Sunday, March 1, 2015

A Tuesday which dawned like any other...

... however, March 1st, 1692, would see the beginning machinations of the Salem Witch Trials, a gruesome catalyst in early American history. The day began by examining Sarah Osborn, Tituba, and Sarah Good for supposed witch marks. These marks could be any sort of mole, birth mark, or other physical abnormality. Sarah Good's own husband, William, actually sought out Goody Hannah Ingersoll, who was performing the search for said witch marks, to tell her of a peculiar mole Sarah had near her right shoulder. How had Sarah come to being held as a witch and her fate being further sealed by her own husband?

Sarah Good began life as Sarah Solart on July 21st (July 11th, O.S.), 1653. Her father, John, was a relatively successful innkeeper. Upon his death in 1672, however, Sarah received no sort of inheritance from his estate. At this point, her fall into poverty slowly began. When Sarah married a laborer and former indentured servant named Daniel Poole, they accrued a great deal of debt due to, I would assume, Sarah having no inheritance to contribute to the marriage, and/or Daniel's lack of earning power (I do not know where their debts came from, as I could not find a solid answer in the texts I have seen). When Poole died in 1682, Sarah inherited his debts and her new husband, William Good, became responsible for them, as well. By 1692, the couple was homeless because creditors took what little they owned, including all their land, in order to pay back the debts they inherited from Poole. The people of Salem knew Good as a pushy beggar by the time accusations of witchcraft came about. Her social status sadly made her a likely target for blame when Abigail Williams and Betty Parris were asked to name who afflicted them in the middle of their screams and contortions. 

Sarah's fall into poverty, in a society which placed an unhealthy value on self penitence and hard work, was her biggest downfall. Being different from the majority of God fearing, strict, and unyielding Puritans was not easy, and Sarah Good paid with her life, and the life of her infant daughter, Mercy. Mercy was born while Good was in prison, and died shortly before her mother was hanged on July 29th, 1692 (July 19th, O.S.). Even Good's other child, four year-old Dorothy, was imprisoned on suspicion of witchcraft. Sarah maintained her innocence and that of her daughter until her end. We can only hope she found peace after the trauma and utter cruelty that brought about her demise.