The most recent posts on the Historic Ipswich site.
Public safety - Voters at the 2021 Special Town Meeting and Election have the opportunity to replace our century-old infrastructure with a modern fire and police facility.
Ipswich Illumination - Ipswich Illumination, Saturday, September 18, 2021, 5-10 PM Saturdays, October 2, 16 & 30, 2021 5-9 PM
Stewards of the 17th Century, Tuesday, September 28, 2021 - Hear from four historic house museums about the history of their properties, and the challenges they face in stewarding them.
Saving John Appleton’s house - In 1962 the historic house at the corner of Central and North Main Streets was purchased by Exxon to demolish and build a gas station on the site. The Ipswich Heritage Trust was created to save it.
Nightmare on Washington Street - A developer would construct a 16 unit wall of condominiums at the site of the car wash.
Block prints from the 1950 IHS calendar: Old Time Ipswich - Ipswich High School "Old Time Ipswich." featuring block prints created and printed by the students for each month of the calendar.
Moses and Aaron Pengry and their descendants - Two brothers, Moses and Aaron Pengry both resided in Ipswich by 1641. and were active in town affairs. The surnames of their descendants are alternatively spelled Pingree, Pengre, Pengrey, Pengry, Pingre, Pingrey, Pingry.
The story of Agnes Surriage, the Marblehead tavern maid - In 1742, the 26-year-old king’s collector visited Marblehead and fell in love with the young tavern maid, a poor fisherman's daughter ten years younger than himself.
General Michael Farley - In 1774, the Town of Ipswich chose Michael Farley, a tanner, as a delegate to the Provincial Congress. He was appointed major-general of the Militia of Massachusetts in 1777. Farley is buried at the Old North Burying Ground beside his wife Elizabeth. The site of his home is now the Richdale store on Market St..
The grand hotels of Gloucester and Cape Ann - At the beginning of the 20th Century, Cape Ann was a popular destination for tourists. Gloucester's grand hotels were the subject of "The Summer Hotel Guide," published in 1905.
The Arnold Expedition arrives in Ipswich, September 15, 1775 - A memorial sits in the intersection between the South Green and the site of the former South Congregational Church in Ipswich. It reads, “The expedition against Quebec, Benedict Arnold in command, Aaron Burr in the ranks, marched by this spot, September 15, 1775."
Mehitable Braybrook, who burned down Jacob and Sarah Perkins’ house, married John Downing and was arrested for witchcraft - She was charged with burning down her master's house and was arrested years later during the witchcraft trials. Her husband had been captured and indentured by Cromwell's forces in Ireland.
Hurricane Carol, September 6, 1954 - The1954 storm knocked down trees and power lines all over Ipswich. Hurricane Carol devastated the Massachusetts south coast and Rhode Island, and was responsible for 65 deaths. On September 11, Hurricane Edna hit New England with additional destruction.
Strandbeest Invasion - The Strandbeests came to Crane Beach in the summer of 2015, but the bigger news was the largest invasion of people the town of Ipswich has experienced in recent memory.
Thomas and Susan French of Ipswich, their sons and daughters - The largest contingent to arrive in Ipswich from the same village were 15 men and women from Assington, Suffolk, including Thomas French and his family.
Abolition and the Underground Railroad in Ipswich - A network of the Underground Railroad ran north along the coast from Boston to Salem, where it split into three trails; one continued through Beverly, Ipswich, Newburyport and West Newbury to Amesbury where escaped slaves were escorted into New Hampshire.
Early Ipswich, “A paradise for politicians” - Due to the small scale of the settlement, the settlers of Ipswich reproduced an English form of government from a far earlier time. The first public officials were the clerk, lot-layers and "The Seven Men" (selectmen). By the end of the next century, every industry was supervised by some public functionary.
Peg Wesson, the Gloucester witch - An old legend about the Gloucester witch Peg Wesson is often mentioned, but never was it told in such detail as in this story published in the Boston Evening Transcript, October 14, 1892. It was carried in papers throughout the country.
Bungalows of Ipswich - The Eastern Bungalow style was popular between 1910-1940, which included the Depression years, and were an affordable and practical adaptation of California’s Arts and Crafts movement.
Killed by a swordfish in Ipswich Bay, August 19, 1886 - Captain Franklin D. Langsford sailed from Cape Ann in pursuit of swordfish. After harpooning one in Ipswich Bay, the fish turned and thrust its sword through the boat and the Captain. Not yet realizing that he was wounded, he seized the sword and exclaimed, "We got him anyway!"
Wreck of the Watch and Wait, August 24, 1635 - Many ships and lives were lost in the Great Colonial Hurricane, including 21 passengers who had set out from Ipswich on August 21, 1635 on a small bark named "Watch and Wait." As they rounded Cape Ann they were suddenly met by the force of the winds.
Descendants of Robert Kinsman of Ipswich - Robert Kinsman, the immigrant, was a glazier by trade, and received a grant of an acre of land on Green St. His son Robert 2 played a part in the resistance to Gov. Andros in 1687 for which Ipswich is known as the Birthplace of American Independence.
