Essex County is the center of Puritan New England. In addition to Ipswich, many of the stories on this site are about Massachusetts North Shore communities from Boston to Amesbury.

View by town: *Amesbury*Andover*Beverly*Boston*Danvers *Essex *Gloucester *Hamilton *Ipswich *Lawrence *Lowell *Marblehead *Newbury *Newburyport *Peabody *Plum Island *Rockport *Rowley *Salem *Topsfield *Wenham

Amesbury

The Ipswich Safety Steam Automobile, 1901 - The Safety Steam Automobile Company headquarters was in Boston but its factory was at Depot Square in Ipswich.

Andover

Anne Dudley Bradstreet, the colony’s first published poet - Anne Dudley Bradstreet was born in 1612 in England. She married Simon Bradstreet at age sixteen. Her father was a steward to an Earl, and thus she was well tutored in language and literature. With her parents they arrived in American on June 14, 1630 in Salem aboard the “Arbella” with John Winthrop, but they moved … Continue reading Anne Dudley Bradstreet, the colony’s first published poet

Beverly

John Balch house, Beverly MA Colonial-era houses of Beverly, Massachusetts - Featured image: the John Balch house by Daderot The area of the Massachusetts that is now the town of Beverly wast settled in 1626 by Roger Conant. Originally part of Salem and the Naumkeag Territory, Beverly was set off in 1668, and incorporated as a city in 1894. This page displays the First Period, Georgian, and early Federal … Continue reading Colonial-era houses of Beverly, Massachusetts
John Hale, a Modest Inquiry into Witchcraft. “We walked in the clouds and could not see our way” - In 1690 the governor of Massachusetts William Phips asked the 54-year-old pastor Rev. John Hale of Beverly to accompany the campaign against the French in Quebec as chaplain, and Hale willingly agreed. Hale returned home in 1690, but a crisis soon erupted that would test his convictions. It was January 1692 that the witch hysteria began in Salem. Hale was … Continue reading “We walked in the clouds and could not see our way”

Boxford

Holyoke-French house, Boxford Ma Colonial houses of Boxford - Houses built during the Colonial era in Boxford, Massachusetts. Listings and images provided by the MACRIS site of the Massachusetts Historical Commission, and by Vision Properties for the Town of Boxford, with additional historical information from The Dwellings of Boxford, by Sidney Perley BOX.48, Dr. William Hale, Rev. William P. Alcott House, 2 Elm St, 1770: This house … Continue reading Colonial houses of Boxford

Boston

Fort Point Channel trolley disaster Boston Globe: The Tragedy that Boston forgot - On the night of November 7, 1916, a trolley packed with factory workers crashed through the gates of an open drawbridge in South Boston, killing 46. For decades it was considered the worst tragedy in Boston history. And then it was forgotten. Continue reading about the Boston trolley tragedy at the Boston Globe.
Edgar Allen Poe statue Boston Remembering Poe - Edgar Alan Poe Returns to Boston – A Halloween Reflection by Helen Breen Poe’s stories of horror and suspense, along with his melancholy poetry, are part of Halloween traditions in America. The writer, who was born in Boston in 1809, maintained a love/hate relationship with the city during his lifetime. But in 2014, Bostonians reclaimed … Continue reading Remembering Poe
The Great Fire of Boston, November 9-10, 1872 - The Great Boston Fire of 1872 occurred on November 9-10, 1872 and destroyed the city’s business district, burning uncontrolled for more than 12 hours with such heat that it created a raging firestorm. Starting in a building at the intersection of Summer and Kingston Streets, the flames leaped from one wooden roof to another, leaving a smoldering pile of rubble between the … Continue reading The Great Fire of Boston, November 9-10, 1872
Boston’s Great Molasses Flood, January 15, 1919 - On January 15, 1919, people in Boston’s North End were startled by a loud rumbling noise. They watched in horror as a five-story tank broke apart, unleashing a wave of molasses 15 feet high and 160 feet wide.   Moving at 35 miles per hour, it traveled over two blocks and engulfed everything in its … Continue reading Boston’s Great Molasses Flood, January 15, 1919
The Cape Ann Earthquake, November 18, 1755 - A series of earthquakes in the 17th and 18th Centuries gave rise to recurrences of religiosity through New England. June 1, 1638:  Believed to have been centered along the Connecticut River Valley with a magnitude of about 6.5, this was the strongest known earthquake to hit New England: “A great & fearful earthquake; it was in … Continue reading The Cape Ann Earthquake, November 18, 1755
Ipswich Manning house frame on display at the Museum of Fine Arts - The “Art of the Americas” wing at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts features building artifacts from Ipswich and the surrounding North Shore area. The second-floor framing of the Manning house built in Ipswich about 1692 at the intersection of Manning and High Streets is in the America’s wing. It was once used as the town’s alms house. When it … Continue reading Ipswich Manning house frame on display at the Museum of Fine Arts

Danvers

The old houses of Danvers, Massachusetts - Danvers, MA  was settled in 1636 as Salem Village, and was the home of many of the accusers and the accused during the Salem witch trials.  The Rebecca Nurse Homestead in Danvers is a historical landmark. According to legend, the King rejected the town’s petition for its own charter, with the words, “The King Unwilling.” In 1757, the town was … Continue reading The old houses of Danvers, Massachusetts
Glen Magna Glen Magna and the Joseph Peabody Family of Salem - Article by Helen Breen Before the advent of the modern transportation, affluent city dwellers often built their summer residences within a few miles of home. Such was the case when shipping magnate Joseph Peabody (1757-1844), “the richest man in Salem,” chose Glen Magna in Danvers as his county seat during the War of 1812. Over … Continue reading Glen Magna and the Joseph Peabody Family of Salem
An old pear tree grows in Danvers… -  A History of the Endecott Pear Tree by Richard B. Trask The 375-year-old Endecott Pear Tree in Danvers was planted under the direction of the first Massachusetts Governor, English Puritan John Endecott (c 1588-1665). Endecott sailed from England to the New World aboard the ship Abigail in 1628, landing at a small peninsula the native inhabitants called Naumkeag. Endecott established a permanent … Continue reading An old pear tree grows in Danvers…

