Descendants of Connecticut Witch Trial Victims

Descendants of Connecticut Witch Trial Victims Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast

Presenting intimate interviews with the descendants of Connecticut witch trial victims. They discuss why the exoneration of Connecticut witch trial victims is important to them and to the accused witches in our modern world.  Learn how discovering this ancestry impacted descendant lives and why the stories of their accused witch ancestors must be talked about.  Grab a tissue box and get ready to feel the emotions.Descendents:Sherry KuiperAlse FreemanRosemary LangMorgan Leigh KelseySue BaileyLaura SecordCaitlin GoldenSarah JackLinks:Entertaining Satan: Witchcraft and the Culture of Early New England by John Putnam Demos Annie Eliot Trumbull, "One Blank of Windsor", Literary Section, Hartford Courant, December 3, 1904 (requires subscription or free trial) Detestable and Wicked Arts, Paul B. MoyerPlease sign the petition to exonerate those accused of witchcraft in ConnecticutJoin the CT Witch Trial Exoneration Project Discord ServerMary Lousie Bingham on the Connecticut Accused WitchesCT W.I.T.C.H. MemorialSalem Witch-Hunt The Witch Trials Hysteria History of the American Colonies Samuel Wyllys Papers Associated Daughters of Early American WitchesWitchcraft Belief by Boris GershmanLeo Igwe, AfAWAdvocacy Against Witch Hunts, South AfricaEnd Witch Hunts ProjectsJoin us on Discord to share your ideas and feedback.WebsiteTwitterFacebookInstagramLinkedInYouTubeTikTokBuzzsproutSupport the show

Show Notes

Presenting intimate interviews with the descendants of Connecticut witch trial victims. They discuss why the exoneration of Connecticut witch trial victims is important to them and to the accused witches in our modern world.  Learn how discovering this ancestry impacted descendant lives and why the stories of their accused witch ancestors must be talked about.  Grab a tissue box and get ready to feel the emotions.


Sherri Kuiper

Alse Freeman

Rosemary Lang

Morgan Leigh Kelsey

Sue Bailey

Laura Secord

Caitlin Golden

Sarah Jack


Entertaining Satan: Witchcraft and the Culture of Early New England by John Putnam Demos
Annie Eliot Trumbull, “One Blank of Windsor”, Literary Section, Hartford Courant, December 3, 1904 (requires subscription or free trial)
Detestable and Wicked Arts, Paul B. Moyer
Please sign the petition to exonerate those accused of witchcraft in Connecticut
Join the CT Witch Trial Exoneration Project Discord Server
Mary Lousie Bingham on the Connecticut Accused Witches
CT W.I.T.C.H. Memorial
Salem Witch-Hunt
The Witch Trials Hysteria History of the American Colonies
Samuel Wyllys Papers
Associated Daughters of Early American Witches
Witchcraft Belief by Boris Gershman
Leo Igwe, AfAW
Advocacy Against Witch Hunts, South Africa
End Witch Hunts Projects
Join us on Discord to share your ideas and feedback.

