Until 350 years ago, the Ipswich River ran unencumbered from its origin 35 miles upstream, carving its way through a 148-square-mile watershed. Herring, shad, salmon and alewife swam upstream to spawn. Thomas Franklin Waters noted that, “Great shoals of alewives came up the river in the Spring and […]
Gordon Harris is the town historian for Ipswich Massachusetts.
in 1686, Mr. and Mrs. Stewart on High St. were favored with a visit from the book seller John Dunton, who came to Ipswich “in the course of his saddle-bag peregrinations.”
Traditional hand rug hooked rugs were the most popular item in Ipswich antiques dealer Ralph Warren Burnham’s shop on High St. in Ipswich.
The Strand Opera House was built in 1909 on Market Street in Ipswich and hosted operas, plays, travelling shows and even the Boston Symphony. In 1930 the Strand burned and re-opened as a movie theater.I n November, 1985 the Strand Theater was demolished. In it’s place was constructed the First National Bank of Ipswich.
In 1957, John Updike moved to Ipswich, where he and his family lived in the Polly Dole house on East Street for seventeen years. Updike’s 1968 novel Couples and several of his short stories were based in the fictional community Tarbox, which everyone knew was really Ipswich.
Alice Keenan: “Naturally when we moved to Ipswich my antiquarian cup ranneth over. This lovely old town, its long history, ancient houses and interesting people became almost an obsession”
In 2008 the Ipswich Chronicle ran a series of articles called “The Townie Test”. Readers responded with their answers.
John Winthrop the younger was the son of Massachusetts Bay Colony governor John Winthrop, and led the settlement of Agawam in 1633 (renamed Ipswich in 1634), accompanied by 11 men.
John S. Glover opened a wharf on Water St. in 1847, receiving shipments of coal and cement, along with maritime salvage. His wharf was a short distance from the home be built on East St. around 1872 across from the present-day Town Wharf.
The excursion boat Carlotta was built in 1878 at Rogers Point boat yard, and sailed from Town Wharf to the Neck and Plum Island for 35 years. The small hotels at Little Neck, Ipswich Bluff and Grape Island were favorite destinations for tourists and locals.
As the young boys who arrived with the first settlers of Ipswich approached adulthood, they developed a fondness for hard liquor and rowdiness, which frequently landed them in court.
Life Magazine photographer Walter Sanders provided an unusual photo shoot at the Whipple House in Ipswich, featured in an October 1944 LIFE Magazine.
On the morning of the 30th of March, 1662, the Ipswich jailer found that a prisoner had escaped, the first offense of this nature committed in the country.
On July 14, 1681, Sarah Whipple Goodhue left a note to her husband that read: “Dear husband, if by sudden death I am taken away from thee, there is infolded among thy papers something that I have to say to thee and others.” She died three days after bearing twins. This is the letter to her husband and children.
The Annual Town Meeting is a hallowed New England tradition in which we debate transfers of even the smallest sums from one bookkeeping account to another, while being mercifully spared the details of the annual budget.
The Ipswich Bar has a long history of tragic shipwrecks. Its swift currents and shallow waters are especially dangerous during storms, and many ships have gone aground. The hull of the Ada K. Damon sits on Steep Hill Beach.
Joseph Ross (1822-1903) is best known for designing the first movable span bridge in the country, which he patented in 1849 at the age of 26, and became the most common railroad bridge type in the Boston area. His corporation Joseph Ross & Sons was highly successful.
In1968, Mass DPW proposed an additional beltway around Boston that would have cut through the Ipswich River Sanctuary, Bradley Palmer State Park, Appleton Farms, the Pingree Reservation and Manchester-Essex Woods. Plans were eventually abandoned because of resistance from communities that would have been affected.
The Hayes Hotel was constructed in 1842 as a woolen goods factory. Converted to a tavern and hotel in 1885, the building was being used as a rooming house when it burned in 1969 with a loss of life.
