Recent posts

Atlanta Journal letters to the editor

My father’s letter, Feb. 10, 1948

In honor of Martin Luther King Day, this is a letter to the Atlanta Journal from my father David Aubren Harris, a Mississippi native, in support of President Truman’s civil rights initiatives. He received a vicious racist letter in response.

Ipswich Sparrow

The Ipswich Sparrow

The Ipswich Sparrow, a subspecies of the Savannah Sparrow, was first identified on Crane Beach in 1868.

Crane Beach January 2022

Winter photos

If you don’t go outside, what’s the point of winter?

Ipswich ice house

The Ice House

Lathrop Brothers Coal and Ice Company harvested on the Ipswich River between Upper River Road and Haywood Street. The ice was then floated to the ice house where it was cut into blocks.

William Howard House, Turkey Shore, Ipswich MA

2021 Mary Conley Award

The Ipswich Historical Commission presented the 2021 Mary Conley Award for historic preservation to Tess & Tom Schutte, owners of the William Howard house at 41 Turkey Shore Rd.

The Cold Friday of January 19, 1810

The Cold Friday on Jan. 19, 1810 brought terrible winds and frigid temperature. Many people froze to death while traveling along the highways. Houses were blown down or broken to pieces.

Projected sea level rise in Ipswich MA

How will sea level rise affect Ipswich?

Sea levels rose about 8 inches globally and about 1 foot on the Eastern Seaboard in the past century. What will happen to Ipswich if catastrophic predictions for the 21st Century are realized?

The Marblehead smallpox riot

The Marblehead smallpox riot, January 1774

In 1773, the selectmen ordered all houses where the disease had appeared to be closed, and dogs to be killed immediately. The fears of the inhabitants increased when permission was granted to build a smallpox hospital on Cat Island.

1894 Central Street fire, Ipswich MA

Central Street in ashes, January 13, 1894

Early in the morning of Jan. 13, 1894, several businesses on Central Street went up in flames. Three months later the other end of Market St. burned, and the town finally voted to build a water system.

2021 stats for the Historic Ipswich website

2021 stats for the Historic Ipswich website

This was the tenth birthday for what began as a hobby blog about our scenic and historic community. This year for the first time there were over 300,000 site visits and more than half a million page views.

Endicott Pear Tree, Danvers MA

A very old pear tree grows in Danvers

A pear tree in Danvers was planted before 1640 by the Massachusetts governor John Endicott. President John Adams enjoyed the flavor of its fruit, and Longfellow admired its longevity. The tree has survived hurricanes, earthquakes, cows, development and vandalism but continues to thrive and bear fruit.

Gavin Keenan Christmas

Oh, Wintry Christmas of My Youth!

It’s popular Ito wax nostalgic of a time and place where the winters were colder, the snows deeper, and the pace of life more manageable. For those of us lucky enough to grow up in Ipswich, these things were mostly true.

Winslow Homer, the Christmas Tree

How Christmas came to Ipswich

Puritans shunned Christmas for its pagan roots, allowing only Thanksgiving as a time for feasting, and imposed a five-shilling fine on any persons found “observing any such day as Christmas or the like, either by forbearing of labor, feasting, or any other way.” A Cambridge Unitarian minister’s family had the first Christmas tree in Massachusetts.

Lafayette's visit to Ipswich

Meeting House Green plaque commemorates Lafayette’s visit to Ipswich

In 1824 citizens of Ipswich heard with “unfeigned pleasure” that General LaFayette, “the undeviating defender of rational freedom and the rights of man, the illustrious friend of America” would be passing through our area. The town prepared the most elaborate tribute it had ever paid to a visitor.

Stagecoach on the Choate Bridge

The stagecoach

The fascinating history of stage and railroad travel was written in 1878 by Cyrus Mason Tracy in the “Standard History of Essex County.”

Puritans drinking

Strong drink

Colonial liquor licenses were granted to Ipswich men of highest esteem. They were bound “not to sell by retail to any but men of family, and of good repute, nor sell any after sunset; and that they shall be ready to give account of what liquors they sell by retail, the quantity, time and to whom.”

The 1918 flu epidemic in Ipswich

An estimated 1,500 cases of the so-called “Spanish flu in Ipswich resulted in at least 66 deaths. It is believed that the country reached herd immunity after the virus mutated to a less lethal variant. By the end of the pandemic, the average life expectancy had been shortened by 12 years!

Bay Circuit Trail map

The Bay Circuit Trail in Ipswich

The Bay Circuit Trail in Ipswich enters Willowdale State Forest and continues north through the town-owned Dow-Bull Brook preservation land. A branch continues from Willowdale through Bradley Palmer S.P to New England Biolabs.

Wreath on a door in Ipswich MA. Photo by Peter Bubriski

A Very Ipswich Christmas

There is something special about the holiday season in Ipswich. From town traditions to icy weather, no one does December quite like we do.

Tombstone at the Old North Burying Ground in Ipswich from the wreck of the Falconer in Ipswich Bay

Wreck of the Falconer, December 17, 1847

On December 17, 1847 the brig Falconer, loaded with bituminous coal, wrecked at Crane Beach during a fierce winter storm. A dozen of the crew and passengers are buried in a common grave at the Old North Burying Ground.

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.

Lieutenant Ruhama Andrews and the Battle of Quebec

On Christmas Day 1823, Gen Benjamin Pierce of Hillsborough, NH held a reunion of twenty-two citizens who had served in the War of Independence. The oldest attendee was Ammi Andrews, born in Ipswich, MA, aged 89 years.

Home to Thansgiving in New England

Traditional American Thanksgiving in Art and Song

Among America’s most beloved renderings of Thanksgiving Day are Currier & Ives lithographs, Grandma Moses’s paintings, Lydia Marie Child’s “Over the River and Through the Wood” and Norman Rockwell’s paintings.

Lower summer Street, Ipswich

Summer Street

Summer Street may be the oldest public way in Ipswich, and in the earliest days of the settlement was called Stony Street, Annable’s Lane, or simply “The Way to the River. “

Plum Island the Way it Was

Nancy Weare

Nancy Virginia Weare spent 33 years at her family’s summer camp at Plum Island. In 1993, after Nancy retired, she wrote “Plum Island: The Way It Was.” 

Frozen Ipswich River

The boy who fell beneath the ice

The Rev. Joseph Dana served the Second Congregational Church at the South Green from 1765 until his death in 1827 at age 85. Rev, Dana’s tombstone in the Old South Cemetery reads: “In memory of the Rev Joseph Dana D.D., for sixty-two years, Minister of the South Church. […]

Green Street dam, Ipswich ma

The Green Street dam

“It was a poor time in which to build a dam. The winter was very severe and at times the temperature was below zero. The center of the dam was soon washed away, and by spring the new structure had almost disappeared.”

Several Ipswich MA men in the mid-19th Century

Election night in Ipswich

“The climax of petty officialdom might well have been reached in 1797 when the list of officers chosen at the Town meeting included Selectmen, Overseers, Town Clerk and Treasurer, Tithing-men, Road Surveyors, Fish Committee, Clerk of the Market, Fence Viewers, Haywards, Surveyors of Lumber, Cullers of Fish, Sealers of Leather, Hog-reeves, Gangers of Cask, Sealers of Weights, Measurers of Grain, Corders of Wood, Firewards, Packer of Pork, and Cullers of Brick.”

corn

What our ancestors ate

“Most of them had pea and bean porridge, sometimes hasty pudding, both morning and evening. A lady of eighty, after having partaken of Thanksgiving dainties, was heartily glad to return home and set a meal of her favorite broth.”

The First Winters in Ipswich

Two hundred Boston colonists succumbed in the winter of 1631, but by 1633, 1500 Puritans had arrived and settled in Boston and outlying areas. The band of a dozen men who John Winthrop Junior to establish the Ipswich settlement at Agawam were better prepared.

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 Common and the waterfront.

Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary

An autumn walk in the Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary

Twelve miles of trails weave through an amazing mix of forests, meadows and wetlands, with great views of the Ipswich River from the central drumlin and two eskers that were left by retreating glaciers only 15,000 years ago.

Ipswich Price Act 1777

The Price Act, passed at Ipswich, February 1777

In 1777, the Ipswich Selectmen and the Committee of Correspondence and Safety, acting under the authority of the General Court, issued a schedule of prices covering all articles of food, clothing, wages of labor of every kind, entertainment at hotels, shipping rates etc.

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.

Kings Rook and the Stonehenge Club, when Ipswich rocked!

 In the 1960’s, music could be heard in Ipswich at the King’s Rook. In 1969, Phil Cole purchased the business and renamed it Stonehenge, Tom Rush, Judy Collins. the Paul Butterfield Band. Bo Didley, Al Kooper, Bonnie Rait and many other famous musicians played there before it closed in 1972.

Bialek Park, Ipswich MA

Play Ball! Bialek Park

Baseball’s popularity grew quickly after the Civil War, and Bialek Park was once the town’s semi-professional ballpark, In 1912 the town purchased the two private lots that had been the ballpark, constructed a public playground, and removed the fence.

Ipswich in the Great Depression

In March 1934, Congress passed the Civilian Conservation bill, creating the Works Progress Administration and the Civil Conservation Corps which accomplished several projects in Ipswich.

David Tenney Kimball

David Tenney Kimball, pastor of First Church, 1805 – 1855

Serious difficulties were in store for the young pastor, who stayed for fifty years. Forbidden by his own congregation from mentioning slavery from the pulpit, Mr. Kimball maintained his great love of the pastorate even as they reduced his salary.

The Great Colonial Hurricane and the wreck of the Angel Gabriel

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 members of the Cogswell, Burnham and Andrews families, who settled in an area of Ipswich known as Chebacco.

