Before Salem, There Was the Not-So-Wicked Witch of the Hamptons- page 3 | History | Smithsonian
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Years before the infamous events of Salem, Easthampton, New York was riddled with allegations of witchcraft. Pictured is an old windmill next to a graveyard in the small town. (Kenneth Van Sickle / The Granger Collection, NYC)

Before Salem, There Was the Not-So-Wicked Witch of the Hamptons

Why was Goody Garlick, accused of witchcraft in 1658, spared the fate that would befall the women of Massachusetts decades later

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No doubt after consulting with Gardiner—a long time associate with whom he had established the settlement of Saybrook, during the Pequot Wars—Winthrop’s court rendered a not-guilty verdict. While the records of the trial do not exist, the court’s nuanced directive to the citizens of East Hampton does. It didn’t quite dismiss the idea that Goody Garlick might have been up to something fishy; nor did it come out and label the townspeople who had paraded their second and third hand allegations against her a bunch of busybodies. But the court made perfectly clear what they expected from both the Garlicks and the community of Easthampton.

It is desired and expected by this court that you should carry neighborly and peaceably without just offense, to Jos. Garlick and his wife, and that they should do the like to you.”

Apparently, that’s exactly what happened. As far as can be told from the East Hampton town records, the Garlicks resumed their lives in the community. Chances are they weren’t invited to too many parties, but King notes that their son later became the miller of the town—a fairly prominent position.

Asked how Winthrop’s decision on the Garlick case affected the community, King summed it up: “Did we have any more accusations of witchcraft in Easthampton after that? No. Did the town prosper and grow? Yes.”

Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that today East Hampton is known for its night clubs, beaches and celebrity sightings, while the name Salem, Massachusetts--where 19 people were hung in 1693—will forever be associated with the horrors of a witch hunt unleashed.

On Friday, November 9, the East Hampton Historical Society will hold a walking tour and re-enactment of the Garlick case. The tour, which starts 5 p.m. at Clinton Academy, 151 Main Street in East Hampton is $15. For information call 631-324-6850.

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