Descendants of John and Judith Gator Perkins of Ipswich - John Perkins, who identified himself as "the Elder," and his wife Judith Gator were the immigrant ancestors of the Ipswich Perkins family from the mother country.
Homes of the descendants of John Baker of Ipswich - John Baker owned, by grant, a large lot on the north side of East St. between North Main and County St. To his son Thomas, he conveyed the house where he lived and the remainder of his land, June 14, 1698 (35: 44). John Baker the settler was […]
Land grants, homes and gravestones of the early settlers of Ipswich - Photos of houses and tombstones of the early inhabitants of Ipswich and their descendants, with maps of the lots granted to the settlers.
The Middle Green - A mild controversy has arisen in the town of Ipswich about what to name the grassy lawn between the Old Town Hall and the Ipswich Museum. Depending on who you ask, it's the Middle Green, Memorial Green, Veterans Green, or the Visitor Center Lawn, and I'll add "Augustine Heard's back yard" just to add to the confusion.
Hall-Haskell House 2021 art schedule - The Hall-Haskell House Gallery at 36 South Main St. in Ipswich is open Seasonally, May - December with different artists showing each week.
Hannah Jumper leads raid on Rockport liquor establishments, July 8, 1856 - On the morning of July 8, 1856, two hundred women, three men and their supporters gathered in Rockport's Dock Square and unfurled a banner with a black hatchet, determined to destroy all the alcohol in the town. The leaders of the mob was a 75-year-old seamstress named Hannah Jumper.
The Muster Murder of 1787 - During the Boston Muster of 1787, Daniel Foster of Rowley participated in the customary celebration of shooting musket balls into the air, and accidentally killed Amos Chapman of Ipswich. A jury ordered his execution, but Governor John Hancock opposed capital punishment and pardoned Foster.
Market Square - Market Square is the intersection of North Main, South Main, Market and Central Streets in Ipswich, and is sometimes referred to as Five Corners
The Great Revere Train wreck, August 26, 1871 - The Eastern Railroad's Portland Express slammed into the rear of a stopped local train in Revere, Massachusetts. Some trapped passengers were burned alive as coal-oil lamps ignited the wreckage. Approximately 29 people died..
Homes of the descendants of Daniel Rindge and Mary Kinsman of Ipswich - Daniel Rindge (aka Ringe) was in Ipswich, in 1648. He married Mary Kinsman, the daughter of Robert Kinsman who came to Ipswich in 1635.
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
Homes of the Jewetts - Generations of the Jewett family made their homes on upper High Street, and the area near the Rowley town line came to be known as Ipswich Village.
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.
Homes of the Wades - Jonathan Wade arrived in Ipswich in 1635 with the first wave of Puritan settlers, and came into ownership of land across from the South Green. In the 19th Century, the Wade family of housewrights built several homes on County Rd., and throughout the town.
Homes of the descendants of 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.
Melanson’s fire, August 7, 2009 - The boatyard, constructed in 1954, burned in a spectacular fire, and has since been replaced by a residential building.
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.
“Kiss of Death” at New England textile mills - The weaver, after loading thread into a shuttle, drew the loose end through the hole with her breath. No one connected this habit with the observation that weavers were dying of consumption, known now as tuberculosis.
Thoughts on an August Day - To borrow a hockey metaphor, if June and July designate the first and second periods of summer, then surely August tells us that we are now deep within the final period of this glorious season. The changes abound in subtle but perceptible ways.
Homes of the Manning family of Ipswich - Nicholas Manning immigrated from England to Salem, MA, as early as 1662. He was later joined by his youngest brother Thomas, who became the common ancestor of the prominent Manning family of Ipswich.
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.
Luke and Elizabeth Perkins, notorious disturbers of the peace and a “wicked-tongued Woman” - Luke Perkins and his wife, Elizabeth were notorious disturbers of the peace in 17th Century Ipswich, and she had a "venomous tongue." It was a happy day for the town when Luke and Elizabeth loaded their belongings into a boat and set sail for the solitary island farm owned by his father on Grape Island.
Swimming to the top of the tide - "When you swim a saltwater creek as the tide nears high, you have a visceral sense of what could happen if the tide just kept on rising."
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.
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 origin of civil power is the people...and when they are free, they may set up what species of government they please."
Lakemans Lane and Fellows Road - One hundred years ago, Lakemans Lane was a narrow dirt road lined by stone walls. You can still see the imprint of the pastures and fields that once marked the original properties.
The Hello Girls - Harold Bowen wrote, "My family was more or less a telephone family. My father, two brothers and a sister-in-Iaw were all telephone operators. The dial system is quicker and more efficient, but it still cannot compare with that personal touch you had with the Hello Girls."
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.
Illegal Currency: Ipswich and the Land Bank scheme of 1740-41 - In September 1740, two Massachusetts Land Banks organized and issued 50,000 pounds of notes of varying amounts, without legal authorization of the Crown. An Act of Parliament declared all the transactions of the two Bank Schemes illegal and void.
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, the Caldwell sons and their descendants - 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.