The spectre ship of salem

The Spectre Ship of Salem

On the fourth day after the ship left port, the sun came out and in the distance could be seen the same ship sailing effortlessly back into port directly into the wind. As the Noah’s Dove approached, its passengers including the young couple were visible but ghost-like.

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.

Cartoon portraying Loyalist John Calef as a calf

Ipswich mob attacks Loyalist Representative Dr. John Calef

Dr. John Calef was among a handful of members of the Massachusetts Assembly who voted to retract the “Massachusetts Circular Letter” which was adopted in response to the 1767 Townshend Acts. Ipswich citizens’ anger at Calef lingered as war with England approached.

Jewett Hill, Ipswich Village map

Ipswich Village (Upper High St.)

This Ipswich neighborhood has historically had a close social connection with neighboring Rowley. Jewett’s mill was created in the 17th Century, and historic houses still line the street.

Birthplace of Nathan Dane

Nathan Dane

Nathan Dane, a native of Ipwich was a Massachusetts delegate to the Continental Congress, where he helped draft the Northwest Ordinance, which was enacted in 1787. Dane’s amendment banning slavery in the territory, which would become five new states was accepted into the Ordinance. His amendments to the Articles of Confederation helped lead to adoption of the United States Constitution and a Bill of Rights.

Pigeon Cove

The October Gale of 1841

In the latter part of September, 1841, was a long, unbroken spell of uncomfortable weather, which culminated in a violent and cold storm of wind, snow and rain on the night of October 2, continuing four days.

Snowstorm in Ipswich circa 1900

The Great Snow Hurricane of October 9, 1804

On the morning of Tuesday October 9, 1804, the temperature fell very suddenly, and a storm of rain and snow, accompanied by thunder and lightning, began. A schooner wrecked on Ipswich bar, and all seven persons on board perished.

Public safety

Voters at the 2021 Special Town Meeting and Election voted to replace our century-old fire and police facilities with a modern structure.

Ipswich Illumination

Ipswich Illumination

Ipswich Illumination, Saturday, September 18, 2021, 5-10 PM
Saturdays, October 2, 16 & 30, 2021 5-9 PM

John Appleton house, Ipswich

Saving John Appleton’s house

In 1962 the historic house at the corner of Central and North Main Streets was purchased by Exxon to demolish and build a gas station on the site. The Ipswich Heritage Trust was created to save it.

Aaron Pengry

Moses and Aaron Pengry and their descendants

Two brothers, Moses and Aaron Pengry both resided in Ipswich by 1641. and were active in town affairs. The surnames of their descendants are alternatively spelled Pingree, Pengre, Pengrey, Pengry, Pingre, Pingrey, Pingry.

General Michael Farley

In 1774, the Town of Ipswich chose Michael Farley, a tanner, as a delegate to the Provincial Congress. He was appointed major-general of the Militia of Massachusetts in 1777. Farley is buried at the Old North Burying Ground beside his wife Elizabeth. The site of his home is now the Richdale store on Market St..

The Oceanside Hotel in Gloucester MA

The grand hotels of Gloucester and Cape Ann

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.

Memorial on South Green Ipswich ma

The Arnold Expedition arrives in Ipswich, September 15, 1775

A memorial sits in the intersection between the South Green and the site of the former South Congregational Church in Ipswich. It reads, “The expedition against Quebec, Benedict Arnold in command, Aaron Burr in the ranks, marched by this spot, September 15, 1775.”

Hurricane Carol, September 6, 1954

The1954 storm knocked down trees and power lines all over Ipswich. Hurricane Carol devastated the Massachusetts south coast and Rhode Island, and was responsible for 65 deaths. On September 11, Hurricane Edna hit New England with additional destruction.

Strandbeests at Crane Beach

Strandbeest Invasion

The Strandbeests came to Crane Beach in the summer of 2015, but the bigger news was the largest invasion of people the town of Ipswich has experienced in recent memory.

Underground railroad in Massachusetts

Abolition and the Underground Railroad in Essex County

A network of the Underground Railroad ran north along the coast from Boston to Salem, where it split into three trails; one continued through Beverly, Ipswich, Newburyport and West Newbury to Amesbury where escaped slaves were escorted into New Hampshire.

Ipswich MA Agawam Tercentenary plaque

Early Ipswich, “A paradise for politicians”

Due to the small scale of the settlement, the settlers of Ipswich reproduced an English form of government from a far earlier time. The first public officials were the clerk, lot-layers and “The Seven Men” (selectmen). By the end of the next century, every industry was supervised by some public functionary.

Peg Wesson the Gloucester witch

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 published in the Boston Evening Transcript, October 14, 1892. It was carried in papers throughout the country.

Bungalow, Ipswich MA

Bungalows of Ipswich

The Eastern Bungalow style was popular between 1910-1940, which included the Depression years, and were an affordable and practical adaptation of California’s Arts and Crafts movement.

Attacked by a swordfish in Ipswich Bay

Killed by a swordfish in Ipswich Bay, August 19, 1886

Captain Franklin D. Langsford sailed from Cape Ann in pursuit of swordfish. After harpooning one in Ipswich Bay, the fish turned and thrust its sword through the boat and the Captain. Not yet realizing that he was wounded, he seized the sword and exclaimed, “We got him anyway!”

Wreck of the Watch and Wait

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.

Robert Kinsman house, Candlewood Rd., Ipswich

Descendants of Robert Kinsman of Ipswich

Robert Kinsman, the immigrant, was a glazier by trade, and received a grant of an acre of land on Green St. His son Robert 2 played a part in the resistance to Gov. Andros in 1687 for which Ipswich is known as the Birthplace of American Independence.

John Baker house, South Green in Ipswich

Homes of the descendants of John Baker of Ipswich

John Baker owned, by grant, a large lot on the north side of East St. between North Main and County St. To his son Thomas, he conveyed the house where he lived and the remainder of his land, June 14, 1698 (35: 44). John Baker the settler was […]

The Middle Green

A mild controversy has arisen in the town of Ipswich about what to name the grassy lawn between the Old Town Hall and the Ipswich Museum. Depending on who you ask, it’s the Middle Green, Memorial Green, Veterans Green, or the Visitor Center Lawn, and I’ll add  “Augustine Heard’s back yard” just to add to the confusion.

The Muster Murder of 1787

During the Boston Muster of 1787, Daniel Foster of Rowley participated in the customary celebration of shooting musket balls into the air, and accidentally killed Amos Chapman of Ipswich. A jury ordered his execution, but Governor John Hancock opposed capital punishment and pardoned Foster.

Ipswich in the Revolutionary War

On June 10th, 1776, the men of Ipswich, in Town-meeting assembled, instructed their Representatives, that if the Continental Congress should for the safety of the said Colonies Declare them Independent of the Kingdom of Great Britain, they will solemnly engage with their lives and Fortunes to support them in the Measure.

Painting by Susan Howard Boice

Market Square

Market Square is the intersection of North Main, South Main, Market and Central Streets in Ipswich, and is sometimes referred to as Five Corners

Revere trainwreck 1871

The Great Revere Train wreck, August 26, 1871

The Eastern Railroad’s Portland Express slammed into the rear of a stopped local train in Revere, Massachusetts. Some trapped passengers were burned alive as coal-oil lamps ignited the wreckage. Approximately 29 people died..

My Ipswich connections

“I suspect that thousands of New Englanders have their roots based in Ipswich. Is it possible that I was drawn here by deeply ingrained ancestral memories?” By Thomas Palance

Jewett house, High St. Ipswich

Homes of the Jewetts

Generations of the Jewett family made their homes on upper High Street, and the area near the Rowley town line came to be known as Ipswich Village.

Appleton Farms "New House"

Homes of the Appletons

Appleton Farms was gifted to the Trustees of Reservations by Francis and Joan Appleton in 1998. Originally granted to Ipswich settler Samuel Appleton, it is the oldest continuously operating farm in America. The farm continued in family ownership for seven generations, and the extended family built homes along Waldingfield Rd. and the nearby vicinity. 

Nathaniel Wade house, Ipswich MA

Homes of the Wades

Jonathan Wade arrived in Ipswich in 1635 with the first wave of Puritan settlers, and came into ownership of land across from the South Green. In the 19th Century, the Wade family of housewrights built several homes on County Rd., and throughout the town.

Thomas Lord house, High St., Ipswich MA

Homes of the Lords

Robert Lord, his wife Mary Waite and their four children arrived with the first settlers of Ipswich in 1634, where he was appointed town clerk. Almost every house on High Street has been lived in by a member of the Lord family.

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.

Photo by Gavin Keenan, Ipswich MA

Thoughts on an August Day

To borrow a hockey metaphor, if June and July designate the first and second periods of summer, then surely August tells us that we are now deep within the final period of this glorious season. The changes abound in subtle but perceptible ways.

The Manning Family of Salem and Ipswich Massachusetts

Homes of the Manning family of Ipswich

Nicholas Manning immigrated from England to Salem, MA, as early as 1662. He was later joined by his youngest brother Thomas, who became the common ancestor of the prominent Manning family of Ipswich.

Grape Island Hotel, circa 1900, Ipswich MA

300 years on Grape Island

Grape Island was once a small but thriving community, and briefly a popular summer resort. In 1941, 3000 acres of Plum Island including Grape Island were purchased by the U.S. government to establish the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge.

Painting by Patricia Hanlon

Swimming to the top of the tide

“When you swim a saltwater creek as the tide nears high, you have a visceral sense of what could happen if the tide just kept on rising.”