Support the show


[00:00:00] Josh Hutchinson: Welcome to Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast. I'm Josh Hutchinson. 
[00:00:27] Sarah Jack: And I'm Sarah Jack.
[00:00:28] Josh Hutchinson: In this episode, we speak with descendants of Connecticut witch trial victims about efforts to exonerate their ancestors.
[00:00:37] Sarah Jack: I am one of those descendants. 
[00:00:39] Josh Hutchinson: Im not descended from anyone accused in Connecticut, but I am descended from some of the Salem accused. 
[00:00:48] Sarah Jack: I am as well. That's why when I found Winifred Benham in my tree, and it said that she was the Witch of Wallingford, Connecticut, and I looked into it, and she was [00:01:00] actually an accused witch, I was very baffled, cuz I knew nothing about witch trials outside of Salem. 
[00:01:06] Josh Hutchinson: Not many people know there were witch trials and Connecticut, but we're hoping to change that. 
[00:01:13] Sarah Jack: That is changing.
[00:01:15] Josh Hutchinson: More people are learning every day. There's been a lot of it in the news lately. And, of course, we've done several episodes of the podcast about Connecticut. And people are finding out through social media, as well.
[00:01:29] Sarah Jack: It's a very exciting change for the history, and I'm really hoping that the descendants can start to feel camaraderie and learn about their ancestors from each other. And I'm looking forward to seeing what Connecticut decides to do with this history. 
[00:01:50] Josh Hutchinson: Hopefully, they do the right thing with it and exonerate those accused and make this part of everyone's education, so people know the [00:02:00] stories, and we don't make these same mistakes again. 
[00:02:03] Sarah Jack: We're gonna find out what these descendants that we've brought together have to say about those things. 
[00:02:09] Josh Hutchinson: I'm sure they have some good things to say, perhaps some profound things to say about their feelings, how they felt when they discovered these ancestors, how they feel now, what they think about the ConnecticutWitch Trial Exoneration Project. 
[00:02:27] Sarah Jack: Watching this exoneration project come together has been really beautiful. 
[00:02:33] Josh Hutchinson: We've come a long way since May. 
[00:02:37] Sarah Jack: We have. In May, there was just a few of us trying to talk about it. We were throwing it out there. Who can hear us? 
[00:02:45] Josh Hutchinson: And I was just watching you tweet. But then we came together in June and formed the project. And we've had media attention. We've got the podcast going. We've got the social media going. There are eyes on it [00:03:00] now.
[00:03:00] Sarah Jack: There is, we've learned a lot from many of the descendants.
[00:03:05] Josh Hutchinson: The resolution is being discussed by members of the Connecticut General Assembly. We're hoping that they do take it up to vote on it in their next session. 
[00:03:17] Sarah Jack: Which is upon us soon. 
[00:03:20] Josh Hutchinson: Soon, soon. Starts the beginning of January, in fact. But I know it runs until June. So we'll just keep plugging away while they're working. We'll be trying to get their ears and to get them to focus on this and get it done, hopefully sooner rather than later.
[00:03:43] Sarah Jack: I definitely think they'll have some things to think about after hearing the powerful words of our descendants on this episode.
[00:03:51] Josh, do you have any Connecticut history for us today?
[00:03:54] Josh Hutchinson: For this episode's history segment, I'm going to talk about the witch trial victims who were the [00:04:00] ancestors of the descendants we spoke to. There are five ancestors of these eight individuals.
[00:04:08] Four of the descendants are related to Alice Young of Windsor, who was the first known person to be executed for witchcraft in the American colonies on May 26th, 1647. 
[00:04:27] One of our descendants is related to Lydia Gilbert of Windsor, who was hanged in 1654. 
[00:04:35] Another is related to Rebecca Greensmith of Hartford, who was hanged in 1662 or 3 with her husband, Nathaniel. 
[00:04:46] And we have Mary Barnes of Farmington, who was hanged in 1663. 
[00:04:52] And, finally, our Sarah Jack is descended from Winifred Behnam, Sr. of Wallingford, [00:05:00] who was the second of three generations of women to be accused of witchcraft. Her mother, Mary Hale, was hanged for witchcraft in Boston. Winifred Sr. was acquitted of witchcraft twice, and her daughter Winifred Behnam, Jr. was also acquitted of witchcraft. Their last trials were in 1697, and so they were the last two accused of witchcraft to be taken to trial.
[00:05:39] Sarah Jack: Awesome. Josh, thank you for covering all that descendant and ancestor information for us today. 
[00:05:45] Josh Hutchinson: It was my pleasure. I'm really looking forward to talking to these descendants now. 
[00:05:51] Sarah Jack: And here are my fellow descendants talking about their ancestors and why this project has been important to them.[00:06:00] Sherry Kuiper, descendant of Alice Young, Alse C. Freeman, descendant of Alice Young, Rosemary Lang, descendant of Mary Barnes, Morgan Leigh Kelsey, descendant of Alice Young, Sue Bailey, descendant of Alice Young, Laura Secord, descendant of Lydia Gilbert, Caitlin Golden, descendant of Rebecca Greensmith, and Sarah Jack, descendant of Winifred Benham, Sr. 
[00:06:30] Josh Hutchinson: How did you find out about your ancestor who was accused of witchcraft? 
[00:06:35] Sherry?
[00:06:37] Sherry Kuiper: My mom's retired, and she's the one who does all the research in our family, and I'm the one who will say, "get in the car, and let's drive to Connecticut and see what we can find." And we like it that way. It works really well. And we call it visits, right? We go visit our ancestors. 
[00:06:51] So she has a cousin that they do some research together on the family, and we were all together one day, and he said, [00:07:00] "I think we have an accused witch." And I was like, "no way." I didn't believe it, and then he said, "it's on the internet. Look it up." And I was like, "okay." I mean, Google's great and all, but that's not how genealogy works, right? And my mom was like, "let's just look and see." And so we started looking, and it made some logical sense, so then my mom really started digging into it. All the way up until her daughter, we had a paper trail, and then the Associated Daughters of Early American Witches, which is one of the many lineage societies out there, but this one is dedicated to those accused and hanged of witchcraft. They had that missing link from her daughter to her. So it was really just this conversation. In fact, I was the naysayer. I was like, "there's no way we have somebody who's this fascinating a part of American history. And early American history." But he was absolutely right, and we were able to do the research and prove it. 
