An old legend about the Gloucester witch Peg Wesson is often mentioned, but never was it told in such detail as in this story published in the Boston Evening Transcript, October 14, 1892. It was carried in papers throughout the country.
It is said that the Rev. Belcher was dependent on his neighbors’ kindness in his later life. Much to the supposed discredit of the parish, the story was often told that when he grew old and unable to preach, his parishioners cast him off and carted him back to Ipswich, his native place.
Mary Perkins was born in 1615, the daughter of Sergeant John Perkins, Sr. and Judith Perkins. She became the wife of Capt. Thomas Bradbury of Salisbury, and was sentenced to death as witch in 1692, but was not executed. Over a hundred neighbors testified in her support.
Elizabeth Morse of Newbury was accused and found guilty of being a witch. She was initially sentenced to be hanged, but after spending a year in the Boston jail, she was sent home
“We turn our eyes below and at our feet, Lies in peace old Pudding Street, So named because a pudding left to dry Was stolen by some tipsy passers by.
These later years from vulgar names have shrunk, And called it High because the thieves were drunk.”
“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.”
Some said that Goody Cole took the shapes of eagles, dogs, cats and apes. At last she lay under sentence of death in the Ipswich jail for changing a child in its cradle.
I love to think of old Ipswich town
Old Ipswich town in the east countree,
Whence on the tide, you can float down
Through long salt grass to the wailing sea.
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.
A rumor spread that two British ships were in the river, and were going to burn the town. The news spread as far as New Hampshire, and in every place the report was that the regulars were but a few miles behind them, slashing everyone in sight.
Soon after her marriage she was known as a fortune-teller, her clients increasing during the fifty years that she afterwards lived. Her fame reached every fireside in New England, and her successful predictions were the themes of many midnight vigils and story-tellers.
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.”
Dogtown is a five square mile area of Gloucester and Rockport strewn with glacial boulders. Visitors to Dogtown find cellar holes of abandoned houses, and boulders emblazoned with inspirational messages.
The Quartermaster’s house became the scene more than once of violent disorder. The company’s behavior was so scandalous that the whole lot were summoned to Ipswich Court on May 1, 1672.
On March 6, 1659 a young man named Robert Cross dug up the remains of the Agawam chief Masconomet, and carried his skull on a pole through Ipswich streets, an act for which Cross was imprisoned, sent to the stocks, then returned to prison until a fine was paid.
The gilded weathercock at the First Church in Ipswich has graced the steeple of every church at that location since the middle of the 18th Century.
When Parliament laid a tax on tea, the British locked all the tea that had arrived in Newburyport into the powder house. Eleazer Johnson led a group of men who shattered the door and burned the tea in Market Square.
Madame Shatswell loved her cup of tea, and as a large store had been stored for family use before the hated tax was imposed, she saw no harm in using it as usual. News of the treason spread throughout the town.
“They are the housewife’s barometer, foretelling her when it will rain and are prognostic. Sometimes she thinks of ill or good luck of the death of a near relation or the approach of an absent lover. By being the constant companions of her solitary hours they naturally become the objects of her superstition.”
On the fourth day after the ship left port, the sun came out and in the distance could be seen the same ship sailing effortlessly back into port directly into the wind. As the Noah’s Dove approached, its passengers including the young couple were visible but ghost-like.
Jane Hooper was in 1760 a Newburyport “school dame” but after she lost that job she found fame as a fortune-teller. When the Madame made her yearly visit to Ipswich, the young and the old called on her to learn of their fates.
The earliest recorded sighting of a Sea Serpent in North American waters was at Cape Ann in 1639. In 1817, reports spread throughout New England of a sea serpent sighted in Gloucester Harbor.
Snowstorms on the 20th and 24th of February 1717 covered the earth up to 20 ft. deep. In some places houses were completely buried, and paths were dug from house to house under the snow. A widow in Medford burned her furniture to keep the children warm.
Imprinted into the rocks in front of the First Church in Ipswich is the footprint of the devil, left there forever in a legendary encounter with the traveling English evangelist George Whitefield in 1740.
In our struggle for Independence, the British military received its first setback from the inhabitants of Salem in an episode that could not have been more ludicrous or entertaining if it had been written for Monty Python.
In 1819 the inhabitants of Chebacco Parish began noticing lights moving about at night in the graveyard. It was discovered that at least eight graves had been dug up and their coffins were empty.
In a northeasterly storm in December, 1786 Samuel Pulsifer and Samuel Elwell of Rowley were digging clams on Plum Island, got caught in the storm, and took refuge in a stack of salt hay for the night. In the morning they found they had been set afloat!
On December 1, 1722, Daniel Rogers was returning to Ipswich from a court case in Hampton and took a wrong turn that led deep into Salisbury marshes. His body was found a few days later near Salisbury beach. Suspicion fell on one Moses Gatchel but no charges were filed, there being a lack of solid evidence.
Rebecca Rawson of Newbury became one of the most popular young ladies in Boston society. She married a charming but cunning young man who left her desolate in London. On her return to America, the ship was swallowed by a tsunami.
Mark Quilter was a cow-keeper on the north side of town with a reputation for drinking. When Goodwife Shatswell visited Goodwife Quilter and insulted both of them, Quilter lost his temper.
After Guy Hawkes, a Catholic, attempted to blow up the king and members of Parliament, effigies of Guy Fawkes were burned every year on Nov. 5, accompanied by a day of odd activities. The tradition was continued by English settlers in America.
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 […]
It was the schooner Hesperus,
That sailed the wintry sea;
And the skipper had taken his little daughtèr,
To bear him company.