Arrested and Hanged As a Salem Witch
One of Salem, Massachusetts' Witch Trials first victims in 1692 was Sarah Good, a woman of childbearing age who, indeed, was pregnant, at the time of her arrest on February 29, 1692. The baby was born in prison and died there. Accused of bewitching children, Sarah experienced a fate not ever envisioned, a fate even worse than losing her father John Sobert to suicide, a fate worse than the loss of her first husband Daniel Poole in 1686, or the inheritance of all of his debts, to pass on to her second husband, William Good.
Forced to beg alms, door to door, Sarah's physical countenance resembled that of someone twice her age. Her matted hair, and weathered face, and the curses under her tongue to those who did not help her, perhaps frightened townspeople. When the accusation of “witch” was uttered, it fulfilled the thoughts already on the minds of the churchgoers and wealthy of her community. It is always easy for society to persecute those who are “different,” or do not conform to the expected norm.
On June 29, 1692 Sarah was convicted of witchcraft and she was hanged on July 19. At the last moment, Reverend Noyes urged her to admit to being a witch and ask forgiveness, but she refused. Instead, she proclaimed, “I am no more a witch than you are a wizard. If you take my life away, God will give you blood to drink.” Years later, when the judge died of a hemorrhage that resulted in blood in his mouth, Salem residents remembered Sarah's statement.
A descendant of Judge Hathorne, novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), included a similar scene involving the death of Judge Pycheon in his fictional work, The House of the Seven Gables.
Ellen Webster visited the Corwin House (in the 1930s?) where Grace Atkinson rented upstairs rooms to sell antiques. Atkinson died in 1943. The following year, the city of Salem, MA bought the house. In 1944, it was opened as a museum. Ellen copied an appliquéd block from a quilt. She wrote the following statement on a quilt “chart.”
Quilt found on a bed in the “Old Witch House,” Salem, Mass. when the first hearing was held for the trial of witches. The “witch” was Sarah Good, and the house was Jonathan Corwins', corner of Essex and North Streets. J. Corwin was magistrate.
|Quilt inspired by Ellen E. Webster's quilt chart and made by Patricia Cummings|
Neither the quilt pattern, nor the fabrics used to re-create this block, are believable entities for a quilt made in 1692 (17th century). At that time, wool or linsey-woolsey wholecloth quilts were popular, their fibers dyed with Indigo and other natural plant dyes often from local New England plant species. Turquoise calico is more typical of the 1930s and fits the pastel color palette of that era.
Quilt made by Patricia Cummings, Concord, NH, in May 2010, to display in talks about Ellen Webster, the subject of her 355 page book, published in 2008.