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We have the honor of discussing the book In the Shadow of Salem with author and archivist Richard Hite. This episode focuses our witch trial investigation on a distinct element of the Salem Witch-Hunt community story. We check out the neighboring town of Andover to discover what is eyebrow raising about its accusers and accused persons. Hear about large family involvements, shocking confessions and colorful accusations full of spectral claims. We connect past witch trials to today’s witchcraft fear with a discussion answering our advocacy questions: Why do we witch hunt? How do we witch hunt? How do we stop hunting witches?
Josh Hutchinson: Welcome to Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast. I'm Josh Hutchinson.
Sarah Jack: And I'm Sarah Jack.
Josh Hutchinson: Today we speak with author and archivist Richard Hite, who's written In the Shadow of Salem: the Andover Witch Hunt of 1692.
Sarah Jack: In the Shadow of Salem takes a focused look at one community that had the most accusations.
Josh Hutchinson: More accusations than Salem and Salem Village combined. And [00:01:00] a ton of confessions.
Sarah Jack: Confessions and wild accusations, full of spectral evidence.
Josh Hutchinson: The confessions featured satanic baptisms, the queen in hell, and one woman said there were 305 witches in the country, so they were looking for them everywhere. Andover wasn't a big town. But they discovered and accused at least 45 people of witchcraft. Most of the accused there confessed to witchcraft.
Sarah Jack: One of the reasons that I think descendants have really gravitated towards this book and they talk about it on social media is because so many names are talked about and placed into the story, and you see where these different [00:02:00] families fit in to what was happening. Richard does a really great job of talking about the area, the territory, where they were living.
Josh Hutchinson: In spite of the scale of the Andover phase of the Salem Witch Hunt, there hasn't been a lot written about it until Richard Hite came along and wrote In the Shadow of Salem, and it really, for the first time, shines the spotlight on this particular village in Essex County, Massachusetts.
He looks at the conclusions other historians have drawn or come to about the Andover phase and evaluates those critically and makes his own determinations based on his research. [00:03:00] And it's very enlightening and enriching and there's so many interesting things about Andover that it's really deserves its own limelight deserves its own book or even. , more can be written about it because there's just so much there and we get to learn quite a lot from our conversation.
Sarah Jack: I was surprised at how many people in these families were involved that, when you're looking at some of the other history of the Salem Witch, yes, Rebecca Nurse and her sisters are in the story. But when you're looking at the Andover phase, you've got mothers and daughters and grandchildren and sons and cousins, and [00:04:00] they're all saying something or accusing or confessing, and it's just there's a lot of voices saying a lot of things.
And if you've read the book, you're just gonna really enjoy the conversation and details that Richard shares with us when we're asking questions than discussing what we read. If you haven't read the book, you're gonna order it right away, cuz you're gonna wanna read what he has to say about these stories that we talk about in the episode.
Josh Hutchinson: We're gonna learn about the Ingalls family and how many of them were accused. Like Sarah said, it wasn't just the immediate family, it was like every branch. There were in-laws that got caught up in it. There were children, grandchildren, so many people involved from the Ingalls family. The [00:05:00] Tyler family was another of the big ones involved. We're gonna learn about those from our conversation with Richard Hite.
Sarah Jack: One of the other things that really jumped out to me is how long it involves some of the conflicts that were between families or neighbors or community members. Anthills became molehills in a lot of situations over the years. When you look at the interactions the Andover community members had with each other, there was years of disagreements or not seeing eye to eye, and it affected how the accusations played out later.
Josh Hutchinson: We're also going to take a look at the proposed conflict between supporters of Minister Francis Dane and supporters of Thomas [00:06:00] Barnard and discuss whether there was a North-South clash in Andover at the time.
We're gonna talk about Francis Dane's granddaughter Elizabeth Johnson Jr., who was just exonerated this past summer by the state of Massachusetts. We'll learn how middle school classes got involved in exonerating Elizabeth Johnson Jr. and really helped push it through. So we'll discuss what middle school was involved, who their teacher was, how Richard was put in contact with that teacher, and how it all unfolded.
We're also going to learn about how Andover got caught up in this whirlwind of accusations, how afflicted girls from Salem Village were invited to Andover, what they did there, and how that really got [00:07:00] the ball rolling on accusation after accusation.
Sarah Jack: All of that information enables you to visualize how much like us they were and sense the whole struggle they were in and just the fear and it's very it just brings it that history to life when you're reading that.
Josh Hutchinson: The book and learning about the different people helps you to realize that they're basically us and we're them, and we have the same fears and desires and everything.
Sarah Jack: And then it also, that dimensional piece that I'm thinking of, it helps you understand some of the Salem Village narrative more ,too, because you had the stuff coming in from Andover impacting. [00:08:00] It broadens the understanding of the scope of the community at large. We get the Salem and Salem Village pieces in our mind, but there was actually all these other communities that were close but larger.
Josh Hutchinson: It shows you the real scale and scope of the witch-hunt.
Sarah Jack: Here's Josh with some history.
Josh Hutchinson: Martha Carrier was born in Andover to Andrew Allen and Faith Ingalls in about 1650. Later on, she moved to Billerica, where she met Thomas Carrier, a.k.a. Thomas Morgan. The two were married in 1674. They returned to Andover and were blamed for a smallpox outbreak in 1690 and warned out of town.[00:09:00] Given the testimony against her, it's possible that she did not have the friendliest demeanor.
A warrant was issued for Martha carrier's arrest on May 28th, 1692.
Under examination, Mary Lacey, Jr. claimed that Martha carrier was the queen in Hell and that she initiated others into her coven, and she participated in Satanic Baptisms. Sometimes these occurred in her own well. Other times they occurred in places. She was reported to have participated in several broom flights.
Martha was tried, convicted, and condemned, and four of her children were also accused. Those were Andrew Carrier, Richard [00:10:00] Carrier, Sarah Carrier, and Thomas Carrier Jr. Martha Was hanged on August 19th, 1692.
Sarah Jack: Thank you for sharing that history with us, Josh.
Josh Hutchinson: You're welcome. And now, before we go to Richard Hite, we'll hear a word from Virginia Wolf and Debra Walsh about their play, The Last Night.
