Jabesh Sweet house

32 Water Street, the Jabesh Sweet house (1713)

Jabesh Sweet built this house on a quarter acre lot by the river at 32 Water Street in  1713.  People used to say that the ghost of Harry Maine haunted a house that once sat where the garage for this house now stands.  According to the legend, all the ministers of the Town assembled there one day and prayed, and the uncanny doings ceased. Harry Maine was a pirate who ran with a gang of outlaws called “wreckers”. They would build bonfires on the beach to lure ships to the shore at night, then plunder their wrecked vehicles. Legend says that as punishment Harry was chained to the Ipswich Bar and forced to shovel sand for eternity. When waves crashed over the Ipswich sand bar during storms, locals would say “The Devil is raising Old Harry”.

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 to-day.”

Henry Maine, better known as “Harry” ironically turned to plundering wrecked ships for a living, an enterprise he probably practiced before removing himself to Ipswich. Such persons were known as “wreckers”, and Harry was the worst kind, a “mooncusser”. On pitch black nights they would build bonfires on the beaches, causing captains to become confused and go off course. Their ships would be dashed apart on the breakers. Another technique was to lead a horse along the beach holding a “Judas lantern”, imitating the appearance of ship bobbing in the water. Harry and his partners would plunder the wrecks for their cargo, and it is said that they would finish off any victims they found still alive. The sandbar extending from Plum Island known as the Ipswich bar was the scene of Harry Maine’s hideous crimes.

They were eventually discovered, caught and tried. Legend says that as punishment Harry was sentenced to be chained to a stake in the Ipswich Bar and shovel sand for eternity (or at least until he drowned). When waves crashed over the bar during storms, locals would say “The Devil is raising Old Harry” or “Old Harry’s growling again,” or “Harry Maine grumbles at his work today.” His yells of rage could be heard for miles around.


Unfortunately for the people of Ipswich they were not through with Harry Maine. His old house was said to be haunted with an uneasy spirit which greatly alarmed any unfortunate occupants who attempted to live there. One day all of the ministers of the Town assembled at the house and prayed, and the uncanny doings ceased. Over the years Harry’s house was repeatedly ransacked and the yard dug up by people looking for the money that he had supposedly buried, but nothing was ever found. Eventually the old house was torn down. A garage now sits on that spot and the excavation turned up no buried box of gold.

Home of Harry Maine the pirate

It was said that Harry Maine’s ghost moved on to Plum Island to seek his body. People living on the island became afraid to venture out on stormy nights, convinced that his evil ghost was out digging in the dunes. Ipswich folks remained wary of the old house and some believed that Harry’s ghost haunted the neighboring home of Jabesh Sweet, but the owners can verify that there’s nothing unusual going on there.

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