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Take in this informative research conversation with author David Allen Lambert, Chief Genealogist from the New England Historic Genealogical Society and Stoughton, MA town historian. This is a family research tip-packed episode with laughs and heartfelt dialogue about our family histories. Thoughtful reflection about descending from ancestors involved in the Salem Witchcraft Trials pulls us into an instructive talk on utilizing American Ancestors resources and expansive archives. 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?
“A Guide to Massachusetts Cemeteries” by David Allen Lambert
Vita Brevis Blog Posts by Author David Allen Lambert
“Bewitched” blog post by David Allen Lambert
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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: In this episode, we speak with the chief genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, David Allen Lambert. We're going to talk with him about verifying your descent from those accused of witchcraft during the Salem Witch Hunt, and you can apply these same tools, many of the tips that he gives us, to genealogy in general. It'll help you [00:01:00] become a better family history researcher.
Sarah Jack: You are gonna find this conversation very motivating. You're gonna wanna open those projects back up right now and start working and using his tips.
Josh Hutchinson: His advice to you and to us is so good, it makes me want to write books about my family history right now. I wanted to immediately get on the websites and do all the things.
Sarah Jack: When you hear David talk about American Ancestors and the genealogical society, you realize what a supportive community is available with a vast amount of resources.
Josh Hutchinson: We have a fun chat. Serious advice is given [00:02:00] out. You'll want to take notes while you're listening to this one and follow the steps that he provides to confirm that you have one of these ancestors in your tree. Or if you're just starting to look at your tree and investigate who your ancestors were, he gives pointers on how you can link them to a historical event like the Salem Witch trials.
Sarah Jack: He refers to many important, available collections and databases. So you wanna take note of those.
Josh Hutchinson: Or if you're unable to take notes right now, just download the episode and listen to it again. You'll have a good time both times.
Sarah Jack: Have your friend listen to it and make them take notes for you.
Josh Hutchinson: Or pull up the transcript at thoushaltnotsuffer.com.
And David also shares about his [00:03:00] own personal family connections to the witch trials and has many interesting stories to tell us.
Sarah Jack: It really shows how when you get to looking more specifically at the lives of some of these ancestors, how meaningful it can be and personal. Those personal connections are right there and you can hear that come out of David's discussion and why his connections are so meaningful to him. And he talks about where they were from and some of the things going on in their lives. And it's very interesting.
Josh Hutchinson: And you'll learn from him many ways that you can investigate the story of your ancestor and get to know them on a more personal level than you have before. If you implement David's [00:04:00] techniques and take advantage of the resources and databases that he points us all to, you will experience a new level of genealogy.
David Allen Lambert has 30 years of experience at New England Historic Genealogical Society, and yet is fresh and young and motivated by what he does, enjoys his job. You'll get a real good sense of how much he loves what he does.
Sarah Jack: And that really adds a richness to their offerings.
Josh Hutchinson: And we chat about how much things have changed in genealogy in the past 30 years, going from microfiche to internet databases and DNA, and then he gives so much good information in the show about the resources, how many there are. It's mind boggling. So much [00:05:00] information that is available now that you used to have to go do a lot of traveling and spend an extensive hours of time navigating through microfiche and old papers. And now it's available with a mouse and a keyboard from the comfort of your own home. It just, I remember going to the Family History Center in town and going to town, public libraries and historical societies and looking through collections manually. And you can still do that. There's a lot of extra records at NEHGS in Boston. It's well worth a visit, and you'll discover so much.
It's great to learn the individual stories of your ancestors and try [00:06:00] and put yourself in their place for a little while. I wanted to say getting into the heads of our ancestors whichever side they were on is so important to help us understand why witch trials took place, so we get an insight into our own behaviors and thoughts and how we treat people today. Just talking about ancestors, it reminds, you know, how instead of just putting the names in the blanks on the tree, you wanna learn the stories of the individual people and like you're learning the stories. You get into their head a little bit, and it gives you a good insight. You start thinking, why did they accuse people of this? And then you're like do I behave like that? Do I think like that? And it gives you really good, [00:07:00] valuable insight and education. And that's part of our mission, I think, to help people get to that point. So I think this episode, learning about your family history is a really good way to get connected to the history and to try to understand both sides of it. They are witches, they aren't witches.
Sarah Jack: And now you get to enjoy our guest, David Allen Lambert, chief genealogist of the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston, Massachusetts. We talk about verifying descent from those accused of witchcraft during the Salem Witch Hunt. Learn about the broad scope of membership benefits, the vast and unique record collection at American Ancestors, and the professional genealogical assistance available to members.
David Allen Lambert: You guys have done some really wonderful interviews. I'm really honored to be part of this, [00:08:00] actually. One of the ironic twists of this is because my seventh-great grandmother was Ann Sewall Longfellow, the sister of Judge Samuel Sewell. He was in Boston and had his minister read his apology, and every year for the rest of his life, until 1730, he had a day of fasting and prayer, but I can tell you, our town's namesake, Lieutenant Governor William Stoughton, didn't seem to shed a tear that we know of. It's remiss to me why he would've not had any reason not to. But then he followed a major political career, and he died in 1701.
So maybe if he lived past, he was about 70 years old when he died. Maybe he would've later in life decided that it was wrongdoings. But in 1727, 25 years after he died, they named my community where I live after him. There's some talk that maybe have been honor of him or his father, Israel Stoughton, who actually had a mill in Dorchester on the Neponset River. And so what was the south [00:09:00] precinct of Dorchester became my hometown, Stoughton. And I'm the town historian there, but my main job is chief genealogist for the New England Historic Genealogical Society. And I've been here, this year will be 30 years. I started when I was two.
I started doing genealogy when I was seven. So there's some, great interest. I've always had. I I've always known through family stories of our connection with the witchcraft trials through Sewall. And then with my own research learning further information about Mary Perkins Bradbury, one of the fortunate to almost meet the gallows in September of 92. And she made it clear, and we don't really know if she was they bribed the jailer or her husband bribed a jailer, but she got out of there and they, we believe escaped to what is now Northern Maine or lived pretty much, we know by 1695 when her husband died, Thomas, I leaves in his will, care for my wife, so she wasn't out living in the woods still. And by then, of course it had died down by a couple of [00:10:00] years.
Sewall is somebody I've always admired. I thought, for one, the book he wrote early on, The Selling of Joseph, which is almost like an abolitionist movement, a century and a half before there really was an abolitionist movement.
And then, of course, with having that connection with the witchcraft trials with Mary Perkins Bradbury, and ironically my wife and I share some colonial New England ancestors, and the only accused witch she has is Mary Perkins Bradbury, so my two daughters have her twice. She's my 10th great-grandmother. However, Sewall was the older brother of my seventh great-grandmother. My generations are a little askew. Where some people would be their 10th or 12th great-grandparents in that generation, sometimes it's my fifth and seventh. My, in fact, my, one of my fifth great-grandfathers who I still have autosomal DNA for, was born in 1678. I still, he's my fifth great-grandfather. He had a child in the 1730s with his younger wife who had the [00:11:00] last child was my ancestor, their last child was my ancestor. So it's fascinating.
