Recent posts

An introduction to First Period architecture in Ipswich

Of the roughly 300 houses that were constructed (in part of in whole) during the first century of English settlement of Massachusetts, 59 are in Ipswich. In this video, Ipswich Town Historian Gordon Harris, identifies features which identify First Period structures based on appearance, layout, and details that distinguish them from the succeeding Georgian era.

Trail in the dunes

Five Indigenous Families in the History of Agawam

What do the histories of Old Robin, Old Ned and Old Will tell us about Indigenous relationships with English colonists during the seventeenth century? Join researcher Mary Ellen Lepionka in this free virtual lecture via Zoom September 28, 2022, 7:30 – 8:30 pm. To attend, please email, […]

Time Bandits

Originally posted on Gavin Keenan Writes:
As I sit down to write this, the official change of season is a few hours away. The Hummingbirds left the feeder last week with little notice. They didn’t stop to say goodbye, but simply followed the dictates of nature and continued…

Ipswich Illumination 2022

Ipswich Illumination, Oct. 14-16, 2022

The Town and people of Ipswich, in partnership with Creative County Initiative (CCI) are proud to present Ipswich Illumination 2022, a celebration of beauty and community. Illumination, now in its 13th year, features a collection of interactive art installations, live music, poetry, projection, bonfires and more along the Ipswich River the weekend of October 14-16, 2022. Admission for all events is free, pay as you go for food and drinks.

Account of the soldiers of Chebacco Parish at Bunker Hill

Of the men from Chebacco parish who were in the battle at Bunker Hill, the names of six are known: James Andrews, Benjamin Burnham, Nehemiah Choate, Aaron Perkins, Jesse Story Jr., a minor who was killed, and Francis Burnham who was wounded. Two Chebacco boys, Aaron Low and Samuel Proctor, belonged to a Gloucester company which reached Cambridge on the afternoon of the 16th.

Ipswich Public Safety Buildings

Statements of Interest requested for Public Safety properties

If you or your organization or department are interested in submitting a proposal for future use of either the present Ipswich Fire Station building or the Police Station building, please click here to download a Statement of Interest form. The deadline for submission is November 15, 2022. The Public Safety Property Reuse Working Group conducted a survey from July 9 to August 5, 2022, and over 350 people responded.

Washington Street in Ipswich before it was repaved

Asphalt deserts

Impermeable surfaces like asphalt pavement absorbs solar radiation and re-emits radiation as heat, In recent years pavement has been reduced on Washington and N. Main Streets. Future re-use of the Ipswich Police Dept. lot will provide an opportunity to do the same for Elm Street.

Saving the Egypt River

In partnership with the Parker River Clean Water Association, the Ipswich River Watershed Association produced a new video on the plight of the Egypt River. The video begins by asking Ipswich residents the question “Where is the Egypt River’?”

Wigwam Hill

The Story Behind the Story of Wigwam Hill

As a researcher on Indigenous history here, I was captivated by this account, both for its romance and its tragedy. Who were these people? Where did they come from and where did they go? Why was all that happening and what did it mean? And what did it have to do with Masconomet’s Agawam Village, known archaeologically as once having occupied that same Wigwam Hill site on Castle Neck? Following are the answers I discovered.

Thomas Dennis house, County Street, Ipswich MA

Thomas Dennis, legendary Ipswich joiner

Thomas Dennis (1638–1706), came to Ipswich from Devonshire, England. His home at 7 County Street still stands, and is where he practiced his trade as a joiner and master carver. The furniture of Thomas Dennis took on the status of historic treasure, and over time more pieces were attributed to him than he could have produced in his lifetime.

The Simple Cobbler of Aggawam in America by Nathaniel Ward

Nathaniel Ward: “The Simple Cobler of Aggawam in America”

The Rev. Nathaniel Ward emigrated to Massachusetts in 1634 and served for two years as the minister in Ipswich. His “Body of Liberties” established a code of fundamental principles of government for the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Ward’s book “The Simple Cobler of Aggawam in America” was published in England in 1647.

The hanging of John Williams and William Schooler, July 1637

In 1637, two men convicted on separate counts of murder were executed in Boston on the same gallows.  John Williams was convicted of killing John Hoddy near Great Pond in Wenham on the road to Ipswich. William Schooler was tried in Ipswich and found guilty of killing Mary Scholy on the path to Piscataqua.

Civil War Memorial in Ipswich MA

Ipswich in the Civil War

By Harold Bowen: The monument was first erected by the town in 1871 as a memorial to those who died in the Civil War. It had an iron fence all around it and inside the enclosure was a stack of cannon balls in each corner where a flag was inserted.

