As part of my research for The Ghosts of Salem Village, I went to Salem, Massachusetts to visit the historical locations associated with the Salem Witchcraft Trials of 1692 that appear in the novel. I also included the address of these locations in case anyone wanted to check them out later.
The corner of Federal and St. Peters Streets marks the location of the old Salem Jail where those accused and/or found guilty of witchcraft were imprisoned. Those confined here were required to pay for the cost of their incarceration. When the trials concluded and the detained were set free, many could not afford to pay the costs of their imprisonment and were forced to stay in jail even longer. The front entrance to the jail was on St. Peters Street, to the right.
On the opposite side of the street and slightly to the right, where the John Paul II Divine Mercy Shroud now stands (top photo), sat the John Ward House, which has since been relocated to the grounds of the Peabody-Essex Institute (bottom photo). Those who lived in the John Ward House during the trials got to watch the prisoners be escorted to and from the jail to the courthouse as well as witness the condemded be carted away to Proctor's Ledge for execution.
To the left of the John Paul II Divine Mercy Shroud, and directly across from the entrance to the jail, was an empty plot of land. It was at this location that Giles Corey was slowly crushed to death under a board piled with rocks. Under the laws of the time, issuing a plea meant that if the defendant was found guilty, that person's property and possessions could be confiscated by the authorities. Giles knew he would be wrongly found guilty of witchcraft and refused to enter a plea, so Sheriff George Corwin attempted to force one by placing Giles under a board and slowly covering him with rocks. Giles died two days later when his chest caved in but was never tried or found guilty and his family kept their land.
I took this photo to show the relationship between the three locations.
Salem Town House
This location on the corner of Lynde and Washington Streets used to be the site of the Salem Town House where the trials of those accused of witchcraft were held and all of those brought before the bench were sentenced to death by hanging.
Judge Jonathon Corwin's Residence
This is the only structure directly linked to the witch trials still standing in Salem. The house was owned by Judge Jonathon Corwin, one of the magistrates who oversaw the trials and a cousin of Sheriff Corwin. It's now known as the Salem Witch House and sits on the corner of Essex and North Streets. The house was originally located one street over (approximately where the blue building behind it is) but had to be moved to widen the road for traffic.
For decades, legend placed the site of the execution of Salem's witches at Gallows Hill, which can be seen in the upper right corner of the bottom photo. In the early 2000s, it was determined that Gallows Hill could not be the location of the executions since the corpses were left hanging as a warning and travelers passing the site recorded seeing the bodies as did nearby neighbors. However, none of those sightings corresponded to the top of Gallows Hill. Research determined that the only place where the bodies could be seen by those who witnessed them was at Proctor's Ledge near the base of the hill. In 2013, Salem erected this memorial to honor the memory of those unjustly executed.
Ingersoll's Tavern was where the original hearings were conducted against those suspected of witchcraft and the determination made whether the accused should stand trial. The tavern still sits in the same spot it did in 1692, on the corner of Hobart and Centre Streets but now is part of Danvers, which incorporated parts of Salem Village. It is now a private residence so, if anyone goes to see the site, please respect the owner's privacy.
Rebecca Nurse's House
The Rebecca Nurse homestead has survived through the centuries and is now a museum in Danvers. Rebecca Nurse's grave is on the property, the only person executed for witchcraft known to have received a proper burial. For those wanting to visit, you can check out their homepage here.
The following locations are not related to the witchcraft trials but do appear in The Ghosts of Salem Village, so I thought I'd include them here.