Author Archives

Historic Ipswich

The Ipswich Historical Commission acts to preserve the history and historical assets of the Town of Ipswich, Massachusetts.

Battle of clammers over the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Clam Battle!

Life Magazine, July 16, 1945: The government had taken over the lands for a Wildlife Refuge, and the clam battle was on. Ipswich hunters were afraid of losing their private hunting reserves. Ipswich farmers were afraid of losing their land.

Lord Timothy Dexter's house in Newburyport

Lord Timothy Dexter

Lord Timothy Dexter of Newburyport was insane but profited from everything he undertook. He declared himself to be “the greatest philosopher in the known world.” His book, “A Pickle for the Knowing Ones” is a collection of whatever entered his head at the moment, spelling as he wished, and devoid of punctuation.

children at hearth

Around the fireplace

The memories of this writer go well back into the 19th Century to a time when life was very simple. First-hand accounts from parents and grandparents added to the understanding of the early days of that century. As this is written, a fine cold snow is coming down in ten degree weather. When those pioneers faced the like of this they had a lot more to do than to turn up the thermostat.

The General Laws of the Massachusetts Colony

The Body of Liberties, the “Ipswich Connection,” and the Origin of written Constitutionalism in Massachusetts

However benign John Winthrop’s intentions were, the system he tried to construct rested on the discretion, or will, of individual magistrates. However, he was defeated by the Ipswich Connection’s campaign for the “skill” or “rule” of written law; and if we still prize the ideal that government should operate based on laws, not men, we owe that partly to their promotion of the Body of Liberties.

Petition to the Town of Ipswich

The Power of a mark

I stumbled upon a remarkable family artifact: the crude “signature” that the probable founder of the Grow family in America – my direct ancestor nine generations removed – had put down on paper 326 years earlier. A small, nondescript mark on a long-forgotten document brought history personally alive for me in a way that perhaps only passionately engaged family historians would fully understand.

Early American Gardens

Isadore Smith (1902-1985) lived on Argilla Road in Ipswich and was the author of 3 volumes about 17th-19th Century gardens, writing under the pseudonym Ann Leighton. As a member of the Ipswich Garden Club, she created a traditional seventeenth century rose garden at the Whipple House.

Willowdale community, Topsfield Rd., Ipswich and Hamilton

Willowdale

In 1829, Dr. Thomas Manning of Ipswich constructed a 6′ tall dam and mill on the Ipswich River along Topsfield Rd. Workers were provided housing a the large stone house. In 1884 the mill building burned and much of the stone walls for the mill building collapsed. 

Ipswich MA sale of a Negro girl slave named Patience

Her name was Patience

“Know all men by these presents I, Thomas Burnam of Ipswich, do by these presents bargain, sell, sett over and confirm unto the said Robert Dodge, a negro girl known by the name of Patience…To have and to hold said negro girl Patience during her natural life.”