Hometown Tales Podcast

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Fairfield, CT - Witch Dunking Pond

Fairfield, CT - Witch Dunking Pond

It's no secret the early colonization of this nation was plagued with intolerance.
Puritan society was strict, closed-minded and harsh with it's warped sense of justice. The witch trials in Salem, MA have dominated the history books and American Literature as examples of the regretful behavior of the early inhabitants of the Plymouth Rock.

But it wasn't just Salem. Connecticut had it's own witch encounters and overreactions. Early incidents in Windsor, Wethersfield and scattered throughout the state resulted in executions but Fairfield, CT clearly takes the witch cake for most fascinated cases. First in 1651 Goodwife Bassett was hung then in 1653 Goodwife Mary Knapp was accused of witchcraft and having "witch marks". Of course upon examination of this simple woman any birth mark or mole was interpreted as a mark and she was hung. It's said that her accuser admitted that Knapp was innocent at her public hanging but of course, they couldn't let that get in the way of a good ole' public execution. After all, there was a crowd to please and children to entertain.

Nearly 40 years later during the height of the Salem Witch Trials, another Fairfield woman, Mercy Disbrowe was accused of witchery. While on trial the authorities needed to perform tests to determine if she truly was an accomplice of Satan. The popular witch dunking was performed. They held her down in a pond and see if she floats. Sounds perfectly scientific. Many spectators claimed she did float so she was set for her own execution. Luckily for her, cooler heads prevailed and some outside authorities stepped in after the seeing the hysteria and carnage that ensued in Salem. They had Mercy on Mercy but she wasn't as forgiving.

Legend has it several ponds and lakes in the Fairfield area are the location of the famous witch dunking. And you guessed it, Mercy haunts the hell out of everyone of them. Of course with each pond and lake the legend varies. Some claim Mercy died during the dunking, others claim it's not even Mercy but someone else the history books seemed to have forgotten. Either way, if you are taking an evening drive in Fairfield, CT and see a small lake or pond, take a look at the water. Perhaps you'll see a vengeful wet goodwife ready to lay the evil smackdown on your WASP ass.


OLR Research Report
The Fairfiled Mirror - The Fairfield Witch Project

Photo from TownofStratford.com