The most recent posts on the Historic Ipswich site.
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.
The witchcraft trial of Elizabeth Howe, hanged July 19, 1692 - Elizabeth Howe and her husband James resided on outer Linebrook. She was charged with bewitching her neighbor’s child and was arrested on May 28, 1692. She was one of the five women hung in Salem on July 19, 1692.
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, 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.
Thomas and Elizabeth Lull and the Caldwell sons - 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.
Deluge! An Eyewitness Account of the Mother’s Day Storm of 2006 - Essex County was subjected to days of relentless, pouring rain that caused millions of dollars in property damage, deaths and left Ipswich nearly isolated from neighboring communities.
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.
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.
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 - 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.
Lafayette returns 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 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.
A Revolutionary Guest: John Adams’ letters from Ipswich - John Adams visited Ipswich many times during his tenure as the Boston representative to the colonial legislature from 1770 to 1774.
Joseph English: Loyalty and Survival in the Life of a Colonial Native Scout - Joseph English, a descendant of Sagamore Masconomet, served as a scout for the Colonial forces and participated in land transactions with Essex County communities. Benjamin Webster used archival documents to construct this narrative of his life.
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.
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
The 1934 parade celebrating the 300th Anniversary of the founding of Ipswich - The Native American village of Agawam became a Puritan settlement in 1633 as an outpost of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The community was named Ipswich in 1634 upon the official founding of the town. Click on any photo to begin the slideshow.
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.
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.
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.
The Witchcraft Trial of Elizabeth Morse of Newbury, 1680 - Elizabeth Morse of Newbury was accused and found guilty of being a witch. She was initially sentenced to be hanged, but after spending a year in the Boston jail, she was sent home
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’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.
“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. He was confined in Ipswich jail, and a sentence of death was passed. He was held there until the day of his execution, which was attended by a "cheering crowd of thousands" after a sermon by Rev. Dana.
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.
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."
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 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.
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.
Little Neck Nostalgia - "Ipswich is paradise with bugs.”
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.
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."
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.
The Great Newburyport fire, May 31, 1811 - Nearly 250 buildings burned, and upwards of ninety families lost their homes and the means of furnishing themselves with the necessities of life.
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, 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 Proximity Fuze: How Ipswich women helped win WW II - The former Ipswich Mills, now owned by EBSCO, was the site of one of the most closely guarded secrets of the Second World War.
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.
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
Rachel Clinton arrested for witchcraft, May 28, 1692 - Everything about Rachel Clinton's life went wrong, and in her old age she was an easy target for the witchcraft hysteria that spread from Salem throughout Essex County.
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 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 - 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.
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.
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.
Historical Commission issues statement on over-development in historic neighborhoods - The Ipswich Historical Commission, with the full authority of Section 8D of the Laws of Massachusetts opposes the identified projects at 87 High Street and 108 Central Street in their proposed density and recommends other town boards to do the same.
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."
The Great Dying 1616-1619, “By God’s visitation, a wonderful plague” - An estimated 18,000,000 Native Americans lived in North America before the 17th Century. The arrival of 102 Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower at Plymouth in 1620 and the settlements by the Puritans a decade later were accompanied by the demise of the native population of North America.
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.
Choate-Caldwell House, 16 Elm St. (Now at Smithsonian) - In 1963 this house was slated for destruction, but through the efforts of local preservationists was relocated to the Smithsonian where it resides as the Museum’s largest artifact on permanent display.
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.
“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.
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.
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 - 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 […]
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.
“Ipswich Town” by James Appleton Morgan - I love to think of old Ipswich town Old Ipswich town in the east countree, Whence on the tide, you can float down Through long salt grass to the wailing sea.
Photos from Ipswich Town Reports - Photos from Ipswich town reports in the 50s and 60s that are even more interesting now.
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.
Newburyport and its Neighborhood in 1874, by Harriet Prescott Spofford - "The history of Newburyport, and of her mother Newbury, much of which has become incorporated with herself, is replete with striking facts and marvels. "
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.
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."
The Ipswich Company, Massachusetts State Guard, 1942 - The Ipswich Company of the Massachusetts State Guard during WWII
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.
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.
John Winthrop’s journal of the ship Arbella’s voyage to America, March 29 – July 8, 1630 - On April 7, 1630, the Arabella was a week out from its port in England, and the last well-wishers returned to shore. The winds were finally favorable, and the ship weighed anchor and sailed for New England, with Governor John Winthrop and approximately 300 English Puritans on board, leaving their homes in England to settle in a fledgling colony.
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.
Three old houses that stood on High Street at Manning and Mineral - An article about three first period houses that are no longer standing, by Paul McGinley.
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.
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.
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 - 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.
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 - 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 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 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."
The Clammer - It had to be a tough decision for Tom Pappas to hang up the clamming fork after a lifetime of use.