Virginia Wolf: Many people don't know that Connecticut has a history of witchcraft witch panics in the 17th century. In fact the first person to be hanged for witchcraft was Alice Young. Arthur Miller, God bless him, has made the Salem witchcraft panics the standard by which everything is considered and people don't even realize that the history, and it's not necessarily a history to be proud of, but it is something that it happened. It was an outcome of the religious beliefs at the time, the patriarchal society of the [00:11:00] time, and in Connecticut, 1663, January 25th was the last execution, Rebecca and Nathaniel Greensmith and Mary Barnes. And this is 30 years before the Salem Witch trials ever happened and how. And acknowledging that date is so important so that people are aware that this did happen.
Debra Walsh: How do museums get people in to their buildings? What are the stories we can tell that happened right outside the door of the museum? How do we appeal to younger people? And I think theater can do that by having the education or the story is done theatrically and thoughtfully.
I think it for me relates to any time someone is considered the Other. When I think of the immigration crisis, and so maybe it will get us thinking about how do we treat the Other, what do we, what do we [00:12:00] think about, oh, especially innocent people executed for these crimes. A hanging? Like where is our humanity? And those questions are very important to me as an educator, as a theater educator, and also to stretch out the bonds of theater. What else can theater artists be doing?
Virginia Wolf: It's been a really wonderful thing to be writing this because aren't a lot of records of what happened at the time. There are more records based on Rebecca Greensmith in her trial and what she said. There's really virtually nothing on Mary Barnes. So we work from primary sources to write this, to make, as factual as we can, but then weaving in informed conjecture what could have happened, since we don't know what happened. And then the dramatic arc, which we've done the writing, but Andy and our director have really helped with that, so that the story is alive and it's vibrant, but it is based on history, and we are not saying [00:13:00] anything false, but we are taking the facts and elaborating them to make them an interesting story.
Josh Hutchinson: A stage reading of The Last Night will be performed at the Stanley-Whitman House at 37 High Street in Farmington, Connecticut on January 21st at 7:00 PM. Doors open at 6:30 PM. Tickets are $20 for members, $25 for non-members and can be purchased at s-wh.org. The video premiere is January 25th at 7:00 PM online for free. You can register at the Stanley-Whitman House website. Again, that's s-wh.org, and we will include the link in the show description. Thank you.
Sarah Jack: I'm excited to introduce Richard Hite, state records [00:14:00] coordinator at Rhode Island State Archive and author of In The Shadow of Salem: the Andover Witch Hunt of 1692.
Josh Hutchinson: I wondered if you might take just a minute or two to summarize the Andover phase of the Salem Witch Hunt.
Richard Hite: It starts in the middle of July of 1692. Now one person from Andover had already been arrested by that point. That was Martha Carrier. She had somehow caught the attention of the uh, afflicted people in Salem Village, probably because uh, her own and her family's reputation was not the greatest. They'd been blamed for starting a smallpox epidemic in Andover a couple of years earlier.
But in mid-July, accusations had actually ground to a halt for about six weeks, because the court of Oyer and Terminer had been put in place and was [00:15:00] trying the people who had already been arrested. There were a little over 60 at that point.
But there was a woman in Andover who was gravely ill, Elizabeth Phelps Ballard. Her husband took the unprecedented step of inviting two of the afflicted girls from Salem Village to Andover to determine whether or not she was bewitched. Apparently, it wasn't his own idea. Some others had put the idea in his head, but of course, once they came, obviously they concluded that she was, in fact, bewitched. The person they initially named was a widow named Ann Foster, who was quite frail and who had experienced several tragedies in recent years, worst of which was the murder of her daughter by the daughter's husband three years earlier.
Ann Foster was arrested and questioned over a period of four days. For two days, she resisted [00:16:00] admitting guilt, but finally on the third day, her will cracked and she confessed. But as I said, there were a little over 60 people who had been arrested at that point. In her confession, she indicated that there were 305 witches throughout the region, so that throws a scare into everybody.
They go from thinking, yeah, it was very possible at that point that there could have been no more accusations. They may have just gone ahead and tried the ones who had already been arrested, but then all of a sudden you've got people thinking that only 20% of the people who were witches had been arrested. So that starts a whole new round of arrests.
As had been the case in Salem Village but became even more pronounced in Andover, once one family member was arrested, more others were vulnerable. The next two to be arrested were um, both Ann Foster's own daughter and granddaughter, both of [00:17:00] whom were named Mary Lacey. Both of them also confessed under pressure, but the younger Mary Lacey added a new wrinkle and um, implicated Martha Carrier, and she designated Martha Carrier as the future queen in hell, so to speak.
Martha Carrier has not only been accused of witchcraft, she's expected to be the queen of hell. Well, she's likely a recruiter of new witches based on that. Who's she gonna recruit? Her neighbors in Andover. Before the whole thing was over in Andover, 45 people from that one town were accused. Now I should stress what was then Andover included at that time what's today North Andover, at least part of Lawrence, and part of the town of Middleton.
But then also in Martha Carrier's own extended family, one of her sisters was accused, four of her five children, two nieces, and then it extended even further to [00:18:00] cousins and the cousins of children. Ultimately, 17 members of Martha Carrier's extended family were accused of witchcraft, which was more than any other family throughout the region. The 45 from Andover, who were accused, that was more than any other town, including Salem Village, where it all started.
Salem Village, which is today Danvers, had only 26 accused, the town of Salem 12. So that's those two places combined at fewer than Andover. A distinct feature in Andover was that very early on, people began confessing, and that was apparently because a rumor had spread in Andover that if one confessed, one would ultimately be exonerated or their life would be spared, at the very least. That is the way it turned out. It was never the intention of the court. People who confessed were being [00:19:00] kept alive longer, in order to provide evidence against others.
Now, initially, the ones primarily testifying against suspects from Andover were some of the same afflicted people, mostly teenage girls from Salem Village. But after the first month, the core of afflicted girls started forming in Andover, and some of them were coming out and testifying against suspects. A real turning point, I think, came on the 10th of September, when suddenly they began bringing confessors to trial. There were so many confessors by that time, they didn't need them all anymore to provide evidence.
A few were brought to trial and convicted and sentenced to death just like the others. The last round of hangings, there were eight people hanged on September 22nd. Those who had confessed were not hanged at that time. It was not unusual for someone who confessed to a capital crime to be given [00:20:00] additional time to prepare their souls, so to speak, for the afterlife.
