Ipswich Mill 19th Century

Ipswich mills and factories

From a publication of the Ipswich Historical Society by Thomas Franklin Waters in 1903

At the very beginning of the settlement of our Town, a grist mill was an imperative necessity, and at the first Town meeting of which definite record remains in 1634, “It is concluded and consented unto that Mr. John Spencer and Mr. Nicholas Easton shall have liberty to build a Mill and a Ware upon the Town River, about the falls of it upon this condition, that they shall part with an equal share of their Fish to all the inhabitants of this Town if they be demanded at five shill a thousand more or less according to the common price of the Country.”

The “Falls” alluded to, were probably only rapids, but various allusions to removing rocks about the dam indicate that in its natural state, our River ran rapidly in a rocky bed, where the large dam stands, and lower down, in the rocky gulch by the saw mill. This was the natural location for a dam, and the fish ” ware” was established for the taking of the shad and alewives which ascended the stream in great numbers. The original grantees left the Town, perhaps before the dam and grist mill were built, and Mr. Richard Saltonstall, son of Sir Richard, and one of the most important citizens of our Town succeeded to the grant. The dam was constructed at about the place where the new dam stands, we may suppose, and the grist mill was probably near the spot now occupied by the old stone mill. For many years, Mr. Saltonstall enjoyed a monopoly of the business. Corn was brought to mill from the whole great township to be ground into Indian meal, the great food staple of the time.

At length complaints were made about the miller, that he was unskillful, and disobliging, and a communication from the “Worshipful Richard Saltonstall Esq.” then in England was received and entered on the Town Record in 1671, promising that a skillful and acceptable miller, should be sent. But there were many apparently, who were not so easily satisfied, and the Town declared that the number of inhabitants was too great for one Indian corn mill.

In reference to this demand, Mr. Saltonstall asked and received liberty in April 1682, to build another grist mill, near Sergeant Clark’s. Thos. Clark owned and occupied the northeast corner of Summer and Water Streets by the river side, and the scheme of a mill contemplated a dam across the river at this point, and the utilizing of the tides. The privilege was granted “provided he have gates eighteen or twenty feet wide, to let up canoes or boats loaded into the cove and to let out boats and canoes when the tide serves.”

Jonathan Wade and others opposed this, and the reason may have been that he had received in 1673, ” that little island of rock’s at the falls, in exchange for so much to enlarge the highway by the windmill1 provided he hinder no man from taking away loose rocks, nor hinder fish ways, nor making of a bridge, nor prejudice the mills,” and in 1649, he had received permission to set up a saw mill, which may have been built at this point.

Cornet Whipple had also received permission in 1673 to build a fulling mill, “at the smaller falls, by Ezekiel Woodward’s house,” provided Mr. Saltonstall’s grist mill at the upper falls and another fulling mill already begun, at the upper fall probably, were not “prejudiced.” A dam lower down the river naturally threatened the privileges of the mills on the island. Nothing resulted from this scheme of a tide mill, and in 1686, as the need of another mill was increasingly pressing, the selectmen granted liberty to anyone to build a grist mill at the falls, “by or near Goodman Rust,” “provided they damnify not the upper grist mills.”

In March 1686/7, “Sar. Nicholas Wallis “received permission” to improve the water by damming in the river against his own land, not exceeding three foot for the building a fulling mill or mills, provided he do it within a year and a half.” He lived near the present Norwood mills. In 1667, for, the convenience of this neighborhood,” John Addams, Nath. Addams, Samuel Addams, Joseph Safford, Nicholas Wallis and Thomas Stace, upon consideration of their building a bridge over the river at there own expense,” were “freed from working in the common highway for 7 years to come.”

A corn mill was erected as well, perhaps by John Adams, as John Adams, Sen., conveyed his property to John, Jun., including ” half the land the corn mill stands ” in April, 1698. The deed mentions “the little dam.” The grist mill and a saw mill, known as “Adams’s Mills,” were sold by the widow to Paul Dodge in 1750.

His son Barnabas succeeded him, and David, son of Barnabas, sold to Ammi Smith in 1827, and the Smith heirs to Caleb and Jerome Norwood in 1868. The sawing of fine veneers was carried on with success. The fulling mill was operated by the Warners, and William Warner added a carding machine prior to 1794. This property was conveyed by the Warner heirs to Ammi Smith, in 1858. The water power once utilized for the fulling and scouring mill, and the carding of wool, is now used by the isinglass factory. A saw mill also is still in use.

