Witch Trials and Burying Grounds of Salem Massachusetts
Location: Salem, MA
Written by: Joey
TAKE NOTE: This post was written while DJ & Joey were on their RV roadtrip across America. Sadly, their trip ended before it really got started. No worries, Shelly & Lucia are taking the Connextions Out n About Roadtrip to new heights, exploring one RV park at a time!
After an introduction to Salem, Massachusetts, we were ready to find food. We both were craving a burger and fries so we wandered the streets searching for a quick bite to eat. As luck would have it, we found a nice little pub, ordered burgers and fries, and I opted for Guinness instead of a soda. It’s cold out and I need to stay warm. What better way than with liquor?
After our lunch we headed out and started to follow The Heritage Trail, a red line painted on the street and sidewalk that connects the most important stops in Salem. This trail surprisingly led us to a chocolate shop where we purchased a large chocolate peanut butter cup. When I say large, I mean large. It was as round as the circumference of a baseball and as thick as a hockey puck, so thick that I couldn’t bite into it. I gave it to DJ so he could try but no go. I worked on the edges and finally broke through the center. Delicious! The only problem now was I had to share it… While eating the dessert, we headed over to a graveyard aptly named The Burying Point. This graveyard is the oldest burying ground in the City of Salem. We walked through the graveyard, read tombstones, took photos and then left. I was having a difficult time walking through the graves because I couldn’t stop thinking of the people buried there and all of us walking over them.
From the graveyard we headed over to the Salem Witch Trials Memorial, a rock wall inspired by the Vietnam Memorial. The Memorial listed the 20 men and women who were tried, convicted and executed. Each stone placard listed the accused, their dates and manner of death, most of which were hanged and another that was “pressed.” As we were reading the names, there was one placard that had a small potted flower on it with a note from her relatives in Maine. It’s amazing and sad at the same time. Can you imagine? Living relatives. It made me wonder how many others in the memorial had living relatives. As we were leaving the memorial I read some quotes from the accused. As I read the two quotes, I could imagine them standing there in shackles denying any wrong doing as tears fell down their cheeks and fear filled their eyes.
Next we headed over to The Witch House, which wasn’t a witch house at all. No accused witches were ever tried or apparently brought to the house. So why the name Witch House? I guess it’s because Salem Witch Trial Judge Jonathan Corwin who presided over 19 of the 20 witch trials owned the house. The house is the only structure still standing in Salem that has direct ties with the witch trials. In 1944 the house was going to be torn down and that threat sparked a need for citizens to raise money for its restoration. We attempted to tour the building but the crowds were outrageous, so we opted to return later.
If you’re familiar with the movie Hocus Pocus with Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker, then you’ll know parts of the film were shot there. We (okay, I) made sure to take a photo of Salem Common, Phillips Elementary School and Town Hall, which appeared in the film. We had JUST missed the free showing of the movie by a few days. That would have been so much fun to watch in the Salem Common. (There’s always next year…) If you haven’t watched the film, you must. It’s great. I even get DJ to watch it from time to time.
We kept wandering the streets admiring the architecture, the landscape and the feel of Halloween creeping in. Talk about magical and spooky in a fun way. We made our way to Pickering Wharf and walked the shops and took several photos of sailing vessel Friendship. The Friendship of Salem is a reconstructed version of a 171-foot three-masted vessel that was built in 1797. The original Friendship traveled the world trading spices, sugar and coffee. You can tour the vessel as well as watch volunteers and staff work on her to keep her “shipshape.” You would think the ship would be out of place sitting in the harbor in present day Salem but it most definitely isn’t. Standing there on the wharf you could swear it was 1800 all over again.
I can just imagine standing next to the Friendship at dusk with the fog rolling in, the gas street lamps lit and the clippity clop of the horse and carriage driving by.