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Podcast Episode: Should Connecticut Witch Trial Victims be Exonerated?

On our second episode of Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast, we discuss why we believe Connecticut’s witch trial victims deserve to have their names cleared. Hosted by our own Sarah Jack and Josh Hutchinson, the podcast asks how and why we hunt witches and seeks solutions to the age-old problem. Episodes 1 to 3 are dedicated to Connecticut’s witch trials. Episode 1 features our Beth Caruso and Tony Griego. Episode 2 includes our Mary-Louise Bingham, as well as Beth and Tony. Our episode 3 guest was Dr. Scott Culpepper of Dordt University.

You can listen in your favorite podcast app, right here, or at thoushaltnotsuffer.com. Stay tuned October 20 for the release of episode 3. Further down the road, we will publish an episode focused on the role of descendants in the Connecticut Witch Trial Exoneration Project, and we plan additional Connecticut episodes.

Should Connecticut's Witch Trial Victims be Exonerated? Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast

DescriptionRetired police officer Tony Griego and Author Beth Caruso return with witch trial advocate and historic tour guide Mary-Louise Bingham.  We discuss the Connecticut Witch Trial Exoneration Project's efforts to clear the names of those accused of witchcraft in colonial Connecticut.Join us on Discord to share your ideas and feedback.CitationsJohn Putnam Demos, Entertaining Satan: Witchcraft and the Culture of Early New England Paul B. Moyer, Detestable and Wicked Arts: New England and Witchcraft in the Early Modern Cotton Mather Magnalia Christi AmericanaCT State Library Samuel Wyllys PapersCT State HIstorian Walter W. WoodwardLinksWindsor Historical SocietyState Representative Jane GaribayPlease sign the petition to exonerate those accused of witchcraft in ConnecticutMary-Louise Bingham’s YouTube video at Proctor's Ledge about Connecticut victimsCT W.I.T.C.H. MemorialSalem Witch-HuntThe Witch Trials Hysteria History of the American Colonies Diana DiZoglio Senate Floor Speech Exoneration of Elizabeth Johnson, Jr. 05/26/22AfAWHistorical Sites with witch trial tiesFirst Church in WindsorConnecticut's Old State HouseBarnard Park also known as South GreenHartford Ancient Burial GroundActivism Timeline:2005: “ad hoc committee”2008/2009 attempted legislation2016 CT W.I.T.C.H. Memorial  Witch Interrogations Trials Colonial Hangings2022 Connecticut Witch Trial Exoneration ProjectThou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast linksWebsiteTwitterFacebookInstagramLinkedInYouTubeTikTokSupport the show

Show Notes

Retired police officer Tony Griego and Author Beth Caruso return with witch trial advocate and historic tour guide Mary-Louise Bingham.  We discuss the Connecticut Witch Trial Exoneration Project’s efforts to clear the names of those accused of witchcraft in colonial Connecticut.

Join us on Discord to share your ideas and feedback.

Citations

John Putnam Demos, Entertaining Satan: Witchcraft and the Culture of Early New England

Paul B. Moyer, Detestable and Wicked Arts: New England and Witchcraft in the Early Modern 

Cotton Mather Magnalia Christi Americana

CT State Library Samuel Wyllys Papers

CT State HIstorian Walter W. Woodward

Links

Windsor Historical Society

State Representative Jane Garibay

Please sign the petition to exonerate those accused of witchcraft in Connecticut

Mary-Louise Bingham’s YouTube video at Proctor’s Ledge about Connecticut victims

CT W.I.T.C.H. Memorial

Salem Witch-Hunt

The Witch Trials Hysteria History of the American Colonies

Diana DiZoglio Senate Floor Speech Exoneration of Elizabeth Johnson, Jr. 05/26/22

AfAW

Historical Sites with witch trial ties

First Church in Windsor

Connecticut’s Old State House

Barnard Park also known as South Green

Hartford Ancient Burial Ground

Activism Timeline:

2005: “ad hoc committee”