Essex

Historic houses of Essex, Massachusetts - 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 … Continue reading Historic houses of Essex, Massachusetts
Taking to the air in Ipswich, 1910-11 - 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. Burgess had been offered $5,000 by Charles … Continue reading Taking to the air in Ipswich, 1910-11
Invention of the fried clam, 1916 - (This article is from the New England Historical Society.) On July 3, 1916, Lawrence ‘Chubby’ Woodman invented the fried clam. It was a hot, steamy day in Essex, Mass. Chubby Woodman and his wife Bessie had opened a small concession stand on Main Street two years earlier. On weekends they sold small grocery items, homemade potato chips … Continue reading Invention of the fried clam, 1916
Choate Island and Rufus Choate - Featured image: Painting of the Choate homestead by E. Choate Kane, courtesy of Joyce Patton Choate Island was originally known as Hog Island. In the Records of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, it is recorded that keeping hogs on islands or in fenced enclosures during the planting season was the law from the 1630’s, and each … Continue reading Choate Island and Rufus Choate
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.
Essex shipyards and the age of the Gloucester schooners - Over 4000 wooden vessels were launched from Essex, including many schooners that sailed from nearby Gloucester, once the largest fishing port in the United States. View below, “Legacy: Shipbuilders, Fishermen and the Age of the Gloucester Schooners” (58 minutes).
1793 and 1818: the “Burden of the Poor” divides Ipswich into three towns - The increase in the size of ships and the consequent decline of the fishing industry in Ipswich during the latter half of the 18th Century deprived many families of their means of support and compelled an increasing number of the inhabitants to ask relief from the Town.  The town responded by ordering the Sheriff to serve … Continue reading 1793 and 1818: the “Burden of the Poor” divides Ipswich into three towns
Building and launching the schooner Ardelle in Essex - The 55-foot pinky schooner Ardelle was designed and built by Harold Burnham of Burnham Boat Building in Essex MA using locally harvested wood and hand tools and similar techniques to those that Colonial-era shipbuilders used. Hundreds of spectators watched from the Essex Shipbuilding Museum in 2011 for the launching of the Ardelle into the Essex River.
The Great Colonial Hurricane and the wreck of the Angel Gabriel, August 25, 1635 - Featured image: Pemaquid Point plaque commemorating the wreck of the Angel Gabriel On the last Wednesday of May, 1635, the Angel Gabriel, a 240 ton ship set out from England, bound for New England. The ship had been commissioned as the Starre for Sir Walter Raleigh’s last expedition to America in 1617. It was stout … Continue reading The Great Colonial Hurricane and the wreck of the Angel Gabriel, August 25, 1635
Chebacco women build a meetinghouse The women of Chebacco build a Meeting House, March 21, 1679 - 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...
Old Graveyard 1680, Essex MA The Body Snatcher of Chebacco Parish - The Old Burying Ground in Essex was established in 1680 for inhabitants of Chebacco Parish, the former part of Ipswich which broke away and became the town of Essex in 1819. It was in that year that people in the parish began noticing lights moving about at night in the graveyard. It was soon discovered … Continue reading The Body Snatcher of Chebacco Parish
Building a ship in Essex - This very entertaining mid-20th Century documentary is shown at the Essex Shipbuilding Museum, just a short drive from Ipswich. Viewing time: 12 minutes.
The Rev. John Wise of Ipswich - The concepts of freedom about which Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence came from the pulpit and pen of the Rev. John Wise of Ipswich, Massachusetts. “The first human subject and original of civil power is the people…and when they are free, they may set up what species of government they please. The end of all good … Continue reading The Rev. John Wise of Ipswich

