HOW ARE WE CONNECTED TO THE SALEM WITCH TRIAL
OK. Now for the fun stuff. How are we related to those of the Salem Witch Trials? Please take this all with a grain of salt as I have not researched it in it’s entirety and am only going from what relative finder has suggested. As we all know, the one family tree on Family Search is not at all reliable as some do no research and add without facts to the tree. However, relative finder is fun to play with and can offer up clues as to where to look for ancestors. None of the relationships mentioned here are set in stone for as I mentioned..I have not taken the time to research them (I’m too busy looking for the family of Daniel Johnson!!!!)
DOROTHY GOOD AND HER MOTHER SARAH
Because Sarah was among the first to be accused of witchery I’m going to start with her and her little daughter Dorothy or Dorcas as some records state. However, some of those on the list will also be mentioned.
Sarah Solart was born to prosperous Wenham innkeeper John Solart and mother Elizabeth about 1653. Her life before tragedy must have been fairly normal and carefree for those days though I can’t imagine how they lived at that time. Everything changed for poor Sarah when her father committed suicide in May of 1672. Poor Sarah was barely 17 at the time. “Report of a jury of inquest… appointed upon the sudden death of John Soolart of Wenham, found him accessory to his own death by drowning himself.“
Her mother Elizabeth was left with 6 daughters Mary (Solart) Edwards, Elizabeth (Solart) Lovett, Sarah (Solart) Good, Martha (Solart) Killam, Abigail (Solart) Larkum and Bethia (Solart) Herrick . After paying his debts, Solarts estate was valued at 500 pounds. Though the inheritance was to go to his daughters, Elizabeth quickly remarried a man by the name of Ezekiel Woodward. Her new husband got her share of the estate and refused to give the girls their share. (Ya think he was a gold digger?)
In 1682 Sarah married Daniel Poole who was an indentured servant. This would have made her about 29 when she married so perhaps she lived with her mother and step father up to that time. Daniel died in 1686 just four years after their marriage. This was the start of a downward spiral that Sarah just never seemed to pull out of. He left her butt deep in debt.
There was little a woman could do in those days to help themselves and without a family she did the next best thing and married William Good. Due to the lawsuits and debt that had piled up because of her first husband, they could barely survive. William was a common laborer and the debt was more that he could afford. Soon they found themselves homeless and poverty stricken. They lost their home in Salem to creditors and they went to begging to keep from starving. “Known as a pipe-smoking, muttering beggar, Sarah would go door-to-door with her 4-year-old daughter Dorothy in tow.” She was described as “a forlorn, friendless, and forsaken creature, broken down by wretchedness of conditions and ill-repute.”
It’s hard to imagine the helplessness she must have felt. She surely was ashamed of her conditions and if you have ever been there…you know the feeling of helplessness I’m talking about. My heart just goes out to this poor woman. Sarah had long been a melancholy and somewhat confrontational woman, but under the circumstances…wouldn’t you be too? So what do the good neighbors do? They accuse her of being a witch. I suppose she was an easy target due to her calamity, but good LORD! It’s just hard for me to believe that people were that easily swayed.
It all started on March 1, 1692, when Sarah Good was charged with witchcraft, along with Sarah Osborne, and Tituba by the girls Abigail Williams and Elizabeth Parris . Sarah Good was an easy target for witchcraft. She was a beggar, almost at the very bottom of the social ladder. When Sarah Good was charged, she was a complete wreck. She was only 38 when she was accused but because of her conditions looked old beyond her years. To top it all off, she was pregnant, and also had a four and a half year old daughter, little impressionable Dorothy who also was coerced into testifying against her mother. She was a beggar, often muttered to herself, and cursed people who did not give her charity. During her trial, she said that she was muttering psalms to herself. Unfortunately, she could not come up with any of the psalms during her trial. Some think that was too much of a coincidence. She also never attended church. Even the most trusting Congregationalists would find that a bit odd. In court, Sarah said that she did not attend church because she did not have clothes good enough for church.
And let’s talk about that husband of hers. Instead of sticking up for her he just joined right in and accused her too. I suppose under the circumstances it was his way of lightening the load or perhaps taking the focus off himself. On 1 Mar 1692, Colonel John Hathorne and Captain Jonathan Corwin examined her at Salem. At this time, her husband bizarrely testified, “She is an enemy to all good” and she “was a witch or would be one very quickly.” After a second examination on 5 Mar 1692, where her husband again testified, “William Good saith that the night before his s’d wife was Examined he saw a wart or tett a little belowe her Right shoulder which he never saw before… They sent her to the jail in Boston on 7 Mar 1692. On 29 May 1692, the Boston jailer submitted his bill, “against the country,” for “chains for Sarah Good and Sarah Osburn, 14 shillings…
Poor Sarah was considered guilty before the trial ever began. No one doubted that she and poor ole Sarah Osborne were witches. Sarah Osborne died in prison so she never made it to a hanging.
