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VIRGINIA BEACH (AP) — Grace Sherwood was a healer, a midwife and a widowed mother of three sons. Her neighbors thought she also was a witch who ruined crops, killed livestock and conjured storms.
On July 10, 1706, the 46-year-old woman was tied up and "ducked" — dropped into a river — in what is now Virginia Beach. The theory behind the test was that if she sank, she was innocent, although she would also likely drown.
She floated — proof she was guilty because the pure water cast out her evil spirit, according to popular belief at the time.
Three hundred years later, a modern-day resident of this resort city has asked the governor to exonerate Sherwood, Virginia's only convicted witch to be tried by water.