Arrival of English Puritans in New England

Arrival of the English

Within three years of the arrival of the Winthrop fleet to New England, so many immigrants had arrived in Massachusetts Bay that Boston Neck could not hold them all. Perceiving a threat from the French, thirteen men arrived in 1633 to establish the town that would be named Ipswich a year later.

John Wise house Tercentenary sign, Essex MA

The Rev. John Wise of Ipswich

The concepts of freedom about which Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence originated from the pen of the Rev. John Wise of Ipswich: “The origin of civil power is the people…and when they are free, they may set up what species of government they please.”

Lakeman's Lane and Fellows Road Ipswich

Lakemans Lane and Fellows Road

One hundred years ago, Lakemans Lane was a narrow dirt road lined by stone walls. You can still see the imprint of the pastures and fields that once marked the original properties.

Ipswich telephone exchange story by Harold Bowen

The Hello Girls

Harold Bowen wrote, “My family was more or less a telephone family. My father, two brothers and a sister-in-Iaw were all telephone operators. The dial system is quicker and more efficient, but it still cannot compare with that personal touch you had with the Hello Girls.”

Ipswich MA after midnight by Gavin Keenan

Let’s Go Walking……. After Midnight……

Up for a walk tonight? How about joining me on a late-night beat shift in the early 1980’s? When you’re from a place and stay put, you pay attention to things. It’s the stuff of life that let’s you know where you belong.

Land Bank Scheme

Illegal Currency: Ipswich and the Land Bank scheme of 1740-41

In September 1740, two Massachusetts Land Banks organized and issued 50,000 pounds of notes of varying amounts, without legal authorization of the Crown. An Act of Parliament declared all the transactions of the two Bank Schemes illegal and void.

Woodcut of historic Ipswich Town Hill

A Sunday at Old Ipswich

In 1846, British writer John Ross Dix visited Ipswich and recorded his observations in “Local Loiterings, and Visits in the Vicinity of Boston, by a Looker-on”

President Washington visits Ipswich, October 30, 1789

On October 30, 1789, Washington passed through Ipswich on his ten-day tour of Massachusetts. Adoring crowds greeted the President at Swasey’s Tavern (still standing at the corner of Popular and County Streets) where he stopped for food and drink.

John Fiske Mary Conley Award

John Fiske, 1939-2021

We sadly learned of the recent passing of John Fiske, a long-time member of the Ipswich Historical Commission. At our June meeting, the Commission unanimously voted to grant the 2021 Mary Conley Preservation award to our esteemed former chairman for his exceptional service to the Town of Ipswich, and granted him the honorary title of Chair Emeritus.

Tombstone of Thomas Lull at the Old North Burying Ground in Ipswich

Thomas and Elizabeth Lull, the Caldwell sons and their descendants

The youngest daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Lull, Sr married William Caldwell in 1714. The wives of his brothers, John and Jacob, were her nieces, being the daughters of Thomas Lull Jr. The Caldwell family became prominent, while the Lull family name disappeared from Ipswich.

Belcher carted to Ipswich

Carted back to Ipswich, 1714

It is said that the Rev. Belcher was dependent on his neighbors’ kindness in his later life. Much to the supposed discredit of the parish, the story was often told that when he grew old and unable to preach, his parishioners cast him off and carted him back to Ipswich, his native place.

Ipswich band, late 1800's

Bygone Ipswich

Many of these photos were digitally developed from original glass negatives taken by three early Ipswich photographers Arthur Wesley Dow, George Dexter, and Edward L. Darling.

Ipswich town wharf circa 1930, photography by Edward Darling

The Old Town Landings and Wharfs

Many a pleasant sail down the river are in the memories of William J. Barton. “These were the names of the places and flats along the Ipswich River before my time, and familiar to me during my time. They were used by the fishermen and clammers. I know. I was one of them. It was the happiest time of my life.”

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.

Ipswich Cornet Band

The Grand Old Fourth

“The night before the Fourth of July, thousands of people were milling up and down Central and Market Streets and Depot Square. Every man and boy carried a revolver and shot off blank cartridges as fast as they could reload. “At five o’clock on the morning of the Fourth, the sexton of the Methodist Church could open up the doors and let in the boys to ring the church bell for an hour. Then came the parade.”

Life in the Time of Greenheads

Situated in the epicenter of The Great Marsh, Ipswich is ground zero for the annual invasion of Town’s Official Pest, Tabanus nigrovittatus, better known as the Greenhead Fly. In my opinion, which I am happy to share with you, the Latin name for this scourge lends it far more dignity than it deserves.

Mary Perkins Bradbury charged as a witch

Mary Perkins Bradbury, charged as a witch

Mary Perkins was born in 1615, the daughter of Sergeant John Perkins, Sr. and Judith Perkins. She became the wife of Capt. Thomas Bradbury of Salisbury, and was sentenced to death as witch in 1692, but was not executed. Over a hundred neighbors testified in her support.

Mary Walcott

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

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.

The hanging of Ezra Ross and Bathsheba Spooner, July 2, 1778

In 1778, sixteen-year-old Ezra Ross of Ipswich was condemned to death for the murder of Joshua Spooner of Brookfield. Spooner’s wife Bathsheba became the first woman executed in the newly-created United States of America. Ezra Ross is buried in an unmarked grave at the Leslie Road Cemetery.

The Great Salem Fire, June 25, 1914

A raging fire a half-mile mile wide and a mile-and-a-half long burned a swath through the city. Almost half of the population of 48,000 people lost their homes.

Sandown Meeting House

Seating in the Meeting House

The question of greater and lesser dignity, carrying with it the question of higher or lower seats, became so vexing that the task of “seating the congregation” was laid upon the Selectmen.

Puritan settlers

In English ways

When Ipswich was settled in the 1630s, the immigrants came from only one area of England, and they brought with them the socio-economic rank­ing system they knew in the old coun­try.

Boston rum runners caught during prohibition

Rum runners

Ipswich folks have always had a taste for good rum. Its hidden creeks was a paradise for the rum runners and bootleggers during the Prohibition era. Tales of the Coast Guard chasing rum runners were common. It was very seldom that one could be caught. The booze was unloaded at convenient places like Gould’s Bridge. To distract the authorities, someone would set a fire in town.

Nancy Astor, Hamilton MA

Nancy’s Corner

Google Maps used to show “Nancy’s Corner” at the intersection of Highland Street and Cutler Road in Hamilton. I wondered who Nancy was and discovered an amazing story.

Sally Weatherall

Sally’s Pond on South Main St. is dedicated to the memory of Sally Weatherall, who volunteered many hours to her Town as a member of the Conservation Commission and helped achieve development of the Open Space Plan.

First Church burns, June 13, 1965

It was a sad day for Ipswich when on June 13, 1965, lightning hit the steeple on the sanctuary of the First Church on Meeting House Green and the building was destroyed by fire. The building was more than a century old and was considered to be one of the […]

19th Century: Religion divided the town

Revivalist Rev. John N. Maffit held a “protracted meeting” which was undoubtedly the most extraordinary episode in the history of the churches of Ipswich since the days of George Whitefield and Gilbert Tennent, preaching sixty nights to congregations which occupied every inch of the meeting-house.

The Legend of Puddin' Street

The Legend of Pudding Street

“We turn our eyes below and at our feet, Lies in peace old Pudding Street, So named because a pudding left to dry Was stolen by some tipsy passers by.
These later years from vulgar names have shrunk, And called it High because the thieves were drunk.”

The old elm tree

The American Elm tree at the corner of County and East Streets succumbed to Dutch Elm disease in 2012, but a polished cross section is on display at the Ipswich Town Hall.

The home of Samuel Simmons

Samuel Symonds’ house

“I desire to have the house in your bargaining to be as completely mentioned in particulars as may be, & as speedily done also as you can.”

Women during the Revolutionary War

The Letters of Joseph Hodgkins and Sarah Perkins

Throughout the Revolutionary War, Joseph Hodgkins sent letters home from the battlefronts to his wife, Sarah Perkins Hodgkins, detailing the desperate troop conditions and longing for home. The letters were preserved and can be read online.

Ipswich at war

Links to two dozen wars that Ipswich men fought in from the town’s settlement in 1633, through the Vietnam War.

The Ipswich jail on Green Street

The Ipswich jails

The second jail in the Colony was erected in Ipswich in 1656. Sixteen British prisoners were kept hostage in the cold and cruel stone jail during the War of 1812. A large brick House of Corrections was constructed in 1828 at the site of the present Town Hall on Green Street.

Georgetown-Ipswich trolley

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.

Postcards from Salem

Click on any image to begin the slideshow. To leave the slideshow and return to Historic Ipswich, hit the Esc button or click on the X in the top corner.

Cape Ann earthquake

The Cape Ann Earthquake, November 18, 1755

At between 6.0 and 6.3 on the Richter scale, the1755 Cape Ann Earthquake remains the largest earthquake in the history of Massachusetts, and caused great alarm. The Rev. Leslie of Linebrook Church recorded the earthquake’s effect: “Between ye hours of four & five in ye morning there happened a most surprising shock of ye earthquake, which was afterwards succeeded by several others, though non equal to ye first in ye Town of Ipswich. Much damage was done to many houses, yet through ye goodness of God no hurt was done either to ye lives or ye limbs of any persons. On Nov. 19 several shocks were heard, tho but small compared to ye first.”

Ipswich Wharf early 20th Century

Along the Ipswich River

Historic photos of the Ipswich River from original glass negatives taken by early Ipswich photographers Arthur Wesley Dow, George Dexter and Edward L. Darling.

Mothers Day Flood, May 14-16, 2006

Fourteen inches of rain fell between May 14 and May 16, 2006, creating the historic 2006 Mothers Day Flood. Water flow levels in the Ipswich River were 27% higher than recorded in previous epic floods.

