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Local Authors Offer An In-depth Look At The East Hampton Goody Garlick Witchcraft Case

Nicole Barylski

The trial happened 35 years before the infamous Salem witch trials. (Courtesy Photo)

The East Hampton Library will welcome Loretta Orion, Ph.D., Hugh R. King, and Aimee Webb, who penned It Were As Well to Please The Devil as Anger Him: Witchcraft in the Founding Days of East Hampton with Catherine Tremblay, on Saturday, February 2. The trio will take part in a Book Talk and Signing from 2 to 4p.m.

The recently published 106-page paperback book explores Orion's lecture about the 1657 Goody Garlick witchcraft case in East Hampton, which was presented at the East Hampton 350th Anniversary Lecture Series in 1998. The book is accompanied by additional research and imagery. Garlick was accused of witchcraft by Elizabeth Howell, the daughter of prominent East Hampton resident Lion Gardiner. Howell, who fell ill in the days after giving birth, died shortly after her accusation.

Initially, Orion became interested in the case while researching the history of witchcraft throughout Europe and the Americas for her doctoral dissertation at Stony Brook University. The book's footnote explains that she set out to learn "how the story either paralleled the witchcraft hysteria in Europe and New England or how a different outcome was realized in East Hampton." The trial, which happened 35 years before the infamous Salem witch trials, culminated in an unusual result. Orion notes "this story and the other witchcraft cases mentioned in my book highlight how the act of dehumanizing people can lead society to inflict awful treatment on those individuals because they are not considered 'human' and therefore must be evil."

"These were people on edge," King, an East Hampton historian and the town crier, told Smithsonian Magazine about the accusations. "If you look at the court records before this started, people were constantly suing and arguing with each other about all kinds of things we might see as trivial today."

It Were As Well to Please The Devil as Anger Him: Witchcraft in the Founding Days of East Hampton is available for purchase at the East Hampton Library, www.amazon.com, and BookHampton in East Hampton, with proceeds supporting the Long Island Collection of the East Hampton Library.

"This is a fearsome tale of neighbor against neighbor in the early days of East Hampton, when the now-familiar street names still belonged to the town's landowners, tenant farmers, pastors, whalers, rogues, and heroes," Dava Sobel, author of Longitude and The Glass Universe, said about It Were As Well to Please The Devil as Anger Him: Witchcraft in the Founding Days of East Hampton. "Here, thirty years before the infamous Salem witch trials, Goody Garlick stood accused of casting her evil eye on a defenseless young mother, and causing her death. Loretta Orion's gripping account of the case alternately chills and warms the heart."

Admission to the Book Talk and Signing is free.

East Hampton Library is located at 159 Main Street. For more information, call 631-324-0222 or visit easthamptonlibrary.org.

Nicole is the Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com where she focuses on lifestyle, nightlife, and mixology. She grew up in the Hamptons and currently resides in Water Mill. www.hamptons.com NicoleBarylski NicoleBarylski

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