The First Period Perkins-Hodgkins house was built in 1709 and has been greatly expanded and modernized over the years, but the original asymetrical structure continues to anchor the corner with Jeffreys Neck Road. Notable are the cellar joists, which are laid sideways instead of with the long side up, a construction style found in the early 1600’s.

The Perkins-Hodgkins house, winter, late 20th Century

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” and Matthew Perkins, weaver, the sons of Jacob Perkins 3rd, agreed to divide the paternal estate. Jacob received the “mansion next to widow Hodgkins” in 1695. Jacob Perkins, in his will probated 1705 bequeathed his sons, John and Jacob, and his daughter, Elizabeth, his houses and lands, and his son Elisha, is also included.” 

John Perkins’ will survives to this day, and the 1693 Hodgkins-Lakeman house nearby still stands as well.

The Perkins-Hodgkins house on East Street.

Ownership of this house has passed through generations of the Perkins-Hodgkins family to the current owners, remaining in the original family after over 300 years, the current owner being Tyler Fahey, and before him Wynne Hodgkins Fahey and Carter Fahey.

Amazingly, this house has never been sold. The house is protected by a preservation agreement between the owners, the town of Ipswich and the Ipswich Historical Commission. Protected elements include the exterior of the building and the frame, including principle and secondary members. View MACRIS

Mehitable Braybrook burned down Jacob Perkins’ house

The home of Jacob Perkins burned in 1668 when their indentured servant Mehitable Braybrook dropped ashes from her pipe on the straw roof. (*See alternate spellings below).  There is a question regarding whether it was this home, or the home of Jacob Perkins then living on Apple Street in Chebacco parish, which is now the town of Essex. Mehitable was arrested on suspicion of “incendiarism”, and testified that she stood upon the oven on the back side of the house to see if there were any hogs in the corn, and while so doing, she knocked the ashes out of her pipe upon the thatch.

She was found guilty of “extreme carelessness if not willfully setting the fire” and was sentenced to be whipped and to pay damages to Perkins. She was the same unfortunate Mehitable Braybrook who was arrested in 1692 during the Salem witchcraft hysteria and was imprisoned in the cold Ipswich jail, oft-described as a dank and vermin-ridden pit.

Petition of accused witches to be released from the Ipswich jail
In 1692 both Joan Braybrook and her 40-year-old stepdaughter Mehitable Braybrook Downing were accused of witchcraft and landed in jail. They are among the 10 persons petitioning for release from the cold, dismal Ipswich jail.

Mehitable was not the daughter of Richard Braybrook’s wife Joan, but was the product of an affair with their severing girl Alice Eliss. On March 30, 1652 Richard Braybrook was sentenced to be severely whipped for fornication, and Alice Eilss, was freed from his service. The court ruled that Richard and Joan should raise the child, Mehitable in his house, and provide for Alice until she recovered from the birth of their child. Alice was to be whipped after the birth of the child at a time that court judges Mr. Symonds and Maj. Denison shall appoint.

After Mehitable ‘burnt down’ Jacob Perkins’ home with her smoking pipe she married John Downing. Records have her as Mehitabel and Mehitable and Braybrooke and Braybrook. Her husband is also listed as Downing and Downeing.” I

n 1692 both Joan Braybrook and 40-year-old Mehitable (who Joan despised her entire life) were accused of witchcraft and landed in jail, and are found among the 10 persons petitioning for release. The release was secured the trials having come to an end before the judges heard their cases. Richard Braybrook apparently took good care of Mehitable in his will. Despite an ongoing court battle between Joan Braybrook and Mehitable Downing over the will, 1699 probate records show that John Downing, Sr. and Mehitable deeded 200 acres, half of their farm known formerly as Richard Braybrook’s farm, to their son, David Downing.

John Perkins Outwits the Tarentines

In 1633, Quartermaster John Jr. owned an island, “Perkins Island” that is today called Treadwell’s Island. The Tarratine or Abenaki Indians were mortal enemies of the native people in Agawam (Ipswich). On the evening of August 8, 1631 the Sagamore Masconomet’s encampment near Castle Hill was attacked by a band of one hundred Tarratine men who had paddled down the coast from Maine.

The Abenaki apparently planned to attack and destroy the small Ipswich colony in the same undertaking. That element of the story was related by the Rev. Thomas Cobbet, the second minister of Ipswich: “A credible man informs me, namely, Quartermaster John Perkins, that the Tarratines or Easterly Indians had a design to cut them off at the first, when they had but between 20 and 30 men, old and young belonging to this place called Ipswich. In that instant most of the men had gone into the bay about their occasions, not hearing thereof.”

It was thus that Robin, a friendly Indian, came to John Perkins when he was younger, living in a little hut upon his father’s island (Perkins Island) on this side of Jeffreys Neck, and told him that on Thursday morning early, there would come four Indians to draw him to go down the hill to the waterside in order to trick him and all who went with him, so that they could be cut off. They would arrive in 40 birch canoes, would lie out of sight in the brow of the Hill, full of Armed Indians for that purpose.

Of this Mr. Perkins forthwith acquainted Mr. John Winthrop, who then lived there in a house near the water, who advised him if such Indians came, when their backs were turned to strike up the drum he had with him beside his two muskets to alert six or eight young men, who would be in the marshes having their guns ready charge the invaders. The Indians would perceive their plot was discovered and haste away to the sea again. This was accordingly so acted and took like effect, for he told me that after this he discovered 40 such canoes being carried from the knoll by the Hill, making as fast as they could to sea. No doubt many godly hearts were lifted up to heaven for deliverance at Ipswich.”

Joseph Hodgkins’ Letters to his Wife

The tombstone of Col. Joseph Hodgkins at Highland Cemetery

David McCullough’s’ book 1776: The Illustrated Edition tells an intriguing story about Lieutenant Joseph Hodgkins, a young cobbler from Ipswich whose letters home to his wife, Sarah Perkins Hodgkins, detail the desperate troop conditions and his longing for home during the revolutionary war.

His first wife and four of his five children had all died of disease before the war began. He was quite torn between his allegiance to the cause and his concern for the welfare of his family back home. “Our people are almost bewitched about getting home,” he wrote, “I hope I and all my townsmen shall have virtue enough to stay all winter as volunteers, before we will leave the line without men. For our all is at stake, and if we do not exert ourselves in this Glorious Cause, our all is gone.”

Col. Hodgkins was a lieutenant in Capt. Nathaniel Wade’s company of minute men and fought at the Battle of Bunker’s Hill, in the Battle at Long Island, Harlem Heights, the White Plains, Princeton,and at the Capture of Gen. Burgoyne and his Army. After the War of Independence he served as a Colonel in the Militia and in some of the most important town offices. He was for several years in the state Legislature and was with the reception committee that welcomed Lafayette on his visit to Ipswich in 1819.

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