Author Archives

Gordon Harris

Gordon Harris is the town historian for Ipswich Massachusetts.

Lyceum Thursdays, Ipswich MA

Lyceum Thursdays

This summer will feature our new Ipswich Lyceum series at the Take-out Terrace in the EBSCO parking lot between Zumi’s and the Riverwalk Mural. The Lyceum will feature a series of speakers every Thursday evening at 8:00 pm throughout the months of July and August, 2022. Programs will be on a wide range of topics, and will be about half an hour with time for discussion.

Public Safety

Voters at the 2021 Special Town Meeting and Election agreed to replace our century-old fire and police facilities with a modern structure. The Public Safety Property Re-Use Working Group was recently created to determine a variety of potential uses for the existing facilities.

Nathaniel Wade House Ipswich

Nathaniel Wade

After hostilities began in 1775, Capt. Wade led his unit in pursuit of British soldiers retreating from the battles of Concord and Lexington. Two months later they fought in the battle of Bunker Hill. During the war he commanded troops throughout the campaign in Rhode Island and at Long Island, Harlem, and White Plains.

Early smallpox innoculation

Smallpox

One of the most progressive citizens of Ipswich, Dr. John Manning opened a practice in 1760, and began inoculating members of his family for smallpox, incurring the wrath of the Town. An epidemic of smallpox spread through Boston during the British occupation of the city at the beginning of the Revolutionary War.

Acadian exiles in Ipswich, 1755

Massachusetts men played a conspicuous part in the French and Indian War, which resulted in wholesale destruction and deportation in French-speaking Nova Scotia. Surviviors were exiled to the Colonies, their children taken from them and distributed to English families as “nothing more than slaves.”

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.

Winslow Homer, the Christmas Tree

How Christmas came to Ipswich

Puritans shunned Christmas for its pagan roots, allowing only Thanksgiving as a time for feasting, and imposed a five-shilling fine on any persons found “observing any such day as Christmas or the like, either by forbearing of labor, feasting, or any other way.” A Cambridge Unitarian minister’s family had the first Christmas tree in Massachusetts.

Puritans drinking

Strong drink

Colonial liquor licenses were granted to Ipswich men of highest esteem. They were bound “not to sell by retail to any but men of family, and of good repute, nor sell any after sunset; and that they shall be ready to give account of what liquors they sell by retail, the quantity, time and to whom.”

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.