The most recent posts on the Historic Ipswich site.

The Battle of Middle Ground - Nearly one year ago, retired Ipswich Police Officer Charlie Schwartz died in his adopted state of Florida at the age of seventy-four. His passing represented a great loss not only to his family and community, but also to the Ipswich Police fraternity who worked with him for so many years. Charlie was one of life’s … Continue reading The Battle of Middle Ground
Abigail Adams to John Adams: “All men would be tyrants if they could.” - John Adams and his future wife Abigail Smith began writing each other during their courtship, as he was frequently away on legal matters from his home in Quincy, often taking him to Salem, Ipswich and as far as Portsmouth. Over the next two dozen years they wrote over a thousand letters to each other, many … Continue reading Abigail Adams to John Adams: “All men would be tyrants if they could.”
Bundling Bundling - As settlers moved west into the cold New England frontier away from the Puritan strongholds, it was not uncommon for unmarried persons to be invited to sleep in the same bed for warmth. The definition of bundling evolved and developed over time into a ritual of courtship.
Luke and Elizabeth Perkins, notorious Disturbers of the Peace and a “Wicked-tongued Woman” - Featured image: Grape Island, blockprint by Evelyn Goodale Grape Island is a part of the Parker River Wildlife Refuge at Plum Island, and was once a small, but thriving community. Jacob Perkins, Matthew Perkins, William Hubbard, Francis Wainwright, Thomas Hovey, Thomas Wade, Benedictus Pulsifer, Captain John Smith, Samuel Dutch, and Nathaniel Treadwell were among the owners … Continue reading Luke and Elizabeth Perkins, notorious Disturbers of the Peace and a “Wicked-tongued Woman”
Records and files of the Essex County Courts Records from the Essex County Quarterly Courts, 1636-1692 - In 1641, the General Court established four quarter-annual courts kept yearly by the magistrates of Ipswich & Salem, two to be held at Salem & the other two at Ipswich, with jurisdiction in all matters not reserved to the Court of Assistants. Read stories of Ipswich residents who faced the magistrates.
Samuel Symonds, gentleman: complaint to Salem court against his two servants, 1661 - Philip Welch and William Downing, both children, were kidnapped from Ireland in 1654, and sold to Samuel Symonds in Ipswich. After 7 years they refused to continue working on his farm and demanded their freedom. They were arrested and brought to trial.
Plum Island, the Way it Was, by nancy V. Weare Nancy Weare - Nancy Virginia Weare passed away in Exeter on December 12 of this year at the age of 92. She taught at the Brown School in Newburyport for 17 years. She spent 33 years at her family’s summer camp was at Plum Island, and after the Parker River Wildlife Refuge was established, she moved to a home … Continue reading Nancy Weare
Vermont Country Store Christmas Catalogue The Vermont Country Store catalogue evokes Christmas nostalgia - by Helen Breen “Purveyors of the Practical and Hard-to-Find since 1946” reads the masthead on the Vermont Country Store catalogue mailed to thousands of American homes regularly. BEGINNINGS Although founders Vrest and Mildred Orton opened their store in Weston, Vermont right after World War II, the firm’s origins had a strong family history in the … Continue reading The Vermont Country Store catalogue evokes Christmas nostalgia
Flight from Rooty Plain - The story of the Great Ipswich Fright on April 21, 1775  was widely told, and memorialized by John Greenleaf Whittier. Mrs. Alice P. Tenney in 1933 provided an amusing story of the fear that struck Rooty Plain, also called “Millwood,” a thriving little mill community along today’s Rt. 133 in Rowley: “News arrived in Rooty Plain … Continue reading Flight from Rooty Plain
First Peoples of the Ipswich River Watershed, January 27, 2018 - Mary Ellen Lepionka is a publisher, author, editor, textbook developer, and college instructor with a Master’s degree in anthropology from Boston University and post-graduate work at the University of British Columbia. In 2008 she retired to research the prehistory of Cape Ann and the Native Americans who lived here, and to document artifacts from Cape Ann … Continue reading First Peoples of the Ipswich River Watershed, January 27, 2018
Norman Rock well Thanksgiving Norman Rockwell Depicted an Idealized Version of American Thanksgiving - By Helen Breen “Maybe as I grew up and found the world wasn’t the perfect place I had thought it to be, I unconsciously decided that if it wasn’t an ideal world, it should be, and so painted only the ideal aspects of it.” So wrote Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), American painter extraordinaire, reflecting back on … Continue reading Norman Rockwell Depicted an Idealized Version of American Thanksgiving
Appropriations of Native Identity: Pocahontas and the Last Wampanoag - Originally posted on Enduring Gloucester:
