Who doesn’t know about the hysteria that gripped Salem, Massachusetts, for more than a year from the first “fits” of two pre-teen girls in February 1692 until the last trial in May 1693? Over the course of those months, more than 200 people were accused of witchcraft and 20 people killed by the judicial system. Nineteen were hanged and one elderly man crushed to death with stones for refusing to cooperate with trial.
Settlement of the colonies had been occurring for only 72 years when Salem’s witch hysteria began. Salem had been a small fishing settlement in 1626 until the arrival of a group of planters under the leadership of 10th GGF Captain John Endecott in 1628. As such, most of those involved in the Salem witch trials were first and second, sometimes third, generation English immigrants. Europe was just winding down their several centuries-long witch executions. One difference, Europe’s witches were executed by the thousands - by hanging in England, and by strangling, then burning, in the rest of Europe.
Although today’s Salem has built a thriving tourist industry around the witch hunts, the center of witch accusation activity was not in Salem, but Salem Village, today’s Danvers. In those days, “Salem” was a larger area that encompassed today’s Middleton, Danvers, Topsfield, Marblehead, Beverly, Wenham, and Manchester-by-the-Sea. At the time, these outlying areas were on the edge of wilderness.
The entire population of Salem Village and Salem Town in 1692 is estimated to be about 2000, with that of Salem Village numbering between 500 and 600 residents.
As planters cleared and settled farmland outside Salem, they wanted their own parish to shorten travel distance to church. Salem Village parish was established about five miles away from Salem Towne in 1672 with rights to build a meetinghouse, hire a minister, and collect taxes. Salem Village was incorporated as Danvers in 1757. Internal disputes arose from the beginning over hiring the minister, and added to disputes with the wealthier Salem Towne and Salem Villagers own boundary disagreements.
After establishing their church in Salem Village, the parishioners went through three ministers in 16 years, including George Burroughs who was later accused of witchcraft and hanged. The fourth, Samuel Perris, was the father of one of the accusing girls and uncle to another. Rather than soothing the feuds and conflicts of the Village when he arrived in 1689, he fanned the flames of hysteria.
Religion was but one prong in the Salem’s fiasco. A small pox outbreak, the Puritan’s strong belief in the devil, constant threat of Indian raids, economic hardship, internal disputes within the church, boundary disputes, and disputes between present-day Salem and Salem Village all combined into a perfect storm of stress. What began with hysterical young people turned into vengeful, spiteful actions by feuding individuals and families, our ancestor grandparents among them.
As the Salem jails filled with the accused, a special Court of Oyer and Terminer (to hear and determine) was established in early June 1692. Not all accused were found guilty and executed. Some were able to flee the area or escape jail, others were found not guilty or pardoned by the Governor. Four times, though, the guilty were placed in a cart and hauled to Gallows Hill for hanging, as many as eight at a time.
Between June and September 1692, 19 people were hanged, one crushed to death, and two dogs killed. In mid-September, elderly Giles Corey refused to enter a plea and, as English law allowed, he was tortured in a field over a period of two days, crushed to death with stones.
In October, Thomas Brattle, a Boston merchant, wrote a letter to an English clergyman criticizing the Salem trials and the letter circulated widely in Boston, finally getting to Governor Phips. The Governor ordered that spectral and intangible evidence could no longer be allowed in trials, and later in the month dissolved the Court of Oyer and Terminer. Some remaining witchcraft cases were tried by the General Court, but no one convicted. By May 1693, the long Salem nightmare was over.
- Sarah Averill, 2nd wife of 10th GGF JOHN Wildes and also our 9th great aunt, hanged with 4 other women, June 1692. John subsequently married Mary Jacobs, widow of George Jacobs who had been hanged for witchcraft.
- Sarah Wildes Bishop, daughter of 10th GGF JOHN Wildes, arrested, jailed in Boston with her husband, Edward Bishop. They both escaped from jail and fled to Rehoboth, Massachusetts.
- PHEBE Wildes Day, 9th GGM and daughter of JOHN Wildes and 1st wife 10th GGM PRISCILLA Gould, accused, jailed in Ipswich, released.
- HUGH Jones, 9th GGF, deceased in 1688, whose ghost allegedly appeared to accuser Elizabeth Booth in 1692, saying that Elizabeth Proctor had murdered him. Elizabeth was convicted, but the execution delayed long enough due to her pregnancy that the debacle passed and she was freed by the Governor.