[00:07:57] Josh Hutchinson: Alse C.? 
[00:07:59] Alse Freeman: [00:08:00] My sibling, who had access to the family history library, did extensive genealogical work, and somehow I had missed the bottom line of their research, which all it said was Alse Young, 1600 to 1647, parentheses, "witch." And I don't think I had even gotten to the bottom of that list, but it was in March of 2020 that I went and had a gathering with a lot of my family members on my dad's side, and they were talking about their ancestors with certain fondness. 
[00:08:34] And then right after that, the pandemic hit, and I felt, "well, I, I want to go deep into this genealogy myself," and it was a chance I could do a free trial for one month on one of these websites and learn a lot more than I already knew. But my sibling had already done all this great research, so most of what I did was just corroborate, fact checking various other people's [00:09:00] accounts, making sure that there was no errors in what my sibling done. And it's led back to Alse Young, died in 1647.
[00:09:08] Josh Hutchinson: Rosemary? 
[00:09:11] Rosemary Lang: This genealogy was presented to my mother when I was a baby, and when I was older, I read about it and found out about Mary Barnes being an accused witch, and in the genealogy it said she was accused of drunkenness and fornication. So I was just appalled, and I started looking into her a little bit, and that was probably 40 years ago, and I found nothing. But there seems to be a whole lot more online, especially, to find out about her. But I'm not ashamed or anything about it, because she was probably just an innocent woman.
[00:09:50] And I remember quite a few years ago there was a presentation at the old State House in Hartford. It was made as a Halloweeny event, [00:10:00] and they had a little play going, and it was about Mary Barns, and I knew that we were descended from her somehow. So I went to this play, and the Old State House was packed, and I think I was the only one that cried. I thought, "oh my God, this is my relative. It's so sad." And for everybody else, it was just a Halloween event. 
[00:10:21] Josh Hutchinson: Morgan?
[00:10:23] Morgan Leigh Kelsey: So my dad passed away in 2016, and he had done a lot of genealogy. So Alice is on his father's side, and he had done up to one generation prior to Alice, to Alice's daughter, the other Alice, and when I saw Alice's name, there was some kind of knowing within me that just sparked a curiosity and a need to dig further. And so I ended up just simply googling [00:11:00] "Alice Young," and all of a sudden it brings up that she was the first in the colonies to be executed, and I felt pretty shocked by that, very shocked by that. 
[00:11:12] Josh Hutchinson: Sue?
[00:11:13] Sue Bailey: A friend of Beth Caruso's from Windsor is my massage therapist, and her name's Donna, and she told me, "oh yeah, my friend wrote a book about the first accused witch that was executed, and I said, "oh, that's really cool." And I thought, "well, that's really interesting."
[00:11:31] I had my genetics done, and I see this relative that was a second cousin. I'm like, "who is this person?" So you can email someone through 23andme, which I did. He was an elderly gentleman, but his daughter answered me and said, "oh, I've done a lot of research on the family on that side," that would be my mother's father's side, "and we're related to the first person executed as a witch in the colonies." And I said, "oh my God, it must be Alice Young." And it [00:12:00] was, and then I started looking just online through all the genealogies that are available. I'm actually paying a genealogist to do a whole view of all four sides of me now, just because I wanna perhaps show my kids, and they thought it was pretty cool.
[00:12:16] Josh Hutchinson: Laura?
[00:12:18] Laura Secord: My husband is a historian, genealogist, and I think he'd gone in his family all the way back to the beginning of time, and one day he just came and he was looking at my family. I didn't even know he was looking at my family. And he came and said, "well, your great, great, great, great, great was found guilty of witchcraft in Connecticut in 1654."
[00:12:42] Josh Hutchinson: Caitlin? 
[00:12:44] Caitlin Golden: So I am an avid ancestry user, like the, and I had found her name, but I didn't look too much into her until I got a hint that was talking about the witch trials, and of course that was eye-catching to me, and so I read about her, and I'm like, "oh my [00:13:00] gosh."
[00:13:00] I never knew about the Connecticut Witch Trials. Of course, I knew about Salem. We talked about it in school, but the Connecticut Witch Trials was never something I knew about. I knew that Salem wasn't the only trials. But then I researched her, and my jaw dropped. It's absolutely insane and horrible what she and all of these other victims went through, and it just hurts knowing like she was a mother, and I can't imagine how her children felt.
[00:13:27] Josh Hutchinson: Thank you, Caitlin. Finally, we have our very own host, Sarah Jack.
[00:13:34] Sarah Jack: I was working on a family line, and it was one of the first ones that took me into Connecticut, and I started reading through documents, and I saw that this person was an accused witch, and I didn't understand how that could be, because it was not Salem.
[00:13:54] Josh Hutchinson: Thank you, Sarah. 
[00:13:55] How did you feel when you learned about your ancestor, [00:14:00] who was accused of witchcraft?
[00:14:03] Sherry Kuiper: When I was in college, I took a really amazing class at Edinboro University with a woman named Dr. Jenrette, and she did a class called History of Witchcraft, which was about the Reformation, all the way up through the Salem Witch Trials. And she took us to Salem on Halloween weekend, and it was amazing, right? Probably the coolest class trip in the world.
[00:14:23] I've always been interested in that and always fascinated by it. I don't know if I had any feelings of anything. I thought it was, I hate to say this because people died, but I thought it was really cool, because I thought that these people who did get accused and didn't die from it, they were kind of badasses, if I'm allowed to swear on your podcast. They were people who really kind of bucked the system in a lot of ways, and usually that's what got them to be an outcast, or they were different.
[00:14:53] In that respect, I thought it was really cool that my ancestor was somebody who was causing enough trouble that they felt that [00:15:00] this was the way to deal with her, and then when a lot of my friends found out, you know, a lot of them were like, "we're not surprised that you were descendant from somebody like this." So that's kind of how that initial feeling was. And then of course, you know, it just kept going from there. And then really understanding, too, like yeah, there's that kind of interesting history part of it, but then there's the reality part of it, of what really happened to these people, my ancestor and all the others, and then that kind of manifested more into a little bit of activism that all of us share today.
