Wethersfield Witch Trials, Ancient Burying Grounds, and an 1830s Wake at Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum

Witches and Tombstones Tours
October 19, 20, 26 and 27, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.


Wethersfield, Conn. (September 3, 2013) –When Wethersfield resident Katherine Harrison married “up” in the mid-1600s, people talked. When the widowed former servant had issues with her neighbors, they accused her of witchcraft. Harrison narrowly escaped the noose, but was banished and financially ruined. Details on Harrison’s and other Wethersfield witchcraft cases, 19th-century funeral practices, and some of the most notable “residents” of the Wethersfield Ancient Burying Ground will be presented during the 2013 Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum Witches and Tombstones Tours in Wethersfield, Connecticut. The event has been expanded to include tours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on October 19 and 20 and October 26 and 27. Admission for the 90-minute tours is $13 per person. Space is limited and reservations are strongly advised.

The first stop on the tour is theButtolph-Williams House—home to the characters portrayed in the Newbery award-winning book, “The Witch of Blackbird Pond,” by Elizabeth George Spear— where costumed guides will share particulars on the Wethersfield witchcraft accusations. The confession of witchcraft by Wethersfield resident Mary Johnson in 1648 was the first of 43 Connecticut cases, with 16 ending in execution.

Next on the tour is the Wethersfield Ancient Burying Ground, where, among other gruesome details, visitors will hear details of Connecticut’s first mass murder and learn how gravestones warned the living of their own impending peril.

Back at the Isaac Stevens House,visitors will step back in time and view a room fully prepared for a wake, replete with coffin, draped windows and mirrors. Guides will explain 19th-century mourning practices, how illnesses were treated in the Isaac Stevens House, and discuss how the living dealt with fears of being buried alive.

For reservations, call 860-529-0612, ext. 12. For more information on the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum, please go to https://webb-deane-stevens.org.