Gloucester

Cape Ann, Massachusetts Pigeon Cove Sketches of Cape Ann - From Gloucester and Cape Ann by S. G. W. Benjamin, Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, September 1875
Peg Wesson witch of Gloucester Peg Wesson, the Gloucester witch - An old legend about the Gloucester witch Peg Wesson is often mentioned, but never was it told in such detail as in this story, written by Sarah G. Daley and published in the Boston  Evening Transcript, October 14, 1892. It was carried in papers throughout the country. It was March, 1745, and the company raised in Gloucester to join the … Continue reading Peg Wesson, the Gloucester witch
The oldest houses in Gloucester, MA - The area that is now Gloucester MA was inhabited briefly by European settlers briefly around 1626. The settlement was abandoned, but people returned slowly, and the town was founded as Gloucester in 1642, taking its name from a city in South-West England. Although farming was an important occupation, the community developed into an important fishing … Continue reading The oldest houses in Gloucester, MA
The Oceanside Hotel in Gloucester MA The grand hotels of Gloucester and Cape Ann, 1905 - At the beginning of the 20th Century, Cape Ann was a popular destination for tourists. Gloucester’s grand hotels were the subject of “The Summer Hotel Guide,” published in 1905. Images and text are available through Archive.org: “This little book will rejoice in the thought that it has accomplished its mission if in interesting you in … Continue reading The grand hotels of Gloucester and Cape Ann, 1905
Pigeon Cove The ”October Gale” of 1841 - A strong hurricane stayed offshore of the Carolinas in early October, 1841  As it continued moving north, it pulled cold air into its circulation and intensified as an extra-tropical storm, with a direct hit on New England on October 3. The Georges Bank fishing fleet was destroyed with the loss of 81 fishermen’s lives. The storm wrecked at least 190 vessels … Continue reading The ”October Gale” of 1841
Hammers on Stone, the story of Cape Ann granite - Kitty Robertson’s book The Orchard includes a sorrowful tale by old Mr. Patch about Mr. Brown and his team of horses who drowned in Ipswich Bay as he dragged a sled loaded with Rockport granite across the frozen surface. Whether itr happened, we may never know, but in searching for more information, I found the fascinating and often tragic story … Continue reading Hammers on Stone, the story of Cape Ann granite
Awful Calamities: the Shipwrecks of December, 1839 - Featured image: Ships off Liverpool in the Great Storm of 1839, painted by Samuel Walters. From: “Awful calamities: or, The shipwrecks of December 1839: “It has probably never fallen to the lot of the citizens of New England to witness or record so many terrible disasters by sea in the short period of fourteen days as have transpired … Continue reading Awful Calamities: the Shipwrecks of December, 1839
Essex shipyards and the age of the Gloucester schooners - Over 4000 wooden vessels were launched from Essex, including many schooners that sailed from nearby Gloucester, once the largest fishing port in the United States. View below, “Legacy: Shipbuilders, Fishermen and the Age of the Gloucester Schooners” (58 minutes).
Gorton’s becomes the largest fishing business on the Atlantic coast, March 31, 1906 - On March 31, 1906, the people of Cape Ann were stunned by the news that Gorton’s would merge with three other Gloucester fish companies.
Dogtown, its history and legends - Dogtown is an area in central Gloucester of about five square miles, or 3600 acres, stretching from the Riverdale section of the city, north of Route 128, into Rockport, and including the Goose Cove and the Babson Reservoirs. Development is banned in this protected municipal watershed.
Wreck of the Hesperus, January 6, 1839 - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem was inspired by the Blizzard of 1839, which ravaged the North Shore for 12 hours, starting on January 6, 1839. Twenty ships and forty lives were lost during the storm. The probable subject of the story is the schooner Favorite, which sank on a rock called Norman’s Woe off the coast of Gloucester, … Continue reading Wreck of the Hesperus, January 6, 1839
A tragic story from old Gloucester - In 1821, the Annisquam woods was the scene of a murder. Gorham Parsons, while chopping wood, struck and instantly killed a boy of 10 years, named Eben Davis, the act being done with a hatchet. The boy had given offense by singing a song. After committing the deed Parsons took the boy on his back … Continue reading A tragic story from old Gloucester
History of Gloucester, MA - The History of the town and city of Gloucester, Cape Ann, Massachusetts was written by James Pringle in 1892 and is online at Archive.org.
The reluctant pirate from Ipswich, Captain John Fillmore - John Fillmore was born in Ipswich in 1702, the son of mariner John Fillmore Sr. who died at sea in 1711. His widowed mother was Abigail Tilton, whose two brothers Jacob and Daniel famously overcame and killed several Indians who took them hostage after boarding their fishing schooner in 1722. After sailing the ship back to … Continue reading The reluctant pirate from Ipswich, Captain John Fillmore
The Cape Ann Earthquake, November 18, 1755 - A series of earthquakes in the 17th and 18th Centuries gave rise to recurrences of religiosity through New England. June 1, 1638:  Believed to have been centered along the Connecticut River Valley with a magnitude of about 6.5, this was the strongest known earthquake to hit New England: “A great & fearful earthquake; it was in … Continue reading The Cape Ann Earthquake, November 18, 1755
The Spectre Leaguers, 1692 - This story of apparitions suggests that the colony was suffering from mass insanity. 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. The alarm became so great that Major Samuel Appleton of Ipswich sent sixty men on the 18th of July. When the defender's guns had no effect, the soldiers fell to their knees, calling out the name of God. Heaven rang with the howls of the angry fiends, and never again were the Spectral Leaguers seen in Gloucester.
Sea Serpent, Cape Ann MA The Cape Ann Sea Serpent - The earliest recorded sighting of a Sea Serpent in North American waters was at Cape Ann in 1639: “They told me of a sea serpent or snake, that lay coiled up like a cable upon a rock at Cape Ann; a boat passed by with two English on board and two Indians. They would have shot … Continue reading The Cape Ann Sea Serpent

Groveland

Groveland Colonial houses - Groveland, MA was settled asthe East Parish of Bradford, a part of the town of Rowley in the early Colonial era. Before Bradford was separated from Rowley in 1672, it was called “Rowley on the Merrimack”, or just “Merrimack”. Bradford in turn was annexed by Haverhill in 1897 after a bloody and violent conflict. Groveland officially … Continue reading Groveland Colonial houses

