Celebrating friendships, stories and discoveries along the way

Friday, October 24, 2014

Connecticut Society of Genealogists Annual Family History Seminar

Last Saturday I attended the Connecticut Society of Genealogists Family History Seminar, held annually at the Best Western Hotel in North Haven, Connecticut. The seminar highlighted four excellent presentations tailored for Connecticut genealogical researchers. Mel Smith, Reference Services Librarian at the Connecticut State Library, led an excellent lecture entitled "Beyond the Barbour Collection, Finding your Connecticut Ancestor in Governmental Records," focusing on the depth and breadth of government record collections at the Connecticut State Library. Diana McCain and Carol Whitmer of the Connecticut Historical Society presented "How Object Collections Complement Paper Records Research" with a fascinating discussion and display of ephemera from the Connecticut Historical Society special collections. Nora Galvin presented a methodical approach to genealogical research incorporating evidence analysis and the Genealogical Proof Standard in her lecture, "How to Create a Research Plan from One Documental Source." Jennifer Zinck concluded the sessions with a timely and fascinating talk on "DNA and Genealogical Research." All the presentations were superb. I have attended four of the last five CSG Family History Seminars and every seminar has made me wish that I lived in closer proximity to the libraries and archives in Connecticut.

For additional information about the Connecticut Society of Genealogists please visit their website at

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Salem Witchcraft Hysteria Sites in Danvers

On the North Shore of Boston, crowds of tourists visit Salem to attend the "Haunted Happenings" held annually in October. Yet the foundations of the original "Haunted Happenings," the Salem Witchcraft Hysteria, occurred in 1692 in Danvers, known at that time as Salem Village. The original boundaries of the Salem community encompassed many of the towns that are adjacent to Salem, including Danvers, Peabody, and Middleton.

The center of the Salem Village community was located in and around the First Church of Danvers and the site of the Meeting House. The site of the original First Church in Danvers is located on the corner of Centre and Hobart Streets and is now the location of the Congregational First Church of Danvers.

Directly across from the First Church is innkeeper Nathaniel Ingersoll's Ordinary, a tavern, where many of those accused of witchcraft during the Hysteria were examined.

One block away along Hobart Street from these sites is the original site of the Salem Village Meeting House and the memorial to victims of the Witchcraft Hysteria. The Meeting House is the location where many of the accused were questioned and examined. The Meeting House was dismantled in 1702. Directly across Hobart Street from the Meeting House site is the Witchcraft Victims Memorial, dedicated to the victims of the Witchcraft Hysteria in 1992 on the Tricentennial anniversary of the tragic events.

Inscribed on the center sections of the monument are the names of twenty-five victims who died during the Hysteria, including twenty who were executed and five who died while imprisoned.

The names of those who died during the Hysteria are inscribed as follows:

Died in jail May 10, 1692
SARAH OSBURN of Salem Village

Hanged June 10, 1692

Died in jail June 16, 1692

Died in jail previous to July 19, 1692
INFANT DAUGHTER to Sarah Good of Salem Village

Hanged July 19, 1692
SARAH GOOD of Salem Village
ELIZABETH HOW of Topsfield
REBECCA NURSE of Salem Village
SARAH WILDS of Topsfield

Hanged August 19, 1692
REV. GEORGE BURROUGHS of Wells, Maine formerly of Salem Village
JOHN PROCTER, SR. of Salem Farmes

Died under torture September 19, 1692
GILES CORY of Salem Farmes

Hanged September 22, 1692
MARTHA CORY of Salem Farmes
MARY ESTY of Topsfield
MARY PARKER of Andover
WILMOT REDD of Marblehead

Died in jail December 3, 1692
ANN FOSTER of Andover

Died in jail March 10, 1693

On the outer leaves of the monument are quotations from some of the Witchcraft Hysteria victims.

The inscribed quotations read as follows:

"I am an innocent person. I never had to do with witchcraft since I was born. I am a Gosple woman." MARTHA CORY

"The Lord above knows my Innocencye as att the great day will be known to men and Angells. I Petition to your honours not for my own life for I know I must die and my appointed time is sett but the Lord he knows it is that if it be possible no more Innocent blood be shed." MARY ESTY

"If it was the last moment I was to live. God knows I am innocent." ELIZABETH HOW

"Well! Burn me, or hang me, I will stand in the truth of Christ." GEORGE JACOBS, SR.

"Amen. Amen. A false tongue will never make a guilty person." SUSANNAH MARTIN

"I CAN SAY BEFORE MY Eternal father I am innocent & God will clear my innocency." REBECCA NURSE

"The Magistrates, Ministers, Jewries, and all the People in general being so much inraged and incensed against us by the Delusion of the Devil, which we can term no other, by reason we know in our own Consciences, we are all Innocent Persons." JOHN PROCTER SR.

