Beth grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio and spent her childhood swimming and writing puppet shows and witches’ cookbooks. She studied French Literature and Hispanic Studies, earning a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Cincinnati. After completing Peace Corps service in northern Thailand, she obtained Masters degrees in Nursing and Public Health. Beth is passionate to discover and convey important and interesting stories of women from earlier times. Beth’s other interests include aromatherapy, travel, gardening, and exploring and protecting our beautiful natural world. She lives in Connecticut with her family.
Feel free to reach out to Beth in the following ways in addition to this website:
About The Salty Rose
The Salty Rose: Alchemists, Witches & A Tapper In New Amsterdam is Beth M Caruso’s second novel and was inspired by the discovery of Marie du Trieux, a distant great grandmother in her husband’s family tree as well as from information she gathered from previous research.
The Salty Rose: Alchemists, Witches and A Tapper in New Amsterdam, is the sequel to an earlier historical novel, One of Windsor: The Untold Story of America’s First Witch Hanging, but can be read independently as well. Its characters live through the dramatic takeover of present-day New York City by the English from the Dutch in the mid 1600s.
Seen through the eyes of a tavern keeper, Marie du Trieux, it includes the story of the takeover of New Amsterdam by the English. Within this larger story are several smaller plots that influence the main story including the alchemical practice and rise to power of John Winthrop Jr., later one of the first and most respected governors in Connecticut colony along with his relationship with his assistant, merchant John Tinker—beloved character from One of Windsor. The novel highlights Winthrop’s influence in stopping the witch trials in Connecticut as well as obtaining a charter that initially included the Dutch colony.
The Salty Rose’s characters’ histories and true life events are woven together in a way that maintains the historical integrity of their lives yet fictionally builds upon them creating palpable passion, drama and intrigue. Caruso does a lot of research to make sure the known historical background is accurate, but there is also a good deal of literary invention. The book has two storylines that come together, one in New Amsterdam (later New York) and one in New England. The stories intertwine through trade, secret alchemical aspirations, the Hartford Witch Panic, and the English quest for colonial domination and power.
About One of Windsor
When I first heard about Alice (Alse) Young several years ago, I was shocked to discover that she was the first American colonist hanged for witchcraft. Up until that time, I had only known about the witchcraft trials in Salem, Massachusetts. Since then, I have had the chance to learn about so many other accusations and trials throughout New England and especially in Connecticut. Upset that such an important historical event and person was so largely unrecognized and unacknowledged, I decided that one day I would tell her story to the best of my ability.
The problem was that very little was known about Alice Young. Every time I started my quest to capture her elusive story and her essence, I ran into the proverbial brick wall that so many others before me encountered. It almost seemed like a historical cover-up of sorts. The identity of this unfortunate soul was not even known until the late 1800s when James Hammond Trumbull discovered it on the inside cover of the Matthew Grant Diary. Up until that time, she was only known as “One _ _ _ of Windsor” as referenced in the John Winthrop Diaries. Dates were in both entries matched, allowing Trumbull to identify her positively. And even then, he only shared the information with a few other historians. In any case, the records were sparse at best.
However, one day in the spring of 2013, when I was reading about the importance of neighborhoods as a vital part of Puritan society, the idea struck me. Since I couldn’t find information about Alice, I decided to research the lives of her neighbors to see if any clues about her would surface. Fortunately, James Hammond Trumbull had already compiled a map for Windsor from that time, but with a large range of years for that early colonial period instead of a specific year. On the map, he listed the Young property at Backer Row.
I delved into the lives of every other family living on Backer Row in 1647, the year of her hanging. With the help of old land records from the town of Windsor, genealogical records, and many other historical documents, I was able to recreate the map for Backer Row specific to 1647. Some of the landowners changed from the original map because the new one was so specific. The pattern of people that came to life before me on Backer Row amazed me and a possible story and theory quickly evolved about what might have happened to her and who she was. What astonished me the most, was that the story was hidden only by the fact that the women, the wives of the men on Backer Row, were largely ignored, as so often happens in early American history.
Writing about Alice was a rich and interesting experience. From the beginning, I wanted to convey that she was not just a victim of an unjust witchcraft accusation, but was a human being with a full life who was dearly loved and tragically lost. I always sensed that there was so much more to her humanity than the unfortunate events that led to her hanging.
It wasn’t until after I finished writing the book that I came across the article entitled, “One Blank of Windsor”, published in the Hartford Courant on December 3, 1904, by Annie Eliot Trumbull, James Hammond Trumbull’s daughter. It was the avenue through which the public first became aware of Alice Young and America’s first witch hanging. Annie Trumbull also made sure that the Matthew Grant Diary was placed into the care of the Connecticut State Library so that the only piece of evidence that gave testament to Alice Young’s life was never lost. Interestingly, a close friend of mine, LM, my biggest confident in writing this book, also crusaded to make sure that the same document went online for further safekeeping a few years before we met.
In reading her article, I knew that Annie, too, had sensed another Alice, an Alice who had a rich life full of varied experiences and raw emotion. Indeed, Annie Trumbull surmised,
“It may be permitted to us to guess that her death was ennobled by something in the grand manner-that she was too fair to be safe from jealously-too young to have lost the magic of voice and laughter. To some minds such a victim snatched from warmth and color may seem the sadder picture, but it is not so for it has the swift brightness of one whom the gods love…”
It was profound to find another writer who had been touched by Alice in the same way that I had been. It was also remarkable to me that we both understood the importance of nature in her life’s narrative.
“It is so difficult to bring back with any emotional veracity the picture of that May day of 1647. There is painful irony in the very season: May, the month when the miracles of spring have been performed to the benefaction of man! May, when the powers of darkness that governed the long winter, and taunted man in the bitterness of early spring had been totally banished. May, when if ever the bewitchment of sun and scent and blossom has turned a barren New England into a wonder of beauty! May, when if ever, life is precious and earth is dear, Alse Young was brought across the blue, broad, benignant river to be executed of the sin of witchcraft for was it not written in the Capital Laws that one should not suffer a witch to live,” Annie Eliot Trumbull poetically described in her article.
With this novel, I hope that the spirit of Alice Young will also touch you, the reader, in some meaningful way. I encourage you to look at the family tree and the maps placed at the end of the book with the Author’s Note to help understand this complicated story.
September 1, 2015