- By Anna Smith
Art: “Examination of a Witch,” Thompkins H. Matteson, 1853, detail. Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA.
Perhaps I stayed up too late. Perhaps I didn’t need to go downstairs right at midnight to look up the Witch of Hadley (my little town—the farming community between Amherst and Northampton, home to prime farmland, big box stores, and some very interesting dead people).
I spent an hour reading about Mary Webster: how she lived down the street from me (a stone’s throw from where I sat, shivering in the dark, entranced by the screen), how they accused her of witchcraft, sent her to Boston where she was acquitted—and where, a year and a half later, she was accused again. I probably now know more than necessary about my town’s famous...