2008/2009 attempted legislation

2016 CT W.I.T.C.H. Memorial  Witch Interrogations Trials Colonial Hangings

2022 Connecticut Witch Trial Exoneration Project

Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast links

Transcript

[00:00:00] Josh Hutchinson: "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live." Exodus 22:18.
[00:00:06] 
[00:00:26] Josh Hutchinson: Welcome to Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast. I'm Josh Hutchinson. 
[00:00:32] Sarah Jack: And I'm Sarah Jack. 
[00:00:34] We made it.
[00:00:35] Josh Hutchinson: We did?
[00:00:36] Sarah Jack: Through episode one.
[00:00:38] Josh Hutchinson: We've survived this long. 
[00:00:39] Sarah Jack: Now you'll never get rid of us. 
[00:00:41] Josh Hutchinson: In our first episode, we learned the history of the Connecticut witch trials. On this one, we learn about efforts to clear the names of the victims. 
[00:00:50] Sarah Jack: Today, we're introducing the Connecticut Witch Trial Exoneration Project. We will learn about their efforts to clear the names of those wrongfully accused of witchcraft in colonial Connecticut.[00:01:00] The project includes Beth Caruso, Tony Griego, Mary-Louise Bingham, Josh, and me.
[00:01:05] Josh Hutchinson: We'll learn how the project came together and what they're doing to push for exoneration. 
[00:01:11] Sarah Jack: Before we get down to business, I have an idea. 
[00:01:14] Josh Hutchinson: What's that?
[00:01:15] Sarah Jack: Let's tell a story. 
[00:01:17] Josh Hutchinson: What kind of story?
[00:01:18] Sarah Jack: A story about an unfortunate woman accused of witchcraft. 
[00:01:22] Josh Hutchinson: Do you have one in mind? 
[00:01:24] Sarah Jack: I do. 
[00:01:25] Josh Hutchinson: What is it?
[00:01:26] Sarah Jack: Last week we learned about the first woman executed for witchcraft in England's North American colonies. This week, I want to talk about the second woman executed in Connecticut. 
[00:01:36] Josh Hutchinson: Who was that? 
[00:01:38] Sarah Jack: Her name was Mary Johnson, and she came from Wethersfield. 
[00:01:41] Josh Hutchinson: What do we know about her? 
[00:01:43] Sarah Jack: Unfortunately, there isn't much -information about her personal life. However, we do know she was charged with witchcraft in 1648 and that she confessed.
[00:01:53] Josh Hutchinson: She confessed?
[00:01:55] Sarah Jack: According to the court records, she confessed to familiarity with the devil. 
[00:01:59] Josh Hutchinson: Do we [00:02:00] know any more about that? 
[00:02:01] Sarah Jack: Cotton Mather wrote about her in a book published in 1702.
[00:02:05] Josh Hutchinson: The same person who wrote the defense of the Salem witch trials. 
[00:02:09] Sarah Jack: Unfortunately he's the best source we have.
[00:02:12] Josh Hutchinson: What did Mr. Mather write about Mary Johnson? 
[00:02:15] Sarah Jack: He wrote that she was discontented when Satan appeared to her. To content her, he had a devil help with her work. 
[00:02:23] Josh Hutchinson: A devil did chores for her?
[00:02:25] Sarah Jack: He cleaned ashes out of the hearth and drove away hogs that broke into her master's field. But that's not all he wrote. 
[00:02:32] Josh Hutchinson: What else? 
[00:02:33] Sarah Jack: She committed uncleanness, both with men and with devils.
[00:02:37] Josh Hutchinson: That's what Cotton Mather wrote about her?
[00:02:39] Sarah Jack: Yes, and he said she admitted to killing a child.
[00:02:43] Josh Hutchinson: What awful accusations against an innocent woman. 
[00:02:46] Sarah Jack: And now for a decidedly more wholesome discussion. 
[00:02:50] Josh Hutchinson: Perfect time to talk about exonerating innocent people. 
[00:02:53] Sarah Jack: We'll begin our exoneration discussion by talking again to Tony Griego and Beth Caruso, and then we'll connect with [00:03:00] Mary-Louise Bingham to learn more about the legislative effort. 
[00:03:03] Josh Hutchinson: And now the interview. 
[00:03:05] Tony. How did you get involved in early legislative efforts for the accused Connecticut witches?
[00:03:12] Tony Griego: It's an interesting story, and it started October 21st, 2005, when several people attended a presentation given by the state historian, Walter Woodward, a bout the Connecticut witch trials in Torrington, Connecticut. Several people, myself included, were there.
[00:03:30] He gave a great presentation about the trials. Many people weren't even aware of all the events that had taken place here, but at the end of his discussion, a group of us approached him and asked him, has anybody ever done anything to clear the names of these individuals? And he said, no, he says, but it sounds like an interesting idea.
[00:03:50] From that point on, we formed of an ad hoc committee about four or five people, and our goal was to get some kind of [00:04:00] recognition, exoneration, pardon, anything that would clear these names of the people that were, at the time we focused on the 11 people that were hanged. 
[00:04:10] Initially there was a mother and daughter team who were descendants of Mary Sanford. They were the spearhead of the group. They got a lot of good press with several newspapers, New York Times, the New London Day, many papers told about what we were trying to accomplish. It got to a point where they actually contacted a state representative in their district, who presented a proclamation before the general assembly here in Connecticut. And there was three descendants, the two mother and daughter and another descendant who testified. Now, when you testify before the general assembly, you're allowed to speak for three minutes, which they did, but at the end of their [00:05:00] presentation, the three of them, members of the general assembly asked them questions.
[00:05:04] And the question and answer period lasted 45 minutes. At the end of it, it never made it to the floor, and it was never voted on. We resubmitted again in 2009, and again, it failed. So some of the interesting things that I found during my research is number one, in the state of Connecticut, the governor does not have the authority to pardon anyone. That falls to the board of pardons and paroles.
[00:05:32] So I wrote to the board, and I got a letter a short time later, and they stated that they do not pardon dead people, basically, so it came to a dead end. The next step, I says at the time we came under the authority of the queen at that time was the king of England. So I wrote to the queen of England. Again, a short time later, the members of their staff, her staff, wrote me back saying that we basically think it's a colonial [00:06:00] problem, and every single one of those cases would have to be reopened. And that's almost impossible because many of the colonial records here in Connecticut pertaining to the trials missing, so the next step was I started writing to all my state representatives from my district. And to be perfectly honest, I never got a response from any of them.
