Peaches and peppers and squash… oh my!

“The gardiner is brisk at work. The Peach-Trees are much broken down with the weight of Fruit this Year.”

The patched fence provides protection for Pennsbury’s crops and a sunny spot to grow.

William Penn’s steward James Harrison reported this good news in October of 1686, but the same could be said of the fall harvest in 2012!  Indian blood peaches, radishes, red and yellow cayenne peppers, squash, gourds, and culinary and medicinal herbs have all thrived this year in Penn’s kitchen garden.

According to Pennsbury’s gardener Mike Johnson, this is due in part to the recent restructuring of the garden’s fences. While Penn’s original garden covered about two acres of his estate, the smaller area has allowed the garden staff to protect the plants from pests and to interpret seventeenth and eighteenth-century garden activities more effectively for visitors.

 

One of the several varieties of gourds currently growing in Pennsbury Manor’s 17th-century kitchen garden.

You may be asking yourself, “What happens to all those fruits and vegetables?” Just as in Penn’s time, nothing goes to waste!  Harvested crops will be used in cooking demonstrations, educational programs, and seed-saving for future planting.

Let’s follow the path of the dipping gourd, which has yielded a particularly plentiful harvest this year. From the garden, the dipping gourds will make their way into storage to dry until next summer. At that time, our summer campers will remove the seeds and return them to the gardener so they can be planted. Once the seeds are removed, each gourd will be fashioned into a ladle-like tool used for watering plants. In a time when metal watering cans were expensive, being able to grow one’s own irrigation tools was certainly a favorable alternative. 

Dried gourds make excellent dippers for the cistern. Gourds and thumb-pots are favorite 17th-century tools kids can use as they water the garden’s many plants.

 

Several species of peppers are ready for harvesting in the Kitchen Garden.

2012 was also a “hot” year for red and yellow cayenne peppers. Growing cayenne peppers has given the garden staff an opportunity to interpret contradicting horticultural ideas, as not everyone on the estate would have eaten them.  African slaves living at Pennsbury had their own culinary culture and probably would have cultivated cayenne peppers as a food source. However, the Penn family and Pennsylvania’s other English residents would have considered them to be primarily ornamental plants with some medicinal and culinary value. For example, cayenne pepper and other spices would have been added to hot chocolate for an exotic burst of spicy flavor.

 

The fall harvest is well under way and will continue for the next few weeks. On your next visit to Pennsbury, take a walk through the garden and reflect on the efforts of our gardeners, past and present. They cultivated food for the table, medicine for those who were sick, and even tools for future growing seasons. Autumn is the perfect time to celebrate their achievements!

By Danielle Lehr, volunteer and former intern

Philadelphia versus Salem: Preventing Witch Hysteria

Last week, we shared the story of the Mattson Witch Trial, the only known witch trial Willaim Penn presided over.  Pennsylvania never reached anywhere near the heights of Salem’s infamous witch hunts.  So just how much did Penn’s ideals make a difference in the witch hysteria? 

“The Bewitched Man,” Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, 1798

The answer lies not within one difference, but many differences.  Penn and his Quaker colony had a very different social environment influenced by religion, politics, and education.  Penn founded his colony as a “holy experiment” grounded in his plans for religious tolerance, laws created and governed by the people, and a fair justice system.  These values changed how witch hysteria affected the communities in Pennsylvania.

Much like the Quakers, Salem’s Puritan founders created their community out of a desire to escape religious persecution in Europe. However, contrary to Penn’s policy of inclusion and tolerance, Salem prohibited any non-Puritans from living in Salem. 

 

“Witches’ Initiation,” David Teniers the Younger, 1647-49

Salem also had a history of persecution for witchcraft.  The religious leaders regularly gave sermons warning of the danger of witches and openly advertised the witch hunts that happened throughout Europe.  In addition, the court system did not really function and failed to regulate or protect those accused of witchcraft.  So in 1692, when the accusations and trials really began to engulf the community, the colony’s government failed to maintain order and sanity.

 

Anonymous drawing of witches at work from Johann Geiler von Kayersberg, 1517. Cornell University Library.

All of these factors play into the horrible persecution of the 59 people tried in Salem, of which 20 were put to death before anyone could stop the hysteria. By the end of the summer in 1692, 13 women and 6 men were hanged in Salem, Mass. for the crime of witchcraft.