- ZERUBABBEL Endecott, 9th GGF, whose ghost allegedly appears to Elizabeth Booth and said Elizabeth Proctor killed him. Zerubabbel’s sons, Zerubabbel, Jr. and 8th GGF Samuel Endecott testified against Mary Bradbury.
- SAMUEL Endecott, 8th GGF, accused 78-year-old Mary Bradbury saying she appeared as a ghost when he was at sea and was so angry at the ship captain she caused a storm; she escaped jail and is the 9th GGM of Christopher Reeve of Superman fame.
- BRAY Wilkins, 9th GGF, accuser and major player in the trial of John Willard who was hanged. Ten Wilkins family members made accusations excepting our 8th GGF THOMAS Wilkins, the only Wilkins who stood against the tide and, consequently, was disinherited.
- JOHN Putnam, 10th GGF, and wife 10th GGM REBECCA Prince, testified against minister George Burroughs who was hanged. John also testified against Rebecca Nurse and John Williard, both of whom were hanged; defender of John Proctor and George Jacobs, both of whom hanged.
- NATHANIEL Putnam, 10th GGF and John’s brother, signed complaints against Elizabeth Fosdick and Elizabeth Paine and testified against John Williard and Sarah Buckley. Sarah was held in shackles in a cold jail for eight months until acquitted in January 1692; she lost all her few possessions, and was required to pay expenses of imprisonment before she could be released.
- JONATHAN Putnam, 9th GGF and son of John Sr., issued complaints against Sarah Osborne, Mary Easty, Rebecca Nurse, John Willard, and four-year-old Dorcas Good. Easty, Nurse, Willard were hanged. The four year old was not indicted. Jonathan’s daughter and 8th GGM, LYDIA, married Thomas Flint (below) a juror.
- Ann Putnam, 12-year-old grandniece of John Sr., was one of group of the first afflicted girls, and was a prolific accuser in the trials; she accused 19 people and, of these, 11 were hanged.
- John Putnam, Jr. nephew of 10th GGF JOHN Putnam, Sr., signed a complaint against Rebecca Nurse who was hanged, as well as against a 4-year-old, Dorcas Good, claiming himself to be afflicted.
Other involved family
- JOSEPH Herrick, 8th GGF constable of Salem Village brought Tituba, Sarah Osborne, and Martha Corey to court for trial. He and wife, 8th GGM MARY Endecott, testified against Sarah Good who was later hanged.
- Henry Herrick, Jr., Joseph's brother, juror in witch trials, including that of Rebecca Nurse who was hanged. He later apologized and wrote the Confession of Error in 1696 in which jurors expressed remorse and asked for forgiveness.
- George Herrick, Joseph's nephew, Marshall for the Court of Oyer and Terminer in Salem.
- Zachariah Herrick, Joseph's brother, refused to help Sarah Good when she was begging for help. She was one of the first women arrested and hanged.
- WILLIAM Dounton, 10th GGF and 9th GGF THOMAS Flint's father-in-law, keeper of the Salem jail where four accused died due to conditions. His records indicate prisoners had to pay for their room and board.
- THOMAS Flint, 9th GGF, juror in the examination of George Jacobs, Jr., and George Burroughts, both accused of witchcraft. He also served as juror investigating the suspicious death of 17-year-old Daniel Wilkins. His wife was 9th GGM MARY Dounton, daughter of 10th GGF WILLIAM Dounton.
- NATHANIEL Felton, 9th GGF, first signer on paper also signed by neighbors that provided positive testimony and support for John Proctor and his wife, thus putting his life at risk as potential target for charge of witchcraft.
- Margaret Wilkins, daughter of 9th GGF THOMAS Wilkins and granddaughter of 10th GGF BRAY Wilkins, married to John Willard who was hanged.
The Family of Immigrant John Putnam
11th GF John Putnam, Sr., (1580-1662) was already in later life in 1634 when he immigrated from Buckinghamshire, England, to Salem with his wife 11th GGM Priscilla Gould and three grown sons, Thomas, 10th GGF Nathaniel, and our 10th GGF John, Jr. They all received land grants in Salem Towne, but moved inland to the fertile farmlands of Salem Village.
Only four of John Sr’s offspring were surviving in 1692 - Mary, Elizabeth, and our 9th GGFs Nathaniel and John, Jr. As a wealthy and large land holding family in the area, the Putnams became embroiled in disputes and jealousies with another large land holding family, the Porters, and these played out in the witch frenzy to come.