Hamilton

Colonial houses of Hamilton, Massachusetts - The part of Ipswich known as the Hamlet (now Hamilton) was “set off” as a separate parish (church) in 1714-15. The Hamlet was incorporated by the name of Hamilton on June 21, 1793. Rev. Cutler of the Congregational Church in the Hamlet had served in Congress before becoming one of the town’s longest-serving pastors, was a strong advocate of Federalism, … Continue reading Colonial houses of Hamilton, Massachusetts
Asbury Grove Methodist Camp Meeting, Hamilton MA - The Asbury Grove Methodist Camp Meeting on Asbury St. in Hamilton is listed in the National Register of Historic Districts, and has a collection of historic buildings that were built between 1870 and 1960. The land is owned by the Association, while the houses owned individually by the residents. 12,000 people, most from Boston, attended the first camp … Continue reading Asbury Grove Methodist Camp Meeting, Hamilton MA
19th Century political toasts - In April, 1778, a number of prominent Essex County men gathered in Ipswich to discuss the drafting of a new Massachusetts constitution, and became the local backbone of the Federalist Party, advocating the financial policies of Alexander Hamilton. President John Adams coined the name “Essex Junto” for this group, who he deemed his adversaries. The Federalist Party dominated Ipswich politics until … Continue reading 19th Century political toasts
1793 and 1818: the “Burden of the Poor” divides Ipswich into three towns - The increase in the size of ships and the consequent decline of the fishing industry in Ipswich during the latter half of the 18th Century deprived many families of their means of support and compelled an increasing number of the inhabitants to ask relief from the Town.  The town responded by ordering the Sheriff to serve … Continue reading 1793 and 1818: the “Burden of the Poor” divides Ipswich into three towns
The Bones of Masconomet - 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.
General Putnam landing at Marietta Ipswich to Marietta, 1787 - In December 1787, a group of Revolutionary War veterans and adventurers set out from Ipswich on an 800-mile journey through the wilderness by horseback and rafts to establish the first settlement in the Ohio Territory. Early in the 18th Century, seven of the 13 colonies had made claims on vast areas of the West, with hopes … Continue reading Ipswich to Marietta, 1787
Nancy Astor, Hamilton MA The Amazing Life of Nancy Astor - If you look at an online map you will often see a reference to “Nancy’s Corner” at the intersection of Highland Street and Cutler Road in Hamilton. I started researching who this Nancy was and discovered an amazing story. Nancy Witcher Langhorne was the daughter of a Virginian slaveholder whose family fell into poverty after the … Continue reading The Amazing Life of Nancy Astor

Lawrence

Pemberton Mill in Lawrence collapses and burns, killing workers; January 10, 1860 - On Tuesday afternoon January 10, 1860, the Pemberton Mill in Lawrence buckled and crashed, killing dozens instantly and trapping the workers inside. Rescue teams rushed in, only to find “faces crushed beyond recognition.” Around 9:30 p.m. an oil lamp was knocked over, and flames spread quickly, leaving only “brick, mortar and human bones … promiscuously … Continue reading Pemberton Mill in Lawrence collapses and burns, killing workers; January 10, 1860
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. A new state law had reduced the maximum workweek from 56 to 54 hours. Factory owners responded by speeding up production and cutting workers’ pay by two hours. Polish women were the first to shut down their … Continue reading January 12, 1912: Lawrence Bread and Roses strike

Lowell

Lowell Offering The Lowell Offering - The Lowell Offering was a monthly periodical, first published in 1840, which featured poetry and fiction by female workers at textile mills in Lowell, MA. Known as the Lowell Mill Girls, they often wrote about situations in their own lives, including labor unrest in the factories. The Offering ceased publication in 1844 but was revived from 1848 to 1850 as the New … Continue reading The Lowell Offering

Marblehead

Marblehead Historic Images (Facebook site)

Marblehead is established, May 6, 1635 - Featured image: Marblehead, by Arthur Wesley Dow, circa 1900 A story at Mass Moments In May 1635 the General Court ordered “that there shall be a plantation at Marble Head” and gave the inhabitants the right to do whatever they pleased with the land, even though it was part of Salem. The move was meant to … Continue reading Marblehead is established, May 6, 1635
The Marblehead smallpox riot, 1773 - From The History and Traditions of Marblehead” by Samuel Roads. Featured image by Charles Green. During the year 1773, the attention of the inhabitants of Marblehead was for a time occupied in considering their danger from another source than the oppressive acts of the British Parliament. In June the wife of Mr. William Matthews was … Continue reading The Marblehead smallpox riot, 1773
Moll Pitcher, the fortune-teller of Lynn and Marblehead - By Sidney Perley, published March 1899 in the Essex Antiquarian “Moll Pitcher,” the famous fortune-teller of Lynn, has no birth record. So the place of her first appearance in life cannot be thus determined. The tenement house, known as the ” Old Brig,” situated at the junction of Pond and Orne streets in Marblehead, is the reputed birthplace. The … Continue reading Moll Pitcher, the fortune-teller of Lynn and Marblehead
Pigeon Cove The ”October Gale” of 1841 - A strong hurricane stayed offshore of the Carolinas in early October, 1841  As it continued moving north, it pulled cold air into its circulation and intensified as an extra-tropical storm, with a direct hit on New England on October 3. The Georges Bank fishing fleet was destroyed with the loss of 81 fishermen’s lives. The storm wrecked at least 190 vessels … Continue reading The ”October Gale” of 1841
Old Town, a colonial neighborhood in Marblehead - “Old Town” in Marblehead, MA is a visual delight, packed with colorful early 18th Century homes and a few dating to before the 17th Century. Navigating its narrow streets during the tourist season can be challenging, so I prefer to visit the town in the spring or fall. The Open Space Plan for Marblehead, MA … Continue reading Old Town, a colonial neighborhood in Marblehead
Awful Calamities: the Shipwrecks of December, 1839 - Featured image: Ships off Liverpool in the Great Storm of 1839, painted by Samuel Walters. From: “Awful calamities: or, The shipwrecks of December 1839: “It has probably never fallen to the lot of the citizens of New England to witness or record so many terrible disasters by sea in the short period of fourteen days as have transpired … Continue reading Awful Calamities: the Shipwrecks of December, 1839
Agnes Surriage and Sir Harry Franklin Marblehead tavern maid Agnes Surriage becomes becomes the lady of the manor, 1742 - Thanks to the New England Historical Society for this romantic old tale from Marblehead. In 1742, Charles Henry Frankland, the king’s collector for the port of Boston, visited Marblehead. Staying at the Fountain Tavern, he was gobsmacked by the beauty of Agnes Surriage, the tavern’s 16-year-old maid. Charmed by her beauty and straightforward manner, Frankland offered … Continue reading Marblehead tavern maid Agnes Surriage becomes becomes the lady of the manor, 1742
The Gerrymander is born in Essex County, February 11, 1812 - Elbridge Gerry was born in Marblehead in 1744 and spent almost all of his life in government service. He promoted colonial opposition to the British Parliament’s colonial policies, and served in the Second Continental Congress from February 1776 to 1780. Gerry was elected as a Massachusetts representative to the United States Congress in its first … Continue reading The Gerrymander is born in Essex County, February 11, 1812