[00:06:23] And it just continued to a point where I wasn't making any headway at all until in, I think it was 2015, I happened to pick up the Hartford Courant one day, and there was a big article page three, and it was about Beth Caruso speaking about Alice Young. So she was gonna be doing a book signing at the Windsor Historical Society, and I went and I met with her and I told her what I was growing through and how frustrated I was. And we had agreed to work together. Beth actually set up our Facebook page. So that's where we are [00:07:00] today.
[00:07:00] Beth Caruso: Tony talked about when we first met. Shortly after that, we did decide to work together, since the mayor had expressed that interest in doing something for our two witch trial victims in Windsor. So Tony and I got together. We decided we had to raise awareness about the Connecticut witch trials, since very few people across the country, let alone Connecticut, knew about them.
[00:07:28] So in February of 2016, we launched our Facebook page called CT WITCH Memorial. And our purpose of it was to tell the witch trial stories as much as we could find about the Connecticut victims, as well as any events that were taking place in Connecticut that other people were doing, so that they could learn about them in multiple ways. And it went [00:08:00] from there. 
[00:08:01] About a year later, we got word from Mayor Trinks in Windsor that it was a good time to bring a resolution forth before the town council to recognize Windsor's two witch trial victims, Alice Young and Lydia Gilbert. The effort was very successful. The First Church of Windsor got involved, and that's very significant, because the First Church would've been very involved in the original witch hangings, and we know that because of some commentaries by the ministers from that time. So it was historic that the ministers got involved. 
[00:08:42] One of them, Char Corbett, who's no longer in Windsor, but who was at the time and played a huge role, gave a historic apology on behalf of the first church of Windsor. And her speech was so powerful [00:09:00] that it was almost like she shamed every single town council member into voting for this because it was powerful. You couldn't walk away from that speech and say, oh, it's fine that we don't acknowledge these victims. She stressed just how much they lost, their families lost.
[00:09:22] Besides the lives of their loved ones, their families suffered trauma and stigma for generations. And so it was significant. It was important, but it was just the town of Windsor. So we wanted to go on from there. 
[00:09:39] Sarah Jack: Beth and Tony have an important collaboration called the Connecticut WITCH Memorial. Tell us what the name stands for and what your mission has been. 
[00:09:47] Beth Caruso: CT stands for Connecticut, of course, WITCH is actually an acronym, and I have to give credit to my husband, Charles Button, too. We were out [00:10:00] for lunch one day, and I said, we gotta come up with something for this new Facebook page. And so we came up with WITCH as being Witch Interrogations, Trials, and Colonial Hangings. So Connecticut Witch Interrogations Trials and Colonial Hangings Memorial, because there is yet to be a place to memorialize the Connecticut witch trial victims. So we wanted our stories and our Facebook space to act as a temporary memorial until more could be done, and we still see it that way. 
[00:10:46] Tony Griego: When Beth first started it, she gave me pretty clear instructions, what she thought we should be doing. And one of the things that I was really interested in doing was estimating from different sources[00:11:00] exactly how many people were we talking about. Originally, in my first adventure with this, it was 11 people, the 11 people that lost their life because of the trials.
[00:11:12] But it goes beyond that. Depending on what sources you look at and how you figure it out, it's anywhere between 42 and 46 people that experienced witchcraft trials here in Connecticut. What I decided to do was, for our page, give a brief synopsis. I'm a retired policeman , and at the end of my shift, I had to give my supervisor a synopsis of what took place during the shift.
[00:11:38] And that's exactly what I wanted to do, put a short story together so that everybody would have some kind of an understanding about what these people were charged with, what they went through. And what were the ultimate results. And in some cases it was just absolutely bizarre, but that was really important for me to get their stories out, [00:12:00] even though they're just short stories.
[00:12:01] And there's so many people that commented on them, and one of the things that I found very interesting was most of the comments-- I'm gonna say a very good percentage of the comments-- people made a comment first that said, I'm the 10th great granddaughter of so-and-so, s o we were getting all these people who were descendants, not just people that were interested in witch trials or what took place in Salem and other places, but these were descendants, and I know that in a court of law, people that have standing in an event have more power than just a guy off the street. So with all these descendants all across the country, and I'm looking at two of them right now, this movement is gonna make some positive direction. 
[00:12:53] Beth Caruso: That really brings us to the role that the recent interest in ancestry has played in all this. [00:13:00] A lot of people they go on Ancestry or another type of ancestry site, and they say, oh, wow, wait, look at this. I'm all the way back in the 1600s, and oh my, my 10th, 11th, 9th, great grandmother was called a witch. I gotta learn more about this, and people Google and they find our site. So right now we have about 2,500 followers, and as this movement gets bigger, people hear about us and, thankfully, with Josh, you and Sarah, both of you, you are contributing so much now with your own sites that are also telling the stories of the Connecticut witch trials in a whole array of social media, and it really is truly helping to get the word out. 
[00:13:57] Sarah Jack: I have always been very [00:14:00] interested in my ancestry, and starting in high school, I started doing research, with a great aunt, on my family, and at that time I discovered that I descend from two of the accused witches who were hanged in Salem, Rebecca Nurse and Mary Esty.
[00:14:20] And over the years, as I continued doing my research, I discovered more about New England, its history, and the branch that I was working on was in Connecticut. This was about three years ago, and I saw some history on Winifred Benham and Winifred Benham, Jr., that they were accused witches, and I was so puzzled, because I wasn't working on my Massachusetts history then, and I had never heard of this, and I just couldn't even understand. Is this a story? [00:15:00] Did this really happen? Were they an actual family? And I started digging around online and one of the things that Google threw my way was the Facebook page for the Connecticut WITCH Memorial. And I was so excited to see it. I still didn't understand the status of the Connecticut witch trial history.
[00:15:23] I saw the word Memorial, and I knew Salem had a physical Memorial, so I thought, oh great, I'm gonna find the location of the Connecticut WITCH Memorial. And I quickly realized that Facebook page was telling us all about this important history. There was so much information there, but that there was not a memorial for all of those victims.