In the year 1687, Nehemiah Jewet was granted leave to dam the Egypt River and build a grist mill, and in 1691, Thomas Boreman received permission to set a grist mill on Labour-in-vain Creek, provided he built within two years. The mill on Egypt river was built, near the residence of Mr. John Tenney, and some faint remains are still visible. There is no evidence of which I am aware, that Mr. Boreman ever built.

The presumption is rather against this, as Col. Saltonstall, son of Richard, received permission anew in June, 1695, to utilize the location by Sergeant Clark’s. Renewed opposition was made to this project in a written document signed by many, who protested that this grant should not be voted.

“1. Because it stops a navigable river.

“2. Because it will damnifie Col. Saltonstall’s grant. (i. e. the upper mill privilege, I presume).

” 3. Because severall other places which will answer ye Town’s ends are proposed, which will do less damage to proprietors.”

Apparently no further steps were taken by Col. Saltonstall, as permission was granted March 24, 1696, to Edmund Potter and others to set up a dam and grist mill on Mile Brook, “not to damnify Col. Appleton’s saw-mill.” The grist mill was located on the spot where the old mill still stands on the Oliver Smith farm. Col. Appleton’s saw mill was a little to the eastward of the bridge over Mile River.

Still there was a cry for a mill by Sergeant Clark’s, and again, on Nov. 4, 1696, it was voted, ” Two or three persons that are so minded shall have liberty to erect a mill and raise a dam across ye River by or near ye house where John Clark, Carpenter, formerly lived.” But no mill was built, and eventually the privilege at the Lower Falls was improved by Robert Calef who received permission in March 1714/15.

William Dodge purchased the mill and privilege at the Lower Falls, but he was not content and in 1730, he repeated the old plea for a location “at the end of Green Lane,” “near Sergeant Clark’s formerly so-called.” He proposed to build a dam with gates 20 feet wide to permit boats to pass, and then “throw up his works at the Falls and remove the grist mill he had lately built there down to the place petitioned for.” This was negatived and no further attempt was made to place a mill at this spot.

The Saltonstall heirs continued to hold an interest in the upper Mills until 1729. In that year they sold to John Waite and Samuel Dutch, their interest in two grist mills and a fulling mill, dye-house, house for the miller etc. , and a saw mill which had been built on the east side of the river, near the residence of Mr. Clark Abell. Dutch sold his interest in the grist mills and fulling mill, to Waite. In 1746, Benjamin Dutch bought of Philemon Dean a half interest in the mill property. The mills had been operated for many years by Michael Farley and his sons, and they acquired ownership. He had come from England in 1675, as a skilled miller, to take charge, and his immediate descendants were concerned in the mills for more than a hundred and fifty years.

Grist mills and saw mills had now been erected to meet the needs of the people, but before the century ended a new enterprise of a different character engaged the attention of our town’s folk. Cloth of every kind was still woven on handlooms. Not a few men were weavers by trade”and they produced the necessary woolen and linen fabrics, for such as could not weave for themselves, and their work was probably upon the finer quality of broad-cloths and other fine fabrics for the expensive garments of the gentry. But the great bulk of woolen and cotton or linen stuffs, homespun cloths, flannels, quilts, blankets, towelling, and table linen, and plain cotton for family wear, were made by the busy housewives on the family loom.

In 1785, Edmund Cartwright, an Oxford graduate and a minister of the Established Church, exhibited in England a power-loom, which he had invented. It was a rude machine, but it embodied an idea of the profoundest significance. It established the fact that the slow and laborious hand labor at the loom, was destined to give place to the more rapid and economical work of machines. His invention met the fate of all great and revolutionary discoveries. The introduction of it was vehemently opposed as disastrous to the handicraft of multitudes, and a mill which had been erected and fitted up with 500 of his looms was maliciously burned down.