Panoramic maps depicting cities and towns were popular during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Also known as bird’s-eye views, the drawings were created as if viewed from the air. Click on the 1893 map of Ipswich, and keep clicking to zoom in and find your house!
The “Blizzard of ’78” raged from Sunday evening February 5 through Tuesday evening February 7. Over a billion dollars of damage occurred, including the loss of 11,000 homes and the lives of 29 Massachusetts residents. The highest total snowfall was 43.7 inches in Ipswich.
“What mourning Sighs, and loud Outcries comes from the Eastern Towns,
Of Children crying, and others dying,
which makes a doleful Sound.”
Perhaps the best-known early Ipswich Photographer was George Dexter (1862-1927). His photographs along with those of Edward Lee Darling (1874-1962) provide a wonderful visual history of the town.
“A melting pot of awesome contenders were the Ipswich Red Raiders, members of a semiprofessional football league active during the late 1930’s and 1940’s. The Ipswich Red Raiders won the division championship in 1935. Made up of Ipswich men in their twenties and early thirties, they played teams […]
For over 200 years, this was part of the Potter family farm. The land by the River’s bend was purchased by George Barnard in 1899. It became the Margery Restaurant which burned in 1977.
Shortly after the Senate adjourned on May 21, Congressman Preston Brooks of South Carolina. attacked Sumner, yelling out, “I have read your speech, a libel on South Carolina.” and began slamming his metal-topped cane onto Sumner’s head.
Images from the blizzard, January 27, 2015 and the series of snowstorms that followed. Many photos are from the I Love Ipswich Facebook group. Featured image: the road into Crane Beach, by Diane Young.
Deep in Willowdale State Forest is a bog which in the 1832 Ipswich map is the “Peat Meadows.” “Turf” as it was also called, became a commonly-used fuel when local forests were depleted and until anthracite coal became widely available.
Dogtown is a five square mile area of Gloucester and Rockport strewn with glacial boulders. Visitors to Dogtown find cellar holes of abandoned houses, and boulders emblazoned with inspirational messages.
The manner in which residents of Ipswich celebrated the end of hostilities was recorded in “The Life, Journals and Correspondence of Rev. Manasseh Cutler.”
In1882, a shell heap on the shore of Treadwell’s Island was observed to contain nearly two quarts of human bones, broken into short pieces.
The Ipswich Historical Commission Mary Conley Award for 2020 is awarded to Ingrid and Stephen Miles, owners of the historic Captain Richard Rogers house at 58 N. Main St.
Legendary Ipswich native Jake Burridge had a century of sailing stories to share with you.
Many Ipswich Streets lost their original names, but a few streets gained them back. During our long winters, Ipswichites retreat to Facebook and debate the names of familiar places. If you call us Ipswichians, we’ll know you’re not from around here.
The Great Migration brought nearly 14,000 Puritan settlers, unprepared for the hardships and trauma that awaited them. Building a new society in the wilderness induced transgenerational post-traumatic stress and mass conversion disorder, culminating in the Salem Witch Trials.
Samuel often had words with his neighbor John Lee Sr. over the handling of cattle and sheep, and in 1668 the two landed in court for disturbing the peace. Neither would not admit to any wrong. A witness testified that John’s son Joseph hit Samuel with a club as they “were wording it over the sheep”
Paul Valcour interviewed Bill George twice for his show on Ipswich ICAM, and Bill shared his large collection of old Ipswich photographs.
The wearing of long hair was a burning theme of address in the early Puritan pulpit. The clergy prescribed that the hair should by no means lie over the band or doublet collar. In 1649, the Governor and seven of the Assistants declared their “dislike and detestation against the wearing of such long hair, whereby men doe deforme themselves, and offend sober and modest men.”
On June 9, 1954, before a nationwide television audience, Joseph Welch of Waltham replied to Joseph McCarthy, “Until this moment, Senator, I think I have never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness.”
On the last Tuesday of August, 1786 some 1500 armed insurgents took possession of the Northampton Court House, initiating a brief war known as Shay’s Rebellion.