84 County Road, the Reverends Daniel Fitz and Moses Welch house (1829)

The house at 84 County Road was built in 1829 by neighbor Samuel Wade.

The house was used as a joint residence by Rev. Moses Welch, who assumed the pastorate of Linebrook Church in 1831, and the Rev. Daniel Fitz, who assumed the pastorate of the nearby South Church in 1827 upon the death of the Rev. Joseph Dana and remained in that capacity until his death in 1867. (The congregation of the South Church completed construction of its fine church building in 1838, and the old Meeting House beside it was taken down. The South Congregation Church merged with the First Church in the 1900’s and the elegant building that once welcomed people to town was destroyed by fire in December, 1977.

Rev. Welch and Rev. Fitz occupied the house jointly for a short period of time. A schism developed at the Linebrook Church, and Rev. Welch left the pastorate there in 1834. The Linebrook Church voted unanimously in 1836 for him to return, offering a salary of $350, but Rev. Welch did not accept the call at that time. His son Francis Welch briefly filled the position, and Rev. Moses Welch returned in 1842, staying in that position until 1848.

We read in Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony that in 1832, Rev.Fitz sold half of the house to the Epes Sargent, and remained in the other half until 1836, when he sold his portion to Levi Willet. In 1879, Wallace Willet (son of Levi Willett and Julia Ann Potter) purchased the other half of the home, thus uniting both portions under one owner for the first time. It seems likely the house was built with the intention of two households using it, although it was not a two family house in the traditional sense. Later deeds describe how it was divided down the middle between the southeastern and northwestern portions until 1879 when the entire home was finally owned by the Willet family.

During the Civil War, in 1861, Wallace P. Willett organized a volunteer military company called the Home Guards. The 37 original members of the unit included Daniel F. Fitz Jr., son of the pastor. In their letter of organization they pledged, “Whereas there seems to us a necessity for the Citizens of this ancient town to be prepared to meet in every way in their power the exigencies that may arise in this time of our country’s greatest peril…we the undersigned hereby pledge ourselves to the above purpose.” Mr. Willet moved away in the late 19th Century, but remained a supporting member of the Ipswich Historical Society.

It is unclear where the Rev. Fitz lived after 1836. His wife was Caroline Sawyer of New Hampshire, one of the first graduates of the Ipswich Female Academy. Their daughter Sarah married in 1847, and died the following year. Caroline Sawyer Fitz died in 1862 and is buried across the street in the Old South Burial Ground. Rev. Fitz died in 1867 and buried there as well.

In 1860 the South Congregational Church built a parsonage nearby at 96 County Road, which still stands today. The old Wally-Dana house which sat near the present location of the Whipple House and was the home of the Rev. Dana, continued in that family until the year 1880.

This house combines elements from the Federal and Greek Revival architectural periods. It has a Federal period doorway with an arched window over the door, and two symmetrical chimneys spaced toward the inside of the house,. The bay windows on the front facade may be a Victorian era addition. The side porch and entry are unusual for that era.

1 thought on “84 County Road, the Reverends Daniel Fitz and Moses Welch house (1829)”

  1. I’m looking for the offspring of Rev Moses Welch. Interested in there who they where married to.
    Philip Welch married Katherine Joyce between 1838 and 1850 in Ipswich.
    Pastor at Linebrook Church 1830 to 1850
    Time period.

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