Mary Ellen Lepionka Frederick Mulhaupt (1871-1938) painted “Native American Life on Cape Ann” for the old Maplewood School in 1934. It was later moved to its current location at the O’Maley Middle School. Erasure narratives, in which the Indians disappeared, reached even into science. Many early archaeologists and ethnologists believed…
Pope night in Newburyport MA November 5: Guy Fawkes Day (“Pope Night,” “Gunpowder Day,” “Bonfire Night”) - The Puritans who settled Massachusetts abhorred holidays, but they turned a blind eye to Guy Fawkes Day, November 5, a British tradition which celebrated the failed attempt by Guy Hawkes, a Catholic, to blow up the king and members of Parliament and thus remove Protestants from government. On the evening of November 5, 1605, Sir … Continue reading November 5: Guy Fawkes Day (“Pope Night,” “Gunpowder Day,” “Bonfire Night”)
Heritage and genealogy tourism in Ipswich - Oscar Handlin wrote in his 1979 book, Truth in History: “The distinctive cultural development of the New World made history one of the early forms of American literature…Americans always had to explain who they were in a sense rarely compelling to other men who took for granted a connection that ran to a time out … Continue reading Heritage and genealogy tourism in Ipswich
Daniel Low, Salem Daniel Low’s Silver “Witch Spoons” among Salem’s First Souvenirs - By Helen Breen Daniel Low & Co. started on the bottom floor of the First Church, Unitarian, 231 Essex Street at the corner of Washington Street in Salem. The jewelry company purchased the church in 1923, elegantly refitting the structure as an appropriate setting for its luxurious merchandise. THE BUSINESS Daniel Low & Co. jewelry … Continue reading Daniel Low’s Silver “Witch Spoons” among Salem’s First Souvenirs
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.
A Catalogue of the Various Sects in England and Other Nations with a brief rehearsal of their false and damgerous tenenants Lydia Wardwell on her presentment for coming naked into Newbury meeting house - In 1661,  Lydia Perkins of Perkins had become a Quaker, and the church issued demands that she appear and give reasons for her withdrawal. Her angry response was to appear naked in the Meeting House. She was ordered to appear at the Salem court, and was then taken to Ipswich and severely whipped.
The same photo of East Street about 100 years later The “new” houses on East Street - We have been researching the identities of five small houses on East Street on the south side, between North Main and County Streets, constructed after 1856. The Google Maps screenshot below is above. The identities of most of the houses on these pages are tentative, based on the 1856, 1872, 1884 and 1910 Ipswich maps, … Continue reading The “new” houses on East Street
Horses and Equestrians - Photos and stories from our archives…
To secure a competence - The following remarks were made by the Ipswich Historical Commission chairman John Fiske, on accepting the 2014 Community Service Award from the Ipswich Democratic Town Committee on January 31, 2015: As Chair of the Ipswich Historical Commission, I know how pleased and proud we all are that you have decided to honor us with the … Continue reading To secure a competence
Last Roundup at the Lazy-K Ranch - Oh, nostalgia, that sentimental longing for things past, whether it be moments, people or places. Like many of you marching into the golden years, your arthritic affiant occasionally finds himself knee-deep in this spongy, emotional swampland. For me, experiences gained as a humble public servant steering a bulky Ford police cruiser along the streets of … Continue reading Last Roundup at the Lazy-K Ranch
Stagecoach Ipswich MA The stagecoach in Ipswich - The first stagecoach in Essex County, drawn by four horses, was established in 1774 and connected Newburyport with Boston via Salem and Ipswich. By the early 1800’s, up to seventeen stagecoaches and four post chaises passed through town each day, most of them full to overflowing. In 1803, the Newburyport Turnpike Corporation built a straight toll road … Continue reading The stagecoach in Ipswich
County Street Ipswich MA The APD: A balance between the community and the individual - By Ipswich Historical Commission chairman John Fiske: Don’t we all get a slightly guilty thrill at peeking into someone else’s room? It’s a bit like listening to their secrets. Now here’s a room that is actually meant to be peeked into – you can tell that by how neat and tidy it is. It is … Continue reading The APD: A balance between the community and the individual
The Great Dying--Native Americans in the early 17th Century The Great Dying 1616-1619, “By God’s visitation, a wonderful plague” - Featured image: Drawn by a French missionary of Abenaki in Maine during a smallpox epidemic in 1740 The arrival of 102 Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower at Plymouth in 1620 and the settlements by the Puritans in Boston, Salem and Ipswich a decade later were accompanied by the demise of the native population of North America. “Within … Continue reading The Great Dying 1616-1619, “By God’s visitation, a wonderful plague”