10th GGF Captain John Putnam Jr. (1627-1710) and his wife, 10th GGM Rebecca Prince, remained on the family homestead in Salem Village. His military service was the local Troop of Horse during the Indian wars.
Captain John Putnam has been described as “not a nice guy,” using the hysteria to arrest and get rid of business rivals or people he “just didn’t like.” John and Pricilla both testified against Reverend George Burroughs, a former minister of the Salem Village church, with whom there was bad blood from a previous situation, as well as against Rebecca Nurse, John Williard, and Sarah Buckley. All but Sarah Buckley were hanged.
Captain John’s brother, 10th GGF Lt. Nathaniel Putnam (1619-1700), married 10th GGM Elizabeth Hutchinson (1629-1688) in1648 and lived on family land in Salem Village. He and John invested in ironworks on lands they owned in nearby Rowley, but the foundry was failing and burned in 1674. Nathaniel signed complaints against Rebecca Nurse, Elizabeth Fosdick, and Elizabeth Paine, and testified against John Willard and Sarah Buckley.
Among the third generation of John Sr. descendants, 9th GGF Captain Jonathan Putnam (1659-1739) married 9th GGM Lydia Potter. He lived with his family on a farm not far from his father’s, and was a Captain in the Salem Village militia.
|Captain Jonathan Putnam Headstone|
When witch accusations began to fly, Jonathan joined in testimony against Sarah Osborne with whom the Putnam’s had a financial grudge, as well as Mary Easty, Rebecca Nurse, 4-year-old Dorcas Good, John Williard and Sarah Buckley. Jonathan later recanted his allegations against Rebecca Nurse, and he and Lydia both signed a petition that Rebecca could not be guilty of the charges. Nevertheless, Easty, Nurse, Williard, and Dorcas' mother, Sarah, were all executed.
Among the third generation Putnams was John Sr.’s grandson,Thomas Putnam, Jr., a major ringleader who accused and testified against 43 people while Thomas’ daughter, Ann, one of the original afflicted girls, testified against 62 people. It was Thomas who wrote to the judge that Ann had apparitions of the a man in a “winding sheet” saying that elderly Giles Cory had murdered him, and suggesting that Cory be pressed to death.
Giles was an 80-year-old prosperous farmer who refused to enter a plea in protest to the proceedings. The law allowed that anyone who refused to enter a plea could be pressed with heavy stones until they were cooperative. Giles was placed in a pit dug beside the jail and heavy stones placed on his chest with his neighbors watching. When the sheriff would tell him to plead, he would only say “more weight,” knowing he was willing to sacrifice himself in protest. He withstood two days of this torture before finally dying and being buried on Gallows Hill.
Among this powerful and vengeful family, one from the third generation stood against the tide and denounced the proceedings from first to last, a young man of courage - 22-year-old Joseph Putnam (1669-1724), a cousin to our Jonathan, married to a girl from the rival Porter family, and father of General Israel Putnam, hero of the American Revolution. Placed in this position of peril, he kept one of his fastest horses saddled should an attempt be made to arrest him.
The Family of Immigrant Bray Wilkins
Believed to be from Wales, 9th GGF Bray Wilkins (c. 1610-1702) arrived in 1630 as a young man of about nineteen years old among the first settlers in Dorchester, Massachusetts. He was educated as evidenced by being able to sign his name. He received several grants of land for pasture and fishing and, at various points in his life, he is referred to as a yeoman, planter, and husbandman.
In 1636 Bray married 9th GGM Hannah Way who immigrated in the 1630 Winthrop fleet with her merchant father from Dorchester. Bray and Hannah had eight children while living in Dorchester. By 1657, he had removed to Lynn, Massachusetts, where he was constable. In 1659, Bray was first settler on 700 acres of land northwest of Salem in what became Middleton in 1728. Bray and his sons ventured into a logging business that failed and they were reduced to subsistence farmers.
Bray’s will referring to Thomas and John Putnam as “loving friends.” indicated he was on good terms with the Putnam family. Bray’s house burned in 1664 leading a neighbor to say Bray was “by that means brought to a mean and low condition, I myself and some other neighbors taking the sad condition of Bray Wilkins and his family into our consideration, we were willing to contribute something to the help and assistance of Bray…”
Bray’s third son, Thomas Wilkins (1647-1701) our 8th GGF, was born while the Wilkins family was still living in Dorchester and moved as a child moved to Salem Village with the family. He married Hannah Nichols (1647-1718) whose father immigrated and settled in the area of Salem now known as Middleton. Thomas and Hannah were charged with fornication before marriage in 1667; the identity of that child is unknown and may have been premature. Thomas had six children, among these our 7th GGF Bray Wilkins and 8th great aunt Margaret Wilkins. Margaret married John Willard who figured prominently in the Wilkins' involvement in the witch trials.
