The most recent posts on the Historic Ipswich site.
Thursday, July 7: The History of the dams and bridges on the Ipswich River - Come learn about the fascinating history of the downtown bridges and dams on I the Ipswich River, a presentation by Scott Jewell, technology and engineering teacher for the Ipswich Middle School.
How to Fix Our Endangered Ipswich River, Thursday June 30 - Join Wayne Castonguay of the Ipswich River Watershed Association (IRWA) for the first of our summer Lyceum series on Thursday evening June 30 for a presentation and discussion about the Ipswich River, which has been listed as being among America's most endangered rivers, citing the grave threat that excessive water withdrawals pose to ecosystem health and regional water security.
Lyceum Thursdays - This summer will feature our new Ipswich Lyceum series at the Take-out Terrace in the EBSCO parking lot between Zumi's and the Riverwalk Mural. The Lyceum will feature a series of speakers every Thursday evening at 8:00 pm throughout the months of July and August, 2022. Programs will be on a wide range of topics, and will be about half an hour with time for discussion.
A photographic journey and a stroll along the Ipswich River - Join us for a slideshow of historic photos followed by a walk along the Ipswich River.
Hall-Haskell House Gallery 2022 art schedule - The Hall-Haskell House Gallery shares 36 S. Main St. with the Ipswich Visitor Center.
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.
The U.S. Supreme Court and its relation to the Salem witch trials - The United States Supreme Court is expected to make a decision about women's rights based on a ruling by a judge who lived 400 years ago, and who based his opinion on Medieval precedents.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 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 […]
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.
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.
Old Roads and Bridges of Newbury and Newburyport - Bridge over the Parker River in Newbury, on today’s Rt. 1A, 1898.
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.
“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
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 - 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.
Smallpox - 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.
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.
Haven’t we seen this before? - Russia’s assault on Ukraine evokes memories of September 1, 1939 when Hitler invaded Poland.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Lynn Shoeworkers Strike, Feb. 22, 1860 - Excerpt from Mass Moments On February 22, 1860, thousands of striking shoe workers filled Lyceum Hall in Lynn. By choosing to begin their protest on Washington’s birthday, the strikers were invoking the memory of their revolutionary forefathers. Lynn had been a shoe making town since the early 1800s. […]
Postcards from Ipswich - Many of the colorized postcards of Ipswich were created from photos taken by George Dexter, Edward Darling and Arthur Wesley Dow in the late 19th and early 20th Century.
Steep Hill - Steep Hill is a glacial drumlin that ends abruptly at Crane Beach. The rocky seafloor at that location has abundant sea life and foraging birds.
Leslie’s Retreat, or how the Revolutionary War almost began in Salem, February 26, 1775 - In our struggle for Independence, the British military received its first setback from the inhabitants of Salem in an episode that could not have been more ludicrous or entertaining if it had been written for Monty Python.
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
Newburyport Turnpike opens, February 11, 1805: “Over every hill and missing every town” - In 1803, a group of Newburyport investors incorporated as the Newburyport Turnpike Corporation in a commercial venture to build a straight toll road from Boston to Newburyport, which is today's Rt. 1
“To the Inhabitants of the Town of Ipswich,” from Thomas Jefferson - The Embargo Act of 1807 put New England ports at a standstill and its towns into a depression. The Ipswich Town Meeting petitioned the President to relieve "the people of this once prosperous country from their present embarrassed and distressed condition." The town found Jefferson's answer "Not Satisfactory."
Asbury Grove Methodist Camp Meeting, Hamilton MA - The Asbury Grove Methodist Camp Meeting on Asbury St. in Hamilton is listed in the National Register of Historic Districts, and has a collection of historic buildings that were built between 1870 and 1960. 12,000 people, most from Boston, attended the first camp meeting in 1859.
A romantic tale from the Great Snow of Feb. 21-24, 1717 - Snowstorms on the 20th and 24th of February 1717 covered the earth up to 20 ft. deep. In some places houses were completely buried, and paths were dug from house to house under the snow. A widow in Medford burned her furniture to keep the children warm.
A History of Clark Pond, Great Neck, Ipswich MA - Clark Pond was originally an intertidal salt marsh supported by fresh water sources draining from the surrounding hills and tidal salt water from the ocean. Around 1897, A. B. Clark built a stone dam at the northeast corner creating a fresh water pond for duck hunting and built gunning blinds into the bank.
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.
Hurricanes and winter storms - Stories about historic storms to hit the coast of Massachusetts
The Fox Creek Canal - The Fox Creek Canal is the oldest man-made tidewater canal in the United States, dug in 1820. In 1938 it was dredged to accommodate ship-building at Robinson's Boatyard, where small minesweepers were constructed for World War II.