The Old Tann Flats - John Fiske is chairman of the Ipswich Historical Commissionand lives in the Glazier-Sweet house on Water Street in Ipswich.  This article first appeared in the September 2013 Antiques Journal.   We have a dear friend who has moved three or four times since we’ve known her. And each time, she and her husband have bought or … Continue reading The Old Tann Flats
Ipswich Civil War veterans Ipswich at war - Featured image: Civil War veterans at the Choate Bridge Some American wars in which Ipswich citizens have fought 1634: Settlement and the early military annals 1636-1638 Pequot War 1675 -1676 King Philip’s War 1689-1697 War of William and Mary (King William’s War) 1690 Battle of Quebec 1702-1713 Queen Anne’s War (War of Spanish Succession) 1744-1748 King … Continue reading Ipswich at war
Something to Preserve - Featured image: the Preston-Foster house on Water Street. Something To Preserve was published by the Ipswich Historical Commission in 1975 and is a report on historic preservation by the acquisition of protective agreements on buildings in Ipswich, Massachusetts. This important book described the process by which the town of Ipswich began to preserve at-risk historic homes … Continue reading Something to Preserve
The First Church Clock - By Ipswich Historical Commission chairman John Fiske: It’s not often that a major purchase in 1762 turns into a major headache in 2017. But that is what happened with the First Church’s clock in Ipswich. The First Church (uppercase C: the institution) built its first church (lowercase c: the building) in 1634, the year that … Continue reading The First Church Clock
Boston Irish Long Remembered the 1834 Charlestown Convent Fire - Featured image: Woodcut image of the 1834 burning of the Ursuline Convent in Charlestown, Massachusetts. Catholics and fair minded Bostonians were dismayed by the tragedy. by Helen Breen This week marks the 183th anniversary of the burning and ransacking of the Ursuline Convent in Charlestown, Massachusetts on August 11, 1834. The outrage would smolder in the … Continue reading Boston Irish Long Remembered the 1834 Charlestown Convent Fire
Keeping My Bearings in Changing Times - As the title suggests, keeping my bearings, following directions and distinguishing right from left pose increasing challenges as I enter the dark side of mid-life (Or is it the lighter side of old age?) I know that many of you find yourselves in the same bucket of sorrow, and I feel your pain. But press … Continue reading Keeping My Bearings in Changing Times
Henry David Thoreau;s cabin Thoreau July Bicentennial Celebrated in Concord and Around the World - by Helen Breen. Featured image: replica of Thoreau’s cabin, Wikipedia “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” (Walden, … Continue reading Thoreau July Bicentennial Celebrated in Concord and Around the World
In Congress, July 4, 1776 - Featured image: “Declaration of Independence,” oil on canvas by John Trumbull, 1818. IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776   The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among … Continue reading In Congress, July 4, 1776
Abbott Lowell Cummings, author of “The Framed Houses of Massachusetts Bay” - Featured image: Abbott Lowell Cummings, photo courtesy of Historic New England. From Antiques and the Arts Weekly: Abbott Lowell Cummings, 94: Abbott Lowell Cummings, the leading authority of Seventeenth and early Eighteenth Century (“First Period”) architecture in the American Northeast and author of The Framed Houses of Massachusetts Bay (Harvard University Press, 1979) died early May … Continue reading Abbott Lowell Cummings, author of “The Framed Houses of Massachusetts Bay”
polio shot Life in the Summer of Polio - Photo by Peter Zaharis from the 1956 Ipswich Town Report. Before introduction of the Salk polio vaccine in 1955, there were tens of thousands of new cases of polio annually in the United States, many resulting in paralysis. In the following year, new cases had been cut in half, and by 1961 there were just over … Continue reading Life in the Summer of Polio
Lakemans Lane and Fellows Road a Century Ago, And How They Changed - by Charlotte Lindgren One hundred years ago, Lakemans Lane was a narrow dirt road lined by stone walls. About a mile beyond Parting Paths, then called Whittier’s Corner, (for the now demolished homestead of the large Whittier family) the lane connected County and Essex Roads. It was bisected by Fellows Road which led to Candlewood. … Continue reading Lakemans Lane and Fellows Road a Century Ago, And How They Changed
The Karma of Modern Problems - by Gavin Keenan:  Town Meeting time can often raise the blood pressure. When paired with the daily MOABs of POTUS 45, a defibrillator may be indicated. But here I want to speak of local affairs; to wit, small town politics and the history of governing in Ipswich as clearly as I recall it. Those of … Continue reading The Karma of Modern Problems
Ipswich woodcut,1838 attributed to S. E. Brown. Governing Ipswich - Ipswich was established in 1634, and was one of the most influential towns in Colonial America. The early town records, the actions of Town Meeting, and the deliberations of the courts which met here are available online: Ipswich Public Library archives, complete list, PDF) The Development of our Town Government, by Thomas Franklin Waters Ipswich in the … Continue reading Governing Ipswich
