ipswich_town_sealIpswich, Massachusetts was settled in 1633 in an area the native Americans called “Agawam” and is America’s best-preserved Puritan town, with more “First Period” houses (1625-1725) than any other community in America.

This site is produced by the Ipswich Town Historian.

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Old map of Cape Ann Stories from Gloucester and Rockport - The area that is now Gloucester MA was inhabited briefly by European settlers briefly around 1626. The settlement was abandoned, but people returned slowly, and the town was founded as Gloucester in 1642, taking its name from a city in South-West England. Gloucester shares the Cape Ann peninsula with Rockport, and both communities became important … Continue reading Stories from Gloucester and Rockport
salem_witch_accusation Ipswich and the Salem witchcraft trials - In his book Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Thomas Franklin Waters wrote about Ipswich involvement in the Salem witch trials: The evidence was of the usual absurd character; Sarah Good had been confined in Ipswich jail. Joseph Herrick, the Constable of Salem, testified that she had been committed to his charge to carry to … Continue reading Ipswich and the Salem witchcraft trials
stonehenge_720 Kings Rook and Stonehenge Club: when Ipswich rocked! - Just beyond the Choate bridge on South Main Street was a funky building put together from pieces of other buildings by an antiques dealer named Ralph Burnham early in the 20th Century. In the 1960’sHoward Ferguson and Gardner Damon started the Kings Rook. Good coffee and cocoa were served, two fireplaces kept it warm in the … Continue reading Kings Rook and Stonehenge Club: when Ipswich rocked!
Leslie's Retreat 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. A mural at the Salem Armory portrays Leslie’s Retreat.
5430052593_379df49bcc_b Perspectives on the Green Street Bridge - The Green Street bridge in Ipswich was built in 1894 by Joseph Ross of Ipswich and designed by Charles A. Putnam of Salem. Robert Cronin, who recently shared  his collection of photos by 19th /early 20th Century photographer George Dexter, wrote the following: “Among the lost prints was an explanation of how the large vessels were … Continue reading Perspectives on the Green Street Bridge

book20cover20front Books and resources - Beginning wtih the Puritan’s Great Migration to America, and is one of the most historic towns in the country. This page provides online access to historic records, books, cemetery records, historic maps and other documents. Books and resources available through Amazon.com Recommended books about Ipswich Ipswich Public Library archives, complete list, PDF) Ipswich in the … Continue reading Books and resources

ww2_welcome_home Historic events and legends - In April of 1614, Captain John Smith sailed near Ipswich and recorded, “Here are many rising hills, and on their tops and descents are many corne fields and delightful groves.” News of this pleasant land spread abroad and its rich history and legends have fascinated us for 400 years.  
The Southside Store faced the South green Streets, roads and places - Many of the roads in Ipswich follow ancient paths of the Native Americans who called this place “Agawam.” The English settlers built their homes in a  half mile  radius of the Meeting House. In the year 1639, the General Court instructed that “all highways shall be laid out beforeth the next General Court. Every town shall choose two or … Continue reading Streets, roads and places
burying_ground_sign Old North Burying Ground - The Old North Burying Ground in Ipswich, Massachusetts was established in 1634 upon the founding of the town of the town, and is one of the oldest cemeteries in North America.
Photo by Edward L. Darling, courtesy of Billy Barton. Historic people - Alice Keenan wrote, “When we moved to Ipswich, this lovely old town, its long history, ancient houses and interesting people became almost an obsession. Dry names and dates mean little to me until one firms out the flesh of the past, for it’s those long-ago people without whom Ipswich and its history would be dull.”
farmers_chickens_dexter Photos from 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.
mary_lyon_ipswich Historic women of the North Shore - Colonial Ipswich was a patriarchal society, and its history is all-too-frequently written by and about men. On this site, read dozens of stories about the women of Ipswich and the North Shore area.

