There was great excitement in Ipswich upon the visits of President George Washington and General Lafayette. Chebacco Parish withdrew from the town and became the Town of Essex. In 1828 the Ipswich Female Seminary was opened by Zilpah Grant and Mary Lyon. The Ipswich Manufacturing Company was established in that same year, later to become Ipswich Mills and now the site of EBSCO. The Eastern Railway sends its first passenger train through town in 1840. The Industrial age brought a resurgence of wealth to the town. Fires at Central Street and Depot Square in 1894 convinced the town to develop a public water and electrification system.

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
The shipwrecks at Ipswich Bar - Featured image: Map from Plum Island: The Way It Was by Nancy V. Weare The Ipswich Bar has a long history of tragic shipwrecks. Its swift currents and shallow waters are especially dangerous during storms, and many ships have gone aground. In 1802 and again in 1852 the Merrimack Humane Society of Newburyport constructed shelters at Sandy … Continue reading The shipwrecks at Ipswich Bar
19th Century political toasts - In April, 1778, a number of prominent Essex County men gathered in Ipswich to discuss the drafting of a new Massachusetts constitution, and became the local backbone of the Federalist Party, advocating the financial policies of Alexander Hamilton. President John Adams coined the name “Essex Junto” for this group, who he deemed his adversaries. The Federalist Party dominated Ipswich politics until … Continue reading 19th Century political toasts
The boy who fell beneath the ice, March 19, 1802 - The Rev. Joseph Dana served the Second Congregational Church at the South Green from 1765 until his death in 1827 at age 85. His tombstone in the Old South Cemetery reads: “In memory of the Rev Joseph Dana D. D., for sixty two years, Minister of the South Church. His protracted life was eminently devoted to … Continue reading The boy who fell beneath the ice, March 19, 1802
Thomas Perkins house, Topsfield A McIntire house in Topsfield - Thomas Perkins came to Boston with his parents from Gloucestershire in 1631. The family settled in the outlying part of Ipswich known as New Meadows and engaged in farming. The area was incorporated as Topsfield in 1650. Perkins was chosen Deacon of the Church in Topsfield about 1677, and died in the year 1686. His son Thomas inherited the … Continue reading A McIntire house in Topsfield
Hammers on Stone, the story of Cape Ann granite - Kitty Robertson’s book The Orchard includes a sorrowful tale by old Mr. Patch about Mr. Brown and his team of horses who drowned in Ipswich Bay as he dragged a sled loaded with Rockport granite across the frozen surface. Whether itr happened, we may never know, but in searching for more information, I found the fascinating and often tragic story … Continue reading Hammers on Stone, the story of Cape Ann granite
Hannah and Samuel Loring, a Christmas romance and tragedy, 1809 - Hannah Gwinn Loring (1791 – 1847) kept a diary when she was living in Salem, Massachusetts with her parents, Thaddeus and Mercy Gwinn. In September 1807, Hannah wrote: “I left school with regret. My parents think it is time for me to commence assisting in domestic affairs for they think it very essential for a female to … Continue reading Hannah and Samuel Loring, a Christmas romance and tragedy, 1809
Historic storms of New England by Sidney Perley The Great Snow Hurricane of October, 1804 - At about nine o’clock in the morning of Tuesday, October 9, 1804, the temperature fell very suddenly, and a storm of rain and snow, accompanied by thunder and lightning, began. In the southern portion of New England the rain fell in extraordinary quantities until the wind grew less violent, when snow began to fall, continuing … Continue reading The Great Snow Hurricane of October, 1804
To the Inhabitants of the Town of Ipswich, from Thomas Jefferson, September 2, 1808 - The Embargo Act of 1807, sponsored by President Thomas Jefferson, made illegal any and all exports from the United States. The embargo was imposed in response to violations of U.S. neutrality by the French and English during the Napoleonic Wars. By 1808, New England ports were at a standstill and its cities and towns were … Continue reading To the Inhabitants of the Town of Ipswich, from Thomas Jefferson, September 2, 1808
Lord Timothy Dexter shows up at his own funeral - Timothy Dexter was born on January 22, 1747, and was undoubtedly the most eccentric person of his time.
