Historical Collections of the Essex Institute
Vol. LVII January, 1921 No. 1
"Where the Salem 'Witches' Were Hanged"
by Sidney Perley.
In 1867, appeared the work, in two volumes, on the Salem
witchcraft delusion, by Rev. Charles Wentworth Upham, pastor of the North Chunch,
in Salem beginning with page 376, of the second volume, in reference to the
place of the executions, he said:
"The place selected for the executions is worthy of notice. It was at a considerable
distance from the jail, and could be reached only by a circuitous and difficult
route. It is a fatiguing enterprise to get at it now, although many passages
that approach it from some directions have since been opened. But it was a point
where the spectacle would be witnessed by the surrounding country far and near,
being on the brow of the highest eminence in the vicinity of the town. As it
was believed by the people generally that they were engaged in a great battle
with Satan, one of whose titles was 'the prince of the power of the air,' perhaps
they chose that spot to execute his confederates, because, in going to that
high point, they were flaunting him in his face, celebrating their triumph over
hire in his own realm. There is no contemporaneous nor immediately subsequent
record that the executions took place on the spot assigned by tradition; but
that tradition has been uniform and continuous, and appears to be verified by
a singular item of evidence that has recently come to light. A letter written
by the late venerable Dr. Holyoke to a friend at a distance, dated Salem, Nov.
25,1791, has found its way back to the possession of one of his granddaughters,
which contains the following passage : 'In the last month, there died a man
in this town, by the name of John Symonds, aged a hundred years lacking about
six months, having been born in the famous '92. He has told me that his nurse
had often told him, that, while she was attending his mother at the time she
lay in with him, she saw, from the chamber windows, those unhappy people hanging
on Gallows' Hill, who were executed for witches by the delusion of the times.'
John Symonds lived and died near the southern end of Beverly Bridge, on the
south side of what is now Bridge street. He was buried from his house, and Dr.
Bentley made the funeral prayer, in which he is said to have
used this language: 'O God! the man who with his own hands felled the trees,
and hewed the timbers, and erected the house in which we and now assembled,
was the ancestor of him whose remains we are about to inter.' It is inferrible
that Symonds was born in the house from which he was buried. Gallows Hill, now
'Witch Hill,' is in full view from that spot, and would be from the chamber
windows of a house there, at any time, even in the season when intervening trees
were in their fullest foliage, while no other spot in that direction would be
discernible. From the only other locality of persons of the name of Symonds,
at that time, in North Fields near the North Bridge, Witch Hill is also visible;
and the only point in that direction that then would have been.
"'Witch Hill' is a part of an elevated ledge of rock on the western side of the city of Salem, broken at intervals.
" . .North of the turnpike, it rises abruptly to a considerable elevation,
called 'Norman's Rocks.' At a distance of between three and four hundred feet,
it sinks main, making, a wide deep gully; and then, about a third of a mile
from the turnpike, it re-appears, in a precipitous and, at its extremity, inaccessible
cliff, of the height of fifty or sixty feet. Its southern and western aspect,
. . sombre and desolate appearance admits of little variety of delineation.
It is mostly a bare and naked ledge. At the top of this cliff, on the southern
brow of the eminence, the executions are supposed to have taken place. The outline
rises a little towards the north, but soon begins to fall off to the general
level of the country. From-that direction only can the spot be easily reached.
It is hard to climb the western aide, impossible to clamber up the southern
dace. Settlement creeps down from the north, and has partially ascended the
eastern acclivity, but can never reach the brink. Scattered patches of soil
are too thin to tempt cultivation, and the rock is too craggy and steep to allow
occupation. An active and flourishing manufacturing industry crowds up to its
base; but a considerable surface at the top will forever remain an open space.
It is, as it were, a platform raised high in air.
WHERE THE SALEM " WITCHES" WERE HANGED
"A magnificent panorama of ocean, island, headland, bay, river, town, field and forest spreads out and around to view. On a clear summer day the picture can scarcely be surpassed. Facing the sun and the sea, and the evidences of the love and bounty of Providence shining over the landscape, the last look at earth must have suggested to the sufferers a wide contrast between the mercy of the Creator and the wrath of his creatures. They beheld the face of the blessed God shining upon then in his works, and they passed with renewed and assured faith into his more immediate presence. The elevated rock, uplifted by the divine hand, will stand while the world stands, in bold relief, and can never be obscured by the encroachments of society or the structures of art,--a fitting memorial of their constancy.