Sullivan's Corner, Ipswich MA

Sullivan’s Corner, the last years of the farm

For eight decades the Sullivan farm in Ipswich, MA practiced a pre-modern way of life. The two sisters who took over their father’s family farm in 1916 were also teachers and principals in the Ipswich schools.

The little old lady from Ipswich seen around the world

The “Little Old Lady from Ipswich” who was seen around the world

The Ipswich Chronicle wrote, “In Ipswich is the one woman whose face has been portrayed to more men, women and children in this nation than any other woman alive, with the possible exception of the President’s wife. The face of the ‘Little Old Lady from Ipswich’ has been viewed by more than 80,000,000 people in America, Canada, Great Britain and Australia,”

Strawberry Hill and Greenwood Farm

The landscape surrounding Strawberry Hill on Jeffreys Neck Rd. invokes a time when saltwater farms were common in Ipswich. Across the street is Greenwood Farm and the First Period Payne House, owned by the Trustees of Reservations.

Burgess flight in Ipswich

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. Flight tests of Burgess biplanes were conducted in November and December, 1910 near Essex Road in Ipswich

Roads to Paradise, Ipswich MA

Roads to Paradise

“The ancient way, now called not inaptly Paradise Road, winds through long stretches of woodland, where ferns and brakes grow luxuriantly, and every kind of wild flower finds congenial haunt in open glades or shaded nooks.”

The Grand Wenham Canal

The Grand Wenham Canal and the Topsfield Linear Common

The Topsfield “Linear Common” follows the former Danvers to Newburyport rail line. A side path takes you to the Grand Wenham Canal, also known as the Salem-Beverly Waterway Canal, which transports water from the Ipswich River to Wenham Lake.

William Clancy, WWI hero

William Clancy, a young Ipswich man, enlisted in the English Army, and was the first American to carry the Stars and Stripes into action during WWI.

Warned out of Colonial America

Warned Out

The settlement in Ipswich set itself resolutely to the task of guarding against undesirable prospective citizens. The practice of “warning out” strangers was finally abolished in 1793.

Sketch of wolves by Walter Heubach

Killing wolves

One of the first laws instituted by the Massachusetts Bay Colony was a bounty on wolves, and in early Ipswich, a rather disconcerting aspect of entering the Meeting House was the site of wolf heads nailed to the door. Even in 1723, wolves were so abundant and so near the meeting house, that parents would not suffer their children to go and come from worship without some grown person.

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.

Legend of Heartbreak Hill, Ipswich MA

The Legend of Heartbreak Hill

“In Ipswich town, not far from the sea, rises a hill which the people call Heartbreak Hill, and its history is an old, old legend known to all.”

Legendary ships of Salem

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.

Who Were the Agawam Indians, Really?

It’s hard for people to change their stories—so embedded in deep time and official canon, even when there is a better explanation or a closer truth. I hope it will be possible to change public knowledge about the Native Americans who lived here and get closer to the truth.

Lords Square

Lords Square is not a square at all, and no one knows if it’s Lords Square or Lord Square. The bewildering commercial intersection abuts the Old North Burying Ground and the largest collection of First Period houses in America.

A Modern Enquiry into the Nature of Witchcraft by John Hale, Pastor of the Church of Christ in Beverly, 1967

“We walked in the clouds and could not see our way”

The wife of Rev. John Hale of Beverly participated in the witch trials until his wife was accused. Hale later published an analysis in which he asserted that Satan had tricked the Puritans, and made a plea for forgiveness.

The “Dungeons of Ipswich” during the War of 1812

On October 7, 1813, the keeper of the Ipswich jail was given orders by the President “to “receive into his custody and safely keep in dungeons, in the gaol aforesaid, 16 British prisoners of war” as hostages.

Dow Brook and Bull Brook

Bull Brook originates in Willowdale, crosses Linebrook Rd. and merges with Dow Brook at the Ipswich Utilities site on Rt. 1A. From that point the combined stream becomes the Egypt River.

Shucking clams on the Ipswich River circa 1900

The Ipswich clam

Ipswich is known as the home of the fried clam, although the claim has long been disputed by the town of Essex. The mud in the salt marshes along the Ipswich, Eagle, Essex and Parker Rivers is what gives our clams their wonderful taste. Ipswich was also home to Soffron Bros which produced clam strips for Howard Johnsons restaurants.

The Legend of Goody Cole

Some said that Goody Cole took the shapes of eagles, dogs, cats and apes. At last she lay under sentence of death in the Ipswich jail for changing a child in its cradle.

Ipswich Samuel Goodhue's pier, circa 1907

Samuel Goodhue’s pier

In the early 20th Century, Samuel Goodhue operated a canoe rental business on the Ipswich River at the end of Peatfield St in the area known as Pole Alley.

The “Detested Tea” and the Ipswich Resolves

aking under consideration the Distrest State of Trade, by Reason of a Late Act of Parliament Imposing Duties on Tea….Voted, that we will abstain there from ourselves & Recommend the Disuse of it in our Families, Until all the Revenue Acts are Repealed.”

Dustbane–sawdust in a can!

Dustbane Products was founded in 1908 by two entrepreneurial Canadians who managed to convince people to buy pine-scented sawdust for cleaning floors. U.S. Manufacturing plants were established in Chicago and Ipswich.

Massachusetts protest against the Vietnam War

April 1, 1970: The Massachusetts Legislature challenges the Vietnam War

On April 1st, 1970, both houses of the Massachusetts legislature passed a bill known as the “Shea Act,” which declared that no inhabitant of Massachusetts “shall be required to serve” abroad in an armed hostility that has not been declared a war by Congress, under Article I of the U.S. Constitution.

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.

Ipswich Depot

Depot Square

The Eastern Railroad ran from Boston to Portland, continuing to Canada and was the primary competition of the Boston and Maine Railroad until it was acquired by the B&M in the late 1880’s to become the B&M’s Eastern Division. The Ipswich Depot sat at the location of the Institution for Savings at Depot Square.

Charles Wendell Townsend, Ipswich naturalist

Charles Wendell Townsend, M.D. was attracted by the natural beauty of Ipswich. He built a summer house overlooking a wide expanse of salt marsh with open sea to the east. From here he wrote a number of books, including Beach Grass, Sand Dunes and Salt Marshes, and the Birds of Essex County.

The “Birthplace of American Independence”

Resistance by the citizens and leaders of Ipswich to a tax imposed by the Crown in 1687 is commemorated in the seal of the town of Ipswich, which bears the motto, “The Birthplace of American Independence 1687.”

Arthur Hans Hardy killed in the Vietnam war

Captain Arthur H. Hardy, 1972

Arthur Hans Hardy grew up in Ipswich, On a mission over the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos on March 14, 1972, Hardy’s aircraft was hit and he bailed out nar enemy troops. His body is buried at Highland Cemetery in Ipswich.

Tied a millstone around his neck and drowned

A tragic story from old Gloucester

In 1821, the Annisquam woods was the scene of a murder. A youth, Gorham Parsons, while chopping wood, struck and instantly killed a boy of 10 years, named Eben Davis with a hatchet.

Battle of clammers over the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Clam Battle!

Life Magazine, July 16, 1945: The government had taken over the lands for a Wildlife Refuge, and the clam battle was on. Ipswich hunters were afraid of losing their private hunting reserves. Ipswich farmers were afraid of losing their land.

Ipswich, Slavery and the Civil War

In 1765, Jenny Slew, a slave in Ipswich, successfully sued John Whipple Jr. for her freedom. In the mid-19th Century, divisions between ardent abolitionists, moderate anti-slavery people and those who avoided the discussion divided families, churches and the town of Ipswich.

Eunice Stanwood Caldwell Cowles

Eunice Caldwell attended Ipswich Female Seminary from 1828 to 1829, where she began a lasting friendship with Mary Lyon. She married the Reverend John Phelps Cowles in 1838, and returned to Ipswich in 1844 to reopen the Seminary, which they ran until it closed in 1876.

Hannah Duston

The Amazing Story of Hannah Duston, March 14, 1697

Hannah Duston was born in Ipswich in 1657 while her mother was visiting her relatives the Shatswells. A bronze statue in Haverhill honors her daring escape, killing and scalping a dozen Abanaki captors.

Haselelponiah Wood, buried in the Old North Burying ground in Ipswich

Haselelponah Wood

Obadiah Wood married 35-year-old widow Haselelponiah, whose scriptural name means “A shadow falls upon me,” the only person in modern history with that name. Haselelpony Wood’s tombstone is located at the Old North Burial Ground in Ipswich.

Lord Timothy Dexter's house in Newburyport

Lord Timothy Dexter

Lord Timothy Dexter of Newburyport was insane but profited from everything he undertook. He declared himself to be “the greatest philosopher in the known world.” His book, “A Pickle for the Knowing Ones” is a collection of whatever entered his head at the moment, spelling as he wished, and devoid of punctuation.

Ipswich Museum Sunday strolls, April – May, 2021

The Ipswich Museum is hosting a series of “Sunday Strolls” beginning in April. Each guided walk around town will explore a historical theme. Reserve your tickets online or call the museum at 978-356-2811
Walks begin at 2pm departing from the Ipswich Museum Heard House.

sheep

Troubles with Sheep

Thomas Granger of Duxbury was hung for sodomy in 1642, the first execution in the Colony. With great speed the court issued an edict suggesting spinning and weaving as suitable occupation for boys and girls to avoid idleness and immodest behavior.

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.

Four-year-old Dorothy Good is jailed for witchcraft, March 24, 1692

On March 24, 1682. a child, Dorothy Good of Salem was taken custody, and interrogated by the local magistrates for two weeks. Hungry, cold and missing her mother, Dorcas broke down and told the inquisitors what they wanted to hear, that her mother was a witch, and consorted with the devil.