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 it would cut travel time by a … Continue reading Newburyport Turnpike opens, February 11, 1805: “Over every hill and missing every town”
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
The British attack on Sandy Bay - On the wall of a building at Bearskin Neck in Rockport, MA is the sign shown below. Rockport experienced one of the oddest invasions in U.S. history during the War of 1812 when British sailors faced the town’s stubborn and fearless residents. I don’t know if the people of Rockport actually fought the British with stockings and … Continue reading The British attack on Sandy Bay
Dulcibel, A Tale of Old Salem - Dulcibel is a fictional young woman charged with witchcraft during the Salem Witch trials. The book was written by Henry Peterson (1818-1891), a journalist and poet who served for twenty years on the editorial staff of the Philadelphia Saturday Evening Post. This edition was published in 1907. The illustrations are by Howard Pyle, an author … Continue reading Dulcibel, A Tale of Old Salem
The Merchant Princes, Cyrus Wakefield and George Peabody - by Helen Breen Question: What Do Wakefield and Peabody Have In Common? Answer: Both renamed their Essex County towns in the mid 19th century to honor their “favorite sons” and benefactors – Cyrus Wakefield (1811-1873) and George Peabody (1795-1869). The 19th century “merchant princes” of Boston were ambitious, clever men who made their fortunes in … Continue reading The Merchant Princes, Cyrus Wakefield and George Peabody
Glen Magna Glen Magna and the Joseph Peabody Family of Salem - Article by Helen Breen Before the advent of the modern transportation, affluent city dwellers often built their summer residences within a few miles of home. Such was the case when shipping magnate Joseph Peabody (1757-1844), “the richest man in Salem,” chose Glen Magna in Danvers as his county seat during the War of 1812. Over … Continue reading Glen Magna and the Joseph Peabody Family of Salem
The Ipswich Town Farm, 1817-1928 - Ipswich established its first poorhouse in 1717, and until then the poor and incapacitated were simply let out to the lowest bidder. There was a growing movement in Massachusetts during the early 19th century for establishing rural working town farms for the poor. Caring for the poor in Ipswich became such an issue that the affluent remote … Continue reading The Ipswich Town Farm, 1817-1928
The Cold Friday of 1810 – New England Historical Society - In 1857, Henry David Thoreau wrote about the Cold Friday of 1810, the coldest New England winter of the 19th century, with heavy snow, brutal cold and violent winds from mid-December until late April. On Jan. 19, 1810, the weather had been warm on the preceding day, but then a snow squall came up and the temperature … Continue reading The Cold Friday of 1810 – New England Historical Society
The “Dungeons of Ipswich” during the War of 1812 - On June 17,1812, President Madison declared war with England. The New England states were bitter in their opposition, because of the trade embargo and their vulnerability to British war ships. The Town of Ipswich adopted a resolution on June 25, 1812 declaring its alterable opposition to the embargo and “Mr. Madison’s War.” Ironically, the reputation of the … Continue reading The “Dungeons of Ipswich” during the War of 1812
President Monroe’s brief visit to Ipswich - From the journal of Miss Eunice Jones, 1793-1825. Journal, July 12 1817: “This morning about nine o’clock the President of the United States, Monroe, passed through Ipswich. He was attended by a large concourse of people; they paid him all the honor possible. The gentlemen and ladies of the town decorated our street and bridge … Continue reading President Monroe’s brief visit to Ipswich
The Great Newburyport fire, May 31, 1811 - A fire commenced about nine o’clock in a stable in Mechanic Row in Newburyport on the evening of May 31st, 1811. (The description below is from The Fireman’s Own Book by George P. Little, 1918.)
The Gerrymander is born in Essex County, February 11, 1812 - Elbridge Gerry was born in Marblehead in 1744 and spent almost all of his life in government service. He promoted colonial opposition to the British Parliament’s colonial policies, and served in the Second Continental Congress from February 1776 to 1780. Gerry was elected as a Massachusetts representative to the United States Congress in its first … Continue reading The Gerrymander is born in Essex County, February 11, 1812
1793 and 1818: the “Burden of the Poor” divides Ipswich into three towns - The increase in the size of ships and the consequent decline of the fishing industry in Ipswich during the latter half of the 18th Century deprived many families of their means of support and compelled an increasing number of the inhabitants to ask relief from the Town.  The town responded by ordering the Sheriff to serve … Continue reading 1793 and 1818: the “Burden of the Poor” divides Ipswich into three towns
1816, the year without summer - Featured image: View from Town Hill by George Dexter, circa 1900 The year 1816 was known as “The Cold Year,” and “The Year Without a Summer.” In our area it was called “Eighteen Hundred and Froze to Death” and “the Summer of Mittens.” Throughout New England there was frost in every month of the year. The winter … Continue reading 1816, the year without summer
Old Graveyard 1680, Essex MA The Body Snatcher of Chebacco Parish - The Old Burying Ground in Essex was established in 1680 for inhabitants of Chebacco Parish, the former part of Ipswich which is now Essex. In 1819 people in the parish began noticing lights moving about at night in the graveyard. It was soon discovered that the body of 26-year-old Sally Andrews who had died of … Continue reading The Body Snatcher of Chebacco Parish
Adams and Jefferson died on July 4, 1826 An Amazing Coincidence on July 4, 1826 - by Helen Breen (Header photo courtesy: examiner.com) Regarding the signing of the Declaration of Independence, John Adams wrote from Philadelphia to his wife Abigail in Braintree, Massachusetts: “It ought to be celebrated as a day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty … with pomp and parade, with shows, games, and sports, … Continue reading An Amazing Coincidence on July 4, 1826
A tragic story from old Gloucester - In 1821, the Annisquam woods was the scene of a murder. Gorham Parsons, while chopping wood, struck and instantly killed a boy of 10 years, named Eben Davis, the act being done with a hatchet. The boy had given offense by singing a song. After committing the deed Parsons took the boy on his back … Continue reading A tragic story from old Gloucester
The Ipswich Hosiery Industry - In the mid-18th Century a group of Ipswich women started making and selling lace with distinctive patterns. Small round lap pillows were used to pace the bobbins and needles as the lace grew around it. Ipswich lace quickly became very popular and played an important roll during the American Revolution. At the height of its … Continue reading The Ipswich Hosiery Industry
