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 fields was approved at a Special Town Meeting on Tuesday evening January 24, 2017. The Town will convert the existing polo field into four full-sized multi-purpose athletic fields, with the option to build an additional two fields in the future.

Pony Express fields and stables

When the Open Space Bond was extended in 2011, Town Meeting renewed it as the Open Space and Recreation Plan, and instructed the Athletic Fields Study Committee  and the Open Space Committee to identify acquisition of open space for active recreation opportunities as key objectives. The purchase meets those objectives and helps secure the remainder of the 128 acres, at no cost whatsoever to the town, as permanently protected open space for passive recreation and natural resource protection through Essex County Greenbelt and MA Fisheries and Wildlife.

Aerial Vvew of the Pony Express fields
Aerial View of the Pony Express fields

The John Brown Farm

Until the mid-20th Century, the farm at this location was owned by John Brown and his descendants. John Brown Sr. is mentioned in the Ipswich Town Records as early as 1640, having first lived on Heartbreak Rd. Before 1660, Mr. Brown built a home on Fellows’s Lane at the corner with Candlewood Rd. Over the next 280 years, the Brown family extended and continued their ownership of the finest farm land in Ipswich along the east side of Candlewood Rd.

Josiah Brown house, Ipswich MA
The lot at the intersection of Fellows and Candlewood Roads was assigned in the mid-17th Century to John Brown. His descendant Josiah Brown built the house still standing at that location, in 1812.
The house at 14 Candlewood Rd.
The Joseph Brown and Elizabeth Perkins house at 14 Candlewood sits on 17 acres of land and is believed to have been built in 1779. The Brown-Perkins house remained in the family for 162 years.

Thomas Franklin Waters wrote a history of the Brown family properties in his essay, “Candlewood, an Ancient Neighborhood in Ipswich, Massachusetts,” and in the two-volume book, Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.”

“On the Candlewood road, leading toward Hamilton, large tracts of farm lands were granted to the first settlers. John Fawn’s 25 acre lot, on the east comer of Essex Road and Candlewood Road, was sold to Robert Kinsman in 1652. He married Mary Boardman and proceeded to build his house and barns on the lot thus acquired.”

Early land allotments on Candlewood Rd. John Brown established the farm at the intersection of Fellows and Candlewood. The house on the corner at 56 Fellows Rd. was built by Josiah Brown and is still standing. The John Perkins property directly across the street is the location of the Brown-Perkins house, also still standing. By the 19th Century, descendants of John Brown owned almost all of the farm land on the east side of Candlewood. The Thomas Howlett lot is currently known as Pony Express Farm, and is being considered for purchase by the Town of Ipswich for playing fields, in coordination with Essex County Greenbelt.

Adjoining the Kinsman farm, Thomas Howlett, one of the earliest settlers, acquired by grant and subsequent purchases, a hundred acre farm. Thomas Franklin Waters recorded the transfer of the early Fawn and Perkins lots to Thomas Howlett of the property, presently known now as Pony Express Farm:

“There was Granted to Thomas Howlett thirty acres of upland and ten of meadow at the head of Chebacco Creek, the meadow lying on both sides of the Creek and the upland on the West side of the meadow.”

“Granted to John Perkins Senior, thirty acres of upland and ten of meadow lying towards the head of Chebacco Creek, having Thomas Hewlett’s Land on the Southwest.”

“Memorandum, that John Perkins the Elder hath sold unto Thomas Howlett a parcel of Land of forty acres more or less meadow and upland lying at Chebacco granted unto the sayde John Perkins in the year 1636, bounded on the Northeast by a parcel of Land formerly granted unto Mr. Faune…and partly also on the same side …by a parcel of Land granted unto the said Thomas Howlett at the Northwest end thereof butting upon a highway leading to Chebacky at the southeast.” (23rd day of the second month, 1638″ (Town Records).

The Brown-Perkins house and barn  on Candlewood Rd.

Thomas Bishop was in possession of the Howlett farm as early as 1652. In 1684, a farm of 60 acres with house and bam was conveyed to John Brown, and 36 acres with house and barn to Sergeant John Choate. John Brown bequeathed his farm to his sons, James and William in 1721.

