The 50 most recent posts on the Stories from Ipswich site

Keeping My Bearings in Changing Times - As the title suggests, keeping my bearings, following directions and distinguishing right from left pose increasing challenges as I enter the dark side of mid-life (Or is it the lighter side of old age?) I know that many of you find yourselves in the same bucket of sorrow, and I feel your pain. But press … Continue reading Keeping My Bearings in Changing Times
Along the Ipswich River, Tuesday July 18, 2017 at the Ipswich Public Library - Town Historian Gordon Harris will present a slideshow of 19th and early 20th Century photos of the Ipswich River by George Dexter, Edward Darling and Arthur Wesley Dow. The slideshow will take about 45 minutes, and then we’ll take a short walk along the river to see those places today. Many of the photos are … Continue reading Along the Ipswich River, Tuesday July 18, 2017 at the Ipswich Public Library
Henry David Thoreau;s cabin Thoreau July Bicentennial Celebrated in Concord and Around the World - by Helen Breen. Featured image: replica of Thoreau’s cabin, Wikipedia “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” (Walden, … Continue reading Thoreau July Bicentennial Celebrated in Concord and Around the World
In Congress, July 4, 1776 - Featured image: “Declaration of Independence,” oil on canvas by John Trumbull, 1818. IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776   The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among … Continue reading In Congress, July 4, 1776
Abbott Lowell Cummings, author of “The Framed Houses of Massachusetts Bay” - Featured image: Abbott Lowell Cummings, photo courtesy of Historic New England. From Antiques and the Arts Weekly: Abbott Lowell Cummings, 94: Abbott Lowell Cummings, the leading authority of Seventeenth and early Eighteenth Century (“First Period”) architecture in the American Northeast and author of The Framed Houses of Massachusetts Bay (Harvard University Press, 1979) died early May … Continue reading Abbott Lowell Cummings, author of “The Framed Houses of Massachusetts Bay”
Willowdale Mansion Tour - Willowdale Estate, Bradley Palmer State Park Monday June 26, 2017, 10:00-11:00am Meet a Park Interpreter in the Willowdale Estate parking lot at 24 Asbury Street, Topsfield, MA 01983 for a FREE tour. Here’s your chance to go inside Bradley W. Palmer’s “Willow Dale” mansion for a unique guided tour. Now a venue for events and weddings (willowdaleestate.com), … Continue reading Willowdale Mansion Tour
polio shot Life in the Summer of Polio - Photo by Peter Zaharis from the 1956 Ipswich Town Report. Before introduction of the Salk polio vaccine in 1955, there were tens of thousands of new cases of polio annually in the United States, many resulting in paralysis. In the following year, new cases had been cut in half, and by 1961 there were just over … Continue reading Life in the Summer of Polio
Lakemans Lane and Fellows Road a Century Ago, And How They Changed - by Charlotte Lindgren One hundred years ago, Lakemans Lane was a narrow dirt road lined by stone walls. About a mile beyond Parting Paths, then called Whittier’s Corner, (for the now demolished homestead of the large Whittier family) the lane connected County and Essex Roads. It was bisected by Fellows Road which led to Candlewood. … Continue reading Lakemans Lane and Fellows Road a Century Ago, And How They Changed
The Karma of Modern Problems - by Gavin Keenan:  Town Meeting time can often raise the blood pressure. When paired with the daily MOABs of POTUS 45, a defibrillator may be indicated. But here I want to speak of local affairs; to wit, small town politics and the history of governing in Ipswich as clearly as I recall it. Those of … Continue reading The Karma of Modern Problems
Historic Ipswich slideshow, Saturday May 20, Ipswich Public Library - I’ve put together a collection of historic photos of Ipswich for a slide show program this Saturday May 20, 2017, 1 PM in the Collins Room at the Ipswich Public Library. The theme is how the town center changed over the years. The photographs start at the South Green, head up North Main and Meeting House … Continue reading Historic Ipswich slideshow, Saturday May 20, Ipswich Public Library
Ipswich woodcut,1838 attributed to S. E. Brown. Governing Ipswich - Ipswich was established in 1634, and was one of the most influential towns in Colonial America. The early town records, the actions of Town Meeting, and the deliberations of the courts which met here are available online: Ipswich Public Library archives, complete list, PDF) The Development of our Town Government, by Thomas Franklin Waters Ipswich in the … Continue reading Governing Ipswich