Marblehead is established, May 6, 1635 - Featured image: Marblehead, by Arthur Wesley Dow, circa 1900 A story at Mass Moments In May 1635 the General Court ordered “that there shall be a plantation at Marble Head” and gave the inhabitants the right to do whatever they pleased with the land, even though it was part of Salem. The move was meant to … Continue reading Marblehead is established, May 6, 1635
Ipswich Open Space map Ipswich Open Space program: an overwhelming success - Article 27 on this spring’s Ipswich Town Meeting would require ballot approval for Open Space purchases over $500,000, following Town Meeting approval of the expenditure. While the article may be well-intentioned, requiring a redundant special election would entail considerable time and taxpayer expense, circumvents the intention of previous Town Meetings, and would cripple the cost-effectiveness … Continue reading Ipswich Open Space program: an overwhelming success
Moses Jewett house, 307 High St. Homes of the Jewetts - Deacon Maximilian Jewett was born in Bradford, West Riding of Yorkshire, England, baptized Oct. 4th, 1607. He with his wife Ann, and his brother Joseph sailed from Hull, England in 1638 in the ship John, with a colony under the leadership of Rev. Ezekiel Rogers. They arrived at Boston about the first of December, 1638, … Continue reading Homes of the Jewetts
Homes of the Lords - Featured image: The Thomas Lord house on High Street in Ipswich dates to 1658. Robert Lord arrived with the first settlers of Ipswich in late 1634 or early 1635, probably from Sudbury, Suffolk, England, where he was born in 1603. Soon after his arrival, Robert Lord was appointed Ipswich Town Clerk and Clerk of the Court of … Continue reading Homes of the Lords
Tomstone of Elizabeth and Mary Berry, daughters of Dr. Thomas Berry, who both died in 1735. Great Sorrows: The Deadly “Throat Distemper” of 1735-36 - Featured image: Tombstone of the daughters of Dr. Thomas Berry: Elizabeth age 5 years, and Mary, age 18 months, who died in December 1735 of the “throat distemper.” Photo by John Glassford An epidemic of “throat distemper” raged in New England between 1735 and 1740. The contagion struck first in New Hampshire, killing almost 1% of the … Continue reading Great Sorrows: The Deadly “Throat Distemper” of 1735-36
Patronage and Scandal at the Ipswich Customs House - In 1829, the position of Ipswich Customs Collector was granted to Timothy Souther, a man of prominence and one of the old line Democrats who held office there under President Andrew Jackson. Souther resigned in August, 1840 after being charged with graft.
Holyoke-French house, Boxford Ma Colonial houses of Boxford - Houses built during the Colonial era in Boxford, Massachusetts. Listings and images provided by the MACRIS site of the Massachusetts Historical Commission, and by Vision Properties for the Town of Boxford, with additional historical information from The Dwellings of Boxford, by Sidney Perley BOX.48, Dr. William Hale, Rev. William P. Alcott House, 2 Elm St, 1770: This house … Continue reading Colonial houses of Boxford
Cape Ann, Massachusetts Pigeon Cove Sketches of Cape Ann - From Gloucester and Cape Ann by S. G. W. Benjamin, Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, September 1875
JFK was greeted enthusiastically throughout Ireland during his 1963 visit. A St. Patrick’s Day Reflection - Homecoming: JFK in Ireland, June 1963 by Helen Breen DUBLIN Two years ago while in Dublin, I took a tour of Leinster House, a magnificent ducal residence now the seat of the Irish Parliament. At the end of our visit we were guided up an impressive marble staircase. There hung a beautiful green silk ceremonial … Continue reading A St. Patrick’s Day Reflection
Living descendants of the Agawam Indians Living Descendants of the Native Americans of Agawam - by M. E. Lepionka 3/6/17. Mary Ellen is a publisher, author, editor, textbook developer, and college instructor with a Master’s degree in anthropology from Boston University and post-graduate work at the University of British Columbia. In 2008 she retired to research the prehistory of Cape Ann and the Native Americans who lived here and to document … Continue reading Living Descendants of the Native Americans of Agawam
Dirigo Ice Cream Ipswich ma historic photos Portraits from Ipswich, a century ago - In the winter of 2016, Robert Cronin and Bill Barton shared with me their collections of glass plate negatives taken by George Dexter (1862-1927) and Edward Darling (1874 – 1962), two of the earliest Ipswich photographers. The glass plates had been stored away for almost a century. I was able to develop the negatives into high resolution black … Continue reading Portraits from Ipswich, a century ago
