ABOUT THE AUTHOR & INTRODUCTION

Hello!

Welcome to my Salem Witch Hangings website! There is so much fascinating history for one to stumble upon in Salem Massachusetts.

My wonderful husband showered me with the gift of making one of my life long dreams come true; a trip to the East Coast and Salem, Massachusetts. To pay it forward, I would like to share his generous gift with you!

SALEM is a town with a very long and very mysterious history. If you enjoy a good mystery, this is the town for you to visit! For Salem is a town that overflows with questions, yet provides far too few answers. Of course, we’re talking about it’s history all the way back to the year of 1692 [The 17th Century].

We’d traveled nearly a week; all the way from Minnesota. It had been a very long and at times, a stressful trip. We’d driven through four long days and nights of continuous heavy rain. It seemed that as we’d traveled eastward, so had the storm; perhaps a fitting introduction to what we found to be a very eerie town.

Permit me to share with you that I have always been fascinated with the subject of the paranormal and we were about to embark on an adventure to a town that wonders, to this day, whether or not the paranormal was involved in their own history. There have been many different theories over the centuries on this by researchers like myself, and by brilliant scholars as well.

It will be up to you to decide the conclusion that you alone, choose to draw.

Let me not neglect to mention that this little town is also famous for its maritime history. Salem and other small towns on the east coast were responsible to see to it that imported products were reliably received in the United States.

Lighthouse in the bay in downtown Salem
Lighthouse in the bay in downtown Salem
Lovely Replica of a Ship in the 17th Century
Lovely Replica of a Ship in the 17th Century
Maritime History Replica
Maritime History Replica

History of Salem

The Seventeenth Century

During the winter of 1623-1624, a fishing settlement was established on Cape Ann by England’s Dorchester Company. After three years of struggle on rocky, stormy Cape Ann, a group of the settlers, led by Roger Conant, set out to establish a more permanent settlement. They found sheltered, fertile land at the mouth of the Naumkeag River.

The new settlement, called Naumkeag, or “Fishing Place” by the Native Americans, thrived on farming and fishing. In 1629 the settlement was renamed Salem for Shalom, the Hebrew word for peace.

Maritime Salem

In the eighteenth century, Salem developed into a major fishing, shipbuilding and maritime trade center. Thanks to its burgeoning codfish trade with the West Indies and Europe, the town grew and prospered. As Salem grew, so too did the power struggle between the colonies and England. In 1774, a Provincial Congress was organized in Salem and the political revolution began. Two months before the battles in Lexington and Concord, skirmishes broke out in Salem. Salem’s fleet contributed mightily to the war effort, capturing or sinking 455 British vessels.

By 1790, Salem was the sixth largest city in the country, and the richest per capita. International trade with Europe, the West Indies, China, Africa and Russia produced great wealth and prosperity in Salem. Entrepreneurial spirit and unflappable courage among Salem’s sea captains enhanced Salem’s success as a dominant seaport. Salem merchants built magnificent homes, established museums and other cultural institutions.

Salem architect and wood carver Samuel McIntire (1757-1811) was employed by many of the sea captains and is responsible for stunning Federal-style architecture and ornamental carving throughout Salem. McIntire’s peak years as an artist coincided with Salem’s peak years as a successful shipping port. This combination has left Salem with one of the grandest collections of Federal style architecture in the world.

Salem is home to the tall ship Friendship, which is a full-scale replica of a 1797 East Indiaman merchant tall ship. Part of the
Salem Maritime National Historic Site tours of Friendship are available daily.

In addition to the legacy of homes and buildings, Salem’s sea captains left behind a museum through which to share their exploration with Salem residents and visitors to the city. The Peabody Essex Museum is the oldest continually operated museum in the country and was founded by sea captains in 1799. In addition to collections from around the globe, visitors to the Peabody Essex Museum can see the model of the Friendship used to recreate the ship.