7th GGF Bray Wilkins (1678-1724), son of Thomas and Hannah, and his two brothers, Henry and Thomas, located themselves nearby in the Boxford area, later set off to Middleton. Over the course of four generations, our Wilkins line moved to Mont Vernon, NH, then to Boston where our 3rd GGF Samuel Carter Wilkins worked for the Chickering piano company and made those wonderful boxes and pieces of furniture in the family.
|7th GGF Bray Wilkins, Jr. House in Middleton, 1705|
Back to the Salem trials, the elder Bray and numerous offspring in the tight-knit family figured prominently as accusers in the witchcraft hysteria. In 1692, Daniel Wilkins, 17-year-old grandson of Bray Sr., succumbed to “brain fever” and Rev. Parris of the Salem Village parish opined the boy had been bewitched. Since the doctor was unable to ascertain the cause of the boy’s illness, he concurred with the bewitchment diagnosis. Numerous Wilkins family members came forward with reasons why John Willard was a witch and responsible for Daniel’s death.
The twist is that John Willard from Groton, Massachusetts, was married to Bray Sr.’s granddaughter, Margaret, daughter of our 8th GGF Thomas Wilkins. John had been doing well with some land deals in Salem, in contrast to the Wilkins' woes. It didn’t help that Willard was the only outsider to marry into the Wilkins family.
Once the first witch accusations began, John Putnam, Jr. tried to get Constable John Willard to arrest the accused; Willard refused and was the first to speak out against the trials. With this, teenager Ann Putnam made accusations that Willard was afflicting her; 81-year-old Bray Wilkins made further accusations about his grandson’s bewitchment death, and further that Willard had caused him to be ill. It could only go downhill from there.
Only one member of the Wilkins family did not join with accusations - our 8th GGF Thomas Putnam, father of Margaret. Thomas and three other men unfruitfully protested “grievouly offended by reasons of unwarrantable actings of their Pastor, Mr. Parris, in the matter of Witchcraft, do therefore habitually absent themselves from public worship and from Communion at the Lord’s Table.” John Willard was hanged at age 37, and 8th GGF Thomas was disinherited from his father’s will.
The Family of Immigrant John Wildes
Seventeen-year-old 10th GGF John Wildes (1618-1705) and his brother William, both carpenters, arrived in Massachusetts in 1635 on the ship Elizabeth and settled in Rowley, Massachusetts, before moving to Ipswich. John was involved in the Pequot War in 1639, one of 20 soldiers in an expedition to disarm a sachem. After marriage to 10th GGM Priscilla Gould* (1628-1663) in 1645, John moved to the area of Salem now known as Topsfield, perhaps with the influence of his wealthy father-in-law 11th GGF Zaccheus Gould,
*Note we had two Salem Pricilla Gould’s grandmother ancestors
*Note we had two Salem Pricilla Gould’s grandmother ancestors
Priscilla Gould, born 1586 in Buckinghamshire, England, married John Putnam Sr. in 1611, and died in Salem/Danvers in 1662
Priscilla Gould, born 1628 in a different town in Buckinghamshire, immigrated 1640 with father Zaccheus, married John Wildes in 1647, and died Salem/Topsfield in 1663
|Zaccheus Gould House, Topsfield, built about 1670|
Zaccheus Gould and his wife, Phebe Deacon, were in their later 40’s with five children when they immigrated from Buckinghamshire to New England, first to Weymouth in 1638, and within a few years moving to Salem and that area of Ipswich which later became Topsfield. Even starting over in a new location at a later age in life, Zaccheus amassed 3000 acres of land during his lifetime.
Priscilla and John Wildes were parents to eight children, including 9th GGM Phebe Wildes (1653-1728) who married 9th GGF Timothy Day of nearby Gloucester, Massachusetts. Offspring of Phebe and Timothy Day ended up in our Woodstock, Maine, several generations later. More on Phebe later.
John held various town responsibilities, including constable, jury, and settling land boundaries. Aa a carpenter, he built many area homes of the time.
