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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Salem Witchcraft Hysteria Sites in Danvers

On the North Shore of Boston, crowds of tourists visit Salem to attend the "Haunted Happenings" held annually in October. Yet the foundations of the original "Haunted Happenings," the Salem Witchcraft Hysteria, occurred in 1692 in Danvers, known at that time as Salem Village. The original boundaries of the Salem community encompassed many of the towns that are adjacent to Salem, including Danvers, Peabody, and Middleton.

The center of the Salem Village community was located in and around the First Church of Danvers and the site of the Meeting House. The site of the original First Church in Danvers is located on the corner of Centre and Hobart Streets and is now the location of the Congregational First Church of Danvers.

Directly across from the First Church is innkeeper Nathaniel Ingersoll's Ordinary, a tavern, where many of those accused of witchcraft during the Hysteria were examined.

One block away along Hobart Street from these sites is the original site of the Salem Village Meeting House and the memorial to victims of the Witchcraft Hysteria. The Meeting House is the location where many of the accused were questioned and examined. The Meeting House was dismantled in 1702. Directly across Hobart Street from the Meeting House site is the Witchcraft Victims Memorial, dedicated to the victims of the Witchcraft Hysteria in 1992 on the Tricentennial anniversary of the tragic events.

Inscribed on the center sections of the monument are the names of twenty-five victims who died during the Hysteria, including twenty who were executed and five who died while imprisoned.

The names of those who died during the Hysteria are inscribed as follows:

Died in jail May 10, 1692
SARAH OSBURN of Salem Village

Hanged June 10, 1692

Died in jail June 16, 1692

Died in jail previous to July 19, 1692
INFANT DAUGHTER to Sarah Good of Salem Village

Hanged July 19, 1692
SARAH GOOD of Salem Village
ELIZABETH HOW of Topsfield
REBECCA NURSE of Salem Village
SARAH WILDS of Topsfield

Hanged August 19, 1692
REV. GEORGE BURROUGHS of Wells, Maine formerly of Salem Village
JOHN PROCTER, SR. of Salem Farmes

Died under torture September 19, 1692
GILES CORY of Salem Farmes

Hanged September 22, 1692
MARTHA CORY of Salem Farmes
MARY ESTY of Topsfield
MARY PARKER of Andover
WILMOT REDD of Marblehead

Died in jail December 3, 1692
ANN FOSTER of Andover

Died in jail March 10, 1693

On the outer leaves of the monument are quotations from some of the Witchcraft Hysteria victims.

The inscribed quotations read as follows:

"I am an innocent person. I never had to do with witchcraft since I was born. I am a Gosple woman." MARTHA CORY

"The Lord above knows my Innocencye as att the great day will be known to men and Angells. I Petition to your honours not for my own life for I know I must die and my appointed time is sett but the Lord he knows it is that if it be possible no more Innocent blood be shed." MARY ESTY

"If it was the last moment I was to live. God knows I am innocent." ELIZABETH HOW

"Well! Burn me, or hang me, I will stand in the truth of Christ." GEORGE JACOBS, SR.

"Amen. Amen. A false tongue will never make a guilty person." SUSANNAH MARTIN

"I CAN SAY BEFORE MY Eternal father I am innocent & God will clear my innocency." REBECCA NURSE

"The Magistrates, Ministers, Jewries, and all the People in general being so much inraged and incensed against us by the Delusion of the Devil, which we can term no other, by reason we know in our own Consciences, we are all Innocent Persons." JOHN PROCTER SR.

"I fear not but the Lord in his due time will make me as white as snow." JOHN WILLARD

Located a short distance away, behind 67 Centre Street, is the archaelogical site of the parish house of Reverend Samuel Parris, the minister of Salem Village during the Hysteria. The foundations of the original parish buildings are still visible. It was in his house that the Hysteria reportedly began, as Parris' servant Tituba told tales to several young girls, including Parris' daughter Betty, followed by strange behavior in the girls attributed to bewitchment.

Along Centre Street in Danvers are many homes that date to the time at or before the Witchcraft Hysteria, including the house of innkeeper Thomas Haines at 35 Centre Street, which was built around 1681, and the house of yeoman Joseph Houlton at 19 Centre Street, which was built around 1671.

