Recently, I had opportunity to spend a few days in *Salem, Massachusetts*. A place that will forever be marred for its historical past. I arrived to Salem on the 18th of September and left on the 20th, these three days ended up being the 316th anniversary of the day that Giles Corey was pressed to death.
The trip began with checking into a nearby Hotel situated on derby street. A short distance from all of the museums, and historical events. Today Salem is a Mecca of sorts for many practicing wiccans, an irony of Salem amongst many. In 1692 the Salem witch trials took place, in which time 20 people and 2 dogs were convicted of witchcraft. These charges were based entirely upon spectral evidence. Meaning imagination and make believe.
I began my visit with a trip to three museums. “The Witch History Museum”:http://www.witchhistorymuseum.com/witchhistory.html , “The New England Pirate Museum”:http://www.piratemuseum.com/pirate.html , and “The Witch Dungeon Museum”:http://www.witchdungeon.com/witchdungeon.html . The museums consisted primarily of historical scenes depicted by mannequins and narrated by a tour guide. I found the most spectacular of the three to be the visit to The Witch Dungeon Museum.
The Witch Dungeon Museum featured a live re-enactment of an account of the trial held in 1692 of Elizabeth Proctor. A woman accused of witchcraft and later to be released. One of the actresses in the account is an 8th generation descendant of Giles Corey. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending upon how you look at it the actual Dungeon in which the citizens of Salem were imprisoned over (150) has been razed. In 1954 Bell-Atlantic was looking to build a new office. The breaking of the ground revealed the old dungeon, long since lost. At the time the people wanted to avoid a witch hysteria so the Dungeon was built upon.
Below are some photos from the museum, including an old foundation board from the original dungeon.
How one was treated in the dungeon was all based upon a matter of wealth. The more money you had the better you ate and the larger your cell. You see the people had to pay their own room and board and if you did not have the money then you were left to rot.
The history of Salem is quite a grim one, whether it is about pirates or witches. Today however around this time of year Salem receives a great influx of wiccans, pagans, and psychics, their psychic fair being held from October 1st to October 31st. Halloween as you can imagine holds quite the festivities as some would compare it to the Mardi Gras.
After a day of tours and sightseeing, I spent my evening on a “ghost tour”:http://salemghosttours.com/ . Of course I did not expect to see some ghost but I did learn a great deal of Salem’s continuing ironies and travesties. The photo below is taken of where Giles Corey was pressed to death for refusal to speak.
Some say Giles last words were “more weight” while others say that he cursed the sheriff and all of Salem. If you look at the ensuing history one may be inclined to believe such a curse to be true. Every sheriff in Salem’s history starting with the one who was responsible for pressing Giles, has suffered from heart attacks; until recently when Salem did away with the position of Sheriff.
Giles ghost is said to appear whenever disaster will strike. He appeared in 1914 before the Salem Fires, before Pearl Harbor was bombed and even as recently as the night before September 11th. If this is true it is all a matter of speculation.
The trip to Salem was a wonderful one, where I not only became more educated in the history of the witch trials but I got to enjoy some fantastic food and beautiful sites. Surprisingly, many locals and descendants don’t appreciate the influx of wiccans, and witches now occupying Salem. While, many want to simply forget it seems the town is doomed to remember the past as long as their is money to be made. If you have the chance this fall or next fall, do take the time to visit even if it is only for a day and a night.