Stories from Essex

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The inhabitants of the part of Ipswich known as Chebacco (now Essex) established their own parish in 1679, but were still residents of the town of Ipswich. Among its early residents were many of the most important and influential people in Ipswich history.

On April 6, 1818, two hundred and six men of Chebacco petitioned the Legislature for incorporation, and the town of Essex as they named it, came into existence on Feb. 5, 1819.

Take the Essex Walking Tour

Historic Essex houses

Chebacco women build a meetinghouse The women of Chebacco build a Meeting House - When Chebacco Parish (now Essex) began building their own meeting house, Ipswich authorities obtained an order that “No man shall build a meeting house at Chebacco.” Abigail Proctor saw a glaring legal loophole...… Continue reading The women of Chebacco build a Meeting House
The Rev. John Wise of Ipswich - The concepts of freedom about which Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence originated from the pen of the Rev. John Wise of Ipswich: "The origin of civil power is the people...and when they are free, they may set up what species of government they please."… Continue reading The Rev. John Wise of Ipswich
The Great Colonial Hurricane and the wreck of the Angel Gabriel - In August 1635, the 240-ton Angel Gabriel sank in Pemaquid Bay after sailing into the most intense hurricane in New England history. Among the survivors were members of the Cogswell, Burnham and Andrews families, who settled in an area of Ipswich known as Chebacco.… Continue reading The Great Colonial Hurricane and the wreck of the Angel Gabriel
Thatched cottage by a River by Augustus Spencer Mehitable Braybrook, who burned down Jacob and Sarah Perkins’ house, married John Downing and was arrested for witchcraft - She was charged with burning down her master's house and was arrested years later during the witchcraft trials. Her husband had been captured and indentured by Cromwell's forces in Ireland.… Continue reading Mehitable Braybrook, who burned down Jacob and Sarah Perkins’ house, married John Downing and was arrested for witchcraft
Georgetown-Ipswich trolley The trolley comes to Ipswich, June 26, 1896 - In 1896, the first trolley from Beverly arrived in Ipswich, and a year later, the Georgetown, Rowley and Ipswich Street Railway opened. By 1919, Mr. Ford's Model T ended the brief era of the street railway.… Continue reading The trolley comes to Ipswich, June 26, 1896
Burgess flight Taking to the air in Ipswich, 1910 - In 1909, W. Starling Burgess joined with Augustus Moore Herring to form the Herring-Burgess Company, manufacturing aircraft under a license with the Wright Brothers, thus becoming the first licensed aircraft manufacturer in the United States. Burgess took the initial flight of his first plane in 1908 at Chebacco Lake in Hamilton, MA. Flight tests of Burgess biplanes were conducted in November and December, 1910 near Essex Road in Ipswich… Continue reading Taking to the air in Ipswich, 1910
Building a ship in Essex - By the early 1840s, Essex no longer had its own fishing fleet, but had turned to year-round shipbuilding fostering a symbiotic relationship with the successful fishermen in Gloucester… Continue reading Building a ship in Essex
1793 and 1818: the “Burden of the Poor” divides Ipswich into 3 towns, Ipswich, Hamilton and Essex - 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. 25 years later, the men of Chebacco petitioned the Legislature for incorporation as a separate town.… Continue reading 1793 and 1818: the “Burden of the Poor” divides Ipswich into 3 towns, Ipswich, Hamilton and Essex
Choate Island and Rufus Choate - Choate Island was originally known as Hog Island, and is the largest island in the Crane Wildlife Refuge and is the site of the Choate family homestead, the Proctor Barn, the White Cottage, and the final resting place of Mr. and Mrs. Cornelius Crane. There are great views from the island summit of the Castle Neck dunes and Plum Island Mount Agamenticus in Maine.… Continue reading Choate Island and Rufus Choate
Old Graveyard 1680, Essex MA The Body Snatcher of Chebacco Parish - 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.… Continue reading The Body Snatcher of Chebacco Parish

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