There was living in Ipswich at that time a man of remarkably progressive mind, Dr. John Manning. He had introduced inoculation as a preventive of small pox some years before, on his return from England, and had faced a storm of calumny and reproach for his determined conduct in inoculating some members of his own family. He was quick to see the great value of Cartwright’s invention, and in 1792, only seven years after the invention was exhibited, he had received a grant of a piece of land, where Caldwell’s Block stands today, that he might erect a building for a woolen manufactory. Mrs. Elizabeth Brown’s house was sacrificed, but the public was greatly benefited.

The mill was erected, and the manufacture of coarse cloths and blankets was begun in 1794. The business proved unprofitable and was given up in 1800, but this modest venture is a towering landmark in the industrial history of our town and of the Commonwealth. Dr. Manning’s woolen factory must have been one of the earliest of tex tile manufactories on this side the Atlantic. The building was subsequently purchased by Mr. Stephen Coburn and was destroyed by fire.

The decade 1820 to 1830 was a period of extraordinary interest in industrial affairs. For many years the making of pillow lace had engaged the leisure of girls and women. It was a local industry, as it would seem, and its origin is unknown. Referring to Ipswich in 1692, a writer says, “Silk and thread lace of an elegant and lasting texture are manufactured in large quantities by women and children and sold for use and exportation.”2 The industry had attained such large proportions in 1790 that more than 40,000 yards of lace were produced each year, according to Mr. Felt, the annalist of our Town.

In 1824, the Boston and Ipswich Lace Co. was incorporated with a capital of $150,000. The house near the Foot Bridge, still known as the old Lace Factory, was bought and the manufacture of machine lace was begun. The New England Lace Co., with a capital of $50,000, was established in 1827, on High St., in the building now included in the Joseph Ross homestead. Mr. Fewkes has told the story of the inception of these industries and their untimely ruin, in lucid fashion. The Boston and Ipswich Co. closed its affairs in 1827, and the New England in 1833. But the ancient industry of pillow lace manufacture had been completely supplanted, and never attained its former volume.

The influx of skilled English artisans that has been of the greatest industrial value to our Town began probably about the year 1822, when Benjamin Fewkes and George Warner came with their “frame” for the machine knitting of hosiery. Mr. Fewkes’ confident assertion that stockings were knit in old Ipswich in 1822, suggests that Ipswich men were in the vanguard of this great industry, as Dr. Manning had been with his power looms in the woolen manufacture.

But the lace-making and stocking-knitting were to be supplemented by another fruitful industry. Joseph Farley, the last in the line of millers, was not content with the ancestral business of grinding corn. He conceived the scheme of utilizing the water power, hitherto used for the grist mills and fulling mill and the saw mill, for a cotton mill. A company was organized and work was begun on an extensive scale.

A new dam was built in 1827, an ancient ford way across the river near the old Lace Factory was closed by permission of the Town, and the stone mill was erected at large expense. The machinery was started in 1830. In 1832 it had 3000 spindles and 260 looms. It spun Nos. 30 and 32 yarn, used 80,000 lbs. of cotton, made 450,000 yards of cloth annually, worth from 9 1/2 to 10 cents. It employed on an average 18 males and 63 females.

The Ipswich Manufacturing Company, with Joseph Farley as its President, operated boldly. The lower grist mills, and other buildings on the Island were secured. Land on Elm St. was bought, and permission of the owners of the estate now owned by Mr. Clark Abell was secured, preliminary to building a canal from the River above the upper dam, across the Heard estate to the river. The Asa Andrews estate and the old Lace Factory were purchased and other lands, including the saw mill. But financial difficulties arose, and in 1836 Mr. Farley conveyed his interests to the Company. In 1846, a new Company, known as the Dane Manufacturing Co., purchased the mills and other properties from the Ipswich Manufacturing Co. The manufacture of drilling was continued.

Meanwhile the hosiery manufacture and kindred industries were coming into greater prominence. The four small manufactories, mentioned by Mr. Fewkes, in which stockings were knit on hand frames, were supplemented by a larger industry, as early as 1834. In a building, erected by the Heards at the Lower Mills, James Peatfield and his brother Sanford, were engaged in knitting shirts and drawers upon a warp frame, invented by James, at least as early as that year.