"When, in some coming day, a sense of justice, appreciation of moral firmness, sympathy for suffering innocence, the diffusion of refined sensibility, a discriminating discernment of what is realty worthy of commemoration among men, a rectified taste, a generous public spirit, and gratitude for the light that surrounds and protects us against error, folly and fanaticism, shall demand the rearing of a suitable monument to the memory of those who in 1692 preferred death to a falsehood, the pedestal for the lofty column will be found ready, reared by thm Creator on a foundation that can never be shaken while the globe endures, or worn away by the elements, man, or time-the brow of Witch Hill. On no other spot could such a tribute be more worthily bestowed, or more conspicuously displayed." Mr. Upham assumes that the highest point of Gallows hill was the site of the execution of the persons convicted of practising witchcraft, and then shows how the spot has always been difficult to reach,---even today with the several streets which have since been opened, it is, as he says, "a fatiguing enterprise to get at it." He apparently did not realize that Gallows Hill pasture was then and for a century thenceforth continued to be a part of nearly three thousand acres of wild public land, the northern point of which was at the junction of the present Boston and Putnam streets. The territory was so rough and ledgy that it was not thought of as of any use for nearly half a century after 1692, when it came to be used as a common pasture. There is no mention of any one being given the right to go into or upon it to remove trees or for any purpose, and it is inconceivable that, in 1692, there would be a path to the summit of the hill in which a cart containing eight of the victims could be driven thereto.
Mr. Upham says; "It is hard to climb the western side, impossible to clamber up the southern face. Settlement creeps down from the north, and has partially ascended the eastern acclivity, but can never reach the brink. Scattered patches of soil are too thin to tempt cultivation, and the rock is too craggy and steep to allow occupation. An active and nourishing manufacturing industry crowds up to its base; but a considerable surface at the top will for ever remain an open space. It is, as it were, a platform raised high in air."
A later writer on the subject of Salem witchcraft, Winfield Scott Nevins, refers to a certain statement made by Robert Caleb, a merchant of Boston, who came to Salem to observe the "goings on", and in a book, published in London in 1700, states many things that he saw and learned. This statement has reference to the conveyance in a cart to the place of execution of eight of the victims, and is as follows: "The cart, going to the hill with these eight to execution, was for some time at a set; the afflicted and others said that the devil hindered it, etc." Mr. Nevins says that this statement by Mr. Calef is evidence that the cart was proceeding to the top of the hill when it became "set" (immovable), and because of the extraordinary steepness of the hill it could not be taken farther. It seems that this statement cannot he thus interpreted, in the fiat place, because, if the reason of the cart being "set" was occasioned by apparent natural physical conditions, "the afflicted and others," would not have presumed "that the devil hindered it," supposing it must have been "set" by some unaccountable supernatural means. Then again, as Calef says, it was "set" as it was "going to the hill," that is, before it had reached it.
Mr. Upham suggeats that the people reasoned that as the devil was "the prince of the power of the air," this high place was deliberately selected as a stage where the executions could "be witnessed by the surrounding country far and near," and "in going to that high point, they were flaunting him [the devil] in his face, celebrating their triumph over him in his own realm." The writer doubts that the reverend author would have applied the same suggestion to the selection of Calvary as the place of the crucifixion, but certainly the Saviour's enemies were more deluded than the leaders in the witchcraft proceedings in Salem in 1692 in thinking that they were doing God service. In each case it was the devil who was the winner, ---in the first instance in removing from power the hand and voice of the greatest influence for good in the world., and promoting hate, unbelief and dissension; and in the latter case taking away the lives of innocent persons in a grewsome and awful manner, and vaunting the influence and power of personified evil in causing the clergy and the church to forget their labor of love and peace and faith, and instead to join hands with their eternal enemy in sowing unrestrained discord, brutality, malignity, hate, fear and terror. Rather, it was the devil's exhibition of his four monthly field days for the specially advertised season of 1692.
But, who had the selection of the place of execution of the witches? The judicial and executive branches of the law were distinct then as now; and the-executive arm of the law in this case was the sheriff, George Corwin, twenty-six years old. The writer does not think that it is likely that, at his age, he considered that the higher in the air he hung these human beings the more he was "flaunting" the devil "in his face," because he believed that Satan was "the prince of the power of the air." Neither does the writer believe that he even considered Calvary, although there are in some respects resemblances between the two cases. The crucifiers of the Lord led him to a spot without the gate of the Holy City, and on Calvary executed their will upon him. The church, through the act of excommunication, placed some of its brothers and sisters beyond its pale, which had been to them, as they believed, the very gate of heaven, and sheriff Corwin led the condemned outside the town and destroyed their Godgiven lives. North river, as it passed under what is now Boston street, in "BIubber hollow," was the limit of ,the town", as understood and recognized by the inhabitants at that time.