And before any of the confessors got around to being executed, they got around to introducing any of the confessors, executing them, Governor Phipps suspended all further legal actions, which gave them a reprieve. But the fact that confessors were being sentenced to death scared the life outta any, any number of people in Andover who had actually encouraged loved ones to confess, believing their lives would be spared. So a series of petitions began circulating in Andover, which were ultimately signed by 72 people in town. A large number of them were family members of those who had been accused, but not entirely.
And then um, of course, Thomas Brattle, a Boston merchant, wrote a letter criticizing the trials, Increase Mather, a minister in [00:21:00] Boston, wrote a detailed critique of the process, and then a new court was constituted that had much stricter standards for conviction. It started trying people in January of 1693. Of the 52 came before the court, all but three were either acquitted or had the charges dropped. Three more were convicted, sentenced to death, all either from Andover or had ties to Andover. They and the previous confessors were slated for execution on February 1st, of 1693, but Governor Phipps intervened again, not pardoning them, but reprieving them, and because the prosecutor had said there was really no more evidence against those people than there were against the ones who had been acquitted. And while they were not at that time pardoned, they began trying more people. No one else was convicted, and, essentially, people [00:22:00] were just eventually let out, and they could pay their expenses and no one else was executed. .
Sarah Jack: I was curious about your research and archiving and what started your journey into that and what that's like for you or anything that would be important for us to know about it.
Richard Hite: I've been in the archives profession since the late 1980s and have been working for the Rhode Island State Archive since 2003. I had not lived in this region of the country prior to that, but I've had a very long-time interest in the witchcraft trials. I did two term papers on them when I was at graduate school, and then of course, moving to this region gave me easier access to material on the witch-hunt than I'd ever had.
And reading nearly all the major publications on the whole event, I came to realize that very little had been written about Andover, despite the fact that [00:23:00] it obviously had a major role in the whole thing, but previous authors seemed to just treat it as just a practically meaningless extension of what had happened in Salem Village and the town of Salem. But I thought with 45 people having accused there, that it seemed that there was a separate story to be told about it. And the more I researched it, the more I realized that there definitely was. The research into the transcribed documents of the witch-hunt, which were compiled in 2010 by a team of editors led by Bernard Rosenthal, and I should add, Margo Burns played a major role in it, was really a major source for me. But one of the things I should point out, though, that it's very much worthwhile to mention, mention that the path I expected to follow, what I thought happened in Andover turned out not [00:24:00] to really be the case at all.
There's a very well-known work on the Witch Hunt in Salem Village from the mid 1970s by historians Paul Boyer and Steven Nisenbaum. They talk about a factionalism that formed in Salem Village over the uh, minister in town with a significant faction supporting him and a significant faction opposing him. And they stress how it tended to break down on regional lines, with people more in the east end of the village, who were near the Salem town, tending to oppose it, further west in the more rural isolated area, tending to support him. I already knew that Andover had been semi-formally divided into north and south ends by that time, not not into separate towns, although the border is fairly close to what now separates North Andover from Andover. There were two ministers in what was then Andover, Francis Dane and Thomas [00:25:00] Barnard. I was expecting to find some kind of a north-south divide in Andover between accusers and accused.
And it's well known that Francis Dane was an opponent of the witch-hunt from the beginning. And some writers had hinted that Thomas Barnard, who was actually the younger of the two, had offered his support to the process. But I didn't find anything like that. In terms of the north and south ends, of the 45 accused, there were 24 from the north end and 21 from the south end, so practically an even split. And people involved in accusations in one way or another, 12 from the north end, 11 from the south end. Again, a practically an even split.
And although Thomas Barnard's attitude toward the witch-hunt was not as vocal as Francis Dane's, he signed the petitions just like Francis Dane and everyone else defending the suspects. So he didn't [00:26:00] support it anymore than Francis Dane did. I think in part, it may have been because the minister in Salem Village, Samuel Parris, played such a major role there, had just made historians may have just generally thought for it to take off in Andover like it did, at least one of the ministers had to be leading the charge, so to speak. That wasn't the case at all. I did research the lives of people involved in the witch hunt afterward, and there were people who strongly supported Barnard in the first decade of the next century, who had close family members accused of witchcraft, and two of 'em were even the sons of Samuel Wardwell, who had been hanged for witchcraft. And I just can't believe that those people would've supported Reverend Barnard if he had been a major booster of the witch-hunt. It just doesn't make sense.
Josh Hutchinson: Certainly different in Salem Village with Parris.
Richard Hite: [00:27:00] Definitely. And it just seemed more in Andover to break down along family lines, particularly among the accused. I already mentioned Martha Carrier's extended family. Her maternal grandparents were Edmund and Anne Ingalls of Lynn, Massachusetts. Of course, they were long dead by the time of the witch-hunt. But altogether they had 17 descendants accused. No other family was that heavily persecuted.
The Tyler family, in and around Andover, they had 10 members accused. Now, unlike the extended Ingalls clan, they also had some accusers, as well, within the family. But those in the family who were accusers were not accusing their own family members, with the exception of a stepdaughter of Moses Tyler named Martha Sprague. It seems to me that her accusations against some of his family may have been a reflection of a negative attitude she held [00:28:00] toward him, and there was just a way of lashing out at his family.
And I should clarify something I said. There were 45 accused from Andover, and that's correct. There were an additional 18 from surrounding communities who people from Andover played a role in accusing. So based on that, I would actually say that the Andover phase resulted in 63 accusations, and 27 out of 63 came from those two extended family groups. So not quite half, but nonetheless a significant portion.
But there were other families who had several members accused, the Barker family, for instance, they had four who were accused. You add those four in, that's 31. And then there were a few others who had at least multiple members accused as well.
Sarah Jack: And was there anything else contributing to that number of accusations other than [00:29:00] thinking, oh, confession is going to save me? What else would've contributed to that many accusations?
Richard Hite: think it was just that once things took off there and got some of the locals believing in, and of course again, the accusation of Martha Carrier as Queen of Hell, giving the idea that she's one of the ring leaders of the whole episode, shifted a focus to Andover in that way. Now the people who were confessing, I should point out, were not generally accusing new people. They were just offering evidence against others who had already been accused. It was just something like in Salem Village. Once it got started, it just got out of control in Andover, as well.