The Ipswich Female Seminary - The Ipswich Female Seminary was established in April 1828 by Zilpah Grant and 24-year-old Mary Lyon for the secondary and college-level education of young women. Girls were prepared for careers as teachers and provided with rigorous studies in academic subjects and “standards of personal conduct and discipline.” It was the first endowed seminary for women … Continue reading The Ipswich Female Seminary
Lafayette in Ipswich - When the First Provincial Congress met in Salem Massachusetts on Friday October 7, 1774, Ipswich was represented by General Michael Farley. At 56 years of age, Farley was “too advanced in years to take the field” but rendered great services to the town and the new country throughout his life. In 1777 nineteen year old … Continue reading Lafayette in Ipswich
The Plum Island Salt Company - Plum Island is divided between four cities and towns: Newburyport, Newbury, Rowley and Ipswich. The island originally served as farm and livestock land but over the centuries it has been the focus of many grand schemes. In the Publications of the Ipswich Historical Society I read the forgotten story of the Plum Island Salt Company. All traces of … Continue reading The Plum Island Salt Company
The Fox Creek Canal - The Fox Creek Canal is the oldest man-made tidewater canal in the United States. The following was written by Thomas Franklin Waters: “As early as 1652 a move was made toward cutting a passage way for boats through the marshes from Ipswich River to the River of Chebacco to avoid the long and sometimes dangerous … Continue reading The Fox Creek Canal
Traditional American Thanksgiving in Art and Song - by Helen Breen Among America’s most beloved 19th century renderings of Thanksgiving Day are Currier & Ives lithographs, Grandma Moses’s paintings, and Lydia Marie Child’s famous poem/song “Over the River and Through the Wood.” CURRIER & IVES Currier & Ives was a tremendously successful printmaking firm, based in New York, in the latter part of … Continue reading Traditional American Thanksgiving in Art and Song
View of Ipswich Bluff - Lithography by Edward Burrill, 1835-1913, from Nature & on Stone, printed by Meisel Brothers,  Boston. Digital image from original print, courtesy of Bill Barton.
Awful Calamities: the Shipwrecks of December, 1839 - Featured image: Ships off Liverpool in the Great Storm of 1839, painted by Samuel Walters. From: “Awful calamities: or, The shipwrecks of December 1839: “It has probably never fallen to the lot of the citizens of New England to witness or record so many terrible disasters by sea in the short period of fourteen days as have transpired … Continue reading Awful Calamities: the Shipwrecks of December, 1839
Asa Stone barn, Northgate Rd. The Asa Stone barn, 27 Northgate Rd. - The newly restored Asa Stone barn at 27 Northgate Rd. was moved from its previous location on Argilla Rd. The barn is typical of early American post and beam construction. Arron Sturgis, president of Maine Preservation studied the barn and wrote “it is clear that you have a very good example of an early 19th … Continue reading The Asa Stone barn, 27 Northgate Rd.
Wreck of the Hesperus, January 6, 1839 - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem was inspired by the Blizzard of 1839, which ravaged the North Shore for 12 hours, starting on January 6, 1839. Twenty ships and forty lives were lost during the storm. The probable subject of the story is the schooner Favorite, which sank on a rock called Norman’s Woe off the coast of Gloucester, … Continue reading Wreck of the Hesperus, January 6, 1839
Stanwood-Willcomb house, 25 East Street - In July 1813, John Hodgkins sold John Stanwood a one-acre lot at the corner of County Street and East Street in 1813. John sold to his son Stephen in 1827, and Stephen Stanwood erected the Stanwood – Willcomb House in 1830  for a pulling mill, a cleaning process for wool. The sheep grazed on the bare hills above … Continue reading Stanwood-Willcomb house, 25 East Street
The South Side Store - Like Lord’s Square, the South Green also had a grocery store for many years. The building at 66 County Road across from the South Green was originally the Goodhue Grocery, built in 1835. The store  was successful, and a wing was added in 1856. In the 20th Century it was called the South Side Store. … Continue reading The South Side Store
The Railroad comes to Ipswich, December 20, 1839 - The first stagecoach in Essex County, drawn by four horses, was established in 1774 and connected Newburyport with Boston via Salem and Ipswich. By the early 1800’s, up to seventeen stagecoaches and four post chaises passed through town each day, most of them full to overflowing. The stagecoach era ended abruptly when the Salem tunnel opened, … Continue reading The Railroad comes to Ipswich, December 20, 1839
Ipswich MA lighthouse Wreck of the Deposit, December 23, 1839 - The lighthouse located on Crane Beach was moved nine times because the channel to the harbor shifted, before finally being moved to Martha’s Vineyard. Every light keeper feared that at some time, especially at a critical time, the station would fail to provide guidance. The Ipswich Lighthouse The story as told by Susan Howard Boice: I … Continue reading Wreck of the Deposit, December 23, 1839
Patronage and Scandal at the Ipswich Customs House - The Ipswich Custom House The exact location of the Ipswich Custom House has never been verified. Shown above is a photograph of the Town Wharf area taken by Arthur Wesley Dow, sometime between 1905 and 1910. Alice Keenan wrote that the small building on the right had been the customs house. Later photos show a sign … Continue reading Patronage and Scandal at the Ipswich Customs House
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
Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim “A Christmas Carol” – the Back Story - Featured image: Bob Cratchit and his son Tiny Tim represented the London poor with whom Charles Dickens sympathized. (painting by Jessie Wilcox Smith) by Helen Breen LONDON  1843 “Marley was dead to begin with,” the opening line of “A Christmas Carol,” was conceived by Charles Dickens as he walked the cold, damp streets of Manchester after … Continue reading “A Christmas Carol” – the Back Story
Pigeon Cove The ”October Gale” of 1841 - A strong hurricane stayed offshore of the Carolinas in early October, 1841  As it continued moving north, it pulled cold air into its circulation and intensified as an extra-tropical storm, with a direct hit on New England on October 3. The Georges Bank fishing fleet was destroyed with the loss of 81 fishermen’s lives. The storm wrecked at least 190 vessels … Continue reading The ”October Gale” of 1841
Christian Wainwright house, Market St. - Although the Historical Commission sign on the front of the Nathaniel Treadwell house at 12 North Main Street once identified it as the home of Christian Wainwright, the Wainwright house sat next door and no longer exists. Christian was the widow of John Wainwright, son of Col. John Wainwright Senior, a man of great wealth who owned … Continue reading Christian Wainwright house, Market St.
