Welcome back friend of the podcast Andy Verzosa, Executive Director of the Stanley-Whitman House in Farmington, CT. The Stanley-Whitman House is an award-winning living history museum and home of the Mary Barnes Society, which honors Farmington’s only witch trial victim. Andy discusses all the wonderful people that have come together over the years to make the history come alive, including witch trial history. He explains how prosopography enriches the understanding of time periods. Enjoy this welcoming and reflective episode that paints the picture of how Connecticut is working to understand and honor the history of its land.
Support the show
[00:00:20] Josh Hutchinson: Welcome to Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast. I'm Josh Hutchinson.
[00:00:26] Sarah Jack: And I'm Sarah Jack.
[00:00:28] Josh Hutchinson: In this episode, we talk to you Andy Verzosa, executive director of the Stanley-Whitman House in Farmington, Connecticut.
[00:00:35] Sarah Jack: The Stanley-Whitman House is an award-winning living history museum and home of the Mary Barnes Society, which honors Farmington's only witch trial victim. The society holds an annual Mary Barnes Day on January 25th, the anniversary of her hanging.
[00:00:51] Josh Hutchinson: The House recently received two Awards of Merit from the Connecticut League of Historical Organizations.
[00:00:57] Sarah Jack: One award was for their book, Memento Mori: Remembered Death.
[00:01:02] Josh Hutchinson: The other was for their play, The Last Night, which tells the story of witch trial victims Rebecca Greensmith, Nathaniel Greensmith, and Mary Barnes.
[00:01:11] Sarah Jack: Today you're gonna hear us talk about all the pieces that come together.
[00:01:15] Josh Hutchinson: Andy Verzosa tells us about all the wonderful people that have come together over the years to make the history come alive, including witch trial history.
[00:01:24] Sarah Jack: You'll learn how prosopography enriches the understanding of time periods.
[00:01:29] Josh Hutchinson: Andy talks to us about operating a museum and running their many programs.
[00:01:36] Sarah Jack: You'll hear a little bit from behind the scenes on what it takes to make these programs come alive.
[00:01:45] Josh Hutchinson: Talk about the importance of visiting local museums.
[00:01:50] Sarah Jack: They have wonderful art installations that you'll hear about.
[00:01:53] Josh Hutchinson: And you'll learn about witch trial victim Mary Barnes, and we'll learn about her connection to the Memento Mori Cemetery, which the Stanley-Whitman House operates.
[00:02:08] Sarah Jack: They support the exoneration. Hear a local's perspective.
[00:02:13] Josh Hutchinson: The board presented the Judiciary Committee with written testimony in support of House Joint Resolution 34, Resolution Concerning Certain Witchcraft Convictions in Colonial Connecticut, and we'll learn why Andy is excited about exoneration.
[00:02:35] Sarah Jack: You'll walk away from this episode feeling the importance of history and motivated to find out what's available in your community.
[00:02:45] Andy Verzosa is the executive director of the Stanley-Whitman House, a museum and living history center that collects, preserves, and interprets the history and culture of Farmington, Connecticut. His background in the arts blends into his passion for creating touchable history. Stanley-Whitman House teaches through the collection, preservation, research, and dynamic interpretation of history and culture. Programs, events, classes, and exhibits encourage visitors of all ages to immerse themselves in history by doing, acting, questioning, and engaging in colonial life and the ideas that form the foundation of that culture.
[00:03:19] Andy Verzosa: It's hard to get people's attention. There's so much competition for news and good news. And as the quality of news is complex, what you get and when you get it, and particularly around something about witches. When people think about witches, they think of Salem, they think of Bewitched, they think of different things through popular culture and Hollywood.
[00:03:46] But what I found when I started my job in 2018, I had no idea about the Connecticut witch panics and trials in Connecticut. None at all. I was familiar with the Salem Witch Trials and what happened there, mostly because there was actually Reverend Burroughs, who lived in Maine, actually in, in my town, Portland, Maine, which was called Falmouth at that time. And it had been, this is like the late 1600s. The Wabanaki Confederacy had wiped out the settlement there in Casco, which would be what is today Portland, Maine, and he went to a southern part of what we call Maine today, and to a place called Wells. And while he was there, he was apprehended, taken without much notice, any preparation. And by the end of that summer that year, he was executed. So I knew a little bit about that, because he was a reverend and he was a male, and I of course knew about Salem through popular culture.
[00:04:53] I had no idea when I moved to Connecticut that there were witch trials ,that there were people that were accused, indicted, and hanged , 11 people that we know of. Over 40 people were accused and some didn't lose their lives, but their, maybe their livelihoods were damaged. And we know the damage that has done. And it's certainly what I've read since.
[00:05:18] And part of what is great about the exoneration perspective, exoneration of those accused of witchcraft in Connecticut is this intergenerational trauma, the legacy of this, the way that we think about things, the way that we use words. All these things are gonna maybe be reconsidered and changed in a good way, so there's a reckoning, which I really excited to be a small part of through the work that I do at Stanley-Whitman House.
[00:05:46] Sarah Jack: Can you tell us about the history of the Stanley-Whitman House and your role?
[00:05:53] Andy Verzosa: I'm the executive director at Stanley-Whitman House. It's a small museum, and we have a program there where we do living history. We give house tours. We have school children come in and have field trips come in and homeschool students come in. We have scouts that come in for different programs. They may even do a project at the house to earn, like an Eagle Scout award, things like that. So we're really very engaged in part of the community. When people think about Stanley-Whitman house, they think about maybe when they were in school, they went there on a field trip, and now their children are going there on a field trip kind of place.
[00:06:34] And we sometimes have legacy folks come. In fact, we have someone on our board, our board chair, her husband's grandmother was one of the early caretaker-directors. So in exchange for being able to live at the Stanley-Whitman house, which was then called the Farmington Museum, she was able to live there, but she was obligated to keep it open certain times of the week and for certain hours of the day.
[00:06:58] It's a 1720s building. It's a living history center, and we have public spaces where we have folks do research. We will offer hearth-cooking, for example. We have gardens. The gardens have been, probably, during covid, one of the saving features of our being able to stay open, because we had what I call a museum without walls. We were able to do programs and have people visit us and still go to work every day, because we could do concerts outside, we could do our foodways programs partially outside. I did an artist intervention program in our gardens and we use our cemetery, our Memento Mori Cemetery, which has a connection to Mary Barnes, which I can get into as well. But we would give tours there. We would do gravestone cleaning workshops.
[00:07:53] So we really do quite a bit of showing people what colonial life was like, through things like plants and food, through the trades. We also will have people come in to give talks and do programs. And again, through Covid, during the last 3 years, we've been using online programs. So I never knew how to do a Zoom until Covid. I never did panels until I worked with Virginia Wolf, Beth Caruso, and Tony Griego in 2021, when I was doing a series of online panels with them, each featuring what they did and then having a group panel in observance of Mary Barnes Day.
[00:08:40] As you know, recently, we just did The Last Night, a play that I commissioned and produced through the museum. I hired Virginia Wolf and Debra Walsh to come in and write a play about the last night that Mary Barnes and Rebecca Greensmith had. And we did both a live performance, and we recorded and then put together on January 25th the actual commemoration date 360 years of their hanging. We had that online, which was very well attended.
