The Putnams of Salem – Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast
Presenting author and communications professional Greg Houle. He discusses his upcoming novel, “The Putnams of Salem”. Listen as he gives us a glimpse of what he imagines the first person perspective could have been for Ann Putnam Jr, and her father Thomas Putnam. What role did they play in the trials? His fictional short stories are linked below. We continue the conversation inquiring with our advocacy questions: Why do we witch hunt? How do we witch hunt? How do we stop hunting witches?
Greg Houle Website
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[00:00:00] Josh Hutchinson: "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live." Exodus 22:18. [00:00:05] [00:00:26] Josh Hutchinson: Welcome to another episode of Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast. I'm Josh Hutchinson. [00:00:33] Sarah Jack: And I'm Sarah Jack. [00:00:35] Josh Hutchinson: Today's guest is Greg Houle, an author currently working on a novel about the Putnams of Salem. [00:00:43] Sarah Jack: Because you like the show, please share it with your friends, family, and followers. [00:00:47] Josh Hutchinson: We hope you're enjoying a wonderful Thanksgiving. Have a slice of Turkey for me. [00:00:53] Sarah Jack: Share the mashed potatoes. [00:00:55] Josh Hutchinson: Pass that gravy. [00:00:58] Sarah Jack: This is a great topic for [00:01:00] Thanksgiving. I'm looking forward to talking to a Putnam of Salem descendant. [00:01:06] Josh Hutchinson: Yes, and we hope this episode gives you lots of conversation ideas for your Thanksgiving dinner. [00:01:15] Sarah Jack: Especially if you've been having boundary disputes with your friends or family. [00:01:21] Josh Hutchinson: Make a peace offering, and be sure to watch Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, the best Thanksgiving anything ever made, hands down. [00:01:33] Sarah Jack: But only after you watched Holly Hunter's Home for the Holidays. [00:01:36] Josh Hutchinson: Then get back to your Walking Dead marathon. That's what you're really watching. Or House of the Dragon. [00:01:42] Sarah Jack: And now Josh is gonna tell us some history about the Putnams of Salem. [00:01:47] Josh Hutchinson: The Putnams of Salem Village were instigators of the Witch Hunt. Thomas Putnam and his brother, Edward, were two of the four men who [00:02:00] filed the first complaints against Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne, and Tituba. Thomas went on to make 35 complaints, testify against 17 people, and record 120 depositions, including those of his daughter Ann Putnam, Jr., who was the first villager outside of the parsonage to be afflicted. Later on, she was joined by her mother Ann Putnam, Sr. and their maid, Mercy Lewis, among the ranks of the afflicted. The Putnam family was an important family in the village for three generations. 12 out of the original 25 villagers to sign the church covenant were Putnams, and they ranked among the top taxpayers in the village, along with the Porters. [00:02:55] After accusing many people and going through [00:03:00] all her theatrics in the courtroom, Ann Putnam, Jr. did apologize in 1706, specifically to Rebecca Nurse's family, but also to the whole village, as she joined the church under the new minister, Joseph Green. [00:03:17] Sarah Jack: Thank you for introducing us to the Putnams of Salem. I cannot wait to get more of these details from Greg. [00:03:23] Josh Hutchinson: You're welcome. I'm also looking forward to hearing this family covered in depth. They were so heavily involved, what they did in the witch trials, which was so much. So many Putnams were involved in so many ways. [00:03:40] Sarah Jack: I'm so happy to welcome Greg Houle, writer of short fiction and author of The Putnams of Salem, coming 2025. [00:03:49] Greg Houle: So I came into this story, the story of Salem and the Salem witch hysteria like a lot of people do, with a personal family connection to it.[00:04:00] My mother is a Putnam. She is a direct as descendant of Thomas Putnam, Jr., who, along with his oldest daughter Ann, were probably two of the most prolific accusers during the Salem witch hysteria. But yet, despite that connection, I really didn't have any interest in exploring the story as I was growing up. And in spite of having a really intense, lifelong interest in history, I really didn't care, and I think part of that was because of the fact that Salem is such a huge story, and it has a life of its own, and it's become this kind of larger than life almost true crime story. [00:04:44] And I think a lot of times what has happened is it's deflected a lot of the attention away from the important things, the victims, why it happened, how can we prevent it from happening in the future, that [00:05:00] sort of thing. It was always an interesting thing to be connected to, so many of us are. [00:05:04] Everything changed in the summer of 2021. And that is that summer, I live in LA now, and my wife and daughter went back east to visit our family, and my wife's family lives in Boston. And while we were there, we decided, let's go to Salem. And we went there, I thought, "Okay I really want to connect my daughter to my, her grandmother's side of the family. I really ought to understand the story better and really dig into it. "And that's really what I did. [00:05:35] And as soon as I did that, I became immediately enamored by what was going on in the heads of someone like Thomas Putnam, Jr. and Ann. So you have someone who's accusing all of these people, and then you have another one who is said to be afflicted. And I started exploring [00:06:00] that. And this is the part that's unknowable for a historian. So we all wish we could be inside their heads and understanding what's going on during that time. I thought the best way to explore it would really be to look at the environment in which they were in, the things that led to Salem and what happened there and then really just use fiction at that point to tell the story, and, of course, no historian would ever use conjecture , but the beauty of fiction is you can do that. And I think what I tried to do initially in this short story and then now to much greater depth in the novel, is really explore that and look at the forces that created this really tragic event. [00:06:54] The short story and the novel, at least a tentative title of the novel is The Putnams of Salem. [00:07:00] And there is a sort of subtitle that I'm throwing around. That's really The Fall of an American Family. Not sure how my family will feel about that, but it's what we find out in this story. [00:07:14] And I think it's really quite fascinating when you think about all the different forces involved in the world that they were living. One of the major themes of the short story and the novel is really fear and the way in which fear drives a lot of what happens and the various types of fear and various sources of fear, from the fear that's inherent within the Puritan religion to fear of the native population. In the case of Thomas Putnam, there's fear of losing your place in society. The sense that throughout history there's the common case of [00:08:00] the patriarch of a family kind of building something, the second generation making it stronger, and then the third generation messing it up somehow. Thomas Putnam Jr. was the third generation of the Putnams in America, and it really does follow that trajectory. And I think it's really interesting when you insert this man into these circumstances and you see the way in which it drove him to do some pretty awful things. [00:08:30] Josh Hutchinson: You've touched on it already, but how did you go from where you were doing your research into your family to deciding to write stories and then a novel about them? [00:08:43] Greg Houle: Yeah, it's a great question. I, again, a lot of the impetus for this was my 12 year old daughter at the time and really wanting to connect her to this story in a way that I thought was meaningful. For me it was about really trying to get behind any [00:09:00] lore that existed within our family to the actual story, and it's not always easy to do when you're dealing with 17th century America. You can't always get every detail. [00:09:14] In my family, there was not a lot of detail. I think there was always the sense of we are connected to this great American story, "great" in quotes, by the way. And isn't that fascinating? But I think, for me, my interest in history has always been about the fact that it is multi-dimensional and dynamic. I think what tends to happen with history is over time we flatten it out, and it becomes very one dimensional. So the sort of typical story of Salem is that it's these sort of fundamental crazy puritans who experience something one [00:10:00] day, start accusing women of witchcraft, and then put them to death. And while the basic facts may be true, there's so much more involved in that story. They lived in a different world than we live in today, obviously, but they still wanted to succeed. [00:10:21] They laughed sometimes. They cried. They had fights, and they, wanted to be successful. And I think a lot of times we forget that. And in looking at the story, the part that really fascinated me was thinking about the context of this tragedy within that parameter. [00:10:43] And so for me that's my entry point into this. And so when I really thought about both Thomas and Ann, I kept thinking, " what must be going on in our heads?" I think a lot of times our simple answer is Thomas [00:11:00] is a devout Puritan, and he believes wholeheartedly that all these people he's accusing are witches. And isn't that crazy? But the reality of the fact is that's probably not true, right? He was very strategic in his efforts. Again, we don't wanna have too much conjecture here and assume that we know everything that was going on, but, for me, I was fascinated by that. [00:11:26] And then you also have Ann, who, in my writing of her, tried to present her as the sort of typical, idealized Puritan girl who's really trying to do all the right things and failing because of her affliction. We know that her afflictions are probably not a real thing, but they are something, and it's it's a sort of interesting juxtaposition between [00:12:00] the two of them. And that was what really fascinated me. [00:12:03] Josh Hutchinson: For our listeners who aren't as familiar with the Putnams, can you explain Thomas's role in the trials? [00:12:11] Greg Houle: The sort of patriarch of that family was John Putnam, who came over during the great Puritan migration, came over from England probably in the early 1630s. He was one of, not the initial group of settlers that settled Salem, but he was there a few years later. Pretty prominent landowner. But one of the things that the Putnams at least say that they always wanted to do was create this kind of communal society in Salem, where it was a little bit more, " we're not worried about individual wealth, we're gonna just try to bring everyone up." [00:12:51] But again, this was at a time where everyone, where Puritans were much more sanguine about their prospects and in the new [00:13:00] world. And I think by the time we get to the witch hysteria 60 years later, everything, the shine has come off a little bit. But so John was the initial patriarch of the family, and then Thomas