Connecticut Witch Trial Victim Exoneration Testimony with William and Jennifer Schloat – Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast
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Meet fourth grade student William and his mother Jennifer Schloat, Connecticut residents and Connecticut Witch Trial Exoneration Project Members. William testified at the Joint Committee on Judiciary’s hearing on Bill 34 “Resolution Concerning Certain Witchcraft Convictions in Colonial Connecticut” on March 1, 2023. Hear William’s apropos call to action through his hearing testimony. Reflect on why this young generation is ready to confront historical wrongs. Jennifer, a middle school Literature and ELA teacher, reads her inspiring hearing testimony and discusses recognizing how people from the past suffered due to unfair societal punishments, like witch trials, will move our society toward furthering social justice for all. You will also hear some of the other hearing testimonies read by other project members who testified at the March 1, 2023 hearing. We think you will be stirred to take additional action in supporting this movement to bring justice to the unjustly convicted accused witches of Colonial Connecticut. Please use the link below to write to legislators asking them to vote yes.
[00:00:00] [00:00:20] Josh Hutchinson: Welcome to Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast. I'm Josh Hutchinson. [00:00:25] Sarah Jack: And I'm Sarah Jack. [00:00:26] Josh Hutchinson: Today's guests are a fourth grade student who testified before the Connecticut General Assembly Judiciary Committee about the Connecticut witch trial exoneration resolution and his mother. William and Jennifer Schloat. [00:00:44] Sarah Jack: March 1 sure seems like it was so long ago. [00:00:49] Josh Hutchinson: It really does, and it was seven weeks ago. And so much has happened since then. [00:00:59] Sarah Jack: So much has happened, but talking about it, hearing Jennifer speak about the experience made it then seem like it was yesterday. [00:01:07] Josh Hutchinson: Yes. Brought all those memories right back fresh to mind. [00:01:13] Sarah Jack: I'm so happy that we captured this conversation because it is powerful. [00:01:18] Josh Hutchinson: It truly is. Jennifer is an inspirational speaker, and so is her young son, William. In March, we visited Connecticut to advocate for House Joint Resolution 34, Resolution Concerning Certain Witchcraft Convictions in Colonial Connecticut. [00:01:36] Sarah Jack: I was able to speak to the judiciary committee about the importance of exonerating Connecticut's witch trial victims. [00:01:43] Josh Hutchinson: Many other people also spoke on behalf of the witch trial victims. [00:01:48] Sarah Jack: And there are wonderful, submitted written testimonies that are available online. Please take the time to read those. We will have the link to that in our show notes. [00:02:00] Josh Hutchinson: The testimony came in from all over Connecticut and beyond. [00:02:06] The resolution has since been passed by the Judiciary Committee. [00:02:11] Sarah Jack: It has also cleared the Legislative Commissioner's Office, the Office of Financial Analysis, and the Office of Legislative Research. [00:02:20] Josh Hutchinson: The Office of Financial Analysis declared that there is no fiscal impact, as this is a resolution and does not cost the state money. [00:02:33] Most recently the resolution was added to the House calendar. [00:02:38] Sarah Jack: And we hope to see it reach the Senate calendar next. [00:02:43] Josh Hutchinson: Yes, we're anticipating a vote any week now, any day now. While in Connecticut, Sarah and I finally met the other members of the Connecticut Witch Trial Exoneration Project in person, including Mary Bingham, Beth Caruso, Tony Griego, Dr. Kathy Hermes, Representative Jane Garibay, Senator Saud Anwar, Andy Verzosa, the Schloats, Sue Bailey, Catherine, and Christina Carmon. [00:03:16] Sarah Jack: We had already been working together for a long time, and so it was like a reunion more than an introduction. [00:03:26] Josh Hutchinson: We've been on this since May 26, 2022, Sarah and I have. Others have been involved much longer. Tony's been involved since back in 2005, and it was a great privilege and honor to meet him and Beth Caruso, who joined his cause in 2016. And so many other people have been involved in the project, and new people came in to testify at the judiciary hearing. [00:04:00] Sarah Jack: Yeah. The committee was given so much great testimony, full of history and reasons to be looking at exoneration for accused witches. [00:04:16] Josh Hutchinson: And we want to thank everybody who submitted written testimony or came in to speak in person. [00:04:25] Sarah Jack: I believe if you're listening and you're just not sure, you will hear a reason from William or Jennifer that convinces you today. [00:04:36] Josh Hutchinson: Yes, so please vote yes on HJ 34, Resolution Concerning Certain Witchcraft Convictions in Colonial Connecticut. [00:04:49] Sarah Jack: We would like to introduce our guest, William and Jennifer Schloat. Jennifer studied United States history as an undergraduate at SUNY Purchase College. She studied history on the graduate level at Central Connecticut State University. She worked in the education departments at several history museums, including the John Jay Homestead State historic site in Katonah, New York, and the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts. Jennifer has also worked as a middle school social studies teacher. For the past seven years, Jennifer has been the literature and English Language Arts teacher for the middle school students at the St. Gabriel School in Windsor, Connecticut. [00:05:27] Josh Hutchinson: William Schloat has attended St. Gabriel School in Windsor, Connecticut and is currently in the fourth grade. His interests include US history, geography, science, and math. [00:05:41] William Schloat: I am William Schloat from Avon, Connecticut. I am nine years old, and I am a student at St. Gabriel School in Windsor. I am here to ask you to vote yes on HJ number 34, Resolution Concerning Certain Witchcraft Convictions in Colonial Connecticut. [00:06:02] I believe that we should help one another, especially people who are being persecuted. We should protect people who do not have the power to defend themselves. If I had a time machine, I would travel back to Hartford in the 1600s to help the people who were being accused of witchcraft. I would especially try to rescue the young children whose mothers were being called witches. [00:06:27] Now, I will tell you just about five of the many children who became orphans when powerful people in Connecticut executed their mothers. Let us take a few minutes to imagine how terrifying it must have been for those children to hear people say that their mothers were witches. [00:06:46] In 1648 in Hartford, a baby boy named Benjamin Newton was born in jail. His mother, Mary Johnson, was imprisoned, waiting to be executed for witchcraft. Soon after he was born, baby Benjamin became an orphan when his mother was taken away to be hanged. The colony of Connecticut gave newborn Benjamin to Nathaniel Rescew, the son of the prison keeper. Nathaniel was paid 15 pounds to take care of baby Benjamin. 15 pounds in 1648 is about equal to $3,000 in today's money. When young Benjamin was old enough to start doing work, he became an indentured servant to the prison keeper's son. When Benjamin was 21 years old, he was finally free from being kept as a servant. [00:07:38] In 1663 in Farmington, Connecticut, the four young children of Mary Barnes experienced the destruction of their family life. The youngest daughter, Hannah Barnes, was six years old when her mother was taken away to Hartford to be hanged. Just a few weeks later, their father, Thomas Barnes, decided to get married again, this time to the daughter of a neighbor. When Thomas made this decision, he also agreed to send two of his four grieving children away. He sent his 12 year old daughter, Sarah, and his 11-year-old son, Joseph, to work as servants in the home of someone else. Sadly, his youngest child, Hannah, died at age seven, less than a year after her mother was executed. [00:08:27] These poor children did not have any control over the frightening and unjust things that were happening to them. As a proud citizen of the state of Connecticut and the United States of America, I hope that in 2023 I have more power than those abused children had in colonial Connecticut. Thank you for listening. [00:08:47] Sarah Jack: William, what was surprising about the experience when you were at the hearing? [00:08:55] William Schloat: I would say the most surprising thing out of all the surprising things was that News Channel Eight and NBC Connecticut quietly whispered to me and my mother, like they whispered to us to come outside, and they interviewed both of us. That was really surprising. I would say that was like the most surprising thing and one of the only surprising things. [00:09:24] Sarah Jack: Do you remember what you said to them? [00:09:27] William Schloat: I remember when Kathryn Hauser from News Channel Eight asked me, like, why are you doing this? I said my teacher had recently told me, she is my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Schuler, had told me a Martin Luther King quote. We were like learning about Martin Luther King. And I said, "as Martin Luther King said, 'injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.'" [00:09:53] Jennifer Schloat: So I think we both thought that we might be interviewed by the press afterwards. But William and I were both surprised, as William mentioned, that it was during the hearings they motioned for him to come out and they, all, the