It’s in Queens
#Newsflash | Learn about old-fashioned witchcraft and its hysteria at King Manor Museum
It was the trial of the century.
Stony Brook University professor Tara Rider will present a lecture, The Devil in New York: The Witchcraft Trial of Goody Garlick, at Jamaica’s historic King Manor Museum on Sunday, March 19, at 2 p.m. Admission is free, but attendees are encouraged to RSVP.
The troubles began when Elizabeth Gardiner Howell lost her newborn child in Long Island’s Easthampton (as it was spelled at the time) in February 1658. The 16-year-old daughter of the small British Colonial town’s most prominent citizen, Lion Gardiner, then complained of a fever. She started talking to an invisible, black-booted witch who was allegedly pricking her with pins. About a day later, she died.
Elizabeth “Goody” Garlick was accused of “detestable and wicked arts” and murder, two charges that carried the death penalty. At the time — 35 years before the Salem Witch Trials — most colonials believed in magic, for good or bad.
Easthampton sizzled. Goody — short for “Goodwife,” a common nickname for middle-class women in Puritan society — was responsible for everything from livestock deaths to bad milk to human disappearances, according to 11 trial witnesses. Allegedly, she was a nasty gossip who gave away herbal potions to cure illnesses.
The three-magistrate trial lasted three months and involved transportation – by armed guards — to a higher court in Hartford, Connecticut, which had jurisdiction over Long Island.
With help from Connecticut Governor John Winthrop Jr., a scientist who repudiated witchcraft, the court returned a not guilty verdict and ordered townspeople to accept Goody and her husband, who had been a trusted worker on the Gardiner estate, back into society.
The Garlicks then lived in peace until their natural deaths at ages 92 and 94, and their son became a miller, a highly respected position. Easthampton never registered another accusation of witchcraft.
The lecturer, Rider, teaches maritime and environmental history at Stony Brook. She’s also a public scholar with the New York Council for the Humanities.
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