Recent Posts

kiss_death_textile “Kiss of Death” at New England textile mills - The weaver, after loading a new pirn wrapped with thread into a shuttle, drew the loose end through the hole with her breath. Certainly no one connected this habit with the observation, made sometime in the nineteenth century, that weavers were dying of what was then called consumption at a higher rate than the general public.
Several generations of Mill Workers In Ipswich, we are all immigrants - Featured image: Immigrant workers at the Ipswich Hosiery Mill, by Ipswich photographer George Dexter. The earliest evidence of habitation in Ipswich was discovered in the 1950’s at the Bull Brook Paleoindian site, where hundreds of stone instruments were recovered, made by early Native Americans who migrated here after the ice age glaciers receded. The Agawam Indians who greeted the first … Continue reading In Ipswich, we are all immigrants
riot_charles_green The Marblehead smallpox riot, 1773 - From The History and Traditions of Marblehead” by Samuel Roads. Featured image by Charles Green. During the year 1773, the attention of the inhabitants of Marblehead was for a time occupied in considering their danger from another source than the oppressive acts of the British Parliament. In June the wife of Mr. William Matthews was … Continue reading The Marblehead smallpox riot, 1773
birdsculpturechriswilliamssculpture High Spirits on Town Hill -   Standing 14′ high and about 12′ wide, the new bronze sculpture by Chris Williams on North Main St. in Ipswich honors the town’s creative community. It was conceived and funded by Ipswich resident Richard Silverman as a tribute to his late wife Robin Silverman.    
groveland_main_st Groveland Colonial houses - Groveland, MA was settled asthe East Parish of Bradford, a part of the town of Rowley in the early Colonial era. Before Bradford was separated from Rowley in 1672, it was called “Rowley on the Merrimack”, or just “Merrimack”. Bradford in turn was annexed by Haverhill in 1897 after a bloody and violent conflict. Groveland officially … Continue reading Groveland Colonial houses
Thomas Jefferson Jefferson’s Warning to the White House | Time.com - From an article by Nancy Gibbs,  Time Magazine, February 6, 2017:  Jefferson’s Warning to the White House During the campaign of 1800, a Federalists newspaper article stated that with Jefferson as president: “Murder, robbery, rape, adultery, and incest will be openly taught and practiced, the air will be rent with the cries of the distressed, the soil will … Continue reading Jefferson’s Warning to the White House | Time.com
West Newbuy Massachusetts Colonial houses of West Newbury MA - The town of West Newbury provides the following history: West Newbury’s history as a tow began in 1635 when 23 men and their families, all from England, sailed through Plum Island Sound and up the Parker River, landing in Newbury. As more settlers arrived and families increased, land in Newbury became scarce, and some people … Continue reading Colonial houses of West Newbury MA
merrimac_bridge Old Roads and Bridges of Newbury and Newburyport - Text by James B. Stone, from Images from the Past , published by the Newbury 350th anniversary Committee. Featured image: Bridge over the Parker River in Newbury, on today’s Rt. 1A, 1898. When the first settlers arrived in Newbury in May of 1635, there were only Indian trails which wound through the forests. Besides food and shelter, … Continue reading Old Roads and Bridges of Newbury and Newburyport
charles-b-schwartz The Man in Full: Honoring the Life and Times of Ipswich Police Officer Officer Charles B. Schwartz - By Gavin Keenan Retired Ipswich Police Officer and local legend Charles Benjamin Schwartz passed away on January 19, 2017. Charlie had struggled with cancer this last year and as he would say, “Gave it as good as I got.” Although I am relieved for him that his suffering has ended, I’m saddened by the passing … Continue reading The Man in Full: Honoring the Life and Times of Ipswich Police Officer Officer Charles B. Schwartz
depot_sketch1080_header The Railroad in Ipswich - Ipswich Museum winter 2015 exhibit Dates: Saturdays and Sundays, February 4 – April 30, 2017, 1-4 pm. Cost: family non-members $10, individual non-members $5, and free for museum members. This exhibit will tell the story of the railroad in Ipswich and its impact on the community over the years. The first train arrived in Ipswich at … Continue reading The Railroad in Ipswich
mer_51_stevens-dea-thomas Colonial-era houses of Merrimac, Massachusetts - Merrimac sits on the Merrimack river abutting the southeastern border of New Hampshire. Settled by the English in 1638 as a part of Salisbury and later as a part of Amesbury around the village of Merrimacport, it was known throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries as an agricultural and fishing community, with a small amount of … Continue reading Colonial-era houses of Merrimac, Massachusetts
liberty Born in a refuge camp - By Ingrid Miles, Ipswich  I was born in a refugee camp and I feel as if I am reliving my parents nightmare after World War II when my dad had to modify his name and identify himself as Christian; my mother was Catholic in order to come to this country as displaced persons aka DP’s. … Continue reading Born in a refuge camp
pony_express_map John Brown’s Farm (aka Pony Express) - The 128-acre Pony Express Farm is bordered by Chebacco, Essex and Candlewood Roads. The property includes a large polo field, open fields, woods, trails and wetlands along the western bank of the Castle Neck River. A proposal to purchase a portion of the property by the Town of Ipswich as part of the Open Space Program for youth playing … Continue reading John Brown’s Farm (aka Pony Express)
The Choate Bridge in Ipswich, photo by George Dexter Battles of the bridges - Excerpts from Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, by Thomas Franklin Waters The stone bridges which span the Ipswich river with their graceful arches are picturesque and interesting, but the readiness with which the Town proceeded to build the latter two stone bridges is in singular contrast with the belligerent opposition to the earliest ones. The … Continue reading Battles of the bridges
Millend Ipswich 1635 “Millend” Ipswich, 1635 - Excerpts from “Millend, Ipswich” by M.B.V. Perley, 1901 MILLEND was located about the Saltonstall Mill (*the present location of the EBSCO and the Mill District). The ground has become historic. There planted the first Samuel Appleton,
