Showing posts with label Salem Witch Trials. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Salem Witch Trials. Show all posts

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Witch Will It BE: Salem Ancestors of 1692 Witch Trials


I came across this article researching Carolyn Hart Wood’s line that is a direct link to Mary Towne Estey/Esty. It was published in 1993 in The News Journal Wilmington Delaware 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A letter from Robert Pike to Judge Curwin Salem Witch Trials 1692

In 1892 John Nurse, a descendant of Rebecca Nurse who was executed for witchcraft in the Salem Witch Hysteria 1692 gave an address on the Salem Witchcraft Trials to the Nurse Family Association. Rebecca Nurse was the  daughter of William Towne and Joanna Blessing of Topsfield, Massachusetts. Rebecca’s two sisters, Mary Towne Esty/Easty and Sarah Towne Cloyse were also tried for witchcraft in 1692. Mary was executed and Sarah was released. See Three Sovereigns for Sarah Also See Post on Bible of Esty/Easty Family and What Ghost Hunters Found in Topsfield Hangers and Symbolism
Nurse Family Association, dedication of the Rebecca Nurse Memorial, erected July 1885. The tall granite memorial is located in the cemetery of Rebecca Nurse Homestead, Danvers, Massachusetts. Photograph housed at Danvers Public Library part of the Archive Collection. see also History of Massachusetts

One topic which John Nurse spoke on was the letter written in August of 1692 to Judge Jonathan Curwin (Photo below) singed with the initials “R P” which is agreed by most scholars to be Robert Pike, of Salisbury, Massachusetts. (Some believe this letter was written by Robert Payne).

I was intrigued by this article* published in The Springfield Republican 1879 entitled Our Boston Literary Letter. Puritans, Witches and Quakers The Life of Robert Pike The letter delivered to Judge Curwin was dated in Salisbury, Massachusetts and in the handwriting of Captain Thomas Bradbury, Recorder of old Norfolk County. Bradbury’s wife, Mary Perkins Bradbury, was arrested for witchcraft and was jailed at the time as Rebecca Nurse. Charles Wentworth Upham in his book Salem witchcraft; with an account of Salem Village, and a history of opinions on witchcraft and kindred subjects, Volume I and II provides a copy of the letter and is available on line University of Virginia site.

Pike was speaking for the victims, although many examples he refers to are his defense was gearing toward Mary Perkins Bradbury is probably correct. Pike was close with her family and he served in many civil positions with her husband Captain Bradbury.
It is certain that Justice Curwin took great stock in this letter as James Shepherd Pike points out, "the fact that Jonathan Curwin preserved this document, and placed it in the lilies of his family papers, is pretty good proof that he appreciated the weight of its arguments. It is not improbable that he expressed himself to that effect to his brethren on the bench, and perhaps to others.”
What is important to note is that Pike was extremely progressive and was under constant scrutiny despite his high position. (with exception of Rev Dane in Andover and Rev Hale in Beverly) he was a voice of reason and logic. Pike advocated for many including Thomas Macy, James Peaslee, and the three Quaker women of Dover made famous by John Greenleaf Whittier in The Three Women of Dover. Mary Perkins Bradbury was not the only one in the family tree under on the hit list, Lydia Perkins Wardwell was whipped in public for her Quaker belief. More on that below.
In a well written letter Pike brings into question the conduct of the judges, the validity of the hearings, and “controverts and demolishes the principles on which the Court was proceeding in reference to the “spectral evidence,” and the credibility of the “afflicted children” generally.
However, Rebecca Nurse’s case was definitely of interest. Her brother Joseph Towne married Phebe Perkins, daughter of Deacon Thomas Perkins and Pheobe Gould. Thomas Bradbury was the sister of Mary Perkins Bradbury.
One of the motivations to target Rebecca was her connection with Quaker families. Douglas Bowerman, a direct descendant utilized the research Margo Burns compiled to trace his family line. The archival records  from Burns work reveal  that on April 26 1677 “a guardianship decision by the court allowing John Southwick to chose Frances Nurse (husband to Rebecca Nurse) to be guardian of his son Samuel and Thomas Fuller to be Guardian to his son John.” Lawrence Southwick and his wife Cassandra were banished from Salem for their Quaker beliefs
Emerson Baker in A Storm of Witchcraft proposes that, “Suspicion may even have fallen on respected Puritan saint Rebecca Nurse because of Quaker ties,” when she assumed guardianship role for the Southwick children. In his earlier book, The Devil of Great Island: Witchcraft and Conflict in Early New England, Baker also notes that many scholars have uncovered evidence that several accused of witchcraft in the Salem 1692 Witch trials were associated with Quakers. Bakers asserts, household members, neighbors, , that were Quakers.”
There were connections and definite conflicts with families that were tied to Quakers.  I have published two articles in Genealogy Magazine on the PERKINS line. The first is “The Witchcraft Trial of Mary Perkins Bradbury” and second, her relative Lydia Perkins Wardwell, daughter of Issac Perkins, brother of Jacob Perkin, Mary’s father. Lydia suffered from the Quaker persecutions and was targeted by families who provided testimony that lead to her conviction. Lydia’s story  “Seventeenth Century Quaker Sought Redress by Undressing” describes the ordeal. I plan to publish a third article on how these families lines continue to intertwine. Most of the feuds can be traced back to early settlements all through New England.
Our Boston Literary Letter. Puritans, Witches and Quakers. The Life of Robert Pike - New Hampshire Wednesday, April 23, 1879 Springfield Republican (Springfield, Massachusetts)