And yes, the fact that people were confessing was giving added credence to it in the minds of the accusers. William Barker, for example, [00:30:00] gave probably one of the more detailed confessions of the whole thing. He described how the Devil was involved. The Devil and his followers had a conspiracy to bring down the Church and the region. He went on to say that the witches were much vexed, as he put it, at the judges and the afflicted, because they were interfering with their plans. And he specifically said, to his knowledge, not a single innocent person had been accused. That was exactly what the judges and the accusers wanted to hear. And he probably said that thinking it would get him off the hook. As it worked out, it did. But again, that was just a coincidence of timing. Had governor Phipps not suspended legal actions when he did in October, some of those who had confessed but then subsequently been convicted would probably have been executed before the month was over.
I think it's worth pointing it out that [00:31:00] earlier in New England witch trials, people who confessed were in fact executed.
Josh Hutchinson: So the thing then about having their lives spared if they confessed, that was just a baseless rumor?
Richard Hite: Early on, those who were confessed, there were only a handful of those prior to Andover, but they were not being brought to trial. And so that probably just contributed to the rumor, because those who were being brought to trial were not confessing and had not confessed previously. But confessions throughout really helped spread the whole thing.
At the very beginning of the whole event, there were three accused, Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne, and the Reverend Parris's slave, Tituba, from Salem Village. Previous witch trials throughout the region, it usually would be only one or two, maybe three people accused. Those people might be convicted, might not, [00:32:00] but Tituba not only confessed, she claimed to have put her mark in a book that listed nine other names. So that gave a hint to the prosecutors. We don't have everybody.
And then by the time they had arrested about seven, six or seven more, this teenage girl from Topsfield, Abigail Hobbs, also confesses. Now she doesn't provide numbers. But yeah, Tituba said she had only signed the book a few weeks before. Abigail Hobbs said that she had given her soul to the devil three or four years earlier. So now that's telling them that this has been going on a while.
It's one of the most frustrating things about reading the whole episode is realizing how many times it reached a point where it could have died down, and then something else, usually another accusation followed by a [00:33:00] confession, suddenly starts at getting out of control again.
Sarah Jack: Why would've she and some of the other confessors said that they had been working with the devil for so many years?
Richard Hite: In the case of Tituba, is really hard to fathom why she confessed. There's a legend that her master, the Minister Samuel Parris, whipped it out of her, but I don't buy that, and I'll tell you why I don't. Because she was questioned in court over a period of two days. The first day she refused to confess, and then she spent the next night in jail. Parris wouldn't have had a chance to whip her then.
The way Judge John Hathorne phrased his questions, he was always presuming guilt. In the case of Sarah Good, for example, he did not ask her, "Sarah Good, do you have familiarity with any evil spirits?" He asked, "Sarah Good, what evil spirit have you familiarity [00:34:00] with?" In reading this examination of Tituba, it seems that he tricked her into confessing, cause he would not relent in questioning her about that. And then finally, I think she said something she thought might get her out of trouble, because she did at one point finally admit she had harmed these children through occult means but had recanted and would do so no more. But then that just caused Hathorne to press even further, twisting her words.
Of course, she was in the courtroom with these shrieking afflicted girls. I think she just cracked under the pressure. Now Abigail Hobbs, she's written about heavily, and Mary Beth Norton's book titled In the Devil's Snare, Mary Beth Norton stresses the importance of Abigail Hobbs' confession. Abigail Hobbs, she was only in her mid teens, apparently quite disturbed. She and her [00:35:00] family had been on the Maine frontier when the wars with the Native Americans broke out. They were essentially back in the Topsfield area as refugees. But Abigail Hobbs had some strange habits. Apparently, she was talked about how she would sleep in the woods at night, would publicly talk about having sold herself body and soul to the Old Boy, which was a way of describing the Devil. My suspicion is that whatever eccentricity she had, she was probably ridiculed to a degree by her peers and maybe had cultivated the reputation of a Witch in a hope of scaring them into leaving her alone. And so again, I can't be sure about that, but that seems as logical a reason as any. I think there were only three more who confessed until the confessions took off in Andover.
Josh Hutchinson: You mentioned earlier that a lot of what happened in Andover took off because of what the [00:36:00] Ballards did. Can you tell us a little more about that?
Richard Hite: Sure. Actually, in a way, it almost starts, I think, with Samuel Wardwell, who ended up being hanged, but see, Samuel Wardwell was well known among the young people in Andover as a fortune teller. And he was well liked by them because of that. My suspicion is, some of Ward well's, things that he told were surprisingly accurate. What I suspect about him is that he had a very keen sense of being able to read people's thoughts by mannerisms, the way they phrased certain things, or by facial expressions.
For instance, he had told one young man named James Bridges that he knew that he was in love with a certain girl in the area. And James Bridges admitted it. Yes he was. And then other things that people believe in 'em strongly enough that can [00:37:00] become self-fulfilling. Well, Samuel Wardwell's wife was Sarah Hooper Wardwell. Her sister Rebecca was married to John Ballard. Now, John Ballard was not the husband of the woman who was sick. John Ballard was the constable of the south end of Andover, and he had already arrested Martha Carrier and taken her to jail in Salem.
Wardwell was getting worried when he heard that Elizabeth Ballard was sick. He thought people were getting suspicious of his being a fortune teller. And so he was afraid he'd be accused of witchcraft. He expressed this to his brother John, he was afraid that John's brother, Joseph, might be blaming him for Elizabeth Ballard's illness. John Ballard then went and said this to Joseph, and that was what put the idea in Joseph Ballard's head that maybe my wife is bewitched. So he sent for these girls from Salem Village,[00:38:00] and of course, they obviously said, yes she was, and Wardwell was not accused immediately, but he was about a month later. And in a sense, expressing his own concerns probably led to him ultimately being accused and executed.
A few days after people began being accused and arrested in Andover, Elizabeth Ballard died. And see, that was a first. None of the afflicted people in Salem Village had died, regardless of what might have been wrong with them or anybody else. But here, for the first time, a supposedly afflicted person had actually died. That was another hint that there were more people at large, and now there was obvious evidence these witches could actually kill.