[00:15:47] And it just really disappointed me, and I wanted more people to know, and I was also still gathering [00:16:00] my own perspective on the witch trial history and researching as a family historian. And just trying to get perspective on the history and the 17th century, these families, how did they end up in witch trials?
[00:16:15] And I decided to create the Facebook page. I wanted to bring descendants and family researchers together over the scope of which trials. I wanted a place where I could share what Tony and Beth were posting and giving us, but also, and there's a Facebook page called Salem Witch-Hunt that I recognized was sharing a lot of important historical information.
[00:16:44] I wanted to be able to bring those two pieces together for people to discuss and talk about what they were learning. And I wondered who else was out there. What other authors, researchers, historians, family lore [00:17:00] is sitting in somebody's personal knowledge and they wanna come together and share it?
[00:17:05] So my first intention was to gather people and information to a place where it could be researched further, but I'm thinking this Memorial thing. To happen. When I first opened my social media, I did reach out and introduced myself to Beth and Tony, and they were so warm and welcoming and it really encouraged me to continue on with my idea.
[00:17:30] The other social media piece that I have used is Twitter, and that has also brought many of us together, including Mary Bingham. As the social media community has continued to grow on Beth and Tony's page and on Salem Witch-Hunt and on The Witch Trial Hysteria History of the American Colonies, it has brought more people together, more ideas, more energy, and given momentum and direction[00:18:00] towards finding the acknowledgement that Connecticut has not offered. 
[00:18:04] Beth Caruso: And now is a good time, and I think coming on the heels of the Elizabeth Johnson, Jr. exoneration in Massachusetts and all of us forming a strong coalition, it really does give us more energy and more force to come to the Connecticut legislature with. In the beginning, Tony and I were, we have been very protective with the information on our site, that it be devoted to Connecticut.
[00:18:34] A lot of people who would write books about the Salem trials would ask to have their information, and we usually said no, because we didn't wanna be, to liken it to something like the Brady Bunch. We didn't wanna be like Jan, the forgotten sister. Everybody's focused on Marcia. 
[00:18:56] For so many years, Salem has been the sole [00:19:00] focus. A lot of it is because the trials were later, they involved more people, and they had a lot more documentation. We wanted our site to be just devoted to Connecticut, to get the Connecticut stories out there, since people had never even heard of them, but now that we are at this point, I agree. It's a wonderful thing to join forces. And in the future, I think people are gonna have more information just about how connected the Connecticut trials were to what happened in Massachusetts. 
[00:19:43] Sarah Jack: I believe that they do each need to stand alone on their history, but now that there are these connecting channels, that is a strength for the history too.
[00:19:55] Both pieces are important. People need to know where they can go to get [00:20:00] Connecticut information and CT WITCH Memorial Facebook has been a great location for that, and the Salem witch hunt, Facebook page and social media has been a really great place for people to find all of those documents and the authors.
[00:20:15] And so I think those are two really important legs of witch trial history. And then I believe this piece now where we're seeking clear acknowledgement for the victims in Connecticut. And if there's been anyone else in new England that needs that acknowledgement. This will all come together. 
[00:20:35] Josh Hutchinson: Tony, what does the current exoneration project mean to you?
[00:20:39] Tony Griego: It means that there's a light at the end of the tunnel. So many people have worked on this since my knowledge goes back to 2005, but now it seems to be reinvigorated again, and people hear the term witch hunt all the time on the daily news today pertaining to other type of witch [00:21:00] hunts. We won't get into politics of course. It's just time. All these people went through these terrible agony that affected their families and the generations to come. And the state of Connecticut has never acknowledged that. They've never offered any expression of regret, nothing. 
[00:21:19] There's really only three sites left in Hartford that have a direct connection to the trials. The old state house, where some of the trials may have been held. Some of the executions may have taken place. There is what they call the South Green, originally. It's now Barnard Park in Hartford. That's where witches had a night of merriment that led to a trial. And lastly is the ancient burial ground in Hartford, which is a wonderful historical site. There's no witches buried there, but all the magistrates and the jury people are there. 
[00:21:58] At one point we had [00:22:00] efforts to get a Memorial, and i t seems like none of these sites would, were interested. What I found out was the state house is actually governed by the general assembly. The ancient burial ground, which is attached to the church there, it's not part of the church it's owned by the city of Hartford as is south green. It's a city park and there was just really no interest for a Memorial. And in many of my letters, I would state that gee, every year in October, Salem, Massachusetts brings in a lot of money, and Connecticut could jump on that bandwagon, and we've neglected it for all these years.
[00:22:45] Josh Hutchinson: Alice Young was executed more than 375 years ago, so why is it important now to exonerate her and the others? 
[00:22:56] Tony Griego: In a modern age, we know that which hunts are [00:23:00] wrong. We know what happened in Salem. Some people know a little about what happened here in Connecticut. The bottom line is those hunts were wrong. Those people suffered for reasons that go beyond reasoning. So we think it's time that like Massachusetts and New Hampshire and Virginia it's time to make amends for that. And that's hopefully what we're gonna accomplish. Now is the right time.
[00:23:26] Beth Caruso: I also think when we're talking about exoneration of Connecticut's witch trial victims, that it's easy to push it off and say, oh, this is something that's disconnected to our present day. It's in the past, but as a lot of psychiatrists and psychologists have talked to us today, as far as trauma, there is generational trauma. So we have to think of that. We also have to think of [00:24:00] how we witch hunt in present day, maybe not literal witch hunts, but targeting people. Just for the fact that they're different or they don't fit into a precise box of what a certain group would want them to fit into. It's a statement that we just need to accept people for who they are, differences and all, and accept that those differences can actually enrich our society instead of pointing at them as other. And this is a theme. it keeps coming up over and over again, whether you're talking about a more recent past like Nazi-ism or whether you're talking about present day America, where people are being singled out.
