Sunday, November 30, 2008

Butterfly effect

I had the honor of meeting another one of Mary Bliss Parsons’s descendants at my reading at Books Inc. in Palo Alto. We are related through Mary’s son Joseph, but after that the ancestors differ: I am the descendant of Joseph’s son Josiah, while she descends from his son John.

I noted that Joseph was only nine years old at the time of his mother’s first witchcraft trial. In a sense, that gives me a genealogical sigh of relief: even if she had been executed, he was of a “safe” age and would have still gone on to sire his line.

However, we will never know if her presence saved him at some later point: did she nurse him out of a fever as a teenager? Did an errand she asked him to perform mean that he was not in the “wrong place, wrong time” during an Indian raid? (One of her other sons, Ebenezer, died in a surprise Indian attack at Northfield, Massachusetts in 1675.)

He must have been one terrified nine-year-old, knowing his mother could be put to death in front of the whole town… and him.

. . . .

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