The most recent posts on the Historic Ipswich site.
The Body of Liberties, the “Ipswich Connection,” and the Origin of written Constitutionalism in Massachusetts - However benign John Winthrop’s intentions were, the system he tried to construct rested on the discretion, or will, of individual magistrates. However, he was defeated by the Ipswich Connection’s campaign for the “skill” or “rule” of written law; and if we still prize the ideal that government should operate based on laws, not men, we owe that partly to their promotion of the Body of Liberties.
Prominent Members of the early Ipswich bar - Ipswich boasts a long line of legal luminaries – lawyers and judges – going back to the dawn of the Town’s existence. Not only is this the “Birthplace of American Independence” but the home to many notable statesmen, and the caliber of the bench and bar of a people is in part a measure of the quality of the culture.
President Eisenhower’s farewell address to the nation - ""In this my last good night to you as your President-I thank you for the many opportunities you have given me for public service in war and peace. I trust that in that service you find some things worthy; as for the rest of it, I know you will find ways to improve performance in the future."
A stroll down Water Street - Join Paul Valcour and Gordon Harris on a walk along the river from the Green St. Bridge to the town wharf as we compare today's view with dozens of photos taken in the 19th and early 20th Centuries.
John Adams’ long walk through the Neck - "I feel unutterable anxiety. God grant us wisdom and fortitude! Should the opposition be suppressed, should this country submit, what infamy and ruin! God forbid. Death in any form is less terrible!"
The Power of a mark - I stumbled upon a remarkable family artifact: the crude “signature” that the probable founder of the Grow family in America – my direct ancestor nine generations removed – had put down on paper 326 years earlier. A small, nondescript mark on a long-forgotten document brought history personally alive for me in a way that perhaps only passionately engaged family historians would fully understand.
2020 Ipswich Art Show - The 34th Annual Ipswich Art Show and Sale is online and open for viewing at the Ipswich Cultural Council website, ipswichculturalcouncil.org
Newburyport interactive map keeps history alive - Mary Baker, producer of the Newburyport Blog, created an interactive map telling the stories of historic places in Newburyport.
Fences Make Good Neighbors - Just three years after the town of Ipswich was incorporated, each household had its own fenced lot within the town, and the town itself was fenced off from the rest of the world. Boundaries matter.
High-posted Capes - Ipswich has several Cape-style houses constructed with second floor kneewalls, found especially in the Ipswich Village and Linebrook neighborhoods. "High post Capes" in the 19th Century incorporated popular decorative elements of the Greek Revival, Italianate, Victorian and Colonial Revival eras.
Flawed people who did their best are back in town | Ipswich Local News - A series of portraits celebrating people who stuck their necks out is back in Ipswich for the month of October 2020. Called “Americans Who Tell the Truth,” the work will be on display in Zumi’s and the schools for the month of October.
Special Town Meeting approves changes to Demolition Review Bylaw - The Historical Commission recommended changing the Demolition Review Bylaw to apply to buildings constructed prior to 1915, and changing the demolition delay period for significant historic buildings to 18 months.
The plantations at New Meadows, now Topsfield - Large allotments of land in today's Topsfield were granted in the early 17th Century by the colony's leaders, comprising more than one-half of the town's present acreage. The persons who were awarded the lots, sometimes referred to as "king's grants" were merchants and men of influence and power who had joined the Massachusetts Bay Company during the Puritan migration.
Ipswich Bluffs - The hotel at Ipswich Bluff on the southern tip of Plum Island was a favorite destination of locals in the late 19th Century, who took the steamer Carlotta from the Ipswich wharf with Capt. Nat Burnham.
A town of immigrants - Puritans founded Ipswich during the “Great Migration” of the early 17th Century. Many residents of the town descend from immigrants who arrived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to work in the mills.
The deadly 1896 and 1911 New England heat waves - A heat wave during the summer of 1896 produced 1500 deaths from the Midwest to New England. Fifteen years later the record for heat-related fatalities was broken.
The Knobbs - The Knobbs is a small beach in a stretch of salt marsh on the west side of the Ipswich section of Plum Island. On the Atlantic side was the Kbobbs Beach Life-Saving Station, replaced in 1947 by a camp for children who had been victims of polio.
The courtship and marriage of William Durkee and Martha Cross - William Durkee, an indentured Irish Catholic, and Martha Cross, the daughter of Robert Cross of Chebacco parish were servants in the household of Thomas Bishop in Ipswich. When Martha became pregnant by William, they were presented for fornication. The court ruled that they be punished and married.