members of the press were very nice, and they expressed that they were surprised that someone William's age, a nine-year-old, had taken an interest in this and was there. [00:10:19] And so we kind of anticipated that he might talk to the press afterwards, but they seemed to be very interested in his testimony. And then he was on both of the local news channels that night. William, we saw you on News Channel Eight. [00:10:34] William Schloat: We had to keep flipping back and forth and we did it at the, just the right time because, and they were both gonna talk about it at the same time, so we just flipped back and forth. [00:10:46] Jennifer Schloat: We don't always watch the evening news. We're more readers, but we did as William said. We went on to News Channel Eight. We went on to NBC Connecticut, and the footage of all of the testimony was just a few minutes apart. And William made it onto both spots. And I think it really, it resonated with people that someone his age thought this was important. So I'm glad he, I'm glad he was willing to do it, that he wanted to do it. [00:11:12] Josh Hutchinson: Why is it important to acknowledge the suffering of the families of the victims? [00:11:19] William Schloat: So I think it's important, because it's, they suffered, too. They carried on the pain with them. Like all the kids might have like had their reputation ruined, because their mothers were accused of witchcraft. So it was like the kids were upset. And they were also like, oh no, everyone probably doesn't like me. It was probably like a hard time for them dealing to know that people didn't like their mothers, and they probably then changed their opinion on them. So it was like we should acknowledge them, and we should also be like, we shouldn't feel bad for just those. We should feel bad for those, cuz they had to live a similar suffering. [00:11:59] Josh Hutchinson: Thank you, William, for talking to us today. And now Jennifer Schloat will read the testimony she presented to the joint committee on judiciary. [00:12:11] Jennifer Schloat: I am Jennifer Lawton Schloat. I live in Avon with my husband, my daughter, and my son. For seven years, I've been a middle school teacher and ELA teacher. And before that, I taught US history. And before that, I spent two decades working at various history museums in Massachusetts and New York. It's clear to me that the study of history is essential in a participatory democracy. [00:12:38] There's much wisdom to be gained in the careful examination of our nation's past, including the colonial era prior to 1776. It's also clear to me that words are very powerful. We are fortunate that many of the written legal records of colonial Connecticut have been preserved. [00:12:58] My training as a student of history illuminates every aspect of my life, including my current work as a teacher of literature. Many of us think about our colonial past each year, especially at Thanksgiving. After that November weekend of feasting, I always return to my middle school classroom aware that my students will be distracted and possibly anxious during the holiday season. With that in mind, I reserve those weeks of school in December as a special time with my students to explore "A Christmas Carol," Charles Dickens' perpetually relevant masterpiece. [00:13:37] I mentioned this now because of the way that story ends. After Ebenezer Scrooge's journey through time, he has transformed and vows to honor the spirits of the past, the present, and the future. That story of the mutually redeeming friendship of Ebenezer Scrooge and Jacob Marley suggests that a happy and fulfilled life is possible, if we give equal and constant attention to the people of the past, the people of the present, and the people of the future. So I think we can try to achieve that in our own lives. [00:14:11] It is tempting to dismiss what happened here in Connecticut in the 17th century as the distant past and not relevant to our present and future. We may be afraid to associate ourselves with the injustices of the Connecticut Witch Panic, the shameful persecutions, and the terrorizing executions. Nevertheless, I know that we can bravely face what happened here. Let's allow our knowledge of the long dead magistrates of colonial Connecticut to haunt us long enough so that we are able to give voice to deep remorse on their behalf. We can do this for their victims and for the children of their victims. [00:14:51] In a way, all of us here are descendants of both the wrongfully executed, quote, "witches," unquote, and the people who persecuted them. We are heirs to their terrible mistakes, their traumas, their triumphs, and their physical space. Let us acknowledge the injustice and then grieve the lives lost to, and the lives destroyed by, the Connecticut Witch Panic. [00:15:15] We, the living, can continue the unfinished work of the good people of the past and be inspired by the great moments in our history when the American ideals of equality and inalienable human rights prevailed over ignorance and hatred. [00:15:30] Your work here in the Connecticut legislature is seen by the students of today. It will also be preserved for future generations. When they look back, let them see that you stood against injustice in exonerating the colonial people who were unjustly labeled as witches. Therefore, I ask you to vote yes on HJ Number 34, Resolution Concerning Certain Witchcraft Convictions in Colonial Connecticut. [00:15:58] Josh Hutchinson: Thank you, Jennifer, for your testimony. Now, can you tell us about your experience with the hearing? [00:16:04] Jennifer Schloat: It's really an interesting process to have to try to put everything you wanna say in three minutes. And it took me a while just to think about that, because so many powerful speakers I already knew had testimony prepared. And so that's when I came to the decision that I should speak as a literature teacher. [00:16:25] That's what I'm currently doing. I've also taught history. My teacher certification is for history, but I work at a Catholic school, and they let, they're a little more permissive in what they let a person teach. And so I am qualified to teach literature, as well, even though my certification is history, and the two are intermingled in so many ways. [00:16:49] And I've strongly feel that there's so much wisdom to be gained by studying both things, by studying all kinds of literature and by studying all areas of history. And so that's why I brought up something that was fictional. Charles Dickens was basing his work on terrible things that he saw happening in the middle of the 19th century in London with poverty-stricken people not being recognized in the way they should be or cared for. And by the end of the story, he's showing that if you care about people in the past, the present and the future, and your own, past, present and future, you're a happier person for it. [00:17:30] We should look at it this way, as well, we should worry about and be concerned about and interested in our own past, our parents past, our great grandparents past, our past as a state and the time before we were state. We were still the entity that we now call the state of Connecticut. It was the colony of Connecticut. And I feel if we turn our backs on that, we're missing out on a lot of potential wisdom that could be gained. [00:18:01] And I'm surprised that there were a few legislators who seem so resistant to getting involved with this. It's really perplexing. I wish I could have asked them questions. For example, do they celebrate people of the past that they admire, right? I've lived in New York or New England my whole life, so I've lived in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and I always hear local political leaders celebrating our colonial ancestors' Thanksgiving. [00:18:33] And that's lovely. That's fine. There's plenty there that's positive. If we're allowed to do that, then we have to also give weight to the mistakes and even the really egregious ones, even the really shameful things that not everyone, but some of these people did. So there needs to be some balance. [00:18:54] It's very dangerous when history becomes something that's only used selectively, don't you think? There's that old saying that the victors, usually the victors in war, are the ones who control history. They write history. They determine what's gonna make it into a textbook. And of course that's true. And that's something we have to be wary of. And I guess it's the same thing with the victors in a legal trial, right? So the colonial magistrates clearly got their way when they executed these people, when these people were found guilty of some strange thing that clearly they couldn't have done. [00:19:31] And so somehow it's their statues that are so often on display, and it's because it's shameful, I think a lot of the history has just been ignored and not made it into the history books. And so we're not looking at it, because the history is very often controlled by the people who are victorious. [00:19:52] We know better than that now. We know that we have to look at everyone's history. So I think that these people should be proud to associate themselves with something where we're showing an acknowledgement that we've progressed as a people. [00:20:08] And so I, if I were a member of the legislature, and I don't think political party has anything to do with any of this, I think that if I were a member of the legislature, I'd be eager to learn from the local historians, eager to hear from the descendants, excited that people are taking an interest in colonial Connecticut history, excited that people are coming to them offering them this wonderful opportunity, and just do it. So it's good, positive, and uplifting publicity