[00:15:32] Alse Freeman: Once I kind of knew that connection with 95% certainty, I tried to read anything I could to find out more about her, and really there just wasn't very much at all. Just putting myself in her shoes at the time, it really just struck me with extreme sadness. Like I remember getting goosebumps all over my body and just like a chill running through my body and a sinking feeling in my stomach, just [00:16:00] putting myself into her shoes and being, almost being there on the gallows, looking down at my six or seven year old daughter. 
[00:16:10] And then putting myself in that daughter's shoes, who's also my ancestor, of looking up at her mother thinking, " what's going on? I don't understand what's happening." And just that moment, whether or not it's actually how things went down. I really was chilled by it, and it really stuck with me, and I wept, and part of the reason I wept, I think, is just this extreme feeling of injustice that was.
[00:16:38] And so much injustice has been done to so many people through our nation's history, but this was like a really visceral feeling for me, where I, I actually felt connected with my ancestor in a way that I hadn't felt very connected to any other ancestor that I had ever heard about. 
[00:16:57] I had this connection with Alse and [00:17:00] her daughter, and so it was soon after that that I decided to carry the name Alse, or Alse C. is how I pronounce it, so I could still keep the letter C from my given name. But I felt like it was a way that I could honor my ancestor and keep her memory alive in a way. 
[00:17:19] From there, I realized that there were hundreds and thousands of people potentially who were interested in the same thing, who were also descendants. I got connected with Beth Caruso's Connecticut WITCH Memorial Facebook page and started following those updates. And those updates led me to learn about the campaign to have the witch hanging victims exonerated. And so everything's just flowed from there, where I've seen that there's potentially hundreds of thousands of people, who if they knew, they are actually descended from these witch hanging victims. And potentially millions of Americans are connected in some way to this legacy through [00:18:00] their blood.
[00:18:00] Sarah Jack: I was baffled. I was very eager to get more information, and then I was quickly disappointed that there really wasn't much, and Connecticut wasn't offering information about their Witch trials, so I really had to dig around, and I found that extremely disappointing.
[00:18:23] Josh Hutchinson: Do you think your ancestor should be exonerated? 
[00:18:28] Alse Freeman: There's no graveyard that I can actually go visit my ancestor. There's just a brick in Hartford in the courthouse square, and it feels not like a true memorial. It just says "witch hanging victim" and doesn't really speak to who she was as a person. We don't have very many details. 
[00:18:48] I just wanna be clear that, you know, my ancestor's exoneration is not more important than other wrongfully accused people, and so I'm really grateful that your podcast is [00:19:00] also highlighting modern-day victims of the witch hunts. Another thing I just wanna mention is our country has a huge reckoning to do, in terms of understanding its past and making amends and seeking justice. 
[00:19:14] Specifically focusing on the case of Alse, absolutely she needs to be exonerated by the state of Connecticut, because first of all, there's no record of any actual harm she committed upon anyone. There are no records. Secondly, if current laws do not penalize practices which can be considered witchcraft, then those who are punished for them need exoneration under the current laws, is the way I see it. And it's just as simple as the state of Connecticut allowing posthumous pardons.
[00:19:45] This should not be such a big challenge, and it should just be a stepping stone to open the door to all types of people rectifying injustice that have been committed against them and their families. 
[00:19:59] Rosemary Lang: [00:20:00] Yes, of course, I think they all, all of them should be, especially because did she really do any harm to anybody? Was it just people's words that accused her? She should be exonerated, and I think they all should be. I don't think whatever she did does she deserved to be hanged for. So I hope they do exonerate them. 
[00:20:26] Morgan Leigh Kelsey: I do. I do. I think that it's also complicated. There's a lot of layers there. I think that it is important to exonerate or to restore the good name. One, just to kind of bring some light to that and to bring some awareness to people. Generally, if I'm talking with anybody about that, I feel like there's always some sort of an education that ends up happening, because they're like, " I didn't know," or people just think, "oh, you [00:21:00] know, the witches, they burn the witches. They hung the witches. What are the witches, really?" 
[00:21:06] What do we often do to people who might be a little different or might be the people that are the healers, the people that are bringing truth and light to situations, and nobody wants to hear or accept that sometimes. Just the fact that people could have gotten together, tortured people, then killed them, and said that that was okay, and that that was in the name of God is horrific, and I think that people really should be made aware of that.
[00:21:45] Sue Bailey: Yes, I do. And I can't even believe there was, when this was brought up in 2008 in the legislature that they didn't do it. What in the world are they thinking? That, "well, we don't have any proof they weren't [00:22:00] witches." What kinda crazy thing is that? How is it that they couldn't say, "of course we're gonna exonerate them?" Salem did it. Why in the world wouldn't we? It doesn't make sense. 
[00:22:09] Laura Secord: I have like a list of reasons witches need to be exonerated, because they're innocent. First of all, the main reason is they were innocent. They were falsely accused. They were almost always women. So there was not entirely, but the bulk were women. They weren't weak. They weren't women that were easily duped by evil. They were the participants who helped to build this country, mothers, wives, helpmates, human beings, healers. Without them, we wouldn't have created what we have in this country now.
