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Pride Of Ancestry

December 2023
1min read

John Demos’ article “Entertaining Satan” (August/September, 1978), brought forth a note of startled delight from reader Frederic D. H. Gilbert of Briarcliff Manor, New York: “Imagine my astonishment on opening A MERICAN H ERITAGE to be confronted with the account of my seven-times-great grandmother, Lydia Gilbert, late of Windsor, Connecticut. …” It was the early Gilbert who in 1654 was accused of conspiring with the devil in such a way as to cause one Thomas Alien’s musket to go off and shoot to death one Henry Stiles during a militia drill. For this presumed murder by proxy, the unfortunate “witch” Gilbert was sentenced to death and summarily executed. “This is pretty potent witchcraft,” seven-times-great grandson Gilbert goes on to declare, “to kill a man with another man’s gun without ever being anywhere near the place where it happened. One cannot help but be a little proud of an ancestor who could wangle a job out of Satan like that!”

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