The most recent posts on the Historic Ipswich site.
Joseph Stockwell Manning, a Civil War hero from Ipswich - Private Joseph Stockwell Manning grew up on High Street in Ipswich, and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor on December 1, 1864, a year and two days after an incredible act of bravery at Fort Sanders, Tennessee.
The defiant Samuel Appleton - In 1687, a warrant was issued for the arrest of several Ipswich men for being "seditiously inclined and disaffected to his Majesty's government." The 62-year-old Major Samuel Appleton scorned the appearance of submission and remained imprisoned in the cold Boston Jail through the winter.
Strong drink - Colonial liquor licenses were granted to Ipswich men of highest esteem. They were bound “not to sell by retail to any but men of family, and of good repute, nor sell any after sunset; and that they shall be ready to give account of what liquors they sell by retail, the quantity, time and to whom.”
The Spectre Ship of Salem - On the fourth day after the ship left port, the sun came out and in the distance could be seen the same ship sailing effortlessly back into port directly into the wind. As the Noah’s Dove approached, its passengers including the young couple were visible but ghost-like.
Along the Old Bay Road - In 1639, the Colony ordered that a road be laid out from Boston to Portsmouth, to be constructed by each town along the way. The Bay Road made Ipswich an important stagecoach stop. Several milestones to indicate distances are still standing.
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.
Lucretia Brown and the last witchcraft trial in America - Lucretia Brown, an invalid living on the South Green in Ipswich was a disciple of Mary Baker Eddy,. When she suffered a “relapse” in 1875, Mrs. Eddy convinced her that Daniel Spofford was exercising mesmeric powers upon her.
Theodore Wendel’s Ipswich - Theodore Wendel (1859–1932) was an Impressionist artist who lived for thirty-four years in Ipswich, where he painted the village, bridges, farmlands and landscapes, and left behind a magnificent collection of paintings of his adopted home town.
The Choate Bridge - The American Society of Civil Engineers cites the Choate Bridge in Ipswich as the oldest documented two-span masonry arch bridge in the U.S., and the oldest extant bridge in Massachusetts.
Reply by the Town of Ipswich to the Boston Pamphlet, December 1772 - A document known as the “Boston Pamphlet” was distributed throughout the colony, asserting the colonists’ rights as men under natural law, God's law, and as British subjects under the British constitution.
Rowdy Nights at Quartermaster Perkins’ Tavern - The Quartermaster's house became the scene more than once of violent disorder. The company's behavior was so scandalous that the whole lot were summoned to Ipswich Court on May 1, 1672.
The Agawam Diner - The Agawam Diner on Rt. 1 in Rowley was built by the Fodero Dining Car Company in 1954. It was originally located on Market St. in Ipswich.
Soffron Brothers Ipswich Clams - Soffron Brothers were the exclusive suppliers of clams to the Howard Johnson chain for 32 years, which featured Ipswich Fried Clams on the menu. The four brothers, Tom, George, Pete and Steve, were the children of Greek immigrants who came to work at the Ipswich mills. Their Ipswich factor was at Brown Square in the building that now houses the Ipswich Ale Brewery.
The Bones of Masconomet - On March 6, 1659 a young man named Robert Cross dug up the remains of the Agawam chief Masconomet, and carried his skull on a pole through Ipswich streets, an act for which Cross was imprisoned, sent to the stocks, then returned to prison until a fine was paid.
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
Recollections of A Boy’s Life In The Village - This story was written by Amos E. Jewett in 1945. At the time, he was 83 years old. having been born in Ipswich Village, near Rowley, on June 16, 1862.
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.
The Highs & Lows of the Rowley River - Enjoy a fascinating hour-long virtual tour of the Rowley River with 4th-generation clammer and former Shellfish Constable Jack Grundstrum.
The Truth: Ipswich is dangerous for cyclists - Several years ago I rode 3500 across America without incident, but in Ipswich I fear for my life.
Massachusetts opposition to the Mexican-American War - Although there was great enthusiasm for the Mexican War in Southern and Western states, “President Polk’s War” was seen in our area as an intolerable expansion of slavery states.
Portraits of Ipswich People Who Told the Truth - As part of the July 2019 Ipswich celebration of Americans Who Tell the Truth, the first floor of the Ipswich Town Hall displayed portraits of local people who have affected change by telling the truth. Read about them by clicking on the captions. […]
Americans Who Tell the Truth - A group of local residents is bringing Robert Shetterly’s inspiring project, Americans Who Tell the Truth, Models of Courageous Citizenship, to Ipswich in July 2019. View the schedule of events .