"I fear not but the Lord in his due time will make me as white as snow." JOHN WILLARD

Located a short distance away, behind 67 Centre Street, is the archaelogical site of the parish house of Reverend Samuel Parris, the minister of Salem Village during the Hysteria. The foundations of the original parish buildings are still visible. It was in his house that the Hysteria reportedly began, as Parris' servant Tituba told tales to several young girls, including Parris' daughter Betty, followed by strange behavior in the girls attributed to bewitchment.

Along Centre Street in Danvers are many homes that date to the time at or before the Witchcraft Hysteria, including the house of innkeeper Thomas Haines at 35 Centre Street, which was built around 1681, and the house of yeoman Joseph Houlton at 19 Centre Street, which was built around 1671.

Directly across from 92-94 Centre Street is the Village Training Field, established in 1671 for the defense of the town.

At the intersection of Holten and Centre Streets, at 171 Holten Street, is the home of Samuel Holten, a prominent Revolutionary War statesman from Danvers. In 1692 this was the home of widow Sarah Holten, a neighbor of Francis and Rebecca Nurse. Sarah gave devastating testimony against Rebecca Nurse during the Witchcraft Trials, indicating that Rebecca had cursed her husband three years earlier when the Holtens' pigs had strayed onto the Nurse family property.

Located nearby is the Rebecca Nurse House on 149 Pine Street. The home and grounds has been preserved by the Rebecca Nurse Memorial Association and is now maintained by the Danvers Alarm List Company, a historical reenactment unit. A small cemetery with a monument to Rebecca's memory is located on the grounds, but it is likely that Rebecca is buried in an unmarked grave elsewhere on the family property. According to legend, after her execution and burial on Gallows Hill in Salem on July 19, 1692, her family rescued her body at night and buried her in a secret place on the Nurse property.

Located on the grounds is a replica of the Salem Village Meeting House, which was constructed for the 1985 PBS Documentary, Three Sovereigns for Sarah, a story of the devastating effects of the Witchcraft Hysteria on sisters Sarah (Towne) Cloyce, Rebecca (Towne) Nurse and Mary (Towne) Esty. Rebecca and Mary were victims of the Hysteria. Sarah was accused of witchcraft and subsequently imprisoned. She was freed from jail in January 1693.

Located at the intersection of Route 1 and Route 62 (Maple Street), adjacent to the Putnam Pantry candy shop, is the home of Revolutionary War hero General Israel Putnam. Israel was the son of Joseph Putnam and Elizabeth Porter. Joseph was the favored son of his father Thomas Putnam, who left his property and fortune to the infant Joseph shortly after he was born. Joseph was the son of Thomas Putnam and Mary Veren, Thomas's second wife. Thomas's sons by his first marriage, Thomas Jr. and Edward, were incensed at their disinheritance by their father. Their disenfranchisement led to resentment that fueled the Hysteria. Thomas Jr., his wife Ann (Carr) Putnam, and daughter Ann were among the leading accusers in the community.

Thomas Putnam, his wife Ann (Carr) Putnam, and daughter Ann are buried in unmarked graves under this mound in front of the tree in the small Putnam Cemetery, directly adjacent to the Massachusetts State Police Headquarters on Maple Street (Route 62).

Located about a mile away along Maple Street (Route 62) is the Wadsworth Cemetery on Summer Street, near the intersection of Summer and Maple Streets. Many Putnam family members are buried here, including the immigrant John Putnam, one of the first settlers of Salem, and his son, Captain John Putnam.

Elizabeth Parris, wife of minister Samuel Parris, is buried in a grave behind the John Putnam tombstone. The inscription on Elizabeth's gravestone is worn but her name is still legible.

The homes of two women who were accused of witchcraft and who died during the Hysteria are still standing. The home of Sarah Osborne, who died in a Boston prison on May 10, 1692, is located at 273 Maple Street (Route 62). During the Witchcraft Hysteria this home was located on Spring Street and was later moved to its current location on Maple Street.

The home of innkeeper Bridget Bishop, who was hanged on June 10, 1692, is located at 238 Conant Street near the Danvers/Beverly town line.

For additional information about the Salem Witchcraft Hysteria please visit my reading list on the Suggested Reading page of this blog under the heading "New England - Salem Witchcraft Hysteria" and my Links page under the heading "New England History" for some excellent websites. The Salem Witch Museum hosts a site for locales of the Witchcraft Hysteria, 1692 Tour Sites and Danvers 1692 sites. In addition to Danvers, the website contains 1692 tour locales for Amesbury, Andover, Beverly, Boston, Haverhill, Marblehead, Peabody, Salem, Salisbury, and Wenham. Also, the Danvers Preservation Commission hosts a fantastic site on Danvers history, Historical Sites of Danvers.