[00:09:18] I'm chief cook and bottle washer at the museum, so there's no production team. I'm doing the production, as you probably well know, doing what you guys are doing.
[00:09:25] I am the happy beneficiary, the recipient of wonderful research by my predecessor, Lisa Johnson. And Lisa has been with the museum for over 20 years. She started out as a volunteer, was on their board, but then had become the director of Stanley-Whitman House for 20 years. One of the things that she was interested in, and I will point out, is that since like 1999 she had a group that she led that did research about a woman named Mary Barnes.
[00:10:05] I've seen video where she mentions how she found it curious by reading a passage in Christopher Bickford's Farmington book, which is like Farmington 101, a mention about Mary Barnes. And it was a curious mention, and it really precipitated her looking into who this woman was that was accused, indicted and hanged. And one of the last people to be hanged in Connecticut. I have actually two documents which we're gonna scan, and I just gotta make sure that everything's done, and we have to make sure the citations are in the documents here.
[00:10:40] So before I release things, I like to make sure those things are done cuz like we like to know where things come from, right? We wanna credit people properly. And so I may just not have found that, but I have found these papers, and one is called "In a Preternatural Way: the Witchcraft Trial of Mary Barnes." This was presumably finished October 28th, 1999. And then the other is "The Witchcraft Trial of Mary Barnes Part Two." And that was finished dated October 2000. And she gives credit to her volunteers and staff, those that helped her do the research.
[00:11:15] For example, I like mentioning people's names, because it takes a village, right? So there's one woman named Joanne Silverio. She was an admin at the museum. Another woman was Betty Kelly, who was a longtime volunteer at the museum. She actually recently passed. But she was researching records at the church, First Church of Christ Congregational in town, and she worked with an investigative reporter who volunteered, Lisa Backus, who would dig into different archives. And then she mentions some other resources.
[00:11:47] But why I mentioned those people is that our museum, what I think is a great legacy and a great feature of our museum is that I have volunteer researchers today who come in every Wednesday, once a week. They come in the morning. They stay until mid afternoon. And they research things that I ask them to look into or things of their own interest. And it has resulted in much like these early papers that Lisa led. We did last year a book on the Momento Mori Cemetery, where we did 23 vignettes of people buried, out of the 800-odd graves that we know of people buried there.
[00:12:25] We were able to publish this book featuring 23 of those folks, and then we did what was called the Journal of Farmington History. So they're topics that my researchers are interested in. And so I provide the vessel for them to present it, to publish their works, which is I think a great thing to do in the area of public history.
[00:12:46] For me, Stanley-Whitman House was an early proponent of the witchcraft research. In, I believe 2009, got a grant and Lisa Johnson, my predecessor, was part of a co-director, a person who led an effort to go to different repositories where they thought different primary resources might be or secondary resources. And they put that all together. They got a grant from the Connecticut Humanities, and they put that together, and they activated a whole group of people in the museum world and in these historic house museums and the Connecticut State Library.
[00:13:26] And so that got attention. And then in this early time of activity around this work around Connecticut witch trials and panics, Lisa put together plays, right? So some of them were literally having volunteers, and they called them the Roundabout Players, who would act different roles. And so one of those actors, one of those volunteer actors happened to be Virginia Wolf. So early on in the two thousands, mid to late two thousands, she's portraying Mary Barnes. And other people in the community are playing other roles in the trial. Cause we know that the trial records were there, and they were able to create a play from that by reenacting that trial.
[00:14:21] You know that's a lot of activity, believe it or not, when you're trying to run a museum and doing that research, activating volunteers to do the research and to do the acting as part of the Roundabout Players. And Lisa went to other places and presented her papers, that, that were put together from the researcher's efforts. So she was able to talk about Mary Barnes, and she was able to do that by, focusing the research on, predominantly, Thomas Barnes, cuz there was more information known about him, for example.
[00:14:54] So that word prosopography, putting together information about someone that there's no information about directly, but building that, the facts, the information around someone to get a an idea of what that person was like, how they lived, who they lived with, what they believed in, what other people did around them. There's a lot of information that you can surmise, right? So I love that. And I love that we do that at our museum.
[00:15:21] One of our volunteers, her name is Sherra Palmer. She's been a long time volunteer. She actually was at the museum before Lisa was there, volunteering. And she calls what she does collecting crumbs. And eventually they aggregate, and they make a piece of cake. And I love that metaphor. And when Sherra, who still comes to the museum with her research team, Betty Coykendall and Kate Lindsay Rogers.
[00:15:49] Sherra will come in, and she'll have books. She'll like a little cardboard box full of papers and notebooks and post-its and books. And sometimes the books look like a porcupine of post-its, interleaved with all these post-its and slips of paper, and I'll ask her about something and she'll come in the next week, and she'll have pulled out a hard file or a book or bringing in a magazine.
[00:16:11] And she just is a wonderful resource. And because her hands have been in it for so many years, we're talking decades, and she's such a great human, right. She synthesizes this information and she has great recall. She's just a great resource for me and the museum, helping with these projects.
[00:16:32] Our other researcher, Betty Coykendall, she's was the town historian. And by the way, Lisa Johnson is now the town historian since she's retired from the museum. But as town historian, she knows where to get things, and she's meticulous in her gathering of facts and ordering things and putting them all together and really ferreting out information. It's fascinating to watch these women work together. And then Kate, who works with them, she has more facility of going online and researching things online. And also she was an a teacher, she was an English teacher, so she was able to, use those skills to synthesize the information, to put it together so that we could start creating drafts, say for example, before the Momento Mori book or for the Farmington Journal of History.
[00:17:19] I love my volunteer researchers, and I love our docents and our actors, who come in, and when we have school children come in, and we're trying to teach about, say the Revolutionary War, we have our actors portray living people that actually lived in Farmington and maybe people who lived in the house. We have programs where annually we have what's called Candlelight Tours. So we have the Ghost Walk Tours in the cemetery, and we have people that portray actual people. And we research those roles, and we try to make it right size for the audience that we have, and people wear the right costumes, and we try to use things from the time period. If it's a soldier that is talking about the Revolutionary Wars, a militiaman, they'll be dressed that way and have all the accoutrements. It's authentic.
[00:18:14] I'll just tell you one, one quick thing about our docents and volunteer actors. We just did a presentation at our library for Farmington Public Schools for our Revolutionary War program. And so I had an intern, Nicole Moulton. I had her start out in the very beginning of her internship research colonial toys, put together a list, and get everything that you can, all the information that you can find, and let's put it together. And so eventually several pages became one hot sheet of several games. And then I said, "what we're gonna do is we're gonna use this information, and it's gonna be part of a demonstration at a family night for the social studies program. And so you are gonna give that presentation, and we're going to have our folks there demonstrate and interact with the students, cuz every kid loves games." And from Jacob's Ladder to tops to a variety of other toys, we were able to engage students.