Sr. was, of course, Thomas Jr.'s father, and he built their land holdings. They were farmers. He was pretty privileged person, but things were different for him, and they weren't quite so easy. By the time we get to 1692, Thomas is still doing pretty well, and his family is pretty prominent. [00:13:39] He was known as Sergeant Thomas Putnam, because he fought in King Philip's War, which was, some say, the bloodiest war in colonial American history, where it was, in many ways, almost like a akin to a world war in some respect. [00:14:00] It was fought throughout New England between the colonists and their Native allies and other native communities. I think by the time of the Salem witch hysteria, 1692, Thomas was a much different person than his father and his grandfather. [00:14:21] I think that there are a couple of things that, that are going on. One is the realization that the Puritans are not going to have a shining city on the hill like they initially thought. Now, that doesn't mean that, that they weren't still trying, or they didn't still believe that they were superior in many ways. But I think they realized at that point that wasn't gonna be easy. [00:14:49] The relationships that they had with the native populations in New England had really soured to the point where that [00:15:00] had created a lot of fear. You may have talked about the fact that they that Massachusetts did not have a charter at that time, had lost its charter. So there's a lot of uncertainty there. So I think, the way I portrayed in the novel and the short story, to some extent, is that Thomas is really this fading patriarch but family that is still prominent, but like a lot of people with power, he wants to do whatever it takes to keep that power, and this opportunity arises, and he takes advantage of it. [00:15:35] Josh Hutchinson: What were some of the things that he did during the witch-hunt that stand out to mark him as a prominent figure? [00:15:43] Greg Houle: So he accused many people of witchcraft. He also pretty much wrote all of the documents that needed to be submitted to court for Ann, so he was really orchestrating a lot of that. There [00:16:00] was also, as I'm sure you're aware, quite a rift in the community and had been for generations about who leads the church, and Thomas was very much in favor of the head of the church, Samuel Parris, but others were not. There was a lot of choosing sides there, and that became a big part of it as well. [00:16:26] In terms of his actual role, he was there during the very first examinations of the first three witches when they were examined by the magistrates. The first three were Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne, and Tituba, who were three kind of outcasts. But he was there and playing a very prominent role. I think that he saw himself as a leader. He was, a military [00:17:00] leader and a fairly wealthy person with land, and I think he saw his role as being someone who should take a prominent role during a time like this. And he certainly did. And I think, certainly, as I explore in the novel, he uses that as an opportunity to really reshape the nature of his relationships. [00:17:26] Sarah Jack: What you had just said about growing and securing their wealth with that land, I think that was a really big part of the fight, as well as having a stake in what was happening with the church. [00:17:40] Greg Houle: That's a great point. I think that another interesting component with Thomas is his father, Thomas Sr., remarried at a very older age, so Thomas had a half brother who ended up inheriting a lot of what he was expecting to inherit. In many [00:18:00] ways, he comes across by 1692 as really just having this series of just one after another of what he would think are tragedies. But again, the thing I kept coming back to and what was fascinating to me was this idea that, you have this privileged person who's then throwing a fit because he's not getting his way every time. [00:18:23] Maybe I'm projecting something that's 330 years old to today, but I really, that was the thing that I kept coming back to, and a lot of it is tied up in those land disputes and the endless lawsuits and the just no way to ever solve these problems, either in court or outside of court. And it really brought it to the forefront that you realize that they have a lot of these kind of frivolous and difficult problems that we all deal with [00:19:00] today. And I think, again, going back to what I said earlier, we tend to just have this very one dimensional view that they were this sort of whole community block that just all did, were in lockstep with each other, and it's just not like that. [00:19:17] The other thing I explore in the novel and have fun with is their desire to gossip and just really spread these, rumors and innuendo and all of this other stuff. Obviously, a lot of it was part of the driving force of the accusations of witchcraft, but it's really tied up in the same disputes, those family squabbles. They were a big deal obviously, but they go back generations. When you start digging into it, you realize, you know, what a mess it actually is. [00:19:56] Sarah Jack: And it sounds like getting to look inside [00:20:00] the Putnam family the way you are doing it with your novel is a way to redeem them. [00:20:05] Greg Houle: That's a really great point. I hope so. There's a lot of redeeming that needs to be done. The one thing that I've never really been able to quite put my finger on, and I think it's really difficult, because we don't have full knowledge in the historical record, and that sort of thing is what role someone like Thomas really did play. I think, obviously, it's clear he made a lot of accusations. [00:20:34] I'm making a lot of conjecture that was purposeful and political and driven by anger and annoyance and all these other things, but we don't really know how true that is. And we don't know if he got caught up with the people on his side of the argument. And so it's really one of those things where I want to be a little [00:21:00] careful. I certainly don't pull any punches and protect my family members, but I don't really know, and I've never really been able to pinpoint the role precisely that the Putnams played. [00:21:15] And, for me, what's more interesting actually is to think about the role that Ann played as a 12 year old , because, you imagine a scenario where she is really believing that she has done something wrong, or she, like a lot of Puritans at the time, thinking that they've let the devil into their being and into their world. But then there's a part of me that thinks, "or was she just doing what her father wanted her to do?" so it becomes one of those things where those are the unknowable questions that I think are challenging for us to understand. [00:21:55] But you can certainly, looking at the history, looking at [00:22:00] the situation of the Putnam family, you can see where they may have said, "hey, let's just make this thing happen. Let's just keep pushing it forward and see what we can do." And perhaps that was what happened, and that's what's so challenging about this, because we never really will know. But part of what's fun about writing historical fiction is you can then tell the story the way you want to tell it, right? [00:22:27] Josh Hutchinson: I think the way that you're telling it is so important, because to understand how witch hunts happen, we need to get into the head of both sides of them. So we need to know the people who were making the accusations, what were they thinking, what was going on in their minds, so we can learn from that, and I think it's just terrific that you are exploring, getting inside the heads of Thomas and Ann in the way that you [00:23:00] are. [00:23:00] Greg Houle: Thank you. I think you're right. That's the part that is just so fascinating. I think a lot of it, and certainly the work that you're doing here with the podcast is really touching on this as well, but I think we live in modern times, and I think we can't help but think about the way that works today, the way, you know, people are exposed to certain media and develop certain beliefs, and then that manifests itself in certain actions. And so I think the whole time that I've been working on this, that's always been in my mind is it's easy for us in a one dimensional world to say Thomas was just a leader in the community. He was a devout Puritan. He firmly believed that these women were evil, and he just [00:24:00] wanted to cleanse Salem, which, by the way, the novel is a dual narrative between, first person narrative with Thomas and Anne, and he's basically saying that the whole time, he's saying, "no, I'm just trying to cleanse our community." [00:24:14] But I think as intelligent people, we know that cannot possibly be the case, that it isn't just black and white, that there may be an inkling of that there. We don't want to completely dismiss it, but it's just too convenient for him not to have taken the opportunity to, essentially, engage in behavior that resulted in the deaths of many needlessly. [00:24:45] Josh Hutchinson: I like the way you frame it as, in the terms of, dimensions that we look at, history as this one dimensional black and white thing. And I like how you're getting into [00:25:00] the persons of these complicated people, getting into their minds and their characters to analyze them from a human perspective and make them three dimensional. I think that's very important to our modern understanding of how we operate today. [00:25:18] Greg Houle: Yeah, that's right. I think it's a really important component anytime we look at history, I think, for anyone, and I'm sure you both feel the same way. Anyone who has real interest in history tends to be interested in the fact that it's really about people, right? And it's about decisions they make and then how those decisions affect other decisions. And this kind of long stretch of what occurs. And I think, a lot of times, people think of history as a series of events and things that happen at certain dates. And it really is about taking that three dimensional or [00:26:00] multidimensional view and really trying to understand what was going through the minds of people when these things were happening. [00:26:07] I think the probably any legitimate historian listening to me would be very angry, because without actual historical record or information, you can't extrapolate what is actually happening. But I do think the value of something like historical fiction, in this case, is really trying to use your knowledge and the information you have to make those leaps a little bit and try to understand it. [00:26:39] One thing I'll say about the novel is that I really tried hard to make it plausible. Obviously, I wasn't privy to what was going on inside of Thomas or Ann's mind, wasn't privy to a lot of conversations that they may have had with other people, but the world in which they lived [00:27:00] and the thinking that they had were, it's legitimate, and I'm trying to create something is realistic in terms of, how they would respond to those things. And I think, when you look today, at similar manifestations of persecution, you really do the same thing. [00:27:23] Josh Hutchinson: What can you tell us about Ann Jr. And her struggles during all of this? [00:27:31] Greg Houle: She, very early on, was afflicted, and I'm