Martha (Allen) Carrier profiled on History Detectives on PBS

01Nov11

Tonight I caught a rerun of History Detectives on PBS. The story was called “Witch’s House“, and it was originally aired on season 1 of the show (back in 2002).

The Case:

Could a house in Essex County, Massachusetts, have once belonged to an accused witch?

A plaque over the door states that Benjamin Abbott built the house in 1685. Our contributors have heard that Abbott accused his neighbor, Martha Carrier, of being a witch, in an effort to take her land.

The History Detectives head to New England to research the story of Martha Carrier who was executed by hanging in 1692 during the infamous Salem Witch Trials.

Might the woman who was called the “Queen of Hell” have owned this home?

The Benjamin Abbot House

Imagine my surprise when the story started to unfold, and I realized they were investigating a house in Essex County, Massachusetts that may have belonged to Martha Carrier, my 10th great grandmother.

The house is called the Benjamin Abbot house, reportedly built in 1685. It is on the National Register of Historic Places, and is located at 9 Andover St in Andover, Massachusetts.

The “investigation” looked into the age of the house, and also into the question of whether it could have been owned by Martha Carrier, and if it could have been awarded to the Abbots and taken from the Carriers as penalty for witchcraft.

A British expert was flown in, and by taking wood core samples from the oldest part of the house, he determined that the lumber for the house was cut down in the spring of 1711. Martha Carrier was killed in 1692, and Benjamin Abbot died in 1705, so the detectives concluded neither was alive at the time the house was likely built.

The current owner of the house disputes this finding, pointing out that they took the wood samples from the western part of the house, which was an addition added in 1711 by Benjamin Abbot, Jr. The eastern part of the house contains the original 2 rooms, which date from 1685.

Bill Dalton at the Andover Townsman has a good article about The Benjamin Abbot House, and the relationship between George Abbot and Martha Carrier. Anything he writes on local history is worth reading.

See Also:
Martha (Allen) Carrier (1643-1692), hanged as a Salem Witch – 31 Oct 2009

Jerry Milo Johnson to Martha (Allen) Carrier

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One Response to “Martha (Allen) Carrier profiled on History Detectives on PBS”

  1. 1 Diana (carrier) Gray

    Hi, I am also a direct descendent of Martha Allen Carrier. She is my 9th great grandmother. Please email me if you would like any more information on our ancestor. My grandfather, Leonard Eber Carrier put together a book of the family history and maybe I can share more insight with you.


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