A Journey Through Time

    For many people the discovery of their ancestry begins later in life; following school, career-building, perhaps marriage and family.  It’s often only when we have the extra time and resources to look backwards that we pursue our lineage through genealogy, or, if we’re lucky, through family stories.  I was extremely fortunate to have been given some of my mother’s family history as a young child.  I was about eight years old when I was told by my maternal grandmother that my grandmother, back nine generations, was one of the nineteen men and women hanged as a witch in Salem in 1692.   Her name was Martha Carrier and she was called by Cotton Mather, “The Queen of Hell.”  My first novel, told from the point of view of her daughter, Sarah, was titled The Heretic’s Daughter, and it chronicled the growing witchcraft hysteria and the subsequent trials and imprisonment of Martha and four of her five children.    Martha was ultimately hanged in August of 1692, going to her death refusing to admit to being a witch, refusing to implicate any of her neighbors, and chastising her judges for listening to a group of girls who were “out of their wits.”

    Martha’s story, however, was only part of the Carrier family lore.  Her husband, Thomas Carrier, according to local Massachusetts’ gossip was thought to be one of the executioners of King Charles I of England.  He was long suspected in the colonies to be part of the group of regicides—confederates of Cromwell—who fled to New England following the restoration of King Charles II to the English throne.  According to my grandmother, Thomas lived to 109 and was over seven feet tall.   This giant figured prominently in my imagination for most of my childhood and it was with great enthusiasm, and more than a little awe, that I wrote about this remarkable man in my second novel, The Traitor’s Wife (published in hardcover as The Wolves of Andover).

    It is a fictional rendering, built in part on true-to-life history of Restoration England, and, to a greater extent, on my own imaginings of the experiences of a soldier who survived the English Civil War, sailed to a new world with a price on his head, and married in the colonies at forty-eight years of age.  After the death of his wife, Martha, he moved to Connecticut, began building three homes for himself and his children, and started a blacksmith forge—all at seventy years of age.  Contrary to custom, and the formidable pressures of Puritan society, he never took another wife.

    The photo shown above is the last surviving Carrier house of that era, built in Colchester, Connecticut, around 1730, five years before Thomas died.


10 comments on “A Journey Through Time

  1. Linda Black says:

    I also am a distant relative of yours. My grandmother was the eldest of ten. Her father was Lanford C. Carrier. He was a 1st cousin of Darius. I have the booklet of the geneology of the Carriers, compiled by Mrs. Carl Carrier of Longmeadow, MA. I am 80 yrs. young. My name is Linda Black. I live in PA & go back to near Summervcille each summer. There are many Carriers still living there. I heard the same stories that you did. I have two of your books. I simply wanted to thank you for writing them. Also, I wanted to inquire as to whether you knew this about the summervillle connection. I understand that Darius founded what is now Clarion University in Clarion, PA. If you would care to contact me, my address is B303 1343 W. Baltimore Pike, Media, Pa, 19063. It is a retirement community outside Philly. I still maimtain home 7 miles from Summerville and go there each summer. Thanks again. Sorry, I don’t do facebook or Twitter.
    Yours Truly, Linda

    • Dear Linda, We are also descended from Darius and my mother used to see Carrier relatives in Summerville. I’m constantly amazed how many Carriers grew up hearing some of the same stories about Thomas and Martha. It gives testament to how remarkable those individuals were. Thank you so much for all your support for my books. I’m completing my third novel, which is set in Reconstruction Texas and follows the exploits of a young TX State Policeman as he follows a man-killer, based on the exploits of John Wesley Hardin. It should be published some time next year. Best regards, Kathleen

  2. John A. Carrier says:

    Hi Kathleen. Happy New Year! My name is John A. Carrier and I met you at the family reunion in Salem. I have a question for you:
    I have a question that perhaps you might know the answer or how to find the answer. My cousin’s son just got out of the service and was in town for Christmas, so we had dinner with him and his Mom and Dad, and he was telling me that PBS produced a documentary regarding the Carrier house in Colchester, Conn, whereas they did carbon dating on samples of wood thru out the house to determine it’s exact age, etc. Are you aware of this documentary or the results of such a study. I Google it but to no avail. Best wishes to you and your family for the new year and please be careful