Marblehead is carved out of Salem Mass Marblehead is established, May 6, 1635 - A story at Mass Moments In May 1635 the General Court ordered “that there shall be a plantation at Marble Head” and gave the inhabitants the right to do whatever they pleased with the land, even though it was part of Salem. The move was meant to punish Salem for allowing Roger Williams to express his “dangerous opinions.” … Continue reading Marblehead is established, May 6, 1635
Ipswich Open Space map Ipswich Open Space program: an overwhelming success - Article 27 on this spring’s Ipswich Town Meeting would require ballot approval for Open Space purchases over $500,000, following Town Meeting approval of the expenditure. While the article may be well-intentioned, requiring a redundant special election would entail considerable time and taxpayer expense, circumvents the intention of previous Town Meetings, and would cripple the cost-effectiveness … Continue reading Ipswich Open Space program: an overwhelming success
Moses Jewett house, 307 High St. Homes of the Jewetts - Deacon Maximilian Jewett was born in Bradford, West Riding of Yorkshire, England, baptized Oct. 4th, 1607. He with his wife Ann, and his brother Joseph sailed from Hull, England in 1638 in the ship John, with a colony under the leadership of Rev. Ezekiel Rogers. They arrived at Boston about the first of December, 1638, … Continue reading Homes of the Jewetts
Homes of the Lords - Featured image: The Thomas Lord house on High Street in Ipswich dates to 1658. Robert Lord arrived with the first settlers of Ipswich in late 1634 or early 1635, probably from Sudbury, Suffolk, England, where he was born in 1603. Soon after his arrival, Robert Lord was appointed Ipswich Town Clerk and Clerk of the Court of … Continue reading Homes of the Lords
Tomstone of Elizabeth and Mary Berry, daughters of Dr. Thomas Berry, who both died in 1735. Great Sorrows: The Deadly “Throat Distemper” of 1735-36 - Featured image: Tombstone of the daughters of Dr. Thomas Berry: Elizabeth age 5 years, and Mary, age 18 months, who died in December 1735 of the “throat distemper.” Photo by John Glassford An epidemic of “throat distemper” raged in New England between 1735 and 1740. The contagion struck first in New Hampshire, killing almost 1% of the … Continue reading Great Sorrows: The Deadly “Throat Distemper” of 1735-36
Early photo of Mount Pleasant, Ipswich MA Maple Street - A white arrow in the photo below points to the house at 6 Maple Street, with a horse in front. The photo was taken from Town Hill by Edward Darling, around 1890. In the foreground are houses still standing on High Street. On the far left of the photo is the old Lord Square fire station and … Continue reading Maple Street
Rice estate, Ipswich MA Turner Hill - Brief excerpts from “A Short History of the Rice Estate, 1890-1945” by Rev. Robert F. Ippolito, M.S., published in 1976, with pictures from the October 1903 issue of “Architectural Review.” Additional photos from the Turner Hill Residential Community site. Anne Proctor was born on September 18, 1869 in Peabody Massachusetts, and married Charles G. Rice … Continue reading Turner Hill
Women Power in the 19th Century - ipswichmuseum.org
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
Holyoke-French house, Boxford Ma Colonial houses of Boxford - Houses built during the Colonial era in Boxford, Massachusetts. Listings and images provided by the MACRIS site of the Massachusetts Historical Commission, and by Vision Properties for the Town of Boxford, with additional historical information from The Dwellings of Boxford, by Sidney Perley BOX.48, Dr. William Hale, Rev. William P. Alcott House, 2 Elm St, 1770: This house … Continue reading Colonial houses of Boxford
Harris-Stanwood house, Ipswich MA Is Purity Possible? - Originally posted on streetsofsalem:
Architectural purity, I mean: there’s no philosophical, spiritual or political rumination going on here. My house is such an assemblage of Federal, Greek Revival and eclectic Victorian styles that I often find myself craving architectural purity: it was “transitional” when it was built in 1827 and it became even more so…
Cape Ann, Massachusetts Pigeon Cove Sketches of Cape Ann - From Gloucester and Cape Ann by S. G. W. Benjamin, Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, September 1875