Sarah Jack: Bringing the afflicted girls in to try to detect some supposed witches was a big deal. It really affected the next[00:39:00] circumstances?
Richard Hite: Yeah. So that was the first place where that had been, where that was done. Gloucester didn't even get involved until very late in the game. Gloucester did have nine people accused. After Andover, Salem Village, and the town of Salem, they were number four, but none of the accusations there really ended up going much of anywhere ,because it started so late in the process.
Josh Hutchinson: You talked about Anne Foster's confession, 305 witches?
Richard Hite: Where she got that number, I have no idea. The only one of the things I find myself thinking about the whole process, both in terms of confessors and accusers, is I really wondered to what extent nightmares played a role in whatever caused this. Because we have to remember that, and even 19th century writers had trouble accepting this, I think because, so many have tried to point to some kind of conspiracy [00:40:00] in this whole thing. We have to remember these people genuinely believed in it. Believing in witchcraft and that witches could bring harm to people that, that era, it was every bit as normal as believing in God is today.
But I think even 19th century writers had a hard time accepting that in some of their writings about it, because you'll run into all kinds of accounts, and I think it's based partly on fiction, that one of the reasons people were accused was because the accusers wanted the land of the people they were accusing. And that's not the case at all, because they wouldn't, it wasn't going to get them any land because it's, again, and I think this was made popular by Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel, The House of the Seven Gables, because that's the reason that the judge there accuses the victim of witchcraft, is because he wants his land, and he ends up getting it. But in reality, even if someone is hanged for witchcraft in that era, their heirs are still going [00:41:00] to inherit their land. Two of the people who were executed, John Proctor and George Jacobs, neither from Andover, but yeah, they wrote their will while they were in jail awaiting execution, and the terms of their wills were honored.
Sarah Jack: So there, there were nightmares in the surviving testimony. At what point in the Andover phase was that, was it throughout? Did several confessor or accusers talk about nightmares?
Richard Hite: They didn't describe it as such. I can't help but believe that's where some of the testimony came from, was people had dreamed something and dreams and reality became blurred, because they so strongly believed what was happening.
Sarah Jack: So even outside a trial scenario, those individuals would've been considering dreams real experiences?
Richard Hite: It's possible. But some would have. Yes. [00:42:00] Yes. Through much of human history, dreams have often been seen as portents of some sort. And in reality, too, some of the confessors and Ann Foster comes to mind with this, because she had experienced so much tragedy in recent years. She could have come to actually believe she had, without realizing it, become a witch and was being punished for it.
It's just as people who are devoutly religious today might have doubts about, okay, whether their souls have been saved, so to speak, or not. When one so devoutly believes in something such as witchcraft, they may actually come to believe themselves to have become witches.
Josh Hutchinson: Sarah and I were talking about the nightmares and dreams thing the other night, and I went through a phase in my life where I had sleep paralysis several times, and it very much resembled to me some of the accuser testimony, especially, [00:43:00] of people coming into your room at night, because you wake up, but you're still in a dream state, so everything feels very real.
Richard Hite: I occasionally had dreams as a child of, and occasionally as an adult, of falling off of something and waking up as I was falling, and it felt as though I landed on my bed. And then other symptoms can manifest themselves, too. If you believe very strongly in witchcraft, and if you think that someone has a poppet that they are using a poppet that they're identifying as you and sticking pins at it, you're probably going to experience some symptoms.
A personal experience, when I've led tours, I have sometimes cited, I grew up in a religious tradition, in which 12 was considered the age of accountability for one's sins, so that, anything you did prior to age 12 was not going to be held against you, [00:44:00] so to speak. But once you're 12, you're responsible for everything. Three weeks after my 12th birthday, I broke out in a severe case of hives. My mother took me to the doctor, and they were assuming I had some sort of allergy. The doctor concluded, I think, because I had probably recently started taking adult aspirin instead of baby aspirin when I needed it, that I was allergic to aspirin. For over three decades, I believed that I was allergic to aspirin. But then, learning some of the potential medical benefits of it, I decided to go to an allergist and undergo what's called a drug challenge. I'm not allergic to aspirin, probably never was. I firmly believe that breaking out in hives was probably a nervous reaction over the idea that I was suddenly responsible for my own sins.
Josh Hutchinson: That's a great example. You talked in the book, this is about the [00:45:00] psychosomatic symptoms that people feel?
Richard Hite: Yes, absolutely. I think that was a major factor. Now, I can't help but think that some of the performances by the afflicted in the courtroom, those probably were to some degree staged, because it wouldn't be the sort of thing that someone could just easily turn on and off. But even if the ones in the courtroom were staged, what happened at home, probably psychosomatic, and by testifying as they did in the courtroom, I'm sure that many of them thought that they were bringing criminals to justice, even if they did exaggerate what was actually happening at that moment.
Sarah Jack: When you talked about Abigail Hobbs and like a perceived purification process, they were maybe exaggerating to help accomplish getting rid of the evil.
Richard Hite: Yes. I, that's what I, but that, that doesn't mean that some of [00:46:00] what they experienced was not real. But again, for psychosomatic reasons.
Josh Hutchinson: I I also wonder when they got into the courtroom and they were facing the people who they believed were witches, could they have had stress reactions then as well?
Richard Hite: That's absolutely a possibility, very much a possibility, because they were deathly afraid of these people, even though, you know, they did not have to be in that person's presence for the person to afflict them according to their belief, to actually be in their presence would be, would've been a frightening experience.
Josh Hutchinson: I wanted to talk some more about Martha Carrier, because she seems to play a very prominent role in the Andover situation. What more can you tell us about her as a person?
Richard Hite: She was she had been born in Andover and grown up there. Then, as a young adult, she, or possibly [00:47:00] even in her late teens, she went to the neighboring town of Billerica and lived with her older sister, who was married to a man from there, and she found her husband there, Thomas Carrier, and they were married. But they were not too secure financially, and in the late 1680s, they were warned out of town. It's not clear why. Now warning someone out of town did not automatically mean you had to leave, but if you were warned out of town, it meant if you fell into difficult financial circumstances, the town had no obligation to help support you.
