“In the Good Old Summer Time” – Swampscott Estates

In the 19th Century, wealthy professionals and businessmen who chose to construct lavish summer homes in Swampscott for themselves and their families to enjoy its sea breezes and ocean views.

Saugus Iron Works

Saugus Iron Works and the Appleton house.

Reprinted in part from MASS Moments. Featured image: National Park Service.  When the Great Migration of the 1630s ended, the number of ships bound for Massachusetts fell off steeply. The supply of iron products went down and the price went up.Among the men interested in seeing an iron industry develop in the colony was John Winthrop, Jr., son … Continue reading Saugus Iron Works and the Appleton house.

The Tragedy of the Wilderness: The Colonists and Indian Land, Part 4

Native Americans and settlers managed to impoverish themselves through overexploitation of the wider environment. At the same time, they both also selectively protected species, custom-designed habitats for them, and practiced common-sense conservation of trees, soil, fish stocks, and water

The Ipswich Town Flag

Behind the Selectmen in Meeting Room A at Town Hall are the American and Massachusetts flags, and in a frame between them is the Ipswich Town Flag. I found the history of our flag in the 1996 Ipswich Annual Town Report: "This year, the Town Clerk's office was involved in designing a flag for the Town … Continue reading The Ipswich Town Flag

Disorder in the Corn Fields: The Colonists and Indian Land, Part 3

by Mary Ellen Lepionka. Featured image: the Moses Jewett house on upper High Street. In Massachusetts Bay Colony, Native Americans as well as colonists were required to fence their cornfields, and colonists were required to help them. Soon after, everyone was also responsible for fencing the commons to keep cattle in, away from the cornfields. … Continue reading Disorder in the Corn Fields: The Colonists and Indian Land, Part 3

“Brought to Civility” — The Colonists and Indian Land, Part 2

Featured image: Samoset, visiting Wampanoag chief Massasoit, entered the settlement at Plymouth on March 16, 1621 and greeted the colonists in English. by Mary Ellen Lepionka The idea of private property was alien to Native Americans, but the practice of private ownership apparently was not a feature of colonial life either. A common misconception is that English … Continue reading “Brought to Civility” — The Colonists and Indian Land, Part 2

Indian symbols, by by Capt. Seth Eastman, U. S. Army, (1808-1875)

Manitou in Context

by Mary Ellen Lepionka. Featured image by Capt. Seth Eastman, U. S. Army, (1808-1875) Children in the colonial era were taught that the Indians’ Great Spirit was an avatar of Satan. Children today are taught that the Great Spirit is a version of the Christian God. How far from the truth are both these ideas? How—really—and … Continue reading Manitou in Context

Summer in the Greenland coast circa year 1000 by Jens Erik Carl Rasmussen (1841–1893)

The Cape Ann Vikings

Featured image: Summer in the Greenland coast circa year 1000 by Jens Erik Carl Rasmussen (1841–1893) by Mary Ellen Lepionka, January 15, 2018 It seemed a simple enough question: Who came here prior to English settlement and what did they discover? Other than Champlain, I expected to confirm the landfalls of Columbus in the Caribbean, Ponce de … Continue reading The Cape Ann Vikings

Bundling

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 and files of the Essex County Courts

Records from the Essex County Quarterly Courts, 1636-1692

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.

Samuel Symonds, gentleman: complaint to Salem court against his two servants, 1661

Philip Welch and William Downing, both children, were kidnapped from Ireland in 1654, and sold to Samuel Symonds in Ipswich. After 7 years they refused to continue working on his farm and demanded their freedom. They were arrested and brought to trial.

Vermont Country Store Christmas Catalogue

The Vermont Country Store catalogue evokes Christmas nostalgia

by Helen Breen “Purveyors of the Practical and Hard-to-Find since 1946” reads the masthead on the Vermont Country Store catalogue mailed to thousands of American homes regularly. BEGINNINGS Although founders Vrest and Mildred Orton opened their store in Weston, Vermont right after World War II, the firm’s origins had a strong family history in the … Continue reading The Vermont Country Store catalogue evokes Christmas nostalgia

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 in Rowley: "News arrived in Rooty Plain … Continue reading Flight from Rooty Plain

The hanging of John Williams and William Schooler, July 1637

In 1637, two men convicted on separate counts of murder were executed in Boston on the same gallows.  John Williams was convicted of killing John Hoddy near Great Pond in Wenham on the road to Ipswich. William Schooler was tried in Ipswich and found guilty of killing Mary Scholy on the path to Piscataqua.

Stagecoach Ipswich MA

The stagecoach in Ipswich

The first stagecoach in Essex County, drawn by four horses, was established in 1774 and connected Newburyport with Boston via Salem and Ipswich. By the early 1800's, up to seventeen stagecoaches and four post chaises passed through town each day, most of them full to overflowing. In 1803, the Newburyport Turnpike Corporation built a straight toll road … Continue reading The stagecoach in Ipswich

The Great Dying--Native Americans in the early 17th Century

The Great Dying 1616-1619, “By God’s visitation, a wonderful plague”

Featured image: Drawn by a French missionary of Abenaki in Maine during a smallpox epidemic in 1740 The arrival of 102 Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower at Plymouth in 1620 and the settlements by the Puritans in Boston, Salem and Ipswich a decade later were accompanied by the demise of the native population of North America. “Within … Continue reading The Great Dying 1616-1619, “By God’s visitation, a wonderful plague”

Ipswich Civil War veterans

Ipswich at war

Featured image: Civil War veterans at the Choate Bridge Some American wars in which Ipswich citizens have fought 1634: Settlement and the early military annals 1636-1638 Pequot War 1675 -1676 King Philip's War 1689-1697 War of William and Mary (King William's War) 1690 Battle of Quebec 1702-1713 Queen Anne's War (War of Spanish Succession) 1744-1748 King … Continue reading Ipswich at war

Something to Preserve

Featured image: the Preston-Foster house on Water Street. Something To Preserve was published by the Ipswich Historical Commission in 1975 and is a report on historic preservation by the acquisition of protective agreements on buildings in Ipswich, Massachusetts. This important book described the process by which the town of Ipswich began to preserve at-risk historic homes … Continue reading Something to Preserve

The First Church Clock

By Ipswich Historical Commission chairman John Fiske: It’s not often that a major purchase in 1762 turns into a major headache in 2017. But that is what happened with the First Church’s clock in Ipswich. The First Church (uppercase C: the institution) built its first church (lowercase c: the building) in 1634, the year that … Continue reading The First Church Clock

Boston Irish Long Remembered the 1834 Charlestown Convent Fire

Featured image: Woodcut image of the 1834 burning of the Ursuline Convent in Charlestown, Massachusetts. Catholics and fair minded Bostonians were dismayed by the tragedy. by Helen Breen This week marks the 183th anniversary of the burning and ransacking of the Ursuline Convent in Charlestown, Massachusetts on August 11, 1834. The outrage would smolder in the … Continue reading Boston Irish Long Remembered the 1834 Charlestown Convent Fire