Sarah gave birth to her baby daughter Mercy Good while she was in locked up and not surprisingly the baby died shortly after birth probably due to malnourishment and prison conditions. Now things weren’t bad enough for this poor woman but to have her little girl also accused. Sarah’s daughter, Dorothy (the name Dorcas was also recorded erroneously) was only four and a half years old at the time. On March 24, she was taken custody, and was interrogated by the local magistrates for two weeks. Hungry, cold and missing her mother, Dorcas broke down and told the inquisitors what they wanted to hear, that her mother was a witch, consorted with the devil, and also that her mother had given her a snake that bit her. She was delivered to the Boston jail, but as the jails overflowed with the accused, she and her mother were transferred to the Ipswich jail. Mary Walcott and Ann Putnam II claimed the child was deranged and repeatedly bit them as if she were an animal.
Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne were not “condemned … when they refused to confess” . The court used spectral evidence, the afflicted reactions to the accused, and the statements of others to convict. After testimony against her by “William Allen, John Hughes, Samuell Brabrooke, Mary Walkut, Mercy Lewis, Sarah Vibber’ Abig’ll Williams, Elizabeth Hubberd, Ann Putman, Tittube indian, Richard Patch,” and other Salem neighbors, she was indicted on 28 Jun 1692 for “afflicting Sarah Bibber, Elizabeth Hubbart, and Ann Puttnam.”
Sarah Good never confessed her guilt, even as her four year old daughter, Dorothy, was also accused and jailed….and she was hanged on 19 Jul 1692 at Proctor’s Ledge, Gallows Hill, Salem, Massachusetts Bay.
On the Gallow ladder Sarah’s last words were to Rev. Nicholas Noyes who urged her to confess:
“You are a liar. I am no more a witch than you are a wizard, and if you take away my life God will give you blood to drink,”
(Warrant for the Apprehension of Dorothy Good )
To The Marshall of Essex or his Dep’t. You are in theire Majests names hereby required to bring before us Dorcas Good the Daugter of W’m Good of Salem Village tomorrow morneing upon suspition of acts of Witchcraft by her committed according to Complaints made against her by Edw’d Putnam & Jonat putnam of Salem Village.and hereof faile not Dated Salem. March 23d 1691/2
Per us *John Hathorne ] Assists. *Jonathan. Corwin ] Assists.
March 23d. 1691/2. I doe apoint mr Sam’ll Bradbrook to bee my lawffull Deputy, to serve this summons and to make A true Returne per *George Herrick Marshall of Essex.
(Reverse) March 24. 1691/2 I have taken the body of Dorcas Good and brought her to the house of leut Nath: Ingersol and is in Costody #[there] *Sammuall brabrook Marshall’s Deputy.
( Essex County Court Archives, Salem — Witchcraft Vol. 1, no. 61 )
Dorothy, referred to as “Dorcas” on the warrant for her arrest, received a brief hearing in which the accusers repeatedly complained of bites on their arms. She was sent to jail, becoming at age five the youngest person to be jailed during the witch trials. Two days later, she was visited by Salem officials. She claimed she owned a snake given to her by her mother that talked to her and sucked blood from her finger.
Dorothy remained in jail from March 24, 1692, the day she was arrested, until 10 December, when she was released on bond. She was never indicted or tried.
The Deposition of Ann Putnam, 3th March 1691/92
“I saw the Apparition of Dorothy Good, Sarah Good’s daughter who did immediately almost choke me and tortured me most grievously: and so she hath several times since tortured me by biting and pinching and almost choking me, tempting me also to write in her book, and also on the day of her examination, the Apparition of Dorothy Good tortured me during the time of her Examination and several times since.”
Dorcas was “examined” by officials for two weeks. Finally, she broke down crying and confessed. It is said that she confessed because she wanted to be with her mother. Little did she know that her mother, Sarah Good was to be taken away to be executed soon. Then, Dorcas was really alone. She spent several months in prison, unable to walk, and seeing little to no sunlight. None of the prisoners or wardens cared for her. All she could do was play with a little piece of cloth. If she moved any body part except her fingers, she would feel pain. At first she shouted and sobbed, but eventually, her spirit died, and she would just be silent.
Dorcas was in jail for eight months from March 24, 1692 until December 10, 1692. She was never charged, but was kept in the cold Ipswich jail until her her poor father managed to gather up £50 for Dorothy’s bail and “board.” By that time, the child suffered from grave psychological damage that would destroy the rest of her life. By some historic accounts, she had become insane.. When she left jail, she was a sad five-year old girl who later grew up to be a mad woman who could not do anything.
