Author Archives

Gordon Harris

Gordon Harris is the town historian for Ipswich Massachusetts.

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.

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.

Gravestone of Michael Farley

General Michael Farley

In 1774, the Town of Ipswich chose 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.

Daniel Hovey's house on Tansey Lane

Daniel Hovey

At the foot of Hovey Street along the Ipswich River is a plaque dedicated to the memory of Ipswich settler Daniel Hovey, whose home and wharf were across the river on what is now Tansey Lane.

Trails in Ipswich MA

Outdoor recreation

More than 50% of land in Ipswich is protected by the town, state and non-profit organizations, including Ipswich Open Space, Willowdale State Forest, Appleton Farms, Crane Beach and other Trustees of Reservations properties.

The Ipswich Town Flag

Underneath the Town scene, in the blue water, are the large gold letters that read: “The Birthplace of American Independence – 1687.” In the border around the Town scene, are the large gold letters that read: “Ipswich Massachusetts – Incorporated 1634.”

Caldwell house, Ipswich MA

Sarah Dillingham Caldwell

The story of Sarah Dillingham, wife of John Caldwell is of a loving and most thoughtful life.One of the first children born in Ipswich, and then orphaned, she became a “woman of qualities” that caused her name to never be forgotten. The years entrusted them with eight children and countless Ipswich descendants. Their home on High Street still stands.

Bundling in Colonial America

Bundling

As settlers moved west into the cold New England frontier away from the Puritan strongholds, it was not uncommon for unmarried persons to be invited to sleep in the same bed for warmth. The definition of bundling evolved and developed over time into a ritual of courtship.

Records of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County MA

Stories from the Courts

In 1641, the General Court established four quarter-annual courts kept yearly by the magistrates of Ipswich & Salem, two to be held at Salem & the other two at Ipswich, with jurisdiction in all matters not reserved to the Court of Assistants. Read stories of Ipswich residents who faced the magistrates.

Ipswich MA lighthouse

Santa hits the Ipswich lightkeeper’s house, December 24, 1937

In 1939 the children were all assembled at the Ipswich Lighthouse, waiting for Fying Santa Edward Snow, who was running a bit behind schedule. Hearing the sound of an airplane the keeper called up to his wife, “Has Santa arrived yet, dear?” Immediately he heard the Christmas bundle crashing through the skylight, upon which his wife yelled down, “Yes, dear. We can start the party now.”

Rooty Plain near Rowley MA

Flight from Rooty Plain

The story of the Great Ipswich Fright on April 21, 1775  was widely told, and memorialized by John Greenleaf Whittier. Mrs. Alice P. Tenney in 1933 provided an amusing story of the fear that struck Rooty Plain, also called “Millwood,” a thriving little mill community along today’s Rt. 133 […]