Author Archives

Gordon Harris

Gordon Harris is the town historian for Ipswich Massachusetts.

Ripples in the sand at Crane Beach

Crane Beach

Crane Beach belongs to the Trustees of Reservations and is part of the historic Crane Estate. The property includes Crane Castle, miles of shoreline, and over 5 miles of marked trails through the dunes at Castle Neck and Steep Hill Beach, open year-round.

Harry Maine's house on Water Street in Ipswich

The ghost of Harry Maine

Harry Maine — you have heard the tale; He lived there in Ipswich Town; He blasphemed God, so they put him down with an iron shovel, at Ipswich Bar; They chained him there for a thousand years, As the sea rolls up to shovel it back; So when the sea cries, the goodwives say “Harry Maine growls at his work today.”

The Ipswich ice house

The Ice House

Lathrop Brothers Coal and Ice Company harvested on the Ipswich River between Upper River Road and Haywood Street. Lines were drawn on the ice and horses dragged “groovers” along the line, cutting the ice about 6 to 8 inches deep. The ice was then floated to the ice house, where it was cut into blocks.

The Buried House at Wigwam Hill

Symonds Epes bought a large tract in 1726 and built a substantial farm and orchards at Wigwam Hill, named for a group of destitute Indians who briefly camped there. The husband of one of his descendants cut the protecting scrub pines for lumber. Without the protection of the trees and grass, the farm quickly fell victim to the drifting sand.

Newmarch Street in Ipswich MA was once known as Manning's Neck

Manning’s Neck

The first settlers of Ipswich were given rights to use of the Common land. Unfenced tillage lots beyond the residential area were assigned in areas set apart for this use, including the area of Newmarch Street which was known as Manning’s Neck.

Windmill constructed by Dr. John Manning in Ipswich Ma

Dr. Manning’s Windmill

 In 1792 Dr. John Manning erected a factory at the corner of South Main and Market Street beside the Choate Bridge, and began the manufacture of coarse cloths and blankets in 1794. The completed building was two stories high, 105 feet long and 32 feet wide. On the roof squatted a great octagonal tower, inside of which were the arms and sails of a horizontal windmill.

Diamond Stage and Treadwells Island in the 1832 Ipswich map

Diamond Stage

In 1673, two fishermen from the Isles of Shoals, Andrew Diamond and Harry Maine, arrived together in Ipswich. Mr. Diamond built a platform for salting and shipping fish, and became quite successful. The location is still known today as Diamond Stage.

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.

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)