Foster's Daily Democrat, April 24, 2014
[The following article is courtesy of the Foster's Daily Democrat ]
HAMPTON — Local author Cheryl Lassiter has released her new book about the life of Goodwife Unise Cole, the 17th-century woman known as the “Witch of Hampton.” The first full-length, extensively researched biography ever written about Goody Cole, the book is a year-by-year chronicle of her life, beginning in England in the 1630s, through her arrival and settlement in America and a quarter century of persecution for witchcraft, to her death in 1680.
Lassiter will be signing The Mark of Goody Cole: a tragic and true tale of witchcraft persecution from the history of early America, at the Goody Cole Room, Old Salt Restaurant, 490 Lafayette Road, Thursday, April 10, from 6-7 p.m.
A second book signing is scheduled at the Community Oven, 845 Lafayette Road, Saturday, April 12, from 5:30-7 p.m.
Having researched and written two previous books on Hampton subjects, Cheryl wrote “The Mark of Goody Cole: a tragic and true tale of witchcraft persecution from the history of early America” to fill in the gaps about Cole’s murky history. “We all know that she was whipped on several occasions, but the details were lacking,” Cheryl says. “Now, after having done the research, I know exactly when she was whipped and why, and that it was at her first whipping that the telltale witch-marks were discovered on her body, leading to her first trial for witchcraft. I can also say with some certainty what her maiden name was and where she came from in England, as well as the month and day of her death.” And for those aficionados who might question how she spells Goodwife Cole’s given name, Cheryl says, “I decided to use “Unise,” the spelling used by town clerk Samuel Dalton (who was also Goody’s next-door neighbor) as opposed to the modern spelling of “Eunice.” It just seems more authentic.”
Hampton’s special regard for Cole and her memory during and since her official “exoneration” at the town’s 300th birthday in 1938 led Cheryl to the title. “Goody Cole has left an indelible mark on the town of Hampton,” the author says. “Can you think of another ‘witch’ in history who’s been treated so well post mortem as old Goodwife Cole? It took a few hundred years, but monuments have been erected in her honor, hundreds of articles have been written about her, and she is as well-known to the town’s children as the local candy store. There are Goody Cole dolls, museum displays, a musical album, a barbecue restaurant — the list goes on and on, and are sure to continue long into the future.” Cheryl has captured this latter-day fascination with the Witch of Hampton in a special section of the book.
Cheryl has lived in Hampton with her husband for 14 years, and has been researching and writing about local history since 2009. Volunteering at the Tuck Museum has given her access to a trove of documents, diaries, and journals which depict the people and times of historical Hampton. “All writers of history are investigators at heart,” she says of her research. “We look for that little bit of information that might lead to a larger story, the one no one’s heard before. That’s how my book on Hampton tavern keeping, “A Meet and Suitable Person,” came about. It’s also why I had to write about Goody Cole — there’s never been an entire book devoted to her story, so I knew this would be a good place to dig for buried treasure. I was not disappointed.”
The book is $16 and a portion of sales will be donated to A Safe Place of Portsmouth. Book buyers can enter a drawing for a restaurant gift certificate. For information visit goodycole.com or contact Cheryl at firstname.lastname@example.org or 929-3682.
Bewitching tale on the life of Goody Cole
New novel on Hampton's exonerated witch
By Corinne Holroyd
Hampton Union, April 8, 2014
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
Hampton’s Cheryl Lassiter wrote a new book about the life of Eunice
"Goody" Cole, a woman convicted of witchcraft in Hampton in 1656
and spent most of the remainder of her life in prison.
[Ioanna Raptis photo]
HAMPTON — Cheryl Lassiter, a town resident, has finished and published her new book about one of Hampton's most famous residents: Eunice "Goody" Cole, who was tried twice for witchcraft in the 17th century.
"I volunteer at the Tuck Museum," Lassiter said. "Many visitors ask questions about her, and since no one has ever written a comprehensive biography of her life, I decided to do it. I wanted to take a fresh look at the woman's life and legend, from start to finish."
