EDMUND and Francis Ingalls have been to us heretofore but little more than names to which we have given scant attention beyond thinking of them as our progenitors. We have carelessly taken them for granted, without picturing them as pioneers half as much as we have the adventurers to our western frontier after the Revolution. We read the words of John Fiske telling us that the settlement of New England between 1629 and 1642 sifted out and shifted across the Atlantic the most virile stock of England and read them quite impersonally. This immigration was of a different nature from anything that ensued in the history of America.
The great migration of this pure and selected English stock, most largely East Anglian, began in 1630. Up to the middle of 1629, according to John Fiske, not more than 500 persons had come over. Among them were Edmund and Francis Ingalls, who had not only adventured over the ocean but also had left their companions and had struck out alone into the wilderness. If we try to imagine ourselves in their places we fear that we should be less strong and resourceful.
It remained for the tercentenary celebration of the founding of the Third Plantation to awaken in our minds reflections upon what kind of men they were, what they did and what they experienced. Quoting from an editorial in the Daily Evening Item, of Lynn, June 29, 1929:
"Three hundred years ago this great city of homes and industries, commercial establishments schools and churches, was born in brotherly love and cooperative effort. For it, was two brothers, seeking a wider field than the earlier settlement of Salem afforded, who came here with their families to meet the condition that then prevailed in a land where nature had wrought with lavish hand, but had hitherto been the habitat of true American Indians, some friendly and many hostile.
"Edmund and Francis Ingalls came with the pioneering spirit. They well knew that they and their loved ones must suffer hardships. That they were not made the victims of savage treachery, is undoubtedly due to their regard for justice in all their dealings with their red brothers. They bartered with the Indians; were generous with them. Undoubtedly they overpaid them on many occasions. In any event, they won their confidence, gained their respect and held their esteem. That was the beginning of Lynn, three centuries ago. "
But the two brothers did more than lead the way. One of them instituted the industry upon which was to be based that which made Lynn prosperous and famous. Commenting upon this a writer in the same issue of the Daily Evening item remarks:
"The fact that Francis Ingalls, when he became the first settler, close to Hurnphrey's book (in Swampscott), there set up the first tannery in America, was a factor of no mean importance in giving Lynn an early start toward becoming one of the great shoe centers in the United States and later a center for the manufacture of women's shoes, famed throughout the world.
"Ingalls' tannery situated close to a big oak forest, with an abundance of running water obtainable from Humphrey's brook, and with plenty of skins purchasable in that early day from the Indians for beads and other means of barter, became a flourishing industry, for the farmers needed leather for both clothes and footwear.
"Shoemaking, though a primitive sort at first, was to these farmer-settlers as much a necessity as breadmaking. Each farmer settler at first, after a hard day's work, would sit at his bench and attempt with a few crude tools to make footwear for himself and household. Few had skill at the craft, but after much effort produced what at least gave them needed foot protection.
"It was in 1635 that Philip Kirtland and Edmund Bridges, shoemakers from England, came to America and, doubtless attracted by Ingalls' tannery, settled in Lynn. These two men were real craftsmen, and it was their determination which played an important role in the development of Lynn into one of the leading centers for the manufacture of shoes. Thomas Beard, who located in Salem was the first shoemaker of record in this country. He came in 1629, the very year Lynn was settled, and his influence in neighboring Salem was doubtless helpful to the Lynn settlers who had at first made their own shoes. Beard brought with him tools and material and had his diet and house room at the expense of the colony.*
"Ingalls tannery in Lynn was not only of great help in furnishing leather for shoemaking. but this one-man establishment was the beginning of a nation's business in leather and leather goods. "
"*The great importance of craftsmen to the new colony was fully appreciated. Land, housing and subsistence were frequently voted to them. The tendency of craftsmen to become farmers was frowned upon. It was more to the public welfare to hold them to their trades."
THE HOME OF EDMUND INGALLS.
It was appropriate therefore that in the pageant on July 1, 1929, that was one of the features of the tercentenary celebration, there was at the head of the historical division a float representing the growth of the Ingalls family in America, provided by the members of the ninth and tenth generations, which was immediately followed by one representing the institution of the first tannery, provided by the town of Swampscott.
While this was the 300th anniversary of the Ingalls family in Lynn, it was its 301st in America. In February, 1928, I visited Skirbeck in Lincolnshire, and it must have been just 300 years previously, almost to the month, that Edmund and Francis, and their families, were preparing to break away from the old home and emigrate to Massachusetts. We can imagine the wrench to their feelings, the fore, bodings, but above all the courage.
Skirbeck is situated on the low land along the river Witham, so low that the river has to be diked to prevent it overflowing when its water is high. The marshland between Lynn and Chelsea is similar in its appearance to the Lincolnshire fenland, and Edmund and Francis must have thought of that when they selected their new home on the upland sloping off toward the broad expanse of Black marsh and Rumney marsh to the westward.
©1999- Madison County, NY and Ingalls Family. All rights reserved.