The Legend of Goody Garlick
Decades before the infamous Salem witch trials, allegations of witchcraft and a trial rocked the village of East Hampton. In February of 1657, 16-year old Elizabeth Gardiner Howell fell ill. As friends cared for her, she had a sudden outburst which frightened them. She screamed, "A witch! A witch! Now you've come to torture me because I spoke two or three words against you!" Her father, Lion Gardiner, one of the town's most prominent citizens, was summoned. He stayed through the night at his daughter's bedside, witnessing her screams that the witch was in the room. She described "A black thing at the bed's feet." She was clearly agitated, and pointed to Elizabeth "Goody" Garlick. Garlick, a local resident, was often at odds with her neighbors. Howell died a day later.
Goody Garlick, wife of Joshua Garlick, who had at one time worked with her husband at the Gardiner Plantation, was brought to trial. At the time, death sentences were appropriate punishments for both murder and witchcraft. Eleven witnesses testified but Goody Garlick did not speak in her defense.
The local magistrates concluded that Elizabeth's death had been caused by bewitchment and that Goody Garlick was responsible. Not only that, but Goody Garlick was connected to the deaths of four other persons via witchcraft. In addition, she was accused of causing "fits" to a local woman and death and harm to various animals Just before her sentencing, Lion Gardiner, the bereaved father of Elizabeth Gardiner Howell, intervened to defend Garlick against additional accusations. He pleaded with the magistrates to send the accused to the General Court of Connecticut for further review.
After reviewing the inquest, the General Court declared Goody Garlick to not be guilty. Lion Gardiner decided that she and her husband should move back to Gardiners Island where he would employ them. Both Goody Garlick and her husband lived out the rest of their lives on Gardiner's Island in peace.
Information for this article was compiled from: Smithsonianmag.com, Dan's Papers and the book, It Were As Well to Please The Devil as Anger Him: Witchcraft in the Founding Days of East Hampton By Loretta Orlon, PhD with Hugh R. King, Catherine Tremblay and Aimee Webb.