[00:19:14] And at the same time we had another person, I actually had our interns and staff put together a play around a skit called Telling the Bees, which is a tradition that these Englishmen have brought over with them to the colonies. And you probably recall that when Queen Elizabeth had passed, the royal beekeeper went and told the bees that she had passed. So it's this tradition that was brought here. And actually Solomon Whitman, who lived in the museum, in our historic house, he, in his old age, part of his contribution to the family, to keeping the farm going was that he took care of the bees. So our skit was to have his daughter-in-law, Lois Dickerman Whitman, tell the students and their families about the passing of Solomon Whitman. We had the bee skep, she was in the clothing, and she did the whole skit.
[00:20:11] And then of course, we went into the demonstration of games with Nicole. And that was really well done by our volunteer, Anne Meo. So, it takes a lot of effort to do all these things. If you're a painter, right, you've gotta have all the different paints and all the different medium and all the different surfaces to paint on. And in order to get something done, you just have to have all your options, and then you have to have skilled people to do all the work. And so that's my job is to, behind the scenes, pinch and prod people to do the work.
[00:20:40] Sarah Jack: I love hearing about this. It's one thing to have historic volumes on a shelf that people could come check out and read, but then they're just there, and they may get read, they may not.
[00:20:54] Andy Verzosa: Usually books just stay on a shelf, unless you create an activity. Every intern kind of does the same thing in the first week that all the other interns do. I send them down to the library and organize the books. And then I'll say, "what did you see in the different sections?" Because we'll have things about colonial life. The Tunxis, which just to give a an acknowledgement here, is that Farmington is actually the homeland of the Tunxis people since time immemorial. By going down to the library, I'm able to introduce topics like indigenous peoples, the puritans, the way they lived, about witchcraft. I can talk about enslaved peoples. I can talk about the Revolutionary War. I can talk about our cemetery. I can talk about so many different things just through the library, but I do it by throwing them into it, and I have them write lists and have them focus on an area. And I do try to size them up to see what they might be interested in.
[00:21:50] And then, of course, we do have, apart from our library, we have an archive. So sometimes I'll have people work in a certain area of interest or where I think they might be good or where I need someone to do work, and I'll have them work on, say, gathering information about plants, things like that. Or through letters and journals and daybooks, we can get a lot of information. And I'll have them go through the process of transcribing something and having that experience and having them discover on their own, "hey, there's someone here called Sarah Indian. Why would they call someone Sarah Indian?" And then go through that whole background of how people were recorded that were indigenous, and the things that they did, and the things that they traded with the person who kept that daybook, things like that.
[00:22:37] It's great. I love being able to turn people on to history in that way. And it's really, right now I just have the best bunch of volunteers and interns. I just, they're just, they make my going to work every day a pleasure. I love going to work. I love my job.
[00:22:57] Josh Hutchinson: Yeah, it shows. And it's really interesting that you're talking about the research because we just released an episode with Margo Burns, a Salem historian, and she helped put together the Records of the Salem Witch-Hunt, which is 980 legal documents about the trials, but she's working on a biography of Chief Justice William Stoughton of the court that sat at Salem, and none of his papers have been found. His letters, his records of keeping his land, all that's missing. So she's doing that prosopography you talked about, the approach of looking at his friends, acquaintances, neighbors and going, she traveled to Oxford, England, where he stayed for a decade, and she's looking at other people's journals and documents, trying to find out what did they write about this man.
[00:24:07] Andy Verzosa: It's fascinating. In a way, the work that is done in a place like Stanley-Whitman house when research is being done about a topic and learning about people, particularly about Mary Barnes. There wasn't a lot of information other than the really the trial transcript. There was no information about why she was accused and who, what her accuser said. That information is not available.
[00:24:34] Looking at her relationships with other people, right? Those relationships with the Baileys, for example, who she knew earlier in her life and so places that she lived and things that she might have been involved with in a good or bad way. Relationships to people, places, and things. It's so powerful.
[00:24:54] Again, research is critical. And of course we're talking about people like my predecessor Lisa Johnson. They were very passionate. They were dedicated, right? We have our Wednesday volunteer group, we have our interns, those are people that are, they're committed. They're already doing the work, but getting people to think beyond the surface and really look at the issues about like, why someone would be accused and how that dynamic would happen. And then, the brutal consequences. And putting yourself back in that timeframe, because you can't think the way that we do today. We have to think about, put ourself back in that place, in those circumstances. But still, today, history does repeat itself, as with what you guys do. And I wanted to ask you like, how does that work? How do you internationally speak to people in Africa about witches there? How does that work? You've got some reach.
[00:25:48] Josh Hutchinson: Yeah. We had zoom calls with a couple individuals running organizations who are trying to stop the witch-hunting that's still going on today in those countries. And right now we're just trying to amplify their voice, give them our podcast as a platform and through our social media, echo what they're saying, because they're the ones who live with it. They know what's going on, and they're able to think like the people that are involved, because they're so intimately connected to it. We just want to take what they say and repeat it.
[00:26:32] Andy Verzosa: So what you do and what I do is kindred. So we create the space for people's truth, for their, the story to be told. And I think it's so wonderful what you guys do. It's powerful. Just what happened in the last 48 hours with the news cycles that are going on, and especially what's at play here this year with Jane Garibay and the legislation that's gonna be proposed for the exoneration of Connecticut witches, those accused.
[00:27:02] And I think that's that momentum is building, and it's so fascinating. I'm in awe of how quickly it's coming together, but not surprised, cuz when I think of someone like Beth Caruso who's just, she's just synthesized with the information and such an advocate, right? And she's, of course , a writer in her own right with the books she's written. But being such a great advocate and a great spokesperson, a great person to, incredible person to talk about this. And she's a great listener. I had occasion over the last couple weeks to catch up with her, and of course she went to the play The Last Night, performance or the live stage reading.
[00:27:41] My job is to kinda keep the doors of the museum open, provide that opportunity for engagement to do the good work, to allow people to do the research, to be able to share information to preserve, of course, the collection and the archive and the library and all that.
[00:27:56] Like I said, I didn't know anything about the Connecticut, witch panic and trials. I started my job five years ago. It'll be five years, February 15th, that I'd been there. And I remember like early on, within a few months I got an email asking me, even though I was new, to go to Bridgeport, to attend a commemoration and a dedication of a memorial for Goody Knapp, and I said, "gee I, I'll do it." And I instantly emailed Lisa Johnson, said, "gee, I asked to do this." She wasn't available to do it, and she filled me in and shared some words that I could share there. And that was being thrown in cold, and that was my introduction to Connecticut Witch trials in 2018.
[00:28:44] And then of course, I think the most significant engagement for me getting my hands into it, so to speak, was in Covid, putting together the panels and working with Beth Caruso, Tony Griego, and Virginia Wolf. And then I've done other things too, where I've brought in Richard Ross to talk about the New England witchcraft panics and have him present his perspective.
[00:29:10] And last year actually had Ellen Evert Hopman ,who's a writer. She is a druid, but she came, and she talked about witches and plants, right? So we, I pretty much worked with her to present four different online panels, moderated panels. I asked Virginia to be the moderator, and I did the back end of keeping the webinar going, and of course doing all the things from the museum to promote it and had Ellen talk about plants on the different Celtic Irish festival days, Imbolc, which is, I guess now, right? And Beltane and Lughnasadh and Samhain. And it was books that she had written that corresponded to those festival days.
[00:29:58] It was wonderful, because when you think about, it was an indirect way of acknowledging cunning folk, people that, you know, before there were really doctors, right? That people were close to the land, close to plants, close to natural things to help them cure their ills and their sicknesses.