Martha seems to have been of a bit of a turbulent spirit. She got into a quarrel with a neighbor of hers named Benjamin Abbott, and this was once they moved back to Andover over a property line. And it was after Benjamin Abbott later testified against her, saying that after this quarrel, he had become seriously ill and developed [00:48:00] some type of soar on his foot, which upon being lanced, oozed, as he described it, gallons of corruption. Most bizarrely, he also claimed to have gotten some boils on his manhood, which only left after she was arrested.
Now whether or not she really was as quarrelsome as she's been portrayed or just was very quick to defend her family, who knows? There were things that made people frightened of her. And there was a smallpox epidemic that started Andover shortly after they moved there in 1690, which led to 13 people dying in Andover, and that was apparently known in the region, because one of the young girls who testified against her, who was not from Andover but Salem Village, described an encounter with 13 ghosts, who blamed their deaths on Martha Carrier. [00:49:00] No coincidence, the exact number of people who died in the smallpox epidemic.
Now there are legends about Martha Carrier's husband, which I seriously do not believe are true. The one aspect of it that apparently is true is that he apparently changed his last name for some reason. Their marriage record even describes him as Thomas Morgan alias Carrier. The legend about him is that he had ended up fleeing England, because he was the executioner of King Charles I in 1649. But for one thing, by the time he died in 1735, he would've had to have been well over a hundred years old. His death record actually does say he was 109, but death records at that time with exaggerated ages like that are, weren't unusual in New England, particularly for people who had been born in England and come over.
I have an ancestor myself who's own grave [00:50:00] indicates he died in 1694 at age 97, which would place his birth in 1597, but his baptism in England gives his year of birth as 1611, so he was actually only 83. But even regardless of whether that story about her husband is true or not, if people around thought that it was, that wouldn't have helped the family's reputation.
Sarah Jack: Was that legend, when did it develop? Did it develop during their lifetime or did we hear about it after?
Richard Hite: To my knowledge, it only appears in print in the 1880s with a published history of Andover. Whether it was told verbally during his lifetime or not, no. A couple of historical novels have been written about it as if it was an absolute fact. One of the bad things about historical novels is that so many people are inclined to believe that they are actually [00:51:00] factual, and you know that, but you can take a historical novel and write anything.
He's also said to have been stood well over seven feet tall, for instance. And combination of that and living to be over a hundred years old, even today, extraordinarily tall people have lower life expectancies than the average person, because being that extraordinarily tall is a strain on one's circulatory system. The fact that Boston Celtics legend Bill Russell, who died earlier this year at age 88, the fact that he lived that long is nothing short of miraculous. And Thomas Carrier was said to have lived 20 years longer than he did. So it's just a combination of things that are just really not believable.
Now, I know I've strayed away from Martha herself and talked about her family. Whether she was genuinely just a disagreeable [00:52:00] person, which there's evidence to suggest that she was, her children ended up being accused along with her, and they ended up confessing and implicated their mother in the confessions.
But I'm quite certain if there was a rumor of your life being spared if they did confess, she might very well have told them to implicate her, to save them and probably was willing to die herself, as long as they could be spared.
Josh Hutchinson: Now she had an interesting brother-in-law, Roger Toothaker, right? And he talked about using folk magic to actually kill a witch.
Richard Hite: That's true. He said he had taught his daughter how to do it, and his daughter Martha, who was married to a man named Emerson, ended up being arrested as well. But the way that was supposedly done was, and I don't know how they did this, was to procure the urine of a witchcraft [00:53:00] suspect and boiling it, which would supposedly kill the witch. Now, I don't count Roger Toothaker as among the ones who was as part of the Andover Witch Hunt for the simple reason that he had been arrested, and he died in jail before anybody other than Martha was accused from Andover.
But that's true. Her connection to him probably didn't help her case at all. Ultimately, I think the rest of the family being accused was because of her. But her own dubious reputation and her family's dubious reputation. It wasn't helped by the connection to him by any means.
Josh Hutchinson: Samuel Wardwell and Roger Toothaker both seemed to be comfortable openly talking about magic. And why would they have felt comfortable talking about that openly before the Witch hunt?
Richard Hite: There was certainly folk magic of various types was often practiced, and generally it didn't [00:54:00] really always aros suspicion. And I think, now Roger Toothaker probably thought that, okay, if he used counter magic to kill a witch, that was maybe a positive thing. Obviously he calculated wrong.
But Samuel Wardwell had apparently done this for years without suspicion. And, in times like this, when suddenly all these accusations start happening, people who are known for things like that suddenly fall under suspicion, whereas maybe they didn't before. I think that was why he started becoming nervous that he would fall under suspicion, but by voicing his suspicions to his brother-in-law, John Ballard, it ended up becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy in a way.
Sarah Jack: And so likewise, Martha Carrier would've been fine being a little bit turbulent, because the accusations hadn't become such a problem. [00:55:00] Cause I was thinking she has this reputation, possibly she wasn't hesitant to be rude.
Richard Hite: She didn't hesitate to speak her mind, but she wasn't worried about witch trial, not until this all came about. I mean there were previous cases, of course, when only one or two people in an area would be accused, and, in fact, there were people who ultimately were accused in Salem who had fallen under suspicion previously. That was not true of Martha Carrier, but there were certainly others, but some previous examinations, not only did the accused person get off the hook, that person could then sue the accuser and in some cases even won the suit.
Susanna Martin of Amesbury was hanging in 1692, but in 1669 in her home community of Amesbury, she had been accused. Not only did the accusation [00:56:00] not go anywhere, but her husband sued the man who accused her and won the suit. But Susanna Martin was another one who didn't hesitate to speak her mind, but not everybody was accused was like that.
Sarah Jack: When she later was accused, her husband was gone, and it was men accusing her. Am I right?
Richard Hite: Men would file the formal complaints, but one mistaken idea about the whole thing, though, is that in general, the widows were more vulnerable in Salem. That was not the case. In fact, of the 19 who were hanged, see it was 14 women and 5 men. 10 of those women had living husbands, only 4 were widows. There were 45 who were accused in Andover, of which 34 were women . Of those 34, only 4 were widows.
[00:57:00] Then of course, I should also point out one thing that was different about Andover was you had a lot of younger people being accused, because among the other, and I should say females, because some of them were girls, of the 30 others, 12 of them had living husbands, and eight of the other 18 were women and girls under the age of 30 who were not yet married. A lot of them, most of them had living fathers. So it's the idea that women who did not have a man to protect them were more vulnerable than others. The statistics don't bear that out.
