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Family’s terrifying legacy

Illustration by Carissa Mooren

Biba’s new book on witch trials

By Robert Cloud

Greg Biba’s latest book examines an ancestor’s harrowing and tragic experiences after being accused of being a witch.

Greg co-wrote “Accused – The Witch Trial of Margarethe Faust,” with his brother Scott Biba.

Set in the 1590s in Budingen, Germany, the Bibas’ book is based on historical and genealogical research into a dark period in history.

Bad harvests, a virulent plague, sectarian and class conflict, dogmatic superstitions and malicious gossip led to the witch trials and executions of an estimated 40,000 people, mostly women, from 1560 to 1630.

Margarethe Faust was among those accused of being witches. She and three other women were arrested, placed in a tower and brutally tortured.

Evidence of her parlance with the devil included her disfigurement due to injuring an eye in an accident, a horse that died under mysterious circumstances, a tailor she had sued testified against her.

Greg Biba said he found what happened to his distant ancestor to be disturbing.

“A relative had to kill themselves to avoid torture,” Biba said.

After Faust killed herself, she was buried in an unmarked grave beneath the gallows.

Research and writing

Greg said he and Scott spent about a year working together on the book.

They would email manuscripts back and forth.

Scott spent years piecing together Faust’s story and visited the tower where she had been imprisoned and tortured.

The book combines what Scott discovered in his research with what the Bibas imagined Faust and her family were experiencing during this ordeal.

Greg said he was also assisted in the writing and editing by the book by the Waupaca Writers Club, Dawn Biba, Kerry Lueders and Richard Seitzer.

The book features illustrations by Carissa Mooren.

“Accused” is available at the Bookcellar, Northern Homes, Vintage Antiques in King, Office Outfitters, the Waupaca Area Public Library and Amazon.

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