Martin Luther King An MLK Day Reflection – “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” - by Helen Breen Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was first established as a national holiday by President Ronald Reagan in 1983. THE LAST SPEECH On April 3, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., flew into Memphis, Tennessee to support striking African American sanitation workers in the midst of a bitter strike. Rumors of death … Continue reading An MLK Day Reflection – “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”
William J. Barton wrote: This picture was taken from Turkey Shore Road from a point by Ausgustin H. Plouff's or Chester Bowles' house. On the extreme left is the Lower Mill, which at time was a woolen mill. Behind the barn on the left is the Ipswich Girls Seminary Building, and the North Congregational parish house. On North Main St. is the flag pole at the soldiers monument where each morning since 1910 someone from the Post Office would put up the flag. The flags were furnished by the weather bureau, telling what the weather would be. In back of the trees can be seen the Damon Building on County St. The white house sat on the side of the Episcopal Church. Next are the steeples of the North Congregational and Methodist churches.The white house on the right with the mansard roof was built by William Willcomb, owned afterwards by his daughter Mrs. Carrie Angus.The Methodist Parsonage at 27 County St. is to the right. Photo by Edward L. Darling. 19th Century: Religion divided the town - Excerpts from Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony by Thomas Franklin Waters The Congregational Church The Congregational Church, founded by the first settlers, maintained the old order for many generations in undisputed supremacy. From time to time, as the population increased, as has been noted, new Parishes within the Town limits had been established, in … Continue reading 19th Century: Religion divided the town
moll_pitcher_perley Moll Pitcher, the fortune-teller of Lynn and Marblehead - By Sidney Perley, published March 1899 in the Essex Antiquarian “Moll Pitcher,” the famous fortune-teller of Lynn, has no birth record. So the place of her first appearance in life cannot be thus determined. The tenement house, known as the ” Old Brig,” situated at the junction of Pond and Orne streets in Marblehead, is the reputed birthplace. The … Continue reading Moll Pitcher, the fortune-teller of Lynn and Marblehead
labor_in_vain_79 A folly and a barn for free - In the early 20th Century,  a small building that can best be described as a “folly” was built on Labor in Vain Road past Gould’s Creek, and an old post and beam barn was moved across the road. The salt marsh  rises almost to the rear of the barn, and the new flood plain maps indicate that both … Continue reading A folly and a barn for free
Andover in the Civil War Andover in the Civil War - The Spirit and Sacrifice of a New England Town They departed Boston in August 1861 to a cheering crowd and the tune of “John Brown’s Body.” Though some of these Andover soldiers would not “see the elephant” (gaining experience in of the world though war) until two years later, more than a quarter of them would … Continue reading Andover in the Civil War
civil_war_memorial_dexter The Civil War Monument - Photograph by George Dexter, circa 1900; story by Harold Bowen, “Tales of Old Ipswich,” 1975 Each Memorial Day for the last 15 years it has been my job to decorate the different monuments in town early in the morning. This year, I couldn’t help but think of the many changes that have taken place at the … Continue reading The Civil War Monument
Lowell Offering The Lowell Offering - The Lowell Offering was a monthly periodical, first published in 1840, which featured poetry and fiction by female workers at textile mills in Lowell, MA. Known as the Lowell Mill Girls, they often wrote about situations in their own lives, including labor unrest in the factories. The Offering ceased publication in 1844 but was revived from 1848 to 1850 as the New … Continue reading The Lowell Offering
Agawam house, Ipswich MA The Great Agawam Stable Fire - By Harold Bowen, 1975 In the days of stagecoaches, there were several inns along the old Bay Road and High Street. These inns also provided stables in which to house the horses.. One of the later hotels was the Agawam House on North Main Street. In 1806 Nathaniel Treadwell bought land and a house and … Continue reading The Great Agawam Stable Fire
The old Dodge house, North Main Street North Main Street photographic retrospective - North Main Street starts up the hill directly across from Market Street, bears left at Meetinghouse Green and continues to an abrupt stop at the point where High Street and East Street merge. This neighborhood was once the religious, governmental and commercial center of Ipswich. During the seventeenth century, a meeting house, jail, fort, town … Continue reading North Main Street photographic retrospective
jake_burridge_ipswich_chronicle Jake Burridge, the sailor - Featured image: 2014 photo of Jake Burridge, courtesy Ipswich Chronicle. Original color photo by Kirk Williamson. In October, 2016 I was privileged to speak with Jake Burridge, a legendary 99-year-old Ipswich native. His wife Marsha graciously shared photos for this story. Jake grew up on Linebrook Rd., where he received his earliest education at the one-room Linebrook School. … Continue reading Jake Burridge, the sailor
Ipswich woodcut,1838 attributed to S. E. Brown. A photographic history of Market Square and the lower North Green - Featured image: Ipswich woodcut attributed to S. E. Brown, 1838, or John Warner Barber, 1839
Market St. 1950 Market Street, a photographic retrospective - Photos of Market St. from the present day back to the early days of photography.
Measuring time by an hourglass by Kitty Robertson Measuring Time–by an hourglass - Kitty Robertson’s Measuring Time—By an Hourglass is an exquisite collection of essays, reflections on a 20th century life in small town New England, that first were published in the Ipswich Chronicle. Kitty is also the author of “The Orchard: A Memoir”. “Look through my eyes for a little while,” Kitty invites, “and may what you … Continue reading Measuring Time–by an hourglass