The Essex Convention The Ipswich Convention and the Essex Result - Delegates met in Ipswich in 1774 and 1778 to deliberate a Constitution for Massachusetts. Their “Exceptions” were published in the 60-page “Essex Result,” and included an ominous warning to future generations: In 1774, in retaliation for the Boston Tea Party of December 16, 1773, General Gage was sent to Boston with troops, and assumed the governorship. The colony’s … Continue reading The Ipswich Convention and the Essex Result
Townshent acts tea tax The “Detested Tea” - From Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, by Thomas Franklin Waters In 1767, the Townshend Acts were passed, one of which provided for a tax on wine, glass, tea, gloves, etc, imported into the Province. During the winter, the General Court issued a Circular Letter, which was sent to the other Assemblies, notifying them of the measure … Continue reading The “Detested Tea”
Bungalow, Ipswich MA Bungalows of Ipswich - The Eastern Bungalow style was popular between 1910-1940, which included the Depression years. They are an affordable and practical adaptation of California’s Arts and Crafts movement. Full second floors are not a feature of this style, but finished attics are common. The style shares features with traditional well-ventilated folk houses in the warmer U.S. south, with expansive front porches that form a … Continue reading Bungalows of Ipswich
Lynn shoe workers strike 1860 Lynn Shoeworkers Strike, Feb. 22, 1860 - Mass Moments On February 22,  1860, thousands of striking shoeworkers 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 shoemaking town since the early 1800s. Hard times had now caused management to cut wages and speed … Continue reading Lynn Shoeworkers Strike, Feb. 22, 1860
“Kiss of Death” at New England textile mills - The weaver, after loading a new pirn wrapped with thread into a shuttle, drew the loose end through the hole with her breath. Certainly no one connected this habit with the observation, made sometime in the nineteenth century, that weavers were dying of what was then called consumption at a higher rate than the general public.
The Marblehead smallpox riot, 1773 - From The History and Traditions of Marblehead” by Samuel Roads. Featured image by Charles Green. During the year 1773, the attention of the inhabitants of Marblehead was for a time occupied in considering their danger from another source than the oppressive acts of the British Parliament. In June the wife of Mr. William Matthews was … Continue reading The Marblehead smallpox riot, 1773
High Spirits on Town Hill -   Standing 14′ high and about 12′ wide, the new bronze sculpture by Chris Williams on North Main St. in Ipswich honors the town’s creative community. It was conceived and funded by Ipswich resident Richard Silverman as a tribute to his late wife Robin Silverman.    
Groveland Colonial houses - Groveland, MA was settled asthe East Parish of Bradford, a part of the town of Rowley in the early Colonial era. Before Bradford was separated from Rowley in 1672, it was called “Rowley on the Merrimack”, or just “Merrimack”. Bradford in turn was annexed by Haverhill in 1897 after a bloody and violent conflict. Groveland officially … Continue reading Groveland Colonial houses
Thomas Jefferson Jefferson’s Warning to the White House - From an article by Nancy Gibbs,  Time Magazine, February 6, 2017:  Jefferson’s Warning to the White House During the campaign of 1800, a Federalist newspaper article stated that with Jefferson as president: “Murder, robbery, rape, adultery, and incest will be openly taught and practiced, the air will be rent with the cries of the distressed, the … Continue reading Jefferson’s Warning to the White House
West Newbuy Massachusetts Colonial houses of West Newbury MA - The town of West Newbury provides the following history: West Newbury’s history as a town began in 1635 when 23 men and their families, all from England, sailed through Plum Island Sound and up the Parker River, landing in Newbury. As more settlers arrived and families increased, land in Newbury became scarce, and some people … Continue reading Colonial houses of West Newbury MA
Old Roads and Bridges of Newbury and Newburyport - Text by James B. Stone, from Images from the Past , published by the Newbury 350th anniversary Committee. Featured image: Bridge over the Parker River in Newbury, on today’s Rt. 1A, 1898. When the first settlers arrived in Newbury in May of 1635, there were only Indian trails which wound through the forests. Besides food and shelter, … Continue reading Old Roads and Bridges of Newbury and Newburyport
The Man in Full: Honoring the Life and Times of Ipswich Police Officer Officer Charles B. Schwartz - By Gavin Keenan Retired Ipswich Police Officer and local legend Charles Benjamin Schwartz passed away on January 19, 2017. Charlie had struggled with cancer this last year and as he would say, “Gave it as good as I got.” Although I am relieved for him that his suffering has ended, I’m saddened by the passing … Continue reading The Man in Full: Honoring the Life and Times of Ipswich Police Officer Officer Charles B. Schwartz