Documents from The Salem Witch Trial Rebecca Nurse  The Petition Friends of Rebecca Nurse writing a letter on her behalf that all charges be dismissed against her, and Examination Document, 1692

  • The New Puritan: New England Two Hundred Years Ago: Some Account of the Life of Robert Pike, the Puritan who Defended the Quakers James Shepherd Pike
  • “Our Boston Literary Letter. Puritans, Witches and Quakers. The Life of Robert Pike – New Hampshire”  Springfield Republican Massachusetts Wednesday April 23, 1879
  • The Trial of Rebbeca Nurse History of Massachusetts
  • The Corwin genealogy : (Curwin, Curwen, Corwine) in the United States Edward Tanjore Corwin, 1834-1914
  • Letter of Robert Pike, 1692 written at Salisbury, Mass., August 9, 1692 Peabody Essex Museum
  • Full Account with transcribed documents Murder in Salem
  • “Our Boston Literary Letter. Puritans, Witches and Quakers. The Life of Robert Pike” article published
  • “The Broomstick Trail” Sarah Comstock Harper’s Magazine Volume 40
  • The Petition for Rebecca Nurse  History of Massachusetts
  • “Old Nurse House to be Bought by Historical Society ” December 11, 1905
  • A Storm of Witchcraft Emerson Baker

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

History of Witchcraft Haunts Old Saw Mill

From Peabody-Lynnfield Weekly News, October 26, 1995, p. 1   by S.M. Smoller and I added some court documents on a case with John Proctor vs Giles Corey, Thomas Maul page, and some sources.

PEABODY – Was it witchcraft that stopped the steady rhythm of the waterwheel at Pope’s saw mill on Norris Brook in West Peabody? That’s what the miller told the court during the Salem witch hunt of 1692, when the area around Crystal Lake was owned by two families intimately involved in the witch hysteria – one, an accuser, and the other, the accused.
“The miller here in 1692 was afflicted by the prevailing witchcraft,” wrote John Wells in The Peabody Story. The miller testified that his mill wheel was “unaccountably stopped and would not go, and no reason could be assigned except the demonical malice and power of some witch.”
The haunted mill may have been owned by the family of one of the persons who claimed to have been afflicted by witchcraft, 42-year old Bathshua Pope. She married Joseph Pope, Jr. in 1649 and was living with her widowed mother-in-law, Gertrude Pope, within the immediate vicinity of the farm of victims and martyrs, Martha and Giles Corey.
Bathshua Pope, a member of the Folger family from Nantucket, was the aunt of American patriot Benjamin Franklin. She and Joseph had eight children. According to the New England Historical and Genealogical Register, when Joseph died in1712, he named all his children in his will, except for the first two, “and notes that the eldest daughter was inferior mind, as probably had been her mother; at least, she was much afflicted in the witchcraft days.”
The localized witchcraft outbreak took on hysterical proportions by the fall of 1692, with more than 150 people examined and sent to prison. Nearly 50 people falsely confessed to being witches who had made a covenant with the devil to assist in assaulting people in the area. Nineteen persons who maintained their innocence, including the three accused by Bathshua Pope, were tried, found guilty and hanged.
“Mrs. Pope” accused Martha Corey, as well as Rebecca Nurse and John Proctor, of inflicting pain upon her body through witchcraft. At the trial of Martha Corey in March 2693, she joined with other afflicted women in calling Martha “a gospel witch”.
Marion Starkey, author of The Devil in Massachusetts,wrote, “Even while Martha proclaimed her innocence her devils had not been able to resist devising new tortures for the girls. What Martha did, now they all did. If she bit her lips, they yelled that she had bitten theirs, and came running up to the magistrates to show how they bled.”
The following month Rebecca Nurse was arrested and tried. During the examination, several afflicted persons reported seeing “a black man” whispering in Nurse’s ear. The judge stated, “What a sad thing it is that a church member here and now…should be thus accused and charged.” At which point, “Mrs. Pope fell into a grievous fit and cryed out a sad thing sure enough; And then many more fell into lamentable fits.”
Also in April, Elizabeth Proctor, the pregnant wife of John was accused. At her trial, John Proctor’s specter attacking Mrs. Pope. Chadwick Hansen in Witchcraft in Salem reported that “immediately Goodwife Pope fell into a fit.”
Earlier in this century, two postcards depciting the “haunted mill” were published. A color postcard prepared by D.F. Bresnahan of Peabody shows two wood-frame structures, 2 1/2 stories each, located on either side of a 10- to 12-foot-wide stream with a catwalk bridge connecting the two buildings.
One card also includes the following statement, “Site of Giles Coveys [sic] Mill who was pressed to death for refusing to plead in his trial for Witchcraft in1692.” Today at Crystal Lake, a conservation area, there are two stones which were placed in remembrance of Martha and Giles Corey during the witchcraft hysteria tercentenary in 1992.
City planner Judy Otto researched the history of Crystal Lake. She does not think the Pope sawmill was the haunted mill. She wrote, “At the head of Crystal Lake, at Goodale Street, on the west side, lived Captain Thomas Flint. The house was contained on the farm of Giles Corey, according to boundaries shown on the map. Giles himself lived further away on the other side of the property, on what is now Johnson Street, near Oak Grove cemetery. These two (Flint and Pope) were the only dwellings shown in the vicinity of Crystal Lake. Flint’s mill was built after the Pope mill by Thomas Flint on the opposite side of Lowell Street and closer to the pond. This mill, which existed until the 20th century, is the mill Otto believes is the haunted mill pictured in the black-and-white post card that was printed by the Peabody Historical Society in 1905. It is titled “Haunted Mill near Phelps Station, Lowell Street, West Peabody, Mass.” Interestingly, Joseph Pope Jr.’s sister Gertrude married Eben Flint, a son of Thomas Flint. Phelps Station Peabody MA & Sidney Perley History of Salem MA Volume 3


