Kent Historical Society

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 New England’s Other Witch Hunt:

A talk by the Connecticut State Historian

SUNDAY JAN. 18, 2015 (snow date Feb. 1)

Witches are coming back to Kent! In another of its continuing Sunday Series presentations, the Kent Historical Society will host Walt Woodward, the Connecticut state historian, giving a presentation on witch hunts that happened in Connecticut. The lecture will be held Sunday, January 18, 2015, at 2 p.m. at the Kent Town Hall (rescheduled from November).

Not many people know that Connecticut was New England’s most determined witch prosecutor – even fiercer than Salem. The record is terrible: The first person hanged for witchcraft in New England came from Windsor, and for a time every Connecticut woman indicted for witchcraft was convicted and hanged.

Walt Woodward animates this extraordinary, but neglected episode in a lecture that begins with the Protestant Reformation and continues through the Hartford Witch hunt of the 1660’s – a nightmare of trials and executions that preceded Salem by a generation. The story improves, too. Woodward documents how Connecticut’s Governor John Winthrop, Jr. played a role in ending executions for witchcraft 30 years before they even began at Salem.

Kent’s own Seger family was caught up in the madness. Elizabeth Moody Seger was accused of witchcraft three times. It is documented on the family’s web site onsegermountain.org/witchcraft

The state witch hunt is a tale of misogyny and public panic. Woodward will answer the questions people often ask about the early witch hunts, and explains why almost everyone in the 1600s feared witchcraft. Woodward says, “As Connecticut’s State Historian, I am honored to play a part in keeping our stories alive and vital — especially neglected ones, like the witch hunts.”

The Kent Historical Society sponsors the Sunday Series every other month September through May. Admission is free, but donations are welcome.

The Kent Historical Society’s mission is to collect, preserve, interpret and present the rich history of Kent as well as to provide educational and research material to enrich the public understanding of Kent’s artistic and cultural heritage.