JFK was greeted enthusiastically throughout Ireland during his 1963 visit. A St. Patrick’s Day Reflection - Homecoming: JFK in Ireland, June 1963 by Helen Breen DUBLIN Two years ago while in Dublin, I took a tour of Leinster House, a magnificent ducal residence now the seat of the Irish Parliament. At the end of our visit we were guided up an impressive marble staircase. There hung a beautiful green silk ceremonial … Continue reading A St. Patrick’s Day Reflection
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
“The Residences at Essex Pastures” - John Bruni, dba “36 Essex Road Limited Partnership,” has filed an application with the state to build a 194 rental housing unit complex on Essex Road in Ipswich ,adjoining the buildings at the former Bruni’s Marketplace, which will be called, “The Residences at Essex Pastures.” The plan was filed under Chapter 40B, a state law … Continue reading “The Residences at Essex Pastures”
Living descendants of the Agawam Indians Living Descendants of the Native Americans of Agawam - by M. E. Lepionka 3/6/17. Mary Ellen is a publisher, author, editor, textbook developer, and college instructor with a Master’s degree in anthropology from Boston University and post-graduate work at the University of British Columbia. In 2008 she retired to research the prehistory of Cape Ann and the Native Americans who lived here and to document … Continue reading Living Descendants of the Native Americans of Agawam
Dirigo Ice Cream Ipswich ma historic photos Portraits from Ipswich, a century ago - In the winter of 2016, Robert Cronin and Bill Barton shared with me their collections of glass plate negatives taken by George Dexter (1862-1927) and Edward Darling (1874 – 1962), two of the earliest Ipswich photographers. The glass plates had been stored away for almost a century. I was able to develop the negatives into high resolution black … Continue reading Portraits from Ipswich, a century ago
The Essex Convention The Ipswich Convention and the Essex Result - Delegates met in Ipswich in 1774 and 1778 to deliberate a Constitution for Massachusetts. Their “Exceptions” were published in the 60-page “Essex Result,” and included an ominous warning to future generations: In 1774, in retaliation for the Boston Tea Party of December 16, 1773, General Gage was sent to Boston with troops, and assumed the governorship. The colony’s … Continue reading The Ipswich Convention and the Essex Result
Townshent acts tea tax The “Detested Tea” - From Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, by Thomas Franklin Waters In 1767, the Townshend Acts were passed, one of which provided for a tax on wine, glass, tea, gloves, etc, imported into the Province. During the winter, the General Court issued a Circular Letter, which was sent to the other Assemblies, notifying them of the measure … Continue reading The “Detested Tea”
Bungalow, Ipswich MA Bungalows of Ipswich - The Eastern Bungalow style was popular between 1910-1940, which included the Depression years. They are an affordable and practical adaptation of California’s Arts and Crafts movement. Full second floors are not a feature of this style, but finished attics are common. The style shares features with traditional well-ventilated folk houses in the warmer U.S. south, with expansive front porches that form a … Continue reading Bungalows of Ipswich
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
“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.
In Ipswich, we are all immigrants - Featured image: Immigrant workers at the Ipswich Hosiery Mill, by Ipswich photographer George Dexter. Question 25 on the warrant for the 2017 Ipswich Meeting on Tuesday evening, March 9 is called “The Ipswich Trust Act,” and reads, Except as provided in subsction (b) (2), a law enforcement official shall not detain an individual on the basis of … Continue reading In Ipswich, we are all immigrants
The Marblehead smallpox riot, 1773 - From The History and Traditions of Marblehead” by Samuel Roads. Featured image by Charles Green. During the year 1773, the attention of the inhabitants of Marblehead was for a time occupied in considering their danger from another source than the oppressive acts of the British Parliament. In June the wife of Mr. William Matthews was … Continue reading The Marblehead smallpox riot, 1773
High Spirits on Town Hill -   Standing 14′ high and about 12′ wide, the new bronze sculpture by Chris Williams on North Main St. in Ipswich honors the town’s creative community. It was conceived and funded by Ipswich resident Richard Silverman as a tribute to his late wife Robin Silverman.    
