The Witches’ Tree

Envy, turmoil, and perhaps even boredom, intertwine like the gnarled branches of an ancient tree in this story.

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The ease with which those deemed as other can be persecuted and made to suffer has been engraved on the hearts of men, inscribed in the annals of history, and continues to admonish humanity.

The year 1692 is remembered with sadness.

Rebecka Nurse, née Towne, (known to many as Rebecca Nurse from Arthur Miller’s The Crucible) was a cousin of Roger Conant, who had founded Salem after leaving Plymouth, which all at her trial knew.  Myles Standish, the governor of Plymouth was a relative of Rebecka Nurse and Roger Conant.

Nothing could save Rebecca Nurse from the gallows, that had been made of the Witches’ Tree in the ancient Wampanoag settlement called Naumkeag, now Salem.

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Susannah Martin

hanged as witch in Salem witch trials 1692
born 1621 in Buckinghamshire, England

Susannah Martin, nee North was also accused and hanged with Rebecka (Rebecca) Nurse, nee Towne in Salem in 1692 in Salem Village, Essex, Massachusetts Bay Colony.

The original court record book has been lost. The local Puritan minister, Cotton Mather, recorded the testimony. Susannah and the others accused were not allowed to have counsel.

“As soon as she came in, Marcy had fits”

Magistrate: Do you know this woman?

Abigail Williams saith it is goody Martin, she hath hurt me often.

Others by fits were hindered from speaking.

Marcy Lewis pointed at her and fell into a little fit.

Ann Putnam threw her glove in a fit at her.

Susanna laughed

Magistrate: What! Do you laugh at it?

Martin: Well I may at such folly.

Mag: Is this folly? The hurt of persons?

Martin: I never hurt man or woman or child.

Marcy: She hath hurt me a great many times and pulls me down.

Then Martin laughed again.

Susannah’s 4th great grandfather, Robert Thomas North (1374-1471), is the author’s 17th and Lady Diana’s 16th.

“The Witches’ Tree” as a Teaching Tool

The author presented this book in projected format in four High school English classes in which Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” was being read.

The instructor commented that “Grandma Rebecka and the Witches’ Tree” underscored Miller’s phrase “There are wheels within wheels in this village and fires within fires.”

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Rebecka’s acquisition of the Endecott Estate adds yet another layer combining with many “fires” to create an image of an ancient tree with gnarled and intertwined branches.”

Rebecka’s cousinship with Salem founder, Roger Conant, both being related to Myles Standish adds to the story.

Roger Conant: founder of Salem

CONANT, Roger 7Salem was founded by Roger Conant, a cousin of Rebecka (Rebecca) Nurse. This would have been known by all at her trial in 1692.

Roger Conant was Governor of the Cape Ann Colony 1625 – 1628.

Roger Conant was born in East Budleigh, Devon, England. His mother was Agnes Clarke (1548 – 1630), whose father was John Clarke (1503 – 1559)

John Clarke (1536 – 1610), the son of John Clarke (1503 – 1559), was the father of Elizabeth Alice Clarke (1569 – 1630)

Elizabeth Alice Clarke was the mother of William Towne (1599 – 1673), who was the father of Rebecka Blessing Towne (1621 – 1692), who was falsely accused and hanged as a witch.