Priscilla died in 1663, age 34, within a month of the death of her 4-month-old infant, leaving John with 7 children under age 15. Not surprisingly, within months John took another wife, 36-year-old spinster Sarah Averill, sister to our 8th GGF, William Averell, and they had one more child. John’s rapid re-marriage caused dissension between John and and the Gould family, particularly with Lt. John Gould and his sister Mary who lived on an adjacent farm.
In spite of what should have been a close bond between the Wildes and Goulds, at least with the children, a series of events led to tragic outcomes during the Salem witch trials. As part of his town responsibilities, John was involved in settling a boundary dispute over Gould land. Further, John testified against Lt. John Gould, son of Zaccheus, in 1686 on a charge of treason. Shortly after, Lt. Gould’s wife, Mary, began to spread witchcraft stories about John’s second wife Sarah Averill Wildes. Mary Gould withdrew her statements when John threatened to sue, but the cloud still remained over the Wildes.
The Wildes family were among the greatest sufferers of the Salem witch hysteria. John’s second wife, Sarah Averill, was hanged. Daughter Sarah and her husband, Edward Bishop, were arrested but escaped, and another daughter, our 9th GGM Phebe Wildes, was accused and jailed.
When the witch hysteria began in 1692, pre-teen Ann Putnam included Sarah in her myriad accusations with a claim that Sarah “most previously tortured and affected me with a variety of tortures as by pricking and pinching me and almost choking me to death.” In late April 1692, a warrant was issued for Sarah Averill Wilde’s arrest, and 9th great-uncle Marshall George Herrick, picked her up. Ironically, Sarah’s only child, Topsfield Constable Ephraim Wildes, now adult, arrested the four others who were on the same warrant. Sarah was sent to a Boston jail as the Salem town jail was full. She stood trial in the Salem Court of Oyer and Terminer where Lt. John Gould testified that his sister, Mary (the original accuser in 1686) was pulled off her horse backward by Sarah Wildes “in spirit form” and had given Mary hens that “went moping about until they died.” Others testified that Sarah had lain on them in the shape of a cat and caused them to fall down unconscious. Even Sarah’s stepson, John (son of John and Pricilla) testified he believed his step-mother was a witch. Sarah was convicted on July 29, 1692, and the same day taken by cart to Gallows Hill along with four other women and hanged.
The warrant for wife Sarah’s arrest also named John and Pricilla’s daughter, also a Sarah, and her husband, Edward Bishop. Sarah and Edward owned and lived in a tavern in Salem Village, now Danvers, and were not well liked by the Puritan community. In spring 1692, in the height of witch accusations, Salem Village dwellers filed complaints of witchcraft against nine of their neighbors. Not surprisingly, Sarah and Edward were on the list.
Both were arrested the same day along with Sarah Averill Wildes with testimony the pair kept unreasonable tavern hours where underage patrons drank and played shovel-board.
They were charged with committing witchcraft against several accusers, including the ubiquitous Ann Putnam. Both Sarahs went on trial the same day, and both convicted. Sarah Wildes was hanged while Sarah Bishop and Edward remained in jail in Boston. In August, the pair escaped, fled to New York, and re-settled in Rehoboth, Massachusetts.
The following month, another of John Wildes' daughters, our 9th GGM Phebe Wildes Day (1653-1728), was one of nine Gloucester women accused of witchcraft. Phoebe, age 39 when arrested, was the step-daughter of Sarah Averill Wildes who was hanged and younger sister of Sarah Wildes Bishop who escaped from a Boston jail after conviction.
Phebe married into a well-to do Gloucester family to Timothy Day (1653-1723). Their granddaughter, Phebe Day, married into the Gloucester Davis family whose branch removed to Maine and married into the Nute family.
In contrast to Salem, Gloucester’s surviving witch records are meager. We do know Phebe was arrested for bewitching a Lt. Stevens, jailed for several months in Ipswich, and that her name was among those of Ipswich prisoners who petitioned the Governor in early winter for release from jail pending a spring trial. She was released on bond and she was never tried as the Court of Oyer and Terminer was disbanded.
|Proctor Ledge Memorial to Salem Witch Victims|
At Gallows Hill, Salem
The Family of Immigrant Hugh Jones
9th GGF Hugh Jones (1637-1688) became a player in the Salem witch trials even though he died four years earlier.
Hugh came to New England from Somerset, England, as a servant, perhaps an apprentice, in 1650 at age 13, and settled in Salem as a planter. He married, first, our 9th GGM, 19-year-old Hannah Tompkins, in 1660 and received a grant of land in Salem the following year. Hugh and Hannah had eight children born nearly yearly between 1661 and 1672. Hannah died ten days after the birth of our 8th GGF, Samuel, and Hugh remarried to Mary Foster within five months. He and Mary had another seven children.
