Goody Cole

In Myths and Legends of our Own Time, Charles M. Skinner wrote the following story, based on two poems by John Greenleaf Whittier.

Goodwife Eunice Cole, of Hampton, Massachusetts, was so “vehemently suspected to be a witch” that she was arrested in 1680 for the third time and was thrown into the Ipswich jail with a chain on her leg. She had a mumbling habit, which was bad, and a wild look, which was worse. The death of two calves had been charged to her sorceries, and she was believed to have raised the cyclone that sent a party of merrymakers to the sea-bottom off the Isles of Shoals, for insulting her that morning. 

Some said that Goody Cole took the shapes of eagles, dogs, and cats, and that she had the aspect of an ape when she went through the mummeries that caused Goody Marston’s child to die, yet while she was in the Ipswich jail a likeness of her was stumping about the graveyard on the day when they buried the child. For such offences, including making bread ferment , who doesn’t like a good sourdough bread? and giving forth evil odors, she was several times whipped and ducked by the constable.

At last she lay under sentence of death in the Ipswich jail, for Anna Dalton declared that her child had been changed in its cradle and that she hated and feared the thing that had been left there. Her husband, Ezra, had pleaded with her in vain. “‘Tis no child of mine,” she cried. “‘Tis an imp. Don’t you see how old and shrewd it is? How wrinkled and ugly? It does not take my milk: it is sucking my blood and wearing me to skin and bone.”

However, Ezra prayed over his wife and as sunlight streamed into their hut, recognition bloomed on Anna Dalton’s face as she embraced her baby. Goody Cole was then released from jail and returned to her hut. Dark suspicion hung about the bedlam to the last, and she died, as she had lived, alone in her little cabin. Even after her demise the villagers could with difficulty summon courage to enter her cot and give her burial. Her body was tumbled into a pit, hastily dug near her door, and a stake was driven through the heart to exorcise the powers of evil that possessed her in life.

Eunice Cole born in  1590 in England and died in October of  1680 in  Hampton, New Hampshire. She was better known as “Goody Cole”, and she is the only woman convicted of witchcraft in New Hampshire. 

Cole was formally accused of witchcraft three times in her life, the first in Boston in 1656 when several townspeople testified against her. Once she was convicted for trying to lure a girl into her hut by speaking through a dog, a cat and an eagle. She was imprisoned until 1660, but was released until 1662 when she was returned to prison until sometime between 1668 and 1671. She was eventually acquitted, despite the “just ground of vehement suspicion” of her guilt. She was accused again in 1673, but acquitted, and once again in 1680, and although she was not indicted, she was still kept in prison. Goody was prone, it appears, to curse out her neighbors. One threat, a neighbor testified in Norfolk Court, led to the death of two of his cattle. When she told another citizen that she wished his calves would eat poisonous grass and die, the calves were never seen again. Goody said she knew there was a witch in town, that she knew of a bewitched person who had turned a man into an ape, and the ape looked like the Marston’s child.

Upon her death in 1680, she was hastily buried in an unmarked grave in Hampton; its precise whereabouts are unknown, although it is believed to be near the site of today’s Tuck Museum. Local legends suggest that a stake was driven into her body after her death “in order to exorcise the baleful influence she was supposed to have possessed,” and a horseshoe hung on the stake, just to be on the safe side. Another theory says they threw her off a cliff into the sea. A third says she was buried on the land that had once been her own 40-acre farm, the same property the town of Hampton took from Goody to pay the cost of confining her in that lonely Boston cell.

Goody Cole was much maligned – Hampton historian Joseph Dow referred to her as “ill-natured and ugly, artful and aggravating, malicious and revengeful” – but certainly not a witch. I mean if you’re going to treat me like shit I might be ill-natured and aggravating too.  Not smart Goody Cole, in an era when a woman could be stripped and lashed in the public square for arguing with a town official. The crime of Eunice Cole was that she simply would not shut up. She stood up for her rights in an era when she had none.

300 years later and some people are still blaming Goody Cole for the misfortunes of Hampton citizens. Which totally reminds me of Fear Street 1994. Lets blame the witch for our shitty lives. 

For example, a boat full of Hampton residents overturned, and everyone on board drowned, even though they were within swimming distance of shore. People blamed Goody Cole for the crash and for cursing the passengers by having them forget how to swim.

After 1938 there were many sightings of a mysterious old woman wandering the streets of Hampton. One was even reported by a part-time Hampton cop, whose name was Harold Fernald. In 1963 Fernald talked the city into erecting a large erosion stone outside the Tuck Museum, which sits on the presumed site of Goody Cole’s farm. He did it, he says, to allow Goody’s soul to find peace and quiet. Three hundred years of mocking disrespect and exploitation was enough for any woman. The Tuck Museum now houses an exhibit telling the story of Goody Cole.

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