I knew I had a Salem Witch Trial connection through Mary Clements Osgood, but I was surprised to see other family surnames mentioned. Those included Poor, Farnum, Ingalls, and related families in the Andover, Massachusetts area. Twelve petition signers, those asking for release of prisoners, could be considered Osgood family members. (Hite, page 225)
The Hite book was insightful to what was going on at the time and how it reached Andover which was about 30 miles from Salem. The Osgood family was drawn into the witch hunt when on 6 January 1693 Mary Clements Osgood participated in the 'touch test'. Mary and Deliverance (Haseltine) Dane, Sarah (Lord) Wilson, Mary (Lovett) Tyler, Abigail (Wheeler) Barker, and Hannah Tyler were blindfolded and the afflicted were there. The afflicted fell into fits as soon as the women were brought in. The women's hands were laid upon the afflicted and the fits stopped. This was the evidence that led to the women's arrests. They were immediately taken to jail. (Source: Hite page 119 from Records of the Salem Witch Hunt (2009) by Bernard Rosenthal pages 737-738)
Mary Osgood confessed to
- submitting to a baptism by the devil in Five Mile Pond in Boxford
- afflicting three victims
- attending a meeting at Moses Tyler's home for the purpose of afflicting
- carrying the shape of Minister Francis Dane, along with Deliverance Dane, to make people believe he was afflicted.
Next, Osgood was asked, "What hindered you from accomplishing what you intended?" (Hite, page 122) Osgood replied, "The Lord would not suffer it to be that the devil should afflict in an innocent person's shape." (Hite, page 122) Mary Osgood may have saved Danes life according to Hite.
Why was Osgood targeted as a witch? Mary and her husband, John Osgood had a long history in Andover. John and Mary Osgood were prominent, and powerful, in the community. John served numerous times as a selectman of Andover. Mary would have been one of the most prominent citizen arrested.
John Osgood became a leader in the effort to free the accused. He paid multiple bonds, with others, to free some of the accused. His name was on an October 12, 1692 petition, along with other family members of the accused, to free the prisoners. The petition did not work to release them.
Minister Increase Mather's work, Cases of Conscience Concerning Evil Spirits Personating, Men, Witchcrafts, infallible Proofs of Guilt in such as are accused with that Crime, is believed to be the beginning of the end of the witch trials. Mather refuted Mary Osgood's testimony. Next, 26 Andover residents submitted a petition to the Governor, the council, and colony reps. John Osgood, his sons Timothy and Samuel, and his nephew, Hooker Osgood signed the petition. (Hite page 156)
Mather quoted recantations by Mary Osgood first. Osgood declared her statement of guilt as "wholly false". She says she was urged and pressed to confess. She states she never did the things she confessed to. John Osgood and John Fyre bonded themselves for 400 pounds to enable their wives, Mary Osgood and Eunice Potter Fyre, to be released on condition they would return for trial.
Spectral evidence was not allowed and Mary Osgood was acquitted on 12 Jan 1693. John Osgood continued to help others and posted bonds, with others, for Mary Barker, Sarah Wilson and her daughter, Sarah after his wife's acquital.
John Osgood was elected selectman at Andover's Annual Town meeting held in March of 1693. Other selectman were elected who defended the suspects, or didn't take a stand, for the next several years. John Osgood died in August, 1693. Mary Osgood died October, 1710.