The Salem Witch Trials Pt. 3: Tituba & The Girls
Welcome back guys! I’m glad to know this miniseries is so popular and people want to know what happens next. I try to split them up by topics in such a way that they make sense individually, but also each have their own specific contribution to the total outcome. So let’s dive right in.
When Samuel Parris moved from Barbados to New England, he brought his slaves with him. One slave in particular was known as Tituba. Unfortunately for many slaves or those who have ancestors that were slaves, it is very hard for historians to determine where Tituba’s origins lie. Due to there being so much myth surrounding the mystical Tituba, it is hard to fully determine what is fact and what is fiction. But there are a few things we know for certain.
One is that Tituba was married to another slave under Parris’ household. His name was John Indian and not much is known about his origin as well. The other being that Tituba was not a witch, but she did like to share her stories from her past life in Barbados to those who were willing to listen. These stories often revolved around Voodoo, which was a very big aspect of life as well as religion in the Caribbean cultures. It is still questioned to this day whether she partook in voodoo practices or simply believed in the supernatural and superstitious beliefs from voodoo culture.
Now you may be wondering who took the time to listen to the stories of a slave. I say this because at the time, slaves were meant to work, but not be heard, seen, but only when doing their job. Nothing more. Does this sound familiar at all to anyone else during this time period?
To fully understand what I’m getting at here, lets do a mini history lesson within the larger mini history lesson shall we? Women of the time period who were of any standing in the community had a set of rules to live by throughout their life. They were not educated, that was just for the men. They were only taught to cook, clean, sew, and basically only do any functions that made the men’s lives more pleasurable. Besides those rules though, they were not allowed to do other things as well. These other things included no dancing, showing pretty much any skin, speaking out of term or without prior approval, and basically anything besides standing along side their husband.
This led to younger girls hanging out among themselves or doing chores together in order to add any level of fun to their lives. This also let their curious (and preteen rebellious prepubescent) minds wonder when no one else was watching. That is exactly what happened when they sat and started to listen to Tituba’s tales. Who is specific may
I be referring to? Well there was quite a few girls who would come and listen, and word of course would also spread to other girls. But where would all of this sprout from? The mouths of three girls in particular. Those three girls were Elizabeth (Betty) Parris, her cousin Abigail Williams, and Ann Putnam Jr.