Sarah Jack: That's super fascinating.
Josh Hutchinson: Yeah, that's really close relationship for that period of time.
David Allen Lambert: Yeah, to think that I have DNA alive that was actually around during the witchcraft trials is kinda scary in a little bit.
Sarah Jack: Wow. That is fascinating.
Josh Hutchinson: Really fascinating.
David Allen Lambert: I can tell you a little bit about what I do, just to give you a little background myself. So I'm the chief genealogist for the American Ancestors, the New England Historic Geological Society in Boston. We're the oldest genealogical organization in the nation, for that matter, really in the world. Europeans really didn't have a need to research their ancestors and create a library, cuz well, there most cases, they were still there. When we were created in 1845, there was a need of preserving the past of New England, getting those stories. And of course, we're American Ancestors now. So we far exceed the collection of books we started with. Our website, American [00:12:00] Ancestors, has 1.4 billion searchable records, and that's at americanancestors.org. And you can even sign up as a guest member. You don't have to be a paid member right off. We have, let's see, a quarter of a million books, local history and genealogies.
We have in our manuscript collection over 28 million manuscripts, including a letter from September 20th, 1692 between Cotton Mather and Stephen Sewell that discusses the witchcraft trials, which I'm hoping will get linked on the Salem Witch Documentary Archives down in Virginia, cuz it's, we have it on our DLA, our digital library archive. I'd be glad to share you a link to see that.
And of course one of the things that we continue to do is help people with their genealogy, no matter where in the world they come from. But I have a special place in my heart when I run across people who have someone who is accused of witchcraft. And I even still have a warm place in my heart for those descendants of the accusers. I've met a few [00:13:00] Putnams, and I don't have any anger towards them. You can't be responsible for what your ancestors do. And then when I tell them I live in a town that's named for the judge, so I guess it balances out.
Josh Hutchinson: My grandfather is from Danvers, so I have quite a lot of ties to all sides of the witch trials from Salem Village. My Hutchinsons were involved on both sides of the trials.
David Allen Lambert: Yeah, I'm an Ingersoll, and I have the next generation of my immigrant, they were accusers. There's distant connections in my family with other people that were accusers. I did the honor of doing the genealogy of a few notable people. I did genealogy via NEHGS for David McCullough, Michael Dukakis, Ken Burns, and the one I did recently a few years back was for Nathaniel Philbrook. And he thanked me for the work I did, and I said, "I'm just returning a favor." And he said, "what do you mean?" And so, "one of your ancestors signed the petition to [00:14:00] save my ancestor Mary Perkins Bradbury's life. I'm just returning the favor. So thank you for what your ancestor did." So that was fun.
Sarah Jack: That's
Josh Hutchinson: That's, .
It sounds like you have a very, I don't know, cool seems the best word for it. A cool job.
David Allen Lambert: It really is. I think it doesn't have any element of getting boring because every question's different. What I do now, a combination of lecturing. I travel around the country representing NEHGS. There's a big conference coming up in the beginning of March called Roots Tech in Salt Lake City, and the last one before Covid drew 27,000 people there. And now of course it's even a bigger audience, because of the virtual aspect.
I had the honor of writing 11 books, a few through NEHGS, and authoring a variety of different honorary genealogies for people that have been our keynote speakers over the past 30 years. It's really rewarding because in some cases you're connecting a person not with [00:15:00] just their distant ancestor from 300 plus years ago, but maybe it's finding what happened to their grandmother that disappeared or reconnecting people by using DNA and finding cousins that are still in Europe that survived the Holocaust.
So we have a strong element of a global outreach for genealogy that tries to serve all people, and the building's expanding. A lot of places are going forward with, just being a website per se, not to name any in particular. We actually purchased the building next door. in March, we will be closing the building at the end of the month for probably the remainder of the year it seems. But we're gonna be expanding our footprint on Newbury Street in Boston, where we're located, and putting in a new discovery center, which is actually going to introduce genealogy on a global level for the person who just walks in off the street, wants to know a little bit more.
And then, of course, we have the resources and the staff to take you on a global trip back, or if we don't have the resources, we'll tell you how to find them.[00:16:00]
Sarah Jack: What an exciting project.
David Allen Lambert: I wanna commend both of you for all the efforts you're doing to help with the exoneration of the Connecticut witches, I must say that I was one of the people who signed the thousand name petition, because I think that's wonderful. That's wonderful. My fingers and toes crossed for you. I think, I can't imagine there would be any instance where there would not be a hundred percent approval of that.
It's interesting with the last recognized Salem accused was finally just last year by the efforts of school children. And then I find out indirectly, she's a distant cousin of mine through a shared ancestor. One of my New England ancestors, Edmund Ingalls of Lynn, had quite a few family members that were tied into that.
And even with the Bradburys, there always seems to be some sort of riff, if you will, where like the Carr family had issues with my family in Salisbury, George Carr's house lot, I mean, and then of course the [00:17:00] spectral evidence is just a wonderful thing anyways, to read some of the nonsense that people are being accused of. And we think about it now and how we would not even think twice something that's just ridiculous. But the idea that my ancestor becomes a blue boar and rushes out at George Carr's horse and then disappears into thin air, it's like you would think that people were, I don't know. I would've thought more well adjusted in realizing what's rational and what's not.
And I don't know what your personal take on how the hysteria got started, but I always like to say it's a bunch of teenagers that got caught up in a lie. And and then fingers are pointed towards we need more people. There must be more. And then they're just naming people. They don't even have any common sense of, oh, it must be this person. It must be that person. And it truly a hysteria. And we're just so lucky that it didn't go on for longer. Look at what happened in Germany or in Scotland. It's un unthinkable that if that went on for another [00:18:00] decade, how many hundreds of people could have been executed or jailed? The ideas that infants died in jail, that had been born. I know I'm putting a toddler on trial. it's, but and in 300 years people look at us and think that we're archaic.
Sarah Jack: So we wanted to talk just a little bit about your webinar that you have done around Salem descendants and so what historical background on Salem Witch Trials should a family history researcher know?
David Allen Lambert: As we know about the witchcraft trials, you don't necessarily have to be from Salem Town or Salem Village. And you could have been like my ancestor from Salisbury, Massachusetts up in Essex County. You could have been from Boston, Middlesex County, like the Toothakers are over in Reading. You really were part of the New England community, and your ancestors were alive in 1692, they would've known this was going on. This would've been the talk in the church. So your [00:19:00] connection may not be going online to, say, Salem's Witchcraft Trial Documentary Archives, and finding out your ancestor was an accuser or accused for that matter. You probably had somebody who was alive that knew this. This was front page news. We didn't have a newspaper then. But we had the word of mouth.
The way to look into your genealogy, obviously you wanna start with yourself anyways, but if you know that fast forward, you have 17th century ancestors, a lot of these vital records are already published and online on American Ancestors. We have for at least Essex County and other counties, all of the pre 1850 birth, marriages and deaths, searchable, right online. We also have periodicals like the 19th century Journal of the Essex Antiquarian, the 20th century the Essex Society of Genealogists up in Lynnfield, Mass. published The Essex Genealogist. We have that online and that has plenty of articles about various witchcraft related families, accusers, accused, et cetera.
