Miss Pelican's Perch

Looking at my World from a Different Place

Narrowing the Research to Salem


books-56As I indicated in a recent post, I am exploring some of the genealogical research done by a family member in relation to the American Revolution .  As I stated, I am not so concerned about names and dates so much as I am about who these ancestors were and what they did, and to that end I am searching for primary source material that speaks to their lives in the context of their historical setting.

Last night my research jumped backward even further  in time to the Salem Witch Trials of 1692.   I have long known that some of my ancestors were a part of that dismal page of history, and I never really wanted to know what part they played.   But I took a breath and went forward to where the research took me.  To my astonishment and relief, I found out an amazing thing:  The Feltons, my 8th great-grandparents and my 7th great-uncles,  were out-spoken advocates for two of the accused, the Proctors. They were not the finger-pointers that I had feared.

Here is the transcript of a petition they and others in the Salem community signed stating that they did not see any evidence that the Proctors were practicing witchcraft:

Enlarge ManuscriptSWP No. 106.8
(Petition for John Proctor and Elizabeth Proctor )

We whose names are under witten havinge several yeares knowne John Procter and his wife do testefy that we never heard or understood that they were ever suspected to be guilty of the crime now charged apon them and several of us being their neare neighbours do testefy that to our aprehension they lived christian life in their famely and were ever ready to helpe such as stood in need of their helpe

Nathaniel Felton sen: and mary his wife
Samuel Marsh and Prescilla his wife
James Houlton and Ruth his wife
John Felton
Nathaniel Felton jun
Samuell Frayll and an his wife
Zachriah Marsh and mary his wife
Samuel Endecott and hanah his wife
Samuell Stone
George Locker
Samuel Gaskil & provided his wife
George Smith
Ed Edward: Gaskile

( Essex County Archives, Salem — Witchcraft Vol. 1 Page 28 ).  Here is the link.

From this pleasing discovery, I have decided to narrow the focus of my research to these people in the context of this historical event, with the goal of possibly writing about them for future publication.


7 thoughts on “Narrowing the Research to Salem

    • I know it is so geeky to get off on research but I love making the discoveries. History is so much cooler than fiction. Thanks for reading.

      • I love fiction, but you still have to do the research- which I can spend hours doing. and the best of times are not spent in front of my computer doing research. I actually hit the libraries and museums and write down impressions from conversations- in longhand. Some habits are hard to break

      • Oh, I agree. I have a cousin who visits cemeteries to take pictures of the dates on headstones since sometimes the primary documents are not always correct. Of course, my problem is that the primary sources for this research is 3000 miles away. I do like to go to the genealogical section of the Central Library (which is 4 levels below the earth) to do research on California ancestors.

      • I do the pictures too- for stock on my blogs. Have a ton of them, so I should probably take a road trip at some point for more.

  1. What a great find and what a fascinating era of American history to be researching. How exciting for you to have discovered the Mother Lode already! Keep going. I’m looking forward to reading what you produce.

  2. Well hello cousin. The Feltons were my 8th and 7th gr grandparents. Also on your list is James Houlton who is my first cousin 8x removed. I have other ancestors that were part of the Salem Trials on both sides. Also as bad as they were here, they do not compare to what was going on in Europe regarding witch trials.

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