Daniel Denison grave at the Old North Burying Ground in Ipswich

Daniel Denison

Daniel Denison became Major General of the colonial forces and represented Ipswich in the general court. He was remembered with high esteem by the people of Ipswich well into the 19th Century. You can visit Denison’s grave at the Old North Burial Ground.

Building a schooner in Essex MA

Building a ship in Essex

By the early 1840s, Essex no longer had its own fishing fleet, but had turned to year-round shipbuilding fostering a symbiotic relationship with the successful fishermen in Gloucester

The Game of Cycling, Parker Brothers Salem MA

The North Shore and the Golden Age of Cycling

The invention of the Columbia Safety bicycle in 1886 enabled a cyclist from Newton to ride round-trip to Ipswich on the Newburyport Turnpike (Rt. 1) in 9 hours 50 minutes, setting a new record for a 100 mile ride.

1793 and 1818: the “Burden of the Poor” divides Ipswich into 3 towns, Ipswich, Hamilton and Essex

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

1639: “The pigs have liberty”

“Such small piggs as are pigged after the first of February shall have liberty to be about the towne, not being liable to pay any damage in house lotts or gardens, until the 16th of August next.”

Clammer photo by Coco McCabe

The Clammer

It had to be a tough decision for Tom Pappas to hang up the clamming fork after a lifetime of use.

Wreck of the Edward S. Eveleth, October 1922

In October 1922, the sand schooner Edward S. Eveleth rolled over when a wave rushed over her deck and pushed her onto the edge of Steep Hill Beach. Filled with sand, each tide buried her deeper. Her remains were visible for several years. The skeleton of the hull is just off-shore a short distance from the wreck of the Ada K. Damon.

Spectral leaguers, Gloucester MA

The Spectre Leaguers, July 1692

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.

Milestone 33 on the Old Bay Road

Along the Old Bay Road

In 1639, the Colony ordered that a road be laid out from Boston to Portsmouth, to be constructed by each town along the way. The Bay Road made Ipswich an important stagecoach stop. Several milestones to indicate distances are still standing.

Coal found on Steep Hill Beach

Wrecks of the coal schooners

Walking near Steep Hill Beach, you might be surprised to see lumps of anthracite coal lying on the sand. This would be a mystery were it not for the tragic history of brigs and schooners transporting coal in the 19th century.

A short history of dog laws

A short history of Ipswich dog laws

In 1644, the Town of Ipswich ordered, “If a man refuse to tye up his dogg’s legg and hee bee found scrapeing up fish in a corne fielde, the owner thereof shall pay twelve pence damages, beside whatever damage the dogg doth. But if any fish their house lotts and receive damage by doggs the owners of those house lotts shall bear the damage themselves.”

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.

The Essex Convention

The Ipswich Convention and the Essex Result

Delegates from 67 towns arrived in Ipswich on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 1774 and began deliberations regarding a Constitution for Massachusetts. “Surely a state of nature is more excellent than that in which men are meanly submissive to the haughty will of an imperious tyrant.”

One Third for the Widow

Under Puritan law an adult unmarried woman was a feme sole, and could own property and sign contracts. A married woman was a feme covert and could not own property individually. Widows regained the status of feme sole but the Right of Dower entitled them to keep only one third of their property. When a woman was left a widow some men like vultures were ready to take the other two thirds.

1894: the Year that Ipswich Burned

At about 1:30 am, Police gave the alarm that Central Street was on fire.The citizens of Ipswich tumbled out from their beds and faced as wicked a night as the town has ever seen. Four months later the other end of downtown burned.

Flag flying atop First Church in Ipswich

A Wager on the Rooster

In 1900, Raymond Dodge was painting the First Church steeple. Angus Savory bet him five dollars that he didn’t dare to go up and sit on the rooster’s back.

Christian Wainwright house, Ipswich MA

The Christian Wainwright house, North Main St., moved to Market St., demolished

The home of Christian Wainwright house originally sat next door to the Nathaniel Treadwell house at 12 North Main Street. In 1845 Joseph Baker moved it to the corner of Market and Saltonstall Streets. The Ipswich Historical Society tore down the house in order to create a better view of the Whipple House before it was moved to the South Green.

The Ipswich discovery of PaleoIndian artifacts at Bull Brook

The Bull Brook Paleo-Indian Discovery

in the early 1950’s, a group of young amateur archeologists men discovered one of the largest Paleo-Indian sites in North America along the banks of Bull Brook and the Egypt River in Ipswich, with over 6,000 artifacts uncovered.

Photo of the Ipswich Town Farm by George Dexter

The Ipswich Town Farm, 1817-1928

Ipswich established its first poorhouse in 1717, and until then the poor and incapacitated were simply let out to the lowest bidder. In 1817 the town voted to build a town poor farm on what is now Town Farm Road.

“Dalliance and too much familiarity”

William Row v. John Leigh, Mar. 28, 1673: “For insinuating dalliance and too much familiarity with his wife and drawing away her affections from her husband, to the great detriment both in his estate and the comfort of his life.”

Wolf moon over Little Neck

Little Neck

Photos of Little Neck in Ipswich from the 19th through the 21st Century.

Emma Safford, Ipswich MA

Emma Jane Mitchell Safford

Emma Jane Mitchell Safford was a descendant of Massasoit, Sachem of the Wampanoag. Her daughter, also Emma, tried to help her relatives regain land taken from them on the reservation.

Benjamin Ellsworth at the Ipswich Lighthouse

The Ipswich lighthouse

In 1881, a 45-foot cast iron lighthouse was erected at Crane Beach, replacing an earlier structure. By 1913, the sand had shifted so much that the lighthouse was 1,090 feet from the high water mark. Use of the light was discontinued in 1932 and in 1939 the Coast Guard floated the entire lighthouse to Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard.

Early 20th century parade in Ipswich with fire trucks

Parades

Photos from 20th Century Ipswich parades

Postcard of the sand dunes at Ipswich Beach

The missing dunes at Castle Neck

The “Great Dune” at the end of Castle Neck has disappeared, the point is retreating, and the opening to Essex Bay between Castle Neck and Wingaersheek Beach has widened.

Ann Bradstreet, America's first published poet

Anne Dudley Bradstreet, the colony’s first published poet

Often alone in Ipswich while her husband Simon was engaged in government, Anne Bradstreet wrote a collection of poems published in London in 1650 titled, “The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung up in America…by a Gentlewoman in these Parts.”

Great Neck and Little Neck Ipswich MA

History of Great Neck

Before the settlement of Ipswich was begun in 1633 by John Winthrop, William Jeffrey, who had come over in 1623, had purchased from the Indians a title to the glacial drumlin which bears his name. By 1639 the whole tract was set apart as a common pasture by the new town, and in 1666 the General Court gave Jeffrey five hundred acres of land elsewhere. After the early eighteenth century, the Necks remained as the only common lands retained by the Commoners.

Great Ispwich Fright, John Greenleaf Whittier

The Great Ipswich Fright, April 21, 1775

A rumor spread that two British ships were in the river, and were going to burn the town. The news spread as far as New Hampshire, and in every place the report was that the regulars were but a few miles behind them, slashing everyone in sight.

Persecution of Quakers

Persecution of Quakers by the Puritans

Beginning in 1656, laws forbade any captain to land Quakers. Any individual of that sect was to be committed at once to the House of Correction, to be severely whipped on his or her entrance, and kept constantly at work, and none were suffered to speak with them. In Ipswich,  Roger Darby his wife lived on High St, and were warned, fined and dealt with harshly.

Bombshell from Louisburg

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.

Moll Pitcher, the fortune teller of Lynn and Marblehead

Soon after her marriage she was known as a fortune-teller, her clients increasing during the fifty years that she afterwards lived. Her fame reached every fireside in New England, and her successful predictions were the themes of many midnight vigils and story-tellers.

Harry Maine's house on Water Street in Ipswich

The ghost of Harry Maine

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 today.”

Candlewood, an Ancient Neighborhood in Ipswich, with genealogies of John Brown, William Fellows and Robert Kinsman

Candlewood Road

An Ancient Neighborhood in Ipswich, Massachusetts, written by Thomas Franklin Waters, with genealogies of John Brown, William Fellows, and Robert Kinsman)

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.

The reluctant pirate from Ipswich, Captain John Fillmore

John Fillmore of Ipswich was taken prisoner in 1723 by the pirate Captain Phillips. After many months he and three other prisoners overcame their captors, seized command and sailed the ship into Boston. “Captain” John Fillmore became a legend in his own time.

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 […]

Ipswich MA Strand Theater in 1941

The Strand Opera House and Theater

The Strand Opera House was built in 1909 on Market Street in Ipswich and hosted operas, plays, travelling shows and even the Boston Symphony. In 1930 the Strand burned and re-opened as a movie theater.I n November, 1985 the Strand Theater was demolished. In it’s place was constructed the First National Bank of Ipswich.

John Updike at typewriter

John Updike, the Ipswich years

In 1957, John Updike moved to Ipswich, where he and his family lived in the Polly Dole house on East Street for seventeen years. Updike’s 1968 novel Couples and several of his short stories were based in the fictional community Tarbox, which everyone knew was really Ipswich.

“Preserve and protect”

Alice Keenan: “Naturally when we moved to Ipswich my antiquarian cup ranneth over. This lovely old town, its long history, ancient houses and interesting people became almost an obsession”

The Ipswich Townie Test

In 2008 the Ipswich Chronicle ran a series of articles called “The Townie Test”. Readers responded with their answers.

