Saturday, August 27, 2011

Line 9.2, Anne Walcott; Never praise a sister to a sister

As a small child of seven, Anne Walcott witnessed the hysteria of the pending Salem witchcraft trials in her own home. How this impressed her young mind as she witness the behavior of her sister and her friends that brought suffering and death to many innocent people can only be guessed at. We don’t know a lot about Anne. She is seldom in the Salem Records but she was involved in the horror just because of who her half-sister and her cousin, Anne Putnam were.

Anne Walcott was born 17 January 1685/86 in Salem, Massachusetts, the daughter of Jonathan Walcott and his second wife Deliverance Putnam
She married Joshua Felt son of Moses Felt and his wife Lydia Mains on15 January 1712/13 in Salem, Essex, MA
Died before 16 June 1736
Putnam’s children were:
1.   Moses Felt born 22 December 1714 in Boston, Suffolk, MA and died at sea 13 June 1780. He married Mary Potts Pettee
2.   Jonathan Felt born 03 June 1719 Dedham, Suffolk, MA, died 16 May 1786 in Peterborough, NH. He married Lovewell Welds.
3.   Aaron Felt born 21 June 1716 in Rummey Marsh, Lynn, MA and died 1769 in Lynn, MA. He married Mary Waite the daughter of Peter Waite and Sarah Pierce. She was born 28 April 1716 in Lynn, MA and died there 05 September 1767.
4.   Anne Felt about 1722 and died age 94 in Andover, MA. She married Robert Russell of Andover, MA.

    The Salem birth records list Anne’s birth and later her marriage to Joshua Felt. The Felt family was an adventuresome one, having been among the first Englishmen to settle in what would become the state of Maine. Joshua was probably born in Maine but by 1712/3 when he married Anne Walcott, he was living in Salem. Just by the fact that he was living in Salem, he must have known about the witchcraft trials but that did not deter him from courting and marring the sister of one of the accusing girls. Anne, like her mother, married at a rather older age then most women of her generation. She was just short of 27 years of age when she married Joshua. One, again, can wonder if the influences of the dark cloud that lead to the trial kept her segregated from the joys of courting. That she married a man not raised in the town could also be an indication of the grief that darkened her family. Her sister, Mary, the accusing girl, married at age 21 to Isaac Farrer the son of John Farrar of Woburn, Massachusetts. Why Mary seemed to move on to marriage and children at a younger age then her innocent half-sister, is only known now to God. But surely the shadow of the witchcraft trial haunted the Walcotts for their whole lives.

We can’t know the state of Anne’s faith. She was of the second generation of Massachusetts born Puritans and with the horror of the trials, her faith may have been tested more so then others of her generation. The fiery zeal of the original Puritan settlers in the New World was tempered with each generation, leading to a less vigorous display of religious passion as the younger generations took their place in society and the church. Joshua Felt came from strong Puritan stock. His grandfather George Felt emigrated with the future Governor Endicott and settled in Charlestown. Old George lived to into his eighties and seems to have been a faithful Puritan. With this background, one might think that the children and grandchildren would be strong in their faith as well, but that is not always true. We know the Felts were involved in the church as their children were baptized there but that is all we know from the records. However, the Felts in the following generations seemed to have stayed with their God so even with the shadow of the witchcraft trials looming over her, Anna may very well have been a strong woman of faith.

Anne and Joshua Felt’s children were born in different village near Boston between 1714 and about 1722. Anne Walcott Felt died sometime before 1736, when Joshua took Dorcas Gould, the widow of Anthony Buxton, as his second wife. Joshua lived at least another eight years after marring Dorcas as she was named his widow in her will made in 1747.

Several of Anne and Joshua’s grandchildren would take an active part in the American Revolution. Jonathan, Joshua and Samuel Felt were present at the battle of Lexington and Concord that started the war. Despite being involved, even just by association, in one of the biggest controversies in American History, Anne managed to raise children who gave back to their country. I can only hope that she was able to realize that God the author of the sad chapter in Salem’s history.

1. Felt Family Gen. Internet
2. Internet Rick Ingersoll,
3. "Al & Judy Sporny's Genealogy"
4. Colonial Families of the United States by George Norbury Mackenie, Vol. VI
5. Salem Vital Records, Vol. I, Births, Pub by the Essex Institute, 1916
6. "Yet Another 'Descendent of John Putnam'"

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