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. In 1633 Massachusetts Governor John Winthrop sent his son John Winthrop Jr. and “twelve good men” to found a settlement 30 miles north of Boston at Agawam, and Indian village. The town was founded a year later as Ipswich, and was one of the most important Massachusetts shire towns through the Colonial era. The Supreme Court as well as the Probate Court held its sessions here.
“A Land of Promise,” April 1614 - In April of 1614, Captain John Smith of Virginia sailed near Ipswich, about which he recorded, “Here are many rising hills, and on their tops and descents are many corne fields and delightful groves… There is also Okes, Pines, Walnuts and other wood to make this place an excellent habitation, being a good and safe … Continue reading “A Land of Promise,” April 1614 The “Commonwealth” - An irony of the recent presidential election is the millions of people who felt abandoned by the government and left out in today’s economy, and yet chose as their presidential candidates two very wealthy people. This brought me to reflect on the word “commonwealth,” defined as a state or collection of states in which supreme authority is … Continue reading The “Commonwealth” Killing wolves - One of the first laws instituted by the Massachusetts Bay Colony was a bounty on wolves, and in early Ipswich, a rather disconcerting aspect of entering the Meeting House was the site of wolf heads nailed to the door. Roger Williams, who fled the colony to establish Rhode Island, referred to the wolf as “a fierce, … Continue reading Killing wolves Roads to Paradise - Paradise Road Thomas Franklin Waters wrote: “The early farm of Mr. Charles Day was on the ancient way, now called not inaptly Paradise Road, for it is a very beautiful road, winding through long stretches of woodland, where ferns and brakes grow luxuriantly, and every kind of wild flower finds congenial haunt in open glades or shaded nooks.” Ipswich Old North Burying Ground - The Ipswich Historical Commission site features a comprehensive index of the Old North Burying Ground, including photos of the 1300 graves representing 1800 interments. The Old North Burying Ground Preservation Study was recently completed by Martha Lyon Landscape Architecture and Fannin-Lehner Preservation Consultants. Maps and indexes are based on the 1935 book Memento Mori produced by the Ipswich Historical Society. Old North Burying Ground … Continue reading Ipswich Old North Burying Ground Ecclesiastical Ipswich - Featured image from the book “The Romantic Shore” by Agnes Edwards, 1915. In the preface she writes, Of all the thousands of miles of our inspiring coast-line, east and west, there is no part more rich in romance, more throbbing with legendary and historical associations than the North Shore of New England. Try to imagine … Continue reading Ecclesiastical Ipswich “The pigs have liberty” - From the Ancient Records of the town of Ipswich, January 13, 1639 “Agreed that if any swine shall be taken within two miles of the towne, after the tenth day of April next, running, the owners of such swine shall forfeit five shillings a piece for every such swine, the one half to the towne, the other … Continue reading “The pigs have liberty” An old pear tree grows in Danvers… - A History of the Endecott Pear Tree by Richard B. Trask The 375-year-old Endecott Pear Tree in Danvers was planted under the direction of the first Massachusetts Governor, English Puritan John Endecott (c 1588-1665). Endecott sailed from England to the New World aboard the ship Abigail in 1628, landing at a small peninsula the native inhabitants called Naumkeag. Endecott established a permanent … Continue reading An old pear tree grows in Danvers… Discovering Daniel Denison - Daniel Denison was born in Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, England in 1612, and came to America with his parents William Denison and Margaret Chandler on the ship “Lyon” in 1631. When Daniel Denison’s son John died unexpectedly, Denison left an autobiography for his grandchildren, which told about the journey to America and their heritage. “I thought meet to … Continue reading Discovering Daniel Denison John Winthrop Jr. here and gone - John Winthrop the younger was the son of Massachusetts Bay Colony governor John Winthrop, and led the settlement of Agawam in 1633 (renamed Ipswich in 1634), accompanied by 11 men. During that first year they erected crude shelters and the next year brought their families to join them in the wilderness. The native population of … Continue reading John Winthrop Jr. here and gone