More About Carr’s Ferry

In the seventeenth century, Newbury and its neighbor to the north, Salisbury, were closely connected, despite the lack of bridges spanning the Merrimack River that flowed between them.  Travel across the Merrimack was accomplished by taking a wooden bridge from Salisbury to the north shore of Carr Island (aka Carr’s Island) near the mouth of the river and then Carr’s ferry service, which crossed from the south side of the island to Newbury (Newburyport today).


George Carr immigrated from England to Massachusetts in 1634, and in 1641, Carr was officially appointed to run the Salisbury ferry. He married Elizabeth (maiden name possibly Dexter) that same year. The family eventually moved from their home on Mudnock Road in Salisbury to  Carr Island, where George also had his shipbuilding business, and raised their family there. Elizabeth’s tenth and last child was Ann, born in 1661. In 1678, when Ann Carr was 17-years-old, she married Thomas Putnam of Salem Village, who was aged 26.


This line of the Putnam family: Thomas Putnam, his wife Ann (Carr), and their daughter, Ann Jr. would become the most extreme of accusers during the Salem witch trials 14 years later. Ann’s husband and daughter accused 40 to 60 people between them, while Ann Sr. herself, along with three of her brothers, targeted former Salisbury neighbor, the elderly and beloved Mary Bradbury. Bradbury was eventually convicted, but fled to avoid execution. Ann Sr. also accused Martha Corey, Rebecca Nurse, and John Willard, all three of whom were executed by hanging in 1692.


At the intersection of High Street and Jefferson Street in Newburyport is an historical marker noting the approach to Carr’s Ferry. Jefferson Street ends at the Merrimack River.