Martha Carrier was a hard woman \u2014 or, at the least, she wasn\u2019t 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 \u201crampant hag\u201d and said she should be named \u201cQueen of Hell.\u201d Carolyn Treiss always knew the story of Carrier, her times-eight grandmother \u2014 and her times-seven grandfather who was tortured into testifying against his mother. Growing up, Carrier\u2019s sad end was mostly an interesting part of Treiss\u2019s old New England family lore, and maybe even a point of pride. But as Treiss, of the UConn Foundation, and former executive director of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, got older, she began to appreciate the horror of Carrier\u2019s death. \u201cThe reasons why these people were persecuted and ultimately murdered, whether here in Connecticut or in Massachusetts, goes to something bigger,\u201d Treiss said \u201cIt isn\u2019t frivolous. It represents institutional sexism, things that in some ways still exist today. Why Martha? From what I read, she didn\u2019t put up with anything. She didn\u2019t do as she was told.\u201d New efforts on the part of descendants, historians, and organizations such as the Connecticut Witch Trial Exoneration Project want the state to revisit those trials and exonerate people accused and convicted of witchcraft in Colonial Connecticut. For nearly 20 years, retired New Haven police officer Anthony Griego has petitioned the state for exonerations, or a memorial, or some kind of official acknowledgment that the Colonial trials were tragic and wrong. Earlier legislative efforts\u2014 including one in 2008 \u2014 never came to a vote. At least once, the idea was abandoned because it was considered frivolous, activists said. There have been successful efforts \u2014 including in Windsor \u2014 to clear the names of the wrongfully accused. Remorse over their witchcraft trials set in rather quickly in Massachusetts, where in 1711, lawmakers began passing a series of laws that exonerated the accused. In 2008, Swiss officials exonerated a victim who is considered to be the last woman in Europe executed for witchcraft. Spanish and German officials have done the same. Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland\u2019s first minister, issued an apology earlier this year \u201cto all of those accused, convicted, vilified or executed under the Witchcraft Act of 1563.\u201d She said her country\u2019s miscarriage of justice was \u201cdriven at least in part by misogyny in its most literal sense, hatred of women.\u201d But Connecticut\u2019s exoneration efforts have been stalled in part because the state doesn\u2019t have a mechanism for posthumous pardons. We need one. The witchcraft trials \u2014 which occurred throughout New England \u2014 are one of our original sins. Using a blighted interpretation of religion, fanatic folk wielded witchcraft accusations like an ax. When an accused witch was convicted, accusers often swooped in to take their property. The children of the convicted were sometimes taken as indentured servants. Even if the accused was pronounced innocent, the stigma followed them. Carrier\u2019s family left Massachusetts and moved to Colchester. When Treiss began researching her family tree, she kept circling back to Carrier\u2019s son, Andrew, from whom she is descended. At age 16, he gave heartbreaking testimony after torturers took Andrew and his brother and \u201ctied them neck and heels till the blood was ready to come out of their noses,\u201d according to a letter written from jail by one of the men executed with Carrier. Salem\u2019s trials were brutal, but Connecticut\u2019s witch trials started earlier, and people accused in Connecticut had a much greater chance of being found guilty and executed. In Connecticut, of the 46 people who were accused, 11 were killed. In Salem, Mass., some 200 people were accused, and 20 were executed. The Connecticut Witch Exoneration Project has started an online petition to drum up support, and Beth M. Caruso, author of \u201cOne of Windsor: The Untold Story of America\u2019s First Witch Hanging,\u201d is researching how exonerations have been accomplished elsewhere. Her state representative, Jane Garibay, plans to submit an exoneration bill in the next session. Garibay says she\u2019s hopeful. \u201cIn these times, women\u2019s rights are being challenged,\u201d said Garibay, who said fellow legislators have reached out already to tell her they\u2019ll support the legislation. \u201cI can say that no one has made fun of me when I mention it. When you really think about it, you can understand a little bit the hurt the descendants feel.\u201d In 1710, Carrier\u2019s husband, Thomas, asked to be reimbursed for the money he paid the sheriff and jail during the trial and the execution of his wife. He also asked that her name be cleared, and when the legislature passed its first exoneration bill in 1711, Carrier was among the accused who were exonerated. \u201cIt wasn\u2019t just that they picked some people and made them bad guys and hung them,\u201d Treiss said. \u201cThere were reasons why. It was an institutional problem. Institutions allowed it to happen, institutions should acknowledge and apologize for it.\u201d Susan Campbell is the author of \u201cFrog Hollow: Stories from an American Neighborhood,\u201d \u201cTempest-Tossed: The Spirit of Isabella Beecher Hooker\u201d and \u201cDating Jesus: A Story of Fundamentalism, Feminism and the American Girl.\u201d She is Distinguished Lecturer at the University of New Haven, where she teaches journalism.