Burke Heel Factory, Brown's Square, Ipswich Hammatt Street, Brown Square and Farley’s Brook - Until the second half of the 19th Century, much of the area bounded by Central Street, Washington Street, Mineral Street and Market Street was a wetland with an open sewer known as Farley’s Brook running through it. The railroad came to Ipswich in 1839, changing the town forever. Stagecoaches no longer made their way up Town Hill, and the … Continue reading Hammatt Street, Brown Square and Farley’s Brook
Glover’s Wharf and the Ipswich coal industry - John S. Glover opened a wharf on Water St. in 1847, receiving shipments of coal and cement, along with maritime salvage. His wharf was a short distance from the home be built on East St. around 1872, still standing across from the present-day Town Wharf. The business was sold to Charles Lovell in 1910. Many of the Glover family are buried … Continue reading Glover’s Wharf and the Ipswich coal industry
Lord Dexter - From Melissa Berry at anceSTORY Archives: “Lord Dexter is a smart old man: Just try to catch him if you can!”
The corner of Linebrook and Pineswamp Roads, before and after - Wilbur Fiske Ellsworth was born in Ipswich March 30, 1843, and served for many years with the Ipswich fire department. He was the fourth son of Benjamin N. Ellsworth, the esteemed Ipswich lightkeeper, and was the brother of Civil War hero Thomas Ellsworth. Wilbur Fiske and several other people in Ipswich succumbed to an epidemic of pneumonia … Continue reading The corner of Linebrook and Pineswamp Roads, before and after
Wreck of the Falconer, December 17, 1847 - On December 17, 1847 the brig Falconer, loaded with bituminous coal, wrecked at Crane Beach (known then as Patch’s Beach), bound for Boston from St. John, New Brunswick. 36 crew members were rescued but 17 were lost at sea. Captain Joseph Rowlinson and his son, master Charles Robinson were buried in Belfast, Maine. Three bodies … Continue reading Wreck of the Falconer, December 17, 1847
The purple storm of March 13, 1853 - Recalling a Singular Storm which Startled People 51 Years Ago Published: September 28, 1884, The New York Times Correspondent writing from Bass Harbor, Mt. Desert Island, ME “I don’t believe there has been a thunderstorm that I have witnessed for the past 30 years,” said a gentleman of this city, “which has not given me … Continue reading The purple storm of March 13, 1853
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
1854: Anti-immigrant Know Nothing Party sweeps Massachusetts elections - The American Party, better known as the “Know Nothing Party,” emerged in 1843, originally named the “Native American Party” with the intent of preventing Irish Catholic immigration. Anti-Catholic activists formed secret groups to support their cause, and when asked about their activities, members were instructed to reply “I know nothing.” The movement first made news in 1834 with the burning of … Continue reading 1854: Anti-immigrant Know Nothing Party sweeps Massachusetts elections
Joseph Ross Ipswich MA Joseph Ross, 19th Century Ipswich bridge builder - Joseph Ross (1822-1903) began his working life as a house carpenter in Ipswich, his native town. He is best known for designing the first movable span bridge in the country, which he patented in 1849 at the age of 26. According to his obituary, “he has been engaged in some of the largest engineering enterprises … Continue reading Joseph Ross, 19th Century Ipswich bridge builder
Measures' Candy, Ipswich MA The Candy Store - The two buildings on the left in the photo below were taken down to erect the Colonial Building, but the rest of the streetscape remains the same. The third building from the left is the Agawam House, still standing but almost unrecognizable. Austin Measures was the next owner, and Measures Candy Shop continued the long-lasting institution … Continue reading The Candy Store
Lords Square, a photographic history - Lord’s Square was known as Brewer’s Corner in early Ipswich. John Brewer was a town clerk and being on what was then the outskirts of town owned a large lot, which he divided into sections and sold. Brewer’s First Period home at 82 High Street was built in 1700 and still stands just north of … Continue reading Lords Square, a photographic history
Legendary ships of Salem - The photos and text below are from Old-time Ships of Salem, published by the Essex Institute, 1917. “From the year of its settlement in 1628 until the middle of the 19th century, Salem, in the Massachusetts Bay, was a maritime port surpassed in size and importance by only two or three other seaports along the Atlantic coast. Within … Continue reading Legendary ships of Salem
“Hatchet Hannah” leads raid on Rockport liquor establishments, July 8, 1856 - In 1919, the manufacture and sale of all alcoholic beverages was prohibited by the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It was repealed by the 21st Amendment 14 years later. Rockport, MA remained a dry town until 2005, and liquor stores are still not allowed. On the morning of July 8, 1856, two hundred women, three … Continue reading “Hatchet Hannah” leads raid on Rockport liquor establishments, July 8, 1856
Tedfords MA building The old grain elevator at Tedfords - Being a carpenter by trade, I often find myself in the old Wirthmore Feeds grain elevator at Tedfords Lumber, which is where they vertically store finish lumber. The building had a long history of use by several businesses for grain storage including Wirthmore Feeds, William G. Horton, C.M. Jewett @ Co., and Chaplain’s Grain Storage. It was moved from its … Continue reading The old grain elevator at Tedfords
The many Damon Buildings - In 1854 James Damon moved the old court building from the North Green to the corner of Market Street and Depot Square where it became known as the “Damon Block.” Thomas Franklin Waters wrote about the old court building: “Our survey cannot be completed without a glimpse at the small grass plot, in front of the Methodist Meeting House. … Continue reading The many Damon Buildings
