Sunday, 28 October 2012

Witch Trials of New Hampshire and Pennsylvania

In the spirit of Halloween, I though I'd continue my blogs about little known witch trials. New Hampshire had a few trials in Hampton when the colony was considered part of Massachussetts. Jane Walford's troubles seem to have begun in 1648. She spent many years fighting accusations of being a witch. Supposedly she appeared to a couple of neighbors in the form of a cat, and other neighbors said they could not speak when she appeared to them. She was allowed to go on good behavior. On more than one occasion, Jane successfully sued her neighbors for slander.

In 1680, Jane's daughter was accused of being a witch, but she was not convicted.

Eunice Cole was accused during the same time frame as Jane. For over twenty years neighbors of Hampton gossiped that Eunice was of a terrible character, and she was feared for being in "Alliance with the Devil." Two young men drowned in the Hampton River, and Eunice was believed to have been the cause. A couple of neighbors said Eunice had caused the death of a couple of calves. She was also believed to have made unearthly scratching noises on neighbors' windows. Eunice was whipped and spent fifteen years in and out of jail.

Shortly after her release, she was again arrested for being a witch. She was found not guilty of witchcraft, but there was enough suspicion to believe that she had familiarity with the devil. She died soon after in poverty. In 1938, she was acquitted, and her full citizenship of the town was restored.

Also, from Hampton was Rachel Fuller. She was accused of using witchcraft on a neighbor's child. Ironically, the neighbor in question, John Godfrey had been tried as a witch in Massachusetts three times himself long before the Salem trials. Rachel used herbs, rubbed them in her hands, and threw them around the hearth. Afterward, she announced the child would be well. When the child died, she went through a formal hearing

Isabelle Towle was also jailed for being a witch, but nothing further can be found on her.

In 1683, the only witch trial in Pennsylvania was that of Margaret Mattson and Yeshro Henrickson. Margaret was supposedly a healer in Finnish tradition. Several neighbors claimed that she had bewitched their cows and geese. She also appeared to witnesses in the form of an old woman with a knife in green light. Another old woman Yeshro Hendrickson was also accused, but her name seems to vanish from the record. Margaret couldn't speak English and an interpreter was needed for the trial. She was found guilty for having a reputation of being a witch, but not bewitching the cattle.

Kim Murphy

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