[00:24:57] And then of course you have [00:25:00] actual witch hunts that are still happening in places like Africa. Us talking about this, not only do I think it, is it historically correct to do and the right things for the people who died unjustly, but it's also right for their families, their descendants, and as a strong statement and commentary.
[00:25:26] About how this type of hurting the other, because the other is misunderstood is in and of itself a very appropriate statement.
[00:25:41] Sarah Jack: I think it's safe to say Connecticut communities may not want to have Witch City overtake them like Salem's called Witch City, but I feel like it's an opportunity for the communities in Connecticut or the [00:26:00] community of Connecticut as a whole to build this acknowledgement into something that they want it to be.
[00:26:08] We can never get away from the stigmas of the historical evil witch, but we can create memorials and memory and acknowledgement of these individuals that had that attached to them in the way that we want to, and my hope would be for Connecticut to see a vision where they can create something that they're proud of that is acknowledging the history and teaching the history.
[00:26:41] What are your feelings about that? 
[00:26:44] Beth Caruso: An obstacle I've come across quite often is the attitude about, oh, our venerated, wonderful ancestors, founders of this town or that town, [00:27:00] and if you go back and read ancestry books from the 1800s that all the time, our honorable, hardworking ancestors, aside from some witch hunts, that was their only blemish.
[00:27:17] Come on. Let's get real. They were human beings. Like we are human beings, they made mistakes and things were dramatically different culturally. How they treated Native Americans. If the ancestors were Puritan, how they treated people, other religions was horrible. It doesn't mean that ancestors didn't have virtues or good points to them, but let's get real in how we look at them.
[00:27:52] And there shouldn't be a sense of overwhelming guilt or shame either. That's not what I'm saying. [00:28:00] I'm just saying, let's look at things realistically, and let's say, it's okay. It's okay to look at our ancestors as less than perfect people. I challenge every single person to find a family tree where all their ancestors are perfect people.
[00:28:21] No, they're not. Every single family tree has the black sheep, the people that committed some crimes, the people that were just not the nicest people, who did some terrible things. And that doesn't make the person who has the family tree or who researches it the same people. It's the same family, but you're different people.
[00:28:46] So this fantasy, this gilded picture of the past, it's really an obstacle to looking at what really happened. And [00:29:00] in looking at things that way, people need to understand they're denying somebody else's history. They're denying what happened to Native Americans. They're denying what happened to these witch trial victims. They're denying what happened to enslaved people.
[00:29:16] These things need to be acknowledged, and it can be used as an opportunity to look at human beings in a more interesting way. Okay, we all have our dark sides and our light sides. None of us are perfect people. There are things about humans, which can be wonderful.
[00:29:38] Some are very altruistic and creative, yet there are dark parts of all of us that we work on containing, jealousy and so on. So I would say to people who wanna cover this up, who don't wanna do wrong by their ancestors by [00:30:00] saying, oh, this person, maybe wasn't perfect to let go of that. It's not helping anybody.
[00:30:06] And I think the story that can be written from the actual history, from reality, is much more fascinating and much more interesting, and nobody's singled out, because everybody has this dark side, light side to them, and everybody's ancestors have this also. So let's just accept people as they are and learn from it.
[00:30:36] Sarah Jack: Tony, I know you mentioned when you were talking about the Hartford witch panic, you just talked about them, not recognizing some of the history. How do you think we can get over some of these obstacles or how would you like it to be if we were able to get over the obstacles?
[00:30:53] Tony Griego: It's important, the role that descendants play in the efforts to change this. For [00:31:00] the longest time, there weren't that many descendants that were involved in it. There were some, but now with both your groups, it's increased, and it gives us the opportunity to let people know that there was 46 people in Connecticut that suffered through trials, but there's thousands and thousands of their descendants. I think it's really time, and you have to understand that it was not only Hartford. New Haven also had its share of which trials. To its benefit New Haven never hanged anybody.
[00:31:30] All of the hangings took place in either Hartford, Stratford, or Fairfield. It was basically the whole colony of Connecticut that was involved in these trials, and it's time to change that, to recognize that.
[00:31:43] And I might add I'm also very happy that we have a state representative, Jane Garibay, who's on board. 
[00:31:49] Beth Caruso: Jane Garibay is actually my representative. She covers Windsor and Windsor Locks, and I did have a conversation with her about three years [00:32:00] ago about bringing forth exoneration for the Connecticut witch trial victims. It wasn't a good year for her to do it, and then COVID happened. So we didn't really touch base since then. So when Mary reached out to me and asked, what could we do to make this a law in Connecticut that these Connecticut witch trial victims are recognized? Jane Garibay came to mind immediately because she had been interested before.
[00:32:34] Mary was the one who reached out to her this time, so I was very happy that Mary did that. And really she got the ball rolling again, where it had been paused for several years. 
[00:32:48] Sarah Jack: Mary, I watched your YouTube exoneration message as soon as you released it, and its energy was one of the reasons I was so excited to help create the Connecticut witch trial project. I knew your video [00:33:00] was going to be a great tool that would spread the word and grow support from the community. Tell us how you were inspired to make the message and what lawmaker responded positively. 
[00:33:11] Mary-Louise Bingham: After we had heard Diane Dizoglio give her speech on the Senate floor, regarding the exoneration of Elizabeth Johnson Jr., I had agreed, with myself first of all, that it was time to go after Connecticut.