Colonial-era houses of Merrimac, Massachusetts - Merrimac sits on the Merrimack river abutting the southeastern border of New Hampshire. Settled by the English in 1638 as a part of Salisbury and later as a part of Amesbury around the village of Merrimacport, it was known throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries as an agricultural and fishing community, with a small amount of … Continue reading Colonial-era houses of Merrimac, Massachusetts
Born in a refuge camp - By Ingrid Miles, Ipswich  I was born in a refugee camp and I feel as if I am reliving my parents nightmare after World War II when my dad had to modify his name and identify himself as Christian; my mother was Catholic in order to come to this country as displaced persons aka DP’s. … Continue reading Born in a refuge camp
The Choate Bridge in Ipswich, photo by George Dexter Battles of the bridges - Excerpts from Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, by Thomas Franklin Waters The stone bridges which span the Ipswich river with their graceful arches are picturesque and interesting, but the readiness with which the Town proceeded to build the latter two stone bridges is in singular contrast with the belligerent opposition to the earliest ones. The … Continue reading Battles of the bridges
Martin Luther King An MLK Day Reflection – “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” - by Helen Breen Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was first established as a national holiday by President Ronald Reagan in 1983. THE LAST SPEECH On April 3, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., flew into Memphis, Tennessee to support striking African American sanitation workers in the midst of a bitter strike. Rumors of death … Continue reading An MLK Day Reflection – “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”
19th Century: Religion divided the town - Excerpts from Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony by Thomas Franklin Waters The Congregational Church The Congregational Church, founded by the first settlers, maintained the old order for many generations in undisputed supremacy. From time to time, as the population increased, as has been noted, new Parishes within the Town limits had been established, in … Continue reading 19th Century: Religion divided the town
Moll Pitcher, the fortune-teller of Lynn and Marblehead - By Sidney Perley, published March 1899 in the Essex Antiquarian “Moll Pitcher,” the famous fortune-teller of Lynn, has no birth record. So the place of her first appearance in life cannot be thus determined. The tenement house, known as the ” Old Brig,” situated at the junction of Pond and Orne streets in Marblehead, is the reputed birthplace. The … Continue reading Moll Pitcher, the fortune-teller of Lynn and Marblehead
The Civil War Monument - Photograph by George Dexter, circa 1900; story by Harold Bowen, “Tales of Old Ipswich,” 1975 Each Memorial Day for the last 15 years it has been my job to decorate the different monuments in town early in the morning. This year, I couldn’t help but think of the many changes that have taken place at the … Continue reading The Civil War Monument
Lowell Offering The Lowell Offering - The Lowell Offering was a monthly periodical, first published in 1840, which featured poetry and fiction by female workers at textile mills in Lowell, MA. Known as the Lowell Mill Girls, they often wrote about situations in their own lives, including labor unrest in the factories. The Offering ceased publication in 1844 but was revived from 1848 to 1850 as the New … Continue reading The Lowell Offering
Agawam house, Ipswich MA The Great Agawam Stable Fire - By Harold Bowen, 1975 In the days of stagecoaches, there were several inns along the old Bay Road and High Street. These inns also provided stables in which to house the horses.. One of the later hotels was the Agawam House on North Main Street. In 1806 Nathaniel Treadwell bought land and a house and … Continue reading The Great Agawam Stable Fire
North Main Street photographic retrospective - North Main Street starts up the hill directly across from Market Street, bears left at Meetinghouse Green and continues to an abrupt stop at the point where High Street and East Street merge. This neighborhood was once the religious, governmental and commercial center of Ipswich. During the seventeenth century, a meeting house, jail, fort, town … Continue reading North Main Street photographic retrospective
Jake Burridge, the sailor - Featured image: 2014 photo of Jake Burridge, courtesy Ipswich Chronicle. Original color photo by Kirk Williamson. In October, 2016 I was privileged to speak with Jake Burridge, a legendary 99-year-old Ipswich native. His wife Marsha graciously shared photos for this story. Jake grew up on Linebrook Rd., where he received his earliest education at the one-room Linebrook School. … Continue reading Jake Burridge, the sailor
Ipswich woodcut,1838 attributed to S. E. Brown. Market Square and the lower North Green, a photographic history - Featured image: Ipswich woodcut attributed to S. E. Brown, 1838, or John Warner Barber, 1839
Market Street, a photographic retrospective - Photos of Market St. from the present day back to the early days of photography.