The Sham Robbery of Elijah Goodrich on his own person, tried in Ipswich - Representing the defendants, Daniel Webster appealed to the jury to say under oath whether the inconsistencies and improbabilities of the prosecution should have any weight.
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."
When Herring Were Caught by Torchlight - In the late 19th Century, most of the men around the river would look forward to "herringing" when fall arrived. The foot of Summer Street was the best landing. One year so many herring were caught, they were dumped in the Parker River, and Herring did not return for many years.
Zumi’s coffee double duty - In the last couple of years I've composted about a ton of coffee grounds to be used in my garden. The peas received a generous helping of the compost, and this year's plants are almost 8' tall!
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 re-load. "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 ring the church bell for an hour. Then came the parade."
This Old House visits the Ipswich 1634 Meadery - Kevin O'Connor from This Old House drives to Ipswich and gets a lesson from Dan Clapp in making mead.
To live locally - “You can’t ask for anything more ‘local’ than that,” was my thought as I was writing this story about Tyler Fahey's, restoration of Glover’s Mill and his family house. His was built for one of his ancestors around 1700, and has never been sold!
Jane Hooper, the fortune-teller - Jane Hooper was in 1760 a Newburyport "school dame" but after she lost that job she found fame as a fortune-teller. When the Madame made her yearly visit to Ipswich, the young and the old called on her to learn of their fates.
Gathering Salt Marsh Hay - Salt marsh hay is still gathered on the North Shore today. The grass that grows between the upland and the marsh is cut. Traditionally the hay was stacked on staddles to raise it above the high tides.
How the Irish Made Their Mark in New England - From the New England Historical Society: Over 50,000 men, women, and children of Irish descent were forcibly transported to British imperial colonies to serve as indentured labor. By 1790, there were 400,000 Americans of Irish birth or ancestry out of a population of 3.9 million.
PTSD in the Massachusetts Bay Colony - The Great Migration brought nearly 14,000 Puritan settlers, unprepared for the hardships and trauma that awaited them. Building a new society in the wilderness induced transgenerational post-traumatic stress and mass conversion disorder, culminating in the Salem Witch Trials.
Land Grants, Homes and Gravestones of the Settlers of Ipswich - Photos of houses and tombstones of the early inhabitants of Ipswich, with maps of the lots and land grants given to the settlers.
Help update the Ipswich Community Development Plan - The Town of Ipswich is updating the Town's Community Development Plan (CDP), a long-range plan to guide the community's physical evolution. The Town would like your input to help determine goals and priorities.
Historic Districts and Neighborhoods - The contiguous historic neighborhoods of Meeting House Green, High Street, the East End, and the South Green present the town's original settlement pattern and offer well-preserved streetscapes of 17th to 19th-century private residences.
The Commons - When the Town of Ipswich was established, ownership of a house and land within the town bounds carried with it the right of pasturage beyond the Common Fence. In 1788, the commoners resigned all their land interests to pay the heavy town debt incurred during the Revolution.
300 years on Grape Island - Grape Island was once a small but thriving community, and briefly a popular summer resort. In 1941, 3000 acres of Plum Island including Grape Island were purchased by the U.S. government to establish the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge.
County Street, Sawmill Point, and bare hills - The town voted in 1861 to build County Street and its stone arch bridge, connecting Cross and Mill Streets. A Woolen mill, saw mill, blacksmith shop and veneer mill operated near the bridge.
The Cape Ann Sea Serpent - The earliest recorded sighting of a Sea Serpent in North American waters was at Cape Ann in 1639. In 1817, reports spread throughout New England of a sea serpent sighted in Gloucester Harbor.
The Town Wharf - The Ipswich Town Landing is one of several locations along the River where wharves were located over the centuries.
Ipswich Pillow lace - In the late eighteenth century, Ipswich had 600 women and girls producing more than 40,000 yards of lace annually. In the 1820's Ipswich industrialists opened a factory and imported machines from England to mechanize and speed up the operation, which destroyed the hand-made lace industry.
Agawam House – Treadwell’s Inn - In 1737, Captain Nathaniel Treadwell opened an inn in the house still standing at 12 N. Main St. The second Treadwell's Inn stands at 26 N. Main St. Guests at the two inns included John Adams, President Monroe, Daniel Webster and the Marquis de LaFayette.