But one of the best pieces of academic scholarship was done by the late David L. Green, and [00:20:00] he was the editor of The American Genealogist. And what he did was start to do the families of the witches that had been accused and basically took their ancestry back to try to find if they could find a baptism in England or a marriage or find that voyage that came over. My ,ancestor Mary Perkins Bradbury, her family arrive early into the 1630s and then settle up in Ipswich, originally.
And so looking for that type of detail, but now with the sense of the internet, we can pretty much Google a name and then put the word witchcraft after it, yup, here's your link. But it does take federal research, because unfortunately there's a lot of trees out there online where people make leaps of faith, if you will, that ancestor was this person or that person. And it turns out that it's not them at all. The worst one I ever saw was somebody had an online tree of their ancestor who died in 1802 was an [00:21:00] accused witch of Salem. And I said, "that math doesn't work at all. Did you mean 1702?" And no, the person was born in 1755 and was born 60 years or so after the trials, approximately. You have to be careful with online trees. I'm one of the people that feels that if you are gonna see something online, I wanna click on a link, see the original document, and be a hundred percent certain that all t's are crossed and i's are dotted, that I'm looking at the genuine article.
There's, there's a lot of leaps of faith being done in research online now. So when I gave my lecture, the witchcraft presentation, which is back in October, I also created a 10 page syllabus that we sold at that time. And what I decided to do is put together all the material that is in print on specific accused witches. That way you could look person by person, see what was available, see what the best scholarship. I There are some things that were done in the 19th century which are still nice to have. Samuel Gardner Drake wrote an [00:22:00] account, I think back in the 1860s, which is interesting. I Of course, stuff that Sidney Perley does is tremendous, and of course has led us to know now where the gallows were with the ledges.
So gathering up material that is already in print but also looking at new scholarship. I know that there's a new book that was just recently done on Rebecca Nurse, so we're still learning. Turning those pages of the documents are giving a fresh approach. And I think it's important. in respect to your topic on the Connecticut hysteria, I wish there was equally that much amount of scholarship written up about them.
I've been to Williamsburg, Virginia, where they do a presentation of Colonial Williamsburg called "Cry Witch" about the accused witch in colonial Williamsburg. And at the end of it, they, " do you judge her guilty or innocent?" And they don't know what happened to her, cuz they don't have the surviving court records to know that if she was executed or set free.
So there, there's a lot of gray area in research, and one of the [00:23:00] fascinating elements that a people are doing now are reconnecting other family members and having reunions of descendants and whatnot. I The Associated Daughters of American Witches, of course, are taking Connecticut, as well. And the same thing with Salem. And you're really having a good chance of combining efforts, if you will, to get more research done.
Josh Hutchinson: We see a lot of groups online about that, and sometimes they have those in-person reunions, like the the Towne cousins do reunions every year, and we are both Towne cousins, Sarah and I.
David Allen Lambert: Oh, okay. We were all in the same mix back in the day, weren't we?
Josh Hutchinson: Yeah, exactly.
David Allen Lambert: And it's ironic to think that the people that our ancestors lived next to, went to church, sat in the same pew with, would turn on you just like that. For what gain? Correct me if I'm wrong, were any of the accusers given a financial kickback, compensation of any sort? I know ultimately there was thought about land, but I can't [00:24:00] recall seeing anything where would be of any, maybe they thought they were saving their soul . I don't quite understand it.
Sarah Jack: Yeah.
Josh Hutchinson: Yeah.
Sarah Jack: We actually have some interviews coming up soon that we'll be answering some of those questions. We just had a really good chat with a historian yesterday on some of that.
David Allen Lambert: Oh, excellent.
Josh Hutchinson: So if someone is looking at their family tree and trying to determine if they're related to one of the accused, what's their first step? How should they get started doing that?
David Allen Lambert: Again, it's looking at where geographically you're placing your ancestors. I'm not saying that there weren't accused, there weren't in Southern New Hampshire and what's now Southern Maine, but again, Essex County, Middlesex County seem to be the hotbed of where the accused and the accusers are from. You don't have to do anything more than familiarize yourself with those that were part of those lists. And again, the Documentary Archives with Virginia edu on [00:25:00] the Salem Witchcraft Trials is a great place to start, cuz you have all the cross reference to the names, et cetera.
When you look at the records, you may not find a published genealogy that gives extraordinary detail as to the person's life. A lot of early genealogies were just names and dates, children, names, dates, and children. It's more of the modern sense of genealogies probably done within the last, let's say 75 years, that people have dug a little deeper, start looking at court records and saying, "oh, wait a second. This person was an accuser during the witchcraft trials. And he may have just been at one of the trials, but it's still an important fact." So you may have to stumble across it. So I would say the first thing, Josh, would be to have people make a list of their 17th century ancestors that were in Essex County, Massachusetts, and then kind of spiral out from there. That would probably be the best opening part of the research.
Josh Hutchinson: What is your connection to Samuel Sewell?[00:26:00]
David Allen Lambert: And of course, Samuel Sewell is the older brother of my seventh great-grandmother, Ann Sewell Longfellow. She married William Longfellow, and they are actually the immigrant ancestors of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. So they're the Longfellows all come from William Longfellow ,who came from a town near Leeds in England, and he unfortunately perished. The interesting thing about Sewall, he doesn't speak very highly of Longfellow. I'm not sure if he calls him a drunkard, but pretty short of that. But then in 1690, his brother-in-law perishes when the Phips expedition to Canada the ship went down in the St. Lawrence, and a lot of men from Newbury and Dorchester perished.
And I joined the Colonial War Society under William Longfellow. And then, of course, in his diary, he laments his poor brother. And at that point in time, their son, my ancestor, Stephen Longfellow, was only four or five years old. And with Longfellow's poetry, you hear [00:27:00] of the courtship of Miles Standish. And that's on his mother's side of the family. There are some historians will debate this. Some say it's a blacksmith in Cambridge. But Longfellow's son, Stephen Longfellow, he actually was the village blacksmith in West Newbury, Massachusetts in the 17th century. And in the Longfellow Mansion in Cambridge, they have Stephen's account book. So he had some influence. So I think he did one poem for his mother's side, one for his father's. Again, other people will debate that, cuz we don't have a clear answer to that. But I like to think that blacksmith, and his house is still standing.
And he definitely would've known his Uncle Samuel Sewell and that Stephen was my sixth great-grandfather. And my fifth great-grandmother, Anna Longfellow Poor would've been about 14 when her Great Uncle Samuel Sewall died. And her son went off to fight in the American Revolution, Captain Jonathan Poor, [00:28:00] and my grandmother knew his grandson. It's a really closer connection to history, if we really stop and think of the older generations that we have.
Sarah Jack: I really love the way your organization has the documents and the support to help people stitch that stuff together and see all the dimensions.
David Allen Lambert: There is, and the nice thing about our website is besides being able to just plug in a name, I like to use the the advice of looking at what categories in the databases that we have. And that's just on americanancestors.org. You come into our facility, and we have a quarter of a million books over an eight story research facility. The seventh floor is nothing but published genealogies. The fifth floor is nothing but local history for U.S. and Canada. The first floor is all international. You could get lost here for a week or two, if you've just started in your genealogy. And I can tell you that I still find things, and I've been a member since I was 17 years old, when I [00:29:00] first came in back in the late eighties.