Newbury

William Franklin of Newbury, hanged for the death of an indentured child in 1644 - Children in the 17th and 18th Century New England colonies generally arrived with their families, but hundreds of English children were taken from the streets and unwillingly taken without their parents to be indentured as servants. Although the practice was more common in the Southern colonies, Joshua Coffin in his History of Newbury shared a … Continue reading William Franklin of Newbury, hanged for the death of an indentured child in 1644
Old Roads and Bridges of Newbury and Newburyport - Text by James B. Stone, from Images from the Past , published by the Newbury 350th anniversary Committee. Featured image: Bridge over the Parker River in Newbury, on today’s Rt. 1A, 1898. When the first settlers arrived in Newbury in May of 1635, there were only Indian trails which wound through the forests. Besides food and shelter, … Continue reading Old Roads and Bridges of Newbury and Newburyport
Colonial houses of old Newbury, Massachusetts - This page displays the First Period, Georgian, and early Federal houses of Newbury, Massachusetts. The following images, and text were provided by the Newbury Historical Society in 1989, and are online through the Massachusetts Historical Commission site (MACRIS). Photos are displayed alphabetically in order of street name. House numbers may have changed. Click on any image to view a larger photo. … Continue reading Colonial houses of old Newbury, Massachusetts
The Witchcraft Trial of Elizabeth Morse of Newbury, 1680 - Elizabeth Morse of Newbury was accused and found guilty of being a witch. She was initially sentenced to be hanged, but the execution was never carried out and, after spending a year in the Boston jail, Elizabeth Morse was sent home to live with her husband on the condition that she was forbidden to travel … Continue reading The Witchcraft Trial of Elizabeth Morse of Newbury, 1680
A romantic tale from the Great Snow of Feb. 21-24, 1717 - 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.
Hay straddle Ipswich MA Gathering Salt Marsh Hay - (Featured photo from a glass plate negative taken by Ipswich photographer George Dexter (1862-1927).) Salt marsh hay is still gathered on the North Shore today. Eva Jackman replied to this post: “My husband’s family has been harvesting salt hay on the same Newbury land as in 1643. He cuts salt hay and helps with the stacks … Continue reading Gathering Salt Marsh Hay

Newburyport

Pope night in Newburyport MA November 5: Guy Fawkes Day (“Pope Night,” “Gunpowder Day,” “Bonfire Night”) - The Puritans who settled Massachusetts abhorred holidays, but they turned a blind eye to Guy Fawkes Day, November 5, a British tradition which celebrated the failed attempt by Guy Hawkes, a Catholic, to blow up the king and members of Parliament and thus remove Protestants from government. On the evening of November 5, 1605, Sir … Continue reading November 5: Guy Fawkes Day (“Pope Night,” “Gunpowder Day,” “Bonfire Night”)
Newburyport colonial houses Newburyport Colonial homes - The HABS and the HABs NOTS Documenting the Architecture of Newburyport in the Historic American Buildings Survey Newburyport, MA was settled in 1635 as part of the town of Newbury. In 1764, the General Court of Massachusetts passed “An act for erecting part of the town of Newbury into a new town by the name … Continue reading Newburyport Colonial homes
“Newburyport and its Neighborhoods,” Harpers Magazine 1875 - Excerpt from “Newburyport and its Neighborhood” by Harriet Prescott Spofford, July 1875, the New Harper’s Monthly Magazine. “The history of Newburyport, and of her mother Newbury, much of which has become incorporated with herself, is replete with striking facts and marvels. She had not only the first of our ships upon the Thames, as has … Continue reading “Newburyport and its Neighborhoods,” Harpers Magazine 1875
Postcards from Newburyport - (Click on any image to begin a slideshow. Press the X in the top left corner or the Esc button to leave the slide show).
Bombshell from Louisbourg - Mounted securely to a stone post at the corner of Middle and Independent Streets in Newburyport, there was for many years a large cast-iron bombshell, thrown from a mortar at the Second Siege of Louisbourg, Nova Scotia in 1758. It was brought to Newbury by Nathaniel Knapp, who served as a soldier, carpenter and ship-caulker with the … Continue reading Bombshell from Louisbourg
The Great Newburyport fire, May 31, 1811 - A fire commenced about nine o’clock in a stable in Mechanic Row in Newburyport on the evening of May 31st, 1811. (The description below is from The Fireman’s Own Book by George P. Little, 1918.)
Joppa Flats, Newburyport - In the late 19th Century, clam shacks proliferated along a stretch of the Merrimack River in Newburyport known as Joppa Flats, providing clams to the Boston area. Photos in this slideshow were provided by Laurie Jarvis Short. Visit her Joppa Flats page on Facebook.
“A Good Heat,” a short tale from Newburyport - From Reminiscences of a Nonagenarian, by Sarah Anna Emery
Lord Timothy Dexter - Timothy Dexter was born on January 22, 1747, and was undoubtedly the most eccentric person of his time. He aspired to join the upper classes of society, as many a fortunate blockhead had done before him, but he could not keep his mouth shut, and made no headway in his attempted progress to join the aristocrats … Continue reading Lord Timothy Dexter
Great Storm of 1815 Jane Hooper, the fortune teller - This story is adapted from the Reminiscences of Joseph Smith and Reminiscences of a Nonagenarian and brings together no less than four incredible old tales. Jane Hooper was in 1760 a Newburyport “school dame” but after she lost that job she found fame as a fortune teller and became known in our area as “Madam Hooper, the Witch.” The Madam had very bright … Continue reading Jane Hooper, the fortune teller
The tragic story of Rebecca Rawson, 1679 -   The following is from a story told in 1921 by Rev. Glenn Tilley Morse, President of the Historical Society of Old Newbury and Newburyport. Edward Rawson arrived in Newbury in 1637. When he was only twenty-three years old he was chosen town clerk, notary public, and registrar for the town of Newbury. He was … Continue reading The tragic story of Rebecca Rawson, 1679
Newburyport Turnpike opens, February 11, 1805: “Over every hill and missing every town” - In 1803, a group of Newburyport investors incorporated as the Newburyport Turnpike Corporation in a commercial venture to build a straight toll road from Boston to Newburyport (the highway we call Rt. 1). The intent was to bypass Salem and promote Newburyport as a commercial destination. Proponents claimed it would cut travel time by a … Continue reading Newburyport Turnpike opens, February 11, 1805: “Over every hill and missing every town”