[00:30:18] And the colonies, when folks came here we know that they brought some things with them, but they were also introduced to a lot of things that were native or indigenous to this place. And who did that introduction? So I'm learning now that there was an exchange between native and non-native people. And what was that like? And it's also mentioned, and it's alluded to in the play of Rebecca Greensmith talks about, "how do you think I made the stout?" It was from plants that she was introduced to by a native people. So I love that awareness, because when you think about what that time was like in the mid-1600s here in Connecticut Colony, in a place like Farmington what was going on? What was shared? What was that exchange? There's not much written about that, but something must have happened, because we know that people were using certain plants over time that were from here, not plants that they brought from home. So I thought that was an interesting thing to be aware of.
[00:31:28] Josh Hutchinson: You're bringing the history to life at the center and in the conversation, how people lived back then, because we live totally different today, most of us, away from the plants and away from the land, and it's really insightful to see how things were in the 17th century, helps you get a foothold in understanding the witch trials. And the plays that you're doing that bring it to life for people are, it's such a wonderful way to do that, because people in Connecticut don't understand that they had witch trials, and you bring it to 'em in an entertaining way.
[00:32:15] Andy Verzosa: And it's digestible, right? And I think selfishly I want to know, and I don't know. So I get to work with people who do know, and I get to bring them in. Or I have people that are interested too, and I get to, say for instance a direct or assign them to do things for the general good of whatever project we're working on.
[00:32:37] I must have been a general or a marshal back in the day, my other life, something. But it's just, I think that's what I'm good at is putting that all together. But I have to say, we have this one gentleman, Dennis Picard, he's a historic interpreter. I first met him early on, and he was doing our Maple Day program. So in New England it's a time honored tradition of tapping trees to get sap to evaporate, to make maple syrup or maple sugar. And I took it for granted, that it was just a New England thing.
[00:33:06] It's big in Maine. Everyone loves maple syrup and all that. But I learned so much more about. One thought was that indigenous people showed people how to make it right, and then it was adopted very quickly, cause making maple syrup or maple sugar was not something that was done in Europe necessarily. And so it was one of the sweeteners here. Of course there was cane sugars, but that was made somewhere else brought up. But this was something that even Benjamin Franklin could get behind, right? And let's say you could do this here, it's cheaper. You're supporting the local economy. There's a lot written about his interest in maple syrup, sugars.
[00:33:50] But Dennis, I engaged him to start doing our hearth cooking programs, and it became a monthly thing. And so it was more than just demonstrating how to make food or do things. You had a fire and or even how to a light a fire was really all the stories that come with it that he knew. And he's been doing this a long time. So I love that, being able to bring someone in like that.
[00:34:16] Another person I brought in and this really relates to again, the time of Covid, and we're coming up on the anniversary of John Jennison's passing last year. I think he died on February 4th. He was actually an intern of mine years ago at a business that I had, and he had some success in New York as a comic book illustrator. And he was an impresario who did all these things around Comic-Con and things that young people do that I don't do, but I was aware that I knew he was really talented and a great artist, draftsman, and so I knew him.
[00:34:52] We've been keeping in touch, and I was at Stanley-Whitman, and I was really trying to figure out how can I engage or get people of a certain age interested in making maple syrup or about Mary Barnes or telling the bees, any of these things that I thought were worth sharing with other people that would give people an idea about colonial life and different aspects of it? And he and I worked on, I would come up with the ideas and the stories and work on the copy, and he would illustrate an eight and a half by eleven history graphic.
[00:35:32] But one of the things that we did is we did one about the hanging of Mary Barnes, and we used a tree as a central figure to help divide up the different areas where we could have the different other images, where we could show the people that were at the trial. We could show Mary Barnes with a head down. We do use a noose in that. And we're able to give a very simple, abbreviated, what comics do in those little strips, and it's presented in such a way that it's eye-catching, and it's very quick. And John did that for us. And I'm always trying to think of different ways to get people to get interested.
[00:36:11] Sarah Jack: Thanks for sharing about John.
[00:36:14] Andy Verzosa: Yeah. He's a wonderful, dear friend, and I miss him.
[00:36:19] Sarah Jack: I'm glad that you had that special project together and that becomes part of the living history that you're able to share.
[00:36:28] Andy Verzosa: I love artists, because they approach the world in a different way than, say, someone who's really involved with words and research, right? Sometimes, reading a lot of information, very dense information could be hard and off-putting. People learn in different ways. And so providing people to access things that are important, concepts, ideas, et cetera, I found that having an artist come in and doing what they do through their medium is a great way to do that. As simple as, I've done a couple of exhibits at Stanley-Whitman House. We did an exhibit called Capitol America. And two photographers, Robert Lisak and David Ottenstein, went around the country, and they had been doing this for several years, taking photographs of the different state capitol buildings inside and outside. Every one of those buildings tell a story about how those states came into being. And oftentimes it was a rough and turbulent and violent coming into being, and contentious, a lot of, a lot going on. And through photography, they're able to capture the space, the things that are there that tell the story through either sculpture or murals, et cetera. The way the buildings are sited. So they're really great photographers and an artistic way, but also capturing some of that didactic information that you want, you might help you understand the significance of a place or a building or of a people. And so we did that, and I had seen their work, and it was after January 6th, if that date resonates with you. And I thought, gee, this is an important body of work to see now in this context. And so we did that at Stanley-Whitman house. It was written up in the National Review, which is an international publication. It's available to search online, and you can find it.
[00:38:20] But that was important, because it gave people pause to think about the significance of these places. And it was through art, and I thought that was very effective for a place like Stanley-Whitman house, because it brought in contemporary works and living artists into a historic place that you wouldn't think you'd see work like that. And the contrast and the juxtaposition was really powerful. And then of course getting the review was very powerful too, that discourse that happens, and we had a lot of visitors for that.
[00:38:50] We have an exhibit being installed by Lucinda Bliss, and I met her years ago, and we had kept in touch, and through Covid. I invited her to come to our museum, cuz I would have people come for visits, social distancing and doing all that, of course. And introducing them to our archive and collection and to the house and to the cemetery. And one of the reasons why I invited Lucinda is because she, in her practice and the work that she does that I knew of is that she would become familiar with the place, and she would, she was, she's a runner, so she runs races and marathons and things, and part of what she does is she runs and becomes familiar with that place and creates these maps. They're visual maps and of the experience of learning the land as she's running it.
[00:39:44] And I introduced her to Stanley-Whitman house and found out that she was actually a descendant of some of the early proprietors of Farmington, more than a few. And so that created this opportunity for her to do a reckoning of her own, cuz as during Covid there were other things that were going on that gave people pause, and there was that space to do that for her. And she looked at her genealogy, her lineage, and what her ancestors, the impact that they had in their lives on a developing nation, ultimately.
[00:40:23] She's also a descendant of Nathaniel Hawthorne, and we happen to have a collection of letters sent by Julian Hawthorne, his son, to a woman who was associated with the house, with the Whitman family of a few years love affair. So that was clandestine. It was quiet and secret. And so that was powerful for her to know of them and look at them, be able to read them, hold them in her hands.