John Winthrop Jr., here and gone

John Winthrop the younger was the son of Massachusetts Bay Colony governor John Winthrop, and led the settlement of Agawam in 1633 (renamed Ipswich in 1634), accompanied by 11 men.

Three-masted schooner at Glover's Wharf in Ipswich

Glover’s Wharf and the Ipswich coal industry

John S. Glover opened a wharf on Water St. in 1847, receiving shipments of coal and cement, along with maritime salvage. His wharf was a short distance from the home be built on East St. around 1872 across from the present-day Town Wharf.

The Preston-Foster house, Ipswich MA

Something to Preserve

This important book described the process by which the town of Ipswich began to preserve at-risk historic homes after the town rejected efforts to set up a legal historic district.

The Ipswich steamship Carlotta

The steamship “Carlotta”

The excursion boat Carlotta was built in 1878 at Rogers Point boat yard, and sailed from Town Wharf to the Neck and Plum Island for 35 years. The small hotels at Little Neck, Ipswich Bluff and Grape Island were favorite destinations for tourists and locals.

The Tragedy of the Wilderness: The Colonists and Indian Land, Part 4

Native Americans and settlers managed to impoverish themselves through overexploitation of the wider environment. At the same time, they both also selectively protected species, custom-designed habitats for them, and practiced common-sense conservation of trees, soil, fish stocks, and water

Valedictory of Sarah Goodhue of Ipswich

Sarah Goodhue’s advance directive, July 14, 1681

On July 14, 1681, Sarah Whipple Goodhue left a note to her husband that read: “Dear husband, if by sudden death I am taken away from thee, there is infolded among thy papers something that I have to say to thee and others.” She died three days after bearing twins. This is the letter to her husband and children.

Ipswich MA train Depot

The Railroad comes to Ipswich, December 20, 1839

The stagecoach era ended abruptly when the Salem tunnel opened, and two days later on December 20, 1839, a train from Boston made its first passage through Ipswich. The opening of the railroad and the end of stagecoach travel led to the decline of Ipswich as one of the most important towns of Massachusetts.

children at hearth

Around the fireplace

The memories of this writer go well back into the 19th Century to a time when life was very simple. First-hand accounts from parents and grandparents added to the understanding of the early days of that century. As this is written, a fine cold snow is coming down in ten degree weather. When those pioneers faced the like of this they had a lot more to do than to turn up the thermostat.

How to run for the Select Board

The Annual Town Meeting is a hallowed New England tradition in which we debate transfers of even the smallest sums from one bookkeeping account to another, while being mercifully spared the details of the annual budget.

Hay stack in the salt marsh

Gathering salt marsh hay

Salt marsh hay is still gathered on the North Shore today. The grass was stacked on staddles to raise it above the high tides, and was hauled away on sleds over the frozen marsh in mid-winter.

The shipwrecks at Ipswich Bar

The Ipswich Bar has a long history of tragic shipwrecks. Its swift currents and shallow waters are especially dangerous during storms, and many ships have gone aground. The hull of the Ada K. Damon sits on Steep Hill Beach.

Joseph Ross Ipswich MA

Joseph Ross, 19th Century Ipswich bridge builder

Joseph Ross (1822-1903) is best known for designing the first movable span bridge in the country, which he patented in 1849 at the age of 26, and became the most common railroad bridge type in the Boston area. His corporation Joseph Ross & Sons was highly successful.

The Middle Circumferential Highway (that never happened)

In1968, Mass DPW proposed an additional beltway around Boston that would have cut through the Ipswich River Sanctuary, Bradley Palmer State Park, Appleton Farms, the Pingree Reservation and Manchester-Essex Woods. Plans were eventually abandoned because of resistance from communities that would have been affected.

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.

1893 Birdseye map of Ipswich

Panoramic maps depicting cities and towns were popular during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Also known as bird’s-eye views, the drawings were created as if viewed from the air. Click on the 1893 map of Ipswich, and keep clicking to zoom in and find your house!

The Blizzard of ’78, February 5, 1978

The “Blizzard of ’78” raged from Sunday evening February 5 through Tuesday evening February 7. Over a billion dollars of damage occurred, including the loss of 11,000 homes and the lives of 29 Massachusetts residents. The highest total snowfall was 43.7 inches in Ipswich.

The Ipswich Lower North Green, photo by George Dexter

George Dexter’s Ipswich

Perhaps the best-known early Ipswich Photographer was George Dexter (1862-1927). His photographs along with those of Edward Lee Darling (1874-1962) provide a wonderful visual history of the town. 

Ipswich Red Raiders, “a melting pot of awesome contenders!”

“A melting pot of awesome contenders were the Ipswich Red Raiders, members of a semiprofessional football league active during the late 1930’s and 1940’s. The Ipswich Red Raiders won the division championship in 1935. Made up of Ipswich men in their twenties and early thirties, they played teams […]

Photograph by Clarence White of Arthur Wesley Dow

Arthur Wesley Dow

Ipswich artist Arthur Wesley Dow (1857 – 1922) was one of the town’s most famous residents. View his ink prints and a slideshow of over 200 cyanographs

The caning of Charles Sumner

The Caning of Senator Charles Sumner

Shortly after the Senate adjourned on May 21, Congressman Preston Brooks of South Carolina. attacked Sumner, yelling out, “I have read your speech, a libel on South Carolina.” and began slamming his metal-topped cane onto Sumner’s head.

The Blizzard of 2015, Argilla Road in Ipswich

Photos from the Great Snow of 2015

Images from the blizzard, January 27, 2015 and the series of snowstorms that followed. Many photos are from the I Love Ipswich Facebook group. Featured image: the road into Crane Beach, by Diane Young.

Letter from Donald Trump

The Postman Only Rang Once…….

What was forwarded to me was a shocking eye-opener of national proportions, I promised to keep it under my hat, so consider yourselves among the very privileged few to have this access. Please don’t tell anyone…

Ipswich MA and the Salem witchcraft trials

Ipswich and the Salem witchcraft trials

During the Salem witch trials, Elizabeth Howe of Linebrook Road was tried and hanged. The Ipswich jail was filled with the accused, but the ministers of the town opposed the trials as a delusion. Residents blocked the bridge to prevent the accusing girls from being brought into Ipswich.

Digging peat

The Peat Meadows

Deep in Willowdale State Forest is a bog which in the 1832 Ipswich map is the “Peat Meadows.” “Turf” as it was also called, became a commonly-used fuel when local forests were depleted and until anthracite coal became widely available.

Courage boulder at Dogtown

Dogtown, its history and legends

Dogtown is a five square mile area of Gloucester and Rockport strewn with glacial boulders. Visitors to Dogtown find cellar holes of abandoned houses, and boulders emblazoned with inspirational messages.

Native American Influence on English Fashions

In contact situations in the early 17th century, Europeans were quick to grasp the essential humanity of Native Americans and admired their appearance and physical fitness. Soon, upper-class English wore American feathers and furs, Native Americans prized English woven fabrics and garments, especially tailored shirts.

1832 Ipswich map

The ancient names of Ipswich streets and places

Many Ipswich Streets lost their original names, but a few streets gained them back. During our long winters, Ipswichites retreat to Facebook and debate the names of familiar places. If you call us Ipswichians, we’ll know you’re not from around here.

Jeffreys Neck Ipswich ma map and aerial view

Jeffreys’ Neck Road

This history of Jeffreys Neck is from the Agawam Manual and Directory by M.V.B. Perley, published in 1888. The business of fur-trading and fishing along the New England coast received a new impetus about the beginning of the seventeenth century. In 1604 Agawam was the center of Arcadia, […]

Winthrop fleet ships

PTSD in the Massachusetts Bay Colony

The Great Migration brought nearly 14,000 Puritan settlers, unprepared for the hardships and trauma that awaited them. Building a new society in the wilderness induced transgenerational post-traumatic stress and mass conversion disorder, culminating in the Salem Witch Trials.

“Wording it over the sheep” and behaving badly

Samuel often had words with his neighbor John Lee Sr. over the handling of cattle and sheep, and in 1668 the two landed in court for disturbing the peace. Neither would not admit to any wrong. A witness testified that John’s son Joseph hit Samuel with a club as they “were wording it over the sheep”

The wearing of long hair and wigs

The wearing of long hair was a burning theme of address in the early Puritan pulpit. The clergy prescribed that the hair should by no means lie over the band or doublet collar. In 1649, the Governor and seven of the Assistants declared their “dislike and detestation against the wearing of such long hair, whereby men doe deforme themselves, and offend sober and modest men.”

Shays Rebellion

Shay’s Rebellion

On the last Tuesday of August, 1786 some 1500 armed insurgents took possession of the Northampton Court House, initiating a brief war known as Shay’s Rebellion.

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.

Ipswich Open Space map

Ipswich Open Space drone videos

Drone tours of four Ipswich Open Space conservation properties, created with Ipswich ICAM and Open Space Program intern David Bitler.

masconomet tombstone

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.

The Burley Tavern, Green St., Ipswich MA

Two Taverns for Two Susannas

In the 1700s two of the finer inns in town were run by women, a mother and daughter both named Susanna. Although the two houses are both on corners of County Street, they were separated by the river.

Names of the Ipswich slaves

In 1641 the Massachusetts Bay Colony adopted a code of laws that made slavery legal. In 1755, the slaves in this town above the age of sixteen numbered sixty-two, but within ten years, public opinion began turn against slavery. In 1780, the present Constitution of Massachusetts was adopted, its first article asserting that all men are born free and equal.

Historic Ipswich in black and white

These monochrome photos of historic houses in Ipswich were taken in the 1980’s for MACRIS, the Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System. Click on any photo to view the listing for the house.

