Category: History

The Great Salem Fire, June 25, 1914

Salem, Massachusetts burned on June 25, 1914. It began with a series of explosions at the Korn leather factory on Boston street, and burned 253 acres, cut a swath a half-mile wide and a mile-and-a-half long through the city. Almost half of the population of 48,000 people lost their homes. Read more […]

Rachel Clinton arrested for witchcraft, May 28, 1692

Everything about Rachel Clinton’s life went wrong, and in her old age she became a beggar and a ward of the town of Ipswich, She was an easy target for the witchcraft hysteria that spread from Salem throughout Essex County, and on May 28, 1692, Rachel Clinton was arrested, and was kept in the Ipswich or Salem jail, shackled with iron fetters.

Mothers Day Flood, May 14-16, 2006

Fourteen inches of rain fell between May 14 and May 16, 2006, creating the historic 2006 Mothers Day Flood.  Water flow levels in the Ipswich River were 27% higher than recorded in previous epic floods. Photos are from the Ipswich River Watershed Association site with additonal photos provided by myself and readers. Kerry […]

Engraving of Market Square in Ipswich from John Warner Barber’s Historical collections: being a general collection of interesting facts, traditions, biographical sketches, anecdotes, etc. relating to the history and antiquities of every town in Massachusetts,” published in 1839

Ipswich town meeting

Featured image: Ipswich woodcut, 1838 attributed to S. E. Brown. Thomas Franklin Waters recorded the early history of Town Meeting in his book, Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The first Ipswich public official appointed was the Clerk, Robert Lord, chosen in February 1643-4, “from this time forward to be […]

The Choate Bridge–what a bargain!

This 250-year-old bridge that the naysayers claimed would never survive its first day has stood the test of time. It cost our town £500 to build, $1000 to widen, and some occasional upkeep. When we consider every horse, buggy, stagecoach, car, truck, bicycle and pedestrian that has passed over Col. Choate’s bridge since 1764, that seems like a really good deal.

John Winthrop’s journal of the ship Arbella’s voyage to America, March 29 – July 8, 1630

On April 7, 1630, the Arabella was a week out from its port in England, and the last well-wishers returned to shore. The winds were finally favorable, and the ship weighed anchor and sailed for New England, with Governor John Winthrop and approximately 300 English Puritans on board, leaving their homes in England to settle in a fledgling colony.

The Hayes Hotel

The Hayes Hotel was constructed in 1842 by James Peatfield and Sandford Peatfield as a factory for the manufacture of woolen goods, hosiery and underclothing. John W. Hayes purchased the building in 1885 and established the Hayes Tavern, By the middle of the 20th Century the building still had the hotel sign, but was being used as a rooming house, which burned in 1969 with loss of life.

1793 and 1818: the “Burden of the Poor” divides Ipswich into three towns

As the people of the Hamlet were financially stable, the burden of taxation for the support of the poor in the old town of Ipswich was considered to be an unjust imposition. The leaders of the parish petitioned Ipswich to be allowed to incorporate as the new town of Hamilton. 25 years later, the men of Chebacco petitioned the Legislature for incorporation as a separate town, and to not be held for any part of the new establishment for the relief of the poor in Ipswich. The following year, Chebacco Parish became the Town of Essex

Daniel Denison grave at the Old North Burying Ground in Ipswich

Daniel Denison

Daniel Denison became Major General of the colonial forces and represented Ipswich in the general court. He was remembered with high esteem by the people of Ipswich well into the 19th Century. You can visit Denison’s grave at the Old North Burial Ground.

John Winthrop Jr. here and gone

John Winthrop the younger was the son of Massachusetts Bay Colony governor John Winthrop, and led the settlement of Agawam in 1633 (renamed Ipswich in 1634), accompanied by 11 men. During that first year they erected crude shelters and the next year brought their families to join them […]

Anne Dudley Bradstreet, the colony’s first published poet

Featured image: frontispiece for “An Account of Anne Bradstreet: The Puritan Poetess, and Kindred Topics” edited by Colonel Luther Caldwell (Boston, 1898) ……………………………………………………………………. Anne Dudley Bradstreet was born in 1612 in England. She married Simon Bradstreet at age sixteen. Her father Thomas Dudley, was a steward to an Earl, […]

Agawam

Image: Ipswich Riverwalk Mural ,Sagamore Masconomet selling Agawam to John Winthrop At the time of the arrival of European colonists in the 1630′s, the Ipswich area was known as Agawam but the tribe had been decimated by what is now believed to have been a hepatitis plague. The […]

The Fox Creek Canal

This article is by John Fiske, chairman of the Ipswich Historical Commission. Memorial Day, 2014: 76º, humid, hazy clouds, and the end of a long spell of unseasonably cool weather. Just the day for our first cruise of the season, puttering among the salt marshes in our little boat. […]

The Dark Day, May 19, 1780

On the afternoon of May 18, 1780 the sky was a strange yellowish color and the clouds seemed dark and heavy. The next morning the sun came up deep red and barely visible through a haze, until by noon there was “midnight darkness” and people could not see. […]