Friday, October 17, 2014

MSOG October Meeting with Dave Robison

Last Saturday I attended the October meeting of the Middlesex Chapter of the Massachusetts Society of Genealogists (MSOG) held at the Acton Public Library. Dave Robison led an interesting presentation on "Search Strategies You Haven’t Tried – Search Sites You Never Thought Of," focusing on strategies and websites to assist with various aspects of genealogical research. Dave is the current president of the New England Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists (NEAPG) and is the sole owner and researcher for Old Bones Genealogy and provides consultation, classes and workshops for genealogists.

The Massachusetts Society of Genealogists (MSOG) has five chapters and meets monthly, with the Middlesex Chapter events occurring at public libraries in Acton, Lexington, or Sudbury. For additional information about the Massachusetts Society of Genealogists please visit their website at http://www.massachusettssocietyofgenealogists.org/index.php.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Seven Men of Danvers

Yesterday I visited the monument to the Seven Minutemen of Danvers who were killed at the Jason Russell House in Arlington (Menotomy) on April 19, 1775. At the time of the American Revolution Peabody was part of Danvers and was referred to as "South Danvers." The monument is located on the corner of Washington and Sewall Streets, adjacent to the Family United Methodist Church on Washington Street.

Inscribed on the front of the monument are the names of the seven men killed at Arlington (Menotomy). Although the monument reads "Battle of Lexington," these men were killed at the Jason Russell House in Arlington. The seven men are listed from oldest to youngest: Samuel Cook, age 35; Benjamin Deland, age 25; George Southwick, age 25; Jotham Webb, age 22; Henry Jacobs, age 21; Ebenezer Goldthwaite, age 21; Perley Putnam, age 21.

On the back of the monument is a dedication plaque which reads, "Erected by the Citizens of Danvers on the 60th Anniversary 1835" on the sixtieth anniversary of the Battles of Lexington/Concord/Menotomy, April 19, 1835.

Located across the street is the General Gideon Foster House and the Osborn-Salata House, now the homes of the Peabody Historical Society.


Four of the seven men, namely George Southwick Jr., Benjamin Deland Jr., Ebenezer Goldthwaite, and Samuel Cook Jr., are buried in the nearby Old South Burying Ground on Main Street in Peabody, on the Peabody-Salem line. The stones have been replaced recently, as the original burial stones have been lost.

1 2 3 4

Henry Jacobs is buried in the nearby Jacobs Family Cemetery. The burial sites of Jotham Webb and Perley Putnam are unknown at present. All five men whose burial sites are known were privates in the company of militia led by Captain Samuel Eppes, First Lieutenant Benjamin Jacobs and Second Lieutenant Gideon Foster, who later became a General during the Revolutionary War. Jotham Webb and Perley Putnam were privates in the company of minutemen led by Captain Israel Hutchinson, First Lieutenant Enoch Putnam and Second Lieutenant Aaron Cheever.5 Captain Israel Hutchinson lived on Water Street in the Danversport section of Danvers; reportedly the two slain men of his company were laid out in his home after the Battle of Menotomy. 6 It is likely that Perley Putnam and Jotham Webb are buried in Danvers. More research is needed to determine their burial sites.

In nearby Danvers, adjacent to the Village Training Field on Centre Street in the Salem Village Historic District, is a memorial to Danvers men killed in battle in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Mexican War.

Danvers men who responded to the call of military service in the 1700's and 1800's prepared for war on this historic field. The seven Danvers Minutemen trained and gathered here with other Danvers Minutemen before their fateful march to Arlington on April 19, 1775. The names of the seven Danvers Minutemen killed at the Jason Russell House, along with thirteen additional Danvers men killed during the American Revolution, are memorialized on the Revolutionary War monument.

This journey has personal significance for me, as Perley Putnam, my husband's fifth-great granduncle, is one of the seven Danvers Minutemen immortalized on the monuments in Peabody and Danvers.

For more information about the Jason Russell House and the Battle of Menotomy, please visit my blog post Isaac Royal House and Jason Russell House Tours.

1Old South Burying Ground (Peabody, Essex County, Massachusetts), George Southwick Jr. marker, photographed by Carol Swaine-Kuzel, 13 October 2014.
2Old South Burying Ground, Benjamin Deland Jr. marker, photographed by Carol Swaine-Kuzel, 13 October 2014.
3Old South Burying Ground, Ebenezer Goldthwaite marker, photographed by Carol Swaine-Kuzel, 13 October 2014.
4Old South Burying Ground, Samuel Cook Jr. marker, photographed by Carol Swaine-Kuzel, 13 October 2014.
5John Wesley Hanson, History of the Town of Danvers, From Its Early Settlement to the Year 1848 (Danvers, Mass.: Published by the author, 1848), 107-108.
6Richard B. Trask, Danvers (Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 2002), 62.