[00:22:47] Because their lives and their stories paint a clear picture of what our country's beginning was like. Because as modern persons, you and I have attained levels of knowledge and [00:23:00] education, and we now understand the science of nature behind the colonists' irrational fear. Because women were part of founding this country. Because these persons are our family and we want them remembered, celebrated, and honored, instead of carrying the stain of disgrace based in ignorance and hysteria. And because today forces of false truth, hysteria, and misogyny are rising up again, vilifying and naming women criminals, liars, and manipulators.
[00:23:41] Caitlin Golden: Just like everyone else, she was innocent. She was just trying her best to live. Just live a simple life back then, and this is just a big human rights violation. Simply because people disliked her, and she didn't have a good reputation, they figured, "hey, let's just call [00:24:00] her a witch, and that's all of her we'll see." It's wrong and it's horrible. 
[00:24:05] Sarah Jack: Yes. I wanna acknowledge that they should not have been water tested, that they should not have had to flee.
[00:24:13] Josh Hutchinson: Why is it important for your ancestor's name to be cleared? 
[00:24:17] Sherry Kuiper: It's not even just her name, right? It's all of their names. It doesn't matter if it was three days ago or 300 years ago, a wrong thing was done. And even though that the state of Connecticut saying, "I'm sorry, Sherry, that we did this to your grandmother" isn't gonna change anything, just that recognition that, "hey, this was a crappy thing that happened and it should have never happened." Sometimes we have to own those mistakes, even though we might have not been the ones who directly made it.
[00:24:45] Do I think anybody alive today had anything to do with this? Absolutely not. But just to, Really remind people because, you can look at some things going on in society today, and there's been references made to modern-day witch-hunts. And while we [00:25:00] might not hang people from trees like that happened to Alice, there are still things going on today, and we just need to remind ourselves how easy we can fall into those traps.
[00:25:10] It's just important for all of those people, all those ancestors. I can prove that this is my grandmother. So to say that nobody around today cares is not fair, and, frankly, I think that it's, while I'm sure there's red tape of bureaucracy, as there always is, I don't think it's as hard as they're making it to just come together and say, "these people are no longer accused, and we exonerate them." And I am glad that there are people finally in the state of Connecticut who are trying to help us move towards that resolution. 
[00:25:43] Rosemary Lang: The cider goes bad, and they're accused of being a witch, or all the children in the town get sick but your own, so you must be in league with the devil to protect them. Stupid things like that. It was just so unfair. [00:26:00] Nobody listened to anything they said. I'm sure it was a jury of all men. Magistrates were all men. They were just lowly housewives, so nobody cared what they had to say. So, yes, they should all be exonerated.
[00:26:16] Sarah Jack: It's important, because although we don't know much about them, we do know that they were not witches. I don't want anybody in this country confused anymore about these victims that went through these witch trials. And if the state of Connecticut clears the names of their accused, it's a giant statement towards clarifying that these were innocent people.
[00:26:44] Josh Hutchinson: Why is exoneration relevant today?
[00:26:48] Alse Freeman: I think exoneration is relevant today because this case and these cases of the 11 witch-hanging victims in Connecticut can be a [00:27:00] teachable moment for us that these people were scapegoated in the past, most likely for something they did not do wrong, but some huge upheavals were happening in society at the time.
[00:27:15] There was a flu outbreak that was killing a lot of people, including many children, as Beth Caruso points out in her research. And so you gotta look at what's going on today with how people are being scapegoated for the various ills that are afflicting society.
[00:27:35] What I'm hopeful for is that my ancestor's case can be this way to highlight retrospectively how scapegoating is a part of our culture, how we're constantly looking for someone to blame. These days, often it's very in a very partisan way, but throughout [00:28:00] our nation's history, we have blamed others. We've blamed The Other for a lot of our collective problems that need a collective solution.
[00:28:11] Just to bring up the history of our treatment of the indigenous people of this country. And it's just, it's heartbreaking. To me, it's an even higher level of heartbreaking even than just my ancestors standing on the gallows. I know that other ancestors of mine participated in some of these colonial battles and even enslaved an indigenous child, um, one of my ancestors did. And so that for me is a great reckoning that I need to come to terms with myself. And I think it's very hard for our country to come to terms with that part of the story, so it's a little easier for us to focus on the tragedy in the colony, but the tragedy outside the colony was [00:29:00] just so monumental that, in the course of what we're doing, we need to like remember that that is a part of it, too. That is the context in which this was happening. I think just like acknowledging that the people were there before these, the colonies would be one starting point. 
[00:29:20] Sue Bailey: I think the passage of time doesn't negate the wrong. Just because it's a long time ago doesn't mean that it's too late to do some sort of retroactive exoneration to right a wrong. And it would be for all the relatives. Some people might think, "oh, well that was cool that they were accused of. I like to think that they were really a Witch or something." 
[00:29:49] I just can't help but think most people, when they find out they had a relative that goes back nine, 10 generations, that's a person just like we are, that [00:30:00] has all the same feelings and fears and loves people. And why would their death be any less meaningful 375 years later? It's still the fact that they were put to death wrongly, undoubtedly wrongly. It's just an injustice that needs to be addressed, even 375 years later. 
[00:30:24] Caitlin Golden: While most of us look at witch trials as though that's just in my history book, it's still happening today in other countries around the world. And so if we make a good example, maybe it'll stop worldwide.
[00:30:37] Sarah Jack: I hope that when Connecticut exonerates their accused witches that it'll send a message and a signal to leaders in communities in other parts of the world, where witch-hunts are being tolerated. I want the message to be that we must stand against witch-hunting, that it's [00:31:00] no longer something that is acceptable, that it is murder, that it is destroying families, and it does not need to happen anymore.