[00:40:47] But her focus was really on other things about who is on the land, who controls the land. I'll leave you with that. I don't wanna give away her exhibit.
[00:40:58] Sarah Jack: You know, I'm listening to so much of what you're sharing and describing, and one of the things that you mentioned was with the hearth cooking and how it brings some of the stories forward. And then also when you've talked about the research and these art projects and how stories are coming forward, and they're paralleling with modern lessons. It's so important that everything that's coming out in those stories is acknowledged and embraced, so that it can be recognized as these are all facets of what have made the nation who we are, the state of Connecticut who we are, who the people in the 17th century were, who we've come now to be. And I then I think of that concern of, "oh, if If the witches are talked about, if we start talking about this ugly thing, what, is it just gonna be a stain?" but it, it actually isn't. It's part of these other pieces. And do you think that Connecticut and other societies and museums and libraries can learn from your example, or maybe even what they're already doing, but see that, "hey, there is room for this history that makes us uncomfortable, because more things come out of it that are good?"
[00:42:26] Andy Verzosa: When I was a kid, we were a military family, and oftentimes my father wasn't around, and it was just at the time, really, my mom and my brother. I had younger brothers, but they were much younger, but my mom and my brother, and we would go to the library. And it was this incredible space with this incredible benefit of being able to check out books. So I would check out the max number of books, my brother would check out his max number, and my mother would do hers. And by the end of it, before the next visit, we had gone through all those books, right? And we were able to have our own interior engagement with the material that we're reading, right?
[00:43:09] And then we were able to talk about it. What'd you think? Or play act something from a book that we really liked, right? And we did this. And I think what libraries and museums and places where you can learn are important is that it's that civic space, and we get to learn about storytelling, and we get to learn about other people, and we can do this in a safe way.
[00:43:38] And it's very powerful, and you get to look at the universality of what it is to be a human, the humanity, right? And so I look at, I'm a, as you probably can tell right now, I'm a generalist. I like taking a little here and a little there and this, but I do a little structure.
[00:43:56] So I do, I live near a museum. I live by the New Britain Museum of American Art. It's like a city block away from me. I can't picture not living in a town without a museum, right? And sometimes I just go there just so I can breathe air, feel the space, experience the light, and then look at something that someone made, someone's interpretation of something and go there, leave this dimension and go to that dimension.
[00:44:22] And so I think places like Stanley-Whitman House are important, because you're giving yourself permission, time, and space to put yourself into a place where, what was it like to live in colonial America or revolutionary wartime America. What was it like to be a woman during those times? What was your role? What were the things that you did? What did you do when you were a child? There were enslaved people. What did they do? I didn't know there were enslaved peoples in Connecticut. Oh, there was a woman that was hanged because people thought she was a witch. All these things you get to experience, hopefully with a great interpretation, either through a great program, exhibit, or tour.
[00:45:03] So I think these places are really important, and I think that the work that, that folks do in the heritage, history, arts, performing arts centers are really important. It's important, because history does repeat itself, unfortunately.
[00:45:20] And sometimes people have to sort it out. They have to figure it out, and they sometimes you see things that are so horrific, and sometimes you just have to see that there's a way out or there's an alternative or there's a solution or that people still carried on, right? And that things, bad things do happen and that you could be prepared for them or you may not be prepared for them, but you get to learn through people's lives, through that are recorded, that are celebrated, that are, maybe people talk about a really bad person. You still gotta hear that ,story too.
[00:45:59] Josh Hutchinson: Yeah, that's such an important point that you need to learn those stories, because something like that is happening now or will happen in the future, and it's good to be ready and know that they got out of that. So how do we move forward? You need to look at the past in order to get there.
[00:46:21] Andy Verzosa: Gotta do it critically, right? You have to be able to, to have the example and then have the experience of putting it together and then to be able to step back. One of the things about The Last Night, I didn't get too deep into being making sure that everything was factually correct or they got all the facts in, right, because I knew it was gonna be an artistic interpretation. This, it was gonna be Ginny's and Debra's, the magic that they would create together, what was gonna be important was. Of performance and the elements that were ring true, in a wonderfully crafted performance. And you didn't have to pack everything in there.
[00:46:59] Just like a painting, if you try to pack every single thing in a painting, you might just end up with a big mess. But sometimes simple, spare, thought out, well-crafted is what's needed. And less is more, and I think that's what I'm excited about the next play that I commission or the next volunteer that I work with on a project that they want to do, or work with the next intern and teaching them something, or teaching, having them get involved with how to write a label copy for an exhibit.
[00:47:31] Like I said, I think the most important thing I think for people to do is to at least try, expose themselves, take themselves out of their comfort zone. They don't have to hurl themselves into anything, but, just step outside of their comfort zone and check things out, and then be able to learn to see, learn to listen, learn, learn to tell, storytelling's so important, and I don't know about you. I might be really giving you a lot of information about how old I am, but I remember one of the things that we had to do is write an autobiography in English class. I don't know about you guys, but, and it was like, oh, what am I gonna write about myself? And but, and how do you do that? And I think that's a great exercise. Unfortunately, as you get older, things happen and you might be part of writing someone's obituary and that's pulling out those highlights, those things that are important in that person's life, a loved one's life. And that's something that I think is an important thing to be able to do, unfortunately. But also to be able to put together your thoughts around an issue, a cause, something that you believe in, other than just saying, "I believe in that. This is the way it should be." Just being so black and white, there's a lot of gray, right? There's a lot to think about. And things change when other facts are presented right? Or other situations happen, so everything's not always what it seems sometimes. And I think that's the wonderful thing about interpreting history, too, is that it's always changing. It's very dynamic.
[00:49:04] Sarah Jack: How does your internship program work? When is the opportunity for people to apply for something like that?
[00:49:10] Andy Verzosa: So we're a small museum. I lovingly say it's a boutique museum, which means that it's really small. And I tailor the experience to everyone that comes through the door. So I try never to turn anyone away, and I try to work with people, where they're at. So we have, for example, the last couple years, especially, we've had people come in through our programs.
[00:49:33] So they might do a gravestone cleaning workshop or a foodways program. Or they might come in on a field trip or, say, one of their classes at the local university might come in, and they meet me, and they have a house tour by one of the staff or the volunteers, or they have some engagement, and they're obviously, they are predisposed, because they're there for a reason.
[00:49:58] But then we try to figure out why they're there and what might keep them there. And cuz we want people to come back. We want you to become a member, we want you to come to other programs, and that's our mission. We're there to serve the public in that way.
[00:50:12] So I do a lot of listening and seeing where people are at, and with young people who are doing a formal internship program, I will figure out what the area of study is, how many hours they have to complete, what the goal is. Some people have capstone programs. Sometimes we have grad students. We have mostly undergrads. We have high school students that come in and for as much as you think that, oh, this is great, we're gonna have an intern, they're gonna do all this stuff for me, it's a lot of work for me, cuz I put a lot into it, right? It's reciprocal in that way, and I really enjoy it.
