The Lynches: 1870–1890

As manufacturing began to transform Ipswich into a factory town after the American Civil War, Irish immigrant Catherine Lynch and her daughter Mary rented this side of the house after its owner subdivided it into apartments. Like other recent arrivals to the United States, they built new lives for themselves while at the same time creating a workforce that fueled industrialization and helped revitalize the local economy.

Home Workplace

Home Workplace

A widow, Catherine Lynch worked at home doing other people’s laundry. It was hot, heavy labor. And there were many steps to the process:

  1. Soak overnight
  2. Scrub in hot lye suds
  3. Boil white linens and cottons
  4. Rinse
  5. Rinse again with bluing power
  6. Dip in starch and hang to dry
  7. Next day: Iron

Catherine hauled about 25 pails of water for each load of laundry. Can you lift this two-gallon pail? It weighs 21 pounds.

Visitors whose health may be impaired by lifting heavy objects should not attempt to lift the pail.

Continue your tour on the left wall in the corner of the gallery.

Cotton stockings made at Ipswich Mills, about 1910

New Industry, New Americans

Catherine’s daughter, Mary, was one of thousands of workers employed by Ipswich Mills to manufacture cotton stockings. As immigrants from Ireland, Canada, Poland, and Greece came to work in the mills, Ipswich’s population grew by more than a third.

To continue your tour return to the house, just beyond the shed (peek through the door to see what’s inside!).