County Street, Sawmill Point, and bare hills - The County Street bridge was built in the mid 19th Century and for half a century was the town’s newest industrial area. The following story is from Ipswich Yesterday by Alice Keenan, written in 1982. When we first viewed this picture some years ago we must admit it was a complete puzzlement to us until we discovered … Continue reading County Street, Sawmill Point, and bare hills
Arthur Wesley Dow Arthur Wesley Dow - Ipswich artist Arthur Wesley Dow was born on April 6, 1857 and grew up in the Matthew Perkins house on East Street. He was one of the town’s most famous residents and a founding member of the Ipswich Historical Society. The Ipswich Museum owns the largest single collection of works by Arthur Wesley Dow, including oil … Continue reading Arthur Wesley Dow
Victorian Ipswich - In the mid to late 1800’s Ipswich was undergoing an economic renaissance with hundreds of people employed in the mills and bankers doing quite well. North Main Street and the neighboring area became the fashionable place to build your new “in-town” house. The second half of the 19th Century marked an abrupt change from the … Continue reading Victorian Ipswich
Isinglass Mill, Ipswich MA The Mill Road Bridge and the Isinglass Factory - Library of Congress records state that the triple stone arch Warner Bridge that connects Mill Rd. in Ipswich to Highland St. in Hamilton was built in 1856, designed by architect Henry Hubbard. Thomas Franklin Waters wrote that it was first constructed in 1829, and Ipswich town history records that it was “rebuilt” in 1856. In 1931, the roadway was raised; stone parapets … Continue reading The Mill Road Bridge and the Isinglass Factory
Christmas comes to New England, 1856 - With its “story book” downtown, Ipswich would seem like the natural setting for a colonial-era Christmas, but here in Massachusetts, the Puritans shunned Christmas for its pagan roots. In this raw frontier they dedicated themselves to their labors and God, allowing only Thanksgiving as a time for feasting. In 1659, a law was passed by … Continue reading Christmas comes to New England, 1856
The Glen Mill Stone Arch Bridge - The town of Rowley was “set off” from Ipswich in 1639, just 5 years after the founding of Ipswich. In 1642, a bridge and a dam were built on the Mill River in Rowley. A fulling mill was built the following year by Thomas Nelson, who had been granted ten acres of land “for encouragement … Continue reading The Glen Mill Stone Arch Bridge
Lynn shoe workers strike 1860 Lynn Shoeworkers Strike, Feb. 22, 1860 - Mass Moments On February 22,  1860, thousands of striking shoeworkers filled Lyceum Hall in Lynn. By choosing to begin their protest on Washington’s birthday, the strikers were invoking the memory of their revolutionary forefathers. Lynn had been a shoemaking town since the early 1800s. Hard times had now caused management to cut wages and speed … Continue reading Lynn Shoeworkers Strike, Feb. 22, 1860
Civil War soldiers Andover MA 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
Gravel Street Ipswich Ye Gravel Street: Washington and Liberty Streets - Gravel Street and the gravel pits are shown in the 1832 Philander map of Ipswich. One of the older established ways in town, Washington Street may have started as a footpath for Native Americans long before John Winthrop and the first settlers arrived. Today’s Washington Street was called once called Bridge Street, and for two decades was known as Gravel … Continue reading Ye Gravel Street: Washington and Liberty Streets
Asbury Grove Methodist Camp Meeting, Hamilton MA - The Asbury Grove Methodist Camp Meeting on Asbury St. n Hamilton is listed in the National Register of Historic Districts, and has a collection of historic buildings that were built between 1870 and 1960. The land is owned by the Association, while the houses owned individually by the residents. 12,000 people, most from Boston, attended the first camp … Continue reading Asbury Grove Methodist Camp Meeting, Hamilton MA
The Ipswich River, 1860-1930 - Follow the Ipswich River, starting at the Willowdale Dam and continuing past all four stone arch bridges in Ipswich, then along Water Street to the Town Wharf and out to sea. Many of these photos were digitally developed by the Town Historian from original glass negatives taken by three early Ipswich photographers: Arthur Wesley Dow, the famous Ipswich … Continue reading The Ipswich River, 1860-1930
Pemberton Mill in Lawrence collapses and burns, killing workers; January 10, 1860 - On Tuesday afternoon January 10, 1860, the Pemberton Mill in Lawrence buckled and crashed, killing dozens instantly and trapping the workers inside. Rescue teams rushed in, only to find “faces crushed beyond recognition.” Around 9:30 p.m. an oil lamp was knocked over, and flames spread quickly, leaving only “brick, mortar and human bones … promiscuously … Continue reading Pemberton Mill in Lawrence collapses and burns, killing workers; January 10, 1860
Three old houses that stood on High Street at Manning and Mineral - The Caleb Lord House, corner of High and Manning Featured image: The house on the left in this old photo is the Caleb Lord House, on the corner of Manning and High Streets. Notice the very steep slope of the roof which hangs over the second story windows, and the massive center chimney. While High street was … Continue reading Three old houses that stood on High Street at Manning and Mineral
Thomas Ellsworth, Ipswich Civil War hero, November 30, 1864 - Thomas Foulds Ellsworth was one of four soldiers who earned the Medal of Honor for heroism during the battle at Honey Hill, South Carolina, on November 30, 1864.