In Salem History Volume III the Phelps saved John Proctor’s house from completely burning. Proctor brought charges against Giles Corey.

CoreyPhelps2p3-119 (2)
Court Documents from Records and Files of Quarterly Courts of Essex County Volume VII on the Fire John Proctor vs Giles Corey 


“A Storm of Witchcraft: The Salem Trials and the American Experience” which sets the Salem Witch Trials in the broader context of American history from the seventeenth century to the present, and will also describe the recent confirmation of the site of the executions in 1692.

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Witchcraft Trial of Mary Perkins Bradbury

The Massachusetts village of Salem lost many innocent lives during the infamous witch-hunting era. The same manufactured delusions brought forth at the witch trials preyed upon a Salisbury, Massachusetts, woman named Mary Perkins Bradbury.* Sentenced to die on September 9, 1692, she must have had a higher power on her side, as she was ultimately spared from that perilous place of no return, the gallows.
To read more please click

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Rev Samuel Parris site excavation and sermons transcribed Danvers MA

From the Archives Parris excavation article, on Witch Craft Trials, Danvers Historical Society and historian Richard Trask and Rev Howard Oliver Stearns, former pastor at First Congregational Church of Danvers who helped to transcribe the sermons of Rev Samuel Parris. The article below can be sent by Richard Trask. If you would like a pdf please send a request.

Danvers Ma 4th graders field trip Richard Trask, archivist giving a talk from inside foundation 1971 Science Digest Magazine

                         Photo From Blog  Witch Caves, Salem End Road 

Howard Oliver Stearns, JR (1925-1999) Clergyman and social activist. He married Barbara Dorcas Holmes, June 19, 1952.

Reverend Samuel Parris (1653-1720) - Samuel Parris was the Puritan minister in Salem Village, Massachusetts during the Salem witch trials, as well as the father of one of the afflicted girls, Elizabeth Parris, and the uncle of another -- Abigail Williams

Stearns Danvers House.  This saltbox originally was three stories and was located in another part of Danvers.  At some point it was moved to 139 Centre, 1800’s, by 20 pair of oxen on log rollers.   Cut back down to two stories.   Eventually it was owned by the Jasper Marsh family and the addition built on the back.  We lived here 1961 to 1966. It was torn down in the late 1960’s to build I-95.  

 Rev Stearns and his family around Easter time in Danvers home 1966

Ruth and Anne Stearns, daughters od Howard Stearns  at the Endicott Pear Tree

The dedication of the St. Luke’s Chapel at the Danvers State Hospital.   This group worked for a long time to pull together building a chapel for the patients, and daughter, Ruth Stearns remembers going up there a lot as it was being built, and going to this ceremony, dated 1964.  Rev Stearns is on the far right.  The clergyman on the far left is Don Zimmerman, Episcopal minister in Danvers.   The minister in the center is Harold Beede, Chaplain at the State Hospital.  Next to him is Margaret Crofts, a member of Stearns church.  Her daughter was Stearns babysitter and the church organist.  The Beede's  lived near the common on Centre Street.