Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Exploring the Witch Trials of North Andover

The North Andover Historical Society will host a local historian to discuss the local involvement with the witch trial hysteria
By Bryan McGonigle

Salem gets the spotlight during Halloween season when people look back to the infamous witch trials of the 17th century, but Andover -- much of which is now North Andover -- actually saw more people accused of witchcraft.
Next Tuesday, the North Andover Historical Society will host a local historian to shed light on Andover's involvement in the witch trials in a program called "The Witches of Andover and Beyond."
Kimberly Whitworth, local historian and regent of the Old Concord Chapter of the Daughters of the Revolution, will present her research on this local history. She traced her own family history back to the witch trial era and has done extensive research on both North Parish and South Parish since Andover's founding.
The event wll start at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:45 p.m., and reservations are required. Call 978-686-4035.

Witchy Past

In May of 1692, after the witchcraft histeria had branched out of Salem into surrounding areas, people from Andover and Andover Village fell under suspicion and were accused of being witches. And often the accused, to spare their own lives, turned into accusers.
The witchcraft hysteria has produced a local urban legend involving albino twins.
On Baker Street near Bradford Street, there supposedly lived a couple who gave birth to albino twin boys. Because albino children were thought to be a product of witchcraft, the couple hid their children from the rest of society. When the boys were teenagers, they were discovered and exposed to the town. The boys were subject to tests to see if they were witches. The final test was having rocks tied to their feet and being thrown into Lake Cochichewick to see if they would sink (if someone sank, they were a witch). The boys sank and drowned, and the parents were then burned alive in their home.
To this day, that stretch of road where that family lived is nicknamed "Albino Road." And local urban legend has it that at night the ghosts of the albino twins and their parents can be seen.

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