[00:33:27] And I knew of Beth Caruso, and you, Sarah, had put me in touch with her, and I saw her tweet that she was very disappointed that nobody had done anything to honor Alice Young, who was hanged 375 years ago, late in May. And so I did reach out to her and she reminded me that she had gotten in touch with Jane Garibay and then COVID hit, so nothing got [00:34:00] done, and she encouraged me to do and so when I emailed Jane, I thought, maybe I won't hear from her, but maybe I will. But that same day she emailed me back. And when I saw the email at 11 o'clock at night, I sat straight up in my bed and I was like oh, my God, this is going to happen, because Jane said specifically in her email, this is ridiculous that this has not been done.
[00:34:29] So I thought, oh my gosh, this is gonna happen. 
[00:34:32] Sarah Jack: It was really exciting when all those first main pieces came together, and we realized this project was forming. 
[00:34:40] Mary-Louise Bingham: And it looks like it's going to go much faster in a couple of months than we ever anticipated that it's gonna go. So very excited about that too.
[00:34:53] And, but my only disappointment is that there are some of those first names of those women [00:35:00] that we don't know yet, but we're in the process of finding out their true given names, cause that is very powerful, and once we get everything written that we need to get written to have their full names in there is so important, because who wants to be known as anonymous Knapp or anonymous Bassett. We wanna know their first name and their last name. 
[00:35:29] Sarah Jack: We do want to know them, and there's lots of descendants that want to know those names that will be identifying grandmothers, grandfathers for descendants as well.
[00:35:40] Josh Hutchinson: They're more than just goodwives. 
[00:35:41] Mary-Louise Bingham: That's right. And that's why I said anonymous because they are anonymous in that sense. We need to know their names because it also gives more of their story, too, a very important part of their story. 
[00:35:55] Josh Hutchinson: We're wanting to humanize these people. It's been [00:36:00] 375 years. It's a little easy to think of them more abstractly as just data on old records, but they are human beings.
[00:36:11] Mary-Louise Bingham: That's right, and they existed. They lived. They have stories to tell and stories that live on through their descendants, and that is why I still believe very strongly, as I did from day one, that everybody needs to be exonerated. Their convictions need to be overturned. We need to try our best to find out who exactly was convicted and who was not convicted, even though everybody needs to have an apology, at least. But those convictions that we know of, they definitely need to be overturned. And I believe they will be. 
[00:36:52] Sarah Jack: I agree with you. I am really excited. A lot of people are gonna have to get involved and be [00:37:00] bold and take the steps that need to be done to make this happen, but I believe in them. I believe they can do it. 
[00:37:07] Mary-Louise Bingham: We definitely still are looking for more descendants and especially descendants that still live in the Connecticut area. Because even those people that have lived in Connecticut for a long period of time, a lot of them, as you well know, don't know the history, and they don't know that they were the first colony to hang somebody who was accused of witchcraft, and the more that we are visible, and the more people that we can gather with us, the more people will realize that this is important, and it needs to be done for the descendants and to clear the people's names that didn't no wrong, and it [00:38:00] breaks my heart when we see articles in newspapers stating that why now, why this, it was 375 years ago. We need to do it. We need to write the wrongs of the past so that history is not doomed to repeat itself, as said by state senator Diana DiZoglio in Massachusetts. 
[00:38:21] And like you have said, Sarah, and I've done some research myself and looked on YouTube and seeing the videos of those people, especially those people in Africa that are still being accused of witchcraft today, and they are not witches. And I'm not saying that there aren't people that are practicing a different form of witchcraft, like Wiccan and paganism, that is a more peaceful religion and good people are practicing that. It's not that type of witchcraft that I'm talking about. I'm talking about the people that are [00:39:00] being accused of bewitchment, as our own ancestors were accused of way back when in the 1600s. And the fact that there are those that are being accused of that type of witchcraft and they are not guilty. It just, that also breaks my heart, as well. 
[00:39:21] Sarah Jack: Yeah. That's a very good reason for our country at every community level with this witch trial history, at the local level, at the state level, at the federal level to stand and say that witch hunting is not just.
[00:39:38] Mary-Louise Bingham: Witch hunting for other things or scapegoating is not appropriate. It's not acceptable. People need to own their own responsibility and their involvement in the things that they do in their own lives that affect their community, but finger pointing towards others and blaming others for [00:40:00] something that, that person did not do is not acceptable anymore in my mind and in my heart, not acceptable. And in my own life, I am not willing to be a part of it. 
[00:40:11] Sarah Jack: Mary, when you talked about how descendants are so shocked to find out that there were witch trials in Connecticut, I was one of those family researchers that happened to, and it was really amazing to watch author and actor Zachary Levi show that shock on who do you think you are on TV. That moment when they captured his shock, his concern for his grandmother, what happened to her. How many thousands of us have felt that?
[00:40:46] Mary-Louise Bingham: I remember when I found out about Susannah North Martin, she was the first one I found about for me, and I was so shocked that I sat in front of my computer, and I [00:41:00] did the Google search for hours, and I was like, wow. So I, but hers was more like, I wanna know more about her, what her trial was like and so on and so forth, but it was six months later when I found out about Sarah Wildes, and that's when I looked at the screen, I looked at my keyboard, and I bent my head, and I just started to cry. And I was like, no, really? I cannot believe this. And then it was genealogist Gail Garda who found out about Mary Esty for me, and I was shocked, but yet I felt very proud at that time. And I know, a lot of people say you own no ownership in who your ancestors are, so why are you proud?
[00:41:51] But I was. I did have a sense of pride, but I never knew that I was descended from the Esty family, and I do recognize today [00:42:00] that it is what it is, but also knowing about Mary Esty and knowing what a strong woman she was, I felt like, wow, this is pretty powerful. 
[00:42:12] Josh Hutchinson: Mary, you seem confident that Connecticut will take action to exonerate the accused witches. What gives you that confidence? 