Groveland Colonial houses - Groveland, MA was settled asthe East Parish of Bradford, a part of the town of Rowley in the early Colonial era. Before Bradford was separated from Rowley in 1672, it was called “Rowley on the Merrimack”, or just “Merrimack”. Bradford in turn was annexed by Haverhill in 1897 after a bloody and violent conflict. Groveland officially … Continue reading Groveland Colonial houses
Thomas Jefferson Jefferson’s Warning to the White House | Time.com - From an article by Nancy Gibbs,  Time Magazine, February 6, 2017:  Jefferson’s Warning to the White House During the campaign of 1800, a Federalists newspaper article stated that with Jefferson as president: “Murder, robbery, rape, adultery, and incest will be openly taught and practiced, the air will be rent with the cries of the distressed, the soil will … Continue reading Jefferson’s Warning to the White House | Time.com
West Newbuy Massachusetts Colonial houses of West Newbury MA - The town of West Newbury provides the following history: West Newbury’s history as a town began in 1635 when 23 men and their families, all from England, sailed through Plum Island Sound and up the Parker River, landing in Newbury. As more settlers arrived and families increased, land in Newbury became scarce, and some people … Continue reading Colonial houses of West Newbury MA
Old Roads and Bridges of Newbury and Newburyport - Text by James B. Stone, from Images from the Past , published by the Newbury 350th anniversary Committee. Featured image: Bridge over the Parker River in Newbury, on today’s Rt. 1A, 1898. When the first settlers arrived in Newbury in May of 1635, there were only Indian trails which wound through the forests. Besides food and shelter, … Continue reading Old Roads and Bridges of Newbury and Newburyport
The Man in Full: Honoring the Life and Times of Ipswich Police Officer Officer Charles B. Schwartz - By Gavin Keenan Retired Ipswich Police Officer and local legend Charles Benjamin Schwartz passed away on January 19, 2017. Charlie had struggled with cancer this last year and as he would say, “Gave it as good as I got.” Although I am relieved for him that his suffering has ended, I’m saddened by the passing … Continue reading The Man in Full: Honoring the Life and Times of Ipswich Police Officer Officer Charles B. Schwartz
The Railroad in Ipswich - Ipswich Museum winter 2015 exhibit Dates: Saturdays and Sundays, February 4 – April 30, 2017, 1-4 pm. Cost: family non-members $10, individual non-members $5, and free for museum members. This exhibit will tell the story of the railroad in Ipswich and its impact on the community over the years. The first train arrived in Ipswich at … Continue reading The Railroad in Ipswich
Colonial-era houses of Merrimac, Massachusetts - Merrimac sits on the Merrimack river abutting the southeastern border of New Hampshire. Settled by the English in 1638 as a part of Salisbury and later as a part of Amesbury around the village of Merrimacport, it was known throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries as an agricultural and fishing community, with a small amount of … Continue reading Colonial-era houses of Merrimac, Massachusetts
Born in a refuge camp - By Ingrid Miles, Ipswich  I was born in a refugee camp and I feel as if I am reliving my parents nightmare after World War II when my dad had to modify his name and identify himself as Christian; my mother was Catholic in order to come to this country as displaced persons aka DP’s. … Continue reading Born in a refuge camp
John Brown’s Farm (aka Pony Express) - 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 … Continue reading John Brown’s Farm (aka Pony Express)
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
Martin Luther King An MLK Day Reflection – “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” - by Helen Breen Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was first established as a national holiday by President Ronald Reagan in 1983. THE LAST SPEECH On April 3, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., flew into Memphis, Tennessee to support striking African American sanitation workers in the midst of a bitter strike. Rumors of death … Continue reading An MLK Day Reflection – “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”
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
