Hazelelponah Wood: A Noteworthy Puritan Woman

Today’s post is written by fellow author, Donna B. Gawell. Her debut historical novel, In the Shadow of Salem, releases this month. Congratulations on the new release, Donna!

Hazelelponah, Haselelponah or Haselepony?  How did Hazelelponah really spell her name or did she even care? This remarkable woman is the bearer of a unique name but has an equally amazing life story from the early years of New England.

Hazelelponah’s unique name is shared by a woman in the Old Testament in the genealogies of Judah. You can find it in 1 Chronicles 4:”These were the sons of Etam: Jezreel, Ishma, and Idbash. Their sister was named Hazzelelponi.” Feel free to use her name to quiz your pastor or rabbi.

In the Shadow of Salem features Hazelelponah as a proprietor of an ordinary tavern. This real Puritan woman was born in 1636 in Exeter, NH and was the oldest daughter of Balthazar and Hannah Willix. In 1648, her mother was attacked, robbed, murdered on the road leading from Dover to Exeter,  and her body was thrown into the river. Balthazar became despondent and moved the family to Salisbury.

Soon after, Hazelelponah was sent into service, a typical practice in Puritan times for many young women and men.  She met and married John Gee, fisherman, but he was lost at sea on December 27, 1669.

The widow Hazelelponah moved with her five children to Boston for several years.  There Hazelelponah met Obadiah Wood, a widower with ten children who lived on East Street in Ipswich and was a “biskett baker.” Obadiah and Hazelelponah married and were proprietors of an ordinary tavern in Ipswich. The couple added another ten children during their years of marriage.

Hazelelponah experienced so much tragedy in her early life, and we can only hope she was revered by her twenty-five children and stepchildren! This impressive woman survived her second husband and died in Ipswich in 1714 at the age of 79.  Her grave is located in the Old North Burying Ground in Ipswich, MA.

-Donna B. Gawell

About the author:

Donna is a writer and genealogist who enjoys writing novels about her infamous and more humble ancestors. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband Mark. Her website  features history and travel articles.

 Back Cover Blurb

In the Shadow of Salem is a historical novel about the life of Mehitabel Braybrooke, a Puritan woman born in 1652 in Ipswich, Massachusetts. Mehitabel is accused of crimes−the first for arson and the second for witchcraft. History has not been kind to Mehitabel, but what was the real story behind her scurrilous reputation? Would she ever be redeemed from her lifelong curse? Or was Mehitabel as wicked as her numerous Essex Court Records imply?