And it, it is mind blowing to think that some people say they're done with their genealogy. I always say, come on in. I bet I can find something new. Cuz just using the FAN approach and using that with the Salem Witchcraft Trials, how, what are the connections? You have family obviously, so you might wanna see the siblings and are they related to someone who was accused, because all the girls are gonna have different married names, so you should be looking for them, as well. Then you have associates. Did somebody they went to church with get accused. And then they have their neighbors that could have been an accuser or an accused. And how that changed the dynamic of their own community. I know that we spoke before our call, and I wanted to share one connection with Mary Towne Esty. Mary Towne Esty had a son, Jacob, and he actually left the Topsfield area, and he went to the south precinct of Dorchester. And before he died, the town that he settled in became named for the man that put his mother to death, Stoughton. Is [00:30:00] that not a terrible irony?
Sarah Jack: It is. Yeah. Yeah. You just can't get away from some things.
David Allen Lambert: No, you were, like I say, in this case, he moved. I'm not sure, I'm sure that there was probably some connection for generations. I can tell you, and I have no problem with sharing this story. When I was about eight or nine years old, I bought a Ouija board and at a yard sale, thought it was cool. My friends had one, and I brought it home. And we weren't very overly religious. I was raised Congregational, some things don't change in nearly 300 plus years, right? And my mother looked at using that, and she picked it up and took it away and threw it away. And she goes, "our family doesn't use those." And I never really asked her. My mother's been gone for 25 years now, and I often think cuz she knew of the story, of our connection with the witchcraft trials. Even then, it had been passed down in somewhat that probably you didn't want to get caught with [00:31:00] something like that.
Or it could have just been my mother didn't like Ouija boards. It's set a precedent in my mind and thinking to myself, I said, "how many generations of my Bradbury's were, oh, your mother was her. Huh? Your grandmother was, oh, you're one of them." And that must have been went on until the Revolution era, if not longer in some cases, especially in small towns. I know that there's still people when you say that you're a Putnam and you're from Danvers, oh, you're one of them, but it's ,of course, that referring to an accuser. But if I had to pick any judge to be related to by an uncle, I think Sewall was the one I'd want to be connected to.
Sarah Jack: What kind of responses do your visitors and researchers have when they are surprised by a connection to Salem?
David Allen Lambert: Some of them are shocked because they're like, "oh, I love going there. I must have some connection in my family to Essex County or to Salem." And then when you find out they actually have somebody that was [00:32:00] accused or executed or was an accuser, when they find out they have an accuser, I mean, it's not with everybody, but there's some remorse. They're like, "do we have involvement in doing that?" And it's, you think of just other parts of history where a person's ancestor was on the wrong side, if you will, that you almost hold blame for something you know, your parent may have done. But this is for your great-great-great grandparents. And I think that it shows that the human spirit and people have this remorse after that many years. So that is something. So then they wanna learn more about who did their ancestor accuse, what's their story? And I think that is part of what Sewall did for his apology. I think being repentant in the respect of knowing what harm your own ancestor did is probably a good way of moving forward with some sort of healing.
When they find out that their ancestor was an accused witch, they're like, they want to know locations, they want to know where [00:33:00] the trials were. Some of them were held in the Boston Jail, and the Boston Jail is not very far from government center in downtown Boston. The ironic twist on that, if you've ever stood at where the Boston Jail is, it was later the building for the Boston School Department, and kids will sometimes associate being in jail with school. This jail was also used for pirates. William Kidd was held there later, before he was transported to London and executed. It has a plaque on it. But I always bring tell people that you don't have to go very far. Others will want to go to where they're buried. And I say unbeknownst to us, we just know of, perhaps, where Rebecca Nurse or her family, secreted her body back and buried her at the homestead. We really don't know of the others. I think there's speculation that was it that Giles Corey maybe buried on the Nurse property? There was one of the male accused.
Josh Hutchinson: George Jacobs.
David Allen Lambert: Jacobs. Yeah. And then there's the macabre. I, I remember [00:34:00] years ago where people were, " should I name my child after somebody who was involved in the witchcraft trials? Oh my gosh. I named my daughter Ann. It's one Ann Putnam." I don't think that there's a generality with that, but people may be naming their child in honor of someone who was accused and maybe giving them the middle name as their surname or something like that. Like by naming somebody Mary Bradbury Johnson or whatever. That's, that I think is touching.
The other thing with research, I think people have a tendency fixate on now they have this connection, so going to where the thanks to Emerson Baker and, the late Sydney Pearl for writing it down to begin with. Where, where the ledges are, where the gallows were in that, the lovely memorial that they've erected. And even before then, the benches were nice, by the cemetery right there. But people will misinterpret that as that's where they're buried. I'm like, no, those are just memorial benches actually.
Sarah Jack: Yeah, that's [00:35:00] good to clarify that.
David Allen Lambert: People are apt to want to download all the documents and they can get their hands on their ancestor. And then then it becomes really, truly job security when people are trying to suffer reading the 17th century court script. And I can turn and actually read it for them, but then I have to say in most cases it's already been transcribed. Cuz that ominous tome that I own that has all the documentary records from the witchcraft trial that I call that one a toe breaker. But that's, it's a great book. And that's one of the ones in my syllabus.
Josh Hutchinson: Yeah, I've got that one beside me. And we had the privilege of speaking with Margo Burns recently, who did quite a lot of that transcription work.
David Allen Lambert: I'm looking forward to meeting with her about William Stoughton very shortly. I have mixed feelings about the gentleman myself. We've actually had people in Stoughton want to consider renaming the town over the years, and our town is about to have, its tercentary. We'll be 300 years old on the 22nd [00:36:00] of December, 2026. And it'll be interesting to see what we do with regard to William Stoughton. As town historian and on the 300th committee, I can tell you that much his memory will not be heralded. But if Margo or anyone writes a book, I know that we'll definitely want to be involved with helping out with whatever we can telling about the connection with our town.
Josh Hutchinson: Margo actually explained some of his good side, as well, that he donated quite a lot of money to charities, and a charity of his, fund he established, recently helped some people with the Covid recession. Town actually paid out a fund that he had donated 300 plus years ago.
David Allen Lambert: And of course, the Stoughton Hall at Harvard University. The original one was barracks for the Revolutionary War soldiers. And the one that's here now, I think is from 1805, but it's still called Stoughton Hall and Harvard University.
[00:37:00] The sad thing about Stoughton is that we don't know a lot about him, from the point of fact that his diary, if he kept one, doesn't exist. Many of his papers don't exist. For that matter, much of his library doesn't exist. So unlike a lot of people, where their collections, like the Sewall diaries are at the Mass Historical Society, and I'm an elected fellow of the Mass Historical Society. And I was viewing the original pages of the Sewall diary, even though it's been published for years. And just going to the entries where he talks about, I visited my sister Ann to, I'm like, wow, he just, he could have just been right there writing it right beside me. So yeah, so for Stoughton, we don't have a lot of those documents. I'm lucky myself as a collector. I have one or two documents that he signed. It's interesting, his wax seal was a black swan on some things, which is interesting, because the Associated Daughters of Colonial Witches uses a swan on the logo.
