Old Salt Function Room Is Bewitching
Owners Christen 'Goody Cole Function Room'
In Memory Of Only N.H. Woman Convicted Of Witchcraft
By Terrill Covey
Hampton Union, Friday, July 27, 2001
HAMPTON — The Goody Cole Function Room at the new Old Salt Eating and Drinking Establishment at the former Lamie's Inn is open for business again.
Mike and Dianne Higgins decided to keep the name to the room because of the history behind it: Eunice "Goody" Cole, of Hampton, was the only woman in New Hampshire history to be convicted of witchcraft.
"Historically, she seems to have been a rather unpleasant person," said David Craig in his historical recounting of Goody Cole in New Hampshire Echoes in February 1973. "Life was harsh in those days and folks who scraped out a year to year existence found little humor in it. Goody Cole was one of these.
Craig went on to say that an ill temper coupled with certain eccentricities would often serve the purpose of arousing suspicion of witchcraft.
Cole was convicted of witchcraft in 1656 while in her 70s.
"The court, in a comparatively humane gesture," sentenced her only to be flogged and then imprisoned for life in Boston," Craig wrote.
Cole petitioned the court to be released for the first time in 1662. She claimed that her husband, 88 at the time, was elderly and needed her to care for him.
She was not released, and the town of Hampton took over the responsibility of paying for her board,
The town took care of the bill until the Cole's money ran out. At that time, jailer William Salter came to Hampton and arrested Selectman Thomas Marston for the balance due, and the town brought the balance up to date in order to get Marston out of custody.
In 1665, Cole, who was still in jail, petitioned the court once again for release. She was told that she could be released on the condition that she move out of Norfolk Court's jurisdiction, according to Craig. She could not do that, however, because she was well into her eighties at the time, and couldn't forage for herself.
Finally, after 15 years of imprisonment, Cole was released and allowed to return to Hampton. Cole's house and husband were long since gone, and she had to reside in a house at the base of Rand's Hill, where her neighbors were ordered to care for her.
In 1672, however, she was arraigned again, on charges of witchcraft. She went to trial in April of 1673, and awaited the decision for months, in a jail cell.
This time, however, she was determined not guilty.
"She returned to Hampton, where, feared and shunned by all, she lived out her last few years in a solitude nearly as profound as that which she'd suffered behind iron bars," Craig wrote.
Finally, in March of 1938, nearly 300 years after her conviction, Cole was unanimously exonerated by the town of Hampton.
In a ceremony held at Hampton Beach the documents accusing Cole of Witchcraft were burned publicly.
The "Goody Cole" memorial stone.
[Photograph not in original article.]
Present day, a rock is placed on the lawn of the Tuck [Memorial] Museum as a memorial to Goody Cole shown in photo at right.
The Higgins' wanted to keep the Goody Cole Room as another tribute to the woman who makes up such a colorful portion of Hampton's history.
"We wanted to reopen this for the history," said Dianne Higgins.
But the business aspect of opening the room up was not lost either.
"We have been amazed at how many functions we've been doing," Mike Higgins said. "We need more space for functions, and this room can hold up to 60 people."
Dianne said one woman who held a wedding anniversary in the old Goody Cole Room was very excited to have it reopened.
The room had served as the Hampton Beach Area Chamber of Commerce office in recent years, after being a part of Lamie's Tavern for many years.
Adding to the history is the curved staircase and historical map of Hampton outside of the room, which covers the wall beside the staircase.
"We're pretty excited," said Mike Higgins. "We expect to be booked solid If the spring was any indication."