Early voting and voting by mail in the Sept. 1 primary election - The State Primary Election will be held on Tuesday, September 1, 2020 from 7:00 am - 8:00 pm at the YMCA, 110 County Rd.
The Shatswell Fife and Drum Corps - In the fall of 1928, the Shatswell School Fife and Drum Corps was born. About 18 boys were signed up. All that autumn and through the winter the boys rehearsed in earnest. On May 30, 1929, the Shatswell Fife and Drum Corps made its first appearance in the Memorial Day parade.
My Ipswich connections - "I suspect that thousands of New Englanders have their roots based in Ipswich. Is it possible that I was drawn here by deeply ingrained ancestral memories?" By Thomas Palance
Remembering VJ Day – 75 years ago, August 14, 1945 - As a five year old growing up in West Lynn, I distinctly remember VJ Day. We lived within earshot of the two enormous GE factories in the city – the West Lynn and the River Works plant. The war was the backdrop to my early years.
The not-so-humble beginnings of Olde Ipswich Days | Ipswich Local News - Lillian Eden, one of the founders of Olde Ipswich Days recalls the work and effort that went into running the original fairs.
Ancient Prejudice against “the Indians” Persists in Essex County Today - Beneath broad acceptance of Indian rights and benign admiration for aspects of Native culture lies inherited hostility toward Native people. Unrecognized, it has gone unchallenged, but locally I have found it evident in these six ways.
Conspiracy theories in Colonial America - Cotton Mather wrote that "New Englanders are a People of God" who had conquered "the Devil's Territories." The paranoid believe in conspiracies persists in today's political political battle between truth and deceit.
Sustainable Ipswich - The Ipswich Middle/Highschool GreenTeam is a green-fueled group of 35 bright individuals ready to take on the big fights like climate change. They aim to engage the community in taking a stand with nature, and inspiring by example.
Ruth Strachan - It was with great sadness that we learned today about the sudden passing of Ruth Strachan, a member of the Ipswich Historical Commission and the Architectural Preservation District Commission for several years.
Victory gardens - During WWI, Americans contributed to the European war effort by planting vegetable gardens so that crops from farms could be exported to our allies. The concept reemerged during WWII, and by 1944 over 20 million families were planting victory gardens.
Behold, a Pale Corpse - Gavin Keenan is drawn to reminisce of certain events which occurred during his lengthy enlistment in the local constabulary, including this Clamtown mystery of pandemic proportions.
Massachusetts Provincial Law: “An Act to Prevent the Destruction of Alewives on the Ipswich River” - Concerns about the environmental toll that dams have on the Ipswich River date back to 1773.
Early American Gardens - Isadore Smith (1902-1985) lived on Argilla Road in Ipswich and was the author of 3 volumes about 17th-19th Century gardens, writing under the pseudonym Ann Leighton. As a member of the Ipswich Garden Club, she created a traditional seventeenth century rose garden at the Whipple House.
Green crabs in the salt marsh - Recipe For Disaster is a six minute video about the explosion of European Green Crabs in the Great Salt Marsh. The mission of GreenCrab.org is to develop markets and promote consumption of green crabs to mitigate their invasive impact.
Ipswich in the Great Depression - In March 1934, Congress passed the Civilian Conservation bill, creating the Works Progress Administration and the Civil Conservation Corps which accomplished several projects in Ipswich.
“My grandfather belonged to Thomas Jefferson.” - A story first recorded in the 1940's about slavery, as told by people who were slaves.
The Fox Creek Canal - The Fox Creek Canal provided the missing link between the forests of New Hampshire and the shipyards of Essex. Lumber boats would sail down the Merrimack to Newburyport, cruise south along the landward-side of Plum Island and reach the Ipswich River without ever having to go on the ocean, then take the canal to the Castle Neck River to Essex Bay.
Wreck of the steamer Laura Marion, December 23, 1899 - This is the story of the tragic fate of the Laura Marion and her crew, swept under by one fell stroke of the sea, bringing sudden anguish to the hearts of the families who on Christmas eve.
Lucy Kimball - Born in the Hart House, Miss Kimball was a graduate of the Manning High School, class of 1894. She died in 1980 at the age of 105, after teaching first grade for 45 years.
The Dark Day, May 19, 1780 - At noon, a "midnight darkness" had fallen on Essex County. Candles were lighted, and fowls went to roost. By the next morning, dark ash lay four or five inches thick.