[00:31:12] Josh Hutchinson: What would you like to say to the Connecticut General Assembly about why your ancestor should be exonerated? 
[00:31:21] Sherry Kuiper: Just do it. Like, seriously, it's really that easy. And I know we can come up with lots of reasons why it's difficult , but just do it. I mean, because people said to me, "well, Sherry, it happened so long ago. Who cares?" I'm like, "well, then just do it. Who cares? Just get up there and say it. Sign the piece of paper and be done with it." 
[00:31:40] It's the right thing to do and you just gotta do it. And Massachusetts has done it. Salem has fully embraced what has happened to their people, to almost to do a complete 180 or 360 really of what happened there. So I just tell state of Connecticut, just review it, do what you gotta do, but get it done. It's long overdue, and there's no [00:32:00] reason we should be waiting any longer. 
[00:32:01] Alse Freeman: I think the basic requests we have are acknowledge that the injustice happened, recognize officially the innocence of these 11 victims who are executed, and recognize not only their suffering, but also their families and their descendants. Removing the ill fame from their descendants is one part of it. Reversing the charge is the bottom line.
[00:32:29] But I would add one extra thing, which is just we need to educate people on this history, not just a little paragraph on Wikipedia, but people need to be taught in schools about what happened in our country. And it's gonna be a long story to tell, but that is part of the way you can get closer to a country that has justice, which we are supposedly a country of justice and a country of laws. So you can't tell that story and then [00:33:00] hide the story where injustice was committed. And so the basic step forward is we need to move on to an education piece after we've exonerated these people, because their story needs to continue to be told. It's not just close the book and never talk about them again.
[00:33:19] Rosemary Lang: Because Mary Barnes was just a housewife and a mother taking care of her farm and her children. She was accused of something, we don't even really know what, that probably didn't harm anybody, and she should be exonerated. In all fairness, all of them should be.
[00:33:42] Morgan Leigh Kelsey: If that passes, that to me almost feels like it heals something in my DNA and in the DNA of others and in the DNA of future generations. And I think that can be thought in [00:34:00] a larger view. If you take that same principle and apply that to a whole lot of other things, if you apply that to Native Americans and you apply that to people who have been oppressed, and murdered, that's huge. So what I would say to the Connecticut General Assembly is that that is an important motion, an important movement for the future of all the people.
[00:34:32] Sue Bailey: The people that were executed were more than likely innocent, and for what comfort it can bring their souls now or their relatives who are still alive. If it can bring them comfort and some measure of closure, I think it's a small task for them. I mean, it would be a really good gesture on the part of the legislature.[00:35:00] 
[00:35:00] The old Connecticut General Assembly or whatever they called themselves back then, I forgot the management of the colony, maybe they're the ones that voted on deciding that she should die. Now here, this current legislature could vote on freeing those people from that stigma of potentially a Witch or be an evil person. They were put to death. I mean, I think it's still really important. The length of time that's elapsed doesn't mute the wrong. And it's still something that's important.
[00:35:39] Caitlin Golden: I think I would again say this was a big human rights violation, and it's not fair that even after death, she and as many other people are still considered criminals, even though they were very clearly innocent. And as a descendant, it would mean the world to me to be able to have her name cleared. [00:36:00] And I'm sure she would've been ecstatic, as well as everyone else, to finally be recognized. "Hey, I didn't do anything wrong. I was just a victim."
[00:36:08] Sarah Jack: I want the exoneration to acknowledge that all the Connecticut accused should not have had their good names defamed. 
[00:36:15] Josh Hutchinson: What type of memorial do you want to see? 
[00:36:20] Sherry Kuiper: I would like to see a memorial. I do like them, because I do think it serves as a reminder of things that have happened. I love visiting historical places and everything, so I think it would just really be dependent on where it is. 
[00:36:33] I think it would need to be Hartford Square there, where a lot of the victims were hanged. Something in a place like that, I think would be ideal, because it's in a place of significance. It's a place where people are gonna see it and actually stop. If you put it in the middle of nowhere, like I love all the small Connecticut towns, my whole family's from up there, if you go back far enough. I think it loses its value. So I think it needs to go in a significant place, where it's actually going to be [00:37:00] seen.
[00:37:00] I love Windsor, Connecticut. It's a beautiful little town. You're not going there unless you're going there for a very specific reason. Harford Square, it's in the center of town, a popular place where people go, so I think it would be great if it's put in a place that's going to actually reach people. 
[00:37:16] Just to bear their names and probably with whatever words it is that exonerates them, however the state is going to recognize that, I think would be really important. But definitely to put their names in there, because I'm a big believer that, as long as your name is out there, your legacy will live on. People will be able to look up Alice Young, it's on the internet. They can read about her and know a little bit about her. 
[00:37:39] Alse Freeman: I would love to be part of coming up with what that would look like, and I would love to be present when it's initiated. My ancestor, she's dead, and she's not gonna ever be able to feel that vindication of being cleared. At least, I don't think she will. But I really like to believe that her story could be [00:38:00] an example of how we as a society can learn to make peace with the past and also learn from our errors. So I would love to see the memorial kind of speak to that, that we are learning from the past, and we are gonna move forward as a country of justice.
[00:38:17] Rosemary Lang: Well, no brooms or funny hats, for sure. Something beautiful, a little bench for people to sit and contemplate, everybody's name's inscribed. They have something like that in Salem. It's a nice, peaceful area. Something along those lines. Not religious and not halloweeny.
