Author Archives

Gordon Harris

Gordon Harris is the town historian for Ipswich Massachusetts.

Death in a snowstorm, December 1, 1722

On December 1, 1722, Daniel Rogers was returning to Ipswich from a court case in Hampton and took a wrong turn that led deep into Salisbury marshes. His body was found a few days later near Salisbury beach. Suspicion fell on one Moses Gatchel but no charges were filed, there being a lack of solid evidence.

Jenny Slew gains her freedom

Freedom for Jenny Slew

Jenny Slew was born about 1719 as the child of a free white woman and a black slave. She lived her life as a free woman until 1762 when she was kidnapped and enslaved by John Whipple. Jenny Slew is believed to be the first person held as a slave to be granted freedom through trial by jury.

National Guard tents at Cable Hospital in Ipswich Ma during the 1918 flu epidemic

Influenza 1918

Influenza made its appearance in Ipswich in September of 1918. The state authorities took over the hospital that Oct. 6, and erected 50 tents. The 15th Infantry was put to the task. It was estimated that there were at least 1,500 cases of the flu in Ipswich during the height of this disease.

The Goat Ghost of Ipswich

by Lorraine Page In the summer of 2016, we continued the process of updating the old plumbing in our ancient house in Ipswich, Massachusetts. We realized we needed to completely replace all the plumbing in our downstairs bathroom, and, in the process, we opened up the floor. We […]

Medieval beehive

John Eales, Beehive Maker

The inhabitants of Newbury perceived bee-keeping as a new and profitable industry, but needed someone with experience. John Eales, an elderly pauper who had been sent away to Ipswich, was returned by the Court to Newbury to assist them in their efforts. The Town was instructed how much to charge him for his upkeep.

How do we name a Green?

A mild controversy has arisen in the town of Ipswich about what to name the grassy lawn between the Old Town Hall and the Ipswich Museum. Depending on who you ask, it’s the Middle Green, Memorial Green, Veterans Green, or the Visitor Center Lawn, and I’ll add  “Augustine Heard’s back yard” just to add to the confusion.

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.

Jewett Hill, Ipswich Village map

Ipswich Village (Upper High St.)

Featured image: “Ipswich Village” in the 1832 Philander map of the town of Ipswich. The following narrative includes excerpts from Ipswich Village and the Old Rowley Road. by Thomas Franklin Waters in 1915. “At the very beginning of the Town, High Street was the road to Newbury or ‘the pathway […]

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)

Daniel Hovey's house on Tansey Lane

Daniel Hovey

At the foot of Hovey Street along the Ipswich River is a plaque dedicated to the memory of Ipswich settler Daniel Hovey, whose home and wharf were across the river on what is now Tansey Lane.

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 […]

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 […]

Trails in Ipswich MA

Outdoor recreation

More than 50% of land in Ipswich is protected by the town, state and non-profit organizations, including Ipswich Open Space, Willowdale State Forest, Appleton Farms, Crane Beach and other Trustees of Reservations properties.

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 […]

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 […]

How to run for the Select Board

The Good People of Ipswich look forward 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 […]

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 […]

Caldwell house, Ipswich MA

Sarah Dillingham Caldwell

Sarah Dillingham Caldwell was born in 1634, the daughter of John and Sarah (Caly) Dillingham. Her father died less than a year after she was born, and her mother two years later. At nineteen years of age she married John Caldwell. The years entrusted them with eight children, countless descendants, and their home on High Street still stands.

Bundling in Colonial America

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.

Records of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County MA

Stories from the Courts

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.