[00:42:20] Mary-Louise Bingham: After speaking with Jane Garibay a couple of times, I feel like she is a true powerhouse and that she feels it's the right time, and she's able to gain all of the support that she's gaining at the state level.
[00:42:37] And also we're on the coattails of what just happened with Elizabeth Johnson Jr. I feel like it's time. Everybody that I'm speaking to on behalf of this feels like it's time. The amount of people that have signed the petition. I just have that feeling, that confident feeling that it's time.
[00:42:58] Sarah Jack: I think the petition's been [00:43:00] really important because when people come across the petition, it spurs them on to learn more of witch trial history, and they talk about it, and they share about it, and that brings more people into the fold. 
[00:43:14] Josh Hutchinson: I just wanna back up just a minute for the listeners at home. Can you just tell us about the petition. We'll have links to it in our show notes, but what is the petition asking for?
[00:43:26] Mary-Louise Bingham: Petition is Exonerate Wrongfully Accused of Witchcraft in Colonial Connecticut. I wanna say I started this petition very late in May, and I just describe on it a little bit about the history and why it's important to do this now and who we are as team members and people that are helping us all along the way, such as descendants, authors, historians, and people who [00:44:00] just care about reversing social injustice, and I think that's most people that walk the face of the earth right now, so that's a good thing.
[00:44:10] So I am proud of all of us that we have as many signatures as we do. And also a big shout out to the people that are actually donating money for this petition, because the more that we donate, the more that change.org will send it off and advertise it more, so that's a good thing as well.
[00:44:33] Josh Hutchinson: It's been great talking to you again that stuff's all. 
[00:44:36] Mary-Louise Bingham: Thank you very much. Thank you. 
[00:44:38] Josh Hutchinson: Good night. Thank you. Okay. 
[00:44:40] Thank you everybody for coming. 
[00:44:42] Sarah Jack: Thank you so much, Mary. 
[00:44:44] Tony Griego: Thank you for your help. 
[00:44:45] Beth Caruso: All right, bye. Thank you. Bye-bye thanks. 
[00:44:48] Sarah Jack: Welcome to witch hunt happenings in your world. This is about real people targeted, abused, murdered, or in danger of death due to witchcraft superstitions today. [00:45:00] Witch hunts are a human rights violation, often due to religious hatred. This is the exact case for what is happening with many of the accused witches in Africa.
[00:45:10] You heard that right. There are many. The Advocacy for Alleged Witches works to stop the toleration of witch accusations and hatred, while defending the rights and dignity of alleged witches. It exists to end all forms of human rights abuses linked to witchcraft allegations in African countries. It is doing this by engaging in a decade of activism against these witch persecutions.
[00:45:36] Yes, you heard that right, too, a ten year attempt to disrupt witch hunting behaviors. . Is ten years of reasonable timeframe to reset social norms of superstition and hate? Leo Igwe, Nigerian human rights activist and humanitarian, is leading the charge to do just that.
[00:45:54] You can get the latest crisis info every week, because he's actively highlighting stories of victims and [00:46:00] survivors of witch persecution through articles and with his account @ leoigwe on social media posts. That's @ L E O I G W E. He's engaging state and non-state actors in the field of witchcraft accusation.
[00:46:18] Lobbying locally, regionally, nationally, and globally by asking leadership to intervene with protection for alleged witches and education for the accusers. And he seeks out institutional partnership to support these objectives. AFAW facilitates trainings, workshops, and seminars for various interest groups on witchcraft allegations and witch-hunting.
[00:46:40] It organizes public education and enlightenment campaigns to reason people out of the misconceptions that drive witch persecution and other harmful traditional practices. It wants its culture to know that the fear of witches is an unfounded myth and an imaginary crime, that these [00:47:00] accusations of causing harm are based on hearsay and misinformation, panic and anxieties, fear and superstition.
[00:47:08] The AFAW's decade of activism drives the notion and demonstrates that witch persecution, killings, and trials are forms of human rights abuses that should not be tolerated in the name of religion, culture, or tradition. Leo Igwe, superstition, community witch hunts, and a decade of activism will come to your mind now, when you hear the phrase witch hunt, you share the world where this is happening. Witch hunting is not a past only, nor is it largely about perceptions of political bullying, unless politics are causing human rights violations. As you have learned, that does occur. Be sure to share what you've learned here.
[00:47:49] Be a part of the decade of activism by being a voice of justice for your world neighbors. 
[00:47:54] Josh Hutchinson: Thank you for another informative news segment, Sarah.
[00:47:57] Sarah Jack: And thank you everyone for listening. 
[00:47:59] [00:48:00] And now we'll hear from Tom Mattingly in Jami Milne of Ballet Des Moines about their upcoming ballet Salem.
[00:48:06] Tom Mattingly: I have always loved ballet as a vehicle for storytelling, and I think that there can be so much left to interpretation with the subject of witchcraft and that interpretation lends itself really well to ballet. So what I've done with Salem is I've taken inspiration from the historical events to create a fictional story, one that could have happened during the time, but isn't necessary a recreation of actual events.
[00:48:38] Fear itself is very powerful, and when we are led by fear rather than reason, there are horrific consequences.
[00:48:48] The character of fear is very important to this ballet. Fear is played by one of the male dancers in our company, and he is not a townsperson of Salem, but he is a constant presence [00:49:00] and influence on the entire cast, so he really interacts a lot with the girl. The girl is the one who is making the accusations of witchcraft. She feels fearful from the pressures of the people around her, and especially her father, the preacher, to continue accusing and testifying against the people of Salem.
[00:49:20] The Salem Witch Trials has always been a captivating subject. One of the main reasons I chose the witch trials for a ballet is because I knew it was something that would capture people's attention. 
[00:49:34] I hope that people are moved by what they see and think about how they view others, if they're viewing others with kindness, with the benefit of the doubt, if they're giving a chance to these people that they don't know. I hope that they are inspired to learn more about the Salem Witch Trials themselves.