Rockport

Cape Ann, Massachusetts Pigeon Cove Sketches of Cape Ann - From Gloucester and Cape Ann by S. G. W. Benjamin, Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, September 1875
Choate Bridge photo by Andrew Borsari Cape Ann photographs by Andrew Borsari - Photographer Andrew Borsari shows us why Cape Ann is cherished by its residents and envied by the rest of the world, and his books make wonderful presents. Ipswich: A Celebration of Light, Land, and Sea  Rockport, Massachusetts: A Village by the Sea Cape Ann: Photographs by Andrew Borsari
Pigeon Cove The ”October Gale” of 1841 - A strong hurricane stayed offshore of the Carolinas in early October, 1841  As it continued moving north, it pulled cold air into its circulation and intensified as an extra-tropical storm, with a direct hit on New England on October 3. The Georges Bank fishing fleet was destroyed with the loss of 81 fishermen’s lives. The storm wrecked at least 190 vessels … Continue reading The ”October Gale” of 1841
The British attack on Sandy Bay - On the wall of a building at Bearskin Neck in Rockport, MA is the sign shown below. Rockport experienced one of the oddest invasions in U.S. history during the War of 1812 when British sailors faced the town’s stubborn and fearless residents. I don’t know if the people of Rockport actually fought the British with stockings and … Continue reading The British attack on Sandy Bay
Hammers on Stone, the story of Cape Ann granite - Kitty Robertson’s book The Orchard includes a sorrowful tale by old Mr. Patch about Mr. Brown and his team of horses who drowned in Ipswich Bay as he dragged a sled loaded with Rockport granite across the frozen surface. Whether itr happened, we may never know, but in searching for more information, I found the fascinating and often tragic story … Continue reading Hammers on Stone, the story of Cape Ann granite
Awful Calamities: the Shipwrecks of December, 1839 - Featured image: Ships off Liverpool in the Great Storm of 1839, painted by Samuel Walters. From: “Awful calamities: or, The shipwrecks of December 1839: “It has probably never fallen to the lot of the citizens of New England to witness or record so many terrible disasters by sea in the short period of fourteen days as have transpired … Continue reading Awful Calamities: the Shipwrecks of December, 1839
Killed by a swordfish, August 19 , 1886 - The schooner Venus out of Cape Porpoise, Maine frequently fished off the coast of Massachusetts, and was captained by Franklin D. Langsford of Lanesville, MA. On Monday morning, August 19 1886, Captain Langsford sailed out from Cape Ann in pursuit of swordfish. Around 11 a.m. he spotted a swordfish about eight miles northeast of Halibut Point in Ipswich Bay. The … Continue reading Killed by a swordfish, August 19 , 1886
Wreck of the Watch and Wait, August 24, 1635 - Many ships and lives were lost in the Great Colonial Hurricane, including 21 passengers who had set out from Ipswich on August 21, 1635 on a small bark named “Watch and Wait.” As they rounded Cape Ann they were suddenly met by the force of the winds. Reverend John Avery, his wife and six children and … Continue reading Wreck of the Watch and Wait, August 24, 1635
“Hatchet Hannah” leads raid on Rockport liquor establishments, July 8, 1856 - In 1919, the manufacture and sale of all alcoholic beverages was prohibited by the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It was repealed by the 21st Amendment 14 years later. Rockport, MA remained a dry town until 2005, and liquor stores are still not allowed. On the morning of July 8, 1856, two hundred women, three … Continue reading “Hatchet Hannah” leads raid on Rockport liquor establishments, July 8, 1856

