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Salem Witch Trials


            When a person thinks of a witch, they usually relate it to Halloween. They picture a woman with black, straggly hair, wrinkled skin, a huge nose with a wart on it, dressed in black, and so on. But they are mistaken. In the Puritan years, regular, everyday people were accused of witch craft. Many, even though some innocent, were prosecuted and put to death.
             The witchcraft hysteria at Salem, Massachusetts began in 1692. Several girls of Salem Village began to sicken and display alarming symptoms. The most disturbing and most frequent of these symptoms were convulsive fits, so grotesque and violent that eyewitnesses agreed that the girls could not possibly be acting. Two of these girls names were Betty Parris and Abigail Williams. Betty was the nine-year-old daughter of minister, Samuel Parris. Abigail, eleven, probably an orphan, was his niece. Tituba, a slave Parris had brought home from Barbados, talked with them on these winter nights. She entertained them with imaginative tales of fairies and supernatural spirits. .
             Sometimes, other girls joined them. There was Ann Putman, the twelve-year-old daughter of leading citizen Thomas Putman. Mercy Lewis, the Putman's nineteen-year-old-servant, also came along. Elizabeth Hubbard, the seventeen-year-old niece of Dr. William Griggs, sometimes showed up. So did Mary Walcott, sixteen, daughter of Putman in-law Jonathan Walcott. Twenty-year-old Mary Warren, the servant of tavern keeper John Proctor, occasionally visited. .
             After seeing the girls acting so strangly, their parents took them to Dr. Griggs. He gave the girls a complete checkup, but couldn't find any recognizable disease. He checked his medical books for clues, but couldn't find anything in them that might help. Goodwife Sibley approached Tituba's husband, John Indian, and asked him to prepare a witch cake from a traditional English receipe-flour mixed with children's urine. The cake was fed to her dog, thinking that it would have the dog tell who the witch was.


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