FC 65 A Little Commonwealth with John Demos

This week on Fieldstone Common our featured guest is Professor John Demos, author of the books The Unredeemed Captive; Entertaining Satan; and A Little Commonwealth: Family Life in Plymouth Colony. In this episode we discuss these books as well as his career and the state of history in America.

Bio

John Demos was born and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He graduated from A Little Commonwealth with John Demos on Fieldstone CommonHarvard College, and received his graduate training at Oxford, the University of California at Berkeley, and Harvard. He has taught at Brandeis and at Yale, where he is the Samuel Knight Professor Emeritus of American History. Some of his books include A Little Commonwealth: Family Life in Plymouth Colony, Entertaining Satan: Witchcraft and the Culture of Early New England, for which he received the 1983 Bancroft Prize, and Past, Present, and Personal: The Family and the Life Course in American History. Demos’ The Unredeemed Captive: A Family Story from Early America received the National Book Award in 1994. More recently he published Circles and Lines: The Shape of Life in Early America.

Book Summaries

Professor John Demos is an expert in early American history. His book A Little The Unredeemed Captive by John DemosCommonwealth: Family Life in Plymouth Colony recreates the life and family structures of members of Plymouth colony in the 17th century. In Entertaining Satan Demos provides an overview of witchcraft in New England in the 17th and 18th centuries. His work The Unredeemed Captive: A Family Story from Early America focuses on the 1704 Indian raid on Deerfield, Massachusetts. The book describes the taking of the Williams family and the choice of daughter Eunice to remain among the Mohawk community.

Book Info

Books by John Demos:

The Interview

In this interview we discuss how John Demos came to be a history professor and the influence of his years in the Peace Corps in Ghana, West Africa. We talk about the influence of his book as well as those of three colleagues Ken Lockridge, Philip Greven, and Michael Zuckerman who all wrote seminal New England town studies in the early 1970s which changed the focus of Early American history.

We discussed three of his books – A Little Commonwealth, The Unredeemed Captive and Entertaining Satan and the influences they had on interpreting Early American history. Demos credits Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum for their theory of explaining the Salem Witch Trials on an economic basis in their book Salem Possessed.

His later research into witchcraft was metaphorical as exemplified by the play The Crucible by Arthur Miller.

John has grown to love material culture and that has manifested in his passion for collecting antiques.

He has had a great influence on a generation of new writer-historians including Jill Lepore, Allegra di Bonaventura, Jack Larkin, Jane Kamensky, Wendy Warren, Peter Silver and many more.

In early 2014 be on the lookout for his next book The Heathen School (Knopf, 2014).

Bonus List

Make sure you qualify to win the giveaway next week by signing up for the Bonus List! Once you sign up your are in the running each week!

News & Announcements

BIG NEWS for Android users! Fieldstone Common is now available in the Android app Stitcher. Stitcher is a program like iTunes but is available on the Android platform. Download Stitcher and search for Fieldstone Common or click here.

Question: What’s that’s new stuff in the Fieldstone Common title (FC 65)?

Answer: That makes it easier, especially for iTunes and other podcast listeners, to keep track of which episode they are listening to. FC stands for Fieldstone Common and 65 is the number of the episode.

**** The new Fieldstone Common Season 2 subscription is now available in iTunes. You will need to subscribe to this link to continue receiving episodes in ITunes. Click on the link to subscribe.

For those of you who haven’t heard yet, Fieldstone Common is no longer broadcast on Blog Talk Radio. You can listen to the show by clicking the play button above or subscribing in iTunes or other podcatchers.

FC 059 Witches, Rakes, and Rogues with D. Brenton Simons

This week on Fieldstone Common our featured guest is D. Brenton Simons, author of the book Witches, Rakes, and Rogues: True Stories of Scam, Scandal, Murder, and Mayhem in Boston, 1630-1775.

Bio

Witches, Rakes, and Rogues with D. Brenton Simons on Fieldstone Common

D. Brenton Simons

D. Brenton Simons, is the President and CEO of the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston, Massachusetts.

Currently piloting a groundbreaking $50 million capital campaign, Brenton Simons has led the Society to major growth in its national services and scope and to its pivotal role in the popular expansion of the genealogical field in America.

A staff member since 1993 and President and CEO since 2005, he has developed several of the organization’s most popular services, including its website, member magazine, and special publications imprint. In addition, he is the author of several books, including Boston Beheld: Antique Town and Country Views and Witches, Rakes, and Rogues, winner of the 2006 Award of Merit from the Association for State and Local History.

Most recently he produced, with Atlantic Media, a short film on the society, “A Farseeing Vision,” recipient of the 2011 Silver Telly Award. His genealogical articles have appeared in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, The American Genealogist, The Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine and elsewhere. A graduate of Boston University, he is a member of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, the American Antiquarian Society, the Club of Odd Volumes, the Society of the Cincinnati, and is a fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Book Summary

Witches, Rakes, and Rogues with D. Brenton Simons on Fieldstone CommonBostonians of the colonial period may have been Puritans, but they were anything but pure. Witches, Rakes, and Rogues demonstrates that from the city’s founding until the Revolution, Boston’s narrow, twisting streets were crawling with witches, murderers, con men, swindlers, and blackguards.