Encouraged by their success, the Peatfield brothers bought the land in 1840, and proceeded to build the brick factory, now known as ” Hayes Tavern.” It was equipped with machinery invented by James, and began at once a prosperous business in the production of underwear. Mr. Geo. W. Heard was the warm friend of the enterprise and advanced money for the new manufactory. But the business had been established only a few years, when Mr. Heard was obliged to go into bankruptcy and the Peatfields were hopelessly involved. Mr. Heard began the knitting business in the building at the Lower Mills about 1845, with Mr. Jabez Mann as Superintendent. He secured the help of Mr. James Glover, who came from England with a long warp machine. Mr. John Birch and other skilled workmen were engaged as well.

The Peatfield brothers lost their building and business for a time, but recovered in a few years. Sanford Peatfield sold his share of building and land, but James Peatfield began the manufacture of the nets then in vogue for women’s wear, and continued it profitably for years. In a building in the rear of the brick one, which was removed from the County House land, a new corporation, known as the Lincoln Manufacturing Co., carried on a business first of weaving flannel, and later of hosiery making.

At Willowdale, within the bounds of Hamilton, Dr. Thomas Manning had built a dam in 1829 and a wooden saw mill. The mill was soon burned and another was erected, which was used in part for the sawing of veneers and for turning. The more permanent stone buildings, the factory and the boardinghouse on the hill slope, were in process of erection, and about the year 1834, the looms were installed and the weaving of woolen goods began. The factory was owned by Dr. Manning and it was called “Manning’s Mills.” During the War of the Rebellion hosiery machinery was in operation and in 1864, there were manufactured 55,000 pairs of army socks and woolen goods to the value of $135,000.

The hosiery making gave way to the manufacture of blankets, by the Willowdale Manufacturing Co., and many houses had been erected for the operatives. The Mill was destroyed by fire, January 12, 1884, and was not rebuilt. The stone house has been taken down and except a temporary use of a wooden building built on the ruins of the old mill, no use has since been made of the water power at this spot.

The decade 1860 to 1870 was the period of another great advance in the textile industry of the Town. In 1863, Henry L. Ordway and Sylvanus F. Canney bought a piece of land on County St., intending to establish a saw mill. It was proposed that a yarn mill should be erected instead. A capital stock of $40,000 was secured, about half in our Town, and the Company was organized with N. W. Pierce and George G. Colman of Boston, Joseph Ross, Capt. Thomas Dodge and Henry L. Ordway of Ipswich as Directors, and the firm of Pierce, Hardy & Co., as selling agents.

After about five years, the Corporation decided to use its yarn. The capital was increased to $50,000, knitting machinery was introduced and the manufacture of hosiery was begun. A few years of great prosperity followed. The capital was increased to $75,000, and the building was enlarged and equipped with the most improved machines. The work produced was of the finest quality, and the most skilful operatives earned ten and twelve dollars a week. Employment was also furnished to three shops, where skilled English hosiery makers worked on hand frames. Burrows & Hunt, Chas. Bamford & Son, employing eight men, and John Birch, with twelve men in his employ, were constantly engaged on work for this Mill.

The stockholders rejoiced in ten per cent. dividends, and ninety per cent of the original investment had been paid to investors, when sudden calamity befell this prosperous and promising business. The great fire in Boston in the fall of 1873 consumed a large amount of finished goods. The insurance companies were bankrupt and only 38 cents on a dollar were realized by the Company. From this time the business was conducted in the face of great difficulties, but with less and less success, until the doors were closed in January, 1885.

Aerial view of the Ipswich Mills from the 350th Anniversary of Ipswich.

The manufacture of cotton cloth was continued in the Stone Mill until 1868 or thereabout. In that year, Mr. Amos A. Lawrence of Boston having purchased for $70,000 the mills and other property owned by that corporation, transferred the property to the Ipswich Mills Co. The cotton looms were removed and hosiery machinery was introduced. For a time, business was conducted at a loss. The Company was unfortunate in its superintendents, and the secret of profitable manufacture was not attained.

The loss was so great, that Mr. Lawrence was on the verge of abandoning the enterprise, when a young Nottingham manufacturer, Mr. Everard H. Martin, was chosen superintendent. With his coming, an era of prosperity dawned, and for many years, this Corporation has been the chief industrial enterprise of the town. When reverse overtook the Woolen Mills, that property was purchased and has since been operated by the Ipswich Mills. The plant has been enlarged from time to time, and all branches of the business, even to the making of the paper boxes, and the wooden shipping cases, are now carried on, and a branch Mill is operated in South Boston. At present, the superintendent is Mr. Harry B. Brown. About 800 operatives are employed. The annual product is estimated at a million dollars, and the pay roll is from eight to ten thousand dollars a week.

The hand frame business prospered for many years. James Glover manufactured nets, the Hallams produced fine knit goods, and single frames were operated here and there by a few expert workmen. But this line of manufacture has become unprofitable, and at the present time it is said that the hand frame weaving which began with the operation of the English loom, in 1822, has ceased and the whole textile production of the Town is the output of the Ipswich Mills.

The saw mills, once numerous, have suffered similar decline. The Island, granted to Jonathan Wade, became a busy centre of industry. A fulling mill, two saw mills and a grist mill flourished in the 18th century. A manufactory of knit goods was added in the 19th century. This building was used as a saw mill by the Damon heirs and was burned some years ago. A single building, used for a grist mill, originally, now stands unused. One small saw mill and one grist mill, are the only representatives today of these ancient and important industries.

  • The windmill was built undoubtedly on “Windmill Hill.” The date of its erection is not known.
  • Mr. M. V. B. Perley In his History of Ipswich, In History of Essex County Mass., Boston, 1878.
  • Felt: Hist. of Ipswich, p. 101.
  • This old saw mill fell into ruin, but a new building for veneer sawing was built by Mr. Benjamin C. Hoyt, about 1843. This was removed by Mr. James M. Wellington about the year 1859, to its present location on County Street.

A presentation to the Ipswich Historical Society, 1903

Ipswich Hosiery

Further reading:

The Industrial History of the Ipswich River - The Industrial History of the Ipswich River was produced for the Ipswich 375th Anniversary by John Stump, volunteer for the Ipswich Museum, and Alan Pearsall, who produced the Ipswich Mural with funding from EBSCO.… Continue reading The Industrial History of the Ipswich River
460-48 Washington St. James and Sanford Peatfield - Featured image: The house at 46-48 Washington Street is also known as the James Peatfield house, and was built in 1860. In a building erected by the Heards at the “Lower Mills,” James Peatfield and his brother Sanford were engaged in knitting shirts and drawers upon a rotary warp frame, invented by James as early… Continue reading James and Sanford Peatfield
Brown Stocking Mill, Ipswich MA Brown Stocking Mill Historic District - At the beginning of the 20th century, Harry Brown established a hosiery mill and laid out Brownsville Avenue with 22 workers houses just south of his factory, which were added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 1996… Continue reading Brown Stocking Mill Historic District
2 Brewery Place (Brown Square) Ipswich Ale Brewery (c 1900) - The Burke Shoe Heel factory burned on June 19, 1933, but this wing survived the fire, and is today the Ipswich Ale Brewery. It was the home of Saffron Brothers, the exclusive suppliers of clams to the Howard Johnson chain for 32 years.… Continue reading 2 Brewery Place (Brown Square) Ipswich Ale Brewery (c 1900)
78 East St., Ipswich MA 78 East Street, the James Glover house (c 1860) - James Glover came to Ipswich from England with a long warp weaving machine about 1845. He worked at the Lower Mills until he opened his own textile factory ca. 1860. He manufactured hairnets, knit goods, hoods, and shawls. Glover employed 40-50 hands in the Civil War period, but by 1897 the mill was closed.… Continue reading 78 East Street, the James Glover house (c 1860)
Ipswich in the World War - On the afternoon of Thursday, November 7, 1918, a rumor spread through Ipswich that an armistice had been arranged. News of the end of the war was received on Monday morning, November 11. Ten blasts on the fire alarm whistle proclaimed the news, church bells began to ring, whistles were blown, all business was suspended, and the streets were filled with people. … Continue reading Ipswich in the World War
Immigrants Cemetery Ipswich MA Immigrants Highland Annex Cemetery - The Highland Annex Cemetery, better known as the Immigrants, Greek or Polish Cemetery, is located on Fowlers Lane in Ipswich. This cemetery was used for the burial of immigrants to the town, from about 1913 until about 1939. Most came to Ipswich to work at the Ipswich Mills and the Brown Milll. This page lists the names and other information about those who were buried here, including a young Greek woman, Νικολεττα Παντελοπουλος who was killed by police bullets during the Ipswich Mills strike of 1913.… Continue reading Immigrants Highland Annex Cemetery
Ipswich Mill 19th Century Ipswich mills and factories - Excerpts from a paper by the Ipswich Historical Society, and links to articles on this site,… Continue reading Ipswich mills and factories
Fine Thread, Lace and Hosiery - A nine-page presentation to the Ipswich Historical Society by Jesse Fewkes, April 13, 1903.… Continue reading Fine Thread, Lace and Hosiery
Ipswich Hosiery, page 9 - In 1878, Kidder invented a modern type of rib frame. Many improvements have, of course, since been made. Lee’s bearded needle machine, consisting of a series of hook wires with slots or grooves into which the point of the hook was pressed, were used until 1849, when Matthew Townsend of Leicester, England, invented the self-acting… Continue reading Ipswich Hosiery, page 9
Ipswich Hosiery, page 8 - As time went on more labor was needed for the products of the Ipswich Mills and in 1890 a small plant was leased in Salem. Insufficient labor of the right kind made this an unsatisfactory venture, so this was abandoned and a few years later another plant was leased in South Boston. This experiment was… Continue reading Ipswich Hosiery, page 8
Ipswich Hosiery, page 7 - The ordinary hosiery of that time which was of cotton and wool, was in plain and rib styles. The rib hose was knitted in long double lengths which after being cut into proper lengths of the stocking were transferred to other machines where the foot was made. The machines for footing were of two styles,… Continue reading Ipswich Hosiery, page 7
Ipswich Hosiery, page 6 - The machine-made hosiery was not fine enough to suit the more fastidious ladies of 1860 and therefore we find them refusing to purchase the stockings. This attitude on the part of the buying public had its effects on the development of the industry and for some years the manufacture of hosiery at Ipswich was carried… Continue reading Ipswich Hosiery, page 6
Ipswich Hosiery, page 5 - Customers came to the houses to buy the stockings or to order ones especially made. It was a business that one could carry on at home, and so the lives of the ”Stockingers’, must have been very pleasant, situated as they were in comfortable homes in a lovely town, a ready market for all they… Continue reading Ipswich Hosiery, page 5
Ipswich Hosiery, page 4 - The skirts of ninety years ago were worn long probably because it was impossible at that time to design and produce attractive shoes and stockings and due to an exaggerated sense of extreme modesty which amounted to prudishness. This, no doubt, prompted the story of the trader of the East whosent the first known pair… Continue reading Ipswich Hosiery, page 4
Ipswich Hosiery, page 3 - Great ingenuity was displayed in getting more hand frames into the country. Careful drawings were made of the heavier and more bulky parts of the machines and these parts were manufactured in the United States from the plans, while the more essential and intricate mechanism came concealed in all manner of clever ways. With one… Continue reading Ipswich Hosiery, page 3
Ipswich Hosiery, page 2 - The direct result of this short-sighted policy was to scatter the industry on which labor depended to less prejudiced parts of the world, and the development of competitive industry, particularly in America, the land of freedom and opportunity. The British Government, in the endeavor to retain English industries, especially hosiery making, placed so high a… Continue reading Ipswich Hosiery, page 2
County Street, Ipswich MA 17 County Street, Perkins and Daniels Shoe Factory (1843) - This house was built in 1843 near the EBSCO dam as Hoyt’s Veneer Mill. It was moved in 1859 to its present location where it became the Perkins & Daniels Stocking Factory. Farley & Daniels succeeded in 1884. … Continue reading 17 County Street, Perkins and Daniels Shoe Factory (1843)
59 South Main Street, the Philomen Dean house (Old Lace Factory) (1716) 59 South Main Street, the Philomen Dean house (Old Lace Factory) (1716) - Dr. Philomen Dean bought this lot in 1715 and built a house. After various owners, the building was sold to the Boston and Ipswich Lace Co. in 1824, and an addition was built. In the late 19th century the building was used by as a tea room.… Continue reading 59 South Main Street, the Philomen Dean house (Old Lace Factory) (1716)
Ipswich Pole Alley Ipswich Mills Historic District - Six parallel streets, 1st Street to 6th Street plus Estes and Kimball Streets were laid out by the Ipswich Mills Company to provide housing for their workers, many of whom were Polish. Most of the houses were purchased by residents when the mill closed in 1928.… Continue reading Ipswich Mills Historic District
Samuel Dutch house, S.Main St., Ipswich MA 69 S. Main Street, the Samuel Dutch house (1733, rear section may be older) - Samuel Dutch bought this land in 1723 and built this house by 1733. The front appears to have been enlarged with a third floor and a hip roof during in the early 19th Century. The rear wing has a chamfered summer beam, suggesting that it was an older house.… Continue reading 69 S. Main Street, the Samuel Dutch house (1733, rear section may be older)