[00:49:52] It is a fictional story that I'm creating, but every element is based on historical fact. A lot of it is[00:50:00] different people from the past kind of combined into become one character, like the Mathers with our preacher. There is one character who attempts to defend his wife, who has been accused, and he himself gets accused of witchcraft and demonic possession. Even down to the costuming, it's going to be a modern reinterpretation but based on the strict puritan dress codes of the time with the muted colors, being covered up, those natural fibers, no lace, no ribbons, very much bare bones, utilitarian in a lot of ways.
[00:50:35] Same thing with the set design, too, of these furniture pieces that can be used in many different configurations so that our meeting house can serve as a place of worship. It can serve as the home for the trials themselves in the courthouse. Our set even has a different modular design to become the gallows when one of the characters is hanged.
[00:50:57] Jami Milne: Tom and I were talking just this last week, [00:51:00] and he said, "everyone knows the end of the story here. There's not a surprise, because we all know the Salem Witch Trials and what happened." 
[00:51:09] I don't want anyone to forget the power of a somber ending and this idea that great change can come, feeling so emotionally disrupted that you have no choice but to think differently upon leaving. And I think that will really be the power of audiences walking in the doors and then leaving with very different emotional state.
[00:51:32] Tom Mattingly: The music for Salem will primarily be Stravinsky's Rite of Spring.
[00:51:38] Rite of Spring is typically the story of ritual sacrifice, and in a way, I feel like that's what happened with the Salem Witch Trials. It became this ritual of accusations, trials, and hangings that just continued over and over until it was finally put to an end. And it's an amazing score. It's difficult as a dancer, because it's [00:52:00] difficult to count and the melodies are so surprising, but the overall effect, I think, is incredible, and it takes this kind of animalistic quality. And the dancers are really able to embody it, especially in these group scenes at the church or at the gallows. It's really moving. 
[00:52:18] Salem will be performed at the Stoner Studio Theater in downtown Des Moines, October 20th through the 29th.
[00:52:24] Tickets can be purchased at balletdesmoines.org.
[00:52:28] Josh Hutchinson: And now we bring to you special interview with Michael Cormier and Myriam Cyr of Punctuate4 about Saltonstall's Trial, a play about the only judge who quit the Salem Witch Trial's Court due to concerns about the nature of the proceedings. 
[00:52:43] If you're in the Boston area, please attend the stage reading on Thursday, October 27th at 7:00 PM at the Modern Theater in downtown Boston. The reading will be followed by a talkback with Marilynne K. Roach, author of The Salem Witch [00:53:00] Trials and Six Women of Salem, and the presentation is brought to you free of charge by the Ford Health Forum at Suffolk University. Visit punctuate4.org for tickets.
[00:53:11] And now Michael Cormier and Myriam Cyr. 
[00:53:16] Michael Cormier: I am an amateur historian about the Salem Witchcraft Trials, been for a very long time. And I kept in my reading, coming across the name Nathaniel Saltonstall. And of course, Haverhill, Massachusetts has the name Saltonstall all over it, because that's where the family started, very famous New England family.
[00:53:39] And every time I'd read about him in the books, it would have maybe a paragraph that would say that he was appointed one of the nine judges on the trials. And of all those judges, he was the only one who quit in protest over the conduct of the trials. [00:54:00] So I was always wondering what would make this man do that when nobody else did?
[00:54:04] Myriam Cyr: And then the story is really about how this judge is going to be taught by the women who were accused to see the truth, as opposed to the fake news that was being put forward. And what's amazing about the play is that it speaks so much to cancel culture and fake news and what is truth and what is not truth.
[00:54:28] Michael Cormier: And it highlights the Saltonstall family as a family that's being immersed in this whole tragedy from the point of view of the powers that be. Because Nathaniel Saltonstall was a Harvard graduate and grandson of English aristocracy. He was he was a well connected man.
[00:54:47] He didn't have to do what he did, so the struggle has a lot to do with, are we part of this whole community? Do we protect those people who are helpless? Or [00:55:00] are we this upper crust of the Puritan society, and therefore we're gonna go along with the program no matter whether they're right or wrong.
[00:55:09] Myriam Cyr: The play has a lot of drama, and it's very exciting, and it's a little bit like a, who done it in certain parts.
[00:55:16] And so it's a very entertaining evening, and we see the witches on trial, the accused on trial. So we're very excited to share it with the public, and what's really exciting is that we have really all through all the steps of this process, we have kept checking in with the public as to what worked and what didn't work.
[00:55:39] So we're very excited and we can't wait to see people's reactions to it.
[00:55:44] We do have three Elliot Norton Award winners that are part of the cast and who are lending their voices to this and sometimes stage readings can be even more exciting than plays themselves because as a [00:56:00] member of the audience, you can imagine what all of this will look like, because you really have the words to rely on and the images that in the powers that these words conjure and it is, it's like a spell. It's like entering a spell. And there's gonna be music, and there's gonna be sound effects and but it will be very exciting.
[00:56:25] Saltonstall's Trial can be seen at the Modern Theatre in downtown Boston at 525 Washington Street, Boston, 7:00 PM on October 27th, which is a Thursday, and there will be a talk back afterwards with Marilynne Roach, who's the author of Six Women of Salem and is very famous. She was interviewed on Jon Stewart, and she's one of the world's leading expert on the Salem Witch Trials. 
[00:56:58] If you go to [00:57:00] punctuate4.org, you will see a button that says reservations, and it will lead you to where you have to go. And also it's a free event. And that is thanks to the Ford Hall Forum in Suffolk University who are sponsoring us.
[00:57:18] Josh Hutchinson: This has been Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast. 
[00:57:22] Sarah Jack: Visit thoushaltnotsuffer.com for show notes and transcripts, and to learn how you can support us. 
[00:57:27] Josh Hutchinson: Follow us on Twitter @thoupodcast, Instagram @thoushaltnotsuffer, and Facebook @thoushaltnotsufferpodcast.
[00:57:35] Sarah Jack: If you have questions or feedback, email us at thoushaltnotsufferpodcast@gmail.com. 
[00:57:40] Josh Hutchinson: Like, subscribe, or follow wherever you get your podcasts. 
[00:57:43] Sarah Jack: And if you like the podcast, please rate and review.
[00:57:46] Josh Hutchinson: And tell your friends and family about Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast. 
[00:57:51] Sarah Jack: Bye.
[00:57:52] Josh Hutchinson: Bye. 
[00:57:53] [00:58:00] 
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