By digging deep into the city’s records, Simons reveals a veritable rogues’ gallery, and even uncovering the truth – in “Murder by Arsenic: The Ill-fated Greenleaf Children” – about Boston’s first documented serial murder. Other true tales include “The Turbulent Passions of Ann Hibbins,” “The Diabolical Possession of Martha Robinson,” “The Extortion Plot Against Two Gentlemen of Substance,” and stories of bigamists, thieves, miscreants and black sheep.

Book Info

Title: Witches, Rakes, and Rogues: True Stories of Scam, Scandal, Murder, and Mayhem in Boston, 1630-1775

Publisher: The New England Historic Genealogical Society (2006)

Hardcover; 260 pages with end notes, bibliography, index and some BxW photos and illustrations.

Witches, Rakes, and Rogues is available for purchase from Amazon.com, The New England Historic Genealogical Society and other booksellers.

The Interview

Toward the beginning of the interview Brenton Simons read a passage describing the attempted murder of Cotton Mather by a granade thrown through a window.

Later on he read a first hand description by Samuel Breck of people being punished at the whipping post and the pillory and the horrible things the public threw at the criminal.

In the middle of the interview Brenton made reference to a book. It was Legal Executions in New England: A Comprehensive Reference, 1623-1960 by Daniel Allen Hearn.

Prize Winners

Two copies of Witches, Rakes, and Rogues were given out to the Fieldstone Common audience courtesy of the the New England Historic Genealogical Society.

The winners are:

  • Col. John Heavey Jr. of Kansas
  • Celia Lewis of British Columbia, Canada

Congratulations to our winners and thanks to the New England Historic Genealogical Society for their generosity in donating the books!

Make sure you qualify to win the giveaway next week by signing up for the Bonus List! Once you sign up your are in the running each week!

News & Announcements

Question: What’s that’s new stuff in the Fieldstone Common title (FC 059)?

Answer: That makes it easier, especially for iTunes and other podcast listeners, to keep track of which episode they are listening to. FC stands for Fieldstone Common and 59 is the number of the episode.

**** The new Fieldstone Common Season 2 subscription is now available in iTunes. You will need to subscribe to this link to continue receiving episodes in ITunes. Click on the link to subscribe.

For those of you who haven’t heard yet, Fieldstone Common is no longer broadcast on Blog Talk Radio. You can listen to the show by clicking the link above or subscribing in iTunes or other podcatchers.

Show Notes – Witchcraft Prosecution With Richard Tomlinson

Richard G. Tomlinson, author of Witchcraft Prosecution

Richard G. Tomlinson

Following are some items that were mentioned during the 18 October 2012 Fieldstone Common interview with Richard G. Tomlinson, author of Witchcraft Prosecution: Chasing the Devil in Connecticut.

The podcast of the interview is now available.

You can learn more about Richard G. Tomlinson and Witchcraft Prosecution from his author website.

Witchcraft Prosecution: Chasing the Devil in Connecticut was published by Picton Press and copies are available for sale through the Connecticut Society of Genealogists.  At this point it’s not available on Amazon.com.

Information about the Samuel Wyllys Papers, 1668-1728 is available from the Connecticut State Library. The collection includes a helpful finding aid.

Brown University also has a collection of the Wyllys (Samuel) papers, 1638-1757.

The Connecticut State Library has information about Colony of Connecticut Governor, John Winthrop, Jr.

Press Press, the publisher of Witchcraft Prosecution: Chasing the Devil in Connecticut, donated two copies that were given as a door prizes during the live show. A big thank you to the Picton Press for  their generosity!

Copyright 2012-2013 Marian Pierre-Louis

Witchcraft Prosecution with Richard G. Tomlinson

Richard G. Tomlinson

LIVE: THURSDAY, 18 OCTOBER 2012 at 1:00pm EST

Listen in to Fieldstone Common this week as host Marian Pierre-Louis talks to Richard G. Tomlinson, author of Witchcraft Prosecution: Chasing the Devil in Connecticut.

Mercy Disbrow was convicted. A date was set for her hanging. An appeal was made. Then something extraordinary happened. Mercy was granted a reprieve that became a pardon, because of a technical error in the composition of the jury. The court said, “If a real and apparent murderer be condemned and executed outside of due form of law, it is indictable against them that do it.” The place was Hartford, Connecticut. The offense was witchcraft. The year was 1693.

Connecticut’s colonial settlers feared witches. They came from an England where the prosecution of witches was rising to its peak, and they were anxious about the possible threats to their new settlements that witchcraft might represent. This book presents the evolution of witchcraft prosecution in Connecticut from the enactment of the law making it a capital offence in 1642 to its disappearance in the early 1700s.

Richard G. Tomlinson, is a founder and director of the Connecticut Society of Genealogists, Inc. (www.csginc.org) and currently serves as Chair of the Publication Committee and as vice president. He created the annual CSG Literary Awards for Genealogy and Family History, and the CSG magazine, Connecticut Genealogy News, and has published many genealogical and family history articles.

He is a contributing author to several scientific and technical books and the author of three histories including Witchcraft Trials of Connecticut and Tele-Revolution, A history of the creation of a competitive telecommunications industry 1984-2000. Picton Press released his latest book, Witchcraft Prosecution, Chasing the Devil in Connecticut, in August 2012. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Connecticut Historical Society. He is a descendant of Henry Tomlinson of Derby, England who settled in Milford, CT in 1650.

Copyright 2012-2013 Marian Pierre-Louis