Fifteen children later, Hugh died at age 51 of unknown causes. During the Salem trials, Elizabeth Booth testified that ghosts of four murdered people appeared to her, one of whom was the specter of Hugh who assured her that Elizabeth Proctor killed him for not paying for a jug of cider. Elizabeth Proctor was convicted, her execution postponed due to pregnancy. Her husband John Proctor was hanged.
The Family of Immigrant Governor John Endecott
10th GGF Governor John Endecott ,“one of the most important Colonial figures in the founding of a new country,” (c. 1588-1665) was the first Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and co-founder of Salem, Massachusetts. The Endecotts were large owners of tin mines in Devonshire, England. John obtained a patent for Salem and led a company of planters and servants from Weymouth, England, to Salem, then called Naumkeag, on the ship Abigail in 1628.
Another group of colonists, dissidents from Plymouth under Roger Conant, had already occupied Salem since 1626. According to tradition, the colony changed its name to Salem, meaning “peace,” to signify the two groups were getting along. Given the non-violent nature of Roger and John’s aggressive nature, a more likely scenario is that Roger stepped aside.
John’s first wife, Anne, died over the first winter at Salem and John remarried in 1630 to our 10th GGM Elizabeth Cogan Gibson, believed to be the mother of our 9th GGF Dr. Zerubbabel Endecott (1635-1684) of Salem and one other son, John, who had no children.
|Governor John Endecott in later life|
John led an amphibious military landing, the first in the new world, when he brutally took Block Island in the opening offensive of the Pequot Indian War in 1636.
In addition to his first stint of as Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1628-29, he returned to that office in the 1640’s and served a total of 16 years as Governor toward the end of his life. Bigoted, he despised Quakers who were exiled, hanged, publicly lashed, and had ears and tongues lopped off during his terms. At the request of the Council of Magistrates, he moved in 1655 to the area now Beacon Hill in Boston, and left his wife, Elizabeth, and sons in Salem. A commemorative marker marks his Boston residence across from the steps of the Suffolk County Courthouse. He died in Boston at age 77. The funeral was a costly affair, with the country treasury footing the bill for wine, cakes, tomb, as well as 70 pounds for mourning clothes for the widow and family.
John's burial site has been determined to be the Granary Burying Ground, tomb #189, along with those of Paul Revere, John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and victims of the Boston Massacre. (The Essex Genealogist, NEGHR, Vol 27, 2011).
In some ways, second son 9th GGF Zerubbabel Endecott, MD, (1635-1684) seems to have fallen not far from the tree. He was accused of rape by an indentured servant when he was age 18. She gave birth, continued to accuse Zerubbabel even after trial for slander and public whippings, and eventually was made to leave the colony.
Zerubbabel married, first, 9th GGM Mary Smith (1636-1677) and they had 11 children, all born in Salem. Within the year of Mary’s death, he married Elizabeth Winthrop Newman, daughter of Governor John Winthrop of Winthrop fleet fame.
Zerubabbel had medical training, likely in London and/or Paris, and authored a short medical text in 1677 at age 42, Synopsis Medicinae, or, A compendium of Galenical and chymical physick, showing the art of healing according to the precepts of Galen Paracelsus (available on Amazon).
Zerubbabel inherited considerable land from his father, but “played the role of gentleman planter, entirely lacking his father’s Puritan drive and ardor for public service.”
Two of our Salem Village ancestor grandparents - Zerubabbel Jr. and Nathaniel Putnam engaged in a major lawsuit squabble over the attempts of Zerubabbel to push his land boundary over onto Nathaniel’s land. The case was finally settled in 1683 in favor of Nathaniel. Zerubabbel was stressed, “a changed man." He died the following year.
Zeruabbel figured in the witch trials several years after his death when twelve-year-old Elizabeth Booth claimed his ghost appeared to her saying Elizabeth Proctor had killed him. The land on which a Salem jail was built, the same in which those accused of witchcraft were held and from whence they went by cart to the gallows, was originally owned by Zerubbabel.
Two sons of Zerubbabel Sr. - 8th GGF Samuel, his next younger brother, Zerubbabel Jr. - and daughter, Mary, were involved in the Salem witch trials.
