By Luis Alvarado

Special to Live Wire


When thinking about witch trials in the colonial era of America, Salem, Mass., is usually the first place that comes to mind. But did you know that 50 years before the witch craze in Salem Connecticut had its own, less sensational, bout with witchcraft and persecution of those thought to have practiced it?

51EAXgofW7L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Cynthia Wolfe Boynton explores Connecticut’s witch trials in “Connecticut Witch Trials: The First Panic in the New World,” which was published last year. She’ll be coming to Manchester Community College later this month to talk about the book.

Between 1647 and 1697, Connecticut executed 11 of the 34 women and men brought up on charges of practicing witchcraft, which at the time was a crime, just like assault or theft. By comparison, in Salem 180 people were accused and 20 were executed.

Using court documents, newspapers clippings and testimonials from historians, Boynton pieced together the dark history of witch hangings in Connecticut. One of her primary sources was Connecticut state historian Walter Woodward. He said the witch hunt and subsequent trials led to the execution of innocents and caused others to flee the state in fear.

“In other words, a charge of witchcraft in Connecticut meant that you would very likely die,” Woodward said.

Boynton said, in an interview with WTNH, News 8 last October that writing the book proved to be a difficult task for here.

“It wasn’t easy. There are no known diaries or first-person accounts from those who witnessed the trials,” she said.

Boynton relied heavily on a few delicate, handwritten court papers and depositions that are archived at the Connecticut State Library, the Connecticut Historical Society and Brown University’s John Hay Library.

To hear more from Boynton attend her talk on Thursday, Oct. 22, in the Fireside Commons, inside the library from 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. Books will be available for purchase. For more information about Boynton visit

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