[00:38:41] Sue Bailey: Well, it shouldn't have a pointy hat, I'll tell you that. It was talked about, I think maybe when I was interviewed for that channel 30 thing that, it was a joke when the legislature, when they were addressing this before in 2008 and the legislature, like they didn't take it [00:39:00] seriously. I mean the people that were in the legislature reviewing it. And I think if you put a pointy hat on the statue, much as it's amusing, it doesn't take it seriously enough. Should it be a woman? Yeah. Why not it, it should be a statue of a woman. I mean, men were accused too, though. I mean, maybe you want a woman and a man.
[00:39:22] How about this? Is this too much like the Kennedy grave, like an eternal flame? That meaning you could do something like that. It would be cheaper, too. That or something peaceful but something that symbolizes the continuity of life and the fact that that tiny lapsing is of no significance. It's just as relevant today as it was then. Something to show that the memory of what they went through goes on.
[00:39:54] Caitlin Golden: If there can be like some kind of like plaque or monument maybe, or maybe since she was a mom, maybe it [00:40:00] would be possible to have a little playground. I think that would be nice, so I feel like she would like that, for children to be able to play there, and you can still have remembrance for them. 
[00:40:11] Sarah Jack: I want their names on it, but I want, if other people are discovered, their names to be able to be added. I want it to be accessible. I don't want it to be a side. I want it to be a monument that is known, so that the history is known, but I want it to represent that a new page has been turned in that book.
[00:40:35] Josh Hutchinson: What does the exoneration project mean to you? 
[00:40:39] Rosemary Lang: It's great that all this information is coming out. Witches aren't evil, I don't think. And I think by presenting all this information that you are will help people to realize that they're just people, and people need [00:41:00] to know that they're just innocent women, really, and men, and it was a tough time.
[00:41:07] Morgan Leigh Kelsey: I guess it's something that I never expected to be a part of that really caught me by a surprise. Just the discovery of the situation and my tie to it. To me, all of it just really feels like it's all about healing. I think whenever you can go and go look back and look at wrongs that were done and try to do something about it. I mean, you can't take it back. But I think when you educate people, when you look forward, when you look at something and say, "this can never happen again." I think that's the most important part of it.
[00:41:51] Caitlin Golden: I think for me, I always love history, and any chance I can get to volunteer or help for a cause [00:42:00] beyond me always makes me very happy. If I can get the word out and better educate myself on this and help better educate other people, I think it's just making a difference in many people's lives.
[00:42:13] Josh Hutchinson: Have you felt more connected to your accused ancestor due to the project? 
[00:42:19] Sherry Kuiper: Yeah, when I do research and find these fascinating people in our history, which I believe everybody has fascinating people in their genealogy, we just have to find it and find their stories. So whether it's Alice Young, or whether it's some of the other really neat people in my history, I think it's just important to remember it and to talk about it and to really understand what their life was like. The more I learned about her and the closer I looked at some of the things and being involved in the Associated Daughters of Early American Witches, it just made me realize that more needed to be done for these folks.
[00:42:52] Recently, thanks to, to the great internet and social media and stuff, I've been able to support it in a lot of ways from afar, and I find that really important [00:43:00] because even though it's what, 370 some years since since Alice Young was hanged and the ones who came after her, there's really still been no justice for a lot of them. And so it's important it's important to recognize those wrongs, even if it's 300 years later , we still, it's still important for for us to recognize that as a country, well, I guess pre country, but as colonial Americans, these things happened. They happened in Connecticut, and it would be really nice if they would just take the steps to rectify what had happened.
[00:43:34] Rosemary Lang: Definitely, I do feel connection and I really would like to learn more about her and try to go back.
[00:43:42] Morgan Leigh Kelsey: Yeah, I do feel deeply connected, and I think it's, when you go back that many generations, it seems so far back, and it's almost like having that knowledge. I guess it's more a piece that's in my heart that I [00:44:00] feel, but you feel like you're able to just reach back into the past and pull that to you. And I guess even just thinking of that's your grandmother and thinking of that female lineage and thinking of how incredibly far back that traces her. It just feels like there's this palpable line to the past and this woman that I feel like is now right here that I never knew about.
[00:44:27] Caitlin Golden: I would definitely say I feel a lot more connected, and the more I learn about her, the more, obviously, I want to, help get her exonerated, as well as everyone else. Yeah, I do, I definitely feel a lot more connected to her.
[00:44:41] Sarah Jack: I do, because I'm hearing what the project and the ancestors mean to the other descendants, and it helps me to see that I'm not the only one that feels this way.
[00:44:55] Josh Hutchinson: Do you think any differently about what you've been taught about [00:45:00] history? 
[00:45:00] Rosemary Lang: I don't recall ever learning anything in history class about the witches, maybe a little bit of the witch trials. Probably we had to read The Crucible. Other than that, most of my learning has been as an adult, an older adult. I think the history classes are changing in a lot of ways, and that's one way they could present it differently to kids, just like with Columbus and all of those discoverers, supposedly. I think they should change the presentation for witches, as well. Because I think kids still, it's Halloween, it's, you know, pointy black hats and broom and things. So it'd be nice to portray them more as just women that were mistreated.
[00:45:52] Caitlin Golden: I definitely feel like I haven't learned everything that maybe should have been taught to me, [00:46:00] because I would've never known about the Connecticut witch trials, if I had never found Rebecca Greensmith in my family tree. I definitely feel like a lot of it is not discussed, because of how dark it is, or there's just some things that maybe the school systems don't feel is necessary to teach. But in cases like the Connecticut witch trials, any witch trials, I think it's really important to discuss, so that we don't repeat history ,because it's still happening that people are being accused and executed because of it, and it's wrong, so clearly we haven't learned that lesson. 
