Sunday, June 17, 2018

Remembrance: Mary Sanford, Rebecca and Nathaniel Greensmith, and Mary Barnes

As of this time, research indicates eleven known hangings for witchcraft during the Hartford and Fairfield Witch Panics (the Fairfield Witch Panic rears its ugly head again later, coinciding more closely with Salem's 1692 persecutions). The following four names are the last of the Connecticut victims.



Mary Sandford was accused along with her husband, Andrew, and both were tried for witchcraft. It purportedly began with the "possession" and subsequent death of an 8-year-old Elizabeth Kelly, who cried out in her "fits" against her neighbor, Goodwife Ayres. An investigation ensued and Mary and Andrew were also named, along with Goodwife Ayres and her husband, William.  William accused Rebecca Greensmith who in turn supported accusations against her own husband, Nathaniel, as well as several other Hartford residents.  The community was now caught in a grip of fear that would result in accusations against thirteen people, four of whom would hang.

Goodwife Ayres and her husband, William, did undergo the water test and both failed it miserably when they did not sink. It is horrific how such tests were conducted. The accused's right thumb would be lashed to her left big toe, while her left thumb would be lashed to the right big toe. Then she would be thrown into the water.  If she sank, she was innocent.  If she floated, she was guilty.  Although they were found guilty, Goody Ayres, with the help of friends, broke out of prison along with her husband, and the two fled Connecticut and went to Rhode Island, leaving everything behind, including their children.

Mary and Andrew Sanford were not so fortunate. On June 6, 1662, Andrew was accused but was acquitted because of a deadlocked jury. Mary, though, was found guilty and condemned to be executed.  Although there is no actual record of her execution, historians assume she was hanged, as records indicate that her husband soon remarried and moved to Milford to live a normal life with his new wife and their (eventually) six children.

Sometimes the poor character of individuals led to accusations, as was the case with Rebecca and Nathaniel Greensmith, who lived in Hartford. They were not well liked, he having been twice convicted of theft (and once of lying to the courts), and she having been involved in several nights of "merry making"---dancing and drinking a bottle of sack with several of her rabble-rousing friends. These nocturnal gatherings were not unusual for them and they soon found themselves under suspicion and formally indicted. Rebecca confessed to many strange things, and included her husband in these activities. One can't help but wonder why she would do that...

Mary Barnes of Farmington has a more obscure history. We do know that she was illiterate and a servant and, at some point, was accused of adultery (which was a capital offense at the time) and therefore not accepted into the Farmington church. Ironically, she had earlier accused someone else of witchcraft. It's not entirely clear how Mary found herself accused, but it is presumed she was named by someone involved in the other Hartford cases...

Mary Barnes spent three weeks in jail before being hanged in January 1663.  She was Connecticut's last.

Rest in peace, Mary Sanford, Rebecca and Nathaniel Greensmith, and Mary Barnes...

© 2018 Nancy Duncan

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Letter to My Father




Dear Daddy,

You know I was a Daddy's girl, the youngest of your four daughters. If you liked your steak rare, so did I. If you liked milk chocolate with peanuts inside, so did I.

Looking back, now grown, I see so many gifts that you gave us girls and, although you passed away years ago, your legacy remains through us. You gave us the gift of confidence, despite living in an age when girls were left behind in the sciences. Remember those  Korean battery-powered robots you sent us that walked and blinked and made noise? We loved them, although we did make them the naughty students when we played school... For Christmas you gave us a telescope, a microscope, and even a chemistry set (today such a "toy" would not be sold to children, lol!). Once you even gave my sister and me these space shoes with springs that, if we strapped them on, we supposedly would be able to leap super high. Haha! That never happened because our legs were so small and spindly, we could barely just walk around with them on! But your intention remains in my heart, Daddy. You always encouraged our wonder of the universe, and as a result we spent hours on our own memorizing the planets and the solar system (Compton's Encyclopedia set was our friend) and playing "Lost in Space." Of course, when Superballs came out, we each got one and marveled at their space-age super bounce! You encouraged our love and curiosity of rocks, and we got to know sedimentary, igneous, etc., and, when we all went on a road trip through Arkansas, you took the Highway 7 route, which winds through the Ozarks...stopping at every single rock shop so that we could pick yet another out to add to our swiftly-growing collection. You collected coins and shared that interest with us, too, getting us those blue fold-out coin collectors' books so that we could study pennies and nickels and add them to our collections.