Sarah Jack: They do. Yeah. Was that incidental?
David Allen Lambert: The [00:38:00] story of Stoughton is an intriguing one, and I wish Margo luck. I, 30 years ago started to gather up stuff with the idea that I thought I would write something. But it's just, it's piecemeal, and with history, when you only have certain things, you have to leap to conclusion. But I understand that she has been over to England and may have found some things on his early ecclesiastical training. I said, I think he originally wanted to be a minister.
Josh Hutchinson: She told us she went to Oxford and did some research in basically an old castle there and had a great time doing that. On the research side of things, we wanted to talk about how do people firm up their branches and know that they've got true connections? How do people, say you're getting information from your aunt or your third cousin, how do you know, confirm that's accurate information?
David Allen Lambert: Yeah, and this is true with every aspect of genealogy. So you could create a genealogy chart. [00:39:00] Some people call them pedigree charts. And you put your lineage down. It's one thing to fill in the blanks. It's one thing to have the solid evidence. Primary sources say for the 17th century, right through the 19th century, practically about the same.
So you're gonna have your birth records, your marriage records, your death records are gonna be recorded on the town level. Some vital records like marriages and births in Essex County were recorded in the quarterly court in Salem. So you may find some vital records there, but for the most part, for prior to 1850, if we're using Massachusetts as the baseline here, they're all in print, for the most part. Starting in 1841, Massachusetts becomes the earliest state in the union to record birth, marriages, and deaths, getting returns from the town and city clerks. So we're lucky we have that checks and balances system. 1841, right down through 1920, you can search on American Ancestors every birth, marriage, and death besides the records early on.
The other thing that people want to do to find connection, when you [00:40:00] can't find a birth, is maybe find the church record. The christening record of a child would name his parents or her parents. A marriage record in a church won't necessarily name who the parents are, but a witness might be a clue, because maybe it's the father or maybe it's the mother or a married sister, who is identified as one of the children of their ancestor.
The burial records can give you some clues, obviously to where they're buried, and maybe it's the placement of that gravestone in the cemetery that groups a family together.
Probate's really a, a true cement though, Josh, because that's going to name in the probate record I leave to my daughter, Sarah, now the wife of John Taylor, so that helps. Deeds too, because you could sell a piece of property for a dollar or a pound and have it, or simply love and affection to I give to my child. So these are the main things, vital [00:41:00] records, church records, probates, and deeds, just count on one hand, let alone court records with depositions.
There's a really untapped collection that I use all the time, and it is on familysearch.org. It's the Mass Archives Collection, and this is 328 volumes that are now digitized. There is a card index, and it is petitions and letters to the governor, muster rolls. 328 volumes, and they go from 1629 to 1783 I and most genealogists I know that are researching that era have never even heard of that collection. Like for instance, volume 135 of the Mass Archives Collection is where most of the witchcraft trial documents are housed in. And in fact, you'll find them on the Salem site, as well. But familysearch.org is free, and you can register for an account there. And if you just search under records for the Secretary of State's [00:42:00] office of the Massachusetts State Archives, you'll find the Mass Archives collection pretty fairly simple.
And it's great. And again, that's gonna be a document that may say, I was there when my father died, and on his deposition, he recounted the following. And that shows you a relationship. And of course, we have that wonderful thing called DNA now, which we can use as a clue in some cases.
Josh Hutchinson: We wanted to ask about the DNA. We know that it's, you can now link it to your tree on americanancestors.org. Can you tell us about what resources are available once you've linked your DNA to your family tree?
David Allen Lambert: Sure. We have some applications under American AncesTrees, as it's called, that will allow you to see how your results pan out. So that's a tremendous added advantage. The other thing that we have on American Ancestors, is we have people like Melanie McComb, who I work with, and she is well versed in genetic [00:43:00] genealogy.
Autosomal DNA is what you typically test. Most people will test that with ancestry.com or 23andme or a variety of different other, MyHeritage. That really only goes back to your fifth great grandparents. And like I say with mine, I have that one exception of somebody born in 1678, but if you're trying to get back to the earlier generations, it's something that our grandparents and our great-grandparents probably should have done. Of course, the technology wasn't there.
Where the DNA is helping out, I think people for the accused of the witchcraft trials or accusers or whatnot is the Y-DNA, because that's the direct male line. So if your Hutchinson line, you'll have the same Y-DNA signature as your immigrant ancestor and even thousands of years, even before surnames. And that's where the strength of trying to connect links back, because if you knew that, say for instance, if using this as an example, if Giles Corey was [00:44:00] the only one that had this particular Y-DNA and a proven line to Giles Corey, what his Y-DNA is may help somebody who's a Corey in South Carolina, who suspects that they may be related to him based upon that haplogroup.
And there's a whole plethora of study projects on Y-DNA. Mitochondrial is useful, too, not to discount what our mothers give to us. And ladies, of course, have the mitochondrial DNA they can test, whereas men only have the Y-DNA and the mitochondrial. Mitochondrial will be your daughter's daughter, so you'd have to find a daughter of Mary Perkins Bradbury, daughter of that person, all the way down to a living male or daughter to test that back. Where the surnames change every generation, it makes it a little bit more difficult, but it's still a valuable tool.
Sarah Jack: What kind of organizing do you guys recommend for people? You've got the pedigree stuff people are building out, they're trying to gather records, they're trying to connect to [00:45:00] cousins, they're trying to learn about locations. Is there multiple things you have to do to organize?
David Allen Lambert: Well, it really depends what the end result is gonna be. I give a lecture called "What Time is it on Your Genealogical Clock?," because I think as genealogists, we gather, it's going to the grocery store for 30 years but never going to the checkout counter. Essentially, you get all this material ,and what happens is that people just don't publish it, don't distribute it, and then when they pass away, there are kids that are not interested, that don't know what to do with it. And I have too many horror stories where I can tell you bags upon bags of things are just thrown out. But we have also become the repository, if you will, for a lot of these genealogists works since the 1840s, that they never did do a book or they never decided how exactly they wanted to put it out.
So I always say just like anything in life, create a plan. First off, what you want to have done with it. Are you gonna create a website? Are you going to create something you [00:46:00] wanna self-publish? We have an NEHGS, for those that have the budget for what's called the Newbury Street Press, and where we take and put together the entire book. Now that does cost a quarter of million dollars, but we do have people that produce these books and we've, over the past, nearly 25 or more years.
But you can self-publish by getting your genealogy program that you buy and just print out the copies and then just put on the title page, "this is the 2023 edition." Make it a PDF and send it to other cousins. Create a tree on AncesTrees. Create a tree on ancestry.com, Family Search, and just organize it.
And then what people will do is that they occasionally, all right, what is the next step? What's right for me? A lot of times they'll have consultations with myself or my colleague Melanie McComb. They'll come in and talk to a genealogist in the library, who's on the desk and say," I really don't know what, what I should do with this". And we will help guide people to, what should [00:47:00] be the final deposition of the paperwork they have. And sometimes our archivist may suggest another repository, because it may not fit the scope of what we have.