Moll Pitcher, the fortune-teller of Lynn and Marblehead - By Sidney Perley, published March 1899 in the Essex Antiquarian “Moll Pitcher,” the famous fortune-teller of Lynn, has no birth record. So the place of her first appearance in life cannot be thus determined. The tenement house, known as the ” Old Brig,” situated at the junction of Pond and Orne streets in Marblehead, is the reputed birthplace. The … Continue reading Moll Pitcher, the fortune-teller of Lynn and Marblehead
A folly and a barn for free - In the early 20th Century,  a small building that can best be described as a “folly” was built on Labor in Vain Road past Gould’s Creek, and an old post and beam barn was moved across the road. The salt marsh  rises almost to the rear of the barn, and the new flood plain maps indicate that both … Continue reading A folly and a barn for free
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
The Civil War Monument - Photograph by George Dexter, circa 1900; story by Harold Bowen, “Tales of Old Ipswich,” 1975 Each Memorial Day for the last 15 years it has been my job to decorate the different monuments in town early in the morning. This year, I couldn’t help but think of the many changes that have taken place at the … Continue reading The Civil War Monument
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
Agawam house, Ipswich MA The Great Agawam Stable Fire - By Harold Bowen, 1975 In the days of stagecoaches, there were several inns along the old Bay Road and High Street. These inns also provided stables in which to house the horses.. One of the later hotels was the Agawam House on North Main Street. In 1806 Nathaniel Treadwell bought land and a house and … Continue reading The Great Agawam Stable Fire
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
Jake Burridge, the sailor - Featured image: 2014 photo of Jake Burridge, courtesy Ipswich Chronicle. Original color photo by Kirk Williamson. In October, 2016 I was privileged to speak with Jake Burridge, a legendary 99-year-old Ipswich native. His wife Marsha graciously shared photos for this story. Jake grew up on Linebrook Rd., where he received his earliest education at the one-room Linebrook School. … Continue reading Jake Burridge, the sailor
Ipswich woodcut,1838 attributed to S. E. Brown. Market Square and the lower North Green, a photographic history - Featured image: Ipswich woodcut attributed to S. E. Brown, 1838, or John Warner Barber, 1839
Market Street, a photographic retrospective - Photos of Market St. from the present day back to the early days of photography.
Measuring time by an hourglass by Kitty Robertson Measuring Time–by an hourglass - Kitty Robertson’s Measuring Time—By an Hourglass is an exquisite collection of essays, reflections on a 20th century life in small town New England, that first were published in the Ipswich Chronicle. Kitty is also the author of “The Orchard: A Memoir”. “Look through my eyes for a little while,” Kitty invites, “and may what you … Continue reading Measuring Time–by an hourglass
The Ipswich River - The Ipswich River begins in Burlington, MA and passes through the towns of Wilmington, Reading, North Reading, Peabody, Middleton, Topsfield, Hamilton, and Ipswich, connecting with the Atlantic Ocean at Ipswich Bay. The river has been dammed since Colonial days, providing power for the Ipswich mills. In the days of sailing ships, ocean-going cargo vessels, fishing … Continue reading The Ipswich River
The First Winters in Ipswich - Featured image: painting by George Henry Boughton Nearly half of the original 102 passengers on the Mayflower did not survive the first winter after arriving in Plymouth in December 1622. Only four of the original thirteen women lived to celebrate the “First Thanksgiving” the following November. Two hundred of the Boston colonists succumbed in the … Continue reading The First Winters in Ipswich
The Laces of Ipswich - In its lace making heyday in the late eighteenth century, Ipswich, Massachusetts boasted 600 lace makers in a town of only 601 households. George Washington himself, a lace afficionado, paid a visit to Ipswich in 1789 to support its extraordinary domestic textile industry. In The Laces of Ipswich: The Art and Economics of an Early … Continue reading The Laces of Ipswich
Ipswich Streets, Roads and Neighborhoods - The first roads in Ipswich followed ancient paths of the Native Americans who called this place “Agawam.” The English settlers built their homes in a half-mile radius of the Meeting House. In the year 1639, the General Court instructed that “all highways shall be laid out beforeth the next General Court. Every town shall choose two or three men who … Continue reading Ipswich Streets, Roads and Neighborhoods