The Boardman House in Saugus - The Boardman House is at 7 Howard Street in Saugus, MA. Built in 1692 for the family of William Boardman, a joiner, Boardman House survives remarkably intact from its original construction. With the exception of minor structural stabilization and repairs, the house remains unaltered since the early eighteenth century, providing an exceptional opportunity to view seventeenth and eighteenth-century … Continue reading The Boardman House in Saugus Agawam - Image: Ipswich Riverwalk Mural ,Sagamore Masconomet selling Agawam to John Winthrop At the time of the arrival of European colonists in the 1630′s, the Ipswich area was known as Agawam but the tribe had been decimated by what is now believed to have been a hepatitis plague. The population of the Agawam region stretching from … Continue reading Agawam Castle Neck and the dunes - Crane Beach and all of Castle Neck are protected by the Trustees of Reservations. Warm winter days are the perfect time to hike the miles of dune trail, accessible from the Crane Beach parking lot. My loop usually begins at the green trail entrance on the far right side of the Crane Beach parking lot, first … Continue reading Castle Neck and the dunes Along the Old Bay Road - In November 1639, the General Court in Boston ordered that the first official road be laid out from Boston to Portsmouth. Bay Road was to be constructed by each town along the way and milestones carved in stone were installed to indicate distances. Some (but not all) of the road is also known now as Historic … Continue reading Along the Old Bay Road Martha Winthrop’s grave? - The Ipswich Chronicle ran this story in the year 2000. Burial site of first settler may be revealed A recent letter to the Zoning Board may hold some clues to the location of the gravesite of Mrs. John Winthrop and her child who may have been buried on what is now private property in the … Continue reading Martha Winthrop’s grave? Names of the Ipswich slaves - In 1638, a ship returned to Salem from the West Indies after a seven-month voyage. Its cargo included cotton, tobacco and, as far as we know, the first African slaves to be imported into Massachusetts. In 1641 the Massachusetts Bay Colony adopted a code of laws that made slavery legal. It would remain so for the … Continue reading Names of the Ipswich slaves Ipswich town meeting - Featured image: Ipswich woodcut, 1838 attributed to S. E. Brown. Thomas Franklin Waters recorded the early history of Town Meeting in his book, Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The first Ipswich public official appointed was the Clerk, Robert Lord, chosen in February 1643-4, “from this time forward to be present at every general meeting of the … Continue reading Ipswich town meeting Dogtown, its history and legends - Dogtown is an area in central Gloucester of about five square miles, or 3600 acres, stretching from the Riverdale section of the city, north of Route 128, into Rockport, and including the Goose Cove and the Babson Reservoirs. Development is banned in this protected municipal watershed. Drunkards, liars, a hog, a dog, a witch, “disorderly persons” and the innkeeper - As the young boys who arrived with the first settlers of Ipswich approached adulthood in the mid-17th Century, they developed a fondness for hard liquor and rowdiness, which frequently landed them in court. The words of accusers, witnesses and defendants in the Records and Files of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County provide a bizarre but most entertaining narrative. Mark Quilter: drunkard, temperamental, and … Continue reading Drunkards, liars, a hog, a dog, a witch, “disorderly persons” and the innkeeper History of Gloucester, MA - The History of the town and city of Gloucester, Cape Ann, Massachusetts was written by James Pringle in 1892 and is online at Archive.org. The proof was in the Kettle - Mark Quilter made his living as a cow-keeper in the common land on the north side of town and seemed to always be in trouble. He was called before the court in 1647 and reprimanded for “sleeping in the barn” rather than watching the cows during his evening shift. He had a reputation in Ipswich for … Continue reading The proof was in the Kettle Troubles with Sheep - A surge in livestock in 1640 contributed to some unexpected difficulties. That year, the General Court in an effort to establish the self-reliance of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, ordered that towns promote the growing of flax, hemp, wool, the spinning and weaving of these fibers, the raising of livestock, and that no