1832 map candlewood brown house.jpg

Waters continued the history of the farm:

“The heirs of James Brown held the farm, and his daughter Elizabeth, wife of Capt. Robert Perkins, gained possession, but in December, 1779, their daughter, Elizabeth, became the wife of Joseph Brown, of the same family line, who built a new house on the farm. His son, Gardiner A. Brown, acquired possession, and bequeathed to his son, A. Story Brown (owner at the beginning of the 20th Century). “

For over two hundred and forty years after John Brown bought the farm, it remained by inheritance in the Brown family through successive generations.

The Perkins-Brown house was owned by A. Story Brown at the time of this 1917 photo in the book Candlewood, an Ancient Neighborhood in Ipswich, by Thomas Franklin Waters.

Waters wrote that the Brown family extended the great farm on Candlewood beyond Chebacco Rd into Hamilton

“The great tract of land extending from Choate (Chebacco) Road to Red Root or Red Wood Hill, was included in the early part of the eighteenth century in two great pastures, known as Gould’s Pasture and Wilderness Hill Pasture on the slope of the noble hill, which was called by that name from the earliest times.

Gould’s Pasture was included for the most part in the farm of E. Newton Brown. James Brown owned a large portion of the Wilderness Hill Pasture before 1741 and it continued in the hands of his descendants to A. Story Brown in the early 20th Century.

Sources, and further reading:


Ipswich residents participating in the Pony Express site walk, December 1, 2016

January 24, 2017 Special Town Meeting

Contact: Michelle Vaillancourt, Open Space Program Manager, Town of Ipswich. ph: 978-356-6607 x4; email:

Photo from our site walk: The tide flows up the Castle Neck River on the Essex Road side of the property.

A presentation by Thomas Franklin Waters to the Ipswich Historical Society, 1908

4 thoughts on “John Brown’s Farm (aka Pony Express)

  1. I read with interest the information from Mary Ellen Kreig. Reasearching John Brown, I got mixed up with the Williams, Kinsmans , Appletons and Dorothy Giddings. Glad to read her info, I shall have to get out my history of John Brown and see what I can match up. Thanks for sharing

  2. Gordon- Once again I am in your debt. Thanks you for the article photos etc. etc. on another of my 9th great-grand fathers. Your article and links to the Candlewood material have been a huge resource that has allowed be to research other records. Here are a few things I know from my research. John Brown/Browne the immigrant arrive about 1636 at age 27 (abt1607-1677) from England. He married Mary Holmes. They had a son John Brown (1639-1727) married Hannah Denison (1652-1727). Their son William is part of a line of William’s that has been a challenge to sort out in the records. This William was born in (1677-1753) and married Dorothy Giddings (11678-1752). William and Dorothy had a son William Jr. ((1711-1799) who married Elizabeth Kinsman (1701-1795). I might add that at about this point in Ipswich genealogy there are many inter family marriages. I have the same Kinsman’s back a generation on two sides as great grandparents. William and Elizabeth Kinsman’s son William Brown 3rd (1731- ?) married Eunice Wells (1735-?) and they had Sarah Brown who married Daniel Appleton (1784-1856). This couple moved to Buxton Maine so are not in Ipswich records after their marriage. Daniel and Sarah had Samuel Brown Appleton (1815-1888) who married Elizabeth Morgan of New Hampshire. These two were mobile people they lived in numerous places, including Chicago’s 7th ward when it burned, ending up in Michigan. Their daughter Elizabeth Appleton married Charles Delvin and are my great-grand parents. I just found Samuel’s grave near Pierport Michigan this summer.

    Hope to find some cousins through this posting and seeing some of the Brown homes in the near future.
    Again thank you!
    Mary Ellen

  3. The knowledge you share with us always amazes me. I’m thinking that you “know” these ancient folks as well as you do your family. Thanks for sharing and all of your hard work.

  4. The Brown- Perkins house remained in the family till 1941 approx. Ruth Story Brown lived there alone until she became fearful of being bombed during world war 2 when she moved to Poplar St.

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