for them that they're making themselves part of this movement for justice. [00:20:43] It's very surprising that anyone would be hesitant. So I wanna do whatever I can to help encourage them to see that there's only good that can come from this. I can't see how anyone could see any harm in this. It's very surprising to me that anyone resisted it. Did you feel that way, Sarah, that day? I was taken aback. Were you taken aback when some of the legislators were pushing back against us like? [00:21:09] Sarah Jack: Yes. I was surprised. It was a really new experience for me. So I'd never gone to testify for a bill. I hadn't spent a lot of time listening to other people do so. So I was so surprised at not just the pushback, but the lack of interest in what the testimonies were saying, that some of the politicians weren't interested in the content of the speech or what is it they're telling me? And as you saw, the questions didn't relate to what was being spoken to . It took my breath away. It really did. And even I was one of the very last who testified for HJ 34, and I still was surprised when they confronted me with such silly comments and didn't want to let me say what I was saying. And I was wondering, did William pick up on it? Did he pick up on the negativity? [00:22:13] Jennifer Schloat: Yes, he did. And that was the one area that I thought I didn't prepare him properly for, cuz I wasn't anticipating that this was gonna be as negative as some of them made it. So he did say to me afterwards, he because I think of, I'm trying to remember the nice lady's name. The first person who testified in support of the exoneration, I forget her name, but she was attacked right away. And it was like they were belittling it. [00:22:42] And so William was worried at that point. He was writing to me on a little notepad, saying, "are they gonna do that to me?" And I said, "they might." And they didn't. They were very polite to William, but he was taken aback that there would be pushback on this. [00:23:00] One of the things, the vibes that I picked up on, and it's continuing to happen after the hearings, is that some people are equating this with fictitious witches. Now every area of life has a fictional version of it, right? They're fictitious stories about senators, they're fictitious stories about anyone, any kind, any category of person. [00:23:26] But I guess to some people who don't study colonial history or European history from way before then, some people aren't aware, as I would hope they would be, that this was a real thing. I know that most people have at least heard of Salem, and that was so dramatic by the large number of people being executed and found guilty over a short period of time, but I would hope that people would've been taught in history class that wasn't the first incident of that. [00:23:56] Anyway, there were people at the hearings. One of the senators brought up a book, The Witch of Blackbird Pond. I dunno if you've read it. I've read it. And Elizabeth George Speare wrote it in the middle of the 20th century, and it won all sorts of awards. And it's a lovely book, and I've even read it with some of my middle schoolers over the years. But when we've done that, I've brought in experts, including Beth Caruso, our local expert on Alice Young of Windsor to, from the beginning, give them the real history of witchcraft persecutions in Connecticut and compare it to what the book says. [00:24:36] The book takes place in Wethersfield, Connecticut. Nobody gets executed in it. There is intolerance. There is ignorance shown in the book, and there's persecution of an old woman who's a Quaker, and does talk about her having been branded earlier, before the start of the story. We know that she and her husband were mistreated by the Puritans and were branded, because they were Quakers and not Puritans. [00:25:05] It's written for children, maybe between fourth grade and eighth grade. And it's a lovely book, but it doesn't really show the horrifying truths of what really happened here in Connecticut. I was surprised that I kept hearing that book brought up. Then after the hearings. [00:25:25] So the hearings were March 1st, right? [00:25:27] So it was about, I'm trying to remember the exact date, but it was sometime later in March, a very well written article came out in the Hartford Courant, in the opinion section. I don't know if you've read it. It was written by a man named Adam Daniels. I have not had an opportunity to speak to him directly yet, but he lives in our area, and he wrote a very eloquent letter reacting to our hearing, and specifically he talks about my son's testimony. Without saying William's name, he talks about thing that William said about having a time machine. [00:26:03] And Adam Daniels' point was that there are people alive today who are in prison who shouldn't be there, and if we're gonna talk about exonerating people, we should be talking about those people instead. And anyway, when we read the article, on the one hand, we agreed with Adam Daniels about the injustices that he was talking about. And we felt very strongly in solidarity with him, but we were upset because, of course, he hadn't had an opportunity to speak to me or to William or to the rest of us, and there was a misunderstanding. He didn't know that we care about all of these issues. And I think very importantly, and this is not Adam Daniel's fault, I think it's a whole systemic problem. I don't think that he saw a connection between what happened to these people in colonial Connecticut and what's happening today to all sorts of people all over the world, including here in America. [00:27:10] I think that exonerating anyone who has been unjustly punished, whether there's someone from the past or someone in the present, I think it's all interrelated. And I think William, by quoting Dr. King, showed that. Dr. King has passed down to us his wisdom, and, thankfully, William's teacher explained it beautifully to my son, and William immediately saw the connection. He knows that even though this happened in the 1600s, it happened here. It happened in Connecticut. It was wrong, and if we are willing to live up to that, to acknowledge that, and to say this was wrong, we wanna clear the good names of these people. Then that will set a good precedent. [00:27:57] I will go back and testify at any hearing and anything that William wants to testify to and write articles about people currently today who need to be defended. But it's all interconnected, and I don't think we have to choose to only focus on one thing. And that's what, unfortunately, Adam Daniels didn't realize is that William cares about all these things. [00:28:22] They didn't question William too much at the hearing. So no one in the press, none of the legislators asked William, is this the most important thing or the only important thing in your life? Or if you hypothetically did have a time machine, is this the only thing you would do with your time machine? [00:28:39] And obviously it's not. It's one of the important things that he would want to do. I think that was a surprise to me is that some people are belittling this issue because it happened hundreds of years ago, and they don't feel the connection to the past. And I think that's our fault as a society, and as a teacher I'm fighting that all the time. I think that we need to be in touch with our past and to see that it's connected to our present. [00:29:09] But yeah, I couldn't believe the pushback, and I love talking about works of literature and how they're connected to reality, but I think they were using literature against us, people bringing up Harry Potter and the Witch Blackbird Pond and not realizing our point, and I think that point is that this had nothing to do with that more positive, fictional world of witchcraft and people having magical powers and stuff. I think it's pretty clear from the historical record these were not people, these 11 people who were killed in Connecticut, they weren't going around saying that they were witches and that they were casting magical spells on people. It's not connected to that. So yeah, I was surprised. Have you heard from any of the legislators, cuz I got a few nice emails from the ones who supported us. Did you get any feedback from them? Sarah, have you heard from anyone? [00:30:10] Sarah Jack: I haven't heard from anybody specifically. There are legislators that are sharing our podcast posts and our collaboration project posts on social media. [00:30:24] Jennifer Schloat: Good. Yeah, cuz I do wanna acknowledge there are those who immediately saw the importance of what we were doing and have been very supportive. And I guess because William was a pleasant surprise to them, I did get a number of positive emails from the legislators, who were happy that he testified. And I was very pleased to see that many of our Connecticut representatives supported a nine-year-old being there to testify. [00:30:55] There were even a few people who, not in the legislator, but just people at work and people I know in my personal life, who said, "oh wow. They let him testify." And that was interesting to me, cuz I hadn't really thought about it ahead of time. Is there an age restriction? I do watch a lot of government news. And ever since I was like a teenager, I've been really into watching C-Span and seeing the US House of Representatives and the US Senate and their hearings. And I have seen children testify in all sorts of hearings. So I guess I just assumed that children did this all the time. So I wasn't surprised that he was allowed to, but then I realized, okay, maybe this isn't as typical as I had hoped it was. And I'm so happy that the people responded positively to that. I hope that maybe it encourages more young