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Celebrate NH History Week Learning About "Beer, Taverns and Witchcraft"

Witchcraft hysteria gripped the New England frontier.
Witchcraft hysteria gripped the New England frontier.

In 2013, Portsmouth commemorates the 300th anniversary of the 1713 Treaty of Portsmouth between the English and the Native Americans of the Maine and New Hampshire coast. Thanks to a grant from the Roger R. and Theresa A. Thompson Endowment Fund, Strawbery Banke Museum is hosting a 300th Anniversary Speaker Series, that led off on the actual anniversary of the Treaty signing on July 14, 1713. On Sunday, October 20 at 4 pm, Emerson (Tad) Baker will speak on the topic of “Beer, Taverns & Witchcraft” at 4 pm. The program takes place in the Strawbery Banke Visitor Center lecture hall (14 Hancock Street in Portsmouth NH) and is free and open to the public.

Emerson Woods Baker II is public historian for the Salem State College History Department and teaches courses on museums, archaeology, material culture, and architectural history; courses that relate to historians working in the public sphere.

Prior to Salem State he was an historical archaeologist and museum director and continues to stay involved in these fields through consulting for area museums, and directing ongoing archaeological excavations. Past Chair of the Maine Cultural Affairs Council, the Maine Humanities Council, and past vice-chair the Maine Historic Preservation Commission, his fieldwork and research has centered on Maine, a place where English, French and Native American cultures collided.

Tad Baker served as an advisor to “We Shall Remain,” a mini-series on The American Experience on PBS television and on the PBS series, “Colonial House” and its website. He has also created an app for exploring the Gettysburg battlefield.

His principal area of interest is in 17th-century New England, particularly the transmission and adaptation of English regional culture to a New World.

He has written several monographs based early New England land deeds and land dealings with the Wabanaki. His paper “Amerindian Power in the Early Modern Northeast: A Reappraisal” contributed to the background for the 1713 Treaty exhibit. His book (co-authored with John Reid), The New England Knight, is the biography of Sir William Phips, a Maine native who would rise from humble origins to become the first American to be knighted by the King of England, and first royal governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony. The work on Phips -- successful treasure hunter, would-be military conqueror, and governor who ended the 1692 Essex County witchcraft outbreak--and in Salem led Tad to pursue research that led to a graduate course on witchcraft, magic, and popular culture in early New England. His 2010 book, The Devil of Great Island resulted from that research as well.

Prior speakers in the series included 1713 Treaty Tri-centennial Committee chair Charles B. Doleac, Colin Calloway, Dartmouth College historian and author of Pen & Ink Witchcraft: Treaties and Treaty-making in American Indian History; Jere Daniell, Dartmouth College professor emeritus and author of Colonial New Hampshire discussing Portsmouth Before & After the 1713 Treaty and Lisa Brooks, Amherst College, Native American Studies, discussing “The Common Pot: The Recovery of Native Space in the Northeast.”

On Sunday, November 3, John Bear Mitchell, Native American Studies, University of Maine in Orono, discusses Wabanaki culture and story-telling traditions. 2 pm.

Two special exhibits, “First Nations Diplomacy Opens the Portsmouth Door,” at the Portsmouth Historical Society’s John Paul Jones House Museum and at Strawbery Banke Museum feature historical artifacts from the era and replicas of the original Treaty from the Library of Congress and the British Archives, signed by New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Native American dignitaries.

The Warner House (built in 1716, just after the Treaty) has scheduled the following related program, held at the Discover Portsmouth Center (10 Middle Street, Portsmouth NH): Oct 23, 2013 Martha Pinello “Archaeological Evidence for Native Americans in Portsmouth Before European Contact,” 5:30 pm For more information, visit

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