Needless to say the hysteria of witch hunts struck hard for centuries throughout Europe and the colonies, leading to severe persecution, shunning, and often death for the accused men and women.  Anything mysterious or hard to explain, like cows not producing milk or infant deaths, could be blamed on a witch.  Science would later prove the real reasons for such events, but it would come to late to save the many people who were burned or hanged or drowned as witches.Pennsylvania avoided most of this madness, but not entirely, as Margret Mattson and Yeshro Hendrickson’s trial proves.

 

Visit Pennsbury Manor on Sunday, October 28 1:00-4:00 for our FREE Trick-or-Treat at the Manor event!  Families with costumed kids get free admission to our many activities, including a Reenactment of the Margret Mattson Witch Trial!

 

Written by Mary Barbagallo, Intern

Edited by Hannah Howard

Sources:

Pennsylvania Colonial Cases – Proprietor vs. Mattson

 The Malleus Malficarum of Henrich Kramer and James Sprenger: Translated with an introduction by the Reverend Montague Summers, Dover Publication, Inc., New York, NY, 1971.

 The Witch Hunts: A History of the Witch persecutions in Europe and North America, Robert Thurston, Pearson Education Ltd., United Kingdom, 2007.

“What magic words do you utter then?”: How to Catch a Witch!

‘Tis the month of ghost and ghouls and all things otherworldly… so it’s a great time to explore the role of witchcraft in 17th-century society!

So how would you react as a colonist, if someone in your community was accused of witchcraft?  Well first you have to understand what constitutes witchcraft.  Otherwise, how exactly would you know if your neighbor down the street had made a pact with the devil?  And then, if you found someone to be a witch, what exactly could you do about it?

Malleus Maleficarum, published  1487

In making these and all other decisions regarding witchcraft, there was a lengthy and well-known piece of literature that was referenced and it was called The Malleus Maleficarum (“The Hammer of Witches”). It gave well-respected advise on defining witchcraft, the powers possessed by witches, connections they had to the devil, and the threat this presented to society, as well as the judicial process for charging witches and how to punish them accordingly. Among these descriptions it also provided a set of questions to further help in the trial processes, one of which provides the title to this blog. In fact, the Malleus Maleficarum was such a bestseller, it was published in four languages between 1487 and 1669.  It even made its way across the Atlantic Ocean and was used within the colonies during bouts of 17th-century witch hysteria that found hold in even the most liberal of colonial governments!

“The witches’ sabbat,” Gottlief Spisseln, 1687

Although the majority of hysteria during this time was not directly tied to Pennsylvania, there is one recorded witch trial in Penn’s colony in 1684. A Swedish immigrant to the colony, Margret Mattson pleaded “not guilty’ to accusations of being a witch and practicing her craft. Presiding as judge, Penn allowed Margret to defend herself on the stand, provided interpreters and fellow Swedes on the jury. After testimony was over Penn gave the jury his charge and the verdict was reached.  

 The jury found Mattson, along with the other woman being charged with witchcraft, Yeshro Hendrickson, guilty of having the reputation of being a witch (“the common fame of”), but there was no law against such a thing. However, in order to maintain calm within the community, Penn imposed a fine on both women’s husbands of £50 to be held as bond and for Mattson and Hendrickson to be on good behavior for 6 months. If no further charges were brought against them in this time by their neighbors, the money would be returned. This type of “sentencing” was known as a “peace bond” and often utilized by Quakers as a tool to encourage good behavior and to keep the peace within their settlement. Moreover, the death penalty was abolished by Penn for crimes of any sort with the exception of willful murder.

So why did Pennsylvania’s witch trial turn out so differently than other colonies?  Check back next week to catch Part 2 of this bewitching comparison!

William Penn presiding over the Margret Mattson Trial

Visit Pennsbury Manor on Sunday, October 28 1:00-4:00 for our FREE Trick-or-Treat at the Manor event!  Families with costumed kids get free admission to our many activities, including a Reenactment of the Margret Mattson Witch Trial!

Written by Mary Barbagallo, Intern

Edited by Hannah Howard

Sources:

Pennsylvania Colonial Cases – Proprietor vs. Mattson

The Malleus Malficarum of Henrich Kramer and James Sprenger: Translated with an Introduction by the Reverend Montague Summers, Dover Publication, Inc., New York, NY, 1971.

The Witch Hunts: A History of the Witch persecutions in Europe and North America, Robert Thurston, Pearson Education Ltd., United Kingdom, 2007.