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.
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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 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. 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
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…
Historic houses of Essex, Massachusetts - The inhabitants of the part of Ipswich known as Chebacco established their own parish in 1679, but were still residents of the town of Ipswich. In 1818, two hundred and six men of Chebacco petitioned the Legislature for incorporation, and the town came into existence on Feb. 5, 1819. 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 - As the people of the Hamlet were financially stable, the burden of taxation for the support of the poor in the old town of Ipswich was considered to be an unjust imposition. The leaders of the parish petitioned Ipswich to be allowed to incorporate as the new town of Hamilton. 25 years later, the men of Chebacco petitioned the Legislature for incorporation as a separate town, and to not be held for any part of the new establishment for the relief of the poor in Ipswich. The following year, Chebacco Parish became the Town of Essex 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 - In August 1635, the 240-ton Angel Gabriel sank in Pemaquid Bay after sailing into the most intense hurricane in New England history. Among the survivors were John Cogswell and his wife, three members of the Burnham family, Captain Robert Andrews and his nephews, who all settled in an area called Chebacco, which is now Essex. 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 freedom which Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence came from the pen of the Rev. John Wise of Ipswich: "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.
Sketches of Cape Ann - From Gloucester and Cape Ann by S. G. W. Benjamin, Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, September 1875 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 ”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 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). 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. 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 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. 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 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
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 - As the people of the Hamlet were financially stable, the burden of taxation for the support of the poor in the old town of Ipswich was considered to be an unjust imposition. The leaders of the parish petitioned Ipswich to be allowed to incorporate as the new town of Hamilton. 25 years later, the men of Chebacco petitioned the Legislature for incorporation as a separate town, and to not be held for any part of the new establishment for the relief of the poor in Ipswich. The following year, Chebacco Parish became the Town of Essex 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. 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. 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
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
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 Historic Images (Facebook site)
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 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
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. 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 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 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. 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 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
Sketches of Cape Ann - From Gloucester and Cape Ann by S. G. W. Benjamin, Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, September 1875 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 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 Killed by a swordfish, August 19, 1886 - Captain Langsford sailed from Cape Ann in pursuit of swordfish. After spotting one in Ipswich Bay, the fish fish quickly turned thrust sword up through the boat, causing the captain to fall backward. Not yet realizing that he was wounded, he seized the sword and exclaimed, "We got him anyway!" “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
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 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 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.) 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, 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
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 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
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.
Linebrook Parish - This remote area was originally known as Ipswich Farms. After the residents began pressing for their own church, the Massachusetts General Court on June 4, 1746, created the Linebrook Parish, the boundries of which were defined by 6 brooks and lines connecting them. The community had a church, store, school and its own militia. 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 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 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
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