The Salem Witch Hunt and Boston, Massachusetts

October 9th

The Salem Witch Museum

Mother Nature decided we had been having too much sunshine and decided to continue the downpour. We are such fair weather travelers, that although we do not melt, a rainy day puts a damper on our mood.

Our ship does not dock in Boston until close to 11:00, which means our daylight hours are cut short. Hopping on a full bus, we head out-of-town toward Salem. The main focus of the day is to learn more about the witch hunt, trials and the consequences that took place in this small town back in 1692. 

The story begins with young girls screaming and barking like dogs. Unusual behaviors warranted the family doctor being called. He diagnoses them as not being ill, but being bewitched. The search is on for who has bewitched these young girls and fingers start pointing towards several women of Salem including the Reverend Parris’ slave from the Caribbean named Tituba.

Salem witch trial reenactment

People are charged and put on trial. According to USHistory.org, evidence that could be used against them included:

  1. First, the accused might be asked to pass a test, like reciting the Lord’s Prayer. This seems simple enough. But the young girls who attended the trial were known to scream and writhe on the floor in the middle of the test. It is easy to understand why some could not pass.
  2. Second, physical evidence was considered. Any birthmarks, warts, moles, or other blemishes were seen as possible portals through which SATAN could enter a body.
  3. Witness testimony was a third consideration. Anyone who could attribute their misfortune to the SORCERY of an accused person might help get a conviction.
  4. Fourth was spectral evidence. Puritans believed that Satan could not take the form of any unwilling person. Therefore, if anyone saw a ghost or spirit in the form of the accused, the person in question must be a witch.
  5. Last was the CONFESSION. Confession seems foolhardy to a defendant who is certain of his or her innocence. In many cases, it was the only way out. A confessor would tearfully throw himself or herself on the mercy of the town and court and promise repentance. None of the confessors were executed. Part of repentance might of course include helping to convict others.

By November of 1692, twenty people were put to death, having been convicted of witchcraft. Nineteen of them were hung and one was pressed to death.

The dead were claimed by relatives and buried in unmarked spots for fear that their bodies would be dug up and torn to shreds.

Local Salem Cemetery

Across the street from the museum is a small memorial where twenty stone benches are along two sides of a small fenced courtyard next to the cemetery. The names of all twenty “witches” are engrave, each on its own bench and flowers are often placed on top of each in a show of respect.

Tribute benches for the 20 who were killed as witches in Salem

A late lunch was on our own, and Tim and I found a restaurant along the water where I chose to chomp down on a local favorite – a lobster roll.

Lobster roll

By the time we bussed back to Boston, it was starting to get dark. With our bus windows already fogged over and rain drops blurring the view, it became impossible to see the many items that were being pointed out to us.

Along the Freedom Trail

We did however make a short stop at the church involved with the Paul Revere story. I’m sure many of you remember the poem, “One if by land, two if by sea”, which tells about the midnight ride and signal lanterns used to determine in which direction the British were arriving.

Inside the church where lanterns were hung to signal the British were coming

GRATITUDE MOMENT: It is sad that so many innocent people paid with their lives in Salem within a culture dominated by fear and superstitions. Today I am grateful that we, as a society, have for the most part, grown, matured and become more tolerant of those who have a different viewpoint from our own.

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About Tim and Joanne Joseph

Hi and welcome! We are Tim and Joanne Joseph and we have just embarked on our "next chapter". At a stage in life where traveling the world, taking pictures, and sharing our adventures with friends and family will be our dream come true.
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22 Responses to The Salem Witch Hunt and Boston, Massachusetts

  1. TracyNicole says:

    Thanks for sharing about Salem; I have always wanted to visit but given our cruise ship only spent one day in Boston we chose to explore there instead. Did you enjoy the Old North Church? My husband and I found it to be our favorite spot on the Freedom Trail.

    Like

  2. Michael Alesko says:

    Good account Joanne. The Salem trials have long vexed me for what they represented about oppression, intolerance and religion gone awry. And for their modern day vestiges.

    Like

  3. Terry says:

    Salem and Boston 2 places to wander and marvel in the history that surrounds them. Praying for better weather for you 2.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The Salem story is always an important reminder of how we can go so terribly wrong. Thanks for sharing, Joanne. –Curt

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  5. Jim & Jane says:

    Got to love those east coast lobster rolls. You almost need to ask for a spare bun to make them into 2 portions. Almost…. who’s sharing!

    Like

  6. Les says:

    Boston is one place that I would just love to see. Since I’m a lover of Historic places, it has been on my Bucket List for quite some time. Walking the Freedom Trail and actually seeing the Old North Church would be exciting. Sorry you all had that bad weather. The saying goes “Real Tourists Do It Rain or Shine.”

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  7. Very interesting about the witches. I’d heard of the trials of course, and how once accused you could never really win. It was indeed the original “witch hunt”. Really sad.
    Alison

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  8. joylennick says:

    Fascinating stuff. How strange were the thought processes of so many people in the past (and often now!!) What some minds choose to believe never ceases to amaze me! What a learning journey you are on! Continue to enjoy. Best wishes.

    Like

  9. Jill says:

    Very interesting. Also interesting is how we look back with today’s knowledge and standards and judge people for what they did in the distant past. I wonder how future generations will judge us? Not that I condone what happened at Salem, just saying…..

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  10. I LOVED witches all my life. Imaginary and those accused in Salem and Europe. I couldn’t wait to go to Salem and was completely entranced by all the things that portrayed the history of the witch hunts there. Loved the museum, and the memorial, and the re-enactments. I want to go back!

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