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.
People are charged and put on trial. According to USHistory.org, evidence that could be used against them included:
- 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.
- Second, physical evidence was considered. Any birthmarks, warts, moles, or other blemishes were seen as possible portals through which SATAN could enter a body.
- Witness testimony was a third consideration. Anyone who could attribute their misfortune to the SORCERY of an accused person might help get a conviction.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.