Saturday, October 19, 2013

Witches in your Family Tree

Genealogical research can be bewitching. It’s nearing two of my husband’s ancestor’s favorite time of year. They were witches and he can claim them in his family tree. I am referring to Colonial America when the fear of witchcraft prevailed. These “witches” were the subject of an overriding fear of things that the colonists did not understand. In the case of Lydia Gilbert, she was accused of killing Henry Stiles. She never held the weapon or was anywhere near the place of death. Thomas Allen, a militiaman, cocked his musket during a training exercise and inadvertently knocked it against a tree. The weapon fired killing Henry Stiles. Mr. Stiles lived in the household of Lydia Gilbert. It is not known if there was trouble between them, but subsequently she was accused of witchcraft, because “by the devil’s help”, she caused the musket to fire. Collecting names and dates is part of genealogical research, but the interesting part is when there is a good story to be told. There were many books and articles written about the witches in Colonial America, many concerning Salem, and Massachusetts. But many men and women were accused and indicted in Connecticut as well as other less known courts. There is a lineage society of the descendants of witches, called Associated Daughters of Early American Witches. Membership is by invitation only. I can check their list of approved ancestors. Contact me at