I am as clear as the child unborn

 

Rebecca Towne Nurse hanged as a witch on July 19, 1692

324 years ago a 71-year-old frail, nearly deaf, ‘God fearing’ Christian woman was hanged as a witch on Gallows Hill. Taken from her home, reportedly from her sickbed, she was imprisoned and repeatedly questioned by the local authorities from March through July. She was found guilty based on the testimony of a few deluded children and adults, despite a long list of character witnesses who spoke in her defense. Below is the transcript of her first “examination”.

Retrieved from  http://salem.lib.virginia.edu/texts/tei/swp?div_id=n94

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The examination of Rebekah Nurse at Salem Village  24. mar. 1691/2

Mr. Harthorn. What do you say (speaking to one afflicted) have you seen this Woman hurt you?

Yes, she beat me this morning

Abigial . Have you been hurt by this Woman?

Yes

Ann Putman in a grievous fit cryed out that she hurt her.

Goody Nurse , here are two An: Putman the child & Abigail Williams complains of your hurting them What do you say to it

N [Rebecca Nurse]. I can say before my Eternal father I am innocent, & God will clear my innocency

Here is never a one in the Assembly but desires it, but if you be guilty Pray God discover you.

Then Hen: Kenny rose up to speak

Goodm: Kenny what do you say

Then he entered his complaint & farther said that since this Nurse came into the house he was seizd twise with an amaz’d condition

Here are not only these but, here is the wife of Mr Tho: Putman who accuseth you by credible information & that both of tempting her to iniquity, & of greatly hurting her.

  1. I am innocent & clear & have not been able to get out of doors these 8. or 9. dayes.

Mr Putman: give in what you have to say

Then Mr Edward Putman gave in his relate

Is this true Goody Nurse

I never afflicted no child never in my life

You see these accuse you, is it true

No.

Are you an innocent person relating to this Witchcraft.

Continue reading

Gallows Hill Nineteen

 

Gallows Hill Nineteen

1692

“Why Salem is important today is because of acts of individual conscience and resistance to a government that was overreacting out of fear of a global enemy. It’s important to know today what happened there for the sake of us and American history.”  Benjamin Ray, Professor of Religious Studies, University of Virginia

No one really knows for sure what spurred the Salem witch hunt. Most theorize that the Puritans lived in fear of death by ‘savages’; death by starvation; death by exposure. The only common thread is fear.

The truth is this: 19 women of good intentions were accused, tried and hanged.

YouTube produced by University of Virginia, Retrieved June 4, 2016  https://youtu.be/v-KrexSNHVY

Over three hundred years later, using a variety of resources, experts agreed on the actual location where the hangings were conducted.

Top: Site of the actual witch hangings.  Middle: Gallows Hill   Bottom:  Map of the location

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Top:  http://boston.cbslocal.com/2016/01/13/actual-site-of-salem-witch-hangings-discovered/

Middle:  http://w3.salemstate.edu/~ebaker/Gallows_Hill

Bottom:  https://news.virginia.edu/content/uvas-help-salem-finally-discovers-where-its-witches-were-executed

…on a horse with no name…

I subscribe to one of the major ancestry database vendors. At times it feels like I’m wandering through the desert on a horse with no name. I assure you, it is deliberate and meaningful research.

I’m a writer. We research, okay? It’s not wasting time nor is it procrastination. Let me repeat, it is r*e*s*e*a*r*c*h.   

I’ve discovered sixth generation half-siblings to the third wife of my 7th great-grand whatever. Who, by the way, have no blood relationship to me. Ummm….Maybe I get carried away with this.

Except for a few crazy drunk uncle tales, may their souls rest in peace, no family lore passed from one generation to the next. No who’s who. Nothing. The biggest mystery always has been my dad’s grandmother.

All I had was her first name and her married last name. First name: America. America WHO for crying out loud?!

One fine day, I was meandering down ‘deliberate and meaningful’ research avenue and voila! Someone had posted her first, middle, and maiden name.

Gold strike!

A whole new road to travel and this time, my horse has a name. Generation after generation.

Back to the 1600’s. Massachusetts? Really? Salem? Come on. You’re kidding, right?

My 9th great grandmother was…

Retrieved from:   http://salem.lib.virginia.edu/people?group.num=all&mbio.num=mb21

 

Rebecca Town Nurse

B:   16 FEB 1621; Christened  21 FEB 1621 St Nicholas Church, Great Yarmouth, England

D:   19 JUL 1692 (HANGED) Gallows Hill, (Danvers) Salem, Massachusetts

The line from Great Grannie America to Way-back Great Grannie Rebecca is straight as an arrow. Alrighty, then. Now I’m a rabid consumer of all things witch-trial related. If you think these times are crazy, you haven’t seen anything.

Interested in learning more about the Salem Trials?

Incredible historical archive available online from the University of Virginia  http://salem.lib.virginia.edu/people?group.num=all&mbio.num=mb21

Three excellent fictional novels set in this time.

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The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe

 

 

 

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The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent

 

 

 

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Deliverance from Evil by Frances Hill

 

  

 

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Three Sovereigns for Sarah–A PBS 3-part video

Rebecca had two sisters. One fled after her trial and came back to tell the story.  This is a fictional account but based on archived documents.  Available for streaming on Amazon Prime.

 

All available from Amazon. 

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I’d love to hear where the journey down research avenue has taken you.

Please leave a comment!