You gave us your time whenever you could, despite being very involved in the military and having to travel and work long and late hours. I well remember that time you and I went out to our guest house and you shared a story of once having to arrest an SS officer during WWII, showing me the Nazi dagger. You rarely---if ever---shared memories of war with us. We were girls, after all, and I think you wished to spare us and protect us. I so love you for that, and value that you had the trust in me to share that most painful time in your life.  That dagger has since been added to your military trunk which will go to one of my nephews, who is very interested in WWII and one who will cherish those items and save them for posterity. You taught us gratefulness, too...always bringing back something for us from your world travels...and to show our gratefulness, we performed little plays and dances for you (we rehearsed for hours!), using all the beautiful foreign things you had brought us. I know you must've been smiling and laughing up your sleeve at our antics..and you never failed to show your gratefulness, too...remember that horrid felt glasses case I made you in Brownies?...you know, the one with glitter and a three-leaf clover? And you took it to the Pentagon with it tucked proudly in your breast pocket, all day and told everyone that your daughter made it. That made me feel so special...

I always admired that you were a letter writer, too, a communicator.  Every Sunday you sat down and wrote Grandma and our older married sisters. As you wrote, I read and wrote poetry. We were together, even in our separate thoughts. I cherished those moments.  In one of the last letters you ever wrote to me after I had graduated university, you wrote, "Take care of yourself...and be happy." I do. And I am, Daddy...

You were ever cheerful and positive, waking us up on school days with the mantra, "Goooooood morning!  It's another beautiful day...another day in which to excel!!" Oh, how we groaned at those words...but those words did stick, Daddy...thank you. And you never complained. When we spent Thanksgiving in Austria and walked through the town of Salzburg, it was freezing! Yet you only wore that drab-green corduroy jacket with leather patches at the elbows, saying you were just fine...I'd love to have that old coat...


You never forgot that we were girls, though, never allowing us to mow the lawn, afraid we might hurt ourselves (though we could rake leaves for a dime a bag, lol!). And when I graduated high school, the last of your girls soon to fly the nest, you told me to dress up and you took me out for a special lunch, ordering for me (as a gentleman does) a most wonderful spinach salad! You taught us through example that a man should walk on the outside of the sidewalk, the lady always on the inside.  Because of you, we knew we should expect respect and care from our future spouses. xxx

And there were the smaller moments...you taught me to notice the changing light as the seasons moved from late summer to autumn...and I know this gave me the gift of observing and appreciating the natural world, which I so value yet today...

Best of all, though, Daddy, you taught us the importance of integrity---that it can take years to gain self-respect and only minutes to lose it---wisdom I cherish and hold fast to in this ever-challenging world.

Oh, the gifts that a father gives, that you imparted to us...lifelong lessons and love...

Happy Father's Day, Daddy...I love you.


Your loving youngest daughter,
Nancy







Friday, June 15, 2018

Green Witch's Report: Blazing Hot!

Just another week or so before Midsummer, the Summer Solstice---and Nature is sure letting me know that she is preparing us for it!  The days are now consistently in the upper 90s, and the Gardens are shifting into full-green mode with splashes of color from heat-adoring flowers...

The Summer Phlox has finally begun to bloom its pinkness...such a lovely aroma! It will bloom all Summer and into early Fall...such staying power it has!



Other plants, though, such as the Hostas are burning and curling at their tips...poor things...I wonder if I can use those curled leaves for something...



Some plants, like the Texas Gold Columbine have long gone to seed...that's ok with me, as their seeds will fall and most likely be nestled in other parts of the the Garden for next year.



The Monarda, or Bee Balm, is in its second round of blooming, while the Hummingbird Bush has shot up considerably and will soon be blooming its bright red tubular flowers, perfect for the thirsty hummers!



One of my lilies made her debut this morning...and the Lantana is filling out and lovin' the heat!



Salvias and Echinaceas are going strong, as always...
they really look like they're having a raucous party!


Sisters Tansy and Rue are doing their thing...Tansy is almost as tall as Goody Prymm!!



Speaking of getting tall, look at the Moonflower Vines!!! And little Cypress Vine is coming along but won't be in full swing until July and August...



The Spiderwort is spreading and giving off its subdued little blue flowers...and the Silver Mound Artemisia looks so feathery and soft...I love its silverishness...



Right now the hummers are loving the Mexican Oregano, in full bloom...and the promise of a zillion (well, maybe not a zillion) Black-eyed Susans are juuuuusst beginning to bud...



