Category: Legends

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 […]

Peg Wesson the Gloucester witch

Peg Wesson, the Gloucester witch

An old legend about the Gloucester witch Peg Wesson is often mentioned, but never was it told in such detail as in this story, written by Sarah G. Daley and published in the Boston  Evening Transcript, October 14, 1892. It was carried in papers throughout the country. It was March, 1745, and the […]

Haunted houses of Ipswich

These ghost stories were shared on Facebook. A friend of mine mentioned that a few years ago a realtor was getting ready to go out the front door at the Jonathan Pulcifer house on Summer Street, when he noticed a stack of old publications sitting on the bottom […]

The Legend of Goody Cole, 1680

In Myths and Legends of our Own Time, Charles M. Skinner wrote the following story, based on two poems by John Greenleaf Whittier. Goodwife Eunice Cole, of Hampton, Massachusetts, was so “vehemently suspected to be a witch” that she was arrested in 1680 for the third time and was thrown […]

Wreck of the Hesperus, January 6, 1839

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem was inspired by the Blizzard of 1839, which ravaged the North Shore for 12 hours, starting on January 6, 1839. Twenty ships and forty lives were lost during the storm. The probable subject of the story is the schooner Favorite, which sank on a rock called […]

The proof was in the Kettle

Mark Quilter made his living as a cow-keeper in the common land on the north side of town and seemed to always be in trouble.

He was called before the court in 1647 and reprimanded for “sleeping in the barn” rather than watching the cows during his evening shift. He had a reputation in Ipswich for drinking and losing his temper and was always the butt of jokes and pranks.

The Spectre Ship of Salem

Cotton Mather related the tale of a doomed ship called “Noah’s Dove” which left Salem during the late 17th century for England. Among the passengers were “a young man and a passing beautiful girl pale and sorrowful, whom no one knew and who held communion with no one.” […]

The Spectre Leaguers, 1692

This story of apparitions suggests that the colony was suffering from mass insanity. In the midst of witchcraft accusations in 1692, Gloucester was invaded by a spectral company for a fortnight. Their speech was in an unknown tongue, and bullets passed right through them. The alarm became so great that Major Samuel Appleton of Ipswich sent sixty men on the 18th of July. When the defender’s guns had no effect, the soldiers fell to their knees, calling out the name of God. Heaven rang with the howls of the angry fiends, and never again were the Spectral Leaguers seen in Gloucester.

Great Storm of 1815

Jane Hooper, the fortune teller

This story is adapted from the Reminiscences of Joseph Smith and Reminiscences of a Nonagenarian and brings together no less than four incredible old tales. Jane Hooper was in 1760 a Newburyport “school dame” but after she lost that job she found fame as a fortune-teller and became known in our area as “Madam Hooper, the […]

Adrift on a Haystack legend Rowley

Adrift on a Haystack, 1876

A remarkable northeasterly storm on the 4th of December, 1786 caused most of the salt hay along the North Shore to be set afloat and lost in the tide. Samuel Pulsifer and Samuel Elwell, both of Rowley were digging clams on the flats in Plum Island Sound and got caught […]

The ghost of Harry Maine

Harry Maine — you have heard the tale; He lived there in Ipswich Town; He blasphemed God, so they put him down with an iron shovel, at Ipswich Bar; They chained him there for a thousand years, As the sea rolls up to shovel it back; So when the sea cries, the goodwives say “Harry Maine growls at his work today.”

Legend of Heartbreak Hill, Ipswich MA

The Legend of Heartbreak Hill

In Ipswich town, not far from the sea, Rises a hill which the people call Heartbreak hill, and its history Is an old, old legend known to all.
It was a sailor who won the heart Of an Indian maiden, lithe and young; And she saw him over the sea depart, While sweet in her ear his promise rung;..