Acadian exiles in Ipswich, 1755 - Massachusetts men played a conspicuous part in the French and Indian War, which resulted in wholesale destruction and deportation in French-speaking Nova Scotia. Surviviors were exiled to the Colonies, their children taken from them and distributed to English families as "nothing more than slaves."
Linebrook Parish - This remote area was originally known as Ipswich Farms. After the residents began pressing for their own church, the Massachusetts General Court on June 4, 1746, created the Linebrook Parish, the boundries of which were defined by 6 brooks and lines connecting them. The community had a church, store, school and its own militia.
Abigail Adams to John Adams: “All men would be tyrants if they could.” - March 31, 1776, Abigail Adams to John Adams: "In the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors."
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.
The Ipswich Sparrow - The Ipswich Sparrow, a subspecies of the Savannah Sparrow, was first identified on Crane Beach in 1868.
Winter photos - If you don't go outside, what's the point of winter?
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.
The women of Chebacco build a Meeting House, March 21, 1679 - When Chebacco Parish (now Essex) began building their own meeting house, Ipswich authorities obtained an order that “No man shall build a meeting house at Chebacco.” Abigail Proctor saw a glaring legal loophole.
January 12, 1912: Lawrence Bread and Roses strike - On January 12, 1912, the labor protest later known as the "Bread and Roses" strike began in Lawrence, MA. Violent methods were used to suppress the protest, but the strikers maintained their solidarity.
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.
Pingrey’s Plain, the gallows lot - Long before the intersection of Mile Lane and High Street became famous for the Clam Box, it was known as Pingrey’s Plain, and was where the wicked were hung.
The Commons - When the Town of Ipswich was established, ownership of a house and land within the town bounds carried with it the right of pasturage beyond the Common Fence. In 1788, the commoners resigned all their land interests to pay the heavy town debt incurred during the Revolution.
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, 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.
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.
Hogmanay, the traditional Scottish New Year’s Celebration - These customs going back hundreds of years are believed to originate with Viking rituals. The traditions inspire hope for health, prosperity, and new beginnings in the New Year.
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.
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.
George Washington returns to Mount Vernon, Christmas Eve 1783 - The house was festooned with greens, the tables were laden with food and wine, the burning tapers reflected in the sparking silver and crystal. The War was over and the father of the family had returned safely.
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.
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.
Politics of the Archives Redux: Indigenous History of Indigenous Peoples of Essex County, Massachusetts - This essay is about attributions of ethnic identity in the Indigenous history of Essex County, Massachusetts. Will Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars be able to retell Indigenous history as it was real?
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.
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."
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!
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.
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.
Teddy Roosevelt’s Ipswich “whistlestop,” December 1912 - Teddy Roosevelt, a grandstanding performer with plenty of rhetoric but fewer accomplishments, campaigned from the caboose of a train in New England.
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.
Paul Revere’s not so famous ride through Ipswich, December 13, 1774 - On the cold icy morning of December 13, 1774, Paul Revere headed out on a 60 mile gallop from Boston along the Old Bay Road through Ipswich to warn the citizens of Portsmouth that British troops may be landing.
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.
Awful Calamities: the Shipwrecks of December, 1839 - Three gales of unequaled fury and destructiveness swept along our coast carrying desolation and death in their stormy pathway, and overwhelming many families in the deepest mourning.
Lieutenant Ruhama Andrews and the 1775 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.
Fortitude, Rectitude and Attitude. Remembering the Life and Times of Ipswich Police Sergeant Frank Geist - The long and productive life of Frank Geist lends credence to the maxim that character is fate and renders his a story is worthy of telling.
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.
Yankee dictionary; a compendium of useful and entertaining expressions indigenous to New England - In 1963 Charles F. Haywood published the Yankee Dictionary, dedicated to his parents “both of whom loved Old New England, its life, its people, its history, its customs and its speech.”
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. "
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."
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. […]
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."
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.”
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.
Ipswich woman survived two train crashes on February 28, 1956! - Every day Charlotte Lindgren boarded at Ipswich Depot for her commute to Boston and back. On February 28, 1956, she was unfortunate to be in two horrible train crashes in the same morning, but survived them both unscathed.
Postcards from Newburyport - A n online collection of postcards from the early 20th Century
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.
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.
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.
Elizabeth S. Cole elected as first female Ipswich selectman, March 10, 1970 - Trouncing three male contenders, including the incumbent, Mrs. Elizabeth S. Cole of Argilla Road swept into office Monday, poling 1401 of the 3364 ballots cast by an estimated 57.5 per cent of the town electorate.
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.
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.
November 2, 1915: Massachusetts women are denied the right to vote - On November 2, 1915, Massachusetts men rejected universal suffrage with only 35% voting yes. Four years later, Massachusetts was the eighth State to ratify the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, with the MA Senate voting 34 aye, 5 no.