A good year for history

2020 may have been lousy, but it was a good year for researching history. This year the site had 461,493 page views and 70,000 more visitors than last year.

Bruce Laing

Bruce Laing will be missed. He was one of the first people to offer articles for the Historic Ipswich website, and was instrumental in creating the inventories of internments at the oldest burying grounds in Ipswich..

Ipswich MA lighthouse

Santa hits the Ipswich lightkeeper’s house, December 24, 1937

In 1939 the children were all assembled at the Ipswich Lighthouse, waiting for Flying Santa Edward Snow, who was running a bit behind schedule. Hearing the sound of an airplane the keeper called up to his wife, “Has Santa arrived yet, dear?” Immediately he heard the Christmas bundle crashing through the skylight, upon which his wife yelled down, “Yes, dear. We can start the party now.”

The General Laws of the Massachusetts Colony

The Body of Liberties, the “Ipswich Connection,” and the Origin of written Constitutionalism in Massachusetts

However benign John Winthrop’s intentions were, the system he tried to construct rested on the discretion, or will, of individual magistrates. However, he was defeated by the Ipswich Connection’s campaign for the “skill” or “rule” of written law; and if we still prize the ideal that government should operate based on laws, not men, we owe that partly to their promotion of the Body of Liberties.

Woodcut of historic Ipswich Town Hill

Prominent Members of the early Ipswich bar

Ipswich boasts a long line of legal luminaries – lawyers and judges – going back to the dawn of the Town’s existence. Not only is this the “Birthplace of American Independence” but the home to many notable statesmen, and the caliber of the bench and bar of a people is in part a measure of the quality of the culture.

President Eisenhower’s farewell address to the nation

“”In this my last good night to you as your President-I thank you for the many opportunities you have given me for public service in war and peace. I trust that in that service you find some things worthy; as for the rest of it, I know you will find ways to improve performance in the future.”

Historic photo of the Ipswich River

A stroll down Water Street

Join Paul Valcour and Gordon Harris on a walk along the river from the Green St. Bridge to the town wharf as we compare today’s view with dozens of photos taken in the 19th and early 20th Centuries.

Cyanotype by Arthur Wesley Dow

John Adams’ long walk through the Neck

“I feel unutterable anxiety. God grant us wisdom and fortitude! Should the opposition be suppressed, should this country submit, what infamy and ruin! God forbid. Death in any form is less terrible!”

Petition to the Town of Ipswich

The Power of a mark

I stumbled upon a remarkable family artifact: the crude “signature” that the probable founder of the Grow family in America – my direct ancestor nine generations removed – had put down on paper 326 years earlier. A small, nondescript mark on a long-forgotten document brought history personally alive for me in a way that perhaps only passionately engaged family historians would fully understand.

Ipswich Cultural Council

2020 Ipswich Art Show

The 34th Annual Ipswich Art Show and Sale is online and open for viewing at the Ipswich Cultural Council website, ipswichculturalcouncil.org

Fences Make Good Neighbors

Just three years after the town of Ipswich was incorporated, each household had its own fenced lot within the town, and the town itself was fenced off from the rest of the world. Boundaries matter.

Ipswich high posted cape

High-posted Capes

Ipswich has several Cape-style houses constructed with second floor kneewalls, found especially in the Ipswich Village and Linebrook neighborhoods. “High post Capes” in the 19th Century incorporated popular decorative elements of the Greek Revival, Italianate, Victorian and Colonial Revival eras.

Topsfield MA land grants

The plantations at New Meadows, now Topsfield

Large allotments of land in today’s Topsfield were granted in the early 17th Century by the colony’s leaders, comprising more than one-half of the town’s present acreage. The persons who were awarded the lots, sometimes referred to as “king’s grants” were merchants and men of influence and power who had joined the Massachusetts Bay Company.

Ipswich Bluffs Hotel

Ipswich Bluffs

The hotel at Ipswich Bluff on the southern tip of Plum Island was a favorite destination of locals in the late 19th Century, who took the steamer Carlotta from the Ipswich wharf with Capt. Nat Burnham.

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.

Camp Sea Haven, Plum Island MA

The Knobbs

The Knobbs is a small beach in a stretch of salt marsh on the west side of the Ipswich section of Plum Island. On the Atlantic side was the Kbobbs Beach Life-Saving Station, replaced in 1947 by a camp for children who had been victims of polio.

Amorous Peasants by Albrecht Durer

The courtship and marriage of William Durkee and Martha Cross

William Durkee, an indentured Irish Catholic, and Martha Cross, the daughter of Robert Cross of Chebacco parish were servants in the household of Thomas Bishop in Ipswich. When Martha became pregnant by William, they were presented for fornication. The court ruled that they be punished and married.

Shatswell Drum and Fife Corps, 1929

The Shatswell Fife and Drum Corps

In the fall of 1928, the Shatswell School Fife and Drum Corps was born. About 18 boys were signed up. All that autumn and through the winter the boys rehearsed in earnest. On May 30, 1929, the Shatswell Fife and Drum Corps made its first appearance in the Memorial Day parade.

Ge factory in West Lynn

Remembering VJ Day – 75 years ago, August 14, 1945

As a five year old growing up in West Lynn, I distinctly remember VJ Day. We lived within earshot of the two enormous GE factories in the city – the West Lynn and the River Works plant. The war was the backdrop to my early years.

In 1836, both camps in the so-called Bank War—supporters of U.S. president Andrew Jackson, and supporters of the Second Bank of the United States president Nicholas Biddle—lobbed accusations of conspiracy to sway Americans to their sides (photo credit: Smithsonian Magazine)

Conspiracy theories in Colonial America

Cotton Mather wrote that “New Englanders are a People of God” who had conquered “the Devil’s Territories.” Paranoia persists in today’s political political battle between truth and deceit.

Ipswich MA Green Team

Sustainable Ipswich

The Ipswich Middle/Highschool GreenTeam is a green-fueled group of 35 bright individuals ready to take on the big fights like climate change. They aim to engage the community in taking a stand with nature, and inspiring by example.

Pink Flamingos, “more musings from a musty mind”

A story by Gavin Keenan Dizzy from an overdose of what passes for news these days; terrorism, endless war, social upheaval, political blandness, “The Donald’s” mouth, Kim Kardashian’s butt (Old news I know, but cheeky nonetheless) vanishing species, etc., etc., one could reasonably conclude that our world is headed […]

Gordon Harris and Ruth Strachan

Ruth Strachan

It was with great sadness that we learned today about the sudden passing of Ruth Strachan, a member of the Ipswich Historical Commission and the Architectural Preservation District Commission for several years.

Ford Fairlane police cruiser

Behold, a Pale Corpse

Gavin Keenan is drawn to reminisce of certain events which occurred during his lengthy enlistment in the local constabulary, including this Clamtown mystery of pandemic proportions.

Early American Gardens

Isadore Smith (1902-1985) lived on Argilla Road in Ipswich and was the author of 3 volumes about 17th-19th Century gardens, writing under the pseudonym Ann Leighton. As a member of the Ipswich Garden Club, she created a traditional seventeenth century rose garden at the Whipple House.

The green crab is a threat to the Great Salt Marsh

Green crabs in the salt marsh

Recipe For Disaster is a six minute video about the explosion of European Green Crabs in the Great Salt Marsh. The mission of GreenCrab.org is to develop markets and promote consumption of green crabs to mitigate their invasive impact.

The Fox Creek Canal

The Fox Creek Canal provided the missing link between the forests of New Hampshire and the shipyards of Essex. Lumber boats would sail down the Merrimack to Newburyport, cruise south along the landward-side of Plum Island and reach the Ipswich River without ever having to go on the ocean, then take the canal to the Castle Neck River to Essex Bay.

The year without summer in New England

1816, the year without summer

On June 5, 1816 a heat wave raised the temperature in Ipswich to 92° but that afternoon a cold front swept across New England and the temperature fell to 43° by the next morning. For the next four days there were severe frosts along the Eastern seaboard, and snow was recorded in some locations. By the 9th of June ice began to form on water left standing outside overnight. Rapid, dramatic temperature swings continued throughout the summer.

Old photo of the Hart House

Lucy Kimball

Born in the Hart House, Miss Kimball was a graduate of the Manning High School, class of 1894. She died in 1980 at the age of 105, after teaching first grade for 45 years.

The Dark Day

The Dark Day, May 19, 1780

At noon, a “midnight darkness” had fallen on Essex County. Candles were lighted, and fowls went to roost. By the next morning, dark ash lay four or five inches thick.

Evergreen Village, Rt. 1 in Ipswich

Gettin’ away on the ‘Pike

In the first half century of the automotive age, a weekend trip to the country for Boston folks often meant driving a few miles north on the Newburyport Turnpike and renting a cabin not too far from the shore. The Douglass Evergreen Village, above, was on Rt. 1 […]

Mill Road Bridge closed

14 years ago: the “Mill Road Linear Park”

It’s been 14 years now since the 2006 Mother’s Day storm rammed the Ipswich River into the Mill Road Bridge,almost collapsing one of its three brick arches and closing the bridge for three years. Fences were erected at either end, effectively making the bridge feel like a demilitarized […]

The farm at Wigwam Hill

Symonds Epes bought a large tract in 1726 and built a substantial farm and orchards at Wigwam Hill, named for a group of destitute Indians who briefly camped there. The protecting pitch pines were later cut for lumber, and the farm became a large dune.

Couple strolling on Crane Beach

Crane Beach, Easter weekend 2020

The Crane Estate has been closed by the Trustees because of Covid-19, but Crane Beach, Steep Hill Beach and Castle Neck are open to residents of Ipswich with a Crane Beach sticker Friday – Sunday.

