Category: History

The Plum Island Salt Company

From the 1918 Publications of the Ipswich Historical Society: In the  1820’s a Frenchman, Gilshenan by name made examination of many localities along the American coast to erect a salt works. Coming at last to the Ipswich Bar at the end of Plum Island, he exclaimed, “This is the […]

Mathison painting, "Examination of a Witch" trial of Elizabeth Howe of Ipswich

The Witchcraft Trial of Elizabeth Howe

Elizabeth Howe and her husband James resided on outer Linebrook. After James lost his sight at about the age of 50, Elizabeth assumed the dual responsibility of managing the family and the farm. She was charged with bewitching her neighbor’s child and was arrested on May 28, 1692. Elizabeth Howe was one of the five women hung in Salem on July 19, 1692.

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

Ipswich Cornet Band

The Grand Old Fourth

“The night before the Fourth of July, thousands of people were milling up and down Central and Market Streets and Depot Square. Every man and boy carried a revolver and shot off blank cartridges as fast as they could re-load. “At five o’clock on the morning of the Fourth, the sexton of the Methodist Church could open up the doors and let in the boys ring the church bell for an hour. Then came the parade.”

The Commons

When the Town of Ipswich was established, ownership of a house and land within the town bounds carried with it the right of pasturage beyond the Common Fence. In 1788, the commoners resigned all their land interests to pay the heavy town debt incurred during the Revolution.

The Pillow Lace Tercentenary plaque on High Street in Ipswich

Ipswich Pillow lace

In the late eighteenth century, Ipswich had 600 women and girls producing more than 40,000 yards of lace annually. In the 1820’s Ipswich industrialists opened a factory and imported machines from England to mechanize and speed up the operation, which destroyed the hand-made lace industry.

Acadian exiles in Ipswich, 1755

Massachusetts men played a conspicuous part in the French and Indian War, which resulted in wholesale destruction and deportation in French-speaking Nova Scotia. Surviviors were exiled to the Colonies, their children taken from them and distributed to English families as “nothing more than slaves.”

Ipswich hosiery advertisement

Ipswich Hosiery

In the mid-18th Century, Ipswich women started making lace with distinctive patterns. After the first stocking machine was smuggled from England to Ipswich in 1822, immigrants arrived in Ipswich to work in the cotton and hosiery mills, contributing to the town’s diverse cultural heritage.

Green Street Bridge painting by Theodore Wendel

The Green Street Bridge

Twenty years after building the County Street Bridge, construction began for the Green Street Bridge. The original structure was made of wood but was later replaced by an arched bridge of stone on May 14, 1894. This was the fifth bridge built on the Ipswich River in the Town of Ipswich.

Photograph by Clarence White of Arthur Wesley Dow

Arthur Wesley Dow

Ipswich artist Arthur Wesley Dow (1857 – 1922) was one of the town’s most famous residents. During summer, Dow and his wife ran the Summer School of Art from the historic “Howard house” on Turkey Shore Road. The Ipswich Museum owns the largest collection of works by Arthur Wesley Dow.

Bob Cratchit

“A Christmas Carol” – the Back Story

When Charles Dickens was twelve, his feckless father was imprisoned for three months in Marshalsea Prison in London for debt. The boy had to leave school and work in a boot blackening factory to support the family, a humiliation he never forgot. Nevertheless, Dickens rose to fame quickly as a young novelist becoming “an international celebrity, famous for humor, satire, and keen observation of character and society.”

John Wise Tercentenary sign, Rt. 133, Essex MA

The Rev. John Wise of Ipswich

The concepts of freedom about which Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence originated from the pen of the Rev. John Wise of Ipswich: “The first human subject and original of civil power is the people…and when they are free, they may set up what species of government they please.”