Friday, January 24, 2020

Witchcraft and the Town of Groton in 1671 Essay -- History Historical

Elizabeth Knapp sat perched on a small three- legged stool in front of a roaring fire in the hall of her family's home as the last late October light faded through the yellowish oilpaper windows. The wind had already picked up a taste of the winter bite that the early Massachusetts Bay colonists had grown to despise, and tonight it whipped down the chimney of the eight foot wide fireplace with a shrill, devilish whistle, causing the shadows projected by the bayberry wax candles to shimmy and waver against the rough hewn rafters. Elizabeth drew her red knit hood tighter down over her head and huddled towards the hearth. Her mother, also named Elizabeth, watched her from farther back in darkness of the hall, where she was mending a pair of breeches. By December, she knew, the wind whipping down the chimney could cause the sap emerging from the burning logs to freeze solid. The temperatures would make many a grown man in town wish to curl up and sleep away the winter until rising temperatures and longer days made Groton, just hewn from the Massachusetts wilderness a few decades ago, hospitable once again. Despite the gathering winter she felt relieved to see that her sixteen- year old daughter, now her only child after the early death of her son James, was acting normal again. For the past fortnight the younger Elizabeth had been carrying herself in a strange manner. While walking along normally she would sometimes cry out. Last week she had shrieked at extremely inappropriate time in Sunday dinner and that day in church she had been overcome with irreverent laughter. She was always quick to offer a reasonable excuse to spare the swift punishment usually dispensed to children at the time, but the extravagance and immodes... ...essen the symptoms. Bearers invariably die 10 to 25 years after the onset. Chorics have been dubbed everything for saints (the Catholic church recognizes four) to witches since the sixteenth century. References: Butler, Caleb. History of the Town of Groton. Boston, 1848. Dow, George F. Everyday life in the Massachussetts Bay Colony, Soc. for Preservation of N.E. Antiques, 1935. Earle, Allice M. Customs and fashions in old New England. Scribner and Son, New York 1893. Greene, Samuel A., Groton in the Witchcraft Times, University Press, Cambridge, MA 1883, 29pp. Greene, Samuel A., ed. Early Records of the Town of Groton 1662- 1707, University Press, Cambridge, MA 1883, 186pp. May, Virginia, Groton Houses. Groton Historical Society, 1978. Okun, Michael S., The history of adult onset Chorea, at

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.