Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Townspeople

August 15, 2013

Bewitching times; New book chronicles Andover's place during infamous trials

New book chronicles Andover's place during infamous trials

The setting is 1692 Andover. The Wabanaki Indians are wreaking havoc in town while occurrences of witchcraft are so numerous that Andover makes an “outside town” list, meaning militia men are coming from Boston to help restore the peace.

Today, the only Wabanaki we hear of in Andover is Wabanaki Way, a pretty neighborhood near Indian Ridge Country Club. Plus, Andover is much more likely to make an inside list, rather than an outside list.

But a former Andover resident is taking readers back to the time of the witch trials through the lens of the town where she once lived.

Juliet “Julie” Mofford, the former director of education and research at Andover Historical Society, tells the story of a purported witch from Andover in “Abigail Accused — A Story of the Salem Witch Hunt.”

Mofford, who is now retired and living in Bath, Maine, says the 238-page novel is the dramatic account of one family whose lives became entangled in the infamous witch trials of 1692. While historical fiction, it’s based on her researched history of Andover.

“This book is truly an Andover story — all about people and events in the Andovers during the Salem witch trials of 1692,” said Mofford, who was at the historical society from 2001 to 2006.

Abigail Dane Faulkner, a 40-year-old mother of six, gets most of the attention in the book. She was convicted of witchcraft and condemned to die. Yet she survived.

“She has always been my favorite witch because she was a survivor,” Mofford said.

Neighbors turned against neighbors and cried witch quite often in Andover in 1692, Mofford writes. In her book description, she says, “Why were more men, women and children from Abigail’s hometown of Andover carted off to prison? And, why did so many Andover residents confess to the cardinal crime of witchcraft — more than from any other town in New England?”

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