[00:46:32] Josh Hutchinson: Do you feel more hopeful? 
[00:46:35] Sherry Kuiper: I feel more hopeful, because I think the big shift was there is somebody in the government in Connecticut who has taken up this case. And so that to me was a big thing of hope, because with any sort of legislation of any kind, you need somebody to pick it up and look at it and say, "you know what? I think this is important enough to move forward with it." So that actually is a huge thing. 
[00:46:57] And so that kind of coupled with[00:47:00] some of the press that we've been able to do over the past few months with that person picking up that piece of paper and saying, "you know what? This is worth it and I'm gonna look into this." It does give me hope, and I think we've got a lot of great forward momentum, and I think we need to keep showing this legislator why this is important, and however we need to show up for her to carry that on, I think this is really going to be it. And I think this is probably the best shot we've had ever to get something done. I am just grateful that somebody finally picked it up and said, "you know what? This is important, and we're going to take a look at it." 
[00:47:32] Alse Freeman: I'm very excited that thousands of people are working on a collective solution for this one problem, and I hope that we can build off that and develop more collective actions that lift up our country's people, instead of tearing them down. 
[00:47:50] Josh Hutchinson: And now here's Sarah Jack with an important update on witch hunts happening in our world right now.
[00:47:58] Sarah Jack: Here is End Witch Hunts [00:48:00] World Advocacy News. You are living in a world with a pervasive belief in harmful witchcraft with a mass occurrence of holding women and children responsible for supernaturally causing death, illness, and misfortune. This deep-seated conclusion is delaying action for protecting alleged witches, promoting witch-hunting behaviors, and blurring the recognition that worldwide historic witch trials executed innocent humans. These are communities that are waiting to be made safe. These are behaviors that have no place in a world that seeks to protect the vulnerable. These historic victims should have their names cleared and their innocence acknowledged by the communities that prosecuted them. When any advocate asks for this, ears should be listening, minds should be realizing, and bodies should be moving to take action.
[00:48:51] I hope you have had a chance to look up Dr. Leo Igwe of the Nigerian organization, the Advocacy for Alleged Witches. Please find the website link [00:49:00] in our show notes. Here's a quote from a recent message from Leo.
[00:49:04] " Part of the objective of Advocacy for Alleged Witches is to tackle the misperceptions of witches and witchcraft, whether alleged or not. Advocacy for Alleged Witches seeks to address associated fears and suspicions. It aims to correct the pervasive misconceptions and fears associated with the term witch or witchcraft, because these misperceptions are at the root of witch persecution. Saving alleged witches cannot be realized until Nigerians disabuse their mind and free themselves from fears and suspicions that the term witches or witchcraft, engenders. So the mission of combating witch persecution and supporting victims starts in the mind. It starts by demystifying the term witchcraft or witches. It starts by clarifying misconceptions and misperceptions that are linked to terminologies such as witches, witchcraft, and supposed occult forces."
[00:49:57] Can you accept this change in thinking? [00:50:00] Consider it a message not just for Nigeria, but also for you and every human. As Leo states, misconceptions linked to the idea of witches, witchcraft, and harmful occult forces must be demystified. It is time to stop obscuring the truth and start diffusing the panic that is ignited by what we fear as malevolent.
[00:50:19] Last week, I brought attention to a situation in Ireland. The Northern Ireland Borough of Larne wants to commemorate eight Witch trial victims from the Islandmagee witch trial that took place on March 31st, 1711. A borough councillor raised questions of whether the eight women and a man who were found guilty of witchcraft were actually innocent. When criticized for his deferral of action, due to what authority he perceives the council holds, he has stated that actually he feels ambivalent about the matter of innocence. Ambivalent? 
[00:50:51] He feels the council does not have authority to acknowledge innocence due to obscurity around witches and witchcraft. He is, however, interested in [00:51:00] having tourists play a game of determining guilt of these historical people that are still waiting to have their names cleared. He wants their convictions left alone, but he wants to draw tourists to the historic site by the opportunity to vote for guilt or innocence with tokens. 
[00:51:14] This incident on the other side of the world from me matters, because I have asked the Connecticut legislature to exonerate the accused witches of Connecticut colony. I cannot imagine a response where the Connecticut legislature embraces ambivalence and suggests a tourist game at historical sites, instead of exoneration and memorials. Please, hear your community and the descendants of accused witches when they say that recognizing innocence matters, it matters to women and children that are being attacked as witches today. Acknowledging their innocence builds the foundation for dismantling witch-hunt mentalities that are destroying lives in our modern world. 
[00:51:54] While we watch and wait, let's support the victims across the world where innocent people are being targeted by [00:52:00] 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 Hunts movement on Twitter @_endwitchhunts and visit our website at
[00:52:18] Josh Hutchinson: Thank you, Sarah, for that update. 
[00:52:23] Sarah Jack: You're welcome. 
[00:52:24] Josh Hutchinson: And thank you for listening to Thou Shalt Not Suffer: the Witch Trial Podcast. 
[00:52:33] Sarah Jack: Join us next week.
[00:52:34] Josh Hutchinson: Like, subscribe, or follow wherever you get your podcasts.
[00:52:42] Sarah Jack: Visit at
[00:52:44] Josh Hutchinson: Remember to tell everyone you know about Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast. 
[00:52:51] Sarah Jack: Support our efforts to End Witch Hunts. Visit to learn more.
[00:52:56] Josh Hutchinson: Have a great today [00:53:00] and a beautiful tomorrow.

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