County Street bridge and factories, Ipswich MA County Street, Sawmill Point, and bare hills - The town voted in 1861 to build County Street and its stone arch bridge, connecting Cross and Mill Streets. A Woolen mill, saw mill, blacksmith shop and veneer mill operated near the bridge.… Continue reading County Street, Sawmill Point, and bare hills
Pemberton Mill in Lawrence collapses and burns, killing workers; January 10, 1860 - The collapse of the Pemberton Mill in Lawrence is the worst industrial accident in Massachusetts history. On Tuesday afternoon January 10, 1860, hundreds of men, women, and children were buried alive in the ruins.… Continue reading Pemberton Mill in Lawrence collapses and burns, killing workers; January 10, 1860
Ipswich Riverwalk Mural The Ipswich Riverwalk mural - In 2005 EBSCO Publishing commissioned artist Alan Pearsall to paint a 2,700-square-foot mural on one of the old mill buildings occupied by the company in Ipswich. The mural is the centerpiece of the town's Riverwalk. … Continue reading The Ipswich Riverwalk mural
Ipswich during World War II - The end to the Great Depression coincided with America's entry into World War II. The Ipswich Guard was stationed on Old England Rd., and Sylvania employees worked on a top-secret project. Minesweepers and other small craft were produced at Robinson's Boatyard. … Continue reading Ipswich during World War II
Lawrence textile "Bread and Roses" strike marchers January 12, 1912: Lawrence Bread and Roses strike - On January 12, 1912, the labor protest later known as the "Bread and Roses" strike began in Lawrence, MA. Violent methods were used to suppress the protest, but the strikers maintained their solidarity.… Continue reading January 12, 1912: Lawrence Bread and Roses strike
Isinglass Mill in Ipswich MA The Mill Road Bridge and the Isinglass Factory - The triple stone arch Warner Bridge that connects Mill Rd. in Ipswich to Highland St. in Hamilton was constructed in 1829, and rebuilt in 1856. The isinglass mill sat on the downstream Ipswich side of the bridge.… Continue reading The Mill Road Bridge and the Isinglass Factory
Kiss of death in New England textile mills “Kiss of Death” at New England textile mills - The weaver, after loading thread into a shuttle, drew the loose end through the hole with her breath. No one connected this habit with the observation that weavers were dying of consumption, known now as tuberculosis.… Continue reading “Kiss of Death” at New England textile mills
The Greek Hotel, corner of Market and Saltonstall Streets in Ipswich, photo taken 1913 The Greek Hotel - In 1868, the Ipswich Mills built a "fine mansion" for the use of its superintendent. By 1910 the building had become a tenement upstairs and coffee shop downstairs. The house was replaced by a succession of three diners, but the lot is now a parking lot.… Continue reading The Greek Hotel
Burke Heel Factory, Ipswich MA The Burke Heel Factory and Canney Lumber Fire, June 19, 1933 - The factory at Brown Square burned after volatile glues burst into flames. In the adjoining lot was the Canney Lumber Co. where the building lumber were destroyed. The smaller brick building on the right survived and is now the Ipswich Ale Brewery.… Continue reading The Burke Heel Factory and Canney Lumber Fire, June 19, 1933
The Proximity Fuze: How Ipswich women helped win WW II - The former Ipswich Mills, now owned by EBSCO, was the site of one of the most closely guarded secrets of the Second World War.… Continue reading The Proximity Fuze: How Ipswich women helped win WW II
Burke Shoe Factory Ipswich Ma Hammatt Street, Brown Square and Farley Brook - Until the second half of the 19th Century, much of the area bounded by Central Street, Washington Street, Mineral Street and Market Street was a wetland with an open sewer known as Farley Brook running through it.… Continue reading Hammatt Street, Brown Square and Farley Brook
Police open fire at the Ipswich Mills Strike, June 10, 1913 - On June 10, 1913, police fired into a crowd of protesting immigrant workers at the Ipswich hosiery mill. A young Greek woman named Nicholetta Paudelopoulou was shot in the head and killed by police. Fifteen persons, including the local leaders of the I.W.W. were taken into custody.… Continue reading Police open fire at the Ipswich Mills Strike, June 10, 1913
The Ipswich River circa 1900 The Ipswich River - The 35-mile Ipswich River flows into the Atlantic Ocean at Ipswich Bay. The Ipswich River Water Association works to protect the river and its watershed. Foote Brothers Canoes on Topsfield Rd provides rentals and shuttle service from April to October.… Continue reading The Ipswich River
Soffron Brothers Ipswich Clams - Soffron Brothers were the exclusive suppliers of clams to the Howard Johnson chain for 32 years, which featured Ipswich Fried Clams on the menu. The four brothers, Tom, George, Pete and Steve, were the children of Greek immigrants who came to work at the Ipswich mills. Their Ipswich factory was at Brown Square in the building that now houses the Ipswich Ale Brewery.… Continue reading Soffron Brothers Ipswich Clams
Old footbridge on the Ipswich River at the downtown dam. A photographic history of the Ipswich Mills Dam - Until 350 years ago, the Ipswich River ran unencumbered from its origin 35 miles upstream, carving its way through a 148-square-mile watershed. Herring, shad, salmon and alewife swam upstream to spawn. Thomas Franklin Waters noted that, “Great shoals of alewives came up the river in the Spring and were seined at night by the light… Continue reading A photographic history of the Ipswich Mills Dam
Hayes Hotel, Depot Square, Ipswich MA The Hayes Hotel - The Hayes Hotel was constructed in 1842 as a woolen goods factory. Converted to a tavern and hotel in 1885, the building was being used as a rooming house when it burned in 1969 with a loss of life.… Continue reading The Hayes Hotel
letter from an Ipswich mill girl The mill girl’s letter: “I can make you blush.” -

