The story of most people implicated of witchcraft ends badly. The accused were often imprisoned, tortured, and/or executed by hanging or burned at the stake for their mostly false crimes. But Hannah Cranna, known in her day as ‘The Wicked Witch of Monroe’, lived a very comfortable life holding sway over the community of Monroe, Connecticut with a combination of fear and admiration.
Hannah Hovey, ‘Cranna’ is a nickname, was born in 1783 nothing is known of her early life. The accusations of witchcraft begin in when her husband Captain Joseph Hovey died. Capt. Hovey was out for a walk one night when he fell off a cliff to his death. Not believing that Capt. Hovey could be the victim of such a simple accident, whispers began to swirl around the community that Hannah had bewitched her husband; causing him to become dazed and fall to his untimely death. When the gossip became louder, town leaders tried to confront the widow and formally charge her with witchcraft. When the town elders arrived at Hanna’s door to arrest her Hannah responded by cackling at them then, bent over and pulled up her skirt; mooning the officials. Not wanting to tempt magical intervention the officials backed down. Hannah, toying with the superstitions of the townsfolk, began to flaunt her witchcraft out in the open. She would demand that her neighbors give her free food and firewood, and if they didn’t obey she would use her witchy reputation to threaten them. A local woman once denied her a freshly baked pie, and was cursed; never able bake edible food again. When a man was illegally fishing in a brook on her property, Hannah laid down another curse on the fisherman, and it is said that he was never again able to catch another fish. Once two men, on their way to New York City, were driving a ox-cart and happened to stop in front of Hannah’s cottage. When Hannah came out to confront the men, they mocked her. Hannah is said to have shouted out a spell, and suddenly the wheels of the cart fell off and the oxen refused to move. Hannah however was also said to be an excellent healer and would treat those who respected her and paid her homage. She once healed a farmer whose legs had been broken after an accident, and even had brought back from the brink of death a child that had almost drowned in nearby pond.
On a snowy winter day In 1859, Hannah’s pet rooster ‘Old Boreas’, thought to be her familiar, died. Hannah told a neighbor she would soon die as well. She told her neighbor that her coffin must be carried to her grave by hand, not by cart, and that she must not be buried before sundown. The very next day, at the age of 77, Hannah Cranna was dead. Her neighbors ignored her instructions and at around noon time pulled her coffin along a long hilly path through the snow by sled and cart to her gravesite. The coffin soon fell off the sled and slid all the way back down to the front door of her house. The procession loaded her coffin back onto the cart and began to pull her to the cemetery. Once again her coffin fell of the cart and this time opened. Her wide open dead eyes were said to peer straight at all those that surrounded the opened coffin. Not wanting to tempt fate a third time, the townsfolk finally decided to carry her coffin by hand along the long path to her grave. By the time they arrived at the cemetery the sun had indeed set. After burying Hannah the locals heard a rooster crowing, and when they rushed back to Hannah’s house; they found it ablaze. Too late to fight the flames, they watched as the farmhouse burned to the ground.
Hannah Cranna’s grasp on Monroe, Connecticut doesn’t end there though. Her spirit is said to be seen still to this day at her gravesite; often causing drivers that have somehow irked her to veer off the road at the busy street nearby
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