8th GGF Samuel Endecott (1759-1694) married Hannah Felton (1663-1737) in 1684 and appears to have been a mariner. Samuel and Hannah had four children before he disappeared from Salem. A daughter, 7th GGM Ruth Endecott, married into the Herrick family; her son and three grandsons were Revolutionary War soldiers.
Samuel signed the petition in support of Rebecca Nurse who was among the first hanged. Samuel and Hannah both signed a petition in support of the accused John Proctor and his wife, Elizabeth. Both Proctors, however, were convicted; John was hanged, but Elizabeth’s execution was postponed due to pregnancy and she was later pardoned once the witch hysteria subsided.
Samuel testified at the trial of Mary Bradbury that butter made by Mary and stored in a ship headed for Boston was found to be rotten. He stated that on another occasion he saw Mary’s shape on the vessel after15 horses were lost from a ship’s hold during a storm. Further, he testified that, as boys, he and brother Zerubbabel saw a blue boar charge out of the Bradbury gate which he was sure was a transformed Mary. Mary was found guilty and sentenced to death. Mary’s supporters broke her out of jail and hid her away. She died of natural causes, age 70, in 1700.
Samuel disappeared from Salem after the trial and never returned. Guardianship papers for his children were filed in probate after he was declared legally dead in 1697. The same year, Samuel’s wife, Hannah, married Thorndike Proctor, son of the executed John Proctor.
The Family of Immigrant Henry Herrick
9th GGF Henry Herrick (1598-1670) arrived from England in 1629, age 31, and seemed to be a person of some means before migration. DNA family studies show Henry’s Viking heritage. He was a yeoman (farmer) who amassed substantial estate with numerous grants and exchanges of land in Salem,. Their area of residence appears to be that part of Salem set off to Beverly in 1668.
Henry married Edith Laskin (1612-1677) in 1634 and they had 9 children. Edith, 22, arrived in Salem in about 1634 with father, 10th GGF Hugh Laskin, a planter, and mother, Alice. Interestingly, their first-born, Thomas, was left a legacy by his father only if he did not live his life as a single man; he married, but was divorced by his wife for impotence.
Henry’s fifth son, 8th GGF Joseph Herrick (1645-1717) married Sarah Leach in1665. They had three children, but Sarah died in 1674 at age 22 and Joseph remarried three years later to Mary. Records indicate this is Mary Endecott, sister to our Samuel Endecott but other examination has raised a question whether this is an editorial error (Great Migration). In any event, Joseph and Mary had another nine children, including out 7th GGF Martyn Herrick (1680-1739). Joseph was a solider during King Phillip’s War in 1676.
As constable of Salem Village in 1692, Joseph arrested several defendants including Tituba, Sarah Osborne, Martha Corey, and John Williard. He was one of twelve men assigned to examine the corpse of 17-year-old Daniel Wilkins allegedly bewitched and killed by John Willard.
Sarah Good and her infant were confined to Constable Joseph’s farm under guard. She escaped her confines barefoot on a cold March night but, having nowhere to go, returned in the morning with a bloodied arm. Joseph testified at her trial that, while under guard at his house, her specter had tormented Elizabeth Hubbard, also in custody, and that Elizabeth’s guard had fended off the specter of Sarah, thus causing the bloodied arm. Sarah was hanged in July 1692.
Joseph’s brother, Henry Herrick, Jr., was a juror in the Rebecca Nurse trial. She was hanged alongside Sarah Good. George Herrick, Joseph’s nephew, was Marshal for the Court of Oyer and Terminer in Salem.
Joseph initially bought into the accusers’ claims, but gradually questioned the accusations and became a leader of opposition to the trials.
Old North Beverly Cemetery
Here lyes ye body
of Mr. Joseph Herrick
who died Febr ye 4th in ye 73 year of his age 1717
Joseph died in Beverly in 1717, age 71. Our Herrick line migrated to the Reading, Massachusetts, area. Three generations later, the Gove and Wilkins families converged with the marriage of Charles Wilkins to Lydia Harriet Gove. Harriet Gove Wilkins, their daughter and granddaughter of Samuel Carter Wilkins, the furniture maker, married GGF Joseph Edson Nute of Boston.
The Family of Immigrant Thomas Flint
First generation immigrant, Welsh 10th GGF Captain Thomas Flint, Sr. (1603-1663), was living in Salem by 1637 when he applied to be a freeman. Thomas’ brother, William, also immigrated to Salem and accumulated substantial property in the vicinity of town now Flint Street. Thomas did not remain long in Salem town, but was one of the small group who early moved into the wilderness six miles beyond the original settlement and founded Salem Village.