using the air quotes, and struggled a lot with various manifestations of that affliction. But one thing about Ann that you can tell from what sparse information is available about her, is that she was pretty well liked. And she seemed to, at [00:28:00] least the way I present her is, she was a good girl, I guess you could say, for lack of a better way of putting it, that she tried to live the way Puritan girls were meant to be living. [00:28:15] What is very interesting, though, about Ann is in 1706, when she went back to the church in Salem and requested to take communion and become a member of the church. And that was when she essentially apologized, although it was a semi apology. [00:28:42] Sarah Jack: I think readers would love to hear what she was thinking around that. We have the apology, but I wanna know what she was thinking. I've seen so many family researchers or descendants of the accused talk about that, and they have different [00:29:00] perspectives, which I always enjoy reading. Some feel that it was very acceptable, especially based on what her beliefs of the devil's work in her life would've been. Others think it was not really good enough. Getting to hear what was going on in her mind around the apology would be really interesting. [00:29:20] Greg Houle: I agree. It's a very rare example for us to hear from someone who was involved so early on being also involved at the end like this. My view is that Ann was a broken woman at that time, and my thinking, and again I wanna preface this by saying, "of course I could be completely wrong here," but my thinking is that, by that point, everyone knew, of course, that what happened in 1692 was this horrible thing, and she was this last vestige of that. And so [00:30:00] my read of the situation is that she is this outcast, and at the end of the novel, there's a sort of epilogue where this comes up, and the pastor, Pastor Green at the time, is hesitating and thinking, "do I really wanna let this person back into the church? I worked so hard to try to bring us back together." And, ultimately, of course, does, because she really has nothing else. [00:30:29] Both her parents died the same year, in 1699. She never married. By all accounts, her experience was the kind of thing that basically ruined her life. And by the time 1706 rolls around, she basically just realizes that the only thing she has is the church, and she'll do anything to be a part of it. So that's my read. Now, whether or not it is sincere,[00:31:00] I think it's really hard to speculate about. I think that it's very plausible that it was not, but it's also plausible that, there is a way of thinking about it where Ann truly was an innocent victim. Not saying that's the case, but she may very well have manifested all of these afflictions and challenges and that she was encouraged by her father and others and that by the time they were all gone, she thought it was safe now to beg for mercy and try to live a life where she could be member of the church again. [00:31:43] Sarah Jack: I had mentioned family researchers and descendants. I'm wondering, are you ready for other Putnam descendants and other descendants to reach out to you about the book you're writing? [00:31:54] Greg Houle: You know, I really would love to hear what they have to say. I'm sure I could learn a lot [00:32:00] from those folks. So I really am interested in that. You know, I'm not someone who wants to defend the Putnams or what occurred here. So I'm happy to have those discussions. I think that's a very dangerous thing, so I would not wanna do that at all, but I would definitely love to hear what others know, and the Putnam family has a very important long legacy in New England, and there's a lot to be proud of, but this is not one of those events that anyone should be proud of. [00:32:33] Sarah Jack: One of the things that you can be proud of is that there were seven Putnam that signed Rebecca Nurse's petition. [00:32:41] Greg Houle: I think, you know, it speaks to another aspect of the Salem witch hysteria that really fascinates me, is how quickly it seemed to go south, right? The whole collection of events took place in a very short period of time, but it was like [00:33:00] all of a sudden the bottom fell out and everyone realized it was as if they woke up and realized what were we doing? And so that's something that I'm not really that knowledgeable about, would love to know more about, because I think it's really like a community of people realizing at that moment that they were on the wrong side of history and saying, "what are we doing? What have we done? How can we get out of it?" And I think, that's why we see some of this stuff happening so quickly after, and even maybe why we saw Ann petition to, to want to join the church again. [00:33:40] Josh Hutchinson: I can totally relate to that. I'm a descendant of, among others, Joseph Hutchinson, who was one, along with Thomas Putnam, who complained against the original three suspects, but then later on he changes sides and defends Rebecca nurse. [00:34:00] So I've been exploring that a lot in my own mind, how you start off believing in this witchcraft and then at some point you realize you are on the wrong side of history. [00:34:14] Greg Houle: The one thing I'll add to that is, when you think of the first three women who were accused, they were clearly outside the norm of late 17th century Puritan society. Tituba is a slave from the West Indies. Sarah Good is essentially homeless, for the most part. Sarah Osborne was always outside of the norms. In the beginning you think, "of course they're gonna be the ones who were accused." But it's interesting as the accusations continue to fly