A story of the New World venturers, of wilderness and settlement, of witchcraft and war.
In the 1630s two young girls from different villages sailed from England with their Puritan families, part of the great 17th century migration to the New World. Settled in the Connecticut River Valley, they came face to face with the rigors of life among the Puritans. This story is based on the lives of Mary Bliss Parsons and her enemy Sarah Lyman Bridgeman who suffered from an epic jealousy fueled by superstition. This fictional account of a true story takes us back to the beginning of a country founded on a dream, where life was perilous, where fear and envy would lead to redemption and ruin.
WHEN SHE AWOKE, Mary found herself alone in the dark, sitting on the rutted road where her bare feet had slipped and she had fallen. She tried to collect herself; wondering what great hand had plucked her from her bed and set her down out of doors under the full moon. She remembered nothing, but she knew that in her sleep she had walked farther from her father’s house than she had ever walked alone. Excited by the thrill of adventure and the taste of freedom, she brushed herself off and continued on through the granite gateway, across the stile, through the thicket to the millpond which ran to deep pools swimming with trout now hidden under the dark water.
At last she stood on an ancient stone bridge looking up at the Beacon, smooth and round as a loaf of risen dough. “O night! I am moonblind!” she called, her small voice echoing down the cleave.
No one knows for certain when Cornet Joseph Parsons came to the New World but his place of birth is known. He was born in Beaminster, Dorset, England and baptized on June 25,1620 the same year the Pilgrim Fathers landed at Plymouth. We know that he was at Springfield in 1636 when, at the age of 16, he witnessed the land deal between the Indians and William Pynchon (among others) for the town of Springfield.
Less is known about his wife's beginnings. It is thought that Mary Bliss may have been born in Painswick Parish, Gloucestershire, England around 1627 and came to New England as a child. Her father, Thomas Bliss, appears as a simple yeoman in the records of Hartford, Connecticut by 1639.
In 1646 Mary and Joseph were married in Hartford and later, settled in Springfield, Massachusetts where they, like the rest of the village, were swept up in the "witch excitement" involving Hugh and Mary (Lewis) Parsons. In 1654 Joseph, Mary, and their growing family (along with others, mostly from Hartford), founded the town of Northampton, Massachusetts, the northern most outpost on the frontier at the time. There Joseph increased his wealth, becoming a prominent citizen of the town.
Mary did not fare so well and in 1656 Joseph brought suit for slander against Sarah Lyman Bridgeman for "calling his wife a witch." The slander suit was settled in Joseph Parsons' favor but in 1674 Mary was accused of witchcraft by the same family and sent to Boston where she was indicted and thrown into jail to await her trial on May 13, 1675. Two of the judges in Mary's case, Seventeen years later, William Stoughton and Thomas Danforth (judges who tired Mary's case) went on to try the Salem "witches."
Some of the men who sat in judgment of Mary Bliss Parsons at her trial in Boston on May 13, 1675.
Governor Simon Bradstreet,
Court of Assistants, husband of the poet Anne Bradststreet.
Thomas Danforth as portrayed by Paul Scofield in The Crucible.
Then Governor John Leverett, chief judge.
.William Stoughton, Court of Assistants and later judge at the Salem Witch Trials.
William Pynchon, founder of Springfield and a likely benefactor of Joseph Parsons.
Northampton Home Lots
The author is an 11th generation descendant of Mary Bliss Parsons
1. Mary Bliss Parsons (b. about 1627 - d. 1-29-1712) and her husband Cornet Joseph Parsons
(b. 1620 - d. 10-9-1683)
2. Lt. Samuel Parsons (b. 1-23-1652- d. 11-19-1734, m. about 1677, Elizabeth Cooke)
3. Samuel Parsons Jr. (b. between 1686 & 1690 - d. between 1713 and 1724, m. Mary Wheeler, 1711)
4. John Parsons (6-2-1713 - d. 6-1760, m. Esther Hall)
5. John Parsons (b. 11-25-1753 - d. 3-4-1848 - m. Asenath Carrington 12-11-1783)
6. Leverett Parsons (b. 12-3-1790 - d. 5-1869)
7. Charles Hill Parsons (b. 10-25-1830 - d. 9-3-1867)
8. Abner Charles Parsons (b. 2-4-1866 - d. 1951)
9. Marguerite Parsons Vorbeck (b. 5-30-1891 - d. 1967, m. Herman W. Vorbeck, 1914)
10. Herman Parsons Vorbeck (b. 4-6-1915 - 11-1995, m. Bette Burgess, 1937)