Martha Carrier was a hard woman — or, at the least, she wasn’t a gentle one, and in her time and place, that was dangerous.
In 1692, after smallpox broke out in her town of Andover, Mass., (and a town cow stopped producing milk), people accused Carrier of practicing witchcraft. After a sham trial in which her sons were tortured into accusing her, she was hanged with four other Andover residents found guilty of witchcraft. Cotton Mather was harsh in his critique. He called her a “rampant hag” and said she should be named “Queen of Hell.”