Sadly, no one seems to care that Sarah died. Everyone seems to think that justice was served, and that Sarah Good was a witch. Even those who didn’t believe in witches were glad to get rid of her. It was Dorcas Good who got people to take a closer look. For starters, she was only four and a half years old. A four-year-old child got held in jail for over eight months. That poked at several people’s consciences. Fortunately, Dorcas has not gone mad in vain. She is remembered. Sarah’s husband received compensation money, and Dorcas’ madness and young age is one step closer to the ending of the witch-hunts.
I still wonder if those people felt remorse for what they did. They had to didn’t they? I mean holy moley! It just hard to digest!
Examination of Dorothy Good, as Told by Deodat Lawson)
The Magistrates and Ministers also did informe me, that they apprehended a child of Sarah G. and Examined it, being between 4 and 5 years of Age And as to matter of Fact, they did Unanimously affirm, that when this Child, did but cast its eye upon the afflicted persons, they were tormented, and they held her Head, and yet so many as her eye could fix upon were afflicted. Which they did several times make careful observation of: the afflicted complained, they had often been Bitten by this child, and produced the marks of a small set of teeth, accordingly, this was also committed to Salem Prison; the child looked hail, and well as other Children. I saw it at Lievt. Ingersols After the commitment of Goodw. N. Tho: Putmans wife was much better, and had no violent fits at all from that 24th of March to the 5th of April. Some others also said they had not seen her so frequently appear to them, to hurt them.
( Deodat Lawson. A Brief and True Narrative of Some Remarkable Passages Relating to Sundry Persons Afflicted by Witchcraft, at Salem Village Which happened from the Nineteenth of March to the Fifth of April 1692. Boston: Benjamin Harris, 1692, p. 9.)
(Mercy Lewis v. Dorothy Good )
[+ March 24, 1692]
The Deposistion of Mercy lewes aged about 19 years who testifieth and saith that on the 3d April 1692 the Apperishtion of Dorrithy good Sarah goods daughter came to me and did afflect me urging me to writ in hir book.
(Reverse) Mercy Lewis against Dorothy. Good .
( Essex County Court Archives, Salem — Witchcraft Vol. 1, no. 62 )
(Mary Walcott v. Dorothy Good )
[+ March 24,1692]
The deposition of mary walcott agged about 17 years who testifieth that about the 21: march 1691/92 I saw the Apperishtion of Dorothy good sarah goods daughter com to me and bit me and pinch me and so she contineued afflecting me by times tell 24 march being the day of hir examination and then she did torment and afflect me most greviously dureing the time of hir examination and also severall times sence the Apperishtion of Dorothy good has afflected me by biting pinching and almost choaking me urging me to writ in hir book.
(Reverse) Mary Walcott agst Dorothy. Good — Dorothy good
( Essex County Court Archives, Salem — Witchcraft Vol. 1, no. 64 )
(Ann Putnam, Jr. v. Dorothy Good )
[+ March 24,1692]
The Deposistion of Ann putnam who testifieth and saith that on the 3th March 1691/92 I saw the Apperishtion of Dorythy good Sarah good’s daughter who did immediatly almost choak me and tortored me most greviously: and so she hath severall times sence tortored me by biting and pinching and almost choaking me tempting me also to writ in hir book and also on the day of hir examination being the 24 March 1691/92 the Apperishtion of Dorithy good ly totor me dureing the time of hir Examination and severall times sence.
(Reverse) Ann puttnam ag’t Dorothy Good
( Essex County Court Archives, Salem — Witchcraft Vol. 1, no. 63 )
(Recognizance for Dorothy Good )
[December 10, 1692]
That on the Tenth day of December 1692 Samuel Ray of Salem. appeared before me Underwritten One of the Councill for their Maj:tis Province of the Massachusets Bay in New England and acknowledged himselfe Indebted unto Our Soveraign Lord & Lady the king & Queen the Sume of fifty pounds Currant Money of New: England on the Condition hereafter Named — Vid’t: That Dorothy Good Daughter of William Good of Salem Labourer being Imprisoned on Suspicion of her being Guilty of the Crime of Witchcraft & being Now Let to Bail. that if the Said Dorothy Good Shall appear at the Next assize & Gener’ll Goal Delivery to be holden at Salem & abide the Courts Judgment then the above Recognisance to be void Else to remain in force & vertue
(Reverse) Recog’ce not copied
( Essex County Court Archives, Salem — Witchcraft Vol. 2, no. 185 )
Stay tuned for more.
The Pierce Family Historian
Thanks Susan, I always wondered if we were related to any of the so called witches…
I guess we come from both witches and accusers! All connected to Moses Pierce with the exception of one. I have however added quite a bit to the tree in the last few weeks so maybe there are even more…LOL. Oh the tangled web! Thanks for stopping by Julia.