We had somebody one time that had clipped out obituaries for generations out of newspapers in the town, but we determined that it would've been better to give it to the local historical society. The other thing is work in a group. I think just any project, it's better with more than one person. And if you can involve a child and nephew or a niece or a cousin or better yet, find out somebody who's also working on the same ancestor, combined efforts, that's a checks and balances. You're checking in with the other person. You have that end results. And of course NEHGS with a quarter of a million books, we're always welcome any new book that's being produced, so if you create something, and it doesn't have to be ready for a Pulitzer Prize. My only suggestion is if you're gonna state something in your genealogy or your work, try to put the citation to where it comes from .
That even goes true with [00:48:00] family stories. People say I never was able to solve this mystery in my family. It's only a family story. Great. Write the story out in the genealogy and footnote it and say when you heard that story from your grandmother or your grandfather on the porch in Stoughton, Massachusetts in 1975. And then ask your other cousins that they've heard another version of it. And I always say there's a pound of truth, even in all the different ounces of fact and fiction that may be there. There's gotta be some story to it.
My grandmother told me it when I was a child, when I was seven, that my great-grandfather was on a whaling ship. That's a great story, but how do you prove it? I tracked down the whaling ship log and found his name on it in 1871, and then 20 years later, somebody found the log book for the ship, and there's his name right in it.
You never can give up. I think genealogy is like wet cement. It's never completely dry, solid. And there's always gonna be new material that's being found. What [00:49:00] people find now in their DNA to find that maybe their paternity or great-great-great grandfather isn't who they think it is, because DNA's disproved. And now you have to open up that can of worms in your research. And then when you write something down, like I say, if you want to do a second version or an addendum, go for it. There. There's no rules. But getting it out and getting it finished is a good thing. So if you set aside, I'm gonna get this done by the end of 2023 or by the end of 2024 or maybe five years down the road, but set yourself a goal and stick to it. And we're here at American Ancestors to help in case you need any guidance or just a nudge in the right direction.
Sarah Jack: Is it by appointment only. How far ahead does somebody need to plan to come visit you guys?
David Allen Lambert: If they're just coming in to do research and use the library, we're open Tuesday through Saturday, so Tuesdays we're open nine to one. That's our early day. Wednesday through Saturday, we're open nine to five. That being said, on March [00:50:00] 24th, we will be closed for the rest of the year, because of renovations and construction of a new building next door attached to what we have.
It's $20 a day to use the library if you're not a member. Membership ,you can do a three month membership, or you can join for a year for $99.95. And then, of course, when you're home, you have access to all of the databases that we have on American Ancestors. And we even have external databases, including Early American Newspapers, so every newspaper that was published between, I mean, there's one issue of Boston's Public Occurrences from 1690. Then you have to fast forward to the Boston Newsletter in 1704. So I always say 1690, 1704. All those early papers are searchable right through about the 1830s, and that's part of your, what you get for this subscription. And then, of course, if you're in the library, and you want to meet with one of us, the people are on the reference desk are always available there. We do paid consultations for members for 150 an hour. We book them usually four to six weeks out, but we [00:51:00] can also do them through Zoom or through a telephone call, whatever medium works best for you, and we can help people with that as well.
Josh Hutchinson: That's excellent. You have so many resources available. It's hard to grasp almost.
David Allen Lambert: It really depends on the avenue that you're going in. There are people that have ancestors involved in the witchcraft trials that live in Canada now, because two generations or so afterwards, they become planters, or three generations afterwards, they become loyalists, and they go up to Canada, and their families are still up there. So I have people that are Canadian that come down and say, "I'm related to a Salem Witch, really?" And then, of course, now they have to figure in time how they're gonna get the Salem up from, "can you walk from Boston to Salem?" I'm like, "not really, but you can take the train." I always advise people don't go to Salem during Halloween. And for just not a principle. I don't know. Personally, I try to avoid it during Halloween. I just think that isn't the best way I'm gonna remember my ancestors.
Josh Hutchinson: I've been there in October, and I remember walking into [00:52:00] the Old Burying Point, and there was like a carnival set up next to it. So people were eating funnel cake, walking through the cemetery, just walking off the path and everywhere, and that really got to me.
David Allen Lambert: I think that people are entertained by history, and then some of us respect history and try to preserve it and tell the story and get the word out. I've always think of us as historians, as sentinels of their past. We're keeping their memory alive. They have no voice anymore, so we have to apply it for them. And yeah, I don't think I approve of funnel cake or cotton candy or balloons running through a cemetery, especially in Salem, or any place for that matter.
Josh Hutchinson: I know now they control the cemetery in October. They limit how many people can be in there so they can keep an eye and make sure people stay on the paths and behave themselves. So [00:53:00] it's improved since the last time I was there.
David Allen Lambert: Yeah, I've had a great love for cemeteries. One of the books I've published for NEHGS is called A Guide to Massachusetts Cemeteries. It started as a Rolodex when I worked at the Mass State Archives right outta high school, cuz nobody knew where all the cemeteries were in Boston, or for Salem for that matter, and how to get in contact, what was in print. So I created this book. Now it's even an app that you can have on your Kindle, but it gives every cemetery, when it was created, the alias names and anything that's been published on, it's for every town in Massachusetts. So that I have a great love for cemeteries.
Sarah Jack: That's a fascinating project that you did. That was one of your first projects maybe.
David Allen Lambert: The day after I turned 18, I went to work as an intern at the Mass State Archives, and I was hired as a genealogist to work in the reference desk. And what I did basically in my free time is people would ask about Granary Burying Ground or King's Chapel Burying Ground. I'd say, all right, where is that? [00:54:00] So I'd take the yellow pages out and look for the phone for the addresses. There was no guide to cemeteries. There wasn't a Findagrave or Billion Graves back then. And then I went to NEHGS, and we have thousands of gravestone inscriptions, and what's, why those are so valuable, a lot of those are done in the 19th century when the stone was still upright and legible. So we have these transcriptions. The DAR library in Washington also has thousands of transcriptions. So I linked all of those in the published vital records in Massachusetts, there's usually a code if they got the information from a gravestone. So here's a book done in 1902. You can't read the stone anymore, but it tells you the location from that inscription. So I linked all of those.
So it was a real labor of love. It went from being a Rolodex to a 300-page-plus book. So and I'm still finding stuff on it ,which is amazing, Sarah. It's people say, "oh, there's a graveyard out in the back woods with about four gravestones. Do you know about that one?" No. But I do now. So it's still a work in progress after 20 [00:55:00] years
Josh Hutchinson: That's a remarkable resource.
David Allen Lambert: Thank you. Yeah. It's a pleasure to work on.
Josh Hutchinson: And you mentioned earlier you're also involved with the Extreme Genes Podcast and radio show. How does that show help family researchers?
David Allen Lambert: Well, we mix a little bit of sometimes black sheep in your family history makes an interesting, old, crazy Uncle Charlie that everybody used to talk about at the Thanksgiving dinner table. How do you find out why he was so crazy? It's interesting. We have a variety of topics everywhere from DNA to having guests like Henry Louis Gates on this show, leaders in the genealogical field, CeCe Moore, who's a genetic genealogist, a good personal friend of ours, is on there.