Treatment of 1918 flu victims

Lessons from historic epidemics

In 1347, Officials in Ragusa kept newly arrived sailors in isolation for a “quartino” (40 days), the origin of the word quarantine. In 1800, Dr. Thomas Manning of Ipswich broke Benjamin Waterhouse’s monopoly on the smallpox vaccine created by Edward Jenner. Transfusion of blood plasma from survivors of the 1918 Spanish Flu reduced mortality in patients. In 2020, people learned that Science is real.

Frequency of the world wide hum

The “Hum”

The Hum is an unexplained low frequency rumbling sound heard by about 2% of the population from inside their homes during the late evening hours. I began noticing the Hum when I moved to Ipswich. Do you hear it?

The brass rooster atop the First Church steeple in Ipswich MA

Saving the Rooster

The gilded weathercock at the First Church in Ipswich has graced the steeple of every church at that location since the middle of the 18th Century.

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. 

The Miles River in Hamilton

The Miles River

Known in Colonial times as Mile Brook, the Miles River is a major tributary of the Ipswich River but has been diminished in volume by upstream use as a water supply. Evidence of the old Potter and Appleton mills can still be found near County Rd.

Ipswich Notable Persons

The Ipswich Town Historian has begun a list of notable people who lived in our community and requests your additional input. These individuals could have resided during any historic time period.

Snowy owl on Plum Island

Snowy Owl

CBS “Sunday Morning” takes us to Plum Island in Massachusetts, a winter home for owls.

Ipswich MA sale of a Negro girl slave named Patience

Her name was Patience

“Know all men by these presents I, Thomas Burnam of Ipswich, do by these presents bargain, sell, sett over and confirm unto the said Robert Dodge, a negro girl known by the name of Patience…To have and to hold said negro girl Patience during her natural life.”

Photos from Clamtown

This collection of photos by Coco McCabe is a celebration of Ipswich clammers, a mostly unseen corps of workers whose grit she deeply admires.

Clock works in the Hamilton Congregational Church

The clock tower at Hamilton First Church

In 1843, the Hamilton meetinghouse was turned 90 degrees to face the Bay Road, and the present bell was installed in the belfry. In 1888 a clock manufactured by E. Howard & Company of Boston was added to accompany the bell.

Ipswich in the Civil War

In his book, Scott Jewell updates the story of Ipswich in the American Civil War, much of which had been lost over the years and needed to be re-told.

Eulogy for President George Washington by Rev. Eli Frisbee of Ipswich

An Eulogy on the Illustrious Character of the late General George Washington

“What words have an emphasis sufficient to express the gratitude we owe to God for the gift of a Washington, and the anguish and lamentation of our country that its illustrious Friend and Father is no more? His memory shall flow down the current of future generations, till they are lost in the ocean of eternity.”

Politics dislike

Real Deal Election Reform

If like me you’re wishing for a coronavirus isolation room to escape the maximums-shitzboobins now flooding the airwaves, I advocate a more direct way to influence the common voter. We might have to change a law or two. I’m Gavin Keenan and I approve this message.

Jack Helfant, the hermit of Sandy Point

Jack Helfant, the hermit of Sandy Point, 1962-67

In 1962, Jack Helfant’s houseboat wrecked on Sandy Point. He created a shack using driftwood, canvas and parts of his houseboat. Jack and his dog Prince were permanent fixtures on the island until the State burned down his shack in 1967.

18th Century Ipswich MA meeting house

The Tithingman at the Ipswich Meeting House

On Dec. 26, 1700, a resolve was made that the disorder that had disturbed the public worship for some years owing to the wanton and perverse behavior of the boys and young men should be effectually quelled.

Proposed Ipswich MA Nuclear Power Generating Plant

Nuclear Ipswich, 1967-1970

In 1967, Ipswich was proposed as a site for an anti-ballistic missile base, and in 1970 opponents prevented construction of a nuclear power plant on Town Farm Road that eventually was built in Seabrook.

Millend Ipswich by Martin Van Buren Perley

“Mill End” Ipswich

“Millend” was the west side of the settlement, including today’s Topsfield Rd. and Washington St. Home of Samuel Appleton and John Whipple, it was separated from the east side by a wetland. In1717, Capt. Beamsley Perkins was taken to court for blocking their path to the Meeting House.

North of Boston, Edge of a Warming World

The edge of a warming world

William Sargent embarked on a series of rambles from New Hampshire to Gloucester, and discovered a troubling new environmental catastrophe from the buildup of chemicals that have been steadily accumulating in the lungs of the planet–our oceans.

Ipswich school boy

The Boy Who Couldn’t Remember

Ezekiel Cheever was the first Ipswich schoolmaster, followed in 1660 by Schoolmaster Andrews. An unfortunate but mischievous lad was the nemesis of the esteemed Mr. Andrews.

The intersection of Market Square and Market Street in Ipswich

Market Street

Photos of Market St. from the present day back to the early days of photography.

Newburyport Tea Party: Patriots burning tea in Market Square

The Newburyport Tea Party

When Parliament laid a tax on tea, the British locked all the tea that had arrived in Newburyport into the powder house. Eleazer Johnson led a group of men who shattered the door and burned the tea in Market Square.

The Eben Lord farm that once sat at the intersection of Linebrook and Pineswamp Roads

The Lord-Ellsworth farm

The Ipswich Public Safety Facility Committee has reached an agreement with the Boston Catholic diocese to purchase four to five acres of church-owned land at the intersection of Pine Swamp and Linebrook roads that was originally a hay field across from the old Eben Lord farm.

Madame Shatswell’s cup of tea

Madame Shatswell loved her cup of tea, and as a large store had been stored for family use before the hated tax was imposed, she saw no harm in using it as usual. News of the treason spread throughout the town.

Ipswich Caring

On December 17. Ipswich Police delivered toys to children in Ipswich Shellfish trucks as part of Ipswich Caring, which relies on the generosity of local residents, businesses and community organizations. The organization and distributes 100% of donations to help families, children and senior citizens in our communities.

Berkshire wind turbines on Brodie Mountain

Wind power from the Berkshires lights Ipswich homes

The Town of Ipswich is an investor in Berkshire Wind, an array of wind turbines on Brodie Mountain in the Berkshires. Two turbines added this summer increased the generating capacity to 19.6 megawatts, enough for almost 9000 homes.

Grants for Great Marsh and Ipswich River | Ipswich Local News

The Trustees of Reservations was awarded $217,931 to pursue a salt marsh restoration and climate adaption project at the Old Town Hill reservation in Newbury. A smaller grant worth $28,000 was awarded to the Ipswich River Watershed Association (IRWA) to help it improve water quality in the river.

Federalist Papers, Hamilton's response to Objection XIV

Alexander Hamilton: “The Ultimate Object”

“The truth unquestionably is, that the only path to a subversion of the republican system of the Country is, by flattering the prejudices of the people, and exciting their jealousies and apprehensions, to throw affairs into confusion, and bring on civil commotion.”

Col. Nathaniel Shatswell and the Battle of Harris Farm

At Harris Farm the First Massachusetts Heavy Artillery Regiment, assembled with Ipswich soldiers, drove the Confederates into the cover of the woods, eventually ending with a Northern victory. The battle claimed over 2000 lives.

Sundial on Plum Island, Massachusetts

The Plum Island Salt Company

In the 1820’s a Frenchman named Gilshenan organized an unsuccessful salt harvesting company on Plum Island with a 10′ deep canal and a bull turning an overshot wheel like a hamster. A large sundial survived for a few decades, but no trace remains today.

Mason’s Claim

On January 4, 1681, John T. Mason presented the King’s letter to the General Court, which ordered “all said tenants” to appear in Ipswich. If an ancient claim was confirmed, every land title would be worthless and a landed medieval system known as “quit-rents” could be grafted upon New England.

Good luck cricket

The Cricket

“They are the housewife’s barometer, foretelling her when it will rain and are prognostic. Sometimes she thinks of ill or good luck of the death of a near relation or the approach of an absent lover. By being the constant companions of her solitary hours they naturally become the objects of her superstition.”

A Puritan funeral

Colonial New England Funerals

In 17th Century Ipswich, funeral services were without eulogies, but extravagant outlays were often made for mourning garments, gloves, rings, wine, refreshments and the coffin. In the 18th Century, public opinion turned against such excesses.

The first High Street bridge in Ipswich

Crossing the tracks on High Street

High Street originally continued straight until the first bridge over the railroad tracks was constructed in 1906. From 1900 when the first trolleys came to town until the bridge was built, passengers had to unload here to switch from the trolley from Newburyport to continue through Ipswich.

Ipswich Illumination

Ipswich Arts and Illumination

Ipswich Arts and Illumination is the Town’s annual performing and visual arts festival, brought to you by the Ipswich Cultural Council. Parts of the river will be illuminated Friday and Saturday nights. The 33rd Annual Ipswich Art Show and Sale is held through the weekend at Town Hall.

Laughing Lion gift shop Ipswich MA

Ipswich Pine

There is a local tradition that the wood stain known as Ipswich Pine originated with Carman Woodworking, which operated behind the Laughing Lion gift shop on Essex Road and specialized in Early American pine reproductions.

whistleblower

The Whistleblowers

On February 19, 1777, aboard the warship Warren, ten American sailors met in secret and wrote a letter charging Esek Hopkins, Commander-in-chief of the Continental Navy with torturing British prisoners of war.

Ross Tavern on S. Main Street, Ipswich MA

The Ross Tavern

A small dwelling was moved in 1735 to the southeast side of the Choate Bridge where it was greatly expanded and became known as the Ross Tavern. The building was moved again in 1940 to the former Wendel Estate on Jeffreys Neck Road.

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.