Within these stone walls lie the mortal remains of an accuser, an
an accuser/accused and a man who in his capacity as assistant parson
the Trials adding further to the maelstrom of hysteria.
It wasn't just Salem Town (present day Salem, Mass.)...
When asked about witchcraft in America, most people think of Salem, Massachusetts. It's only natural as Salem has sought to capitalize on history of which it played only a part. Today, Salem portrays witches in the familiar Halloween black cape and broomstick, but in 1692, the word "witch" could easily lead to a death sentence from which there was no appeal.
Salem's Gallows Hill, where the condemned were executed, is now a municipal park. No one was burnt at a stake. That was the European method of dispatching "witches". In Europe, witchcraft was considered heresy against the Catholic Church. Witchcraft was a criminal offense in Massachusetts and the convicted were hanged (with the exception of Giles Corey who was pressed to death).
Spectral Evidence was permitted to be used against the accused. This
evidence consisted of an accuser stating that the accused witch had
forth a spectre to afflict the accuser. That only the accuser could see
the spectre made a defense difficult. There was the Andover Touch test
where the accused, bound and blindfolded is forced to touch the hand of
the accuser who screamed and flailed being under the command of a
witch's spectre. When the
hysterical accuser relaxed upon being touched; Unimpeachable evidence
witchcraft as the witch had been forced to call off the spectre.
What would be considered a judicial outrage today was the norm for
in the 1690's. It was not until after eight of the accused were hanged
in one day coupled with accusations being leveled at the more prominent
members of the communities that spectral evidence alone became
"proof" of witchcraft.
It began in Salem Village (present day Danvers, Mass.)...
Known as Salem Village, it is here that the hysteria began. Rev.
Parris became concerned at the antics of his daughter Elizabeth and her
cousin Abigail Williams in January 1692. The girls appeared to suffer
blackouts, fits of dementia, often barking like dogs. Finding no
physical cause, Dr. William Griggs attributed the behavior to possibly
witchcraft. Little did he know what his diagnosis would unleash. Within
a month, the accusations began, the first arrest occurring on Leap
Day and snowballing through the spring. The first of the accused to die
was Sarah Osburne who perished in prison in May. She would not be the
On June 10, 1692, Margaret Bishop was the first to be hanged for the
of witchcraft. She continued to proclaim her innocence while being led
to the gallows. In the four months, from June to September of 1692,
people met their end. Nineteen were hanged at Gallows Hill and the
Giles Cory was pressed to death outside the Salem Jail. It took two
for him to die. There are stories that two dogs were also hanged.
...And spread to Andover (present day North Andover, Mass.)
Joseph Ballard was certain that his ailing wife was being bewitched.
In July of 1692, he brought Ann Putnam and Mary Walcott, "noxious
from Salem Village, to discover the identity of his wife's tormentors.
Fueled by fear, residents turned on one another with a vengeance. Old
resurfaced and slights of the past remembered. Suspicion became the
According to the Andover Historical Society, the little Parish of
holds the distinction of having the most residents accused of
than any other community, the most confessions to the charge of
and the most children arrested for witchcraft. 80% of Andover's
were in some way touched by events of 1692. From the out of print book
Symbol of New England" by Claude M. Fuess, "The
of this visitation were extraordinary. The previous residents under
in both Salem Village and Andover had been definitely 'queer' or
or anti-social, like Martha Carrier. Every New England village has a
forlorn souls on the fringe of society who for one reason or another
not popular. Now, however, the two girls from another township were
not only outcasts and disreputables but also some of the most respected
citizens. Before this 'epidemic of audacity' was over at least forty
members of the community were under arrest one out of every twelve or
almost a decimation." Of all the accused in Andover, only one
person, Martha Carrier, never made a confession to the charge of
witchcraft. She was hanged Aug. 19,1692 .
Located in the First Burial Ground are the tombstones of an accused,
Barker, Jr. who was the son of accuser/accused William
Barker. Accuser Timothy
Swan is buried here
as is the Rev. Thomas
Barnard. Barnard was assistant
to Rev. Francis Dane, but it was Dane who spoke forcefully against the
madness which resulted in accusations of witchcraft being lodged
eight of his family members, more than any other family.
* This link provides a partial listing of internments at the Old Burying Ground: FindAGrave.com, (see below for information on the 1869 listing)
"It is false; and it is a shame for you to mind what these say that are out of their wits."
The chapter of the above-mentioned Claude Fuess book concerning the 1692 witchcraft in Andover begins here.
Another superior source is
"The Devil in
Massachusetts: A Modern Inquiry into the Salem Witch Trials", Chapter XV - The Devil in Andover
Salem Village Witchcraft Victims' Memorial at Danvers Map of Andover 1690's
Chronology and the Accused's Statements Court Records of the Trials
The Witch Trials of 1692 Rev. Francis Dane
* As a final note, many trees were taken down over the last few months. One large pine measuring 7 feet in diameter and 22 feet in circumference had over 200 rings. It's hoped that new trees will be planted so in a couple of centuries, it will look much as it did recently.
(* - updated 8/26/2008)