Researching the 1600’s
For Salem Witch, because it is essentially a prequel to 9 other books all based on the descendants of it’s four main witches I need to make sure I get the facts straight. I’ve done a lot of research on Kanti (who’s name might change) she’s a Wampanoag woman who’s daughter is sick in the beginning. I found a museum I’m dying to go to, here’s the link, if you’re in the Massachusetts area do it!
But I also have an escaped African slave and I need these people to be able to escape Massachusetts. So I started looking into who else was there and when.
Now to get to the part where I’m annoyed at my education. I was told and over and over and over again about the Pilgrims. And yeah, they were important. I knew the first settlement was James town and I thought it was probably a year or so before the Pilgrims got there. So as I read everything that happened between and around Jamestown and the Pilgrims, I got a little irritated.
The Settlements on the East Coast of North America
So here’s what I found about the order in which North America was settled by the English and the Dutch. And this is just the East coast.
1607: Jamestown is a thing. Settled in the Chesapeake Bay area by the Virginia Company. A lot of these people were indentured servants. They traded a few years of hard work in exchange for passage to the New World and a small piece of land once they’d served there time. There were also African slaves brought over at this point so my African character is completely plausible. (This is both good news and also pretty sad. I realize slavery was and still is a global issue but the first settlement?) Also, this is where Pocahantus lived and the story of the first of the John Smith’s in her life happened.
1609: The Dutch East India company sends Henry Hudson to explore what we know as present-day New York. He founded a colony for the Netherlands, the capital is New Amsterdam. With the Dutch came Dutch ways of building houses and towns. This is where New York’s winding streets and brick homes originated. Brick is still a prominent choice for New England homes.
1611: William Penn, a wealthy Quaker, receives a large tract of land (it pays to be buddy buddy with King Charles II) west of the Deleware River. With Penn’s promises of religious freedom, the Quackers, Baptists, Mennonites and the Amish followed his lead and settled along the river. This will become Pennsylvania.
1620: The Pilgrims finally arrive in Plymouth on the Mayflower, escaping religious persecution in England. There were about 40 of them, Protestant separatists, who sailed with about 62 other people looking to make a new life in the New World.
1630: John Winthrop arrived with 900 Puritans. The Massachusetts Bay Colony, Boston, was self-governed unlike James Town and New Amsterdam.
So, basically, my history lesson was about 40 people who got here 20 years after people started settling here. Not to mention aside from the weirdly inaccurate retelling of thanksgiving, the native people weren’t mentioned much at all. This was a lot of fun to research and I’m looking forward to investigating that museum and talking to the Mashpee Wampanoag people about their history.
As for my research, my characters are all safe as in it’s plausible for them to exist and I haven’t even gotten to the witch trials yet (1692-93).
Thanks for stopping by! What was the most surprising gap in your education that you discovered later? History has been mine over and over again which is sad because we can learn so much about humanity by studying our past.