The Nathaniel Hodgkins house is the small red building at 48 Turkey Shore Road, was probably built after Hodgkins bought the lot in 1720. The gambrel roof suggests early Georgian era construction, maximizing headroom inside the upper level of this modest home. The front original section has gunstock corner posts, found in First Period construction and through the first half of the 18th Century.

Nathaniel Hodgkins house, Turkey Shore Road
Nathaniel Hodgkins house, Turkey Shore Rd

When Roger Preston arrived in Ipswich, he first purchased this lot along the river, across from what is now the intersection of Turkey Shore and Labor in Vain Roads.  Thomas Franklin Waters wrote in Ipswich in the Massachusets Bay Colony (1905) that “evidently the neighborhood did not prove popular” and by 1644 every lot had been transferred. Old maps show the lot belonging to William Lamson, who died Feb. 1, 1658.  Waters notes: “William Lampson was granted a house lot “in the beginning” and it was expected that this attractive locality, called the Turkey Shore, would become a compact neighborhood; but the houses disappeared, however, and some lots were never utilized. William Lampson and William Story, who owned adjoining lots there, sold their property, now owned by Mr. Benjamin Fewkes (in 1905), prior to 1644.”

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Early map of Turkey Shore Road and Labor in Vain Road, shows that William Lampson owned the property between 1644 and 1658

Daniel Hovey owned land from this point to the end of Tansey’s Lane where he built a wharf. Daniel Hovey apparently sold this lot to Thomas Hodgkins. In his will dated 1692, Hovey bequeathed “to Abigail Hodgkins wife of Thomas Hodgkins the brass pan and pewter salt seller; my part of the mare and colt to grandchild Daniel and Ivory.” An old tombstone at the Old North Burying Ground reads “Mrs. Abigail Hodgkins, Relict of Capt. Thomas Hodgkins, who died Oct. 22,1837, Aged 87”.  Perhaps Abigail was Daniel Hovey’s daughter, and married Thomas Hodgkins. Thomas Hodgkins was commander of the 60 ton schooner “John” owned by John Patch.

Despite all of this, little is known about the person for whom this house is named, Nathaniel Hodgkins. John Perkins was at sea in a Newburyport ship in November 1793 during the French Revolution. In a letter to his widowed mother he noted, “Nathaniel Hodgkins arrived here a week ago. He says that all is well at home and that Uncle Stanwood is gone to the west Indies and is like to make good voyage.” (Captain Isaac Stanwood was married to Eunice Hodgkins, but that’s yet another story.)

Thomas Franklin Waters noted that “a narrow lane goes down to Nathaniel Hodgkin’s land and so by his land that was bought of Daniel Hovey Sr. to the River.” Waters suggested that Nathaniel Hodgkins may have built the house, which was afterward conveyed by Hanna Hodgkins, spinster, to William Fuller “except one lower room and one quarter acre during my life and then it will go to William Fuller and Lucy Hodgkins.”

Records also show that a Nathaniel Hodgkins died in 1740 and that “Nathan Hodgkins Jr.” died at sea  fishing on Canso Bank in 1738. We also have records of a Nathaniel Hodgkins born in 1683 who married Joanna Giddings, and a Nathaniel Hodgkins born in 1710 who married Martha Smith, all of Ipswich.

It is likely that this Hodgkins family is related to Joseph Hodgkins who lived across the river on East Street, and whose letters to his wife Sarah Perkins during the Revolutionary War are well worth reading.

Photo labeled "Benjamin Fewkes house" from inside the home
Photo labeled “Benjamin Fewkes house” from inside the home

Benjamin Fewkes

benjamin_fewkes_knittingBenjamin F.  Fewkes Jr. was born in 1852 and died in 1915, aged 63 years. He purchased this house in 1886. His father, Benjamin Fewkes was born in England Apr 13, 1788. He died Dec. 27, 1869 aged 81 yrs. His wife was Elizabeth Wilkins Fewkes.  View a photo album of this family.

The first Benjamin Fewkes emigrated from England to the United States in 1818. He was a lace maker by trade and in 1822 introduced  to Ipswich the first lace-making machine to arrive in America, said to have been smuggled in a box of salt, in violation of an English embargo.  His shop was on High Street behind the Phillip Lord house. His fourth son, Jesse Fewkes was born in 1826 and presented a paper titled “Fine Thread, Lace and Hosiery” before the Ipswich Historical Society in 1905. Read also, Ipswich Hosiery, Page 3.

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Photo from inside the home, labeled “Benjamin Fewkes house, Turkey Shore Rd.”
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The back of this photo from the dining room reads, “This is Florence Haskins, one of the Fewkes’ daughters. She married a banker and moved to Worcester, I’ve been told. Note “’98” date.”

The book Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony records the deed history of this house and the land it sits on:

  • The Daniel Hovey homestead, which had been owned by his heirs for many years, was sold by Thomas Hovey to William Fuller, “my house he now lives in,” with half an acre, Jan. 18,  1719-20.
  • The deed of Thomas Hovey to William Fuller  of the land now owned by Mr. Josiah Mann specifies that it was bounded on the west, “by a narrow lane that goes down to Nathaniel Hodgkin’s land, and so by his land that was bought of Daniel Hovey Sr., to the River.”
  • The Fewkes estate as it appears from this, was originally part of the Daniel Hovey land, and was purchased by Nathaniel Hodgkins. He may have built the house, which was afterward conveyed by Hannah Hodgkins, spinster, to William Fuller, beginning at the south corner on the Town road opposite widow Elizabeth Ringe, “except one lower room and one quarter acre during my life and then it will go to said William Fuller and Lucy Hodgkins,” June 2, 1786
  • Col. Joseph Hodgkins conveyed the same property to David Andrews, April 23, 1813. Andrews to Mrs. Annie P. Bachelder, April 5, 1865; Calvin and Annie P. Bachelder to Daniel Newell, March 4, 1870; Newell to Gustavus Kinsman, Aug. 16, 1875; and he to Benjamin Fewkes, Sept. 1886 .

Construction

The front section of the house has exposed beams and joists, as well as gunstock corner posts. When a large addition was added to the rear,  sections of the gambrel roof rafters were cut off so that they butt into the wall of the rear addition. That rear section also has post and beam framing, but is not a good fit, indicating that it was a separate structure that was move here and added on.  A more modern framed extension was added  to the rear addition at the same time, as indicated by the continuity of the roof framing for the entire rear section.

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Side view of the Nathaniel Hodgkins / Benjamin Fewkes house, 2015
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I took this photo from the attic of the rear addition, looking down into a cavity between the original 1720 house and the addition. Note how the gambrel roof rafters of the original house were cut off to receive the addition.

Sources:

  • T.F. Waters, Ipswich in the Mass. Bay Colony, vol. I, p. 484.
  • MACRIS