Josh Hutchinson: It doesn't seem like the men were able to do much to protect them when they did have the men.
Richard Hite: Not in Salem in 1692. And I should say all of Essex County. There really seems to have been very little that they could do. And in fact there were some, a few men who attempted to, who ended up [00:58:00] being accused themselves. John Proctor in Salem Village, along with Giles Corey, both their wives were accused. They ended up being accused themselves.
Andover had a unique situation in that Samuel Wardwell was accused. And then in the wake of that, his wife, one of his daughters, and a stepdaughter were all accused as well. But in that particular case, the accusation started with a male member of the family. And that was that was not the norm. It would usually be a woman who would be accused first. Really the men really could do little protective. Plenty of the men who signed the petitions in Andover starting in October of 1692 were men who had wives or daughters that had been arrested. And you know that by then it did start to have some effect.
In talking about Thomas Carrier's reputation, I've always found it very interesting that he didn't [00:59:00] sign the petitions, and I can't help but wonder if he was not, if he was shrewd enough to know that maybe his signing a petition, because if he had a bad reputation, might have done more harm than good. Now, granted, his wife Martha, had already been executed. But 4 of his children were still in jail under suspicion. It's a little surprising he was not accused himself. Why he wasn't, I don't know.
Josh Hutchinson: You talked about the confession of Abigail Hobbs and how significant that was. And in the book you mentioned that she said that she gave the devil her permission to afflict. Why was that important?
Richard Hite: That was related to spectral evidence. See, one of the real controversies of the whole thing was the use of spectral evidence. The idea that if someone's specter attacked a person, [01:00:00] whether that was acceptable as evidence of guilt or not. And the reason that was controversial was there were those who believed that the devil could not take one's shape to attack a person without that person's consent, but there were others who thought that the devil could take anyone's shape with or without permission. The court initially ultimately decided that it could only be done with the person's consent, so therefore, spectral evidence was considered acceptable.
Now, when the original court was disbanded in October and a new court was created, that new court did not allow that type of evidence. Increase Mather wrote that it was impossible to know that the devil could not take the shape of an innocent person, and also said it was better for 10 witches to go free than for one innocent person to be put to death, so in the following January, when the new court [01:01:00] began trying people, of the 52 people they brought to the court, only three were convicted. And all those three, two of them actually lived in Andover, and the other one had family ties to Andover. But there were unique things about all three of them that made it more likely that they would be convicted.
I can elaborate on that, if you like. One of 'em was, in fact, Samuel Wardwell's widow, Sarah. Her husband had been hanged soon before that. Most of the confessors describe squeezing puppets or cloth or even their own hands and imagining the people they wish to harm. Sarah Wardwell claimed a very shocking thing. She had a child, who was not quite a year old yet at the time. One of the people she was accused of afflicting was Martha Sprague, who was the Tyler's stepdaughter I spoke of earlier. In her confession, she actually described picking up her own child in an attempt to hurt Martha Sprague and [01:02:00] squeezing her own child, effectively using her own child as a weapon of witchcraft, so to speak. That was quite a shocking thing to say.
The other two, Elizabeth Johnson and Mary Post, they were both apparently mentally challenged in some way. Robert Calef, who wrote about the trials three years later, and, of course, people were much less diplomatic then in describing people who were mentally challenged, he described Elizabeth Johnson and Mary Post as two of the most senseless and ignorant creatures who could be found.
Now Elizabeth Johnson was one of the extended Ingalls clan. She was the granddaughter, in fact, of the town minister, Francis Dane, whose late wife had been an Ingalls. Francis Dane, in writing his letter condemning the trials and describing his granddaughter, Elizabeth Johnson, who was in her early twenties, stated that she is but simplish at the best. And it's [01:03:00] noteworthy that Elizabeth Johnson and Mary Post, both of whom went on to live long lives, neither of them ever married, which was obviously unusual in that era. It's evident from the other younger people who were accused that being accused of witchcraft in 1692, that there's no evidence that it really hurt anybody's marriage prospects later. If anything, it probably hurt the marriage prospects of the accusers more. Elizabeth Johnson, being one of the ones who was convicted, she was the one whose conviction actually remained on the books until just this past July, when she was finally exonerated by an action of the Massachusetts General Assembly.
Sarah Jack: We'd love to hear about your noticing that in your research, and you did note it in your book. Tell us about that, and did you expect her to be exonerated already?
Richard Hite: There were so many things I learned in this course of researching the [01:04:00] book. With the exception of Elizabeth Proctor, who was only ended up surviving because she was pregnant, I didn't know that there were people who had actually been convicted but not executed. But one of the things I wanted to research and with Andover was the aftermath of the witch hunt for people involved, both accusers and accused.
And in reading about it, I learned, of course, that there were people who were convicted, but not hanged. And that even as soon as eight years after started petitioning for exoneration. And those who had been convicted and survived, all except Elizabeth Johnson were ultimately exonerated in one way or another by 1711. Elizabeth Johnson did submit a petition for it, but somehow, some way it just never happened. Now, the fact that she was unmarried, apparently mentally challenged in some way, and probably lived out her life in the care of various relatives. Maybe it just wasn't considered as [01:05:00] pressing for her.
But then of course there were some, there were also, because of the efforts of family members, some of those hanged in 1692 were exonerated at that time. Those hanged who had not been exonerated then, one was exonerated in 1957, the rest in 2001. Elizabeth Johnson was probably missed at that time, because she wasn't hanged.
When I realized, okay, this one person has never been exonerated, all the rest have, and I thought maybe the Massachusetts General Assembly should actually address this. But I'm not a resident of Massachusetts. I live in Rhode Island now. Had I been a resident of Massachusetts, I probably would've just reached out to my own senator or representative. So I started asking around at the North Andover Historical Society about it. One of their boards of trustees thought getting this person exonerated would probably be a good eighth grade civics project.
There [01:06:00] was a retired teacher there named Greg Pasco, and he put me in touch with Carrie LaPierre, who teaches at North Andover Middle School. She was certainly willing to get her class interested in undertaking this project just a week before everything shut down in 2020 because of the pandemic. I went up there one day and addressed her class. And of course it ended up taking, I think two, if not three years worth of her classes to finally get it done. But they took the process from there through their own state Senator Diane DiZoglio.