going forward. When you get to someone like Rebecca Nurse, who is not like those folks, and that she was [00:35:00] well respected, it's almost like the fire burned out of control, and you had a point where maybe people realized, "what are we doing at that point?" I think maybe some of that was what was happening, and that's where you get people switching sides ,and there are multiple cases of that sort of thing. And I think part of that has to do with the fact that, I don't know if anyone really expected it to become this kind of inferno that ended up really engulfing the entire community. [00:35:39] Sarah Jack: Yeah, I think about that too, cuz I think about when I first realized that people were writing testimony and defense of Rebecca and signing some petitions for her, and there were a lot, I remember thinking, "how was this not enough?" And also, [00:36:00] when her verdict was changed on her. I just remember, I'm like, "how could that happen?" And it's just another tell of how out of control, when a fire takes off, sometimes you just don't have enough water to put it out right then, and that was definitely happening. [00:36:20] Greg Houle: Yeah I think in many ways this goes back to the kind of perfect storm that existed, where you have, you know, a community appearance that is moving away from their original purpose, or they know that they're not as pious as they should be at this point, three generations on, you have fear of, " what's gonna happen to our charter? Are we going to remain a colony of England?" And then you have this really burgeoning concern over the native population and the conflicts that were existing there. You have just the [00:37:00] inherent concern that exists within the Puritan religion of, " am I going to heaven?" This idea of predetermination and that you don't even really know and it's all determined. "Am I on God's path? I don't know." [00:37:15] And I think it was almost like this perfect storm, where some things happen. Some people who are outcast get accused as. One would expect in a case like this, and then it just took off from there, and I would contend that people like Thomas Putnam were fanning the flames. There were others, as well. But I think that is part of what speaks to this, is that convergence of all of those different things and the kind of fear and concern about the future and what their world was gonna be like. [00:37:54] I think, also, this may be a reach, they're going into a new century soon, and I think there was a [00:38:00] lot of concern about, " who are we gonna be?" There was, after King Philip's War, there was a lot of concern that it was so gruesome that, "are we turning into these savages, who we claim they are?" So there's all kinds of components here, and I think it's interesting how they all play together. [00:38:18] Josh Hutchinson: It was a grand conflagration. In previous witch trial cases, you'd have one, maybe two people get accused at a time. And I think that's what they expected in the beginning, when you had those first three outsiders accused. But then you get things like Tituba's confession, where she says there's nine witches, and you have people like Samuel Parris fanning the flames every week in church. And, like you said, a perfect storm of ingredients had to come together for it to continue and to expand the way it did.[00:39:00] [00:39:00] Greg Houle: Yeah. And I'm glad you brought up Tituba, because I think that was really the linchpin of a lot of this. And that scene is portrayed in the novel, and the way I portray it is they, it's almost like boiler plate. Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne, of course they're gonna deny it, but we know they're witches. And then Tituba comes and says, "yeah, the devil came to me. Yeah, he wanted me to kill these girls. Yes, there was a yellow bird," and saying all this stuff that they are suddenly thinking, "whoa, wait a minute, we weren't expecting this." [00:39:36] So I think in many ways her saying the things that she said to the magistrates really helped get the wheels turning in the heads of a lot of people like Thomas Putnam. Again, it's conjecture, I know, but I think that it's an interesting concept to think about that, that really helped turn the tide a little [00:40:00] bit and fan the flames further. [00:40:02] Sarah Jack: And, like you said, there was this uncertainty with the charter. We know there was deceit with the new charter that ended up coming, but the court that was opened that, that was certain, that had procedure. It gave the powerful men power. So you had that piece sliding in when everything else was uncertain. [00:40:27] Greg Houle: Yeah, that's a really important point. It was a sense of certainty at a time of great uncertainty. And that helps push the process along. And, also, and maybe we're gonna touch on this, but the other aspect that really fascinates me is how, the new governor's wife suddenly gets accused and everything falls apart at that point. So it also is a nice button to the story in the sense that you realize these external forces [00:41:00] are really what is driving this, rather than the Satan, the underworld, these dark forces. It's endlessly fascinating, but there are all kinds of those markers along the way that you see, where you realize, "okay, this is why this happened, or this is why this didn't happen, and et cetera." [00:41:21] Sarah Jack: Yeah, I'm thinking, when would've the devil have got his foot in the door on some of this? It was already full. [00:41:28] Greg Houle: I don't know. Yeah. I think again, looking at it from our eyes now with everything we see and just seeing the, maybe some of it, and it's not, not trying to be political, and