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On This Day… The First Execution For Witchcraft In The Colonies

Written by: George Chittenden : 24 May 2019

It was on this day, 26th May back in 1647 when the first person was executed for witchcraft in the thirteen American colonies. Her name was Alse Young, which is sometimes spelt Achsah Young or Alice Young and little is known of her or the details of the offence that led to her execution. However records show that an influenza epidemic hit New England early 1647, including the town of Windsor where she was from. It’s possible that when people started dying, including many children, she was blamed.

She was hanged at the Meeting House Square in Hartford, Connecticut, on what is now the site of the Old State House. It’s believed that she was married to a John Young who owned a small parcel of land in Windsor in 1641, which he sold in 1649, and then he vanished from the town records. Unfortunately this sad story gets worse. The ill-fated couple had a daughter together, Alice Young Beamon, who was also accused of witchcraft in nearby Springfield, Massachusetts, thirty years later. Thankfully she didn’t receive the same fate as her mother and died many years after being accused.

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