Wandering Jew is...uh...wandering :) and little orange Chrysanthemums are peeking out here and there...



One thing bothers me, though, about this year...there are very few insects...and I mean goode insects...where are the spiders? the ladybugs? the preying mantis? Perhaps the late cool weather has reprogrammed them and they will be coming out in the next few weeks...

It may be hot out there where you are, but take an evening or early morning stroll through a Garden if you can...there are a lot of cool things happening!!

© 2018 Nancy Duncan

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Sharing the Love

An acquaintance of mine recently had to move her mother-in-law into a medical facility, which was difficult for her to do, yet was necessary. Needless to say, her mother-in-law did not want to go. I asked my acquaintance if her mother-in-law did handwork of any kind, and did she think she could embroider or knit? I learned that Mary (mother-in-law's name and no surprise to me) used to embroider, so I asked did she think that she would like to embroider with me? I found out several days later that, yes, she would very much like that!

I researched the facility online and found that, though it was clean and the residents well taken care of, they had few activities to offer them, other than television and bingo. I can think of nothing so depressing as that. I went there and introduced myself to Mary and learned she loves lighthouses and wanted to stitch one, though she did say she would need the design on the material to follow.

So this is what I've made up for Mary! A cute little stitch box with a nautical theme to hold all of her supplies...



Let's see what's in there...Oh! I think she will love the colors!



Let's see...a kitchen towel on which to stitch; she said she did not like to stitch on linen, just plain material (I will draw the lighthouse design on it later today), threads, an assortment of embroidery needles, a needle box that has a cool, easy-to-handle threader tucked inside, an embroidery hoop (which she says she does not use, but I stuck it in anyway), and embroidery scissors with a sheath.  That should do it...



If she does not wish to use the slide-lid needle box (it may be too fiddly for her), I am including one of my needle books that I made some time ago...



It can hold quite a few needles and, if she desires, I will set it up for her...



Tomorrow I will take the embroidery box to her and "sit 'n' stitch" with her awhile and visit her once a week for stitching. I can think of nothing more healing than visiting with others and creating a thing of beauty...

Who knows? Maybe others will be interested to join in some time along the way!

© 2018 Nancy Duncan

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

New Moon




A time for quiet reflection...
The Moon goes dark.

With the promise of growing Light
                to come.



© 2018 Nancy Duncan

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Remembrance: Ann Hibbins



Ann Hibbins was executed on June 19, 1656.  Hers was the third hanging for witchcraft in Boston.  Ann was a wealthy widow, and the fact that a woman of such high social standing would be persecuted as a witch makes this case unusual.

It began in 1640 when she sued a group of carpenters who had been working on her house, accusing them of overcharging her.  She won her case but was considered "abrasive," refusing to apologize for her abrasiveness and therefore condemned by the church.  She was excommunicated, the church citing her for usurping her husband's authority (she had married again). She became "turbulent and quarrelsome" and soon found herself accused of witchery. Her body was searched for witch marks and her house searched for poppets (remember Goody Prymm's dilemma?).  Although she was convicted in 1655, that conviction being set aside, she was later tried and found guilty again.  Interestingly, no evidence used to convict her has survived.

Some of her supporters claimed that she "was charged for a witch only for having more wit than her neighbors." It appears that a woman with exceptional intelligence was viewed with suspicion...

Ann Hibbins is immortalized in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter as the witch "Mistress Hibbins," with whom Hester Prynn comes in frequent contact.

I had a bit of trouble with Ann's name, as I was stitching rather late at night and my eyes and brain must've been tired.  I didn't recheck my notes and found that I had stitched Higgins instead of Hibbins!  So I ripped out the two G's and restitched two rather wide B's...



...so her name may look a bit more spread out than it would have been...



Rest in peace, Ann Hibbins...

© 2018 Nancy Duncan


Saturday, June 9, 2018

Moving On...

I dislike the modern-day mantra of "moving forward," as if that is the answer for everything. It seems to negate anything that has come before.  I believe we should never move forward without first looking back and learning from those experiences.  If we follow that path of looking back--- seriously--- surely our perspective will be more informed and will give us a reflective lens in looking to the future.  Life is not a game.  People are not  to be used or toyed with.  They are human beings, created by a loving Creator.  Hopefully, we learn to navigate the difficult streams of life, together, for each other, for the goode. But it is not a perfect world we live in. This is my thought tonight.

Love one another.



© 2018 Nancy Duncan