A Very Ipswich Christmas - “You live where?” “Ipswich, MA. It’s about 45 minutes north of Boston. “Oh. Well then you must get a lot of snow.” “Yes. Unfortunately.” “Unfortunately? What are you talking about? Christmas must be great! I am so jealous.” As a college freshman, I have this conversation at least twice a week. Someone asks where I … Continue reading A Very Ipswich Christmas
“Dying Confession of Pomp, a Negro Man Who Was Executed at Ipswich on the 6th August, 1795” - Long before the corner of Mile Lane and High Street in Ipswich became famous for the Clam Box, it was known as Pingrey’s Plain and was where the wicked were hung at “Gallowes Field.” On Aug 6th 1795, Pomp an African-American slave was hung for chopping off the head of his master, Captain Charles Furbush, … Continue reading “Dying Confession of Pomp, a Negro Man Who Was Executed at Ipswich on the 6th August, 1795”
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
Illegal Currency: Ipswich and the Land Bank scheme of 1740-41 - In the first half of the 18th Century, the colonies suffered greatly from a shortage of money in circulation, the result of which was an unsanctioned scheme to print currency in Massachusetts, led in no small part by several Ipswich men. In September 1740, the Land Bank began to issue 50,000 pounds of notes of varying amounts … Continue reading Illegal Currency: Ipswich and the Land Bank scheme of 1740-41
George Washington and Family by Thomas Pritchard Rossiter, 1858-1860. Gift of Nanine Hilliard Greene George Washington returns to Mount Vernon, Christmas Eve 1783 - Featured image: George Washington and Family by Thomas Pritchard Rossiter, 1858-1860. by Helen Breen   General George Washington welcomed back to Mount Vernon on Christmas Eve 1783 at the end of the Revolutionary War (mountvernon.org) The dramatic painting of “Washington Crossing the Delaware” launching a surprise attack on the Hessian foe on December 25, 1776 is … Continue reading George Washington returns to Mount Vernon, Christmas Eve 1783
Oh, Wintry Christmas of My Youth! - It’s popular to recall – albeit with questionable accuracy, the Christmases of our childhood. Poets, songwriters and silly memoirists love to wax nostalgic of a time and place where the winters were colder, the snows deeper, and the pace of life more manageable. Yet, for those of us lucky enough to grow up in New … Continue reading Oh, Wintry Christmas of My Youth!
Ipswich Riverwalk mural mill strike 1913 American Town - American Town, the History of Ipswich, Massachusetts EBSCO Publishing commissioned artist Alan Pearsall to paint the history of Ipswich on a 2700 sq. ft. mural at the Riverwalk, behind the EBSCO complex. Having done extensive research for the mural, they then commissioned him to write, illustrate and design American Town, a 200-page coffee-table-style book  as a companion to … Continue reading American Town
Choate Bridge photo by Andrew Borsari Cape Ann photographs by Andrew Borsari - Photographer Andrew Borsari shows us why Cape Ann is cherished by its residents and envied by the rest of the world, and his books make wonderful presents. Ipswich: A Celebration of Light, Land, and Sea  Rockport, Massachusetts: A Village by the Sea Cape Ann: Photographs by Andrew Borsari
Existential Cop Gavin Keenan Interesting Time To Be Alive - We are fortunate to be living through interesting times. Life seems to have an intense urgency to it now, an edgy feeling of uncertainty and doubt. Having undergone a year of blistering, enervating and sometimes tragically comical presidential political campaigning, we emerged in November with an unexpected result. Some are happy, some sad, many, like … Continue reading Interesting Time To Be Alive
Ipswich Mills Dam video - This video was taken last summer during the Ipswich Mill Dam drawdown, which coincidentally occurred duirng the worst part of the summer drought. The video describes the investigation that was conducted at that time of the dam’s structure, and a study of the feasibility of removing the dam. Field work is complete, and a public … Continue reading Ipswich Mills Dam video
West Newbury house, circa 1785 - At 112 Crane Neck St., West Newbury is an 18th Century home that has been maintained and preserved over the centuries. Original features include beautiful chestnut color paneling in the formal rooms. Continue reading:  Barbara Forster for the Ipswich Chronicle: An 18th century treasure in West Newbury.    
