The leaders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony located their second jail in Ipswich in 1652. For most of the early years the jail was located on or near the site of the Kimball House, 8 Meeting House Green. In 1808 the site was sold to Reverend David Tenny Kimball; the old jail was moved down High Street; and he built the house that is located there now.  He was highly respected for his ministry and for his character. Kimball was a staunch abolitionist so it wasn’t surprising that many important people were entertained here, including Lyman Beecher, Daniel Webster, and the founders of the Ipswich Female Seminary, Zilpah Grant and Mary Lyon.  Mary Lyon later went on to found Mount Holyoke College.

David Kimball house, 8 Meetinghouse Green, old photoThe house is much altered from its early glory. The roof has been changed and the chimneys are gone. The Federal style doorway was widened to include sidelights. In early years the house also featured graceful elms and a picket fence.  (from “A Walking Tour and Brief History of Early Ipswich Massachusetts“  produced by the Ipswich Visitors Center, Marjorie Robie and William Varrell.)

From Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony:

In 1806 Rev. David Tenney Kimball, a graduate of Harvard in the class of 1803, was introduced to the people of the First Church of Ipswich as pastor. The church oversight committee recommended that the Parish offer Rev. Kimball the sum of $600.00 /year, to be regulated according to the price of the necessaries of life, and to rise and fall according to the price of said necessities. In case of his being unable by the Providence of God to perform said duties & services that sum to be reduced to four hundred dollars.  It was agreed by the Parties that the said Salary is always to be paid in Cash. The committee and Rev. Kimball agreed on the following articles and prices:

  • Hard wood $5 per cord
  • Indian Corn $90 per bushel
  • Rye $1.10 per bushel
  • Flour $7.50 per barrel
  • Pork $.07 per lb
  • Beef $4.00 per hundred
  • English Hay $12.00 per ton
  • Salt Hay $6.00 per ton
  • Cyder $1.50 per bbl
  • Brown Sugar of first quality $11.00 per hundred
  • Coffee $ .20 per lb
  • Best West India Rum $ .84 per gallon

It was soon found that sundry articles had been omitted in the schedule. In 1810 the sum of $70 was voted to make good the deficiency of the past three years. By 1819 a considerable number had withdrawn from the church to form the Baptists Society, the new Methodist Church and the newly organized Unitarian Church.

Rev. Kimball’s house is in the center of this early 20th Century photo.  The chimneys are gone and a porch has been added but otherwise this view of Meeting House Green is virtually unchanged except for the loss of the Elm Trees.

The Pastor, greatly troubled by these withdrawals addressed a letter to his Parish on June 3, 1830.

Brethren and Friends,

The present is a time of great trial both to Ministers and Religious Societies.None can know but those who possess a pastor’s heart, you also as a Society have had your trials. As a token of sympathy for them I virtually inclose you the sum of One Hundred Dollars in the receipt inseparably connected with this by which I reduce my salary for the last year to $457.41.

With the best wishes for your temporal and spiritual welfare,
Your affectionate Pastor David T. Kimball

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