[00:50:47] For example, I have one person, and she'll be in tomorrow. I won't say her name, I don't wanna embarrass her, but she's new. And I said, "hey, I need to know who all the different people were that were accused of being a witch in Connecticut. I know where I could find that myself, but I had her do it and put it together for herself in her own spreadsheet. And then I kind of add columns, like, oh, check this out, or add this and I build on that. And then only if she's interested in going. And so then, then I start getting into things where I don't have the information readily available ,and I have her start putting together information that I can start synthesizing in other projects, like for a skit, or I'd like to do a website about the Connecticut Witch trials. Which would be, I already registered the domain name. It's called Connecticut Witch Trails. So think of where I was from in Portland, Maine, we had what was called the First Friday Art Walk. And we used social media and websites and a printed brochure, where you could go visit different galleries and see the different exhibits or the different museums for exhibitions, et cetera, or different arts happenings. And it was quite a thing, the First Friday Art Walk in Portland.
[00:52:01] And so what I thought was we could do something around the different communities where people were accused and where activity was happening and have those communities tell their story, but link into the website, but we would provide the armature and the structure, and that's what we did before. The other thing is I'm part of the Connecticut Historic Gardens. So we're a 16 member group. And so we do that by having all of our individual pages. But what we do is we have what's called Connecticut Historic Gardens Day. So Connecticut Witch Trails could have a day, maybe it's Mary Barnes Day, maybe it's another day, maybe it's another thing to work around.
[00:52:46] But it would be a great place for the public to go into and say, "oh, I think I'm gonna go for this for here, or I'm gonna go to three different sites in this community and learn more about what I'm interested in." So that's loosely what I'm hoping to do. And then the other part of it is to work with other sites, perhaps your podcast, to have links, reciprocal links. Websites aren't as nimble and dynamic as say social media sites in some ways, but the thing I like about websites is you can have sections where it's like a bibliography, it's just cited sources in certain categories, and it's a little more static and it's, you can go there and get more information, say about any aspect of the Connecticut witch panics and trials. That would be that. And then eventually, I would do this. And it would be maybe spun off or part of a member group thing. But I start it at the Stanley-Whitman House, cuz it would be easier to do, and I could supervise it and get it off the ground, but I ideally it would be a autonomous, standalone kind of project.
[00:53:53] In my spare time.
[00:53:55] Josh Hutchinson: Yeah, we definitely want to see that. And we were very happy a couple weeks ago, we spoke with a representative and a senator in Connecticut, and they both spoke about how they'd like to see a trail system put in place, where you can visit all the witch trial locations, the different towns people were from, the museums, the libraries, the societies, and learn as you go along. And it might involve riding a bike or hiking part of it, or just driving place to place, but however it ends up in its ultimate shape, I think it's such a beautiful way for people to learn, to get on the ground in the locations and experience them with all your senses.
[00:54:52] Andy Verzosa: Absolutely. And don't overlook the online component, being able to go to a website and, do that. A lot of people can't travel and probably couldn't do that, but they can travel online, right, 24/7, the beauty of the internet, and I think especially for those people that are looking at their ancestry, their genealogy, and where they're looking at aspects of the witch panic and trials that they really want to zero in on. There's so much still probably out there. And it's just in terms of it could be another play written, it could be another book written, it, and it could be inspired by what has happened in Colonial Connecticut, and and then going into these archives. Not everything's digitized. Not everything has been discovered. Who knows what's in someone's attic that maybe there's sadly a 12th person? We don't know. So I think having a place to go to start that journey of discovery would be important to do. And certainly, if someone has more energy than I do and better ideas of how to do it I'll give them the domain name, but just, wink, wink.
[00:56:05] It's, I think it's just important to have a place to go to find these things, initially. It's hard to get into museums, even our museum, we're not open every day. We're only open so many hours a day. You can't just go into our archives unaccompanied. You have to have someone, a staff person with you going through things because these documents that we have, these early documents are fragile. So accessibility is probably best digitally online. So having a a portal to at least find out where those repositories are for information or other people who are doing things would be a good thing.
[00:56:41] I don't know of a place right now, do you, where people can go?
[00:56:46] Josh Hutchinson: There's no central place for Connecticut Witch Trial history. You go, you look at the state library, you look at you know where they have the Wyllys papers and the Matthew Grant diary, and there's volumes of old Connecticut colonial records that you can find transcriptions of, but you have to do it yourself, you have to go and dig into all those things.
[00:57:14] Andy Verzosa: In a perfect world, something like the Connecticut Digital Archive would have all that information there, but then, you could link it to a website where it's all organized.
[00:57:24] Josh Hutchinson: Yeah. They have some things like that for Salem, where there's a documentary archive that the University of Virginia put together, and then the Salem Witch Museum has these digital tours where you can pick a town that you wanna see the sites, and they have photographs and blurbs about what happened there, why it's significant in the Witch trials.
[00:57:52] And yeah, I can definitely see having one webpage where you can get all of that.
[00:57:58] Andy Verzosa: Yeah, I think it's a great way to encourage continued scholarship, more artistic interpretation or historic interpretation. I think that would be really important. I know that the Tony Griego's Connecticut Witch Project on Facebook was a somewhat of a clearing house of things. But I don't know about you, but Facebook has lost its allure for me. I still have an account, but I, I don't go to it, probably. I don't keep up with that on a significant basis, but I think a website might be more to my liking to to visit to find things. But yeah, all these efforts to make the hidden visible is so important.
[00:58:38] Sarah Jack: I'm hoping if the exoneration moves forward and occurs, can it remove some of the hesitancy that is there, the stigma that's there to feel more comfortable, Hey, let's learn more. Let's do research. Let's collaborate, let's make it living. That's what I really hope that one of the positive effects of the exoneration would be.
[00:59:02] They're not just a spectacle, we're not just trying to get a look at a sideshow. They're these lives and when the history is uncovered, you see that, and I hope to get over that stigma about that little piece of history.
[00:59:17] Andy Verzosa: You certainly, when I think about Salem, I kind of cringe a little bit, because it's more spectacle and it's other than what I would hope for what would be done around the Connecticut itch trials and panics, to look at it more, I hate saying more seriously, but to do it in such a way that has this integrity, so that people can approach it and get beyond the gimmicky things.
[00:59:45] And really look, it's, I don't know if you guys, you both must have done genealogy because of how you got to where you are. But, one of the things about genealogy for me was just to figure out who I was, wh who was I in the, the universe and in relation to things, right? And it was something that you do for me, I believe, you do in your early adulthood. I did it mostly to figure out about my father, who I had lost when I was a young boy. And to figure out like you. As I became a man what, who was he as a man, right? And trying to figure that out. And then then thinking about naturally my grandparents and then other people, and geez, how did people come to this country?
[01:00:29] And just knowing those things, knowing their stories was so important to me. And going back further and further, putting myself in their place as immigrants that moved here, and what their lives were like. And the things that they may have celebrated and the things that they were, the good things as well as the not so good things about their lives. And so I think that that's important.
[01:00:55] Sarah Jack: Yeah. And I think because the climate right now is you have this history, but then you have this modern crisis in some of the world where women and children are being attacked as witches. There's this understanding that needs to happen and it's not just, okay now we're on Connecticut over here and we're gonna pull this history out and let's try to keep it from, being a fascination.
[01:01:22] It's bigger than that, and there's so many of us who are looking at the history in a scholarly way, teaching how to understand records, how to, when you're doing your ancestry work, how do you collect the story out of the primary sources so you know what happened. I feel like there's so much potential for the highlighting of this history to be done, tastefully and educationally.