Sarah Goodhue’s advance directive, July 14, 1681 - Sarah Whipple Goodhue was born in 1641, the daughter of John and Susanna Whipple and married Joseph Goodhue of Ipswich, with whom she had 10 children. Suspecting that she might die giving birth, she left a note to her husband on July 14, 1681 that read: “Dear husband, if by sudden death I am taken … Continue reading Sarah Goodhue’s advance directive, July 14, 1681
Hay Scales - By the time of the Civil War, Fairbanks’ scales were the best known American product in the world. Erastus and Thaddeus Fairbanks were now joined by their younger brother, Joseph. The modest one-building operation expanded to 40 buildings with more than 20 acres of floor space by 1910. E & T Fairbanks & Company offices … Continue reading Hay Scales
Gothic Gables of Ipswich - The Gothic Revival style was a mid-19th century movement in architecture, reflecting the public’s taste for buildings inspired by medieval design. The Gables is a fascinating Gothic Revival home at 11 South Village Green, behind the John Baker House.  The house was designed by mathematician David Baker and built between 1832 and 1846 as an … Continue reading Gothic Gables of Ipswich
Ada K. Damon, Ipswich MA Wrecks of the sand schooners - These are photos of two-masted sand schooners, several of which wrecked at Steep Hill Beach, Crane Beach and Plum Island. Featured image: Wreckage on Steep Hill Beach believed to be the Ada K. Damon is frequently exposed by the changing tide and sands. Photo by Bruce Lord. Sand schooners delivered sand from local beaches to Boston … Continue reading Wrecks of the sand schooners
Ipswich Civil War veterans Joseph Stockwell Manning, a Civil War hero from Ipswich - Private Joseph Stockwell Manning of Ipswich was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor on December 1, 1864, a year and two days after an incredible act of bravery at Fort Sanders, Tennessee. His citation simply reads “Capture of flag of 16th Georgia Infantry (C.S.A.)” but the story is fascinating.
The Keeping of Cattle on Jeffreys Neck - Featured image: cows walking on Jeffreys Neck Road, photo by George Dexter, early 20th Century. The consensus of several people who have studied this photo is that Wendel Farm/Strawberry Hill is on the horizon on the right, with Island Park off to the left of the photo. Cows would be put to pasture on the Neck in … Continue reading The Keeping of Cattle on Jeffreys Neck
Market Street, a photographic retrospective - Photos of Market St. from the present day back to the early days of photography.