Gettin’ away on the ‘Pike - In the first half century of the automotive age, a weekend trip to the country for Boston folks often meant driving a few miles north on the Newburyport Turnpike and renting a cabin not too far from the shore. The Douglass Evergreen Village, above, was on Rt. 1 […]
14 years ago: the “Mill Road Linear Park” - It’s been 14 years now since the 2006 Mother’s Day storm rammed the Ipswich River into the Mill Road Bridge,almost collapsing one of its three brick arches and closing the bridge for three years. Fences were erected at either end, effectively making the bridge feel like a demilitarized […]
The Giles Firmin Park: from tannery to arboretum to playground - The locality became very unsightly and in 1906, the land and buildings were laid out the lot as an attractive park and garden, maintained by the subscriptions of the proprietors.
The farm at Wigwam Hill - Symonds Epes bought a large tract in 1726 and built a substantial farm and orchards at Wigwam Hill, named for a group of destitute Indians who briefly camped there. The protecting pitch pines were later cut for lumber, and the farm became a large dune.
Socially isolated at Crane Beach, Easter weekend 2020 - The Crane Estate has been closed by the Trustees because of Covid-19, but Crane Beach, Steep Hill Beach and Castle Neck are open to residents of Ipswich with a Crane Beach sticker Friday - Sunday.
Lessons from historic epidemics - In 1347, Officials in Ragusa kept newly arrived sailors in isolation for a "quartino" (40 days), the origin of the word quarantine. In 1800, Dr. Thomas Manning of Ipswich broke Benjamin Waterhouse's monopoly on the smallpox vaccine created by Edward Jenner. Transfusion of blood plasma from survivors of the 1918 Spanish Flu reduced mortality in patients. In 2020, people learned that Science is real.
The “Hum” - The Hum is an unexplained low frequency rumbling sound heard by about 2% of the population from inside their homes during the late evening hours. I began noticing the Hum when I moved to Ipswich. Do you hear it?
The Essex County Receptacle for Idiots and the Insane at Ipswich - After Dorothy demanded that the State conduct an investigation, the "Report on Insanity and Idiocy in Massachusetts" found that 68 insane or demented persons were being housed in the Ipswich jail.
Saving the Rooster - The gilded weathercock at the First Church in Ipswich has graced the steeple of every church at that location since the middle of the 18th Century.
Willowdale - In 1829, Dr. Thomas Manning of Ipswich constructed a 6' tall dam and mill on the Ipswich River along Topsfield Rd. Workers were provided housing a the large stone house. In 1884 the mill building burned and much of the stone walls for the mill building collapsed.
The Miles River - Known in Colonial times as Mile Brook, the Miles River is a major tributary of the Ipswich River but has been diminished in volume by upstream use as a water supply. Evidence of the old Potter and Appleton mills can still be found near County Rd.
Ipswich Notable Persons - The Ipswich Town Historian has begun a list of notable people who lived in our community and requests your additional input. These individuals could have resided during any historic time period.
Ipswich Conservation Commission declines to consider safety concerns for Jeffreys Neck Road - At a public meeting of the Ipswich Conservation Commission on March 4, 2020, the Commission declined to consider requests by Ipswich residents that they not approve a proposal for Jeffreys Neck Road that does not include adequate accommodation for pedestrians and cyclists.
Snowy Owl - CBS "Sunday Morning" takes us to Plum Island in Massachusetts, a winter home for owls.
Her name was Patience - "Know all men by these presents I, Thomas Burnam of Ipswich, do by these presents bargain, sell, sett over and confirm unto the said Robert Dodge, a negro girl known by the name of Patience...To have and to hold said negro girl Patience during her natural life."
Photos from Clamtown - This collection of photos by Coco McCabe is a celebration of Ipswich clammers, a mostly unseen corps of workers whose grit she deeply admires.
The clock tower at Hamilton First Church - In 1843, the Hamilton meetinghouse was turned 90 degrees to face the Bay Road, and the present bell was installed in the belfry. In 1888 a clock manufactured by E. Howard & Company of Boston was added to accompany the bell.
Ipswich in the Civil War - In his book, Scott Jewell updates the story of Ipswich in the American Civil War, much of which had been lost over the years and needed to be re-told.
An Eulogy on the Illustrious Character of the late General George Washington - “What words have an emphasis sufficient to express the gratitude we owe to God for the gift of a Washington, and the anguish and lamentation of our country that its illustrious Friend and Father is no more? His memory shall flow down the current of future generations, till they are lost in the ocean of eternity."
