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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Today in history (actually Feb 29th, but we don't have that)

January 20, 1692: Eleven-year old Abigail Williams and nine-year-old Elizabeth Parris begin behaving much as the Goodwin children acted four years earlier. Soon Ann Putnam Jr. and other Salem girls begin acting similarly.

Mid-February, 1692: Doctor Griggs, who attends to the "afflicted" girls, suggests that witchcraft may be the cause of their strange behavior.

February 25, 1692: Tituba, at the request of neighbor Mary Sibley, bakes a "witch cake" and feeds it to a dog. According to an English folk remedy, feeding a dog this kind of cake, which contained the urine of the afflicted, would counteract the spell put on Elizabeth and Abigail. The reason the cake is fed to a dog is because the dog is believed a "familiar" of the Devil.

Late-February, 1692: Pressured by ministers and townspeople to say who caused her odd behavior, Elizabeth identifies Tituba. The girls later accuse Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne of witchcraft.

February 29, 1692: Arrest warrants are issued for Tituba, Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne
The above is a timeline of what led up to the arrests of these women on the charge of witchcraft, and as the tombstones here show, the fate of a witch was to be hanged.
How terrible to have to try and defend yourself against an impossible to prove crime. If you swore you were not a witch, how to you prove you are not? Whatever defense you might provide could be twisted to the whim of whatever the judges might interpret it as; it was pretty much a no-win situation. How awful to be executed for nothing other than someones dislike of you or for merely being the odd person in the neighborhood.

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