The most recent posts on the Historic Ipswich site.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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 - 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.
The Great Colonial Hurricane and the wreck of the Angel Gabriel - In August 1635, the 240-ton Angel Gabriel sank in Pemaquid Bay after sailing into the most intense hurricane in New England history. Among the survivors were members of the Cogswell, Burnham and Andrews families, who settled in an area of Ipswich known as Chebacco.
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.
Ipswich Cultural Council’s 33rd Annual Art Show, Oct. 4 – 6 - Location: Ipswich Town Hall, 25 Green Street. Friday 10/4 - Opening Reception 6-10:30 pm. Saturday 10/5 Open Noon-9 pm. Sunday 10/6 Closing Reception Noon-3 pm .
Lucretia Brown and the last witchcraft trial in America, May 14, 1878 - 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 28, 1772 - A document known as the “Boston Pamphlet” was distributed throughout the colony, asserting the colonists’ rights. Ipswich held a Town Meeting and established its own “Committee of Correspondence."
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, and was originally located on Market St. in Ipswich. Two Strand diner cars preceded it at that location.
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.
Topsfield Road is dangerous for cyclists - Several years ago I rode 3500 across America without incident, but in Ipswich I fear for my life. This cyclist had to dodge multiple potholes on Topsfield Rd. while a car passed him
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.
Tales of Olde Ipswich by Harold Bowen - In 1972 Harold Bowen was asked to write a column for a newspaper called Ipswich Today, the first of a series of stories that continued for ten years. Tales of Olde Ipswich was republished in three volumes.
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.
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.
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.
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.