Saturday, February 4, 2012

Cowboy Legacy -- Great grandma was hanged for witchcraft

Cowboy Legacy -- Great grandma was hanged for witchcraft

According to Connecticut court records--in the year of 1662--a young girl named Ann Cole began naming certain townspeople as witches.  Ann, who had suffered from epileptic or similar seizures for years, would cry out during these seizures that witches were tormenting her.  She named three people as her primary tormenters: Nathaniel Greensmith, his wife Rebecca, and Mary Barnes.

In early January 1663 a trial was held to hear the various testimonies of the plaintiff and the defendants.   Rebecca Greenfield quickly confessed to being a witch and, with many ludicrous tales, implicated her husband Nathaniel.   Evidently, Mary defended herself and denied being a witch.

On January 25, 1663 both of the Greensmiths and Mary Barnes were found guilty.  They were hanged that very day.  No chance for an appeal was given.  “Justice” was swift in those days.  The so-called witches had the distinction of being the last 3 persons executed in Connecticut for this crime.

Mary Barnes (my 10th great grandmother) was the wife of Thomas Barnes.  She had been born 15 April 1625 in Middletown, Middlesex, Connecticut, and married Thomas about 1647 soon after he arrived in Connecticut.  We do not know Mary's maiden name.  Some researchers suggested it was Andrews or Andrus, but my research indicates that Mary Andrews was the second wife of Thomas Barnes.

Thomas Barnes had been born about 1615 in England and died in Farmington, Connecticut 1689. Thomas and (first wife) Mary Barnes (who was hanged as a witch) were the parents of 3 children: Sarah, Benjamin and Joseph.  

Sarah Barnes (Mary's only daughter), was born about 1648, married John Scoville in 1666.  They were among the earliest settlers of Haddam, Connecticut.  John and Sarah Scoville were the parents of four boys: John Jr., William, Edward and Benjamin Scoville.

William Scoville (the second eldest) was born about 1672, and married Martha Unknown (some say she was Martha Bailey).  William and Martha were the parents of William Scoville Jr., born about 1710, who married Hannah Shailer in 1734.  They were the parents of Hannah Scoville who married Oliver Bailey (French Indian War and Revolutionary War veteran) who ultimately settled in Bradford County, Pennsylvania.  To learn more about Oliver Bailey and his descendants see

All of Oliver's descendants (including yours truly) can claim lineage descends from a witch : >)


Because I was born on October 30th I always considered Halloween to be a second day of my birthday celebration.

How cool it would have been if I knew about Mary Barnes, the witch, when I was a child.  Just maybe it explains why I don't always have complete trust in my fellow man.


  1. Mary's my 9th great-grandmother. Hello, cousin!

  2. Mary's my 9th great-grandmother. Hello, cousin!

  3. Mary is my 9th great grandmother I am trying to find official documents tying Sarah and Mary together (books court records Etc) anyone know of any? It also descend through Oliver too!

  4. Hi half-cousin! I am descended from Thomas Barnes and the second Mary Andrews Barnes. Appreciate the post!