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Video Review - Travel Channel - Legendary Locations - Salem Witches

Josh Gates hosts several interesting series on the Travel Channel. This particular series focuses on locations that are steeped in myths, legends, or famous events. Today, we're taking a look at the Salem Witch Trials in this episode titled "Rock and a Hard Place".

Legendary Locations - Rock and a Hard Place

Season 2 - Episode 2


Josh Gates explores stories of perseverance, including a tragic Salem witch trial case that led to a lasting change in the United States justice system and an old Mexican folk tale that's still celebrated in a festival today.

17th century, Salem, Massachusettes becomes a hotbed for witch trials.

Over 25 women died at these so-called trials.

The strict Puritan religion forbids things of supernatural nature (considered devil's magic).

For those who survived a small pox epidemic, they were easily accused of witchcraft.

Rebecca Nurse and her husband, Francis, owned over 300 acres. She was a pious grandmother and had taken ill. Because she hadn't been seen at church for awhile, the parishoners became suspicious. They accused her of witchcraft while she was in her bed.

12 year old Ann Putnam accuses over 62 women of witchcraft. Rebecca Nurse had accused Ann of fortune telling and was in dispute with Ann's father over some land boundaries, so they retaliate and accuse her of witchcraft. Ann's father was also the trial scriber so he embellished the court documents.

June 1692, the jury decides Rebecca was not guilty, but Ann throws a fit and they find her guilty. She is hung to death and buried in an unmarked grace.

Despite the myth, witches weren't burned at the stake in America - this was mostly done in Europe.

During this time, something called "spectral evidence" was in place whereby a witness could claim that a witch's spirit or spectral shape appeared to them in person or in a dream (while their actual body was somewhere else). After 19 people were hanged and 5 died in jail, this law was finally repealed.

In 1957, three hundred years later, the state finally offered its victims a formal apology.

Check out the Legendary Locations site on the History Channel

You can also check your local library to see if they have copies of the video.

Historical Tidbit Thursdays - The California Gold Rush - Sutter's Mill - #TidbitThursday


Welcome to Historical Tidbit Thursdays. Today I wanted to share with you some interesting tidbits I learned about Sutter's Mill during the infamous California Gold Rush! Hope you enjoy!

Johann August Sutter, born on February 15, 1803 in Germany, he was unsuccessful in his businesses in Switzerland and declared bankruptcy before leaving his family behind for America. He changed his name to John Sutter.

On April 31, 1848 he was given a land grant of 50,000 acres in California on the Sacramento River. He established a colony Nueva Helvetia (New Switzerland).

He builds Sutter's Fort to protect settlers from the local Indians. He partners with James W. Marshall, a carpenter, with the intention of getting rich off lumber. They build a saw mill at the junction of the American River with the intent to float and lumber down the river and then ship it out.

The mill was actually built on Indian lands. At this time, individuals were not allowed to trespass Indian lands but John ignored that and went ahead with his plans.

Marshall dams up the stream so he can repair their mill and when he releases the water, he finds gold. The workers deserted. The local store owner, Sam Brannan, went to San Francisco to spread the news and to sell gold-searching equipment (becoming California's first millionaire).

The land around the mill was not legally Sutter's so he could not reap any payments from all those squatters and gold-seekers. In fact, they caused a lot of destruction and stole his livestock. Eventually Sutter moved out.

Hundreds of millions of dollars were extracted from that area but no one got rich (except those that sold supplies).

Source: The American Heroes Channel - "What History Forgot" series; episode 2 "Making America; What History Forgot series website.

Photo Credits:
Sutter's Mill - https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=484
Johann August Sutter - https://www.britannica.com/biography/John-Sutter
Sam Brannan - https://www.pbs.org/weta/thewest/people/a_c/brannan.htm

Video Review - Travel Channel - Legendary Locations - John Thompson

Josh Gates hosts several interesting series on the Travel Channel. This particular series focuses on locations that are steeped in myths, legends, or famous events. Today, we're taking a look at John Thompson, a simple mailman in this episode titled "About Time".

Legendary Locations - About Time

Season 2 - Episode 7


From a cursed clock in Prague to a death-defying rescue in the snowy Sierra Nevada Mountains, Josh Gates explores six legendary locations that have withstood the test of time.

1850's Sierra Nevada Mountains, site of the infamous Donner party crossing, is where native Norwegian John Thompson operates as a mailman.
To get through the snowy places, John used a single ski of oak longboards that measured 9 feet long and 1.5 inches thick as well as a long pole that he held horizontally for balance. This getup earned him the nickname "Snow Shoe Thompson".
December 1856, John finds a nearly frozen fur trapper, James Sisson. He carries him to Mormon Station. Due to the frozen condition, the doctor needs to amputate, but the doctor has no antiseptic.
So John skis to Placerville but the druggist is out of antiseptic.
This time John rides a horse over 40 miles to Sacramento, California. He is able to get the antiseptic and rides all the way back to Mormon Station.
Thankfully, James Sisson survives the amputation of his legs.

See info on the series here - TravelChannel.com

Check your local listings for showtimes, your local library for copies, or watch on Amazon: