For over two hundred years, I was labeled the first witch
to be executed in the New World. Unlike Alse Young,
who was hanged May 26, 1647, my name was recorded.
I wish I had known her. We could have shared spells.
Dated December 7, 1648, there is only one sentence
about me in Connecticut records: “The jury finds
the Bill of Indictment against Mary Johnson that
by her own confession she is guilty of familiarity
with the Devil.” They did not describe their test
of “watching and waiting,” where I had to sit
with my legs crossed into an X for twenty-four hours.
I passed out and did not see the devil’s familiar
judges said appeared to suck on my witch’s teat
that they found by fingering my most private part.
I got better press in 1689 from Cotton Mather in
Memorable Providences: “She said, That a Devil
was wont to do her many services. Her Master
once blam’d her for not carrying out the Ashes,
and a Devil did clear the Hearth for her afterwards.
Her Master sending her into the Field, to drive out
the Hogs that us’d to break into it, a Devil would
scowre them out, and make her laugh to see
how he feaz’d ’em about.” A servant girl, I was
first arrested for stealing and whipped for that crime
August 21, 1646, in Hartford and a month later
in Wethersfield. Naturally I was discontent and not
surprised when Satan eeled his way into me
for the first time. Sometimes he was winged, hooved,
or finned. Under my skin, he was alien yet familiar.
Yes, I had admitted to many unclean acts with
too many men I now label devils to remember.
No idea who the father might be, I had no choice
but to smother my newborn son, but unlike other
witches I knew, I never would eat flesh of a child
or use its fat to cast spells. I could cause a cow’s milk
to dry up, corn crops to fail, cheese to turn sour.
In my confession I didn’t mention I had the power,
with Satan’s help, to steal a man’s penis, make
genitals disappear so they could not be seen or felt.
I should have stored parts I removed in a box
or bird’s nest where they could move and I could
feed them oats and corn. If I had not been in jail
while giving birth to a second son, I would have made
sure he was not bound out until he was twenty-one
as a servant to the jailer’s son, Nathaniel, who took
fifteen pounds to take care of and educate the boy even
though there was a good chance he was his own child.
A tough man to please, Cotton Mather wrote
in Magnalia Christi Americana: “At her execution . . .
she went out of this world with many hopes
of mercy through the merit of Jesus Christ . . .
and she died in the frame [of mind] extremely
to the satisfaction of them that were spectators of it.
Our God is a great forgiver.” By the rat’s tail!
Hard to believe, but would a man of God lie?