sheep or mutton should be exported. In … Continue reading Troubles with Sheep Gathering Salt Marsh Hay - Salt marsh hay is still gathered on the North Shore today. Eva Jackman writes, “My husband’s family has been harvesting salt hay on the same Newbury land as in 1643. He cuts salt hay and helps with the stacks on Rte 1. When greenheads get really bad he resorts to burying himself in the hay to … Continue reading Gathering Salt Marsh Hay 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 1618 in Waltham Abbey, Essex Co., England. He … Continue reading The Life of Daniel Hovey The sad story of Alexander Knight - The Alexander Knight House next to the Whipple House on South Green is a re-creation of an early, English-style timber frame house from 1657 as described in Ipswich town records. This exhibit was built with traditional tools, materials and construction methods of the First Period, complete with a stone foundation, timber frame, wattle and daub chimney, … Continue reading The sad story of Alexander Knight The Bones of Masconomet - Masconomet was the sagamore (chief) of the Agawam tribe of the Algonquian native Americans when the first Puritan colonists arrived in Ipswich in 1633. He had survived the pandemic which killed 90% of the local native population in the early 1600′s. Masconomet ruled all the tribal land from Cape Ann to the Merrimack River, which … Continue reading The Bones of Masconomet The Legend of Heartbreak Hill - When the lands of Ipswich were apportioned among the settlers, the summit of Heartbreak Hill was designated as a planting lot because the Indians had cleared it for corn. Perhaps some settler was “heartbroken” to receive such an inaccessible and rocky field. The 1832 Ipswich map gives the name “Hardbrick,” and perhaps the name evolved from “Hardbrick,” which referred to the hill’s abundance of clay … Continue reading The Legend of Heartbreak Hill Mehitable Braybrooke burned down the house, but which one? - From Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony: “From the Lakeman place to the corner of the Road to Jeffries’ Neck, there were two original lots, John Sanders, next to the Lakeman place, and then John Perkins, the elder, but Perkins bought of Sanders, his lot, an acre and three rods, in 1639. John Perkins, “Taller” … Continue reading Mehitable Braybrooke burned down the house, but which one? “Wording it over the sheep” - Samuel Hunt came to Ipswich after arriving with his Puritan parents in New England at the age of four in 1636. For 200 years what we call Great Cove downstream from the County Street Bridge was known as “Hunt’s Cove”. Samuel often had words with his neighbor John Lee Sr. over the handling of cattle … Continue reading “Wording it over the sheep” Life in the Ipswich jails - The first Essex County gaol (jail) was erected in Ipswich across from the Meeting House in 1652. The Court paid the keeper 5 shillings per prisoner and ordered that each prisoner should additionally pay the keeper before they be released for “their food and attendance.” Those who were unable to pay for their food were allowed only … Continue reading Life in the Ipswich jails Marked by a Witch - Originally posted on streetsofsalem:
I have featured maps on this blog many times: maps allegorical, anthropomorphic, and antique, maps featuring octopuses, spiders, relationships and myriad places and perspectives. An ongoing exhibition of pictorial maps at the University of Southern Maine’s Osher Map Library has inspired me to examine this particular cartographical creation yet again–along with…
The Brookfield Massacre, August 2, 1675 - This is the story of William Prichard, John Ayres, John Warner and Daniel Hovey and their families, who left Ipswich to establish the doomed plantation at Brookfield, Massachusetts. In May 1660, a group of colonists moved from Ipswich to the Indian town Quaboag in Western Massachusetts, which they renamed Brookfield. Indian attacks known as “King … Continue reading The Brookfield Massacre, August 2, 1675 The ghost of Harry Maine - Featured image: Harry Maine house by Arthur Wesley Dow Harry Maine — you have heard the tale; He lived there in Ipswich Town; He blasphemed God, so they put him down With an iron shovel, at Ipswich Bar; They chained him there for a thousand years, As the sea rolls up to shovel it back … Continue reading The ghost of Harry Maine The Trouble with Mugg - King Phillips War spread into a series of battles in Maine known as the Eastern War. On October 12, 1676 about 100 Indian warriors made an assault on an English settlement at Black Point near Portland, Maine