Painting Context in Salem, Mass.

I have so many found Ancestral Grandparents, I have always bowed out when naming Uncles and Aunts. The information would be incredulous. Parameters need to be formed when recording family history. I decided early on to discuss direct Grandparents only.

But once in a rare while, I find it necessary to name the siblings of Grandparents. Sometimes when important key events happened, it paints a distinct and unusual picture in which our grandparent lived. They may not be the central character but they were present and a  part of the conflict and context. This is what is important about Salem, Massachusetts and the Witch trials.

We do not directly descend from any central figures, but we do descend from their siblings. Our Aunts, Uncles and Step Mothers were pivotal. Thus, we descend from the time, the place and the heart of the situation of what happened. Our grandparents were in Salem,Mass. in the thick of it. We descend from very key families; Hawthornes, Putmans, Porters, Parkers, Conants and Waltons. We descend from other area families as well that were not so prominent, so again I am drawing lines.

The Putmans and Porters were the wealthiest families in Salem. They were prominent in naming and accusing people of witchcraft. Eight members of the Putnam family were involved in the prosecution of approximately 50 witches. Our own Grandfather Capt. John Putman was a key figure in accusing people of witchcraft.

Salem was at a time when it was rich with gossip. So small a community meant that families married into each other. With so much wealth, amongst such poverty, meant guarding what you had. Inheritances were critical. Who gave what money to whom and who acquired what land could make or break your chance of survival. Also step children fought for favor of their parents in decisions of whom would inherit land and money.

We always hear about the girls who made accusations of witches but that is only one story to be told. The original conflict began with the Putmans and Porters, both of whom we descend. As fighting and lawsuits continued, accusations flooded the community. Our Grandfather Capt John Putman, his wife and children accused over 50 people in total of being witches.

The Hanging Judge, John Hathorne was the brother of our Ancestral Grandmother, Elizabeth Hathorne.

Our Ancestral Grandfather, Lt James Putman was the brother of the famous constable and juror of witches, Thomas Putman, and his daughter who stood witness against so many.The Putmans were the most prominant accuser of witches.

Our Ancestral Grandfather John Wild married Priscilla and had 9 children.  Priscilla died in 4/16/63 and with so many children to care for, John remarried that very next November to Sara Anvil. She was 36 and unmarried. She had been arrested a few times in her 20’s. She was charged with lewd behavior, suspected of having unmarried sex and on another offense, wore a brightly colored scarf. This would have prevented her from being a proper choice for a wife. She was the step mother of our Ancestral Grandfather John Wild Jr. When Sara was 65, she was hung as a witch. Our Grandfather John Wild Sr, remarried a year later to a woman, Mary Jacobs, who husband had also been hung as a witch.

Mary and Alice Parker were both hung and I am still investigating this. We descend from Parkers in this town but are very hard to tract. I will work on this.

It is stated that the Porter Family tried to rally against the Witch trials but then found 19 of their allies accused.

What is important to note is that we descend from quite a number of families that lived in the midst of the Salem Witch Trials.

Here are my lineages to the Salem Witch Trials

Susannah Allen > Ruth Balentine > Sara Kohler > Inez Allen > Mary Page >John Page Jr. > Mary Newcomb > Capt John Newcomb > Ebenezer Newcomb > Sara Wildes > John Wildes > John Wildes Sr.

Susannah Allen > Ruth Balentine > Sara Kohler > Inez Allen > Mary Page > Caroline Parker > Samuel Parker > John Parker> {relationship to Mary and Alice Parker, not confirmed}

Susannah Allen > Ruth Balentine > Sara Kohler > Inez Allen > John Vinton Allen > Abijah Allen > Sara Allen > Deborah Clark > Ann Porter*

* > Israel Porter > Israel Porter > John Porter

* > Israel Porter > Elizabeth Hathorne > William Hathorne

* > Sara Putnam >James Putnam > John Putnam


  2 comments for “Painting Context in Salem, Mass.

  1. April 18, 2014 at 9:49 am


    I want to let you know that your blog is listed in today’s Fab Finds post at

    Have a wonderful weekend!

    • April 18, 2014 at 10:45 am

      Thank you! Wonderful!

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