1788 Massachusetts Act banning “any African or Negro” - Slavery was abolished in Massachusetts before the declaration of independence, officially made law on March 26, 1788. The law imposed a penalty of £50 upon every citizen or person residing in this Commonwealth for each slave bought or transported and £200 upon every vessel engaged in the Slave […]
The Ipswich jail - 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.
Ipswich Manning house at the MFA - The frame of a 1692 house that once stood at the intersection of Manning and High Streets in Ipswich is on display in the "Art of the Americas" wing at the Boston's Museum of Fine Arts.
Acadian exiles in Ipswich, 1755 - Massachusetts men played a conspicuous part in the French and Indian War, which resulted in wholesale destruction and deportation in French-speaking Nova Scotia. Surviviors were exiled to the Colonies, their children taken from them and distributed to English families as "nothing more than slaves."
Self-governed at Market Square - Newcomers and visitors to Ipswich inevitably suggest installing a traffic light at the confusing intersection of Market, Central, North Main and South Main Streets, but most people agree it would be a bad idea.
Homes of the Appletons - Appleton Farms was gifted to the Trustees of Reservations by Francis and Joan Appleton in 1998. Originally granted to Ipswich settler Samuel Appleton, it is the oldest continuously operating farm in America. The farm continued in family ownership for seven generations, and the extended family built homes along Waldingfield Rd. and the nearby vicinity.
A romantic tale from the Great Snow of Feb. 21-24, 1717 - Snowstorms on the 20th and 24th of February 1717 covered the earth up to 20 ft. deep. In some places houses were completely buried, and paths were dug from house to house under the snow. A widow in Medford burned her furniture to keep the children warm.
The Fox Creek Canal - The Fox Creek Canal is the oldest man-made tidewater canal in the United States, dug in 1820. In 1938 it was dredged to accommodate ship-building at Robinson's Boatyard, where small minesweepers were constructed for World War II.
Choate Island and Rufus Choate - Choate Island was originally known as Hog Island, and is the largest island in the Crane Wildlife Refuge and is the site of the Choate family homestead, the Proctor Barn, the White Cottage, and the final resting place of Mr. and Mrs. Cornelius Crane. There are great views from the island summit of the Castle Neck dunes and Plum Island Mount Agamenticus in Maine.
The sad story of Alexander Knight - In 1648, Alexander Knight was charged with the death of his chiled whose clothes caught on fire. A jury fined him for carelessness after being warned. The town took mercy and voted to provide him a piece of land "whereas Alexander Knight is altogether destitute, his wife alsoe neare her tyme."
The Devil’s footprint - Imprinted into the rocks in front of the First Church in Ipswich is the footprint of the devil, left there forever in a legendary encounter with the traveling English evangelist George Whitefield in 1740.
Crane Beach - Crane Beach belongs to the Trustees of Reservations and is part of the historic Crane Estate. The property includes Crane Castle, miles of shoreline, and over 5 miles of marked trails through the dunes at Castle Neck and Steep Hill Beach, open year-round.
Castle Neck and the dunes - Crane Beach and all of Castle Neck are protected by the Trustees of Reservations. Pitch pine and scrub oak rise from the masses of marsh grass, sage green hudsonia and dune lichen lining the trails that wind through the dunes.
The ghost of Harry Maine - Harry Maine — you have heard the tale; He lived there in Ipswich Town; He blasphemed God, so they put him down with an iron shovel, at Ipswich Bar; They chained him there for a thousand years, As the sea rolls up to shovel it back; So when the sea cries, the goodwives say "Harry Maine growls at his work today."
Kings Rook and the Stonehenge Club, when Ipswich rocked! - In the 1960's, music could be heard in Ipswich at the King's Rook. In 1969, Phil Cole purchased the business and renamed it Stonehenge, Tom Rush, Judy Collins. the Paul Butterfield Band. Bo Didley, Al Kooper, Bonnie Rait and many other famous musicians played there before it closed in 1972.
Ipswich Hosiery - In the mid-18th Century, Ipswich women started making lace with distinctive patterns. After the first stocking machine was smuggled from England to Ipswich in 1822, immigrants arrived in Ipswich to work in the cotton and hosiery mills, contributing to the town's diverse cultural heritage.
South Main Street - In March 1692 the Selectmen laid out twenty-three small lots and granted them "to as many individuals with the conditions that they not encumber the highway, make provision for drainage under the buildings, that each person provide paving four-foot wide all along before ye said buildings for the convenience of foot travelers, and erect posts to keep horses from spoiling the same.”
Leslie’s Retreat, or how the Revolutionary War almost began in Salem, February 26, 1775 - In our struggle for Independence, the British military received its first setback from the inhabitants of Salem in an episode that could not have been more ludicrous or entertaining if it had been written for Monty Python.
