Keeping up with the weekly prompts from Amy Johnson Crow’s #52Ancestors 2019 blog post, this week I’ll feature one of the ancestors I’d most like to meet.
Roger Conant was my 9th great grandfather. He was one of the founders of Salem, Massachusetts. He didn’t come to America on the Mayflower, but on another ship from England in about 1624. According to his Wikipedia blurb, he didn’t get on well with leaders in the Puritan community in the New World at Plymouth, and moved on to establish another settlement with folks who were less prone to violence and religious fanaticism.
Donna Seger, eminent author of the Streets of Salem blog, wrote in her “Massey’s Cove” post in 2016, that Roger Conant and his associates got short shrift in the history books. The famous statue of him, shown above, encourages the mind to jump to Witchcraft and the notorious Salem Witch Trials. Although he died in 1679, just a few years before all the hysteria and subsequent trial happened, he must have known many of the participants. He was said to have been active in Salem affairs his whole life.
That is what I would ask him about, if I actually could meet and communicate with him.
“What really led up to the Salem Witch trials?” I’d ask. “I didn’t see the Conant family name in any documentation about accusers or accused, or judges. Did you see it coming? Did your children play any part in it? If you hadn’t died just prior, would you have been able to contribute a voice of reason to shut it down?”
Through the ap “Relative Finder” I see that I have several 1st and 2nd cousins, 10 and 12 times removed, as well as more distant relations, included in the Salem Witch Trials group, but none of them Conants. Perhaps that is because many of those ancestresses didn’t have the hidden vulnerability of owning property (or eventually owning property once their relative died) and not having a male heir in the picture to protect their interest, and to pass it along to, as theorized by researcher Carol F. Karlsen in her book The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England (New York: W.W. Norton, 1987).
Yep, it would be nice to get his take on it!