We are down to less than 100 days until our December rendezvous….. 96 days from today to be precise. With the first wisps of cooler fall air I find my thoughts turning to the upcoming good times we’re going to have…….. and here in Spokane we’ve already had those first few wisps.

One reason why we come to Salt Lake in December is to spend a week researching in the Family History Library. We’re looking not just to document our ancestors but to dig out the stories of their lives. Marquis Calmes (b. 1705 in Colonial Virginia) was my ancestor; “Marquis” was not a title but just his name. One of the first settlers into Fredericksburg, he became a justice of the peace. His duties included overseeing the building of a ducking stool, the common way of punishing women who gossiped too freely. He saw that a pit, “seven feet deep and six feet square in the clear and walled with stone” was built for the pond.

The Ducking Stool was founded upon and made obligatory by an act passed by the Grand Assembly held at James City on 23 December 1662. The reason for having a ducking stool as punishment was spelled out:

“WHEREAS, Many Babbling women Slander and Scandalize their Neighbors, for which their poor Husbands are often involved in chargeable and vexatious Suits, and cast in great Damages; Be it, therefore Enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That in Actions of slander, occasioned by the Wife, after judgment passed for damages, the Woman shall be punished by Ducking; and if the slander be enormous as to be adjudged at greater Damages than Five Hundred pounds of Tobacco, then the Woman to suffer a Ducking for each Five Hundred pounds of Tobacco adjudged against the Husband, if he refuse to pay the Tobacco.” 

Hummm……… would your or my dear husband turn you or me over to the Ducking Stool because of our “babbling and scandalous” tongues?  Not us! But what wonderful stories to learn about our ancestors…… and on the Salt Lake Christmas Tour you will find some of those sorts of stories.

Donna, aka Mother Hen, until next peek.