Zachary Levi learns that his ancestor avoided being killed in a witch trial

On Sunday night, The star was shocked to learn that his paternal 10-times-great-grandmother, Elizabeth Clawson, was accused of being a witch in 1692, the same year as the Salem witch trials.

“This is the year of the Salem witch trials. There’s the outbreak in Salem. There’s only one other outbreak of witchcraft, and it’s here. So this is a dangerous time for your family,” said Ann Little, Colorado History Professor . University.

While Clawson lived in Fairfield, Connecticut and not Salem, Massachusetts, Clawson was still sent to trial, where she could potentially be executed if found guilty. Back then, during the witch trials, women accused of witchcraft would duck – tie their hands and feet and place them in water – to determine whether the suspect was a witch or not. It was believed that “a pure, good-hearted Christian woman would sink”, so when she floated, they thought she was a witch.

“Finding out that my 10-time great-grandmother was basically accused of being a witch is so terrifying and also disturbing and sad and surreal. It’s always hard to try to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, but 1692, my 10-times-great-grandmother is thrown into this lake, her hands and feet tied inside each other. He knows the seriousness of the situation. She understands what happens to someone accused and convicted of being a witch. i mean, this is death. I would imagine she was scared, angry and confused. I can imagine being in this spot, surrounded by a bunch of people you thought were your friends,” shared a distraught Levi as he stood by the lake. he dove inside.

However, after more research into her story, Little and Levi discovered a petition, written by Clawson’s husband, Stephen Clawson, and signed by 76 people defending Clawson against accusations of witchcraft.

“The community, in supporting Elizabeth Clawson, was taking something of a risk because of the fear of guilt by association to defend an accused witch,” Little explained. “And Stephen was certainly taking a risk in seeking support for his wife. We have seen both in England and New England where husbands are accused of witchcraft when they try to defend their wives against the charge of witchcraft. So he did something that is very unusual and very brave.” This was a relief to Levi, who before learning about his paternal lineage had learned that all the men on his mother’s side were abusers and alcoholics. Fortunately, Levi received some better news when he learned that Elizabeth Clawson was eventually found innocent.

In the end, Levi shared his journey: “You learn so much about who you are by learning about your family, your past, why you are you. You’re a product of this great series. It’s very refreshing to have an example of a man of of my lineage, my 10 times great grandfather, who had that courage and love of his wife, and was quite, you know, basically willing to die if that happened. It’s empowering, and I’m grateful to know that that lives on in me at My DNA. And then hearing, finally, that Elizabeth Clawson was not convicted and set free, it feels so good.”

Who do you think You Are? airs Sundays at 7 p.m NBC.

Watch “Mother” star Allison Janney’s surprise after learning her ancestor arrived on the Mayflower in 1620:

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