Robert C. Hackett house, Topsfield - Built in 1835, the Hackett House is an extraordinary home. Continue reading: An ageless beauty in Topsfield by Barbara Forster in the Ipswich Chronicle MACRIS Hackett, Robert C. House 114 South Main St, Topsfield Year Constructed: 1835, Federal; Victorian Eclectic  
Pearson-Dummer house, Rowley - A lot of history and even more character are everywhere in  1714 Pearson-Dummer home in Rowley. Continue reading: Gov. Dummer lived here in Rowley, by Barbara Forster for the Ipswich Chronicle MACRIS Pearson, Capt. John House, Glen St, Rowley Year Constructed: 1714 Architectural Style(s): Colonial; Federal The Capt. John Pearson House was built in 1714 … Continue reading Pearson-Dummer house, Rowley
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
Yankee Dictionary Yankee dictionary; a compendium of useful and entertaining expressions indigenous to New England - by Helen Breen In perusing the early copies of the Lynnfield Historical Society’s bulletins, the reflections of one writer stand out for his graceful style, sense of humor, and genuine affection for the town “in the old days.” I said to myself, “I have to check this guy out.” So began my quest to learn … Continue reading Yankee dictionary; a compendium of useful and entertaining expressions indigenous to New England
We the People Constitutional Convention The Constitutional Convention, the Electoral College, slavery and the Civil War - Establishment of the Electoral College Many of our founding fathers had little trust in the instincts of the common man. John Adams observed that “Pure democracy has also been viewed as a threat to individual rights,” and warned against the “tyranny of the majority.” Alexander Hamilton, one of the three authors of the “Federalist Papers” defended the system of electors by which … Continue reading The Constitutional Convention, the Electoral College, slavery and the Civil War
The Battle of Vimy Ridge by Richard jack William Clancy, WWI hero - Featured image: The Battle of Vimy Ridge by Richard Jack Harold Bowen wrote in Tales from Olde Ipswich that William Clancy’s family lived in the Old Post Office on North Main Street. Thomas Franklin Waters spoke about historic actions by William Clancy in a 1917 address to the Ipswich Historical Society, reprinted from the Publications of the Ipswich … Continue reading William Clancy, WWI hero
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”
First Period houses of Salem, Massachusetts - Salem, MA has about 18 First Period houses (built during the first century of English settlement, approximately 116-20-1720). In his landmark studies, “Massachusetts and its First Period Buildings” (1979) and The Framed Houses of Massachusetts Bay, 1625-1725 (1979), architectural historian Abbott Lowell Cummings demonstrated that eastern Massachusetts contains the greatest concentration of First Period structures … Continue reading First Period houses of Salem, Massachusetts
Peg Wesson witch of Gloucester Peg Wesson, the Gloucester witch - An old legend about the Gloucester witch Peg Wesson is often mentioned, but never was it told in such detail as in this story, written by Sarah G. Daley and published in the Boston  Evening Transcript, October 14, 1892. It was carried in papers throughout the country. It was March, 1745, and the company raised in Gloucester to join the … Continue reading Peg Wesson, the Gloucester witch
Fort Point Channel trolley disaster Boston Globe: The Tragedy that Boston forgot - On the night of November 7, 1916, a trolley packed with factory workers crashed through the gates of an open drawbridge in South Boston, killing 46. For decades it was considered the worst tragedy in Boston history. And then it was forgotten. Continue reading about the Boston trolley tragedy at the Boston Globe.
Ralph W. Burnham, Antiques and Hooked Rugs - In the late 19th Century, hooked rugs gained immense popularity, partly due to a Maine Peddler and rug hooker named Edward Sands Frost, who introduced preprinted hooked-rug patterns on burlap. In 1876, when Frost sold his business, he had about 180 patterns. Frost’s patterns included a wide variety of natural objects along with geometric patterns.  As commercial rug … Continue reading Ralph W. Burnham, Antiques and Hooked Rugs
The oldest houses in Gloucester, MA - The area that is now Gloucester MA was inhabited briefly by European settlers briefly around 1626. The settlement was abandoned, but people returned slowly, and the town was founded as Gloucester in 1642, taking its name from a city in South-West England. Although farming was an important occupation, the community developed into an important fishing … Continue reading The oldest houses in Gloucester, MA
The Oceanside Hotel in Gloucester MA The grand hotels of Gloucester and Cape Ann, 1905 - At the beginning of the 20th Century, Cape Ann was a popular destination for tourists. Gloucester’s grand hotels were the subject of “The Summer Hotel Guide,” published in 1905. Images and text are available through Archive.org: “This little book will rejoice in the thought that it has accomplished its mission if in interesting you in … Continue reading The grand hotels of Gloucester and Cape Ann, 1905