– See more at: http://salem.org/history#sthash.1Lr4a0Nw.dpuf

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The Salem Witch Trials of 1692

In January of 1692, the daughter and niece of Reverend Samuel Parris of Salem Village became ill. William Griggs, the village doctor, was called in when they failed to improve. His diagnosis of bewitchment put into motion the forces that would ultimately result in the hanging deaths of nineteen men and women. In addition, one man was crushed to death; several others died in prison, and the lives of many were irrevocably changed.

To understand the events of the Salem witch trials, it is necessary to examine the times in which accusations of witchcraft occurred. There were the ordinary stresses of 17th-century life in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. A strong belief in the devil, factions among Salem Village families and rivalry with nearby Salem Town combined with a recent small pox epidemic and the threat of attack by warring tribes created a fertile ground for fear and suspicion. Soon, prisons were filled with more than 150 men and women from towns surrounding Salem; their names had been “cried out” by tormented young girls as the cause of their pain. All would await trial for a crime punishable by death in 17th-century New England – the practice of witchcraft.

In June of 1692, the special Court of Oyer (to hear) and Terminer (to decide) sat in Salem to hear the cases of witchcraft. Presided over by Chief Justice William Stoughton, the court was made up of magistrates and jurors. The first to be tried was Bridget Bishop of Salem who was found guilty and was hanged on June 10. Thirteen women and five men from all stations of life followed her to the gallows on three successive hanging days before the court was disbanded by Governor William Phipps in October of that year. The Superior Court of Judicature, formed to replace the “witchcraft” court, did not allow spectral evidence. This belief in the power of the accused to use their invisible shapes or spectres to torture their victims had sealed the fates of those tried by the Court of Oyer and Terminer. The new court released those awaiting trial and pardoned those awaiting execution. In effect, the Salem witch trials were over.

As years passed, apologies were offered and restitution was made to the victims’ families. Historians and sociologists have examined this most complex episode in our history so that we may understand the issues of that era and view subsequent events with heightened awareness. The parallels between the Salem witch trials and more modem examples of “witch hunting” like the McCarthy hearings of the 1950’s, are remarkable.

Learn more:

Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archives

Salem Witch Trials Weekly
, produced by the Salem Witch Museum

Bewitchment in Salem
, produced by the Salem Witch Museum in conjunction with SATV
The Salem Witch Trials: A Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege by Marilynne K. Roach (Jul 22, 2004)

____________________________________

Old bunkers remain where guns and ammunition were stored during WW-II to keep Hitler from successfully attacking the United States from the eastern seaboard.

WW-ll Bunkers where artillery was hidden
WW-ll Bunkers where artillery was hidden

_____________________

One of only two aquatic plane hangars from WW-II is located in Salem – although it will have probably been torn down by the time you read this . . .

Old Aquatic Airplane Hangar from WW-ll
Old Aquatic Airplane Hangar from WW-ll

_____________________________

. . . and I simply can’t leave out the fact that the home in which parts of the well known movie “Hocus Pocus” were filmed is located in Salem!

Salem mansion used in movie HOCUS POCUS
Salem mansion used in movie HOCUS POCUS

_____________________________

By now its needless to say that I have a strong passion for history, mysteries, the unknown and writing. I can barely find words to describe my feelings of exhilaration as I climbed out of the truck to take my first steps on a Salem street!

I’ve designed my site in an effort to bring some of the very best of Salem to you! Despite its weird history, I must admit that I fell totally in love with Massachusetts and the other New England states as well.

I have other websites at WordPress.com that you might like to check-out, and I’ve written and published a book titled, “BAD RAP, The Truth About the Tragically Misunderstood Pit Bull” in honor of our precious AmStaff, Dazie.

If you love a good mystery too, you really must try to visit Salem – I can guarantee you that you won’t run out of questions to ask! Enjoy!

Your Fellow Mystery/History Buff,
Jeanie Cooke-Fredlund

JC “Jeanie” Cooke-Fredlund, Published Author
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