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Is Salem, MA Haunted?
Salem is a town located in the New England state of Massachusetts that is steeped in American folklore and puritan history. Intriguing stories of Salem being a town of witches dominate the Boston suburban town to this day. The rich history of Salem began in the seventeenth century, when certain townsfolk were accused and tried of witchcraft. Some were hanged for their supposed crimes. One man was crushed to death with large stones. The theories of what actually happened to the town during the Witch craze still abound. Some say it was ergot poisoning. Others say it was simply superstition and mass hysteria fueled on by a group of pubescent girls searching for attention. No matter what happened, one thing is for sure - Salem is not only full of modern day witches, it is full of Colonial ghosts.
The Haunted Salem Cemeteries
What lurks behind the weathered, wrought-iron cemetery gates of the old Salem cemeteries? Are they ghosts of mere Salem settlers, or are they the ghosts of the tortured souls who lost their lives due to accusations of witchcraft during the infamous Salem Witch trails in the late 1600s?
Loads of pictures have been taken by tourists while visiting the old Salem cemetery known as Saint Mary's Cemetery, and out of those loads of pictures taken, dozens have turned up evidence of ghosts haunting the old cemetery. Some visitors of this haunted Salem cemetery have reported seeing strange white lights floating around the cemetery, as well as bone-chilling sounds. Sounds of a dog running from within the haunted Salem cemetery have been heart, and also general feelings of being watched or stalked while walking through the haunted Salem cemetery.
Another very well-known haunted Salem cemetery is the Howard Street Cemetery, the site where a man named Giles Corey was pressed to his death by large stones during the witch trials and witch hysteria in the late 1600s. Apparently Giles Corey had been accused of witchcraft by the townsfolk and town officials and refused to admit to the charge of witchcraft. Because he refused to admit, the town of Salem was permitted to torture him by using large stones and piling them one on top of the other on top of Giles Corey. He died in the spot due to the stone torture and is said to haunt the Howard Street Salem cemetery to this day. There's an old haunted Salem legend that Giles Corey's ghost hates all of the town's sheriffs and will visit them from time to time, causing a specific feeling of weight being pressed upon their chests. It is said that many of the sheriffs since the sheriff who ordered the torture of Giles Corey have died of heart attacks while holding the sheriff position.
Rebecca Nurse's story is one that is sadly haunting, in more than one way. Rebecca Nurse was a woman in her early seventies who lived in Salem in the late 1600s with her family which consisted of eight children. She was very loved by the community and was considered to be a very faithful, pious church-goer. But the fate that befell Rebecca Nurse could have caused her ghost to linger on this earth for eternity...she was one who was hanged at Gallows Hill for unproven crimes of "witchcraft". There is a memorial for Rebecca Nurse and her house still stands today and can be visited year-round. There are those who say that Rebecca Nurse's ghost has been captured on film, haunting her house as well as her memorial. She doesn't understand why she died and may even want revenge...
Cemeteries in Haunted SalemClick thumbnail to view full-size
Haunted Gallows Hill
One of the women wrongly accused of witchcraft in the 1692 Salem hysteria named Bridget Bishop was the first person to be hung on Gallows Hill in haunted Salem. A dozen more innocent souls were loosed on Gallows Hill after Bridget's wrongful hanging.
Today the haunted Gallows Hill is a part of a field used for recreational sports; however, the locals and ghost hunters will tell you that this piece of land is very haunted. Could it be the ghost of Bridget Bishop or the ghosts of all of the innocent lives that were taken for no logical reason? We may never know who exactly haunts this wretched place, but we know for sure that something haunts it.
Gallows Hill is an infamous part of haunted Salem and will remain so. Dozens of ghost pictures and ghost videos have been shot on Gallows Hill throughout the years, and probably dozens more will be shot in the future.
I wonder if you stand in that spot at midnight, if you can hear the gentle swaying of a rope...
Haunted Salem's HousesClick thumbnail to view full-size
Haunted Houses in Salem
The House of the Seven Gables is a beautiful wooden mansion located in Haunted Salem. The mansion is also known as the Turner-Ingersoll Mansion, as these were the two families who lived in the wooden mansion since the 1600s. The famous American author Nathaniel Hawthorne was actually the cousin of Susan Ingersoll, one of the owners of the beautiful haunted Salem mansion. What do you think inspired Nathaniel Hawthorne to write his work The House of the Seven Gables? That's right, it was his cousin's Salem home.
Today The House of the Seven Gables is able to be toured and boasts a ton of artifacts and beautiful interior, and is also rumored to be haunted by Susan Ingersoll's ghost. A little boy's ghost is said to be trapped in the attic and can be heard playing on certain quiet nights. Faucets are said to turn on an off by themselves, as well as toilets flushing on their own. The ghost of Susan Ingersoll has been seen peering out different windows of the mansion and some wonder if Nathaniel Hawthorne's ghost doesn't pay his cousin a visit from time to time...
The Witch House in Salem is the last standing building directly linked to the Salem Witch Trials and is therefore called The Witch House. Although, there were no accused witches living in it, but the judge who would try some of the witches lived there. His name was Jonathon Corwin, and it is rumored that he might have held secret trials or witch torments inside his house. When my husband and I visited The Witch House last year, we definitely felt a negative presence there. If it's not the house itself, the witchcraft objects on display in the house could very well be haunted by spirits of the past. There are witch bottles, poppets, and documents from the Colonial times all detailing superstitions of the past on display at The Witch House.
The Joshua Ward House has been the site of numerous paranormal phenomenon, including a famous picture of a witch's ghost which I've posted here. The story goes that a woman was snapping a polaroid picture within the Joshua Ward House and when it processed, the bone-chilling image of a woman with black hair and a black dress showed up in one of the hallways of the mansion. Items are turned over randomly, as well as cold spots that make the hair stand on the back of your neck, are felt frequently. Some even claim that the house is cursed, as it was built on the foundation of the Sheriff who condemned Giles Corey to death in 1692 (Sheriff George Corwin).
With a long and tumultuous history, it's no wonder the whole town has experienced ghosts at one place or another. In addition to these creepy, hair-raising haunted Salem locations, there are dozens more. More and more ghostly occurrences are happening every day in Salem. No doubt on Halloween the ghosts of the innocent souls from 1692 will wander the town of Salem looking for a reason to right their wrongful deaths...
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Have you visited any of these haunted places in Salem?
© 2011 Nicole Canfield