Real Deal Election Reform - If like me you’re wishing for a coronavirus isolation room to escape the maximums-shitzboobins now flooding the airwaves, I advocate a more direct way to influence the common voter. We might have to change a law or two. I’m Gavin Keenan and I approve this message.
Building a schooner, the art of wooden boatbuilding - The five-part series explores the design and construction of traditional wooden boats. Participants will have hands-on practices at several traditional boatyards within the Essex National Heritage Area.
Jack Helfant, the hermit of Sandy Point, 1962-67 - In 1962, Jack Helfant’s houseboat wrecked on Sandy Point. He created a shack using driftwood, canvas and parts of his houseboat. Jack and his dog Prince were permanent fixtures on the island until the State burned down his shack in 1967.
The Hovey clan and Knowlton’s Close, a 19th Century neighborhood - In 1844, John Sawyer sold to Josiah Caldwell an undeveloped tract known as "Knowlton's Close." Caldwell sold the land in house lots, where houses constructed in the popular vernacular Greek Revival style still stand today.
The Tithingman at the Ipswich Meeting House - On Dec. 26, 1700, a resolve was made that the disorder that had disturbed the public worship for some years owing to the wanton and perverse behavior of the boys and young men should be effectually quelled.
Photos of the dunes late on a winter afternoon - See more photos by Sharon Scarlata. Related Posts
Nuclear Ipswich, 1967-1970 - In 1967, Ipswich was proposed as a site for an anti-ballistic missile base, and in 1970 opponents prevented construction of a nuclear power plant on Town Farm Road that eventually was built in Seabrook.
“Mill End” Ipswich - "Millend" was located about the Saltonstall Mill. The ground has become historic. There planted the first Samuel Appleton, John Whipple, and Richard Saltonstall; there the river was first dammed for grist and saw mills."
The edge of a warming world - William Sargent embarked on a series of rambles from New Hampshire to Gloucester, and discovered a troubling new environmental catastrophe from the buildup of chemicals that have been steadily accumulating in the lungs of the planet--our oceans.
Market Street - Photos of Market St. from the present day back to the early days of photography.
Affidavit of Henry F. Dunnels of Ipswich, April 12, 1907 - Henry F. Dunnels was the first Ipswich man to serve in the Civil War. Later in life he became a follower of Mary Baker Eddy and was called on to testify in her lawsuits against Daniel Spofford and Calvin Frye.
The Newburyport Tea Party - When Parliament laid a tax on tea, the British locked all the tea that had arrived in Newburyport into the powder house. Eleazer Johnson led a group of men who shattered the door and burned the tea in Market Square.
The Lord-Ellsworth farm - The Ipswich Public Safety Facility Committee has reached an agreement with the Boston Catholic diocese to purchase four to five acres of church-owned land at the intersection of Pine Swamp and Linebrook roads that was originally a hay field across from the old Eben Lord farm.
Madame Shatswell’s cup of tea - Madame Shatswell loved her cup of tea, and as a large store had been stored for family use before the hated tax was imposed, she saw no harm in using it as usual. News of the treason spread throughout the town.
Ipswich Caring - On December 17. Ipswich Police delivered toys to children in Ipswich Shellfish trucks as part of Ipswich Caring, which relies on the generosity of local residents, businesses and community organizations. The organization and distributes 100% of donations to help families, children and senior citizens in our communities.
Wind power from the Berkshires lights Ipswich homes - The Town of Ipswich is an investor in Berkshire Wind, an array of wind turbines on Brodie Mountain in the Berkshires. Two turbines added this summer increased the generating capacity to 19.6 megawatts, enough for almost 9000 homes.
Grants for Great Marsh and Ipswich River | Ipswich Local News - The Trustees of Reservations was awarded $217,931 to pursue a salt marsh restoration and climate adaption project at the Old Town Hill reservation in Newbury. A smaller grant worth $28,000 was awarded to the Ipswich River Watershed Association (IRWA) to help it improve water quality in the river.
Alexander Hamilton: “The Ultimate Object” - "The truth unquestionably is, that the only path to a subversion of the republican system of the Country is, by flattering the prejudices of the people, and exciting their jealousies and apprehensions, to throw affairs into confusion, and bring on civil commotion."
Images of Ipswich in the winter - Send your winter photos to email@example.com
Col. Nathaniel Shatswell and the Battle of Harris Farm - At Harris Farm the First Massachusetts Heavy Artillery Regiment, assembled with Ipswich soldiers, drove the Confederates into the cover of the woods, eventually ending with a Northern victory. The battle claimed over 2000 lives.
