Author Archives

Gordon Harris

Gordon Harris is the town historian for Ipswich Massachusetts.

Portrayal of the cold day and a Winter scene by George Henry Durrie

The Cold Friday of 1810 – New England Historical Society

The Cold Friday on Jan. 19, 1810 brought terrible winds and frigid temperature talked and written about for generations. Tales of the killer weather event made their way into town histories, journals and court records long after it happened. They told of the many people who froze to death while traveling along the highways. Houses, barns and vast numbers of timber trees were blown down or broken to pieces.

Jeffreys Neck Ipswich ma map and aerial view

Jeffreys’ Neck Road

This history of Jeffreys Neck is from the Agawam Manual and Directory by M.V.B. Perley, published in 1888. The business of fur-trading and fishing along the New England coast received a new impetus about the beginning of the seventeenth century. In 1604 Agawam was the center of Arcadia, so-called in the […]

Taking to the air in Ipswich, 1910-11

In 1909, W. Starling Burgess joined with Augustus Moore Herring to form the Herring-Burgess Company, manufacturing aircraft under a license with the Wright Brothers, thus becoming the first licensed aircraft manufacturer in the United States. Burgess took the initial flight of his first plane in 1908 at Chebacco Lake in Hamilton, MA. […]

Ipswich in the Great Depression

The severe winter of 1933-34, in which below-zero temperatures lasted for weeks, added great misery to the lives of the homeless during the Great Depression. As part of the New Deal, President Roosevelt signed a forced draft work relief program known as the Civil Works Administration, putting millions to work on […]

Homes of the Wades

Jonathan Wade arrived in Ipswich in 1635 with the first wave of Puritan settlers. He came into ownership of land along the South Green originally granted to the Rev. Nathaniel Ward, and left an estate valued at £783. In the 19th Century, the Wade family of housewrights built several homes on for […]

Dow Brook and Bull Brook

Featured image: Dow-Bull Brook Trail, from the Essex County Trail Association site. Remnants of the old grist mill and saw mill dam on the Egypt River, originally constructed by Nehemiah Jewett, are behind the Ipswich power plant transformer station on High St. Jewett’s Grist mill on the Egypt River […]

A hike on Town Hill in Ipswich

A Town Hill Hike

This a somewhat aerobic four-mile hike from downtown Ipswich to the top of Town Hill. Starting from close to sea level at Zumi’s or the Riverwalk Mural, it follows the river for a while before climbing 160′ to the top of Town Hill. It descends to Fowler’s Lane, […]

Burke Shoe Factory Ipswich Ma

Hammatt Street and Brown Square

Until the second half of the 19th Century, much of the area bounded by Central Street, Washington Street, Mineral Street and Market Street was a wetland with an open sewer known as Farley’s Brook running through it. The railroad came to Ipswich in 1839, changing the town forever. Stagecoaches no longer made […]

Haunted houses of Ipswich

These ghost stories were shared on Facebook. A friend of mine mentioned that a few years ago a realtor was getting ready to go out the front door at the Jonathan Pulcifer house on Summer Street, when he noticed a stack of old publications sitting on the bottom […]

Ecclesiastical Ipswich by Agnes Edwards

Ecclesiastical Ipswich

Featured image from the book “The Romantic Shore” by Agnes Edwards, 1915. In the preface she writes, Of all the thousands of miles of our inspiring coast-line, east and west, there is no part more rich in romance, more throbbing with legendary and historical associations than the North […]

Puritans torturing quakers

Persecution of Quakers by the Puritans

Beginning in 1656, laws forbade any captain to land Quakers. Any individual of that sect was to be committed at once to the House of Correction, to be severely whipped on his or her entrance, and kept constantly at work, and none were suffered to speak with them. In Ipswich,  Roger Darby his wife lived in High St, and were warned, fined and dealt with harshly.

The Great Snow Hurricane of October 9, 1804

At about nine o’clock in the morning of Tuesday, October 9, 1804, the temperature fell very suddenly, and a storm of rain and snow, accompanied by thunder and lightning, began. The following Wednesday morning revealed great sections of the woods so leveled that new landscapes and prospects were brought into view. The schooner Dove, of Kittery, was wrecked on Ipswich bar, and all of the seven persons on board perished.

The Narragansett Indians welcomed Roger Williams

Mass Moments: Roger Williams Banished

In 1635, Puritan minister Roger Williams was found guilty of spreading “newe & dangerous opinions” and banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Before leaving England in 1630, Williams had seen heretics whipped, imprisoned, and burned at the stake. He called for religious freedom, a serious threat to the […]

Candlewood Rd., Ipswich Ma

Candlewood Road

“Why and when the name was given is largely a matter of conjecture. Pastor Higginson of Salem wrote to friends in England of the primitive way in which the earliest settlers often lighted their houses by burning thin strips of the pitch pine trees. The suggestion is natural […]