[01:01:55] Andy Verzosa: Sure, the art and the science of it. History is really a science. When you think about it and you know how that all comes together is important for people to know that if anyone can get the benefit of a really sustained, sincere effort, right? And they can do it in many different ways.
[01:02:18] There are a lot of different ways to get information and to understand things. And I think again, through Stanley-Whitman House, through the programs we do. Our events or a commission play, a history graphic a straight symposium, lecture published materials that's important and allowing people to have that experience.
[01:02:37] Not everybody is gonna be able to have the time or the resources, necessarily. And some people don't have, they're afraid that they may not have the the abilities for whatever reasons to engage in looking into something or they don't, geez, I don't want look into the witch trials cuz it it's too heavy. Or geez, I gotta know all this stuff or. So I think being able to make it digestible, not in a, a trivial way, but you still gotta, you gotta meet people where they're at and you gotta have people that are skilled in being able to do that. You and you certainly, when you're talking about history, aspects of history with children, it's different than if you are with adults, right?
[01:03:23] Doing it, and history is hard. Some things are really hard, and, but being able to do it in a way You gotta be brave, you gotta be courageous, you gotta persevere, you gotta have all those kind of things, soft things, that skills that you gotta have to be able to be a good mentor, a good teacher, a good collaborator. Like you guys are great collaborators. Like you guys I'm sure your journeys to get to where you are here tonight is pretty amazing. And I gotta ask you, it must be pretty fulfilling. And if I were to ask you guys, like, how fulfilling is it for you to be doing this?
[01:04:00] Sarah Jack: It's incredible. It's been incredible.
[01:04:03] Josh Hutchinson: It's life changing. It's so, so amazing. Every day you wake up, you've gotta do X, Y, and Z and get to look forward to tomorrow and what's gonna happen.
[01:04:18] Andy Verzosa: And you don't have to do it alone.
[01:04:21] Josh Hutchinson: We have a whole group that we do it with.
[01:04:24] Andy Verzosa: And they'll find you. You just do the good work and they'll find you. It attracts people. Doing good work attracts people. That's the kind of spiritual axiom here. When you do good things, you attract good people and people that will help you along the way. You don't have to have all the answers or have it all figured out or get down so far. You can just do what's right in front of you.
[01:04:46] And I think that's really a life lesson for people, and when you talk about the Connecticut Witch trials, when you talk about witch, people persecuted for witchcraft,, there's a lot of aspects, certainly colonial, there's misogyny, right?
[01:05:01] There's a whole bunch of things that are going on there. And there are gonna be people that are gonna break that down in those areas of expertise, and it's gonna be that's what keeps it exciting for me, is I just keep on learning. And I don't have to do it. I'm not being tested the next day. Like I said, you don't have to do it alone. You can do it in company with other people, or you could do it totally off on your own and, and I think for the Exoneration project what I hope is that yes, I hope that the legislation goes through and that happens. But I think and I think you already know this, and I think you may have already alluded to it, or just that the way that you're approaching it it's an ongoing thing. It's gonna take you other places.
[01:05:42] I'll share with you, there was I was very fortunate to be able to participate with the Upstander project. It's about indigenous people. It's they've done, what they do every year, it's called the Upstander Academy. And you just go and you just learn about, what happened to people's here and on, on the land that we're on, and and just the whole different perspective, the view from the land as opposed to the view from the boat, right? So it's this thing about the settler mentality and the indigenous perspective. And it's fascinating. And so for me it's another, it's not separate, it's actually still part of the same of what I'm doing with, what we're talking about here tonight, and it's really looking at setting the record straight, reconciling, and doing it in a way that, we don't have to take on the sins of our ancestors necessarily, right? We can get right size with things and then do the next best thing, do the right thing.
[01:06:42] It's those actions, that commitment that I'm excited about and that you guys are excited about.
[01:06:49] Sarah Jack: That passion we have, and you have, that's one of the things that brought us together. I remember, when I, we were prepping for The Last Night episode. And I'm looking at our email communication and I'm like, I don't know enough of where this came from and why is this reading happening and what is this Stanley-Whitman House? And part of that's because I'm not there in your community directly. And I'm just so glad I picked up the phone and talked to you and started learning all of these amazing things that you're doing and, the mentoring you do. So I'm just so grateful. Thanks for having that first conversation with me and the several others we've had. Those have been really important.
[01:07:34] Andy Verzosa: And then think about the land that you're on and whose homeland is, and you're a guest on the land, and think about what does that mean being a guest on the land. And think about the history that preceded the history that you're talking about, and in colonial times more that obscure, invisible history wasn't just about the Connecticut witches, it was also some of what was happening with indigenous people. And that interaction, I'm learning about those things, and I'm hungry for it, so I look it up, I try to create space for that.
[01:08:04] And so I would encourage you to do the same. This and you'll see the universality of some of the issues are parallel, right? The other, the scapegoating, the erasure, the, silencing, all those types of things, and who wrote history? People in power, but sometimes they're so good at their recording of history that they record things that kind of, probably they don't realize, but give you a lot more information about what's not being written about, right? In the absence of something, sometimes you get a good picture of something. So it's pretty, pretty exciting. So I would encourage you even, wherever you are, that's the great thing about figuring out where you are and what your story is.
[01:08:50] Sarah Jack: That's awesome. Thank you Andy. How can your community and others support the Stanley-Whitman House?
[01:08:57] Andy Verzosa: Of course becoming a member is important, contributing to the annual fund. Thinking about places like Stanley-Whitman House and your community and what you can do as a volunteer, because that in kind giving of your time and your expertise, it has an equal, if not greater value sometimes than money. Of course we wanna raise money to keep the lights on, keep the heat on, but we also, we, we're a small museum. I'm the only full-time person there, and I dare say I wear a lot of hats, right? Chief cook and bottle washer. I have people, if they just come in on a Monday afternoon when I'm by myself trying to do a bunch of stuff helping me to put together a list of vendors so that I can get estimates sometimes is better use of my time to do other things and have a volunteer help organize that information for me.
[01:09:53] So giving of yourself in more than a monetary way, but, in a thoughtful, generous way of your time, and the things that you might be good at. You might be a good person with keeping the books. You might be able to weed in the garden or serve on the board. It's still, the thing about the non-profit history, art industry is that we do depend on a lot of volunteers, volunteerism, and it's a time-honored thing. That's how I got into the field actually, was I didn't grow up to be, I wasn't born museum director. I actually came through the back door. I went to art school. I basically served, I owned an art gallery, served on many different boards and committees, volunteering, and got to know a lot about nonprofit museums, nonprofit activities and in terms of governance and engagement and all of that. When it came time for me to join my husband down here in Connecticut I was I had the opportunity to go back to Maine for a year to run a museum as an interim director. And then when I came down, because of that experience and my prior volunteer experience, I saw positions open down here, applied for them. One of the positions that I took was the Stanley-Whitman House. So I didn't have years of experience in that way, but I had, I think I had what they wanted, or at least, I fit the bill at that time.
