Elizabeth Proctor: The Salem Witch Trials Widow

Elizabeth Proctor, wife of Salem Village farmer John Proctor, was accused of witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trials in 1692.

The Proctors were a wealthy family who lived on a large rented farm on the outskirts of Salem Village, in what is now modern day Peabody. Elizabeth, Proctor’s third wife, married Proctor in April of 1674, two years after the death of his second wife, Elizabeth Thorndike.

Elizabeth Proctor, whose maiden name was Bassett, was also the granddaughter of Goody Burt, a folk healer from Lynn who had been tried, but acquitted, on charges of witchcraft over 30 years earlier.

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William Dawes: The Forgotten Midnight Rider

William Dawes was a Boston tanner and one of the riders sent by Dr. Joseph Warren to alert John Hancock and Samuel Adams of the approaching British army on the night of April 18th, 1775.

Dawes was born in Boston on April 6, 1745. He was the second of twelve children born to William Dawes and Lydia Boone. He married twice, first to Mehitable May, who died in October of 1793, and then to Lydia Gendall.

On October 28, 1767, Dawes was one of 650 Boston citizens who signed a “nonimportation agreement,” promising not to buy goods imported from Britain, which included furniture, clothes, nails, anchors, gauze, shoe leather, malt liquors, loaf sugar, starch and glue. To further support this cause, the Boston Gazette states that Dawes also wore a suite made entirely in America on his wedding day.

In April of 1768, Dawes joined the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company, a private training organization for militia officers, and was also promoted to second major of the regiment of the Boston militia. Dawes was also a member of the patriotic group the Sons of Liberty and was a Freemason, although it is not clear which Boston lodge he belonged to.

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John Hathorne: The Salem Witch Judge

John Hathorne was a judge during the Salem Witch Trials and the great-great grandfather of author Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Hathorne was born in Salem on August 5, 1641 to William Hathorne and Anne Smith. He was the fifth of nine children. His father was a local judge who came to the New World on the “Arabella,” one of John Winthrop’s eleven ships that brought over 800 puritans to the colony in the summer of 1630. William was known for being a “bitter persecutor” of Quakers and was responsible for ordering the public whipping of Ann Coleman in Salem in 1662. William was also in the military, serving as a captain of the Salem military company in 1646, during King Phillip’s War, and was promoted to major in 1656.

A savvy businessman, William used land grants to secure an extensive property, which he turned into farmland, and owned much of Salem Village, which is now Danvers, including the hill upon which the Danvers State Hospital was later built in 1874.

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Mercy Lewis: Orphan and Afflicted Girl

Mercy Lewis was one of the afflicted girls of the Salem Witch Trials and a servant in Thomas Putnam’s home.

Lewis, the daughter of Phillip Lewis, was born in Falmouth, Maine in 1675. On August 11, 1676, three-year-old Mercy Lewis and her parents barely escaped an attack by the nearby Wabanaki Indians that resulted in the death of her grandparents, cousins and many other members of the community.

Seeking refuge, the Lewis family fled to an island in Casco Bay along with the other surviving members of the community, including Reverend George Burroughs. After the attack, the Lewis family moved briefly to Salem, Ma where Lewis’ uncle, Thomas Skilling, died a few months later, possibly from a wound he suffered during the attack. Mercy Lewis and her family then moved back to Casco Bay in 1683.

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HBO Producing a New Drama About the Salem Witch Trials

Jenji Kohan, the creator of the shows “Weeds” and “Orange is the New Black,” is currently developing a new drama about the Salem Witch Trials for HBO, according to an article on the Hollywood Reporter website:

“The untitled Salem period drama explores the circumstances surrounding one of the most compelling chapters in American history, when intolerance and repression set neighbor against neighbor and led a town to mass hysteria.

Kohan will pen the script with Bruce Miller (Alphas, Eureka) and Tracy Miller. Kohan and Bruce Miller will also executive produce, while Tracy Miller will receive a supervising producer credit. The drama hails from Lionsgate TV, where Kohan is under an overall deal.”

The new show does not have a title yet and it is not known if it will film in Salem, Massachusetts.

The HBO drama is one of two new shows about the Salem Witch Trials currently in development. WGN is producing a similar show titled “Salem” which is set to air in the spring of 2014. “Salem” is a fictionalized account of John Alden Jr.’s role in the witchcraft hysteria. Shane West has been cast to play Alden, who is portrayed as a war veteran who returns to Salem to find it in the middle of the witchcraft hysteria. The cast also includes Janet Montgomery, as sorceress Mary Sibley, Seth Gabel as Cotton Mather,  Ashley Madekwe as Sibley’s cohort and Tamzin Merchant as Anne Hale, an artist who finds herself attracted to Alden.


Hollywood Reporter; Jenji Kohan Prepping Provocative Period Drama at HBO; Dec 4 2013: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/jenji-kohan-prepping-provocative-period-662120

Boston Globe; HBO Inks Deal for Salem Witch Trials Drama; Dec 6 2013: http://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/names/2013/12/06/hbo-inks-deal-for-salem-witch-trials-drama/af7t9X21eKU7gw85jIveKM/story.html

TV Line; Nikita’s Shane West Joins WGN America’s Witchy Original Drama Salem as Male Lead; Nov 1 2013: http://tvline.com/2013/11/01/shane-west-salem-tv-series-wgn-america/

The Siege of Boston

The Siege of Boston was the beginning phase of the Revolutionary War, during which American militiamen surrounded and trapped the British army inside Boston.

The siege began on April 19, 1775, when British troops retreated to Boston after the Battles of Lexington and Concord, and ended on March 17, 1776 when the British finally fled Boston by sea.

