Today, the Cheshire Public Library will be offering the first of two special programs dedicated to Connecticut’s spooky past.
Decades before the Salem Witch trials, 11 people were hanged as witches in the Connecticut River Valley. The advent of witch hunting in New England was directly influenced by the English Civil War and the witch trials in England, led by Matthew Hopkins, who pioneered “techniques” for identifying witches.
Today, Oct. 8, beginning at 3 p.m., Dr. Richard Ross will examine the history of the witch hysteria in the Valley, focusing on accusations of demonic possession, apotropaic magic and the role of the clergy. Dr. Ross will discuss his acclaimed book and new information his research has uncovered regarding Connecticut’s witch hunting history.
Dr. Ross is Professor Emeritus and former College Librarian at Trinity College, Hartford. He holds an M.A. from Northeastern University, an M.L.S. from Simmons College and a Ph.D. from Boston College. He has taught at Boston College, Northeastern University, the University of New Hampshire, and Trinity College.
Then on Thursday, Oct. 29, the Connecticut Historical Society will present their own program on witches in Connecticut. This presentation, scheduled to run from 3:30 to 4:45 p.m.,will focus on some of the women and men accused, tried, and executed as witches, and touch on how Connecticut successfully controlled the spread of witch accusations long before Salem erupted in panic and violence.
For more information or to register online, visit www.cheshire library.org. All presentations will be conducted virtually.
Editor’s Note: This update corrects an earlier version that incorrectly identified the Cheshire Historical Society as presenting the Oct. 29 program.