The list you're about to read is true.
  1. Susannah Martin had been a widow for 5 years when the stories started.
  2. She was raising 8 kids on her own, and maintaining a busy household.
  3. That's when some young girls in nearby Salem Village leveled their accusation: Susannah Martin is a witch.
  4. She was brought to trial in 1692. Prior to the proceeding, she was stripped and examined for any marks on her body that could be considered a mark of the devil.
    Frequently, birthmarks, moles, or even freckles were identified as these. Susannah had to endure this examination twice.
  5. But Susannah was clear of "deformities."
  6. Despite the lack of physical proof, she was taken to court.
  7. As she entered the room, three of her young accusers started to convulse and shake.
  8. Susannah laughed.
  9. Former Puritan Minister Cotton Mather was leading the prosecution. When he detailed the charges against her, Susannah responded by quoting the Bible freely—something a witch was said incapable of doing.
  10. Minister Mather countered her defense by stating that the Devil's servants were capable of putting on a show of perfect innocence and Godliness.
  11. Susannah was found guilty of witchcraft and hung.
    By the time the Salem Witch trials were over, 20 people—mostly women—had been executed.
  12. The Salem Witch trials were an important turning point in American history.
  13. The episode is one of the nation's most notorious cases of mass hysteria, and is often cited as a vivid cautionary tale about the dangers of isolationism, religious extremism, false accusations, and lapses in due process.
    Have we learned a lesson from our past, or are we doomed to repeat it?
  14. Susannah Martin's legacy isn't just her part in the Salem trials.
  15. Nineteenth century poet John Whittier composed "The Witch's Daughter" about her.
    "Let Goody Martin rest in peace, I never knew her harm a fly/And witch or not—God knows, not I. . ."
  16. One of Susannah's daughters, Jane Martin, was the great-great-great-great grandmother of US President Chester Arthur.
  17. And many more generations beyond that, there's me: her ancestor.