In 2012, Lassiter started writing her book, "The Mark of Goody Cole," which she finished in March this year.
An excerpt from the book tells how difficult it was to truly describe Cole, and "impossible to know who she really was and what her desires and demons might have been."
"Portrayed as a foul-tempered misanthrope imbued with magical powers, variously feared and pitied, she has achieved minor cult status as a witch and renowned victim of a cruel belief system," the book reads. "... Surely she was both [a child and a young woman], but that simple observation has been lost beneath a thick veneer of legend, most of it of the pointed black hat and broomstick variety."
The book is a creative nonfiction, where everything is sourced and actual spoken words documented during Cole's time are used, but Lassiter had "taken the liberty of constructing representational dialogue and supporting scenes to present a more vivid view of events," according to her author's notes.
Lassiter said she wrote these pieces because no one knows the exact words between Hampton residents.
"I don't know, for example, the exact words that passed between Goody Cole and the Hampton townsmen on the night they saw her talking to the Devil; but, based on court documents, there is no doubt a conversation took place, and I have conjectured its likely discourse," she said.
In her book, Lassiter italicized historically documented quotes and put them in quotation marks, while her "representational" speech is only in italics.
"Anytime I found Goody Cole's actual words in a document, I tried to incorporate them into a scene in which she is talking," Lassiter said. "She seems more real that way."
In searching through documents, Lassiter found some unpublished information about the Hampton historical figure.
Cole was born, according to Lassiter, somewhere in England between 1597 and 1598 and was found dead on Oct. 24, 1680. Lassiter found this information through a coded diary and town records. Images of these records are in her book.
Lassiter also is confident she found a record of Cole's marriage to William Cole near London in 1635.
"Like her death date, it's never been known [or] published before," she said. "One of my goals was to portray her as a real flesh-and-bones person and less of a legend, and these sorts of records do just that."
Since Eunice, or "Unise," was a rare name in the 17th century — unlike the name William Cole — Lassiter said it was easier to be confident it was Cole's record after a long search through physical and web-based resources.
Lassiter's book will be one of the first to publish this information.
"I suppose someone must have seen them at some point, but it has never been published. The 19th-century historians didn't bother with the dates — or at least they didn't write it down. ... We also live in a time when more realism is demanded from writers of history, and more writers are sifting for finer details."
According to the Hampton Historical Society, Cole was later tried for witchcraft in 1656 and again in 1673. She was the only woman in New Hampshire convicted of witchcraft.
On March 8, 1938, the town voted to clear her name after a group of residents fought to exonerate her and restore her as a Hampton citizen.
"During a public ceremony certified copies of all her court document were burned and mixed with soil from her last home and reputed resting place," the Web site reads. "The urn was to have been buried but many years later was given to the Tuck Museum."
The final three chapters of "The Mark of Goody Cole" are dedicated to this exoneration and the broadcast of a radio play two weeks later, called "The Witch of Hampton."
Lassiter has two book signings coming up to promote her book. The first is from 6 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 10 in the Goody Cole Room at the Old Salt Restaurant, located at 490 Lafayette Road.
The second is from 5 to 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 12, 2014 at the Community Oven, located at 845 Lafayette Road.
"The Goody Cole Room is a signpost to a piece of our town history, and — of course — it was the first place I thought of when it came time to promote the book," she said. "The Community Oven is a place where I feel right at home, too."
Lassiter is also keeping busy with multiple other projects. She is currently transcribing old town records up to around 1700 for the historical society, which she hopes to publish online, and is working on her next book.
"All I can say about it now is that I'm reading a translation of the 15th century Malleus Malificarum — Hammer of the Witches — for background," Lassiter said.
Her interest in Cole will continue, though, including an upcoming Tuck Museum program in June about witches in popular culture from the 16th through the 21st century. This will include Cole and people's perception about her.