Joseph Hodgkins letters to hiis wife Sarah during the Revolutionary War

The Revolutionary letters of Joseph and Sarah Hodgkins

Throughout the Revolutionary War, Joseph Hodgkins sent letters home from the battlefronts to his wife, Sarah, detailing the desperate troop conditions and longing for home. The physical letters are preserved and are offered here online, transcribed with grammatical corrections for readability

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.

Abraham Knowlton, “Workman of rare skill”

Ipswich is home to two groundbreaking masterworks of early eighteenth century America, a paneled wall and a pulpit. Both were made by Abraham Knowlton (1699- 1751), a woodworker who is less well known than he deserves to be.

William Oakes house, Ipswich

William Oakes and the great Ipswich putdown

Selection from Ipswich Yesterday by Alice Keenan, 1982. Photos by George Dexter and Edward L. Darling. Ipswich has the habit, long ingrained, of turning on those who love her most, and who, innocently and willingly, donate their time, talents, energies, and in some cases — money — for her welfare […]

Rebecca Rawson

The tragic story of Rebecca Rawson, 1679

Rebecca Rawson of Newbury became one of the most popular young ladies in Boston society. She married a charming but cunning young man who left her desolate in London. On her return to America, the ship was swallowed by a tsunami.

British ship Nymph in Portland

The British attack on Sandy Bay

Rockport experienced one of the oddest invasions in U.S. history during the War of 1812 when the town’s fearless residents stopped the British with rocks and anything they could get their hands on.

Public Safety

Voters at the 2021 Special Town Meeting and Election agreed to replace our century-old fire and police facilities with a modern structure. The Public Safety Property Re-Use Working Group was recently created to determine a variety of potential uses for the existing facilities.

Fatal Stamp

Colonial boycotts

American economic sanctions in response to Russia’s war on Ukraine have parallels with American Colonial non-importation agreements in the years leading up to the war with Britain.

Worcester patriots

“A State of Nature,” Worcester in 1774

“In Worcester, they keep no Terms, openly threaten Resistance by Arms, have been purchasing Arms, preparing them, casting Ball, and providing Powder, and threaten to attack any Troops who dare to oppose them….the flames of sedition spread universally throughout the country beyond conception.” -Gen. Thomas Gage

Mill Road Bridge closed

2006: the Mill Road “linear park”

It’s been 16 years 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 […]

Nathaniel Wade House Ipswich

Nathaniel Wade

After hostilities began in 1775, Capt. Wade led his unit in pursuit of British soldiers retreating from the battles of Concord and Lexington. Two months later they fought in the battle of Bunker Hill. During the war he commanded troops throughout the campaign in Rhode Island and at Long Island, Harlem, and White Plains.

Early smallpox innoculation


One of the most progressive citizens of Ipswich, Dr. John Manning opened a practice in 1760, and began inoculating members of his family for smallpox, incurring the wrath of the Town. An epidemic of smallpox spread through Boston during the British occupation of the city at the beginning of the Revolutionary War.

Choate Bridge Ipswich MA

Battles of the bridges

The Town proceeded to build the County & Green St. stone bridges is in contrast with its belligerent opposition to the earliest ones.

Powder Alarm of 1774

The Powder Alarm of 1774

A mob of tens of thousands marched on Boston in 1774 upon hearing a rumor that the city had been destroyed by the British.

Northern Confederacy and the Essex Junto

The Essex Junto

In 1778, a number of prominent Essex County men gathered in Ipswich, and became the backbone of the Massachusetts Federalist Party. President John Adams, also a Federalist coined the name “Essex Junto” for the adversarial group.

Washington St. in Ipswich

Washington and Liberty Streets

For two centuries it was known as Gravel Street for the two gravel pits on the hillside, and took a right turn to what is now Lords Square. After the 100th Anniversary of the War for Independence, Gravel Street became Washington Street, and the remaining section of the old Gravel Street took the name Liberty Street.

Intolerable Acts

The Intolerable Acts of 1774

Despite the failure of the Stamp Act and the Townshend Acts, the British Parliament responded to the “Boston Tea Party” by passing even more restrictive acts to punish the American extremists.

The Pillow Lace Tercentenary plaque on High Street in Ipswich

Ipswich Pillow lace

In the late eighteenth century, Ipswich had 600 women and girls producing more than 40,000 yards of lace annually. Ipswich industrialists imported machines from England to mechanize and speed up the operation, which destroyed the hand-made lace industry.

1769: Spinners of Liberty

In response to the Townsend Acts, the women of Massachusetts set themselves vigorously to the making of cotton and woolen fabrics in their homes, that there might be no sale for English goods.


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