Author Archives

Gordon Harris

Gordon Harris is the town historian for Ipswich Massachusetts.

Sally Weatherall

Sally’s Pond on South Main St. is dedicated to the memory of Sally Weatherall, who volunteered many hours to her Town as a member of the Conservation Commission and helped achieve development of the Open Space Plan.

19th Century: Religion divided the town

Revivalist Rev. John N. Maffit held a “protracted meeting” which was undoubtedly the most extraordinary episode in the history of the churches of Ipswich since the days of George Whitefield and Gilbert Tennent, preaching sixty nights to congregations which occupied every inch of the meeting-house.

The Legend of Puddin' Street

The Legend of Pudding Street

“We turn our eyes below and at our feet, Lies in peace old Pudding Street, So named because a pudding left to dry Was stolen by some tipsy passers by.
These later years from vulgar names have shrunk, And called it High because the thieves were drunk.”

Cape Ann earthquake

The Cape Ann Earthquake, November 18, 1755

At between 6.0 and 6.3 on the Richter scale, the1755 Cape Ann Earthquake remains the largest earthquake in the history of Massachusetts, and caused great alarm. The Rev. Leslie of Linebrook Church recorded the earthquake’s effect: “Between ye hours of four & five in ye morning there happened a most surprising shock of ye earthquake, which was afterwards succeeded by several others, though non equal to ye first in ye Town of Ipswich. Much damage was done to many houses, yet through ye goodness of God no hurt was done either to ye lives or ye limbs of any persons. On Nov. 19 several shocks were heard, tho but small compared to ye first.”

Burgess flight in Ipswich

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. Flight tests of Burgess biplanes were conducted in November and December, 1910 near Essex Road in Ipswich

Roads to Paradise, Ipswich MA

Roads to Paradise

“The ancient way, now called not inaptly Paradise Road, winds through long stretches of woodland, where ferns and brakes grow luxuriantly, and every kind of wild flower finds congenial haunt in open glades or shaded nooks.”

Sketch of wolves by Walter Heubach

Killing wolves

One of the first laws instituted by the Massachusetts Bay Colony was a bounty on wolves, and in early Ipswich, a rather disconcerting aspect of entering the Meeting House was the site of wolf heads nailed to the door. Even in 1723, wolves were so abundant and so near the meeting house, that parents would not suffer their children to go and come from worship without some grown person.

Lords Square

Lords Square is not a square at all, and no one knows if it’s Lords Square or Lord Square. The bewildering commercial intersection abuts the Old North Burying Ground and the largest collection of First Period houses in America.

Shucking clams on the Ipswich River circa 1900

The Ipswich clam

Ipswich is known as the home of the fried clam, although the claim has long been disputed by the town of Essex. The mud in the salt marshes along the Ipswich, Eagle, Essex and Parker Rivers is what gives our clams their wonderful taste. Ipswich was also home to Soffron Bros which produced clam strips for Howard Johnsons restaurants.

Ipswich Depot

Depot Square

The Eastern Railroad ran from Boston to Portland, continuing to Canada and was the primary competition of the Boston and Maine Railroad until it was acquired by the B&M in the late 1880’s to become the B&M’s Eastern Division. The Ipswich Depot sat at the location of the Institution for Savings at Depot Square.

John Winthrop’s journal of the ship Arbella’s voyage to America, March 29 – July 8, 1630

On April 7, 1630, the Arabella was a week out from its port in England, and the last well-wishers returned to shore. The winds were finally favorable, and the ship weighed anchor and sailed for New England, with Governor John Winthrop and approximately 300 English Puritans on board, leaving their homes in England to settle in a fledgling colony.