Archive for December, 2010:
How lucky we are to have visitors who are passionate about the subject of human rights and witch hunts. The talented Texas resident Cathy Hutchison of the “random Cathy…” blog caught my eye recently when she wrote about the treatment of immigrants in our country today.
Check out her full post at: random Cathy… Sounds Like Salem
I love that she quotes from the The New Colossus, the 1883 sonnet by Emma Lazarus which is mounted on a bronze plaque inside the Statue of Liberty:
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
We thank Cathy for her tolerance and insight and for allowing us to share her blog.
This past Thursday evening we enjoyed the second fascinating lecture hosted by Gordon College at Old Town Hall. Dr. Emerson “Tad” Baker discussed his book The Devil of Great Island: Witchcraft & Conflict in Early New England, introducing the work as a unique look at New England witchcraft that does not focus on Salem. Dr. Baker has been a historical archeologist as well as a museum director and is currently a public historian and professor at Salem State College.
Ten years before the Salem outbreak, in a place called Great Island (today New Castle) near Portsmouth, NH, there were reported incidents of “lithobolia.” Though educated men of the day knew Greek and Latin and would have been familiar with the term, I needed translation: stone-throwing of the Devil. Hundreds of flying stones, some as heavy as eight pounds, beset the tavern owned by George and Alice Walton for several months, yet no one had ever seen anyone throwing them. These occurrences, as many other inexplicable events at that time, were perceived as acts of witchcraft.
When we look further into the details, the first to come into view are the relationships and territorial boundaries between the key individuals of the story. I don’t want to give away the delicious unfolding of the narrative, so I’ll share only that the Waltons had been in land disputes with neighbor Hanna Jones, who was accused of being a witch. There had also been infighting in the vicinity about the establishment of a separate meeting house in which to worship. Although Dr. Emerson explores this history north of Mass Bay Colony, he does acknowledge that, “…when it comes to witchcraft in early New England, all roads eventually lead to Salem.”
In fact, it seems as though there are many common factors between Great Island and Salem. Neighbors disagreeing over territorial margins were certainly a dynamic that set the stage for the Salem witchcraft accusations. Uncannily, heated debates about an independent meeting house in Salem Village were significant to conditions that allowed the events to unfold as they did in 1692.
If you’re as interested in the environment and events leading to the Salem Witchcraft Trials as I am, next week’s post will be dedicated to the aspect of territorial disputes in Salem Village prior to the eruption of witchcraft accusations. Stay tuned…
We are fortunate to be interviewed by hundreds of history students, magazines and news outlets each year. I’ve noticed some consistency with one of the most frequently asked questions being, “What caused the witch trials?” Read more »
You may have heard in recent news that the Salem Award Foundation has received a $25,000 grant from the Annenburg Foundation.
“Charles Weingarten visited Salem last fall to research the history of the witch trials in preparation for a possible film. He contacted Alison D’Amario, Patty MacLeod and Tina Jordan, of the Salem Witch Museum. D’Amario and MacLeod were instrumental in establishing the Salem Witch Trials Memorial and the Salem Award Foundation. During his exploration at historic sites with local experts, they told him about the Salem Award and its mission to educate the public through the lessons of the trials.”
Charles Annenberg Weingarten (pictured left). Photo courtesy of the Annenberg Foundation.
The Salem Witch Museum is proud to be part of a community dedicated to contributing to the cause of human rights and social justice.