Category: History

Digging peat

The Peat Meadows

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.

Jeffreys Neck Ipswich ma map and aerial view

Jeffreys’ Neck Road

This history of Jeffreys Neck is from the Agawam Manual and Directory by M.V.B. Perley, published in 1888. The business of fur-trading and fishing along the New England coast received a new impetus about the beginning of the seventeenth century. In 1604 Agawam was the center of Arcadia, […]

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.

Camp Sea Haven, Plum Island MA

The Knobbs

The Knobbs is a small beach in a stretch of salt marsh on the west side of the Ipswich section of Plum Island. On the Atlantic side was the Kbobbs Beach Life-Saving Station, replaced in 1947 by a camp for children who had been victims of polio.

The Fox Creek Canal

The Fox Creek Canal provided the missing link between the forests of New Hampshire and the shipyards of Essex. Lumber boats would sail down the Merrimack to Newburyport, cruise south along the landward-side of Plum Island and reach the Ipswich River without ever having to go on the ocean, then take the canal to the Castle Neck River to Essex Bay.

Millend Ipswich by Martin Van Buren Perley

“Mill End” Ipswich

“Millend” was the west side of the settlement, including today’s Topsfield Rd. and Washington St. Home of Samuel Appleton and John Whipple, it was separated from the east side by a wetland. In1717, Capt. Beamsley Perkins was taken to court for blocking their path to the Meeting House.

Mason’s Claim

On January 4, 1681, John T. Mason presented the King’s letter to the General Court, which ordered “all said tenants” to appear in Ipswich. If an ancient claim was confirmed, every land title would be worthless and a landed medieval system known as “quit-rents” could be grafted upon New England.