Revere trainwreck 1871 The Great Revere Train wreck, August 26, 1871 - On the evening of August 26, 1871, the Eastern Railroad’s Portland Express slammed into the rear of a stopped local train in Revere, Massachusetts. It is reported that the night was very dark and the engineer of the express thought the lights on the rear car of the stopped local train were from the station’s … Continue reading The Great Revere Train wreck, August 26, 1871
Greek Hotel Ipswich The Greek Hotel - The J. J. Goodhue home at the corner of Market Street and Saltonstall Streets is visible in the 1872 Ipswich village map, and in the 1884 village map, but the 1910 village map identifies it as the Greek Hotel, which operated a coffee shop on its main floor. In 1868, the Ipswich Mills was established by … Continue reading The Greek Hotel
George Dexter’s Ipswich - Perhaps the best-known early Ipswich Photographer was George Dexter (1862-1927). His photographs along with those of Edward Lee Darling (1874-1962) provide a wonderful visual history of the town. Thanks to Ipswich native Robert Cronin for sharing with me his collection of George Dexter glass plate negatives that have been in storage for almost 100 years, and … Continue reading George Dexter’s Ipswich
“Newburyport and its Neighborhoods,” Harpers Magazine 1875 - Excerpt from “Newburyport and its Neighborhood” by Harriet Prescott Spofford, July 1875, the New Harper’s Monthly Magazine. “The history of Newburyport, and of her mother Newbury, much of which has become incorporated with herself, is replete with striking facts and marvels. She had not only the first of our ships upon the Thames, as has … Continue reading “Newburyport and its Neighborhoods,” Harpers Magazine 1875
The Great Fire of Boston, November 9-10, 1872 - The Great Boston Fire of 1872 occurred on November 9-10, 1872 and destroyed the city’s business district, burning uncontrolled for more than 12 hours with such heat that it created a raging firestorm. Starting in a building at the intersection of Summer and Kingston Streets, the flames leaped from one wooden roof to another, leaving a smoldering pile of rubble between the … Continue reading The Great Fire of Boston, November 9-10, 1872
President Washington visits Ipswich, October 30, 1789 - On October 30, 1789, President George Washington passed through Ipswich on his ten-day tour of Massachusetts. Adoring crowds of grateful citizens greeted the President at Swasey’s Tavern (still standing at the corner of Popular and County Streets) where he stopped for food and drink. Washington had announced that during his presidency he would personally tour every state, and in … Continue reading President Washington visits Ipswich, October 30, 1789
Water Street historic photos - In the book, Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Volume I, Thomas Franklin Waters recorded the history of Water Street, which is part of an early public right-of-way that extended from the wharf to the Green Street Bridge, then cotinued along the Sidney Shurcliff Riverwalk to County St. “Close by the river bank, on either side, a … Continue reading Water Street historic photos
“A Good Heat,” a short tale from Newburyport - From Reminiscences of a Nonagenarian, by Sarah Anna Emery
Adrift on a Haystack legend Rowley Adrift on a Haystack, 1876 - A remarkable northeasterly storm on the 4th of December, 1786 caused most of the salt hay along the North Shore to be set afloat and lost in the tide. Samuel Pulsifer and Samuel Elwell, both of Rowley were digging clams on the flats in Plum Island Sound and got caught in the storm. The Rev. Ebenezer Bradford … Continue reading Adrift on a Haystack, 1876
“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.
Old Salem by Eleanor Ptnam “Old Salem,” by Eleanor Putnam - In 1886, Arlo Bates published Old Salem, containing five charming stories written by his mother, Harriet Leonora Vose Bates (AKA Eleanor Putnam). I learned of this small, quaint book in a post at The Streets of Salem about Mary Mason Brooks (1860-1915), who republished the book with colorful illustrations. Mr. Bates’ introduction to his mother’s work begins as follows: It is … Continue reading “Old Salem,” by Eleanor Putnam
Ipswich Chronicle Report on the 250th Anniversary of the founding of Ipswich Massachusetts Ipswich Chronicle Report of the 250th Anniversary Exercises, August 16, 1884 - In March 1872, Edward L Davenport and Frederick W Goodwin began publication of the Ipswich Chronicle. Several years later, I.J. Potter became the proprietor. He and his brother J. M. Potter created a chain of papers which included the Ipswich Chronicle, Amesbury Villager, Lynn Reporter, Lynn Bee and the Yankee Blade of Boston. *Source: Municipal History of Essex … Continue reading Ipswich Chronicle Report of the 250th Anniversary Exercises, August 16, 1884
Discovery of native American shell heap on Treadwell’s Island, 1882 - Early in September 1882, Mr I. J. Potter, owner and publisher of the Ipswich Chronicle, called the attention of the officers of the Peabody Academy of Science to a shell heap which he had observed on the shore of Ipswich River on Treadwell’s Island, formerly known as Perkins Island. In one spot at the depth … Continue reading Discovery of native American shell heap on Treadwell’s Island, 1882
Killed by a swordfish, August 19 , 1886 - The schooner Venus out of Cape Porpoise, Maine frequently fished off the coast of Massachusetts, and was captained by Franklin D. Langsford of Lanesville, MA. On Monday morning, August 19 1886, Captain Langsford sailed out from Cape Ann in pursuit of swordfish. Around 11 a.m. he spotted a swordfish about eight miles northeast of Halibut Point in Ipswich Bay. The … Continue reading Killed by a swordfish, August 19 , 1886
The Ipswich lighthouse - In 1837 the U.S. government erected two 29′ towers for guidance to the mouth of the Ipswich River along with a lightkeeper’s residence. The lighthouses were aligned such that they would provide guidance into the river’s mouth. The westernmost tower soon was updated with a revolving light. The first keeper of the Ipswich Light was … Continue reading The Ipswich lighthouse
The Great White hurricane, train surrounded by snow The Great White Hurricane, March 11, 1888 - The Great White Hurricane of 1888 struck on the night of March 11 and continued furiously for two days, dumping as much as 60 inches of snow on parts of the Northeast.
Barton Stone, end of an era - Barton Stone and Monuments on Brown Square, by far the oldest business in Ipswich, has permanently ceased operations. A.J. Barton & Son Inc. was started in 1889 by August Barton Sr., and continued under his son Augustus Barton Jr., known as “Gus.” Gordon Player, Phillip Lepage and Scott Kershaw  each owned the company in later years, and … Continue reading Barton Stone, end of an era
Ipswich Depot and Depot Square - The Eastern Railroad ran from Boston to Portland, continuing to Canada and was the primary competition of the Boston and Maine Railroad until it was acquired by the B&M in the late 1880’s to become the B&M’s Eastern Division. The Ipswich Depot sat at the location of the Institution for Savings at Depot Square.
