The Witch Of Salem New York AND ONE JOEL DIBBLE YEAR 1777 Witchcraft histeria
An accusation that they were Tories was only one of the Telfords' troubles in the memorable year of 1777."It was the same yera I (think)in which Burgoyne's invasion took place,that a most floolish and deplorable superstition took place,"reported Salem native and eyewitness, Robert Blake,in November 5 1847.If he remembered correctly,then it was in 1777,while the horrors of war were sourrounding them,that the residents of Salem suffered their own witchcraft hysteria. It begain when Archy Livingston's cows began producing cream that couldn't be churned into butter.Archy Livingston was a neighbor of the Telfords,both their friend and fellow church member.Like the Telfords,Livingston was not an original member of the church.Archy,bemused by his cows, went to see a peculiar individual named Joel Dibble.Dibble also lived nearby;in fact he had moved into an abandoned house and had once been inhabited as temporary shelter by the Telfords.Dibble had been a veteran of the old French War,but was known by most as a worthless Yankee,He was not a member of Clark's congregation. Among other nerfarious activities,Dibble told people's fortunes by cutting cards.When Archy Livingston asked for his help,Dibble shuffled the cards.Archy cut them.Dibble pondered the cards and then told Archy that the milk or the cows were bewitched.And Dibble then proceeded to tell Archy who the witch was--a short,thick.black-haired woman. This discription could only apply to one woman.Margart Tilford.Archy accepted the word of the fortune-teller and announced to the community that his neighbor was a witch.As the word spread,the whole community,already terrorized by war,was thrown into further ferment.Livingston.s father-in-law supported the Telfords and censured Archy for going to a "malevolent designing scoundrel."However,others began to shun the Telfords.Some parents forbade their children to associate with the Telford children.The local magistrate refused to get involved.Or perhaoes he was not asked-the Presbyterians might have thought that would have violated the separation and state.Because both families were members of Dr.Clark's church,they agreed that the church was the proper authority to decide the matter. Althought it was not a trial,a formal investigation was insituted by Clark.Witnesses were called. Several church members testified that Margaret Tilford was an upstanding Christian woman and her moral character was exemplary.Clark then agreed to examine Joel Dibble.He did so with some reluctance,since Dibble was not a church member.During the examination,Dibble said he had learned his art in French Canada,and had paid good money for his lessons.He defended the art of cutting of cards on the grounds that,like any art or trade,it had rules.He said he wasn't naming any names.He just followed the rules of the cardsand through them,learned indications.With that,Clark cut off the examination,saying there was "nothing tangible here for the church to take hold of". THE MATTER DROPPED Unfortately,Clark never made an official rulling or declaration,so, to use a modern phrase,the matter had no closure.After the war's end,in 1782,"The subject was prudently dropped".Perhaps there was nothing Clark or his successor could have done to improve the situation fot the Tilfords.Neither superstitious notions nor hard feelings disappear.Even after"the excitement died away,"Margaret continued to suffer from having been accused of being a witch.Many neighbors made life difficult for the family.The young Tilford fokes were shunned from parties and merry-makings.George and Margaret,however were hearty souls and endured all the offensives and humilation.They lived to an old age in or near Salem. George and Margaret are buried in the "Old Cemetery" in Salem,so they must have remained members in good standing of the church that the Rev.Dr.Clark founded.Margaret died on September 15,1807 in her 76th year.George outlived her;he died on July 23(or 25),1813in his 84th year.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS---Ernest H.Tilford,Tucson Arizoan And Asa Fitch Along with the New York Historical Association's journal for printing it.And also Al Cormier(Salem Town Historian)And the Salem Press Where this story appeared in August 21 And 28,1998