and took a number of captives. A couple of weeks later an Arosagunticook chief named Mugg Hegon visited General … Continue reading The Trouble with Mugg The Town is Full! - from Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Vol. I: 1633-1700 published in 1905 by Thomas Franklin Waters THE BODY POLITIC The political privileges of those early years of the seventeenth century, when Ipswich was a frontier town, were few. In a community so thoroughly religious, one would expect to find perfect brotherliness. But Religion was itself narrow. Our … Continue reading The Town is Full! The Legend of Goody Cole, 1680 - In Myths and Legends of our Own Time, Charles M. Skinner wrote the following story, based on two poems by John Greenleaf Whittier. Goodwife Eunice Cole, of Hampton, Massachusetts, was so “vehemently suspected to be a witch” that she was arrested in 1680 for the third time and was thrown into the Ipswich jail with a chain … Continue reading The Legend of Goody Cole, 1680 A ramble in Ipswich, 1686 - Thomas Franklin Waters wrote that in 1686, Mr. and Mrs. Stewart who lived in the ancient Caleb Lord house on High Street (no longer standing), “were favored with a visit from the book-seller John Dunton, who came to Ipswich in the course of his saddle-bag peregrinations.” The Spectre Ship of Salem - Cotton Mather related the tale of a doomed ship called “Noah’s Dove” which left Salem during the late 17th century for England. Among the passengers were “a young man and a passing beautiful girl pale and sorrowful, whom no one knew and who held communion with no one.” Many people in Salem supposed them to be demons … Continue reading The Spectre Ship of Salem Mason’s Claim - The spring of 1683 brought an issue of great concern for the residents of Ipswich. If an ancient claim was confirmed in Boston court, every land title would be worthless and a landed medieval system known as “quit-rents” could be grafted upon New England. In 1622, Capt. John Mason had obtained title to all land … Continue reading Mason’s Claim The defiant Samuel Appleton - The Ipswich Post Office Mural portrays Reverend John Wise and Major Samuel Appleton gathered with other Ipswich men in 1687 in opposition to taxes imposed by Sir Edmund Andros. On April 18, 1689 leaders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony reclaimed control of the government from the crown-appointed governor, Sir Edmund Andros. Major Samuel Appleton of Ipswich … Continue reading The defiant Samuel Appleton The Boy Who Couldn’t Remember - Lionel Chute became the first Ipswich schoolmaster in 1636, but the first Ipswich grammar school was not constructed until 1653. It faced what was known then as the School House Green, now the South Green. Ezekiel Cheever was the schoolmaster there, followed in 1660 by Schoolmaster Andrews. Thomas Franklin Waters recorded the following story in … Continue reading The Boy Who Couldn’t Remember The Rev. John Wise of Ipswich - The concepts of freedom about which Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence came from the pulpit and pen of the Rev. John Wise of Ipswich, Massachusetts. “The first human subject and original of civil power is the people…and when they are free, they may set up what species of government they please. The end of all good … Continue reading The Rev. John Wise of Ipswich
South Main Street, then and now - In March 1692 several Ipswich persons petitioned “to have liberty granted them to build shops upon ye bank by ye river side,” at what is now South Main Street. The Selectmen laid out this stretch of land in twenty-three small lots and granted them “to as many individuals with the conditions that they not encumber … Continue reading South Main Street, then and now Rachel Clinton arrested for witchcraft, May 28, 1692 - Everything about Rachel Clinton’s life went wrong, and in her old age she became a beggar and a ward of the town of Ipswich, She was an easy target for the witchcraft hysteria that spread from Salem throughout Essex County, and on May 28, 1692, Rachel Clinton was arrested, and was kept in the Ipswich or Salem jail, shackled with iron … Continue reading Rachel Clinton arrested for witchcraft, May 28, 1692 The Spectre Leaguers, 1692 - This story of apparitions was told by so many sources that it suggests that the colony was suffering from mass insanity. The following was written by Thomas Franklin Waters. In the midst of witchcraft accusations in 1692, a new and unique outburst of Satanic rage revealed itself. Gloucester was invaded by a spectral company of Indians … Continue reading The Spectre Leaguers, 1692