    • John: So good to hear from you! I believe you came to Salem with several members of your family. I recall another Carrier remembering that she had seen something on TV on the Thomas Carrier house, but like you my internet search didn’t reveal anything on PBS. I was given a book by Vi Schwartzmann, a Colchester historian, written by Romano G. Ghirlanda titled, “Recollections into Marlborough’s History.” He writes, “The Carrier homestead is a two-story Georgian home with post-and-beam construction, stone foundation, and gable roof. The home was built circa 1730. This home was owned and occupied by the descendents of Thomas Carrier until the 1870’s.” There is a photo and more information about which Carriers owned and occupied the house, but he doesn’t mention anything about carbon dating. You could probably order the book from author as I believe it was self-published. It does have a lot of photos of the oldest houses in and around Colchester, and some fascinating history of local Connecticut.
      My very best to you and your family! I’ll be publishing my third book this coming September. It’s titled, Lucinda, and it’s set in the Reconstruction Era Texas, 1870. A departure from the Carrier clan, but I hope you’ll enjoy reading this one as well. I’ll post notices for the exact release date. Regards, KK

      • John A. Carrier says:

        Kathleen! Thanks so much for your response, yes I attended the Salem Reunion with my daughter Kelly, and upon returning home we visited the Carrier house in Colchester.
        I had also inquired with our cousin Neil Carrier, and he led me to a special that was aired several years ago regarding George Abbott’s home, supposedly built in 1685 in Andover, Mass which the property was adjacent to the Carrier property and a resulting dispute between Martha and George regarding property lines, resulting in George accusing Martha of witchcraft. Kelly and I also found and visited this property in Andover, but nothing remains today of the Carrier property that we could determine. Of course you know all this, but I wanted to provide you the link to the PBS special that turned out to be about the Abbott house in Andover, Mass, not the true Carrier house in Colchester!


        It was so good to hear from you, good luck with your book!

        John A. Carrier

  3. Debbie Johnson says:

    Hi Kathleen,
    I, too, am a distant relative of yours with Thomas & Martha Carrier being my 8th Great-Grandparents. I’ve been riveted by both of your historical novels that expressed what life may have been like for Martha Carrier and am so appreciative of the effort and research that you did to write them. It really gave life to the facts and figures I’ve gathered in my own research. Which brings me to my question…have you considered writing another historical novel that could explain what became of Thomas “Morgan” Carrier after Martha’s death?

    Last year, I ventured off to Salem to pay my respects to Martha at the Memorial to her there. I’ve just returned from a similar trip to Connecticut to find the burial place dedicated to Thomas in Marlborough. So, I find myself wondering what his life in Colchester might have been like.

    With gratitude,

    • Debbie: Thank you so much for your posting. I’m always thrilled to meet another Carrier descendent, and that you have been moved reading the first two novels about Thomas and Martha. Someday I hope to write a third book about Margaret, Sarah’s cousin, who was abducted by Abanaki Indians in 1695, a few years after the witch trials. I finished a third novel called The Outcasts, which is set in 1870 Texas, and working on a contemporary novel now set in Dallas. I felt that if I took a break from 17th century New England for a while, I could return to it with fresh eyes. I’m so glad that you went to Salem and to Marlborough to visit your 8xgr grandparents. Being on-site somehow makes them seem more present and real. I will certainly post on my site if I will be releasing more Carrier-based novels. Best regards, KK

      • Debbie Johnson says:

        Hi Again Kathleen,
        Thank you for such a sweet response. All this genealogy questing is captivating and your “Carrier” family works were icing on the cake for me. The amount of research that you did to write those two books helped solidify some of the information that I found…especially concerning Thomas Carrier. It was hard to believe some of the things that I uncovered about his height, his reputed past in England, and his longevity.
        I’ll definitely yearn for another Carrier-based novel and am happy that you are contemplating doing another.
        As always,
        Debbie Johnson

  4. Julie Knoeller says:

    Hi Kathleen,
    I just discovered today that Martha and Thomas Carrier are my 8th great grandparents. I’m sure there are hundreds or even thousands of descendants, but there’s never been any indication from any of my family that such an illustrious history lay behind us. Especially in the family line (which shall remain nameless) through which I traced the connection. I am delighted to find that someone has written about them! I ordered your books and am really looking forward to reading them.

    • Julie, thank you so much for posting on my site. I’m delighted to meet another Carrier descendent! Doing genealogy is always fascinating because it often gets you in touch with a personal history you never knew you had. I’m also thrilled you will be reading my other books, Traitor’s Wife and The Outcasts (which is just coming out in paperback on October 21st.) Thanks so much for all your support, Best regards, Kathleen

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