Rowley

Pearson-Dummer house, Rowley - A lot of history and even more character are everywhere in  1714 Pearson-Dummer home in Rowley. Continue reading: Gov. Dummer lived here in Rowley, by Barbara Forster for the Ipswich Chronicle MACRIS Pearson, Capt. John House, Glen St, Rowley Year Constructed: 1714 Architectural Style(s): Colonial; Federal The Capt. John Pearson House was built in 1714 … Continue reading Pearson-Dummer house, Rowley
The ancient houses of Rowley, Massachusetts - The 1677 Platts-Bradstreet House is located on Rt. 1A, 233 Main St. in Rowley, owned, maintained and operated by the Rowley Historical Society. The Plattss-Bradstreet house faces south, has nine over six windows with Indian shutters and a large center chimney. The original two-story rectangular house with four rooms was  added on to in 1770. … Continue reading The ancient houses of Rowley, Massachusetts
Roads to Paradise - Paradise Road follows a shallow peninsula bordered by Muddy Brook and the Egypt River. In 1807, the ancient path was laid out by the Town as a road from Pingrey’s Plain near the Clam Box, which served as the hanging grounds, to the Muddy River Bridge and the Egypt River. Thomas Franklin Waters wrote: “The early farm of Mr. Charles Day … Continue reading Roads to Paradise
Jewett Hill, Ipswich Village map Ipswich Village (Upper High St.) - Featured image: “Ipswich Village” in the 1832 Philander map of the town of Ipswich. The following narrative includes excerpts from Ipswich Village and the Old Rowley Road. by Thomas Franklin Waters in 1915. “At the very beginning of the Town, High Street was the road to Newbury or ‘the pathway leading toward the River of Merrimac.’ No … Continue reading Ipswich Village (Upper High St.)
John Dunton’s visit to Ipswich and Rowley, 1686 - Thomas Franklin Waters wrote that in 1686, Mr. and Mrs. Stewart who lived in the ancient Caleb Lord house on High Street (no longer standing), “were favored with a visit from the book-seller John Dunton, who came to Ipswich in the course of his saddle-bag peregrinations.” In October 1685, Dunton sailed from England to visit New England, where he stayed … Continue reading John Dunton’s visit to Ipswich and Rowley, 1686
Clam Battle! (Life Magazine, July 16, 1945) - An article from the July 16, 1945 Life magazine: Last Summer, as their forefathers had for 300 years before them, the people of Ipswich and Rowley were making a comfortable living out of the rich juicy clams from the briny marsh along the Parker River. Last winter they suddenly discovered a proclamation posted on their land. … Continue reading Clam Battle! (Life Magazine, July 16, 1945)
The Agawam Diner - The Agawam Diner on Rt. 1 in Rowley was built by the Fodero Dining Car Company in 1954. An earlier Agawam Diner was opened by the Galanis Family at Depot Square in Ipswich in 1940, and was replaced by a larger diner, and then by the current one in 1954. The diner was moved from … Continue reading The Agawam Diner
Adrift on a Haystack legend Rowley Adrift on a Haystack, 1876 - A remarkable northeasterly storm on the 4th of December, 1786 caused most of the salt hay along the North Shore to be set afloat and lost in the tide. Samuel Pulsifer and Samuel Elwell, both of Rowley were digging clams on the flats in Plum Island Sound and got caught in the storm. The Rev. Ebenezer Bradford … Continue reading Adrift on a Haystack, 1876
The Glen Mill Stone Arch Bridge - The town of Rowley was “set off” from Ipswich in 1639, just 5 years after the founding of Ipswich. In 1642, a bridge and a dam were built on the Mill River in Rowley. A fulling mill was built the following year by Thomas Nelson, who had been granted ten acres of land “for encouragement … Continue reading The Glen Mill Stone Arch Bridge

Salem

First Period houses of Salem, Massachusetts - Salem, MA has about 18 First Period houses (built during the first century of English settlement, approximately 116-20-1720). In his landmark studies, “Massachusetts and its First Period Buildings” (1979) and The Framed Houses of Massachusetts Bay, 1625-1725 (1979), architectural historian Abbott Lowell Cummings demonstrated that eastern Massachusetts contains the greatest concentration of First Period structures … Continue reading First Period houses of Salem, Massachusetts
Glen Magna Glen Magna and the Joseph Peabody Family of Salem - Article by Helen Breen Before the advent of the modern transportation, affluent city dwellers often built their summer residences within a few miles of home. Such was the case when shipping magnate Joseph Peabody (1757-1844), “the richest man in Salem,” chose Glen Magna in Danvers as his county seat during the War of 1812. Over … Continue reading Glen Magna and the Joseph Peabody Family of Salem
Hannah and Samuel Loring, a Christmas romance and tragedy, 1809 - Hannah Gwinn Loring (1791 – 1847) kept a diary when she was living in Salem, Massachusetts with her parents, Thaddeus and Mercy Gwinn. In September 1807, Hannah wrote: “I left school with regret. My parents think it is time for me to commence assisting in domestic affairs for they think it very essential for a female to … Continue reading Hannah and Samuel Loring, a Christmas romance and tragedy, 1809
John Hale, a Modest Inquiry into Witchcraft. “We walked in the clouds and could not see our way” - In 1690 the governor of Massachusetts William Phips asked the 54-year-old pastor Rev. John Hale of Beverly to accompany the campaign against the French in Quebec as chaplain, and Hale willingly agreed. Hale returned home in 1690, but a crisis soon erupted that would test his convictions. It was January 1692 that the witch hysteria began in Salem. Hale was … Continue reading “We walked in the clouds and could not see our way”
The witchcraft accusations against Sarah Buckley and Mary Witheridge - On May 23, 1692, a complaint for witchcraft was filed against Sarah Buckley and her widowed daughter Mary Witheridge. The "bewitched" girls of Salem Village claimed that the women's specters had attacked them. Held in shackles in the cold crowded jail, both were acquitted in January,1692
Postcards from Salem - Click on any image to begin the slideshow. To leave the slideshow and return to Stories from Ipswich hit the Esc button or click on the X in the top left corner.
Legendary ships of Salem - The photos and text below are from Old-time Ships of Salem, published by the Essex Institute, 1917. “From the year of its settlement in 1628 until the middle of the 19th century, Salem, in the Massachusetts Bay, was a maritime port surpassed in size and importance by only two or three other seaports along the Atlantic coast. Within … Continue reading Legendary ships of Salem
The Great Salem Fire, June 25, 1914 - Salem, Massachusetts burned on June 25, 1914. It began with a series of explosions at the Korn leather factory on Boston street, and burned 253 acres, cut a swath a half-mile wide and a mile-and-a-half long through the city. Almost half of the population of 48,000 people lost their homes. Read more at the New England Historical Society site and … Continue reading The Great Salem Fire, June 25, 1914
Ipswich and the Salem witchcraft trials - During the Salem witch trials the Ipswich jail was filled with the accused. Elizabeth Howe of Linebrook Road was tried and hung. The ministers of the town opposed the trials as a delusion.
The Spectre Ship of Salem - Cotton Mather related the tale of a doomed ship called “Noah’s Dove” which left Salem during the late 17th century for England. Among the passengers were “a young man and a passing beautiful girl pale and sorrowful, whom no one knew and who held communion with no one.” Many people in Salem supposed them to be demons … Continue reading The Spectre Ship of Salem
The North Shore and the Golden Age of Cycling - The American popularity of bicycles originated in Boston, which held the first U.S. bicycle race on May 24, 1878. In 1883, Abbot Bassett of Chelsea set out on the first recorded 100 mile bike ride, meandering on an adult tricycle along the North Shore to Ipswich and back home. George Chinn of the Beverly Citizen … Continue reading The North Shore and the Golden Age of Cycling
Leslie’s Retreat, or how the Revolutionary War almost began in Salem: February 26, 1775 - 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.