We highlight what's new in genealogy news. So what I give every week, including when I tape today, is what's called Family Histoire News, and essentially talking about what's new in the industry, what's going on, like upcoming conferences, and I help him find guests. So [00:56:00] like the two fine people I'm talking to right now that we want to talk about what you're doing, because we have to have the audience of genealogists because, genealogists, not everybody's on Twitter, on Facebook, but we're on radio, we're on 60 radio stations nationwide, and on our podcast download now we're on iHeartRadio, YouTube, Spotify, and we get on an average 20,000 to 50,000 downloads a month.
And he's been out for eight years sponsored by ancestry.com, but we're not, the mouthpiece of Ancestry, obviously, but they're one of the sponsors. But it's a lot of fun. We make it fun. I, one of the things I like to highlight are the unusual stories in genealogy or in history that will parallel or some centenarian that just passed is the last of the Dambusters from World War II that helped destroy the German dams, which were an integral part of the war effort. He just died at 101 years old, and thinking, does somebody have a [00:57:00] connection with that?
It started when I was on the show, it was Fisher thought I had a pretty good dynamic with him, and he calls me his brother from another mother. And I was telling em about friends I've had. I was lucky to be friends with over 25 years with the last passenger of the Titanic. I met her when I was a teenager, and she used to send my children Christmas gifts every year, so we fondly recalled our Auntie Millvina. She was eight weeks old when she was on the Titanic, but I knew the last first class passenger, unlike Kate Winslet's character in Titanic. There was a woman who lived to be 101 in Massachusetts. Her name was Marjorie Robe, and I remember talking with her on the phone about, were they playing "Nearer my God to Thee" on the boats and her and her stories and all that.
So I've always had a connection with trying to find something as far back as I possibly can. I mean, I remember writing to Spanish American War veterans and widows of Civil War veterans when I was a kid, silent movie actresses. I sat with Carla Lemley, whose uncle started [00:58:00] Universal Studios, when she was like 103 years old. She was in Phantom of the Opera in 1925 as the prima ballerina and was delivered the first speaking lines in a horror movie, 1931 Dracula. She is sitting in her house in Hollywood she owns since 1937, reciting her lines from all these movies as and wearing a, like a Chinese dressing gown, and we're eating Chinese food. I knew her niece, and it was great. I love touching history. I used to be a Civil War reenactor, because I wanted to know that next step to what the past was like.
Sarah Jack: I love that you just said touching history, because it is, and there's so many ways that people can, and they need to be brave and do it, reach out and get started.
David Allen Lambert: Yeah. And then with genealogy, I think that, even if you sit down and somebody listens to this, and we got one person who calls up their grandmother or their mother and say, "hey, what was your grandparents' [00:59:00] name?" I mean, if you ask your grandmother who her grandparents are, you now have your great-great-grandparents.
And it's so easy, especially with younger folks or people that are fortunate to have their parents and grandparents or even great-grandparents alive, to just get started. Don't put it off, because if you put it off, they may not be there. And there are so many great stories that you can ask people. When you're doing genealogy, one of the big key questions, I always say, ask your parents how they met. Ask your grandparents how they met. You won't find that on any record. It won't be on the marriage record, won't be on the marriage license. Might have been written up in a newspaper article on their 50th wedding anniversary, but probably not. Adding the human element, and I think that's what we search for as genealogists and family historians, is we pour over these records.
The unfortunate ancestors we have that were accused and executed during the witchcraft trials, but we have their depositions, we have their words. They're more than just a name and a date. They're, they actually come alive. And it's to, to me it's so personal when you can see a [01:00:00] deposition or you can see, either pro or con against somebody, that this is their words, this is their thought process. This is what they believed in. And they're just more than a piece of paper or a gravestone.
Sarah Jack: Yeah. Specifically, Rebecca Nurse, my ninth great grandmother, she said that the world would know of her innocence. And when I read that, I just, I'm like, they do.
David Allen Lambert: Have you been to her homestead?
Sarah Jack: I have not had the opportunity yet, but it won't be long. I'm gonna make it happen.
David Allen Lambert: It will be amazing. And I only have the connection by association, having someone in the trials, and it was moving for me. To think that you're in the home of somebody who was basically dragged out of bed and brought into trial on a cart. The whole story is just is amazing. But when you can have those touch points in history where you can physically see a building or be at a graveyard or now, like I say at the gallows. I think [01:01:00] that's really important cuz it's more than just reading something. So I look forward to hearing your reaction when you actually go there.
Josh Hutchinson: Yeah, I hope I get to see that, because the Rebecca Nurse Homestead is actually what got me started in both genealogy and witch trial research, because I visited, I was fortunate to be able to visit when I was in high school, up there looking around at colleges and went there with my father and my brothers and we learned that our family was connected to the witch trials. And that got me hungry to do more research. And it was just a really powerful experience to actually be present where somebody accused had been.
David Allen Lambert: And that's usually the reaction that people get, Josh. And obviously it's the same with you, Sarah. It's like you find that you have that connection. It's like [01:02:00] a yearning. I like to attribute genealogy as a very thick book that we know the first couple of chapters cuz we know that generation, but somebody's tore all of those pages out. I like to think of places like NEHGS where I work in Boston. We have those pages, and they do all fit in there. It's just a matter of doing the work to put it back together again. We're only trying to relearn what wasn't told to us and what's been lost to us. And I can almost see where in some cases where people may not want to remember having somebody accused in the witchcraft trials because the pain and just a disassociation.
I Look at Mary Towne Esty's son going to what became Stoughton. I mean, it's, starting anew, and we don't talk about the past. I hear that all the time from people. I said did your grandfather ever tell Oh, nope. They never, they said, leave the past. In the past. We don't talk about things. We talk about now. Live in the present. And that's why a lot of this history has been lost, I think, to people. [01:03:00]
Sarah Jack: Yeah. There always seems to be somebody in a generation that really wants to dig back and find out about their family, but things are lost forever.
David Allen Lambert: Yeah. Photographs specifically. And I think David McCullough, when I had the honor of work on his genealogy, he gave a presentation to us and he said, if you want to be remembered in the 22nd century, keep a journal. Think of what we're doing, Sarah. We have, everything is, a cell phone right here, we have our photos on it, we have our correspondence, we have our text. What do we print out? How many people go and print off on a quarterly basis or a yearly basis, more than maybe a handful if any of their photographs? They put 'em on Facebook, they put 'em on Twitter, on Flickr, whatever, in Instagram. They don't print out something that's going to be there for the next generation.
We don't send postcards anymore. In fact, you go to [01:04:00] most places now, you won't find a postcard. When I was in Disney World, I thought, it'll be fun. I'll send a postcard. There aren't any postcards at Disney World. You can't buy them. There are places that we would look at, alright, we're gonna get a letter when somebody had a baby born. And now we're getting, a Facebook update with a picture. Those important events should be printed out and saved. We're really not leaving much to the 22nd century in this century. There's almost gonna be a real void of information. So like I always tell people, if you want a New Year's resolution, leave the future a picture of yourself. Write down what you do. Talk about yourself. It's not vanity. It's leaving a chapter of history.
