In the summer of 1692, the village of Salem was in a state of turmoil, the hunt for witches had reached a fevered pitch. The village was tearing itself apart, on one side stood the accusers and the other the accused. The weak and socially isolated were the first to be accused, but soon more lucrative motives drove the accusations. Soon a local landowner named Samuel Wardwell, his wife Sarah and his daughter Mercy were among the accused.
Samuel Wardwell was a common carpenter with a penchant for predictions. He often claimed the ability to read the future in tea leaves and made a practice of predicting the genders of the towns’ unborn children. After several of these predictions came to pass, he became known as the Soothsayer of Andover. These were dangerous times to behave in such a manner.
In 1672, he married his second wife Sarah Hawkes, a wealthy widow, and greatly increased his social status becoming a land owner. Based on his lowly upbringing and his questionable habits, many of the townsfolk did not find him worthy of Sarah’s hand.
In September 1692, Samuel was accused of witchcraft. While jailed, he offered the following confession and implicated others in the hopes of saving his life. His confession stated that one night, while Samuel was out late walking through the village, he saw a black cat in an alley. As he bent to pet the cat, it grew, transforming into a man in a crisp white suit of clothing. The man, claiming to be the Devil himself, offered Samuel a handsome reward if he would leave his mark in the Devil’s book. Samuel accepted the Devil’s reward and signed over his soul. The judge accepted his confession and based on the spectral evidence offered by his accusers, he was found guilty of witchcraft and consorting with the devil. Days later while standing before his executioner Samuel decided he could not die having given false accusations and recanted them. It would not save his life, he would be hanged that day on the hill overlooking Salem Town that would later be named Gallows Hill in memory of the tragic events that took place there.
Today, 10 generations later, at Gallows Hill Spirits, located in Allentown, Pennsylvania the story continues as we carry on efforts to bring to market some magical rums and whiskeys infused with unique botanical flavors. Smooth and lively these easy drinking spirits can be enjoyed straight or mixed. Come visit the distillery, learn more about Samuel and see the magic happen!