people to avail themselves of this opportunity, so that they can have a voice. [00:32:01] Josh Hutchinson: They might have been, as I was, just surprised by how mature his testimony was and how well he spoke it. And for a nine year old, you must be very proud of him. And what he said was brilliant. [00:32:17] Jennifer Schloat: Yeah. I work with sixth, seventh, and eighth graders, so my youngest students are about two years older than William, and it's just the same as with adults. Some of my students are like a lot of adults. They are very reluctant to speak in public. It's an acquired skill, and not everyone's comfortable with it. And then I have a lot of students who jump at the opportunity to get up and to a podium or stand at a microphone and speak. [00:32:48] And because I'm an ELA teacher, part of my job is to encourage everyone to do this. And the number one thing I've learned from teaching middle school students to write speeches and deliver speeches and then my work earlier in my adult life. When I was working at museums, one of my jobs was to train tour guides. So I had to train people of all ages how to give a tour of a museum. There are two things. One is the more knowledge you have about the topic that you're speaking about, the more comfortable you will be as a speaker. And secondly, and this is I think very important with William, is if you believe in the cause, if you have a strong, positive conviction that what you're doing is important or necessary and good, then the eloquence will flow from that. So even more important than practicing ahead of time is just like knowing your subject well before you start speaking. [00:33:52] That's one, and two is to believe in what you're saying. So I think that's where I came up with the idea of William should testify is he naturally was just taking an interest in this whole project. When I was doing a little bit more research on it, he was saying, "what are you researching, Mom?" And I was explaining it to him, and he, in particular, was concerned about the fact that these women, a lot of the women and the men who were executed had young children. And that's when I realized, okay, someone really needs to hone in on that area of this, and then it became clear to me that maybe he'd be the best person to talk about it. [00:34:35] And then another young person who spoke at the hearings, Catherine Carmon, she's a ninth grader now, but she was my student for three years in middle school. And she was one of the good, excellent speakers amongst my students. And she always gravitated to topics in middle school that had to do with women's rights and with combating misogyny in all areas of our lives. [00:35:02] And when I was listening to Representative Garibay talk about this issue, when I was talking about all of this to my friend Beth Caruso, and they were telling me about the piece of this, the misogyny piece, I thought, oh my goodness, I know a young lady who will, who'd want to know about this. I got Catherine Carmon and Beth Caruso together, and immediately Beth Caruso said, "oh, this is a young woman who would be a very powerful speaker." And so I was delighted that she had a chance to speak, as well. It should happen more than it does, though. [00:35:37] Sarah Jack: Yeah, and I was thinking the surprise that some observers had at the students having something to say about the matter. It's not just you wanted to give William an experience at a hearing, and you gave him some information to say. He had something to speak to, and this particular bill is something that affects all the generations. [00:36:04] Jennifer Schloat: So if for example, he knows, William knows that today there are people who are incarcerated, lots of people, our country incarcerates a higher percentage of its population than any other country in the world. He hears me talk about this cause I'm very into social justice, and he knows that some of these people have children, and we've talked about this, so he does connect it to today. And I think he's onto a very important truth when he says these people were executed and that, in and of itself, is terrorizing, and, quite frankly, barbaric, but their children had the rest of their lives ahead of them. And what ongoing impact did this have? I have all these questions, and William and I have been discussing the questions. Were these children forbidden to ever mention their mother's names again? Do we know? [00:37:02] The examples that William shared, the children of Mary Barnes and the one child of Mary Johnson, it seems like their whole social status changed dramatically as soon as their mothers were imprisoned and then executed, in that they had to go be indentured servants. So that right there is changing maybe the rest of their lives, what's gonna happen to them going forward. [00:37:28] But psychologically what did this do to these kids? I've known mothers who've become sick. I've had friends who've battled cancer, for example, and these friends of mine who have had health scares, when they have young children, that's like the first and biggest worry for them is, "oh my goodness, I have to stay healthy. I have to stay alive. I have to be here, because I have young children that I have a responsibility towards." So that's where my mind goes. [00:38:01] I have two children. I can't even imagine the fear and the distress, not for myself, but for the children that I'm leaving behind. It doesn't sound like, at least the stories that we were able to find some evidence on, it doesn't sound like there was much concern about the children. It sounds like it just immediately wrecked the children's lives. [00:38:24] Yeah, I think this is a hugely important issue, and it's not the only time and the only place in history where it happened. When someone's parents are the victims of any kind of hatred or persecution, then the children are impacted, as well. [00:38:40] And wasn't Alice Young's daughter? Yeah, Beth Caruso taught me about this, that the daughter of Alice Young went on to be accused of witchcraft herself. She wasn't executed, but she, by being the daughter of an executed witch, she then had the same thing brought against her. So I think it's very relevant, and I'm thrilled that we have some young people who are learning about it. [00:39:06] Josh Hutchinson: And we've got some cases where there were three generations of people accused of witchcraft. And it's just mind-boggling how long that carried on down the generations, even into the 18th century, people being accused of witchcraft, and you're getting up to around the Revolution time, and there was a woman accused of witchcraft around the time they signed the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia. [00:39:37] Jennifer Schloat: Wow. I have to read about I have to read about her. [00:39:40] Wow. [00:39:41] Josh Hutchinson: Yeah, hers was a case of mob justice, if you can call that justice. It was mob violence against her, and it was either the day of the signing or the day after, might have been. [00:39:55] Jennifer Schloat: Wow. I will research that some more. I wanna read up on that. So yeah, vigilante so-called justice is something that isn't, in my strong opinion, because I believe in government, and that's why governments are instituted among people, so that we can have justice and human rights protected, and the whole history of vigilante justice in America is counter to everything that's in the Declaration of Independence. And we keep being reminded of this when we read later on the Gettysburg Address and, later on, Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech. They all are referring back to each other and how we need governments, and we need to fulfill the promise of all people being created equal. [00:40:41] But also that's why we have governments to protect human rights, life, liberty, pursuit of happiness. And so when you have vigilante justice, which we see in the case you just mentioned and then we see with all the Jim Crow period after the Civil War, leading up to the Civil Rights Movement, which is an ongoing civil rights movement. [00:41:04] The battle is against vigilante justice a lot of the time, mob violence, and of course then the systemic injustices written into laws. And that's part of my point with getting the exoneration done is when you have governments, you always have to be watchful that we don't permit things that are counter to our values as Americans, the sanctity and the protection of human liberty and human rights. We have to make sure that things that are against that, that are opposing that, don't creep into our laws. [00:41:39] And there's a lot of good in the people from the colonial period and a lot of things about their laws that we should respect and admire. This thing with the witch, the part in the colonial laws where, they say, "thou shalt not suffer a witch to live." And the idea that could be a capital offense, that's a huge issue. That's a huge problem. And we need to acknowledge that, study it, and move on. [00:42:09] And I don't wanna get hyper-religious here, cuz you don't have to be from any particular religion or even be part of an organized religion or believe in an afterlife to care about these things. But I am pretty sure that many of the members of the current Connecticut state government attend some kind of house of worship and identify with some major religion. And if they do, if the they are part of a church or some other religion, they probably believe in an afterlife. And if they do, if they believe that the soul continues after death, then let's think about that. Let's think about these people who are executed are watching us, right, from heaven, and the colonial magistrates are watching us. And so if that's true and if these people believe