The Massachusetts Circular Letter, February 11, 1768 - Dr. John Calef of Ipswich in the Massachusetts Assembly and was one of only 17 members who voted to retract the Circular Letter opposing the Townshend Acts. The town replaced him with Gen. Michael Farley. An engraving by Paul Revere portrays Calef being pushed into Hell.
The Gerrymander is born in Essex County, February 11, 1812 - Marblehead's Elbridge Gerry served as governor of Massachusetts and vice-president of the United States, but his historic legacy will forever be tied to a political monster dubbed the "Gerrymander."
Newburyport Turnpike opens, February 11, 1805: “Over every hill and missing every town” - In 1803, a group of Newburyport investors incorporated as the Newburyport Turnpike Corporation in a commercial venture to build a straight toll road from Boston to Newburyport (the highway we call Rt. 1).
The Ice House - Lathrop Brothers Coal and Ice Company harvested on the Ipswich River between Upper River Road and Haywood Street. Lines were drawn on the ice and horses dragged "groovers" along the line, cutting the ice about 6 to 8 inches deep. The ice was then floated to the ice house, where it was cut into blocks.
The Body Snatcher of Chebacco Parish - In 1819 the inhabitants of Chebacco Parish began noticing lights moving about at night in the graveyard. It was discovered that at least eight graves had been dug up and their coffins were empty.
Class of ’48 - Click on the image. Do you recognize some of the names and faces? Photos and names are shown left to right, rows starting from the top. (Plus Ipswich Tiger yearbooks 1919 - 2015)
South Congregational Church: Only the Bell Remains - The South Congregational church burned on December 10, 1977. The lot is now a small park with two benches and the bell which survived the fire, surrounded by the old foundation.
The Buried House 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 husband of one of his descendants cut the protecting scrub pines for lumber. Without the protection of the trees and grass, the farm quickly fell victim to the drifting sand.
The Green Street Bridge - Twenty years after building the County Street Bridge, construction began for the Green Street Bridge. The original structure was made of wood but was later replaced by an arched bridge of stone on May 14, 1894. This was the fifth bridge built on the Ipswich River in the Town of Ipswich.
Arthur Wesley Dow - Ipswich artist Arthur Wesley Dow (1857 – 1922) was one of the town's most famous residents. During summer, Dow and his wife ran the Summer School of Art from the historic "Howard house" on Turkey Shore Road. The Ipswich Museum owns the largest collection of works by Arthur Wesley Dow.
Manning’s Neck - The first settlers of Ipswich were given rights to use of the Common land. Unfenced tillage lots beyond the residential area were assigned in areas set apart for this use, including the area of Newmarch Street which was known as Manning's Neck.
Ipswich Genealogy Resources - Many people trace their roots back through several generations to Ipswich, one of the earliest towns in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. No community in this country is a more fulfilling destination for the genealogy tourist.
The Ipswich Female Seminary - The Ipswich Female Seminary was established in April 1828 by Zilpah Grant and 24-year-old Mary Lyon for the secondary and college-level education of young women. It was the first endowed seminary for women and the first to give diplomas to its graduates.
Ipswich houses that were moved - Ipswich has over 40 houses or other buildings that were moved, or have sections that were moved from a different location. Many other small outbuildings in town were also moved decades ago and are still standing.
Dr. Manning’s Windmill - In 1792 Dr. John Manning erected a factory at the corner of South Main and Market Street beside the Choate Bridge, and began the manufacture of coarse cloths and blankets in 1794. The completed building was two stories high, 105 feet long and 32 feet wide. On the roof squatted a great octagonal tower, inside of which were the arms and sails of a horizontal windmill.
17th Century Celebrations - Photos from Ipswich 17th Century Day, Olde Ipswich Days, the 300th Anniversary of the founding of Ipswich, and the Town's Tercentenary Celebration in 1930.
Crocker Snow, Aviation Pioneer - A grassy strip near the intersection of Topsfield and Mill Roads belonged to Crocker Snow, an aviation pioneer. He received Massachusetts Pilot License No. 5 in 1927, signed by Orville Wright.
Supercontinents, Ice Ages, and the Hills of Ipswich - Although half-billion year old granite formed Town Hill in Ipswich, most of the town's landforms date to about 20,000 years ago.
Adrift on a Haystack, 1786 - In a northeasterly storm in December, 1786 Samuel Pulsifer and Samuel Elwell of Rowley were digging clams, got caught in the storm, and took refuge in a stack of salt hay for the night. In the morning they found they had been set afloat!
