Author Archives

Gordon Harris

Gordon Harris is the town historian for Ipswich Massachusetts.

Pigeon Cove

The ”October Gale” of 1841

A strong hurricane stayed offshore of the Carolinas in early October, 1841  As it continued moving north, it pulled cold air into its circulation and intensified as an extra-tropical storm, with a direct hit on New England on October 3. The Georges Bank fishing fleet was destroyed with the loss of 81 fishermen’s lives. […]

Puritans warned out strangers and announced that the "town is full"

The Town is Full!

In 1673 the constable of Ipswich gave notice to William Nelson, Abner Ordway, and “an Irish man that married Rachel, Quarter Master Perkins’ maid” that the Town would not allow them to inhabit the Town unless they gave security to render the Town harmless from any charges by receiving them. In 1689, the Town refused to receive Humphrey Griffin as an inhabitant, or ” to provide for him as inhabitants formerly received, the town being full.”

Linebrook Church 1930, Ipswich Ma

Linebrook Parish

This remote area was originally known as Ipswich Farms. After the residents began pressing for their own church, the Massachusetts General Court on June 4, 1746, created the Linebrook Parish, the boundries of which were defined by 6 brooks and lines connecting them. The community had a church, store, school and its own militia.

Argilla Road by Arthur Wesley Dow

Argilla Road

The South Green was long known as School House Green. From there, historic Argilla Road crosses pastures and deep woods, then opens up to a scenic vista of the Great Salt Marsh and the ocean on its way from South Green to Crane Beach.

East Street

The abrupt change in the name of High Street to East Street at the intersection with North Street is odd unless one knows a bit of history. When Ipswich was laid out in the 1600’s, town center was Meetinghouse Green.  A road headed south and crossed the river — […]

Lower Summer Street, Ipswich Ma

Summer Street

Summer Street may be the oldest public way in Ipswich, and in the earliest days of the settlement was called Stony Street, or simply “The Way to the River. ” Thomas Franklin Waters wrote that for two centuries it was Annable’s Lane, named after settler John Annable. In the Colonial years, […]

1910 Ipswich Census

1910 Ipswich census and maps

The 121 handwritten 1910 Federal Census survey forms for Ipswich provide a wealth of information about the population of Ipswich during its greatest period of industrial growth, which included the arrival of hundreds of immigrants to work in the Ipswich Mills. Survey forms for Ipswich are provided through Archive.org. The lists below […]

The Shatswell Planters Cottage on the Wendel estate in Ipswich

Homes of the Shatswells

The oldest section of the Tuttle – Lord – Shatswell house at 88 High Street in Ipswich is said to have been built before 1690 as the home of John Shatswell, who came to join the Ipswich settlement in 1633 with his wife and four children. He was granted this piece of land and built […]

The 2016 Ipswich drought

Based on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Palmer Drought Severity Index, the three-month period between May 1 and July 31 was the driest for those three months in Massachusetts since 1966 and the ninth driest on record. Due to the shortage of rainfall and continued high water […]

The shipwrecks at Ipswich Bar

Featured image: Map from Plum Island: The Way It Was by Nancy V. Weare The Ipswich Bar has a long history of tragic shipwrecks. Its swift currents and shallow waters are especially dangerous during storms, and many ships have gone aground. In 1802 and again in 1852 the Merrimack Humane […]

Thomas Dennis house, County Street, Ipswich MA

Thomas Dennis, legendary Ipswich joiner

In 1937, Irving P. Lyon published a series of six articles about Thomas Dennis, joiner of Ipswich, analyzing numerous articles of furniture and family documents. The furniture of Thomas Dennis took on the status of historic treasure, and over time more pieces were attributed to him than he could […]

Ipswich and the Breach with Britain

On June 10th, 1776, the men of Ipswich, in Town-meeting assembled, instructed their Representatives, that if the Continental Congress should for the safety of the said Colonies Declare them Independent of the Kingdom of Great Britain, they will solemnly engage with their lives and Fortunes to support them in the Measure.

19th Century political toasts

In April, 1778, a number of prominent Essex County men gathered in Ipswich to discuss the drafting of a new Massachusetts constitution, and became the local backbone of the Federalist Party, advocating the financial policies of Alexander Hamilton. President John Adams coined the name “Essex Junto” for this group, who he deemed his […]