Salisbury

Death in a snowstorm, December 1, 1722 - 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.

Topsfield

17th and 18th Century houses of Topsfield, Massachusetts - Topsfield originally was part of the 17th-century coastal plantations of Salem and Ipswich, with large tracts of its territory granted to residents of Ipswich between 1634 and 1642. At first known as the “newe medowes at Ipswich,” but was given its present name in 1648. In 1650, it had enough settled population to be incorporated as an … Continue reading 17th and 18th Century houses of Topsfield, Massachusetts
Linebrook Parish - Featured image: Linebrook Church, photo by George Dexter, circa 1900. Linebrook Road has been said to follow an old Native American trail that connected Agawam (Ipswich) with Lake Cochichewick in North Andover. The area began to be populated by settlers with the founding of Ipswich, primarily as agricultural land, and was known as Ipswich Farms … Continue reading Linebrook Parish
The Bay Circuit Trail in Ipswich - The Bay Circuit Trail is approaching the fulfillment of an eighty-year old dream – a permanent public recreational trail and greenway, linking parks and open spaces in fifty-seven Boston area communities, 200 miles from Duxbury and Kingston on the South Shore to Ipswich and Plum Island on the North Shore. Eleven miles of marked trails … Continue reading The Bay Circuit Trail in Ipswich
The Grand Wenham Canal and the Topsfield Linear Common - The Topsfield Rail Trail is a “Linear Common” following the former Danvers to Newburyport rail line, which was officially abandoned in 1981. A plaque at the trailhead in downtown Topsfield details the former railroad’s history.The trail connects to the Danvers Rail Trail as part of the greater Border to Boston Trail.   Topsfield voters approved the rail … Continue reading The Grand Wenham Canal and the Topsfield Linear Common
Ipswich and the Salem witchcraft trials - During the Salem witch trials the Ipswich jail was filled with the accused. Elizabeth Howe of Linebrook Road was tried and hung. The ministers of the town opposed the trials as a delusion.
The Middle Circumferential Highway (that never happened) - In its 1968 comprehensive report “Recommended Highway and Transit Plan” the Massachusetts Department of Public Works (MassDPW) proposed a new beltway around the Boston area that would be situated between MA 128 and I-495. The Middle Circumferential Highway would have been a 66-mile loop six-lane expressway cutting through the Ipswich River Sanctuary, Bradley Palmer State Park, Appleton Farms, … Continue reading The Middle Circumferential Highway (that never happened)
Newburyport Turnpike opens, February 11, 1805: “Over every hill and missing every town” - In 1803, a group of Newburyport investors incorporated as the Newburyport Turnpike Corporation in a commercial venture to build a straight toll road from Boston to Newburyport (the highway we call Rt. 1). The intent was to bypass Salem and promote Newburyport as a commercial destination. Proponents claimed it would cut travel time by a … Continue reading Newburyport Turnpike opens, February 11, 1805: “Over every hill and missing every town”
The Life of Daniel Hovey - At the foot of Hovey Street on Water Street along the Ipswich River is a plaque dedicated to the memory of Daniel Hovey, placed there by his descendants. The original wharf on the river in Ipswich was Hovey’s Wharf at this approximate location. Daniel Hovey was born in 1618 in Waltham Abbey, Essex Co., England. He … Continue reading The Life of Daniel Hovey

West Newbury

West Newbuy Massachusetts Colonial houses of West Newbury MA - The town of West Newbury provides the following history: West Newbury’s history as a town began in 1635 when 23 men and their families, all from England, sailed through Plum Island Sound and up the Parker River, landing in Newbury. As more settlers arrived and families increased, land in Newbury became scarce, and some people … Continue reading Colonial houses of West Newbury MA
Carted back to Ipswich, 1714 - In the Old North Burying Yard on High Street in Ipswich lies the body of the Reverend Samuel Belcher. Born in Ipswich in 1639, he graduated from Harvard College in 1659, and studied for the ministry, and was preaching at Kittery, Maine as early as 1663. In 1668 he married Mary, daughter of Rev. Thomas Cobbett of Ipswich. In … Continue reading Carted back to Ipswich, 1714

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