Author Archives

Gordon Harris

Gordon Harris is the town historian for Ipswich Massachusetts.

Thomas Lord house Ipswich

Homes of the Lords

Robert Lord, his wife Mary Waite and their four children arrived with the first settlers of Ipswich in 1634, where he was appointed town clerk. Almost every house on High Street has been lived in by a member of the Lord family.

General Lafayette

Lafayette returns to Ipswich

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.

Good luck cricket

The Cricket

“They are the housewife’s barometer, foretelling her when it will rain and are prognostic. Sometimes she thinks of ill or good luck of the death of a near relation or the approach of an absent lover. By being the constant companions of her solitary hours they naturally become the objects of her superstition.”

Mathison painting, "Examination of a Witch" trial of Elizabeth Howe of Ipswich

The Witchcraft Trial of Elizabeth Howe

Elizabeth Howe and her husband James resided on outer Linebrook. After James lost his sight at about the age of 50, Elizabeth assumed the dual responsibility of managing the family and the farm. She was charged with bewitching her neighbor’s child and was arrested on May 28, 1692. Elizabeth Howe was one of the five women hung in Salem on July 19, 1692.

Ipswich Illumination

Ipswich Arts and Illumination

Ipswich Arts and Illumination is the Town’s annual performing and visual arts festival, brought to you by the Ipswich Cultural Council. Parts of the river will be illuminated Friday and Saturday nights. The 33rd Annual Ipswich Art Show and Sale is held through the weekend at Town Hall.

Laughing Lion gift shop Ipswich MA

Ipswich Pine

There is a local tradition that the wood stain known as Ipswich Pine originated with Carman Woodworking, which operated behind the Laughing Lion gift shop on Essex Road and specialized in Early American pine reproductions.

Chasm at the Old North Burying Ground

The Chasm

The 1893 Birdseye map shows a serious washout just to the east of the Old North Burying Ground, forming a deep gully. A late 19th Century photo taken by Arthur Wesley Dow shows rocks and soil pushed up against a barn and sheds that once stood below.

Appleton's Pulpit Massachusetts Bay Colony Tercentenary Commission

The defiant Samuel Appleton

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.

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.”

Soffron Brothers Ipswich Clams

Soffron Brothers were the exclusive suppliers of clams to the Howard Johnson chain for 32 years, which featured Ipswich Fried Clams on the menu. The four brothers, Tom, George, Pete and Steve, were the children of Greek immigrants who came to work at the Ipswich mills. Their Ipswich factor was at Brown Square in the building that now houses the Ipswich Ale Brewery.

The Bones of Masconomet

On March 6, 1659 a young man named Robert Cross dug up the remains of the Agawam chief Masconomet, and carried his skull on a pole through Ipswich streets, an act for which Cross was imprisoned, sent to the stocks, then returned to prison until a fine was paid.

The Commons

When the Town of Ipswich was established, ownership of a house and land within the town bounds carried with it the right of pasturage beyond the Common Fence. In 1788, the commoners resigned all their land interests to pay the heavy town debt incurred during the Revolution.

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.”