Salem: The Cries of The Accused
Salem… the “Witch City”… however one decides to address this sleepy New England town, the vision is out of a storybook. Walking down the beautiful, tree-lined cobblestones, it is difficult to imagine the terror that once ran rapid in this “peaceful” place.
Whether you were accused of turning your neighbor’s cow into a toad, or you were convinced that the devil had forced you to sign “his book”, pledging away your soul for all of eternity, the late 1600’s were truly a treacherous time to be alive in Massachusetts. In 1692, nineteen men and women were carted off to Gallows Hill to face death as punishment for the crime of Witchcraft. One man was pressed to death by heavy stones.
Passing by the souvenir shops full of witch tee shirts and key chains, it is possible to forget the melancholy for the moment, and enjoy a crisp autumn day. But as the sun sets and a starless sky stretches out over the horizon, it is easy to remember… feeling the chill in the air as those who once walked the streets of Salem return, walking along once more.
And Salem has her fair share of places to experience the history first hand. Stand in front of the house where a judge came to spend warm evenings by the fire, after sending an elderly woman to her death for crimes she could not imagine, much less commit. See the Old Burying Point Cemetery, adjoined to the Witch Trial Memorial, where it is possible to see the accused and the date of their deaths, along with their blood curdling final words. Stand inside the old Howard Street Cemetery, where Giles Cory was pressed to death, and watch for his spirit, rumored to be seen by Salemites before any disasters. And while the abandoned structure of the old Salem Jail, built in 1811, blocks the moonlight, it is said that one can hear the cries from prisoners long gone, as that the jail was closed in 1991 for poor and “hazardous” conditions.
Salem is a place of mystery and untold secrets. Take a walk through the city at midnight, and see if she will whisper them to you.
*Article originally appeared in Twisted Dreams Magazine.*