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Before Salem: Witch Hunting in the Connecticut River Valley, 1647-1663

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Author Richard S. Ross III will discuss his book, "Before Salem: Witch Hunting in the Connecticut River Valley, 1647-1663".

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MARY BARNES SOCIETY PRESENTS: BEFORE SALEM: WITCH HUNTING IN THE CONNECTICUT RIVER VALLEY, 1647-1663

Author Richard S. Ross III will discuss his book, "Before Salem: Witch Hunting in the Connecticut River Valley, 1647-1663", with Virginia Wolf, founding member of the Mary Barnes Society and founder of Herstory Theater.

Decades before the Salem Witch trials, eleven people were hanged as witches in the Connecticut River Valley. The advent of witch hunting in New England was directly influenced by the English Civil War and the witch trials in England led by Matthew Hopkins, who pioneered "techniques" for examining witches. This history examines the outbreak of witch hysteria in the Valley, focusing on accusations of demonic possession, apotropaic magic and the role of the clergy. Although the hysteria was eventually quelled by a progressive magistrate unwilling to try witches, accounts of the trials later influenced contemporary writers during the Salem witch hunts. The source of the document "Grounds for Examination of a Witch" is identified.


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ABOUT RICHARD S. ROSS

Dr. Richard S. Ross III holds a PhD in European history. He is the retired College Librarian and professor emeritus from Trinity College. His research interests include European demonology and witchcraft in England and colonial America. Other scholarly interests include 19th and 20th century medical and administrative German history He is also the author of the book "Contagion in Prussia, 1831 The Cholera Epidemic and the Threat of the Polish Uprising." He lives in Broad Brook (East Windsor), Connecticut.


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RAVES AND REVIEWS

"Ross's "expertise on the topic is shared in an accessibly clear and flowing writing style. He is like the best professors you had in college. Engaging, interesting, funny and a master of his material-at times beguiling...." - Five Stars, Goodreads

"Ross's historical spadework provides many new insights into one of Connecticut's most important and least known events." "It is a significant book" and "will be discussed and read and thought about for a long, long, time." - Walter W. Woodward, Connecticut State Historian, author of "Prospero's America: John Winthrop, Jr., Alchemy and the Creation of New England Culture, 1606-1676."

Grating the Nutmeg: The Podcast of Connecticut History, No. 39, Part 3, October 26, 2017.

A "rich and readable book. ... Ross's description of New England society is superb.... Overall, this is a valuable addition to the vast historical literature relating to witchcraft. Ross is open-minded to this story being an English one played out in America, rather than intrinsically an American affair. And he never talks down to his subjects, however peculiar their beliefs. ...A well-researched and well written account of a forgotten witch-hunt...." - Malcolm Gaskill, Fortean Times, December 1, 2017

ABOUT VIRGINIA WOLF

Virginia Wolf is founder of Herstory Theater, generally dedicated to bringing to life the unsung heroines of history, as well as producing a host of additional projects that both celebrate women and history, and a simple love of theater and performing. Her play, Panic in Connecticut; Accused Witches Have Their Say, was inspired by the research and work done on the CT Witchcraft Panics at the Stanley-Whitman House, which led to the birth of Herstory Theater!

Virginia also works as a voiceover artist and audio book narrator; hosts "SpotLight, Radio Reveling in the Arts and Entertainment", Thursdays at 12:30 on WLIS/WMRD in Middletown, covering arts and entertainment throughout Connecticut; steps in as Katy Leary for the Living History Tours at the Mark Twain House and Museum; and can be found on stage whenever/wherever someone casts her!


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ABOUT THE MUSEUM

Stanley-Whitman House, a National Historic Landmark, is a living history center and museum that teaches through the collection, preservation, research, and dynamic interpretation of the history and culture of 17th to 19th-Century Farmington, Connecticut.

Programs, events, classes, and exhibits encourage visitors of all ages to immerse themselves in history by doing, acting, questioning, and engaging in Colonial life and the ideas that formed the foundation of that culture.

Located in the historic village of Farmington, Stanley-Whitman House is centered on a ca. 1720 National Historical Landmark house furnished with period antiques to reflect the everyday activities of colonial life in Connecticut. Surrounding the house are period raised bed gardens, an apple orchard, and heritage stone walls.

The museum also manages Village Green (located at the intersection of Rtes. 4 and 10), Memento Mori Cemetery (Farmington’s ancient burial ground on Main Street), and the Scott Swamp Cemetery.

Since 1935, Stanley-Whitman House operates under the auspices of and has been supported in part by the Farmington Village Green and Library Association, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) educational organization.

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Stanley-Whitman House is a living history center and museum that teaches through the collection, preservation, research, and dynamic interpretation of the history and culture of early Farmington.  Programs, events, classes, and exhibits encourage visitors of all ages to immerse themselves in history by doing, acting, questioning, and engaging in Colonial life and the ideas that formed the foundation of that culture.

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