Witchcraft to immigration: historian discusses CT's past

State Historian Walter W. Woodward.

State Historian Walter W. Woodward.

Brian A. Pounds / Hearst Connecticut Media

WILTON — What is history if not the people and events that have moved civilization forward, for good or for ill?

The deep dive into Connecticut’s past taken by state historian Walter Woodward has resulted in his newly released book, “Creating Connecticut: Critical Moments That Shaped a Great State.”

Woodward will make a virtual visit to Wilton to discuss his work with the Wilton Historical Society’s history reading group, Booked for Lunch, on Thursday, Sept. 24, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. All are invited to participate via Zoom.

Presented by the Wilton Historical Society - all are welcome

Woodward’s research has revealed much about the people and events in Connecticut’s past and the roles they played in forming the state’s culture and character.

A gifted story-teller, he has challenges some of the things people may take for granted. For example, Salem, Mass., is indelibly connected to 17th-century witch trials, but there was a time when Connecticut was New England’s fiercest prosecutor of witches.

The Dutch may have settled New York, but they also had an all-but-forgotten early presence here. There were decades when Nutmeggers were rapidly leaving the state, and years when Irish immigrants were hurrying into it.

Whether it’s his investigation into the unusually rough justice meted out to Revolutionary War hero Nathan Hale, or a peek into Mark Twain’s smoking habits, “Creating Connecticut” helps readers think about the state’s past — and its future — in new ways.

Woodward is Connecticut’s fifth state historian, a position created in the 1930s. He is a scholar of early American and Atlantic world history, with an emphasis on Connecticut and New England. His research interests cover a variety of subjects, including witchcraft, alchemy and the history of science, the use of music in Early America, and environmental history.

Suggested contribution for the program, which includes a question-and-answer period, is $10. Registration is required. Email: info@wiltonhistorical.org to register and receive confirmation, Zoom link, and instructions on how to submit questions.