Ipswich to Marietta, 1787 - In December 1787, a group of Revolutionary War veterans and adventurers set out from Ipswich on an 800-mile journey through the wilderness by horseback and rafts to establish the first settlement in the Ohio Territory.
Finding my mailbox in the snow, a tribute to Edgar Allen Poe - In New England we anticipate snowstorms with a mix of dread and glee. Edgar Allen Poe observed that in life "We stand upon the brink of a precipice. We peer into the abyss. Unaccountably we remain."
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."
Boston’s Great Molasses Flood, January 15, 1919 - On January 15, 1919, people in Boston's North End were startled by a loud rumbling noise. They watched in horror as a five-story tank broke apart, unleashing a wave of molasses 15 feet high and 160 feet wide.
The Old North Burying Ground - The Old North Burying Ground on High Street in Ipswich was established in 1634 upon the founding of the town, and is one of the oldest cemeteries in North America.
Central Street in ashes, January 13, 1894 - Early in the morning of Jan. 13, 1894, the businesses on Central Street from the corner of Market St to Wildes Court went up in fire. Three months later the Damon Block burned, and the town finally voted to build a water system.
January 12, 1912: Lawrence Bread and Roses strike - On January 12, 1912, the labor protest later known as the "Bread and Roses" strike began in Lawrence, MA. Violent methods were used to suppress the protest, but the strikers maintained their solidarity.
Pemberton Mill in Lawrence collapses and burns, killing workers; January 10, 1860 - The collapse of the Pemberton Mill in Lawrence is the worst industrial accident in Massachusetts history. On Tuesday afternoon January 10, 1860, hundreds of men, women, and children were buried alive in the ruins.
Arrival of the English - Within three years of the arrival of the Winthrop fleet to New England, so many immigrants had arrived in Massachusetts Bay that Boston Neck could not hold them all. Perceiving a threat from the French, thirteen men arrived in 1633 to establish the town that would be named Ipswich a year later.
Warned Out - At the beginning of the 18th century, the Town of Ipswich set itself resolutely to the task of guarding against undesirable prospective citizens. The practice of "warning out" strangers was finally abolished in 1793.
Diamond Stage - In 1673, two fishermen from the Isles of Shoals, Andrew Diamond and Harry Maine, arrived together in Ipswich. Mr. Diamond built a platform for salting and shipping fish, and became quite successful. The location is still known today as Diamond Stage.
Wreck of the Deposit, December 23, 1839 - Dec. 23, 1839 two days before Christmas a storm caught the schooner "Deposit" on her passage out of Belfast, Maine. Capt. Cotterall was lost, and several of the crew were buried at the Old South Cemetery.
The Railroad comes to Ipswich, December 20, 1839 - The stagecoach era ended abruptly when the Salem tunnel opened, and two days later on December 20, 1839, a train from Boston made its first passage through Ipswich. The opening of the railroad and the end of stagecoach travel led to the decline of Ipswich as one of the most important towns of Massachusetts.
“A Christmas Carol” – the Back Story - When Charles Dickens was twelve, his feckless father was imprisoned for three months in Marshalsea Prison in London for debt. The boy had to leave school and work in a boot blackening factory to support the family, a humiliation he never forgot. Nevertheless, Dickens rose to fame quickly as a young novelist becoming “an international celebrity, famous for humor, satire, and keen observation of character and society.”
Wreck of the Falconer, December 17, 1847 - On December 17, 1847 the brig Falconer, loaded with bituminous coal, wrecked at Crane Beach during a fierce winter storm. In the cold and wet, fifty-three men, women, and children were confined as in a tomb. 36 were rescued, but a dozen of the crew and passengers are buried in a common grave at the Old North Burying Ground in Ipswich.
Paul Revere’s not so famous ride through Ipswich, December 13, 1774 - On the cold icy morning of December 13, 1774, Paul Revere headed out on a 60 mile gallop from Boston along the Old Bay Road through Ipswich to warn the citizens of Portsmouth that British troops may be landing.
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 Conscience of a Loyalist - An angry mob surrounded the Haverhill home of Col. Richard Saltonstall, a Loyalist, who opened his door and stated that that he was bound to discharge the duties of the office.
The Rev. John Wise of Ipswich - The concepts of freedom about which Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence originated from the pen of the Rev. John Wise of Ipswich: "The first human subject and original of civil power is the people...and when they are free, they may set up what species of government they please."
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.