As such, it is not surprising that many of my lines trace back to the East Coast. I had long known that on the Barnard side of my family, we descend from Colonel Jonathan Buck, the founder of Bucksport, Maine. I later learned that the Buck family had come from Massachusetts before they settled in Maine. The Buck line had married into the Darling family, and the Darling family later married into the Barnard family. And so, one section of my family tree is full of Bucks, Barnards, and Darlings. I had a pretty fair amount of information about the Barnards and Bucks, but I had just begun to research the Darlings. So, I sat down to try and discover more about them. Boy, was I in for a surprise.
Henry Barnard's grandmother was Julia Cobb Darling who married Enoch Barnard. Her father was Henry Darling, who married Eliza Cobb. Henry Darling's father was Eliakim Darling who married Ruth Buck.
After Eliakim Darling, for some time, I was confused. Some information had an Eliakim Darling Senior as his father, and some had a Thomas. It took me a while of digging around, but I've come to the conclusion that they are the same person. The records that name Eliakim Senior, and the records that name Thomas both say that he was married to Martha Howe, and that his son was the Eliakim who married Ruth Buck. And they all agreed on who his parents were. So, although I still don't know for certain which is his first name, I know I have the right man. Maybe he was Eliakim Thomas Darling. Who knows?
Anyway, once I'd made sure that he was my man, I could add his parental info to my tree. His parents were Jonathan Darling and Sarah Wardwell. This is where it got really interesting.
Sarah Wardwell was the daughter of William Wardwell, of Salem Massachusetts. William Wardwell was the son of Samuel Wardwell and Sarah Hooper, of Salem.
If you remember any of your history lessons on the Salem witch trials, those names might mean something to you.
Samuel Wardwell was one of the 19 accused, convicted and hanged for being a witch.
His wife, Sarah was also accused, but later released.
One of the (many) strange things about the Salem Witch Trials, is that the people who refused to admit to witchcraft were tried, convicted and punished. People who confessed were sent back to prison, many of whom avoided the death penalty because they were able to "wait out" all of the insanity. Samuel confessed, but recanted, and was held up to all as an example of what happened to those who tried to change their testimony after admitting to being a witch. No other person who confessed was hanged, save Samuel.
Samuel is also unique in that he actually is believed to have dabbled in some fortune telling. The other "witches" seem to have had no actual part in anything even remotely like sorcery, but it seems to be widely accepted that Samuel had often read fortunes as a bit of entertainment. Certainly, we know now that doing a palm reading, or looking at tarot cards, does not mean someone is "in league with the devil," but to the Puritans, it might have been too much evidence to overlook. Certainly, when Samuel recanted and said that he was not a servant of Satan, and he had not hurt the girls in any way, his pleas fell on deaf ears. Instead, they made an example of him.
To me, this is all just a shock. I never would have guessed, when I started researching my ancestry, that it would lead to so many fascinating discoveries. I mean- I learned about this in history books, read Samuel's name...never knowing that this was my 10th Great Grandfather. I did always have a morbid curiosity about the witch trials, but I can't attribute that to my lineage. I think a lot of people feel the same way. It was a horrible and horrifying part of early American life. But, if I have to be connected to this, I think I am glad it was through one of the people who were accused. They were innocent. The people who did the accusing, who did the hanging...those people were guilty of and accomplices to murder. I think if I had to face the knowledge of that, it would be a much worse feeling. Now, someday I hope to go to Salem and actually see his memorial- bring a flower for my innocent ancestor who was the victim of religious hysteria.
You can read more about Samuel Wardwell all over the internet. Here are some good links.
Read all about the Salem Witch Trials here at Project Gutenberg.
This link takes you to the Salem Witchcraft Papers, regarding Samuel Wardwell, then click on the links within to read the individual documents.
And his bio is here, click on the plus sign, next to "Full Essay" to read all of it.