Late in 2016, a lovely fellow stitcher posted on Facebook in one of the stitching groups a suggestion to do a SAL beginning in June to honor the 325th anniversary of the Salem Witch Trials. She had suggested we all stitch this beautiful piece by Notforgotten Farm called Salem Village.
While I love that piece (really anything by Notforgotten Farm) I decided that it was the perfect opportunity to stitch a piece that has been in my stash since 2008 when Karen V (sadly no longer blogging) gifted it to me – Salem Remembered by The Primitive Needle.
Part of the reason I have been wanting to stitch this piece was to honor my ancestor, Susannah Martin, one of those accused and put to death during the trials.
In doing some research on Susannah I found this: Lone Tree Hill, a famous historical site, bore a tablet on its westerly side marking the site of George and Susannah’s home. The boulder which marked their homestead has been moved to make room for a highway, and it can be found on the map where the highway crosses Martin Road in Amesbury. The marker lies nearby. George was one of the largest landowners in Amesbury. The inscription on the marker reads: “Here stood the house of Susannah Martin. An honest, hardworking Christian woman accused of being a witch and executed at Salem, July 19, 1692. She will be missed! A Martyr of Superstition. T.I.A. 1894.”
“A martyr of superstition” really says it all about this horrible time in our history.
It was important to me that in undertaking this piece I wanted to really delve into each of the names I was stitching and to reflect on what they endured. We started the SAL on June 10th and I proceeded to complete each of the names by the date that they were put to death, beginning with Bridget Bishop the first to be executed.
I stitched this piece on a 40ct Lakeside Linen of unknown color with my own conversion (using what I had on hand). I used Belle Soie Moss for the motifs and border, Silk N Colors Chestnut for the names, Gloriana Antique Gold Dark for the centers of the stars, and Silk N Colors Tuscan Olive (called for) for the background around the stars. I wanted Susannah’s name to be prominent so I chose to use Belle Soie Red Fox for her name as well as for the stars.
Further information from my research: On Aug 29, 1957 the State of Massachusetts voted to wipe from the books the convictions of six women that had been unjustly accused of being witches 265 years earlier. Then Gov. Foster Furcolo signed the legislative intended to clear Susannah Martin, as well as: Ann Pudeator, Bridget Bishop, Alice Parker, Margaret Scott and Wilmot Redd.
However, while taking a graduate course on Salem witchcraft during the late 1990s, Paula Keene discovered that, although the legislators intended to pardon all six of the women in 1957, only Ann Pudeater’s name was listed on the official documents. Susannah Martin, Bridget Bishop, Alice Parker, Margaret Scott and Wilmot Redd were simply listed as “five others convicted of witchcraft.” Keene and state representative Michael Ruane worked together to redress the issue.
On Halloween 2001, due to Keene and Ruane’s efforts, as well as the efforts of many of the descendants of the accused witches, Susannah Martin, Bridget Bishop, Alice Parker, Margaret Scott and Wilmot Redd were finally, and truly exonerated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
On September 22, 1692 Martha Corey, Alice Parker, Margaret Scott, Ann Pudeator, Mary Easty, Samuel Wardwell, Wilmott Redd and Mary Parker were hanged at Gallows hill. These were the last hangings to take place during the Salem Witch Trials. I didn’t quite make my goal of finishing the last set of of names by the date of their death, but I had them finished by the end of the month. And frankly, it’s quite chilling to realize that eight were hanged on the same day.
I started this piece on June 10, 2017 and finished it on October 3, 2017. In the dedication of a new memorial at Proctor’s Ledge on the 325th anniversary the following was said. “We would like to think that we’ve learned from the evil and traumatic choices made 325 years ago. We would like to think we’ve become better people,” Barz-Snell said. “The truth is the lessons of Salem are not just learned once, but must be learned and relearned by each generation.”
“From this time forward I hope that residents and visitors to Salem will treat the tragic events of 1692 with more of the respect they are due,” he said. “We need less celebration in October and more commemoration and sober reflection throughout the year.”
I am grateful for honoring my history.