Thomas married Ann, last name unknown, in Salem before 1644, and had six children over the next twenty years. Two of their offspring, Thomas Flint, Jr., and Elizabeth Flint Leach, are grandparent ancestors.
As the oldest son, 9th GGF Captain Thomas Flint Jr. (1644-1721), stayed on the family farmstead in that area of Salem now Peabody. In addition, he acquired considerable other land around North Reading. He was in the expedition against the Narragansett in King Philip’s War and was wounded in the Great Swamp Fight in Rhode Island in December 1675.
His second wife, 9th GGM Mary Dounton/Downton (1647-1721), is identified in the Flint Genealogy as the daughter of William Dounton.
The Flint farm neighbored that of Giles Corey across the road. When the 80-year-old Giles was crushed with stones to death in 1692, his land became part of the Flint homestead.
8th GGF Thomas Flint III (1678-1757) was but 14 years of age during the Salem witch trials. In 1703, Thomas married 8th GGM Lydia Putnam (1684-1711) whose father, Jonathan, was a major player testifying against numerous people who were hanged. Twenty-six-year old Lydia died twelve days after her fourth child was born, leaving Thomas with 4 children ages 6 and under. A year and a half later, Thomas married Lydia’s cousin, Mary Putnam, daughter of Deacon Edward Putnam who was in that group who brought charges against numerous townspeople. When an accusation of witchcraft was made, Edward performed examinations to determine whether or not they were truthful.
The Family of Immigrant William Dounton
10th GGF William Dounton/Downton’s (1618-1696) origins and early life are unknown, but he is believed to have been born in England about 1620. He married Rebecca (last name unknown) in Salem by 1658 according to Torrey. His immigration date and original destination are unknown.
9th GGM and William’s daughter Mary’s birth record has not been located, but as she married Thomas Flint in 1674, we can assume her birth was by 1656. William married Rebecca (last name unknown) in 1658, and it is unlikely Rebecca was Mary’s mother. William and Rebecca have births recorded of two sons in 1665 and 1669 in Salem, but no other recorded births in Salem.
William appears to be a man of lower means. Court records in 1684 show he was keeper of the Salem prison in 1684, living near Federal Street in Salem when his 16-year-old son, John, carelessly discharged a gun, killing a 6-year-old girl, Rebecca Booth. The boy was indicted for murder and the case heard in Boston. William was sentenced to a fine of ten pounds as well as five pounds to be paid to the parents of the child.
William, 74, was still the jailer during the Salem witch trials in 1692. He kept records of expenses that prisoners had to pay for room and board and was present at times when they were examined for physical evidence of possession by the devil.
The Family of Immigrant Nathaniel Felton
9th GGF Lt. Nathaniel Felton was born in England about 1615 and immigrated to Salem in 1633 as a 17 year old. He returned to England in 1634, spread the word about the New World and returned to Salem in 1635. His brother, Benjamin, followed him to Salem in 1636. Nathaniel received 20 acres in Salem in 1636, a nice plot for a 20 year old.
In 1643, 28-year-old Nathaniel married 16-year-old 9th GGM Mary Skelton, daughter of Reverend Samuel Skelton, first minister of Salem, who immigrated to Salem in 1629. The First Church of Salem is the oldest churches in America, now housed in a Gothic style structure built in 1836. Reverend Skelton was granted 200 acres known as Skelton Neck, now Danversport.
Nathaniel built a home for his bride in 1644 in that part of Salem now Peabody. The Nathanial Felton Sr. house still stands at 47 Felton Street in Peabody, part of the Brooksby Farm maintained by the city of Peabody and the Peabody Historical Society.
|Nathaniel Felton, Sr. House in Peabody|
Nathaniel and Mary had seven children between the years of 1645 and 1665, and lived to ripe old ages of 90 and 73, respectively. Their sixth child, 8th GGM Hannah (1663-1737), married 8th GGF Samuel Endecott, son of Zerubabbel and grandson of Governor John Endecott.
Nathaniel wrote and was the first signer of a petition supporting John Proctor, putting his own life at risk as supporters often ended up later accused of witchcraft themselves.
Our Putnam, Wilkins, Herrick, and Endecott families laid a swath of destruction in other people’s lives that year in Salem. Some others were peripheral figures by arresting, confining, and trying the accused. Some publicly regretted their actions while other more courageous family spoke out at the time, signed petitions, and risked their own lives to buck the tide, even going against their own family to support the accused.