Haunted History – Salem Witch Trials – S01E07
Haunted History presents another fascinating episode, this time centered around the Salem Witch Trials. This is not exactly a crowning moment in American History and over time this true series of unfortunate events has come to symbolize, greed, hysteria and the lust for power. The religious fervor of wild accusations without a shred of proof, turned into a way to seize property and livestock as well as ride the town of people who had too much wealth and influence as well as those who had too little to their name. I think we can all agree that these original events had absolutely nothing to do with the paranormal or the supernatural. Ironically, the very thing the original residents feared may a presence in modern day Salem.
Salem, originally founded in 1626, gained it’s infamous reputation in 1692 when the fear of witchcraft spread through the town and 19 men and women were hanged after being accused. The "Trials" were far from fair, with little to no evidence being supplied against the accused. Instead, they relied on the Will of God to keep innocent people from being hanged. Good thing we don’t follow the same rules today. Interesting, the idea of "spectral evidence" was used during this time. People firmly believed in the devil and the power of the supernatural. A person who was cursed or under the influence of a witch could see their energy and power manifest itself. Of course nobody else could. Makes for a good way to point the finger at someone. And it worked.
At the first location they visit, the Witch House, the believe the spirit of Bridgette Bishop still lingers there. She was a wealthy landowner who was put to death and the restaurant, 43 Church now stands on the former apple orchard she once owned and coveted. The owner and staff all claim to see a dark figure roaming the grounds and are firmly convinced they’ve seen the shadow multiple times up in the attic. They also claim the chairs to dining room tables were stacked and then unstacked while they worked in the restaurant one night.
The next site is Gallows Hill, where the hangings actually took place. Oddly, it’s now a sort of park with a children’s playground. The accused were brought to the hill and left to swing in the oak trees that dotted area in the day. When dead, their bodies were buried off to the side. They weren’t given a proper burial, since of course they were witches and didn’t earn any respect. Many people feel they hear voices or feel a presence in this area.
Finally, there is the Howard Street Cemetery where Giles Corey was crushed to death under the weight of rocks used to illicit a confession. His silence on the accusation of witchcraft against him infuriated the court, so they turned to torture. More weight was piled on until he finally suffocated. It was death about as bad as hanging. It’s claimed his spirit still lingers in the area. Many people claim to photos of mists and vapors floating around the grave markers. Some claim he can be seen walking among the headstones. But, if you see Giles Corey, Salem will burn. If he speaks to you, you will die within days. Many fires have broken out over the decades that Salem has been around and lots of people link these events to Corey sightings. It’s claimed he put a curse on the town and on the Sherriff who arrested. Funny, a man accused of witchcraft throwing out curses in his final moments.
But, Sherriff Curwin died of a blood diseases shortly after the witch trials were over. Additionally, every Sherriff they had after that died of illness and blood disease. Currently, there is no registered Sherriff for Salem. I guess they have intent on tempting fate, or curses.
As a final footnote, it was Increase Mather (cool name by the way) who brought things to a halt in
Salem. He is attributed with –
"It were better that ten suspected witches should escape, than that one innocent person should be condemned"
And that spectral evidence has no place in the courtroom. With his help and guidance, the remain prisoners were acquitted of their crimes and finally set free. But obviously the damage had been done. So the question remains, is the area of Salem haunted by the events of the past? Does Bridgette Bishop haunt/visit the area that is now part of her former apple orchard? Does Giles Corey walk the cemetery? And if he does, why does his presence signal fires and destruction. Again, this sort of gives him the power of reputation of really being a witch. And were the death involving the Sherriff all simply coincidence, more to do with poor sanitation and nutrition of the time rather than curses?
One explanation that was brought up for the cause of the original events and indeed the sightings that continue today, and that is the idea of a Ley Line. A line of EMF that runs through the town. It is believed this line runs through prominent homes, as well as the court house and up to Gallows Hill. There is a claim they weren’t necessarily responsible for their actions and these high EMF areas caused erratic and uncontrolled behavior. An interesting theory, one I find hard to latch onto, but more and more evidence keeps coming out about these trials so perhaps this natural phenomenon might end up playing a role after all.
Personally, I find the Salem Witch Trials fascinating. It shows what happens when mob rule comes into play and common sense goes out the window. It proves that greed and power can bring out the worst in people and set them against their fellow man. We also have to keep in mind that so much of what we hear has been told and retold and that tends to distort the truth. The evidence surrounding these sightings is based on hope and want rather than anything solid or tangible. It sort of proves the point that the power of suggestion is alive and well and still has influence, just like it did hundreds of years ago.
Other Articles of Interest:
- Salem – S01E01
- Ghost Adventures – Salem Witch House – S04E19
- Sleepy Hollow – S01E01
- Haunted Towns – Salem – S01E02
- Cursed – The Bell Witch
- Haunted Collector – Emmitt House Ghosts and Shadow Intruder – S03E05
- Haunted Histories Volume 3
- Paranormal Cops – Dead Man Walking – S01E04
- American Horror Story – Coven – Season 3
- Whitechapel Season 4