Dear Sir,

I received the ribbon you sent me by mail, and I thank you ever so much for it. I was asking Asa Howe who you were, and he told me. He also said you were a great man for girls. How is it you never holler at me and my chums? I think you're bashful. If you wasn't, you would of handed me the ribbon instead of sending it by mail.

Continue reading The mill girl’s letter: “I can make you blush.”
Ipswich mill worker immigrant families A town of immigrants - Puritans founded Ipswich during the “Great Migration” of the early 17th Century. Many residents of the town descend from immigrants who arrived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to work in the mills.… Continue reading A town of immigrants
Willowdale community, Topsfield Rd., Ipswich and Hamilton The Willowdale Mill - In 1829, Dr. Thomas Manning of Ipswich constructed a 6' tall dam and mill on the Ipswich River along Topsfield Rd. Workers were provided housing a the large stone house. In 1884 the mill building burned and much of the stone walls for the mill building collapsed. … Continue reading The Willowdale Mill
Anti-Immigrant Know Nothing Party "American Patriot" 1854: Anti-immigrant Know Nothing Party sweeps Massachusetts elections - Prejudice disguised as patriotism repeats itself in American politics. In 1854, the "Know Nothing" American Party formed in opposition to Irish immigration and carried local elections in New England communities. They swept the state of Massachusetts in the fall 1854 elections but were defeated two years later.… Continue reading 1854: Anti-immigrant Know Nothing Party sweeps Massachusetts elections
Dr. Manning’s windmill - In 1792, Dr. John Manning erected a factory at the corner of South Main and Market Street beside the Choate Bridge and began manufacturing cloth and blankets. On the roof squatted a great octagonal tower, inside of which was a horizontal windmill.… Continue reading Dr. Manning’s windmill
The Jewel Mill and Stone Arch Bridge - In 1642, a dam and fulling mill were built on the Mill River in Rowley. The stone arch bridge on this property was constructed between 1850 and 1870.… Continue reading The Jewel Mill and Stone Arch Bridge

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