the novel is not political in that regard, but I think it's, we see divisions in our own society and you see how those divisions are further exploited. And so it's very easy to look back through that lens and [00:42:00] see where that is happening. And I think I was doing a lot of that as I was researching and writing this, this novel. [00:42:08] Josh Hutchinson: So what does it boil down to? What you are trying to say through your writing on the Putnams? [00:42:16] Greg Houle: That's a really great question. For me, the biggest thing that I want to say, I think about the Putnam's is that it's the story of this privileged family who was losing its privilege. And in many ways, as that happened, you see what the family did in order to try to retain that power. For me, that's what I kept coming back to, is that there is this sort of multi-generational, pretty powerful family that is losing its power in [00:43:00] that moment, and the years leading up to the Salem witch hysteria, it's a fading family. That's why I said earlier that a good subtitle for the book would be The Fall of an American Family, because I think it really is that kind of story, and so for me it's about telling that story through this sort of famous American tragedy. And that's, I think, probably the biggest thing that I want to try to do. [00:43:32] Sarah Jack: When you talk about their fall, and when one reads about all of their tactics with what was happening with all the families and the boundaries and stuff, they were really put trying to push forward. They were really fighting tooth and nail to not lose footing. [00:43:51] Greg Houle: That's something that I really try to explore through various flashbacks and so forth. And the novel is just the [00:44:00] idea that Thomas Jr., In particular, has the weight of the world on his shoulders. His father did so much to try to build it up, and now it's all on him, and you can feel it slipping away. But he's very arrogant, and he's got a lot of hubris, and he just is gonna keep saying that he's great. And what's interesting about how it appears during the witch hysteria at Salem is that you see there, you witness the fall, you witness the way in which he was trying to take advantage of this opportunity and failing, ultimately. [00:44:44] And that's what I really enjoyed exploring, even though it is a tragic story within my own family. And of course, again, a lot of this is fiction. I don't wanna sound like I know everything that went on inside his [00:45:00] head, but I do think that it's all plausible, and I think, the way the story sort of progresses before and after Salem, you see it, as we already talked about with Ann, you see what happens to her. She fades from history at that point. And that's, in many ways, a metaphor for the entire family. Now, I don't mean to say that my Putnam family no longer exists. They're fine. They're all over the country, but it's not the same. So that is what I was trying to tell that story through this major event. [00:45:38] Josh Hutchinson: What do you hope people take away from your stories and your novel? [00:45:43] Greg Houle: I think the biggest thing I'd like for them to take away is realize that what we've been talking about in terms of the multi-dimensional aspect of history is real. When we think of [00:46:00] the Salem witch hysteria, we often think about it as, "well, there was witchcraft and these, this monolithic group of puritans then went crazy and accused witches and then put them to death," but the reality, of course, is that there were a lot of things that led up to that and a lot of things that happened after it. And I think for me the biggest takeaway's for people to see this story as a larger story, as the story of various things occurring at the same time, rather than just this one snapshot of an event. [00:46:46] Because, going back to what I said earlier, my feeling with Salem is that it is often almost like a caricature of what we talk about, this idea that this thing happened [00:47:00] and isn't that crazy? But the reality is it happened for a variety of reasons. And to me the biggest takeaway that someone reading the novel would get would be, "wow, I understand that there are multidimensions to this. And isn't that an interesting way of thinking of it? [00:47:20] Sarah Jack: I think right now as a society, there's a growing number of people who are learning to look at history dimensionally. So many of us were taught it as a snapshot, and I think everyone is ready. Not everyone, I think the amount of people ready to take a deeper look is now, and I think that's why historical fiction is important, and the history's important, but I think it's great timing. I think your book is coming at a great, I know it's, you still have a little while before it's released, but that just means more people are gonna be ready to receive it. [00:47:56] Greg Houle: I think the same is true with podcasts. I think that's why we're having a [00:48:00] moment with podcasts. I think that's why, even when you look at like true crime series and things that really take a deep dive into these stories that were often very flat and one dimensional, I think that is, you're right that we're at a time where a lot of people are interested in that, and for me that was really what I was trying to do here is create some dimension to this story. Now, I don't claim to be the first person ever to do that, many others have, but I think that there needs to be as much of that as possible, in order for people to be able to connect to the elements that we hopefully will learn from and avoid, as we go into the future. [00:48:45] Josh Hutchinson: I think your writing is so important to help people