John Winthrop and her child who may have been buried on […]
The photo above is a view of Heartbreak Hill taken from the roof of a building onNorth Main Street in 1879. Mills line County Street on either side of the bridge which was only a few years old at that time. The mills are gone now, and Heartbreak […]
Christmas, 1909 witnessed the heaviest storm in many years. The ship was wrecked during the captain’s first trip for a load of sand from the plentiful supply on Plum Island.
A Local History, copyright 2008, by Bruce Laing “I had a little bird Its name was Enza I opened up the window And In-flu-enza.” *a Skip-rope song sung by children, Fall, 1918 Early Friday morning, August 23, 1918, in a small coastal town of Ipswich, on the North […]
The Case of the Missing Burial Ground Lesslie Road Burial Ground Linebrook Parish, Old Ipswich, Massachusetts Story by: Bruce Laing Toward a comprehensive documentation of the greater Ipswich burial grounds In 1935 Arthur Warren Johnson and Ralph Elbridge Ladd jr. wrote Momento Mori, a map and transcription of tombstones […]
Local folks tell me that Ipswich Pine stain, a color offered by Minwax and Varathane originated in Ipswich with Carman Woodworking as far back as the early 1800’s. Their shop was behind the Laughing Lion gift shop on Essex Road, which is now the location of the Clam […]