As 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 Manuscript, SWP 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
Nathaniel Felton jun
Samuell Frayll and an his wife
Zachriah Marsh and mary his wife
Samuel Endecott and hanah his wife
Samuel Gaskil & provided his wife
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.