Anyone who has ever been to Salem,Ma likely has at-least seen the Salem Witch Memorial. It is on a side street near the Peabody Essex Museum, and features a stone tablet for each of the victims of the witch trials of 1692. It is a common tourist attractions, and has been in many documentaries on the witch trials. This is not the memorial I will be talking about today
In the town of Danvers,MA on a side street next to an elementary school is another monument. This old newer than the first but also dedicated to the victims of the witch hysteria of 1692. I live nearby and have never visited this site until a few days ago, There is little parking nearby. Honestly if you did not know it was there you would could easily drive by it every day and have no idea such a striking monument is in this little neighborhood.
A little backstory on the neighborhood this monument is in. The witch hysteria did happen in Salem colony in 1692, but Salem was far larger back then. Salem,MA is simply the downtown area of Salem Colony; the full colony included the modern towns of Danvers,Peabody,Beverly,Marblehead, and a few others. Salem Village was located in what is now Danvers,MA and this monument is in Salem Village.
When you walk up to this monument it is very striking. The Monument is right up against the road but seems to draw you in as you walk up to the walls etched with quotes from the victims, and the dates of their deaths. It is far more chilling and somber of a place as you read what was said by the victims, and find out their fate’s. It feels far less like a tourist attraction, and far more like a proper memorial to those lost by a hysteria. There is also rarely anyone even at the memorial so it is far less flooded with tourists going into Salem.
This is a good moment to talk about possible reasons why this happened. Some people say it was because of a grain poisoning that caused the hysteria, and that people latched onto what the little girls were saying. My favorite theory though is far more practical and far older, Greed. Puritanical law stated that if someone was accused and found guilty of being a witch the accusers would get their property. Almost all the accused were wealthy for the time and land-owners, they had what people wanted. Giles Corey was also frankly a mean old dude and people probably figured it was a good time to get rid of him. While the hysteria may have started with some infect grain, I think the cause of the deaths was far more human in nature.
As you can see very few of the victims were actually from what we would now call today Salem,MA. The reason Salem,MA cashes in so much on the witch hysteria is that is where the trials mostly took place. It is not where the people were hanged, or where many of them lived. The real reason Salem,MA takes so much of the credit has nothing to do with the trial itself, but with the fact Tourism is the main industry of Salem. Salem in the 1960s was a weird place to be. Many of the factories and businesses such as Parker-Brothers, Atlantic Bell, and many others were abandoning the city. The city was in a depression and needed something the lift itself out of it. Along comes the spiritual movements of the 1960s and 70s and a woman named Laurie Cabot made her home here. Laurie Cabot went on to become the modern voice of the Wicca movement, and started the new wave of tourism for the city. Soon after the city started to realize people were coming here because of the witch trials, and they decided to roll with it. Today most businesses in Salem get up to 1/3rd of their revenue in October from people coming in to see the Halloween capital of the world. Other towns around where the victims actually were from did not. Danvers is not a poor town by any means, but it also does not get nearly the tourism as a witch capital. You can also see towns as north a Andover had victims, but most people don’t go out of Salem to see anything related to it.
This powerful monument is definitely worth the 10-15 minute drive from Salem to come visit. I found it far more peaceful and has more of an impact than the one in Salem, and is off the beaten path. It is a good place to quietly reflect on what happened in 1692, without there being a bunch of tourists running around. The tragedy of the hysteria is there were no witches in Salem in 1692, unlike today where it has the highest per capita population of Pagans in the USA. While the Puritans were wrong about there being witches around them, you just need to walk around this area and to find find there is magic in this place.
Thank you for reading,
Go With The Winds.
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