Top 5 Salem Witch Trial Sites to Visit
Must See Gems for Exploring the Witch Hysteria & Executions of 1692
‘Now I am condemned to die, the Lord above knows my innocency then and likewise does now as at the great day will be known to men and angels — I petition to your honours not for my own life for I know I must die and my appointed time is set but the Lord he knows it is that if it be possible no more innocent blood may be shed.’
– Mary Esty, Hanged September 22, 1692
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The Rebecca Nurse Homestead (detailed here & in Salem Itinerary Part A)– The 1st Must See Gem, the Rebecca Nurse Homestead is the only home of an executed victim of the Salem Witch Trials whose home is open to the public. It is also the only known location(s) of any hanged victims from the witch trials. Rebecca’s family recovered her body from the mass ‘grave’ at the hanging hill and buried her in the family cemetery, on the property. Her grave was unmarked to give her peace in her rest, but, today, a monument has been erected where she is believed buried. The only known remains & exact location of an executed Salem Witch Trial victims grave is George Jacobs, Sr. and he has been reinterred here at the Rebecca Nurse Homestead, as well. Rebecca & George were hanged as ‘witches’ in 1692. Learn more about them in my post, Salem Witch Trial Victims. It is located in nearby Danvers, Massachusetts, which was originally Salem village & the very epicenter of the Salem Witch Hysteria. A rare opportunity, most of the remaining Salem Witch Trial sites are privately owned. www.rebeccanurse.org
The Danvers (Salem Village) Witch Trials Memorial is the 2nd Must See Gem and is also located in Danvers (original Salem village). Check out my Mini History Refresher to learn about the Witchtrials and Danvers (Salem village) & Salem (town). The Memorial is a beautiful stone Monument in a small, peaceful park. This is the only of the Witch Trials Memorials that is dedicated to not only those 20 executed as ‘witches’, but also the 5 who died in prison. Four were awaiting judgement or execution and one was a baby born to one of the accused, dying shortly after her birth in the dungeon. The baby’s birth sealed the mother’s death and she was hung thereafter. Quotes straight from the victims’ mouths, during interrogation & trial, are written on this stone Monument next to their names and hometown. The deadly fingers of the Witch Hysteria reached out to grab victims beyond just Salem. The exasperation in their words screams out to you and will strike you cold even on a warm summer’s day. It was dedicated on the 300th anniversary of the tragic events, in 1992. A must see for visiting Salem Witch Trials sites. www.danverslibrary.org/archive/witchcraft-victims-memorial/
The Witch House (reviewed fully in my separate post & included in Salem Part B Itinerary) in downtown Salem is the 3rd Must See Gem. The blackish house was home to one of the Salem Witch Trial judges during the trials in 1692, Judge Jonathan Corwin. It is the only surviving building in Salem town, today, that is directly related to the Witch Trials in 1692. The home is decorated to period and done very well. It has very interesting exhibits, and some unique, impressive First Period artifacts. The most incredible of these is one of the very few surviving possessions of an executed Salem witch trial victim. A meat fork believed to belong to John (& Elizabeth) Proctor. John was hung as a ‘witch’ in 1692. Elizabeth was convicted & sentenced to execution, but escaped death. Possibly site of some of the actual witch trials & interrogations. The home was built in the mid-1600s. A must see Salem Witch Trials site. www.thewitchhouse.org
The Salem Witch Trials Memorial (reviewed fully in separate post & included in Salem Itinerary Part C)– The Salem Witch Trials Memorial, the 4th Must See Gem, is beautiful and sobering. Located in a park-area in downtown Salem, it was dedicated to the 20 executed victims from the Witch Trials in 1692. It serves as a grave marker for mourners to honor the victims, since only 2 of the remains are known (@ the Rebecca Nurse Homestead). Though, Giles Corey’s body is buried where he was tortured to death, somewhere among what is now the Howard Street Cemetery visited in my Salem Part C post. The low stone benches are engraved with the names of the condemned, along with their manner of execution & the date. Twenty of them, the number staggering as you see them laid out before you. Their pleas from trial are inscribed on the entrance stones. They call to you from the grave, the fear & desperation in them creeping into your own soul.
Proctor’s Ledge & Memorial (visited in Salem Itinerary Part C)– Each site is emotional and the 5th Must See Gem is no less. For centuries, it was believed that nearby ‘Gallows Hill’ was the site of the hanging executions of the accused ‘witches’. In 2016, Proctor’s Ledge was verified by historians as the actual site of the hanging hill where 19 innocents lost their lives in 1692. It has a small, beautiful stone Memorial at the foot, carved out of a residential neighborhood, dedicated the following year in 2017. It honors the 19 who were hung as ‘witches’, their names inscribed on the low stone wall, as well as the dates they were executed at this spot. www.salemwitchmuseum.com/
We had a moving visit spending the day exploring the Salem Witch Trials & Executions. It made those events come alive for us and our kids, which was heart-breaking to sit in, but we felt privileged to walk in the footsteps of History to learn more about the victims and the events, and to honor their stories & their sacrifice. They didn’t deserve their fate, but being able to pay our respects, to try to learn the lessons of persecution & hysteria, to remember & honor these & others, touched a part of our souls that I hope we never lose. It’s worth a trip!
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The ONLY home of one of the hanged accused Witchcraft Trial victims that’s open to public & ONLY graves of any of the victims known.