Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Witch in the Family?

Happy Halloween! What better way to enjoy the day but to remember the family witch. Well, at least, the ancestor that was accused and convicted of witchcraft.

Abigail Faulkner (nee Dane) is my wife's sixth great grandaunt, having married Lt. Francis Faulkner in 1675. Francis was the eldest son of my wife's seventh great grandfather, Edmond Faulkner. 

In 1692, Abigail was arraigned and indicted, on the basis of the 'evidence' of a few local Andover, Massachusetts women, "for the crime of felony by witchcraft." The women who accused Abigail of giving them 'the evil eye' were Sarah Phelps, Martha Sprague, and Hannah Bixbe (Bixby). Each testified that Abigail had "afflicted" them. Their evidence made that much more dramatic as a result of their falling to the floor, I suppose due to their affliction, when Abigail entered the courtroom.

So convincing was their evidence that the jury found "Abigail Faulkner wife of Francis Faulkner of Andover guilty of ye fellony by witchcraft comited on ye body of Martha Sprague allsoe on ye body of Sarrah Phelps." The court passed a sentence of death on Abigail, a sentence that was not carried out as a result of petitions from townsfolk and family members,and the fact that Abigail was pregnant at the time.

I've not encountered any evidence that the witchcraft trait has been passed on to my wife but on a day like today, it's wise to be on my best behaviour, just in case! 

Images of the trial documents can be found at:

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Memories Enjoyed With Canada Voters Lists, 1935 - 1980

An email from Ancestry caught my attention this morning. announced the release of a new 'Canada, Voters Lists, 1935 - 1980' database. The database is fully indexed with images from the fifteen Canadian federal elections that are occurred between 1935 - 1980.

As Ancestry's email announcement points out, the voters lists provide a valuable substitute to census records (that, frankly under Canadian laws, I may not live long enough to see many released). The voters lists contain the names, addresses and occupations of all those who were enumerated prior to each election.

I couldn't resist searching for myself in the latter years of the available voters lists. There I was listed on the 1974 voters list, the first federal election in which I was eligible to vote with the election being held on July 8, 1974, living at my parental home, with the occupation of 'student' beside my name. As the voters lists are based on address, it is a real trip down memory lane as I recalled the families who lived in the neighbourhood around my parent's home. Some I had gone to school with, others were hockey teammates; all brought back memories of a time that seems so long ago.

While searching for the 'Hadden' surname in the database, I was able to track the residences of my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and a few cousins. 

Of special interest was the 1945 voters list showing my mother's parents living at 189 Pickering Street in Toronto. This house became my parent's home and it is where I was raised until the age of nine. What made this special though was seeing who the neighbours were. Right next door to my mother's family was the Doody family at 187 Pickering Street, as can be seen in the snippet view below. Mr. and Mrs. Leo Doody are the grandparent's of my sister's husband. My mother had always told us, to our amazement, that the grandchildren of next door neighbours would marry many years later. Now I have the record showing it to be true.

As a side note, on that same 1945 voters list, living at 205 Pickering Street were Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Perkins. What is notable about this is that Mr. and Mrs. Perkins had two sons whom attended St. Michael's Choir School in Toronto. Johnny and Ray Perkins, childhood and young adult friends of my parents, joined with two other choir school friends to form a singing group that gained fame as 'The Crewcuts,' recording chart topping hits like "Sh-Boom." 

I now have find the many other members of my family in these records and then, of course, it will be necessary to start tracking the whereabouts of Ellen's many family members across the country.