Measuring time by an hourglass by Kitty Robertson Measuring Time–by an hourglass - Kitty Robertson’s Measuring Time—By an Hourglass is an exquisite collection of essays, reflections on a 20th century life in small town New England, that first were published in the Ipswich Chronicle. Kitty is also the author of “The Orchard: A Memoir”. “Look through my eyes for a little while,” Kitty invites, “and may what you … Continue reading Measuring Time–by an hourglass
The Ipswich River - The Ipswich River begins in Burlington, MA and passes through the towns of Wilmington, Reading, North Reading, Peabody, Middleton, Topsfield, Hamilton, and Ipswich, connecting with the Atlantic Ocean at Ipswich Bay. The river has been dammed since Colonial days, providing power for the Ipswich mills. In the days of sailing ships, ocean-going cargo vessels, fishing … Continue reading The Ipswich River
The First Winters in Ipswich - Featured image: painting by George Henry Boughton Nearly half of the original 102 passengers on the Mayflower did not survive the first winter after arriving in Plymouth in December 1622. Only four of the original thirteen women lived to celebrate the “First Thanksgiving” the following November. Two hundred of the Boston colonists succumbed in the … Continue reading The First Winters in Ipswich
The Laces of Ipswich - In its lace making heyday in the late eighteenth century, Ipswich, Massachusetts boasted 600 lace makers in a town of only 601 households. George Washington himself, a lace afficionado, paid a visit to Ipswich in 1789 to support its extraordinary domestic textile industry. In The Laces of Ipswich: The Art and Economics of an Early … Continue reading The Laces of Ipswich
Streets and Neighborhoods - The English settlers of Ipswich built their homes in a half-mile radius of the Meeting House. In the year 1639, the General Court instructed that “all highways shall be laid out where most convenient not withstanding any man’s propriety or any common ground.” Much of the village retains its historic buildings, roads, bridges and settlement pattern. 
A Very Ipswich Christmas - “You live where?” “Ipswich, MA. It’s about 45 minutes north of Boston. “Oh. Well then you must get a lot of snow.” “Yes. Unfortunately.” “Unfortunately? What are you talking about? Christmas must be great! I am so jealous.” As a college freshman, I have this conversation at least twice a week. Someone asks where I … Continue reading A Very Ipswich Christmas
“Dying Confession of Pomp, a Negro Man Who Was Executed at Ipswich on the 6th August, 1795” - On Aug 6th 1795, Pomp an African-American slave was hung for chopping off the head of his master, Captain Charles Furbush while he slept beside his wife. He was confined in Ipswich jail Feb. 12 of that year, and after sentence of death had been passed, was held there until the day of his execution.
Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim “A Christmas Carol” – the Back Story - Featured image: Bob Cratchit and his son Tiny Tim represented the London poor with whom Charles Dickens sympathized. (painting by Jessie Wilcox Smith) by Helen Breen LONDON  1843 “Marley was dead to begin with,” the opening line of “A Christmas Carol,” was conceived by Charles Dickens as he walked the cold, damp streets of Manchester after … Continue reading “A Christmas Carol” – the Back Story
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, and over the objections of the governor and his Council. An Act of Parliament declared all the transactions of the two Bank Schemes illegal and void.
George Washington and Family by Thomas Pritchard Rossiter, 1858-1860. Gift of Nanine Hilliard Greene George Washington returns to Mount Vernon, Christmas Eve 1783 - Featured image: George Washington and Family by Thomas Pritchard Rossiter, 1858-1860. by Helen Breen   General George Washington welcomed back to Mount Vernon on Christmas Eve 1783 at the end of the Revolutionary War (mountvernon.org) The dramatic painting of “Washington Crossing the Delaware” launching a surprise attack on the Hessian foe on December 25, 1776 is … Continue reading George Washington returns to Mount Vernon, Christmas Eve 1783
Oh, Wintry Christmas of My Youth! - It’s popular to recall – albeit with questionable accuracy, the Christmases of our childhood. Poets, songwriters and silly memoirists love to wax nostalgic of a time and place where the winters were colder, the snows deeper, and the pace of life more manageable. Yet, for those of us lucky enough to grow up in New … Continue reading Oh, Wintry Christmas of My Youth!
