100 years ago – The Spanish Flu epidemic raged in Massachusetts in 1918

by Helen Breen "John F. Boland, Jr., was born in Lynn and attended Cobbet Grammar School. While in school he was active in athletics and played football and baseball on the school teams. He was a leather sorter by trade, working at times for Stephenson & Osborne, a cut sole house, Hilliard & Merrill, Brown … Continue reading 100 years ago – The Spanish Flu epidemic raged in Massachusetts in 1918

“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

In Congress, July 4, 1776

Featured image: "Declaration of Independence," oil on canvas by John Trumbull, 1818. IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776   The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among … Continue reading In Congress, July 4, 1776

polio shot

Life in the Summer of Polio

Photo by Peter Zaharis from the 1956 Ipswich Town Report. Before introduction of the Salk polio vaccine in 1955, there were tens of thousands of new cases of polio annually in the United States, many resulting in paralysis. In the following year, new cases had been cut in half, and by 1961 there were just over … Continue reading Life in the Summer of Polio

Lakemans Lane and Fellows Road

by Charlotte Lindgren One hundred years ago, Lakemans Lane was a narrow dirt road lined by stone walls. About a mile beyond Parting Paths, then called Whittier's Corner (for the now demolished homestead of the large Whittier family), the lane connected County and Essex Roads. It was bisected by Fellows Road which led to Candlewood. … Continue reading Lakemans Lane and Fellows Road

Ipswich woodcut,1838 attributed to S. E. Brown.

Governing Ipswich

Ipswich was established in 1634, and was one of the most influential towns in Colonial America. The early town records, the actions of Town Meeting, and the deliberations of the courts are preserved.

Marblehead is established, May 6, 1635

Featured image: Marblehead, by Arthur Wesley Dow, circa 1900 A story at Mass Moments In May 1635 the General Court ordered "that there shall be a plantation at Marble Head" and gave the inhabitants the right to do whatever they pleased with the land, even though it was part of Salem. The move was meant to … Continue reading Marblehead is established, May 6, 1635

Tomstone of Elizabeth and Mary Berry, daughters of Dr. Thomas Berry, who both died in 1735.

Great Sorrows: The Deadly “Throat Distemper” of 1735-36

Featured image: Tombstone of the daughters of Dr. Thomas Berry: Elizabeth age 5 years, and Mary, age 18 months, who died in December 1735 of the "throat distemper." Photo by John Glassford An epidemic of "throat distemper" raged in New England between 1735 and 1740. The contagion struck first in New Hampshire, killing almost 1% of the … Continue reading Great Sorrows: The Deadly “Throat Distemper” of 1735-36

Patronage and Scandal at the Ipswich Customs House

In 1829, the position of Ipswich Customs Collector was granted to Timothy Souther, a man of prominence and one of the old line Democrats who held office there under President Andrew Jackson. Souther resigned in August, 1840 after being charged with graft.

The Essex Convention

The Ipswich Convention and the Essex Result

Delegates met in Ipswich in 1774 and 1778 to deliberate a Constitution for Massachusetts. Their "Exceptions" were published in the 60-page "Essex Result," and included an ominous warning to future generations: In 1774, in retaliation for the Boston Tea Party of December 16, 1773, General Gage was sent to Boston with troops, and assumed the governorship. The colony’s … Continue reading The Ipswich Convention and the Essex Result

Townshent acts tea tax

The “Detested Tea”

From Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, by Thomas Franklin Waters In 1767, the Townshend Acts were passed, one of which provided for a tax on wine, glass, tea, gloves, etc, imported into the Province. During the winter, the General Court issued a Circular Letter, which was sent to the other Assemblies, notifying them of the measure … Continue reading The “Detested Tea”

Lynn Shoeworkers Strike, Feb. 22, 1860

Mass Moments On February 22,  1860, thousands of striking shoe workers filled Lyceum Hall in Lynn. By choosing to begin their protest on Washington's birthday, the strikers were invoking the memory of their revolutionary forefathers. Lynn had been a shoe making town since the early 1800s. Hard times had now caused management to cut wages … Continue reading Lynn Shoeworkers Strike, Feb. 22, 1860

“Kiss of Death” at New England textile mills

The weaver, after loading a new pirn wrapped with thread into a shuttle, drew the loose end through the hole with her breath. Certainly no one connected this habit with the observation, made sometime in the nineteenth century, that weavers were dying of what was then called consumption at a higher rate than the general public.

A town of immigrants

Puritans founded Ipswich during the “Great Migration” of the early 17th Century. Many residents of the town descend from immigrants who arrived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to work in the mills.

The Marblehead smallpox riot, 1773

From The History and Traditions of Marblehead" by Samuel Roads. Featured image by Charles Green. During the year 1773, the attention of the inhabitants of Marblehead was for a time occupied in considering their danger from another source than the oppressive acts of the British Parliament. In June the wife of Mr. William Matthews was … Continue reading The Marblehead smallpox riot, 1773

Thomas Jefferson

Jefferson’s Warning to the White House

From an article by Nancy Gibbs,  Time Magazine, February 6, 2017:  Jefferson's Warning to the White House During the campaign of 1800, a Federalist newspaper article stated that with Jefferson as president: “Murder, robbery, rape, adultery, and incest will be openly taught and practiced, the air will be rent with the cries of the distressed, the … Continue reading Jefferson’s Warning to the White House

The Man in Full: Honoring the Life and Times of Ipswich Police Officer Officer Charles B. Schwartz

By Gavin Keenan Retired Ipswich Police Officer and local legend Charles Benjamin Schwartz passed away on January 19, 2017. Charlie had struggled with cancer this last year and as he would say, “Gave it as good as I got.” Although I am relieved for him that his suffering has ended, I’m saddened by the passing … Continue reading The Man in Full: Honoring the Life and Times of Ipswich Police Officer Officer Charles B. Schwartz

The Choate Bridge in Ipswich, photo by George Dexter

Battles of the bridges

Excerpts from Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, by Thomas Franklin Waters The stone bridges which span the Ipswich river with their graceful arches are picturesque and interesting, but the readiness with which the Town proceeded to build the latter two stone bridges is in singular contrast with the belligerent opposition to the earliest ones. The … Continue reading Battles of the bridges

19th Century: Religion divided the town

Excerpts from Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony by Thomas Franklin Waters The Congregational Church The Congregational Church, founded by the first settlers, maintained the old order for many generations in undisputed supremacy. From time to time, as the population increased, as has been noted, new Parishes within the Town limits had been established, in … Continue reading 19th Century: Religion divided the town

Lowell Offering

The Lowell Offering

The Lowell Offering was a monthly periodical, first published in 1840, which featured poetry and fiction by female workers at textile mills in Lowell, MA. Known as the Lowell Mill Girls, they often wrote about situations in their own lives, including labor unrest in the factories. The Offering ceased publication in 1844 but was revived from 1848 to 1850 as the New … Continue reading The Lowell Offering

Agawam house, Ipswich MA

The Great Agawam Stable Fire

By Harold Bowen, 1975 In the days of stagecoaches, there were several inns along the old Bay Road and High Street. These inns also provided stables in which to house the horses.. One of the later hotels was the Agawam House on North Main Street. In 1806 Nathaniel Treadwell bought land and a house and … Continue reading The Great Agawam Stable Fire