Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Witches of Salem and Groton

This summer I visited Salem, Massachusetts, a city famous (or infamous) for the witch trials of the 1690s. And, being the genealogy-obsessed person that I am, I headed promptly for the Burying Point Cemetery (http://magenweb.org/Essex/Salem/CharterStreetBurialGround.htm). 

The Burying Point
Salem, Massachusetts

The following are photographs of the stones commemorating the persons who were hanged for witchcraft. I loved the tokens of remembrance (flowers and coins) that people had placed on the stones.


Bridget Bishop

George Burroughs

Martha Carrier

Giles Corey



Martha Corey

Mary Easty
Sarah Good

Elizabeth Howe

George Jacobs

Susannah Martin

Rebecca Nurse

Alice Parker

Mary Parker

John Proctor

Ann Pudeator

Wilmot Redd

Margaret Scott

Samuel Wardwell

Sarah Wildes

John Willard

If you would like more information on an individual, see the execution list at Important Persons in the Salem Court Records http://salem.lib.virginia.edu/people?group.num=G01. In addition to these victims, there were several people who died in jail, including an infant. See http://salem.lib.virginia.edu/people?group.num=G02.

To my knowledge, I am not related to any of the "witches" of Salem. However, twenty years prior to the Salem witch trials, in Groton, Massachusetts, my 8th great grandmother, Elizabeth Knapp, was accused of being a witch. In 1671, at the age of sixteen, Elizabeth had gone to work as a maidservant for Rev. Samuel Willard in Groton. (1)  In the autumn of 1671, she began exhibiting fits and odd behavior for about three months. (2) Soon after January 1672, Rev. Willard sent an account of Elizabeth's ordeal to Increase Mather. (3) Fortunately, Elizabeth was deemed possessed but recovered. In 1674 (4) she married Samuel Scripture, my 8th great grandfather.

The following article about Elizabeth Knapp is available online:
There is some controversy about whether the Elizabeth Knapp who married Samuel Scripture was the same Elizabeth who was possessed. See the comment by Sam Russell listed at the end of the following article:
If you would like to learn more about the Salem witch trials, see the Documentary Archive and Transcription Project on the Salem Witch Trials on the University of Virginia’s website: http://salem.lib.virginia.edu/home.html

There are also countless books to read on the alleged witches in New England. Here are three that I own because they mention Elizabeth Knapp:

Salem, Massachusetts


CITATION SOURCES:

(1) Demos, John. "A Diabolical Distemper." In Entertaining Satan: Witchcraft and the Culture of Early New England. updated ed. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., 1982, pp. 99-100.

(2) Ibid., p. 100-103.

(3) Ibid, p. 99.

(4) "U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900," database, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 25 Jul 2014), entry for Elizabeth Knapp.


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