The North Shore and the Golden Age of Cycling - The American popularity of bicycles originated in Boston, which held the first U.S. bicycle race on May 24, 1878. In 1883, Abbot Bassett of Chelsea set out on the first recorded 100 mile bike ride, meandering on an adult tricycle along the North Shore to Ipswich and back home. George Chinn of the Beverly Citizen … Continue reading The North Shore and the Golden Age of Cycling
Play Ball! Bialek Park - Bialek Park was once the town’s semi-professional ballpark, used by our local teams. Baseball’s popularity grew quickly after the Civil War, and there was an Ipswich team in the last few decades of the 19th Century. The 1884 Ipswich Birdseye map shows the park as an empty lot with what appears to be the high fence … Continue reading Play Ball! Bialek Park
Dow Brook and Bull Brook Reservoirs - Featured image: Dow-Bull Brook Trail, from the Essex County Trail Association site Harold Bowen wrote that two downtown fires in 1894 accomplished something that numerous Town Meetings had failed to agree upon. For several years the town had tried to provide a municipal water system, without success. “The farmers up in Linebrook fought it. It … Continue reading Dow Brook and Bull Brook Reservoirs
Proctor estate New England Biolabs A walk at the 1895 Proctor Estate, New England Biolabs - The former James H. Proctor Estate lies between County Rd and Fellows Rd., built by James H. Proctor in 1895. The Catholic Church purchased the property, where it was used as a novitiate by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, and later became the Catholic school Don Bosco. Since 1999 the Proctor estate has been the home … Continue reading A walk at the 1895 Proctor Estate, New England Biolabs
Horse-drawn trolley, Ipswich MA The trolley comes to Ipswich, June 26, 1896 - The brief era of horse-drawn trolleys apparently never materialized in Ipswich. Electric trolleys occupied the streets of Ipswich in the early 20th Century. A trolley line from Beverly through Hamilton to Essex and Gloucester opened in 1895, and on June 26, 1896, the first car on the branch that followed Candlewood Road to Ipswich arrived … Continue reading The trolley comes to Ipswich, June 26, 1896
The steamship “Carlotta” - The excursion boat Carlotta was built in 1878 at Rogers Point Boar Yard at the end of Agawam Avenue, and sailed from the Town Wharf to points on the Neck and Plum Island for 35 years. William J. Barton wrote about the Carlotta: “From Brown’s Wharf, the steamer Carlotta, a local steamboat owned by Nathaniel Burnham … Continue reading The steamship “Carlotta”
Joppa Flats, Newburyport - In the late 19th Century, clam shacks proliferated along a stretch of the Merrimack River in Newburyport known as Joppa Flats, providing clams to the Boston area. Photos in this slideshow were provided by Laurie Jarvis Short. Visit her Joppa Flats page on Facebook.
1893 Birdseye map of Ipswich - Click on the map to zoom in and find your house!
Central Street in ashes, January 13, 1894 - Three Business Blocks and Three Dwellings Destroyed in Ipswich January 14, 1894,© The New York Times. Flames were discovered soon after 1 o'clock this morning in the photograph rooms of George Dexter, in the upper portion of the Jewett Block, on Central Street. The wind was blowing a gale, and the temperature registered nearly at … Continue reading Central Street in ashes, January 13, 1894
Wreck of the Lucy M. Collins, August 19, 1891 - When you’re walking on Crane Beach near Steep Hill  Coal, you might be surprised to see lumps of coal lying on the sand.This would be quite a mystery were it not for the tragic history of brigs and schooners transporting coal in the 19th century. Wreck of the Lucy M. Collins It is almost certain that the coal … Continue reading Wreck of the Lucy M. Collins, August 19, 1891
A Chronology of Ipswich Public Works: Telegraph, Telephone, Gas, Water, Electricity, Trash, Sewer and Wind - 1847: Telegraph Samuel Morse obtained a patent for his telegraph invention in 1838. It came into practical use about 1843. The first use of the telegraph was to coordinate the arrival and departure of trains. The Boston line was extended to Portland in 1847 and brought Ipswich into faster contact with the whole country. The Atlantic cable … Continue reading A Chronology of Ipswich Public Works: Telegraph, Telephone, Gas, Water, Electricity, Trash, Sewer and Wind
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 The Green Street Bridge
The Year that Ipswich Burned - The Central Street Fire, January 13, 1894 Late in the night on January 13, 1894 townspeople were awakened to the church bells sounding the alarm that downtown was on fire. Firefighters struggled with their equipment in gale-force winds as the temperature dropped to 16 degrees below zero. The Ipswich Chronicle, January 19, 1894 Business Blocks … Continue reading The Year that Ipswich Burned
1893 Birds Eye Map of Ipswich - Click on the image to view and download the full-size Ipswich birds eye map, created by George Norris in 1893. The Ipswich River flows out to sea in the upper section of the map, Topsfield Road is in the lower right, and High Street sits below the hillside on the left. The 18″ x 24″ map … Continue reading 1893 Birds Eye Map of Ipswich