Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


August 15, 2013

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

New book chronicles Andover's place during infamous trials


“That has always fascinated me,” she said.

In Faulkner’s case, her sister, nieces and even her own daughters testified against her in court and confessed to committing witchcraft themselves, according to Mofford, who writes about the humiliation of being accused, then arrested and the torments of being imprisoned in chains.

“How did Abigail Faulkner manage to save herself from the noose when 19 others, dubbed `Firebrands of Hell,’ were executed that September day?” she writes.

Mofford said she will always be intrigued by the town’s witch history and how Andover got to be the town that it is. She researched 17th century documents to give some weight to her novel.

“What makes my book unique ... is this historical novel explains what became of those who survived the witch trials and their treatment when they were finally released and returned home,” Mofford said.

The book also chronicles the Wabanaki Indians’ devastating attacks on Andover. In fact, a sister of Faulkner’s husband, Francis Faulkner, died after their childhood home in Andover was torched by Native Americans and she was slaughtered.

Faulkner and her father, Rev. Francis Dane, Andover’s senior minister, ultimately fought to end such tragedies and eventually helped bring an end to Puritan New England’s deadly witch hunts, Mofford said.

“The determined petitions by father and daughter are landmark documents of free speech and serve to remind us all of the ongoing struggle for human rights,” Mofford writes.

“They helped put a halt to the madness and bigotry of that tragic time,” she said.

Mofford had been working on the book since 1995. She also wrote another book about the Salem witch trials for young adults. Titled “Cry Witch,” it was published in 1995 by Discovery Enterprises for its Perspectives on American History series.

Her community play, “Cry Witch — The Andovers Remember 1692,” was performed in town by local storyteller Susan Lenoe in 1998 and 1999, supported by grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

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