understand what really happened. I know it is fiction, but it gets people into the right mindset to [00:49:00] start exploring possibilities of what happened and to reflect on what's happening now. So I highly recommend that everybody read it. How can people access your writing currently? [00:49:14] Greg Houle: I guess the easiest way is they can visit my website, which is greghoule.info, that's g r e g h o u l e.info. There are links to some of my writing about the book, and I'll continue to build that up prior to publication. [00:49:32] Josh Hutchinson: Thank you. We very much appreciate you and your wisdom, and you've gone a long way towards answering the fundamental questions that are behind the podcast. We like to get in every episode part of the how do we hunt witches why do we hunt witches, how can we turn away from hunting witches? And your [00:50:00] answers have been quite elegant, speaking on those questions. [00:50:05] Greg Houle: Obviously, it was much different, but they had the same sensibilities. They wanted to succeed. They wanted to defeat their enemies, and they wanted to make sure that their kids succeeded. And there were a lot of the same fears that they had that are very familiar to us today. [00:50:27] Josh Hutchinson: Yeah. I like to point out that witch hunting in one form or another has been going on as long as humans have been around, because we, though the technology evolves and our beliefs evolve, at the core of us, we still have those same insecurities and fears that you point out. [00:50:51] And now Sarah's here with another update on real-life witch-hunts happening in the present day. [00:50:58] Sarah Jack: Welcome to this [00:51:00] episodes Witchcraft Fear Victim Advocacy Report, sponsored by End Witch Hunts News. Today's Thanksgiving 2022 in the United States. I thank you for tuning into our weekly End Witch Hunts News. Thank you to the advocates across the globe standing in the gap. For those who can't, thank you for being an activist against witchcraft. [00:51:21] On its 47th session, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on July 12th, 2021 for the promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economics, social, and cultural rights, including the right to development. Here is what they resolved regarding the situation of the violations and abuses of human rights rooted in harmful practices related to accusations of witchcraft and ritual attacks. It requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to organize an expert consultation with states and other relevant stakeholders, including the United Nations [00:52:00] Secretariat and relevant bodies, representatives of subregional and regional organizations, international human rights mechanisms, national human rights institutions, and non-governmental organizations, the result of which will help the office of the High Commissioner to prepare a study on the situation of the violations that abuses of human rights, rooted in harmful practices related to accusations of witchcraft and ritual attacks, as well as stigmatization and to inform further action by existing mechanisms at the United Nations and to submit a report thereon to the Human Rights Council at its 52nd session. [00:52:39] Mr. Volker Turk is the current United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. He took up official functions as high commissioner on October 17th, 2022. His Twitter handle is @ V O L K E R _ T U R K. Let him know you support his taking a suggested action on the [00:53:00] resolution. Let him know people like you stand against these violations and support finding solutions. Thank him for his work and accomplishments. [00:53:07] Next, support the Connecticut Witch Trial Exoneration Project. You can support the project by sharing @_endwitchhunts, CT Witch Hunt, and CT Witch Memorial social media, and especially the news interviews in the first three Thou Shalt Not Suffer Podcast episodes. You can support the project by signing your name on the change.org petition. All these links are in our show episode notes. Go to the links, learn, support, and share. [00:53:36] When the state of Connecticut moves forward with an exoneration for their accused witches, they're taking state action that stands with the promotion and protection of all human rights. Their exoneration decision is for Connecticut, but it is also for Africa and Asia. Their decision shows where they stand on violations and abuses of human rights, rooted in harmful practices related to accusations of witchcraft and ritual attacks, as [00:54:00] well as stigma. [00:54:01] While we watch and wait, let's support the victims across the world where innocent people are being targeted by superstitious fear. Support them by acknowledging and sharing their stories. Please use all your communication channels to be an intervener and stand with them. The world must stop hunting witches. Please follow our End Witch Hunt movement on Twitter @_endwitchhunts and visit our website at endwitchhunts.org. [00:54:25] Josh Hutchinson: Thank you, Sarah. [00:54:26] Sarah Jack: You're welcome. Join us next week. [00:54:29] Josh Hutchinson: Like, subscribe, or follow wherever you get podcasts. [00:54:32] Sarah Jack: Visit thoushaltnotsuffer.com often. [00:54:35] Josh Hutchinson: And join our Discord for rousing discussions of the show. [00:54:41] Sarah Jack: Follow us on social media, links in description. [00:54:45] Josh Hutchinson: Remember to tell your friends, family, and anybody else you run into about Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast. [00:54:53] Sarah Jack: Catch you next time. [00:54:55] Josh Hutchinson: Have a great today and a beautiful tomorrow. [00:54:59] [00:55:00]