Timeline of the Flu Pandemic of 1918 in Ipswich - By Monday September 27th, the Pandemic is raging and has made the front-page of the Ipswich Chronicle for the first time. In the 19 months of US involvement in the Great War, approximately 55,000 U.S. soldiers lose their lives in European combat. In nine weeks just prior to the end of the War, approximately 60,000 U.S. soldiers — back in camps within the United States — lose their lives to the Flu
The Plum Island Salt Company - In the 1820's a Frenchman named Gilshenan organized an unsuccessful salt harvesting company on Plum Island with a 10' deep canal and a bull turning an overshot wheel like a hamster. A large sundial survived for a few decades, but no trace remains today.
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.
Homes of the Lords - Robert Lord, his wife Mary Waite and their four children arrived with the first settlers of Ipswich in 1634, where he was appointed town clerk. Almost every house on High Street has been lived in by a member of the Lord family.
Richard and Ursula Scott Kimball of Rattlesden, who settled in Ipswich - The common ancestors of many of the Kimball family in America are Richard Kimball Sr. and his wife Ursula Scott of the Parish of Rattlesden, England who moved to Ipswich in 1635. Four of the First Period homes of their descendants are still standing.
Mason’s Claim - On January 4, 1681, John T. Mason presented the King's letter to the General Court, which ordered "all said tenants" to appear in Ipswich. If an ancient claim was confirmed, every land title would be worthless and a landed medieval system known as "quit-rents" could be grafted upon New England.
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 Cricket - "They are the housewife's barometer, foretelling her when it will rain and are prognostic. Sometimes she thinks of ill or good luck of the death of a near relation or the approach of an absent lover. By being the constant companions of her solitary hours they naturally become the objects of her superstition."
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.
Colonial New England Funerals - In 17th Century Ipswich, funeral services were without eulogies, but extravagant outlays were often made for mourning garments, gloves, rings, wine, refreshments and the coffin. In the 18th Century, public opinion turned against such excesses.
Crossing the tracks on High Street - High Street originally continued straight until the first bridge over the railroad tracks was constructed in 1906. From 1900 when the first trolleys came to town until the bridge was built, passengers had to unload here to switch from the trolley from Newburyport to continue through Ipswich.
The ”October Gale” of 1841 - In the latter part of September, 1841, was a long, unbroken spell of uncomfortable weather, which culminated in a violent and cold storm of wind, snow and rain on the night of October 2, continuing four days.
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.
Ipswich Arts and Illumination - Ipswich Arts and Illumination is the Town's annual performing and visual arts festival, brought to you by the Ipswich Cultural Council. Parts of the river will be illuminated Friday and Saturday nights. The 33rd Annual Ipswich Art Show and Sale is held through the weekend at Town Hall.
Ipswich Pine - There is a local tradition that the wood stain known as Ipswich Pine originated with Carman Woodworking, which operated behind the Laughing Lion gift shop on Essex Road and specialized in Early American pine reproductions.
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.
The Whistleblowers - On February 19, 1777, aboard the warship Warren, ten American sailors met in secret and wrote a letter charging Esek Hopkins, Commander-in-chief of the Continental Navy with torturing British prisoners of war.
The Ross Tavern - A small dwelling was moved in 1735 to the southeast side of the Choate Bridge where it was greatly expanded and became known as the Ross Tavern. The building was moved again in 1940 to the former Wendel Estate on Jeffreys Neck Road.
1854: Anti-immigrant Know Nothing Party sweeps Massachusetts elections - Prejudice disguised as patriotism repeats itself in American politics. In 1854, the "Know Nothing" American Party formed in opposition to Irish immigration and carried local elections in New England communities. They swept the state of Massachusetts in the fall 1854 elections but were defeated two years later.
Col. Doctor Thomas Berry, “Last of the Ipswich Aristocracy” - In the first half of the Eighteenth Century, Col. Thomas Berry was the most conspicuous citizen of the Town, "Autocrat of his time, Magistrate, Military leader, Physician and Statesman."
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.
A Chronology of Ipswich Public Works: Telegraph, Telephone, Gas, Water, Electricity, Trash, Sewer, Wind and Solar - The history of public utilities in Ipswich starting in 1847. Downtown fires in 1894 prompted construction of the water and electrical systems. Today the Ipswich Electric Department promotes and utilizes renewable energy sources.
The Chasm - The 1893 Birdseye map shows a serious washout just to the east of the Old North Burying Ground, forming a deep gully. A late 19th Century photo taken by Arthur Wesley Dow shows rocks and soil pushed up against a barn and sheds that once stood below.