Book of the Week #32

The Devil of Great Island: Witchcraft and Conflict in Early New England by Emerson W. Baker (NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007)

Emerson Baker, a professor of history at Salem State College (in Massachusetts) tells the story of 17th century witchcraft that took place on the island now known as New Castle.

"For the entire summer of 1682, George and Alice Walton's tavern in Great Island, New Hampshire, was the target of what one eyewitness called 'lithobolia, or the stone-throwing devil.' Hundreds of flying stones plagued the tavern and its proprietors and guests for months on end, causing considerable damage. Amazingly, no one ever saw anyone throwing the rocks." (p. 1)

"When people speak of seventeenth-century New England, most really mean Massachusetts. The founding myths of Plymouth Colony and Massachusetts stand as part of our national epic, embedded deep in every schoolchild's memory. Indeed, as the first settlement established by the Massachusetts bay Colony, Salem had secured a place in American history long before the witch trials took place. While Salem and Massachusetts have been given a central place in the narrative of American history, New Hampshire and Great Island have been pushed to the margins. It is time to refocus our vision of early America, for as the events in this book show, northern New England has a rich and overlooked history that can teach us a great deal about the foundations of America, and in the process perhaps reveal something about our present situation as well." (p. 5)

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