The initial bill was committed to further study, so to speak, early in 2022. But then these two people from California began working on a documentary on it, which got some more attention, although the documentary has not been released in final form yet. And so they ended up just adding it to the budget bill, which was approved by both chambers of the assembly and was signed by the governor [01:07:00] on July 28th this year. Elizabeth Johnson, after nearly 330 years has finally been exonerated, and media, not only all over the country, but it was reported in news media throughout the world. So all kinds of references to it in other languages, countries all over the world.
Sarah Jack: Thanks so much for doing this for her.
Richard Hite: I'm so glad this class undertook it. I give credit where credit is due. I, yes, I discovered that it hadn't been done. I thought it should be. Once I called their attention to, the teacher's attention to it, and her students, and she did the same, they really took it from there. At least two, maybe three years worth of classes worked toward it by collecting signatures, writing their own letters to members of the committee. I wrote letters to the committees myself, how much do they care what a Rhode Island resident has to say about something? It's not like I can vote for or [01:08:00] against any of 'em, but I'm just so glad that a away was found to get around the fact that I don't live in Massachusetts and to get that many people involved, and I'm just so happy for these students. It's going to be something that they'll remember their involvement in. This is gonna be something they'll remember for the rest of their lives, and if it spurs some of them own to take up other worthy causes in the future, so much the better.
Josh Hutchinson: We're actually working on a project to exonerate the accused in the state of Connecticut, and we're hoping to follow suit. There's a middle school class that's interested in doing the same thing.
Richard Hite: Yes, I've been reading about that, and I very much hope that happens. Although of course now everybody associated with the Salem Witch Hunt has been exonerated, but yet there were witchcraft trials earlier in Massachusetts, and with some people convicted and hanged, I don't know if [01:09:00] those people have ever been exonerated or not.
Josh Hutchinson: We've looked at it, and there's no indication that they ever were, those other five individuals from Massachusetts.
Richard Hite: And I don't recall all, I don't recall all their names. I know Alice Jones was the first one was hanged on Boston Common in 1648. The last one was Goody Glover, whose first name, as far as I know, is lost to history in 1688. There was one named Elizabeth Morse in Newbury, who like Elizabeth Johnson was convicted but for some reason never hanged. I also know that a few others were hanged in Massachusetts prior to 1692, but I don't recall their names at the top of my head. The source I know of I can refer to for that is John Demos's work from the early 1970s called Entertaining Satan, because that work is totally focused on the [01:10:00] New England witch trials, apart from the events in Salem.
Josh Hutchinson: That's what we've used primarily to gather the names of the New England accused. And there were a total of five in Massachusetts before Salem and 11 hanged in Connecticut.
Now here's Sarah with an important update.
Sarah Jack: Here is Connecticut Witch Trial Exoneration News. The Connecticut Witch Trial Exoneration Project, an organized effort for the state exoneration of the 17th century accused and hanged witches of the Connecticut colony has been led by retired police officer Tony Grego, author Beth Caruso, descendant and advocate Sarah Jack, and advocates Mary Bingham and Joshua Hutchinson.
After years of educating Connecticut residents locally and online, Tony and Beth of the CT Witch Memorial joined up with fellow advocates Sarah, Mary, and Joshua, together with state representative Jane Garibay. The exoneration project now includes [01:11:00] many witch trial victim descendants and other advocates, both in the state of Connecticut and countrywide. The Connecticut Witch Trial Exoneration Project now brings an exoneration bill to the Judiciary Committee for the 2023 winter session of Connecticut's General Assembly.
Did you know this podcast was born from this exoneration effort? It was initially created as a social and educational tool to amplify and project an overlooked history. This obscure history needed to be offered in a package that educated the state, country, and the world about the known individuals that were executed by a court of law in New England's Connecticut Colony for witchcraft crimes. This colony hanged the first accused witch in the American colonies in 1647. Her name is Alice Young. She had one daughter. Her one daughter, Alice Young Beamon had eight children. She has many, many descendants, but no family association for her descendants. Her story is relatively unknown by even Connecticut residents.
We are now at the [01:12:00] winter session of 2023, getting ready to testify for an exoneration bill, asking for the exoneration of Alice Young, america's first executed witch, along with the other known accused witches of Connecticut colony. Dozens of individuals were accused, outcast from their lives, family and community, or killed by the courts. Those convicted of witchcraft crimes found themselves proven guilty by spectral evidence. It was acceptable to take their lives based on unseen or unexplained misfortune, sickness, and unexplained or sudden deaths of family and neighbors. Now you are aware of the history.
Have you been tuned into our robust lineup of episodes teaching about Alice Young and the other victims, as well as Connecticut Colony's governor, John Winthrop, Jr.'s, influence on the trials? If you haven't, when you download those episodes now, you'll learn so much and be able to share more about the Connecticut witch trial history.
The Connecticut Witch Trial Exoneration Project is asking the judiciary committee to vote yes on this exoneration bill. The [01:13:00] Connecticut Witch Trial Exoneration project is asking you to take action with us by writing letters to the legislature. You can find out more by going to our Discord community through the link in the show notes.
Use your social power to help Alice Young, America's first executed witch, to finally be acknowledged. Support the descendants by acknowledging and sharing their ancestor's stories. Please use all your communication channels to be an intervener and stand with them. The world must stop hunting witches. Please follow our project on social media @ctwitchhunt, and visit our website at ConnecticutWitchTrials.org. The Connecticut Witch Trial Exoneration project is a project of End Witch Hunts movement.
Josh Hutchinson: Thank you, Sarah for educating us on real world events occurring as we speak.
Sarah Jack: You're welcome.
Josh Hutchinson: Thank you for listening to Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast.
Sarah Jack: Join us next week.
Josh Hutchinson: Subscribe to Thou Shalt [01:14:00] Not Suffer wherever you get your podcasts.
Sarah Jack: Visit thoushaltnotsuffer.com.
Josh Hutchinson: Remember to tell all your friends and family and colleagues and everybody who you see about Thou Shalt Not Suffer: the Witch Trial Podcast.
Sarah Jack: Continue to support our efforts to End Witch Hunts. Visit endwitchhunts.org to learn more.
Josh Hutchinson: Have a great today and a beautiful tomorrow.