[01:11:19] And some people study and have a master's and higher degrees. And I don't, I have my undergraduate degree from art school and years of experience running a business and serving on boards and, I'm running a small museum in Connecticut, which is, for me. I just love my job. I love going there every day.
[01:11:39] Josh Hutchinson: Here's the latest Minute with Mary featuring our friend, Mary Bingham.
[01:11:45] Mary Bingham: One of the best resources to recently be digitized and become available online are the medical records of John Winthrop Jr. These papers were only available on microfilm at the Massachusetts Historical Society when I began to take trips to Boston to view them beginning in January of this past year. They were a difficult challenge to read because the ink and the smudges could not be extracted from the original page when creating the microfilm.
[01:12:17] And the fact that Winthrop Junior's handwriting was atrocious did not help matters. The digitizing process cleaned each page that was scanned to better satisfaction, making the papers much easier to read, so to speak. These papers are so important to anyone studying history, because these records state the names of his patients and the town in Connecticut where they were treated.
[01:12:43] One of his patients was Mary Barnes, who was treated by Winthrop Jr on April 7th, 1659. Why? I don't know the answer to that question just yet. Aside from transcribing his writing, I intend to decipher the alchemical symbols, denoting how she was treated. Then make my best educated guess as to why she was treated.
[01:13:08] And this will take time, but what can be gleaned from this primary source is that John Winthrop, Jr. knew Mary Barnes, as he did several others wrongfully convicted and hanged for witchcraft while he was away. Imagine the frustration and anger he felt towards those responsible for the deaths of the innocent victims he knew personally.
[01:13:33] Thank you.
[01:13:35] Sarah Jack: Thank you, Mary.
[01:13:37] Josh Hutchinson: Now here's Sarah with End Witch Hunts News.
[01:13:40] Sarah Jack: End witch hunts.
[01:13:42] Witch hunts are targeted blame and punishment toward vulnerable people, alleged witches. Power structures around religion, familial status, age, gender, and falsely-attributed causes of misfortune universally contribute to the circumstances of witch hunts past and present. In the last 12 months, Josh Hutchinson and I, along with Mary Bingham, Beth Caruso and Tony Griego have developed our individual witch-hunt causes into collaborative efforts that have stretched and evolved our work elucidating the matter of witch blame and fear. In 2022, the End Witch Hunts movement was founded, End Witch Hunts project Thou Shall Not Suffer podcast was launched, and another End Witch Hunts project, the Connecticut Witch Trial Exoneration Project brought a witchcraft crime exoneration bill to the Connecticut General Assembly with the partnership of Representative Jane Garibay, Senator Saud Anwar, and the support of many Connecticut legislators who recognize the relevance of standing against witchcraft Hunts.
[01:14:38] Many historians, descendants, and supporters have worked and sacrificed their time, shared their knowledge, and amplified their voices to grow End Witch Hunts movement and projects. We have produced weekly thought-provoking podcast episodes, educating about the many layers of witch hunts in history and the nuances fueling witch hunts harming innocent people right now, today. You can learn more about the past and modern stories of the people harmed by this merciless conduct in any of our expert-filled episodes. Join us every week to hear the latest important conversation.
[01:15:08] The accusation details from witch trial primary sources are jaw dropping. The news of current attack victims across the globe is jaw dropping. We ask, why do we hunt witches? How do we hunt witches? How do we stop hunting witches?
[01:15:21] Messaging that clarifies how power structures around religion, familial status, age, gender, and falsely-attributed causes of misfortune universally contribute to the circumstances of witch hunts past and present. Share the attack news. Share a podcast episode. Read a book. Write a post or blog. Write to a politician or diplomat. Donate money to the organizations that are creating projects that intervene in the modern communities where witch hunts thrive. You can financially support the production of the podcast. The United Nations Human Rights Council has acknowledged this global crisis and beckons us all to take additional action.
[01:15:56] Awareness of the violent, modern witch hunts against alleged witches is increasing across the world. International media organizations, governments, and individuals want it to stop, are taking action, and are educating about it. We are all stakeholders in efforts to stop these witch attack and abuse crimes against women and children. Educate yourself more. Now you are aware of this modern horror. What will you do?
[01:16:20] We have links in our show notes to a new YouTube documentary, Why Witch Hunts are Not Just a Dark Chapter from the Past with journalist Karin Helmstaedt, featuring important interviews with several experts, including Advocacy for Alleged Witches advocate Dr. Leo Igwe, Witches of Scotland advocate Dr. Zoe Venditozzi, modern attack victims, and witch trial historians. Please see the show description for the link to watch it.
[01:16:42] This week, why don't you check out the International Network Against Accusations of Witchcraft and Associated Harmful Practices organization? It was formed in 2022, just like us, to connect the different groups and initiatives working on this issue across the globe. It seeks to raise awareness about the human rights abuses taking place as a result of beliefs in witchcraft or sorcery and encourages action by states and individuals to end them. The International Network aims to raise support for the United Nations Human Rights Council's Resolution on the Elimination of Harmful Practices Related to Accusations of Witchcraft and Ritual Attacks. Their website is in the episode description. Go visit them.
[01:17:19] This month, the Salem, Massachusetts area and Hartford and Farmington, Connecticut are getting a rare and important visit from Dr. Leo Igwe, director of the Advocacy for Alleged Witches nonprofit organization. It is an incredible honor for Josh and I to organize a week of speaking engagements during his speaking tour in the United States and to accompany him as he speaks in places of historical significance to early American colony witch trial history. You can follow Dr. Leo Igwe on Twitter @leoigwe to see how he's advocating on the ground in the victim communities in real time as these individuals are experiencing being accused and hunted.
[01:17:56] The first event at the Salem Witch Museum is virtual, but Dr. Igwe will be with us in Salem touring the historic sites, guided by a local seasoned in the history, Mary Bingham. Tuesday, May 16 is your chance to experience a very special evening of in-person conversation with Leo at the Rebecca Nurse Homestead in Danvers. Please see the Facebook event for details. Isn't this a great week? Make sure you mark your calendars.
[01:18:19] Next, you can join an in-person speaking event with Dr. Igwe at Central Connecticut State University on Wednesday, May 17. While in the Hartford area, Leo will be touring known witch trial historic sites with author Beth Caruso. On Thursday afternoon, Leo will be presenting at the Stanley-Whitman House living history center in Farmington, Connecticut. Look for Facebook events for all of these occasions posted by our social media. Come hear Leo. Invite your friends and family. See you there.
[01:18:46] Get involved. Visit endwitchhunts.org. To support us, purchase books from our bookshop, merch from our Zazzle shop, or make a financial contribution to our organization. Our links are in the show description.
[01:18:58] Josh Hutchinson: Thank you, Sarah.
[01:19:00] Sarah Jack: You're welcome.
[01:19:01] Josh Hutchinson: Thank you for listening to Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast.
[01:19:05] Sarah Jack: Join us next week.
[01:19:07] Josh Hutchinson: Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.
[01:19:10] Sarah Jack: Visit thoushaltnotsuffer.com.
[01:19:13] Josh Hutchinson: Remember to tell your friends about the show.
[01:19:16] Sarah Jack: Support our efforts to End Witch Hunts. Visit endwitchhunts.org to learn more.
[01:19:22] Josh Hutchinson: Have a great today and a beautiful tomorrow.