Witch hunts in Fairfield: The real story
Published 6:53 am, Saturday, September 27, 2014
The Salem, Mass., witch trials of 1692 may be more famous, but southern Connecticut had its share of similar cases.
In Fairfield, Stratford and Stamford, 17th-century witch trails have been documented and are the subject of a new exhibition, "Accused: Fairfield's Witchcraft Trials" at the Fairfield Museum and History Center.
The exhibit, which opened Thursday, is on display through Jan. 5.
"In this exhibit, we invite (visitors) to look at these events through the eyes of those who lived through them: the men and women who feared they were being harmed by witchcraft, the women who became the targets of accusations and the leaders and court officials who carried out the legal proceedings," the museum said in its announcement.
"Since we don't have photos, the exhibition is based on the commissioned graphic-novel illustrations of (Frostburg, Md.) author Jakob Crane," said Christine Jewell, the museum's director of educational programs.
At a Thursday night "After Dark" program, Crane (a pen name) was on hand to explain how he attempted to make the historical events "more accessible to today's viewer" through his illustrations. His graphic novel, "Lies in the Dust: A Tale of Remorse from the Salem Witch Trials," was released by Islandport Press on Sept. 25.
More InformationWITCH way to go
Accused: Fairfield's Witchcraft Trials
Fairfield Museum and History Center, 370 Beach Road
Daily 10 a.m.-4 p.m. $5, $3 students and seniors
203-259-1598 / www.fairfieldhistory.org.
Jewell pointed out that those who were raised in the area probably know the tales of Goody (short for GoodWife) Bassett of Stratford, who was hanged in 1651, and Goody Knapp of Fairfield, hanged in 1653. Both were determined to be witches.
In total, 11 were hanged throughout all of Connecticut from 1647 to 1663, which, although tragic, was much less gruesome than the 20 who were put to death in Salem alone, she said.
"The hysteria of Salem did not spread here. By 1692, (colonial) magistrates were incredibly cautious that due process be observed," she said, noting that during this period, a servant girl who worked in the Wescot Home in Stamford, depicted by Crane in the exhibit, accused five area women of witchcraft.
The events of 1692, however, "marked the final chapter in Connecticut's witchcraft prosecutions," it is noted in the exhibition.
Also planned is a lecture, "New England's Other Witch Hunt," at 7 p.m. Oct. 9 by Connecticut State Historian Walter Woodward. Tickets are $5 for museum nonmembers.