Directly across from 92-94 Centre Street is the Village Training Field, established in 1671 for the defense of the town.

At the intersection of Holten and Centre Streets, at 171 Holten Street, is the home of Samuel Holten, a prominent Revolutionary War statesman from Danvers. In 1692 this was the home of widow Sarah Holten, a neighbor of Francis and Rebecca Nurse. Sarah gave devastating testimony against Rebecca Nurse during the Witchcraft Trials, indicating that Rebecca had cursed her husband three years earlier when the Holtens' pigs had strayed onto the Nurse family property.

Located nearby is the Rebecca Nurse House on 149 Pine Street. The home and grounds has been preserved by the Rebecca Nurse Memorial Association and is now maintained by the Danvers Alarm List Company, a historical reenactment unit. A small cemetery with a monument to Rebecca's memory is located on the grounds, but it is likely that Rebecca is buried in an unmarked grave elsewhere on the family property. According to legend, after her execution and burial on Gallows Hill in Salem on July 19, 1692, her family rescued her body at night and buried her in a secret place on the Nurse property.

Located on the grounds is a replica of the Salem Village Meeting House, which was constructed for the 1985 PBS Documentary, Three Sovereigns for Sarah, a story of the devastating effects of the Witchcraft Hysteria on sisters Sarah (Towne) Cloyce, Rebecca (Towne) Nurse and Mary (Towne) Esty. Rebecca and Mary were victims of the Hysteria. Sarah was accused of witchcraft and subsequently imprisoned. She was freed from jail in January 1693.

Located at the intersection of Route 1 and Route 62 (Maple Street), adjacent to the Putnam Pantry candy shop, is the home of Revolutionary War hero General Israel Putnam. Israel was the son of Joseph Putnam and Elizabeth Porter. Joseph was the favored son of his father Thomas Putnam, who left his property and fortune to the infant Joseph shortly after he was born. Joseph was the son of Thomas Putnam and Mary Veren, Thomas's second wife. Thomas's sons by his first marriage, Thomas Jr. and Edward, were incensed at their disinheritance by their father. Their disenfranchisement led to resentment that fueled the Hysteria. Thomas Jr., his wife Ann (Carr) Putnam, and daughter Ann were among the leading accusers in the community.

Thomas Putnam, his wife Ann (Carr) Putnam, and daughter Ann are buried in unmarked graves under this mound in front of the tree in the small Putnam Cemetery, directly adjacent to the Massachusetts State Police Headquarters on Maple Street (Route 62).

Located about a mile away along Maple Street (Route 62) is the Wadsworth Cemetery on Summer Street, near the intersection of Summer and Maple Streets. Many Putnam family members are buried here, including the immigrant John Putnam, one of the first settlers of Salem, and his son, Captain John Putnam.

Elizabeth Parris, wife of minister Samuel Parris, is buried in a grave behind the John Putnam tombstone. The inscription on Elizabeth's gravestone is worn but her name is still legible.

The homes of two women who were accused of witchcraft and who died during the Hysteria are still standing. The home of Sarah Osborne, who died in a Boston prison on May 10, 1692, is located at 273 Maple Street (Route 62). During the Witchcraft Hysteria this home was located on Spring Street and was later moved to its current location on Maple Street.

The home of innkeeper Bridget Bishop, who was hanged on June 10, 1692, is located at 238 Conant Street near the Danvers/Beverly town line.

For additional information about the Salem Witchcraft Hysteria please visit my reading list on the Suggested Reading page of this blog under the heading "New England - Salem Witchcraft Hysteria" and my Links page under the heading "New England History" for some excellent websites. The Salem Witch Museum hosts a site for locales of the Witchcraft Hysteria, 1692 Tour Sites and Danvers 1692 sites. In addition to Danvers, the website contains 1692 tour locales for Amesbury, Andover, Beverly, Boston, Haverhill, Marblehead, Peabody, Salem, Salisbury, and Wenham. Also, the Danvers Preservation Commission hosts a fantastic site on Danvers history, Historical Sites of Danvers.

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