Sarah Jack: Wow. What a really important point.
David Allen Lambert: Could you imagine if we had diaries of all those people that were involved in the witchcraft trials, how the story, and think about that. How many voices do we really have from the trials that are day by day? It's Sewall's diary, and when I was turning the pages [01:05:00] reading September of 1692, I just was like, this page is as old as what he's writing about. And I'm like, I'm turning this page. And it was one thing to read it. I have the published version of his diaries, but it was one thing to see the original. And that's, I think, again, just touching history and learning about it.
Josh Hutchinson: That has to be a remarkable experience to know somebody wrote that 330 years ago, and that's amazing to connect with that.
David Allen Lambert: I mean, and that's true with probate records. You could go to the Mass State Archives and ask to see, you have to make an arrangement, but the original probate record can be taken out, and you can look through the handwritten last will and testament of an ancestor. You can go to the cemetery and see the gravestone and read that faded epitaph at the bottom that meant something to the family.
May it be biblical or just, some verse. You can sometimes stand in the doorway of your ancestor's home or the cellar hole where they [01:06:00] stood. It gives you a closer connection. I always say genealogy field trips are important. We're doing a trip to Scotland in June, and one of the things I plan on doing is reading up more on the Scottish witchcraft trials and trying to visit some of the sites that are around Edinburgh that occurred. And it just fascinates me. And again, I don't have a connection with it. In fact, I have very little Scottish heritage. My wife is a quarter Scottish, and I often think the records only go back for the most part in Scotland in, for genealogical purposes into the 1600s, sometimes if you're lucky with the church. So she could have easily had ancestors who were executed during the witchcraft trial by historians that went on in Scotland, or for those matter in Germany or something like that. And the ancestors will never know or connect to just because there's no records between that point in history and when the records start being recorded.
Josh Hutchinson: Yeah. We learned from Mary W. Craig when we spoke with her about the Scottish Witch [01:07:00] trials that a lot of the people who are descendants of the accused and executed have no idea about it because the future generations felt such shame at their ancestors being executed. They basically erased them from the family tree.
David Allen Lambert: Yeah. And that's, I think that kinda hearkens back to New England through the Victorian era. People just didn't wanna mention it because, oh, your ancestor was accused as a witch. From being teased in the schoolyard to maybe being refused employment or maybe not given that bank loan or whatever you might need. It's funny to think what may have been the trickle down for how many generations that stigma was still there. Even if, for those who weren't executed, the ones who were just accused, the humiliation of the whole thing and public scrutiny.
Sarah Jack: In the countries that we've been talking to, [01:08:00] Nigeria, South Africa, where people are experiencing accusations, family have to try to leave and find another community that doesn't know what happened to try to reestablish themselves, that the shame does follow. It's interesting how many parallels there are, but witch hunting, whether 300 years ago or this week, it has a lot of the same harmful elements.
David Allen Lambert: Are they using spectral evidence, as well? I mean, is that where the most of the accusations are coming from? Claiming somebody got sick or an animal died based upon what somebody may have done?
Josh Hutchinson: It's mostly illness and death that they attribute to extraordinary causes rather than a cause that's known to them. And it's generally, it's mob violence. It's they [01:09:00] go to a diviner or someone and have them name the witch, they call it witch finding. And so once the witch is named, they just gather their acquaintances and go over there and execute them.
David Allen Lambert: Wow not even with a trial.
Josh Hutchinson: Yeah. No trials. It's just mob violence, brutality, torture. If you're lucky, you just get chased outta town or you run to the police, and the police lock you up for your own safety.
David Allen Lambert: Wow. We really haven't come very far, Josh, in 300 plus years have we as a society in the world.
Josh Hutchinson: No, no. And we see parallels in America and Europe and everywhere in the world, that same mentality of treating people who we think are different from us poorly.[01:10:00]
Here's Sarah with another important update.
Sarah Jack: End Witch Hunts News.
Here's an update on the Connecticut witch trial exoneration bill, HJ Number 34, Resolution Concerning Certain Witchcraft Convictions in Colonial Connecticut. There are currently 23 bipartisan Connecticut legislators who are supporting the exoneration by co-sponsoring the bill.
The bill must be voted on in the Joint Committee on Judiciary. Please continue to write Connecticut legislators of all political parties, asking them to sponsor the bill and vote Yes. Please go to our show description for the link for the March 8th press conference held by Senator Saud Anwar and State Representative Jane Garibay. Please listen to the statement of support by Connecticut's Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz. Take time to understand what historian Dr. Kathy Hermes states at this conference. Share the bold words that author Beth Caruso, student Catherine Carmon, and descendant Sue Bailey arm us with. Arm yourself with the facts of history, and find yourself a [01:11:00] platform to work with us and share the message.
The Connecticut Witch Trial Exoneration Project, an organized collaboration of diverse collaborators, has been working for an official state exoneration of the 17th century accused and hanged witches of the Connecticut colony. We support the Joint Committee on Judiciary's bill, HJ number 34, Resolution Concerning Certain Witchcraft Convictions in Colonial Connecticut. Will you take time today to write a member of the judiciary committee asking them to recognize the relevance of exonerating Connecticut witch trial victims? You can do this whether you are a Connecticut resident or anywhere else in the world, you should do it from right where you are. You can find the information you need to contact a committee member with a letter in the show links.
You can follow our progress by joining our Discord community or Facebook groups. Links to all these informative opportunities are listed in the episode description. Please use all your communication channels to be an intervener. The world must stop hunting witches. Please follow our project on social media @ctwitchhunt and visit our website [01:12:00] at ConnecticutWitchTrials.org.
The Connecticut Witch Trial Exoneration Project is a project of End Witch Hunts movement. End Witch Hunts is a nonprofit organization founded to educate about witch trial history and advocate for alleged witches. Please support us with your donations or purchases of educational witch trial books and merchandise. You can order a white rose exoneration supporter pin in our merch shop at zazzle.com/store/endwitchhunts, shop our other Zazzle store, zazzle.com/store/thoushaltnotsuffer, and shop our books at bookshop.org/endwitchhunts. We want you as a super listener. You can help keep Thou Shalt Not Suffer Podcast in production by super listening with your monthly monetary support. See episode description for links to these support opportunities. We thank you for standing with us and helping us create a world that is safe from witchcraft accusations.
Josh Hutchinson: Thank you Sarah for that update on the Connecticut Witch Trial Exoneration [01:13:00] Project.
Sarah Jack: You're welcome, Josh.
Josh Hutchinson: And thank you for listening to Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast.
Sarah Jack: Join us again next week.
Josh Hutchinson: Subscribe wherever you get podcasts.
Sarah Jack: Visit us at thoushaltnotsuffer.com.
Josh Hutchinson: Remember to tell your friends, family, associates, and neighbors.
Sarah Jack: Please support our efforts to end witch hunts. Visit endwitchhunts.org to learn more.
Josh Hutchinson: Have a great today and a beautiful tomorrow.