Author Archives

Gordon Harris

Gordon Harris is the town historian for Ipswich Massachusetts.

Eunice Stanwood Caldwell Cowles

Eunice Caldwell attended Ipswich Female Seminary from 1828 to 1829, where she began a lasting friendship with Mary Lyon. She married the Reverend John Phelps Cowles in 1838, and returned to Ipswich in 1844 to reopen the Seminary, which they ran until it closed in 1876.

Haselelponiah Wood, buried in the Old North Burying ground in Ipswich

Haselelponah Wood

Obadiah Wood married 35-year-old widow Haselelponiah, whose scriptural name means “A shadow falls upon me,” the only person in modern history with that name. Haselelpony Wood’s tombstone is located at the Old North Burial Ground in Ipswich.

sheep

Troubles with Sheep

Thomas Granger of Duxbury was hung for sodomy in 1642, the first execution in the Colony. With great speed the court issued an edict suggesting spinning and weaving as suitable occupation for boys and girls to avoid idleness and immodest behavior.

Daniel Denison grave at the Old North Burying Ground in Ipswich

Daniel Denison

Daniel Denison became Major General of the colonial forces and represented Ipswich in the general court. He was remembered with high esteem by the people of Ipswich well into the 19th Century. You can visit Denison’s grave at the Old North Burial Ground.

1793 and 1818: the “Burden of the Poor” divides Ipswich into 3 towns, Ipswich, Hamilton and Essex

As the people of the Hamlet were financially stable, the burden of taxation for the support of the poor in the old town of Ipswich was considered to be an unjust imposition. The leaders of the parish petitioned Ipswich to be allowed to incorporate as the new town of Hamilton. 25 years later, the men of Chebacco petitioned the Legislature for incorporation as a separate town, and to not be held for any part of the new establishment for the relief of the poor in Ipswich. The following year, Chebacco Parish became the Town of Essex

A short history of dog laws

A short history of Ipswich dog laws

In 1644, the Town of Ipswich ordered, “If a man refuse to tye up his dogg’s legg and hee bee found scrapeing up fish in a corne fielde, the owner thereof shall pay twelve pence damages, beside whatever damage the dogg doth. But if any fish their house lotts and receive damage by doggs the owners of those house lotts shall bear the damage themselves.”

The Ipswich River circa 1900

The Ipswich River

The 35-mile Ipswich River flows into the Atlantic Ocean at Ipswich Bay. The Ipswich River Water Association works to protect the river and its watershed. Foote Brothers Canoes on Topsfield Rd provides rentals and shuttle service from April to October.

One Third for the Widow

Under Puritan law an adult unmarried woman was a feme sole, and could own property and sign contracts. A married woman was a feme covert and could not own property individually. Widows regained the status of feme sole but the Right of Dower entitled them to keep only one third of their property. When a woman was left a widow some men like vultures were ready to take the other two thirds.

Benjamin Ellsworth at the Ipswich Lighthouse

The Ipswich lighthouse

In 1881, a 45-foot cast iron lighthouse was erected at Crane Beach, replacing an earlier structure. By 1913, the sand had shifted so much that the lighthouse was 1,090 feet from the high water mark. Use of the light was discontinued in 1932 and in 1939 the Coast Guard floated the entire lighthouse to Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard.

Great Neck and Little Neck Ipswich MA

History of Great Neck

Before the settlement of Ipswich was begun in 1633 by John Winthrop, William Jeffrey, who had come over in 1623, had purchased from the Indians a title to the glacial drumlin which bears his name. By 1639 the whole tract was set apart as a common pasture by the new town, and in 1666 the General Court gave Jeffrey five hundred acres of land elsewhere. After the early eighteenth century, the Necks remained as the only common lands retained by the Commoners.

Persecution of Quakers

Persecution of Quakers by the Puritans

Beginning in 1656, laws forbade any captain to land Quakers. Any individual of that sect was to be committed at once to the House of Correction, to be severely whipped on his or her entrance, and kept constantly at work, and none were suffered to speak with them. In Ipswich,  Roger Darby his wife lived on High St, and were warned, fined and dealt with harshly.

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.”

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 factory was at Brown Square in the building that now houses the Ipswich Ale Brewery.