that's true, then let's help them out. Let's clear their good name, right? [00:43:10] And if I were the magistrate, if I were the bad guy, the villain in this story, the person who had done this wrong thing and then there were people, also in Connecticut government today, I would be grateful to them for doing this for me, for exonerating the people. That's something I probably wouldn't have said during testimony, cuz they want church and state to be separated and, the theocratic system of government was part of the problem in colonial times, but, let's be realistic, a lot of people are very religious. I work in a Catholic school, so religion is part of my life, and I think it matters that we own up to our own bad things that we've done and also, when we can, express remorse for something bad that our group of people has done. So that's another thing with history. [00:44:04] I am more comfortable apologizing for and accepting responsibility for and speaking out for things that were wrong that my group has done. So if America has done something wrong or my ancestors or my church, I think that's my first job before I go and attack some other country or some other religion or some other group of people about what they did that was wrong. [00:44:34] We have to look at all of history. What I compare it to is if they're children on a playground and they're fighting, and they're being unkind to each other, and some are my children and some are someone else's children, as a mother, I'm gonna go to my child and tell them that they have to apologize and that they have to stop whatever the unkind thing they're doing. I'm not gonna first chastise the other person's kids. So I feel like we here in Connecticut need to take responsibility for this, and by the way, the 1600s was not that long ago. If you're a student of history, this is actually not that long ago. So the fact that it hasn't been done yet is not a reason not to do it immediately. So yeah I really hope that this is done this year, and that we can move forward. [00:45:25] Can we talk a little bit about the possibility of us finding the location of where the executions took place, because that just happened? [00:45:34] We found there's an elm tree that used to stand in what several earlier historical sources say was the place where some of these people were executed in Hartford. I would love it. I would love to be part of seeing that maybe some plaque or something goes up in that space. It seems like it's a commercial space now, but that shouldn't prevent us from getting something placed there. [00:46:01] Josh Hutchinson: We're absolutely encouraging the state to have some kind of memorial. And after the exoneration is passed, that's the next step we see is there needs to be something done by the state where people, you know, descendants right now don't have any place to go to remember these people. We don't know where they're buried. There's three locations where they might have been hanged, but the Albany Avenue seems the most likely. And we definitely wanna see some tribute. [00:46:34] Jennifer Schloat: Because I used to live in Salem, Massachusetts. I only lived there for a year when I was working at the Peabody Essex Museum, and so I did give tours that taught school children about the actual trials and everything. And so I've been to all the sites in Salem and the Salem area, and a lot of attention has been given to that history. And I would love to see something comparable develop here in Connecticut. So yeah I hope that we can get that going. That will be great. But William and I wanna go get in the car and find that spot. [00:47:08] Yesterday, we visited the graveyard in Farmington that's on, the graveyard is land that Mary Barnes' husband, Thomas Barnes, donated to Farmington. And there's so many beautiful, fancy tombstones of so many people, and obviously none of them are people who were executed for witchcraft. And it is just heartbreaking that the husband of this woman who was executed donated land for other people to be buried. But as far as we know, she's not buried there. [00:47:42] We were looking next door. There's a beautiful house, it's newly built, that's standing where their house apparently was. The Barnes property was adjacent to this beautiful graveyard. So we were walking around, and no one was there yesterday. So we were just trying to turn our minds back to that time period. [00:48:03] Farmington's such a beautiful town, and it would be nice to see maybe some roads named after Mary Barnes, something, and of course they are doing a lot, the Stanley-Whitman House and the Mary Barnes Society and everything. But I'd like to see more. All of that whole area is in a beautiful part of Farmington that's mostly Miss Porter's School, which is a really a wonderful all girls high school in Farmington. And so I've been thinking also maybe some of the Ms. Porter students would take an interest in this part of a women's history in Farmington. [00:48:40] There's a lot that we can continue doing with this. And I think there are many young people who, if they knew about it, would be just as excited to learn about it and talk about it as William and Catherine were. So I think those two are an example of, I work a lot with young children, as you know, and I think that William and Catherine, they are very good at speaking in public, but there are a lot of young people who feel as strongly as they do. Those two have a lot of poise, but I don't want anyone to think that there aren't dozens and dozens of children just like them that I've met who also care about these issues, and that's something that I think was true in colonial times. [00:49:24] And there's a little bit of truth to this now, although things are getting better. People often assume that young people don't care about important things, and that's not true. Or, conversely, and I've had to deal with this, they think that when a young person is standing up for something that's important, they assume that some adult is manipulating them or in influencing them. And that is actually very insulting to the children and to the adults who care about them. So I think we need to be mindful of that. That's not usually the case, actually. It's not that it's impossible, but adults can be manipulated, too. Children are not the only people who can be manipulated, and children really do have minds of their own. [00:50:12] For example, when William quoted Dr. King, I was so impressed, because even though I've studied Dr. King for decades, that quote from Dr. King had not popped immediately into my head, nor had I made that connection in any conversation with William, so when William was being interviewed by News Channel Eight and NBC Connecticut, and he quoted Dr. King, I said, "where did he get that from? I didn't give him that quote." And I asked him later and he said, "oh yeah, my school teacher, we were talking about it in February, and she was saying we have to connect all injustices, and this is what one of the things that Dr. King taught us." [00:50:52] His teacher was just doing a good job teaching history, and he made that connection himself. Yeah, I think that the adults need to wake up and realize that the children have something to say. And I have never met a young person who finds any of this boring. If history is taught in a straightforward way with the truth being told, they do find it interesting, and everyone has their own area of history that they find particularly fascinating. [00:51:25] I wish we could've brought more children into the hearing that day, actually. Maybe those representatives would've seen, and another thing, and I don't wanna be jaded, but they're not old enough to vote yet. So maybe, that's something that has prevented people from listening to the voices of children. [00:51:43] Sarah Jack: But they need to be thinking about how fast time passes and terms pass and people like to be reelected. [00:51:51] Jennifer Schloat: Yeah. In fact, William did fire off a bunch of emails after his testimony to local legislators saying, I hope you heard my testimony, not just to the people who were in the hearing room, but other members of the Connecticut legislature saying, I'm William Schloat. I testified, and he mentioned his age, and he said, but I have a 22-year-old-sister and two parents, and they all vote. He knows how it works, and so he mentioned he lives in a household with three adults that he can influence. [00:52:25] Josh Hutchinson: He'll be voting soon enough himself, and Catherine will be voting right around the corner. So yeah, while those guys are probably still in office, she'll be able to vote. [00:52:37] Jennifer Schloat: Exactly. When I've taught history, and even now when I'm teaching literature, some of the literature we read are speeches given by political leaders and civil rights leaders. And I've been studying with my students. Early in Dr. King's career as a civil rights leader, there was something called the Children's March. A lot of historians considered a tipping point in the civil rights history of this nation when a lot of Americans who were accustomed to seeing adults fighting for civil rights, seeing them on the news, had kind of grown maybe complacent or just weary of hearing about this, when they saw on the news, I believe it was in Selma, Alabama. When they saw children marching, and it was hundreds of children, they realized, "oh wow, they're young children," mostly African American children in this case. And they were led by Dr. King marching for their civil rights. They wanted the schools to be integrated, and they wanted to end segregation in the southern states. And a lot of northern people suddenly became interested in what was happening in the South in the early 1960s because of seeing