Edgar Allen Poe statue Boston Remembering Poe - Edgar Alan Poe Returns to Boston – A Halloween Reflection by Helen Breen Poe’s stories of horror and suspense, along with his melancholy poetry, are part of Halloween traditions in America. The writer, who was born in Boston in 1809, maintained a love/hate relationship with the city during his lifetime. But in 2014, Bostonians reclaimed … Continue reading Remembering Poe
Antique houses of Wenham, Massachusetts - In September 1643, the General Court of Massachusetts granted that Wenham should be a town in its own right and send a representative to the General Court. It was the first town to be set off from Salem. Because many of its early settlers came from Suffolk County in England, where there are two small villages, … Continue reading Antique houses of Wenham, Massachusetts
John Balch house, Beverly MA Colonial-era houses of Beverly, Massachusetts - Featured image: the John Balch house by Daderot The area of the Massachusetts that is now the town of Beverly wast settled in 1626 by Roger Conant. Originally part of Salem and the Naumkeag Territory, Beverly was set off in 1668, and incorporated as a city in 1894. This page displays the First Period, Georgian, and early Federal … Continue reading Colonial-era houses of Beverly, Massachusetts
The wolf in colonial America 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
Sacred Heart Church - *Information and text for this post is from the MACRIS listing for Sacred Heart Rectory by Christine S. Beard. Quotes are from articles published in the Boston Herald and the Boston Globe. When large numbers of Polish immigrants began coming to Ipswich in the late 19th and early 20th centuries they brought with them their strong ties to the … Continue reading Sacred Heart Church
Colonial houses of old Newbury, Massachusetts - This page displays the First Period, Georgian, and early Federal houses of Newbury, Massachusetts. The following images, and text were provided by the Newbury Historical Society in 1989, and are online through the Massachusetts Historical Commission site (MACRIS). Photos are displayed alphabetically in order of street name. House numbers may have changed. Click on any image to view a larger photo. … Continue reading Colonial houses of old Newbury, Massachusetts
The ancient houses of Rowley, Massachusetts - This page displays the First Period, Georgian, and early Federal houses of Rowley, MA, settled in 1639 as a plantation by Reverend Ezekiel Rogers, who had arrived from England on the ship John of London with approximately twenty families.The town was named after Rowley, East Riding of Yorkshire, where Rogers had served as pastor. At the time it … Continue reading The ancient houses of Rowley, Massachusetts
17th and 18th Century houses of Topsfield, Massachusetts - Topsfield originally was part of the 17th-century coastal plantations of Salem and Ipswich, with large tracts of its territory granted to residents of Ipswich between 1634 and 1642. At first known as the “newe medowes at Ipswich,” but was given its present name in 1648. In 1650, it had enough settled population to be incorporated as an … Continue reading 17th and 18th Century houses of Topsfield, Massachusetts
Historic Ipswich in black and white - These late 20th Century photos of historic houses in Ipswich are from MACRIS, the Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System. Click on any thumbnail to view the photo.
Newburyport colonial houses Newburyport Colonial homes - The HABS and the HABs NOTS Documenting the Architecture of Newburyport in the Historic American Buildings Survey Newburyport, MA was settled in 1635 as part of the town of Newbury. In 1764, the General Court of Massachusetts passed “An act for erecting part of the town of Newbury into a new town by the name … Continue reading Newburyport Colonial homes
Colonial houses of Hamilton, Massachusetts - The part of Ipswich known as the Hamlet (now Hamilton) was “set off” as a separate parish (church) in 1714-15. The Hamlet was incorporated by the name of Hamilton on June 21, 1793. Rev. Cutler of the Congregational Church in the Hamlet had served in Congress before becoming one of the town’s longest-serving pastors, was a strong advocate of Federalism, … Continue reading Colonial houses of Hamilton, Massachusetts
Historic houses of Essex, Massachusetts - The inhabitants of the part of Ipswich known as Chebacco (now Essex) established their own parish in 1679, but were still residents of the town of Ipswich. Among its early residents were many of the most important and influential people in Ipswich history.On April 6, 1818, two hundred and six men of Chebacco petitioned the Legislature for incorporation, and the town of Essex … Continue reading Historic houses of Essex, Massachusetts