Ipswich Riverwalk mural mill strike 1913 American Town - American Town, the History of Ipswich, Massachusetts EBSCO Publishing commissioned artist Alan Pearsall to paint the history of Ipswich on a 2700 sq. ft. mural at the Riverwalk, behind the EBSCO complex. Having done extensive research for the mural, they then commissioned him to write, illustrate and design American Town, a 200-page coffee-table-style book  as a companion to … Continue reading American Town
Choate Bridge photo by Andrew Borsari Cape Ann photographs by Andrew Borsari - Photographer Andrew Borsari shows us why Cape Ann is cherished by its residents and envied by the rest of the world, and his books make wonderful presents. Ipswich: A Celebration of Light, Land, and Sea  Rockport, Massachusetts: A Village by the Sea Cape Ann: Photographs by Andrew Borsari
Ipswich Mills Dam video - This video was taken last summer during the Ipswich Mill Dam drawdown, which coincidentally occurred duirng the worst part of the summer drought. The video describes the investigation that was conducted at that time of the dam’s structure, and a study of the feasibility of removing the dam. Field work is complete, and a public … Continue reading Ipswich Mills Dam video
Pearson-Dummer house, Rowley - A lot of history and even more character are everywhere in  1714 Pearson-Dummer home in Rowley. Continue reading: Gov. Dummer lived here in Rowley, by Barbara Forster for the Ipswich Chronicle MACRIS Pearson, Capt. John House, Glen St, Rowley Year Constructed: 1714 Architectural Style(s): Colonial; Federal The Capt. John Pearson House was built in 1714 … Continue reading Pearson-Dummer house, Rowley
Traditional American Thanksgiving in Art and Song - by Helen Breen Among America’s most beloved 19th century renderings of Thanksgiving Day are Currier & Ives lithographs, Grandma Moses’s paintings, and Lydia Marie Child’s famous poem/song “Over the River and Through the Wood.” CURRIER & IVES Currier & Ives was a tremendously successful printmaking firm, based in New York, in the latter part of … Continue reading Traditional American Thanksgiving in Art and Song
Yankee Dictionary Yankee dictionary; a compendium of useful and entertaining expressions indigenous to New England - by Helen Breen In perusing the early copies of the Lynnfield Historical Society’s bulletins, the reflections of one writer stand out for his graceful style, sense of humor, and genuine affection for the town “in the old days.” I said to myself, “I have to check this guy out.” So began my quest to learn … Continue reading Yankee dictionary; a compendium of useful and entertaining expressions indigenous to New England
We the People Constitutional Convention The Constitutional Convention, the Electoral College, slavery and the Civil War - Establishment of the Electoral College Many of our founding fathers had little trust in the instincts of the common man. John Adams observed that “Pure democracy has also been viewed as a threat to individual rights,” and warned against the “tyranny of the majority.” Alexander Hamilton, one of the three authors of the “Federalist Papers” defended the system of electors by which … Continue reading The Constitutional Convention, the Electoral College, slavery and the Civil War
The Battle of Vimy Ridge by Richard jack William Clancy, WWI hero - Featured image: The Battle of Vimy Ridge by Richard Jack Harold Bowen wrote in Tales from Olde Ipswich that William Clancy’s family lived in the Old Post Office on North Main Street. Thomas Franklin Waters spoke about historic actions by William Clancy in a 1917 address to the Ipswich Historical Society, reprinted from the Publications of the Ipswich … Continue reading William Clancy, WWI hero
The “Commonwealth” - An irony of the recent presidential election is the millions of people who felt abandoned by the government and left out in today’s economy, and yet chose as their presidential candidates two very wealthy people. This brought me to reflect on the word “commonwealth,” defined as a state or collection of states in which supreme authority is … Continue reading The “Commonwealth”
First Period houses of Salem, Massachusetts - Salem, MA has about 18 First Period houses (built during the first century of English settlement, approximately 116-20-1720). In his landmark studies, “Massachusetts and its First Period Buildings” (1979) and The Framed Houses of Massachusetts Bay, 1625-1725 (1979), architectural historian Abbott Lowell Cummings demonstrated that eastern Massachusetts contains the greatest concentration of First Period structures … Continue reading First Period houses of Salem, Massachusetts
Peg Wesson witch of Gloucester Peg Wesson, the Gloucester witch - An old legend about the Gloucester witch Peg Wesson is often mentioned, but never was it told in such detail as in this story, written by Sarah G. Daley and published in the Boston  Evening Transcript, October 14, 1892. It was carried in papers throughout the country. It was March, 1745, and the company raised in Gloucester to join the … Continue reading Peg Wesson, the Gloucester witch
Fort Point Channel trolley disaster Boston Globe: The Tragedy that Boston forgot - On the night of November 7, 1916, a trolley packed with factory workers crashed through the gates of an open drawbridge in South Boston, killing 46. For decades it was considered the worst tragedy in Boston history. And then it was forgotten. Continue reading about the Boston trolley tragedy at the Boston Globe.
Ralph W. Burnham, Antiques and Hooked Rugs - In the late 19th Century, hooked rugs gained immense popularity, partly due to a Maine Peddler and rug hooker named Edward Sands Frost, who introduced preprinted hooked-rug patterns on burlap. In 1876, when Frost sold his business, he had about 180 patterns. Frost’s patterns included a wide variety of natural objects along with geometric patterns.  As commercial rug … Continue reading Ralph W. Burnham, Antiques and Hooked Rugs