little children involved. And so sometimes it's a wakeup call for people. Some of the most heroic people, some of the bravest people are little, young children. [00:54:04] If a child is interested in something, and they wanna speak out about it, we have to give them that opportunity to use their voice. So yeah it's very important. A participatory democracy is something that I strongly believe in. [00:54:20] There's something in our culture right now, and it reminds me of the 1600s in Connecticut, where people are encouraged to be quiet. Have that whole idea, and again, I think of Thanksgiving where, oh, don't talk about politics, it's rude. You're having a family gathering for Thanksgiving. Don't talk about politics. You don't wanna have an argument with someone. And that's unamerican, if you think about it, right? We shouldn't be afraid to discuss political issues. Politics shouldn't be a dirty word. It's participating in our civil life. [00:54:56] So if more kids realized that it was a proud thing and it's a patriotic thing, and you can go and speak to your senator, you can write to her, him, you can speak at a hearing, you can attend a rally or a march, you can speak on a podcast, you can write a letter for a newspaper. If more children were encouraged to do this and it was given a positive connotation, cuz right now there's this, I think it's very false, but it's nevertheless something that some people are promoting that it's somehow impolite to talk about politics or that it's embarrassing or too divisive, then it's discouraging people. I don't feel it needs to be that way, and I hope we can move away from that. [00:55:45] I certainly don't think things like this should be along party lines. Even if there are party lines, it shouldn't stop us from going to whatever the other party is and helping them see that we have more in common than maybe they thought we had. [00:56:00] As a teacher and as a parent, I think this study of history is intertwined with this whole idea of people, young people, learning to speak up, learning to put their ideas in writing and speaking in public or writing letters. They need to have the history, in order to know how to make their point in a strong way. [00:56:26] We are in a time in history and it, these times have come before, where people are being told to not look at the past. And there's all sorts of people fighting about what should and shouldn't be taught in history. And so I think, yeah, it's a little scary to me. I think that this might be falling under that category, and it shouldn't be. We have evidence, right? As long as we have evidence that these things really happened, then we have to look at it. We're forced to look at it. [00:56:57] Sarah Jack: Is there anything else that you wanted to make sure you said today? [00:57:03] Jennifer Schloat: The whole point about some of these people, we don't know where they were buried. That really connects to the whole idea of some people have statues and some people don't. It's a really important thing that we remember everyone from the past. And, when, as I said, when William and I were walking around that graveyard yesterday realizing that it's unlikely that poor Mary Barnes is buried there. Or for that matter, Mary Barnes' little daughter that William mentioned in his testimony, Hannah Barnes. I can't find any record of where this child was buried. [00:57:39] Maybe I will be able to find something, but we haven't yet. But she died shortly after her mother was killed, and there may be a connection there. The psychological trauma of your mother dying could affect your health. [00:57:52] It is really upsetting to me, and I would like to find out if there's any way that we could discover where any of these people might have been buried. And or just acknowledge the fact that we don't know, and this is true all throughout history. Enslaved people were not given proper burials and, again, anyone who's been executed. There's also just a lack of respect for the human remains of anyone who's not considered important, and so I think that's another reason to exonerate these people and get their names on the historical record, because their names are not written in stone in graveyards right now. And so we need to clear their good name on the record. [00:58:35] And that was another thing that impressed William, and I think you alluded to it earlier, when he realized that his testimony, even though it was a mere three minutes, is now part of the permanent historical record, that it's entered into the congressional record for Connecticut. There's a YouTube of everyone's testimony. That's exciting to know that in the future, long after we're all gone, if someone is still caring to research what happened to these people, they're these names, you know the name of Mary Barnes and her children, the name of Mary Johnson and her son Benjamin. [00:59:12] They're now associated with William's testimony and oh, someone was standing up for them. Good. So that's something that get all these people's names. And didn't Catherine read all the names of the convicted witches in her testimony? Catherine Carmon, I believe she read their names out. This is so essential. [00:59:33] And just one other little thing, and that is, I think it's psychologically healing for us to face the bad stuff from the past. And we know that, anyone who knows anything about psychotherapy or psychology, knows that one way to heal yourself is if you forgive people who have wronged you, and you forgive yourself for anything that you feel ashamed of and, but that you also own up to anything wrong that you have done. [01:00:03] And so even though we didn't do this directly, right? We're not the colonial magistrates who did this. It still could heal us as a society to own up to the bad things that our state, our state when it was a colony, our country, our culture, our people have done. [01:00:22] And that was one of the things that hit William. He's really into genealogy at this phase. And we've recently done hours and hours of work. We got our DNA tested through ancestry.com, and he's researching all of his ancestors. And we found out that my seven times great-grandfather, and that would be William's eight times great-grandfather, was a man named Joseph Ballard, and he is one of the Witch accusers associated with the Salem Witchcraft Trials. So that's an ancestor of ours, distant ancestor, but a direct ancestor who was part of the problem, who accused people. [01:01:04] And then we did find, William just was reading about this last week, Martha Carrier, who's one of the women who was executed in Salem is our first cousin 10 times removed, but the first cousin is very significant. And then I'm pretty sure. And I'm gonna do more genealogical research so I can be definitively certain. Rebecca Greensmith is probably my my nine times great grand aunt, so if that's true, I'm connected to one of the Connecticut people, and then the Barnes name, the Barnes last name is in our family tree, but we're pretty sure we're not directly related to the Farmington Barnes family, but we might be, there's kind of conflicting clues out there. [01:01:51] So it's in our tree, it's in our family tree. The good guys and the bad guys, the villains and the victims, they're all there, and so it's immediately relevant in that research, as well. [01:02:05] Josh Hutchinson: Yeah, I'm also a first cousin of Martha Carrier through the Dane family and the Ingalls. [01:02:15] Jennifer Schloat: Yeah, the Ingalls. I was about to say, I'm actually looking at Ancestry right now. We have Ingalls, so we're related then in some way. Yeah, so it was actually the Ingalls name that was my first clue that I might be related to her. Once you start with the whole Mayflower ancestry, there's all sorts of interesting things that come from that. And so William recently found out that through my husband, through his dad, he's related to Francis Cooke, who is a Mayflower person. And then through me it's the Brewsters, the Whites, and the Hopkins' on the Mayflower. So there's all that. [01:02:51] We feel like we have to speak out as some of the original English settlers of New England. We have a responsibility to say something about the way these people what these people did. [01:03:04] And then I've only learned from your podcast. Your podcast has taught me so much. I did. I have to confess that I was completely ignorant that there were still people in countries, in other parts of the world, that were still being executed for or found guilty of witchcraft. I had no idea until this year, and Beth Caruso told me to listen to your podcast. I had no idea about that. I don't think many people are aware that this is still an issue, like specifically this thing is still happening. [01:03:38] Josh Hutchinson: And if you want to hear more about that, we'll be out in Salem and in Connecticut in May with Dr. Leo Igwe, and he's the Nigerian activist who speaks about the witchcraft accusations there. And he'll be speaking at the Stanley-Whitman House. [01:03:58] Jennifer Schloat: You really educated a lot of people by sharing that, cuz then of course I shared it with my students, and most people that I've spoken to didn't know but when they found out were very upset to hear that's still happening. [01:04:11] Josh Hutchinson: And we were blown away by the statistics. There was a recent UN report, I don't know if you heard about this part, where in between 2009 and 2019, there were something like 20,000 cases of witchcraft persecution against adults. [01:04:32] It's even worse with children being accused of witchcraft. There's hundreds of thousands of accusations against children every year just in Africa alone. [01:04:44] Jennifer Schloat: I need to read even more. Do you know why