The siege began when American militiamen blocked off Boston neck and Charlestown neck, the thin strips of land connecting the Boston and Charlestown peninsulas to the mainland, to prevent the British from conducting anymore attacks on the surrounding countryside. Since the rebels lacked a navy, the British army still retained control of Boston harbor, yet supplies in the town quickly dwindled as they awaited the arrival of supply ships.

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Thomas Putnam: Ringleader of the Salem Witch Hunt?

Thomas Putnam was the father of afflicted girl Ann Putnam, Jr., and many historians consider him to be a major influence in the Salem Witch Trials.

Putnam himself accused and testified against 43 people while his daughter testified against 62 people. Many historians believe the Putnam family used the witchcraft hysteria in Salem as a way to get revenge against their neighboring rivals and enemies.

Thomas Putnam was born on January 12, 1652, into a wealthy, third-generation Salem family that owned a substantial amount of land in Salem Village and Essex County. Putnam was a sergeant in the local militia and had previously fought in King Phillip’s war. In 1678 he married Ann Carr, of Salisbury, who also came from a wealthy family. They had 10 children together, including their eldest child, Ann Putnam, Jr., who was born in 1679.

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Captain John Smith Describes Early Massachusetts

Captain John Smith was an English explorer known for his role in establishing the first English settlement, Jamestown, in North America. In 1614, a few years after he was forced to leave Jamestown due to his unpopularity with the other colonists, Smith set his sights on an area he called “Northern Virginia” and embarked on his one and only trip to New England.

Smith explored the coastline with a plan to catch whales and search for gold on behalf of the Plymouth Company, but also used his time scouting out potential locations for a future colony. He recorded his observations about the region, including Massachusetts, in a text later published under the title “A Description of New England”:

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Archaeological Dig Underway in Deerfield

A group of amateur archeologists have recently unearthed a large number of artifacts during an archeological dig in Deerfield.

The group have been working in the area for two weeks and have so far uncovered primitive weapons, such as spear tips, dating back 13,000 years.

According to an article on wggb.com, these items are believed to be some of the oldest materials in existence in the area:

“’In this region, that would constitute the earliest material you would find in this part of Massachusetts, there are no earlier cultures,’ Gramly said.
In meticulous and careful fashion, the team digs and sifts through the soil looking to uncover their next treasure.
‘There’s a complete spear point of the larger size compared to the littler size, making two different sizes.’ he said.
The people at that time in this place were hunters.
Using primitive instruments like spears and knives they hunted caribou for food and their clothing.
The environment cold and challenging.
And what they found here is nothing short of amazing.
‘This site is the largest encampment of this era I would say anywhere east of the Mississippi River,’ Gramly said, ‘It’s really a treasure this site.’”

The dig is being conducted by members of the American Society of Amateur Archeology and all of the items uncovered will be cataloged and made available to students, historians and the general public for further study.


WGGB: Dig Uncovers Deerfield’s Rich History; Sept 20 2013: http://www.wggb.com/2013/09/20/dig-uncovers-deerfields-rich-history/

American Society of Amateur Archeology: http://asaa-persimmonpress.com/


New Books on the Salem Witch Trials Published

Two new books on the Salem Witch Trials recently hit the shelves. The first is a historical fiction novel, titled “Abigail Accused: A Story of the Salem Witch Hunt,” based on accused Andover witch Abigail Dane Faulkner.

The second is a non-fiction book, titled “Six Women of Salem: The Untold Story of the Accused and Their Accusers in the Salem Witch Trials,” which examines the lives of six women involved in the Salem Witch Trials.

Published in May of 2013, “Abigail Accused” was written by Juliet Moffard, the former director of education and research at the Andover Historical Society. In a recent interview with the Andover Townsmen newspaper, Moffard explained that although the book is fiction, it is based on the actual events of the witch hunt: “What makes my book unique … is this historical novel explains what became of those who survived the witch trials and their treatment when they were finally released and returned home,” Moffard said.

Abigail Accused

Abigail Accused: A Story of the Salem Witch Hunt by Juliet Moffard

Moffard, who has been working on the book since 1995, has also published other texts about the witch hunt, including a young adult novel titled “Cry Witch,” as well as a nonfiction book titled “The Devil Made Me Do It: Crime and Punishment in Early New England” and is the author of 12 books in total, two of which have received awards from the American Association For State and Local History.

Published in September of 2013, “Six Women of Salem” was also written by an accomplished author. Marilynne K. Roach is already well-known for her book “The Salem Witch Trials: A Day-By-Day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege” and numerous other books about the trials. In her new book, Roach chronicles the lives of six women involved in the Salem Witch Trials in an attempt to examine the trials through the eyes of the people who lived through it.

Six Women of Salem

Six Women of Salem by Marilynne K. Roach

The book shines a spotlight on accused witches Rebecca Nurse, Bridget Bishop, Mary English and Tituba as well as accusers Ann Putnam Sr and Mary Warren (who has a unique role as an afflicted girl later accused of witchcraft herself.)

The Salem Witch Museum will be hosting a meet & greet and book signing with Roach on October 3 at 6pm.


Salem Witch Museum; Meet the Author & Book Signing – Marilynne K. Roach http://www.salemwitchmuseum.com/blog/

The Andover Townsman; Bewitching Times; New Book Chronicles Andover’s Place During Infamous Trials; Judy Wakefield; August 15 2013 http://www.andovertownsman.com/townspeople/x1084954507/Bewitching-times-New-book-chronicles-Andovers-place-during-infamous-trials