The town of Topsfield was part of land deeded by the Agawam Indian leader Masconomet to John Winthrop in 1638. As part of Ipswich, it was known as New Meadows. The town was incorporated in 1648 and renamed Topsfield, perhaps for its abundance of glacial hills, or after Toppesfield, England, a small parish in the county of Essex north of London. Topsfield is neighbor to Danvers, where the accusations that resulted in the Salem witch trials of 1692 began. Several residents of the town were accused, and two were hung. In 1818, the state legislature chartered the Essex Agricultural Society, now known for its Topsfield Fair.
Stories from Topsfield
17th and 18th Century houses of Topsfield, Massachusetts - Topsfield originally was part of the 17th-century coastal plantations of Salem and Ipswich, with large tracts of its territory granted to residents of Ipswich between 1634 and 1642. At first known as the “newe medowes at Ipswich,” but was given its present name in 1648. In 1650, it had enough […]
Linebrook Parish - This remote area was originally known as Ipswich Farms. After the residents began pressing for their own church, the Massachusetts General Court on June 4, 1746, created the Linebrook Parish, the boundries of which were defined by 6 brooks and lines connecting them. The community had a church, store, school and its own militia.
The Bay Circuit Trail in Ipswich - The Bay Circuit Trail in Ipswich enters Willowdale State Forest and continues north to Rowley through the town owned Dow-Bull Brook preservation land. An eastern branch of the Bay Circuit Trail separates in Willowdale State Forest, and continues through Bradley Palmer, the Discover Hamilton Trail, the Pengry Estate, Appleton Farms, and New England Biolabs, from which some day it will hopefully continue to Crane Beach.
The Grand Wenham Canal and the Topsfield Linear Common - The Topsfield Rail Trail is a “Linear Common” following the former Danvers to Newburyport rail line, which was officially abandoned in 1981. A plaque at the trailhead in downtown Topsfield details the former railroad’s history.The trail connects to the Danvers Rail Trail as part of the greater Border to […]
Ipswich and the Salem witchcraft trials - During the Salem witch trials the Ipswich jail was filled with the accused. Elizabeth Howe of Linebrook Road was tried and hung. The ministers of the town opposed the trials as a delusion.
The Middle Circumferential Highway (that never happened) - In its 1968 comprehensive report “Recommended Highway and Transit Plan” the Massachusetts Department of Public Works (MassDPW) proposed a new beltway around the Boston area that would be situated between MA 128 and I-495. The Middle Circumferential Highway would have been a 66-mile loop six-lane expressway cutting through the Ipswich River […]
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 intent was to bypass Salem and promote Newburyport as a commercial destination. Proponents claimed […]
The Life of Daniel Hovey - At the foot of Hovey Street on Water Street along the Ipswich River is a plaque dedicated to the memory of Daniel Hovey, placed there by his descendants. The original wharf on the river in Ipswich was Hovey’s Wharf at this approximate location. Daniel Hovey was born in […]