specifically children, why it would be more? [01:04:50] Josh Hutchinson: In some places, these militias that are battling in some of these nations, they send children ahead of them in the line of combat, because they believe that they have magical powers to stop bullets. [01:05:08] Jennifer Schloat: Oh my goodness. [01:05:10] Josh Hutchinson: terrifying, and it's very real, and you can observe it today. Leo often shares images of the victims after they've been attacked, and it's brutal. It's horrifying, and it needs to stop. [01:05:26] Jennifer Schloat: So I think that there's so many different areas of our present life that this is relevant to. And so obviously in other countries and then in our own country, so we don't have witch executions anymore, but that isn't to say that we don't have groups of people who are marginalized or ignored. [01:05:51] And again, looking at the children of the Connecticut witch trial victims, we can maybe then think about the children in our own society today who are suffering because their parents are suffering. And that's so important for us to remember, as well. But everything is connected and just, as a teacher, by the way, there is no area of knowledge that is not important. I feel specifically passionate about the history of our own country, but every area of knowledge is important. And there is sometimes a focus today, that I think is malignant, on we should only teach children what they need to know to earn money. And that's a terrifying idea. It's really very scary. [01:06:42] And the other thing we have to think about, cuz it's true in science, but it's also true in history. Sometimes when we go and start to study the past, we may have something specific we're looking for, and then we find something different. In other words, I might go and do more research on the Barnes family or on my own ancestry or on colonial Connecticut witchcraft persecutions and learn more but also find stuff that I didn't know about and uncover a whole new area. And so we have to keep our minds open to new discoveries. [01:07:20] And that was kind of the worry I had when I heard some of the people during the hearing speaking in reaction. It was like they weren't familiar with this information, therefore they weren't willing to hear it, because it was new information. It is like there was no room left in their brain for it or something. That, you know, as someone who's loved history, the study of history my whole life. That's really dreadful. [01:07:49] And that was one last point I wanted to make before we go. One of the ways that I became familiar with Connecticut's witchcraft mania, basically, was I took a graduate course in history at Central Connecticut State University with Dr. Katherine Hermes was the professor, and it was on colonial New England. And even though I had studied this period before as an undergraduate in New York State, I barely knew just the tip of the iceberg about there's so much to learn about colonial New England. [01:08:26] And she had us all do a research project that was the most unique thing that I had ever been asked to do in college. It was probably the most valuable thing I learned in graduate school. She had us do something called a prosopography. I had never even heard of this before, but it's basically the study of groups of people and what they all have in common. And usually prosopography, when it's done with history, these are people that we don't know a lot about. So it's not like you do a prosopography of the American presidents. You would do prosopography of servants or something like that, a group of people who are in some way marginalized and we don't have a lot of records on them. [01:09:13] So anyway, each student had their own area of research, and it was all focusing on local Connecticut history, and a lot of them were focusing on servants and on African-Americans and on women. Dr. Hermes was very kind. She let me do something a little odd or a little bit different. [01:09:31] I wanted to do the outcasts, the people who were somehow socially unacceptable in some way in the Farmington area. And so she gave me a little bit of latitude letting me do like a hundred years, sometime in the 1600s to sometime in the 1700s. And I did a paper, research paper, that Mary Barnes ended up being one of the people in the group, but also a hermit who lived on a mountain who I've written a, my master's thesis was actually about him. And I included a whole bunch of people who were just vagrants or wanderers who got run out of town or warned out of town, because they didn't belong there. These were all white people, and they were all people who, in one way or another got in trouble with the law in Farmington, and they were not all witches. Mary Barnes was labeled as a witch. But what they had in common is they just weren't behaving and conforming to what was expected of them. Anyway, this was a wonderful research project that I was asked to do, and I learned a lot from it, and I learned a lot of things that I hadn't expected to learn. [01:10:50] And one of the things I learned is that sometimes when we go back and look into the past and we find someone behaving in a way that we don't expect them to behave, we miscategorize them. And so I found that some of the people in my prosopography had been mislabeled in later years. Like people looking at them from the 1800s or from the 20th century said, "oh, that hermit or that vagrant person, they must have been a Native American or they must have been an African American." And in every case I made sure, I tried to stick to only white people because my prosopography would not really be a true prosopography if I chose people from multiple races. But what, I guess what I'm saying is these were people who were behaving in such a way that their race got changed by the people looking back at them. In other words, white people couldn't possibly behave this way, therefore they're not white. And of course they were white. [01:11:55] So to me, this taught me a lot about racism and it taught me a lot about labeling people. And it's just fascinating. So I think we need to keep doing this. We need to keep studying the past and figuring out why people are mistreated and why people are marginalized and give voice to those people as much as we can. Thank you so much for letting me visit with you on this podcast. [01:12:21] Josh Hutchinson: And here's Connecticut Witch trial Exoneration Project co-founder Mary Bingham with Minute with Mary. [01:12:31] Mary Bingham: Why do I care about my ancestors who have been dead for centuries because their legacy lives on in me? If not for the decisions my ancestors made years ago, I would not be alive today. My research is not a hobby. It is a special calling to tell as many of their stories as possible with my voice, my heart, and with conviction. [01:13:00] The stories of all our ancestors are important because their individual stories personalize history. As a teen, I sat through very boring history classes, Paul Revere and the Midnight Ride, Yon City. Fast forward 30 years, I discovered that one of my ancestors answered the Lexington alarm 248 years ago. [01:13:28] It was game on. I wanted to know more about what happened and how he was involved. 35 year old Jacob Peaty was a Topsfield farmer and member of the local militia company headed by Captain Steven Perkins, another one of my ancestors. At 10:00 AM April 19th, 1775, the post rider arrived and news spread like wildfire. [01:13:56] Jacob left so fast that his work in the field was left Unat. He took necessities previously packed, mounted his horse and rode probably fast and hard, the 30 miles to Lexington, not knowing if he would ever return home. Who knows? He probably did not have the chance to kiss his wife. Sarah, goodbye. Jacob thankfully returned home about two days later. [01:14:24] The sense of duty he possessed passed through nine generations to my father, whose own sense of duty, provided well for my mother, my siblings, and myself, as well as for our local community. I wonder what my legacy will. I've never married, nor do I have children who will tell my story when I'm gone. How will I be remembered? [01:14:51] I hope to be remembered for keeping our family history alive for the next generations of nieces and nephews. My grandmother always encouraged me to ask questions. I now implore the next generation to engage in thoughtful conversations with members of my generation as we not only tell our stories, but the stories of our relatives of long ago. [01:15:16] Thank you. [01:15:18] Josh Hutchinson: know. [01:15:19] Sarah Jack: you, Mary. [01:15:20] Josh Hutchinson: Thank you, Mary. Thank you, Mary. [01:15:23] Sarah Jack: Thank you, Mary. [01:15:25] Josh Hutchinson: Here's Sarah with End Witch Hunts News. [01:15:28] Sarah Jack: We have a resolution update. This week, it has been marked as "ready for action by the House" on the House calendar. Keep writing Connecticut legislators. Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz supports the passing of the resolution. She told McClatchy News in the latest article, "some of the people who participated in the trials actually became leaders of our state," adding, "who was in charge really doesn't matter. We should just take responsibility and tell the world what really happened because we all know." She reminds us that there are other reasons to pass the resolution that could have implications for the modern world. She said, "there are still some countries that have these witchcraft laws on the books, so we should take leadership and hopefully those countries change their laws." [01:16:10] Thank you for standing with the Connecticut Witch Trial Exoneration Project, Lieutenant Governor. Thank you for helping us end witch hunts. Listeners, let's keep up this incredible momentum. Go to our episode description for a link with information on writing to Connecticut legislators asking for their support. [01:16:25] Next month, the Salem, Massachusetts area and Hartford and Farmington, Connecticut are getting a rare visit from Dr. Leo Igwe, director of the Advocacy for Alleged Witches nonprofit organization. It is an incredible honor for us to organize a week of speaking engagements during his May speaking tour in the United States and to accompany him as he speaks in places of historical significance to early American colony witch trial history. [01:16:48] Witch persecutions and trials are ongoing incidents in Africa and other nations, reportedly at least 60. Witchcraft accusation is still a form of death sentence. Across the continent, thousands, mainly women and elderly persons are accused, tried, attacked, killed, imprisoned, or banished every year. [01:17:04] You can follow Dr. Leo Igwe on Twitter to see how he's advocating on the ground in the victim communities in real time, as these individuals are experiencing being accused and hunted. The first event, Monday, May 15, at the Salem Witch Museum is virtual, but Dr. Igwe will be with us in Salem touring the historic sites, guided by a local seasoned in the history, Mary Bingham. Tuesday, May 16th is your chance to experience a very special evening of in-person conversation with Leo at the Rebecca Nurse Homestead in Danvers, Massachusetts. Please see the Facebook event for details. Isn't this a great week? Make sure you mark your calendars. [01:17:41] Next, you can enjoy an in-person speaking event with Dr. Igwe at Central Connecticut State University on Wednesday, May 17 at 6:00 PM. While in the Hartford area, Leo will be touring known Witch trial historic sites with author Beth Caruso. But wait, there is more. On Thursday afternoon, May 18 at 4:00 PM, Leo will be presenting at the Stanley-Whitman House living history center in Farmington, Connecticut. Look for Facebook events for all of these occasions posted by our social media. [01:18:06] Would you like to know more about Leo? You are in luck, because we have a great podcast episode for you to listen to. For more on Leo, listen to episode Witchcraft Accusations in Nigeria with Dr. Leo Igwe. Come hear Leo. Invite your friends and family. See you there. Get involved. Visit endwitchhunts.org. To support us, purchase books from our bookshop or merch from our Zazzle shop. Our links are in the show description. [01:18:30] Many well-written, informed testimonies were submitted for the Joint Committee on Judiciary's hearing of Bill HJ 34, Resolution Concerning Certain Witchcraft Convictions in Colonial Connecticut on March 1st, 2023. We hope you enjoyed hearing William and Jennifer Schloat read theirs. And here are more from Josh Hutchinson, Sarah Jack, Beth Caruso, and Tony Grego. [01:18:51] Josh Hutchinson: Thank you, Sarah. [01:18:53] Today I'd like to talk to you about witch hunts happening in our world now. United Nations Human Rights Council recently assembled in Geneva, Switzerland to discuss the crisis of harmful practices related to witchcraft accusations and ritual abuse. In many nations, literal witch hunts continue to plague society with banishments, violence, torture, and death directed at innocent people accused of an impossible crimes. These accusations and extrajudicial punishments are often directed at vulnerable people, notably elderly women, children, the disabled, and those with albinism. Each year, thousands of people are targeted. They live in nations around the world, on every populated continent. If they're lucky enough to survive, they face an uncertain future. From roaming village to village, to being placed in prison or so-called witch camps for their own safety, their lives are never their own. [01:19:53] By exonerating those accused of witchcraft in Connecticut, you send a powerful message that witch-hunting will not be tolerated. By exonerating the accused, you join with other nations, including Scotland and Spain, in Confronting the past and righting wrongs. By exonerating the accused, you make a clear statement condemning witch-hunting, which will resonate with leaders in nations affected by witchcraft-accusation-related violence today. [01:20:19] Let's stand together against witch-hunting. Make that strong statement. Clear the names of those accused of witchcraft in colonial Connecticut, and let the world know you oppose witch-hunting in the strongest terms. [01:20:32] Sarah Jack: I'm speaking to ask the Connecticut General Assembly to vote yes on HJ 34, Resolution Concerning Certain Witchcraft Convictions in Colonial Connecticut. My ancestor, Winifred Benham, was one of over 45 people accused of witchcraft crimes in Connecticut. In 1697, she and her daughter, Winifred Benham, Jr., were the last two arrested and indicted. Despite their innocence, their unduly tarnished reputations forced them to leave their lives in Wallingford by uprooting to New York. Researching the Connecticut witch trial history informed me of her innocence and that she needed a voice today to address the life-changing and devastating historical wrong she experienced. There is complete certainty that she was not guilty of supernatural crime. She was an ordinary woman, a wife and mother who fell victim to the irrational witchcraft fear that was prevalent in the colonies during those times and is still prevalent in many places in the world. [01:21:27] This yes vote is powerful, because it recognizes her innocence and signifies that vulnerable community members should not be treated unjustly due to perceived differences. It is time to write these wrongs and exonerate those who were executed or subjected to other severe consequences of witchcraft accusations. [01:21:47] Thank you for your time and thoughtful consideration. [01:21:50] Beth Caruso: My name is Beth Caruso of Windsor. I support House Joint Resolution 34. Having done extensive research and writing about the Connecticut Witch Trials, I must speak on behalf of the victims of those trials. Numerous citizens became targets of unjust witchcraft accusations and were indicted, convicted, and hanged for strange events beyond their control. [01:22:19] Most of their contemporaries believed that they had a pact with the devil and intended to do harm to their communities. Alice Young, mother of a single child, was the first condemned as a witch, when an epidemic took the lives of children. Four of them were her next door neighbors. Lydia Gilbert was also accused of bewitching a gun three years after it discharged and killed Henry Stiles. Both women were hanged as witches. There were many others who died or suffered. [01:22:55] Although convicted, Elizabeth Seager, a Hartford resident, and Katherine Harrison, a rare female landowner, were saved from death by Governor John Winthrop, Jr. Unlike most people of his time, the esteemed alchemical physician saw that the accused were not witches. He not only refused to carry out convictions, he helped to change the rules of those convictions so that justice might prevail. Before Winthrop, seven people died for witchcraft crimes. After he became Governor, witch-hunting slowed and deaths stopped, until he left to secure Connecticut's charter in England. While away, four more died during the Hartford Witch Panic under the watch of Major John Mason. [01:23:49] In the end, Winthrop saved many lives years before the infamous Salem Witch Trials. If Governor Winthrop, your predecessor in Connecticut governance, could recognize the accused victim's innocence in the 1600s, why shouldn't you also acknowledge it by exonerating them and continuing Winthrop's legacy? And if we proudly claim Winthrop as one of our own in Connecticut history, why should we not embrace these victims as part of our history, too, and recognize the wrongs done to them for their descendants as well as for ourselves? Thank you for your consideration. [01:24:39] Tony Griego: My name is Anthony Griego. I am a retired sergeant from the New Haven Police Department with almost 32 years of service and also an honorably discharged veteran of United States Army, 1961 to 1964. I am also one of the co-founders of our Connecticut Witch Memorial Facebook page, whose goal is to educate the general public about our Connecticut colony witch hunts. [01:25:11] Connecticut was the first colony to start hanging people for witchcraft in 1647, a crime that disappeared from Connecticut law books by 1750. 9 women and 2 men, husbands, were hanged for this crime. 23 more suffered through witch trials whose guilty verdict could end in a hanging. Several children became orphans with the loss of a parent or both. [01:25:44] Today in our modern world, such trials and executions are still taking place in other countries. Today we can follow other New England states that have made amends for colonial witch hunts. We can also send a clear message that witch hunts are wrong and always were. Knowing that we have made amends for errors of the past is a step towards teaching a younger generation how we have learned to be a better nation. [01:26:18] We ask that you vote in favor of resolution number 34. Thank you. [01:26:24] Josh Hutchinson: Thank you for listening to Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast. [01:26:30] Sarah Jack: Join us next week. [01:26:32] Josh Hutchinson: Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. [01:26:35] Sarah Jack: Visit thoushaltnotsuffer.com. [01:26:38] Josh Hutchinson: Tell your friends and family about the show. [01:26:41] Sarah Jack: Support our efforts to End Witch Hunts. Visit EndWitchHunts.Org to learn more. [01:26:46] Josh Hutchinson: Have a great today and a beautiful tomorrow. [01:26:50]