Neither does the writer believe that the sheriff relished the job. He was of tender years and belonged to a refined family ;-but he was the executioner and he had the task to perform, and it must be assumed that he attended it as quickly and simply as he possibly could,--by taking the condemned to the nearest spot of common land beyond the town proper and executing them. Boston street was the only way open to his cart, and he turned in at the first place he came to, and did his disagreeable and awful duty.
Of the spot whereon Mr. Upham states the executions occurred, he says: "It is mostly a bare and naked ledge. . . The elevated rock, uplifted by the divine hand, will stand while the world stands, in bold relief, and can never be obscured by the encroachments of society or the structures of art,--a fitting memorial of their constancy."
If it be true, that the executions took place upon this barren ledge, gallows for eight must have been prepared there, as eight victims were hanging at one time. It has always cost considerable money for labor and lumber to construct gallows, and it is inconceivable that the authorities would have incurred the trouble and expense of constructing gallows far eight when the victims could give been fed to the brutal rope one at a time, and the exhibition much more prolonged in this way . The records of the town and county have a been searched in vain for any reference to expense or order to procure lumber for such a purpose. The executions must have been upon the limbs of trees, which needed neither carpenter nor Iumber to prepare them for this cruel purpose; and trees of suitable size do not grow on bare ledges.
Mr. Upham says: "There is no contemporaneous nor immediately subsequent record that the executions took place on the spot assigned by tradition; but that tradition has been uniform and continuous." He does not tell, however, what the tradition is. He next refers to a letter written by Doctor Holyoke, in 1791, in which is mentioned the death of John Symonds, who was nearly a hundred years old, and who had just died in a house at the Salem end of Beverly bridge. Doctor Holyoke stated that John Symonds said that his mother's nurse at the time of his birth had told him that from the chamber windows of the house in which he was born, at the time of his birth,(1) she saw the witches as they were hanging. But this statement does not disclose the site of the house wherein he was born. Certainly it was not the house where he died, because that house was not built until 1730. Mr. Upham adds a statement contained in the prayer of Doctor Bentley, which he uttered at the funeral of this John Symonds, which is so singular and meaningless and inappropriate that it is hardly to be credited, ---that the man who built the house where the funeral was held was an ancestor of the deceased. From this statement of Doctor Bentley, Mr. Upham says, "It is inferrible that Symonds was born in the house from which he was burried." It is difficult to understand how such a statement is evidence that John Symonds was born in that house. His ancestor may have built a dozen houses, all of them after the year 1692, this one included. However, the statement is of no consequence, as the top of Gallows hill was never visible from the house where John Synnonds died.
The Symonds house in Salem in 1692 in which the father of John Symondsl lived was the ancestral home on North street, on the site which the Upham schoolhouse now occupies. But neither was the top of hallows hill visible from this house.
('John Symonds was born May 22, and only Bridget Bishop was executed June 10; and it must have been poor lone Bridget thatthe nurse saw hanging there.)
In none of his investigations has the writer discovered any tradition or record or other evidence which indicates that the alleged witches were executed on top of Gallows hill; and it is unreasonable in every aspect of consideration that they were.
In the course of his examination of land titles of Salem for the location of early grants and houses and roads, the writer reached "Blubber hollow". He found that the road, now Boston street, crossed North river by a bridge called Town bridge, which was built in 1640. Five years later, this bridge was rebuilt, and the road raised several feet, a causeway being made by an extensive filling. North river extended along Norman's rocks nearly to Highland avenue. Pope's court now crosses the location of the river. For many years this was a pond for a tide mill. Nearly a hundred years ago this section of the river, between Boston street and Norman's rocks, was filled. In 1692, the river was there in its full width (except at Boston street where it was partially obstructed by the causeway and bridge). The original road leading out of the "Town of Salem" ran up Broad street into the pasture, and at a point now included in the Bertram athletic field it branched, one branch of the road proceeding southward towards Lynn and Marblehead, and the other turned toward the west, passed just south of the High school building, crossed Highland avenue, passed just southerly of Norman's rocks, under what is now Looney's morocco shop, turned to the right through the gorge between the ledges, where the southerly end of Pope's court is now located, to the North river. It then passed westerly over the narrow space between the river and the hill until it came out where Putnam street now connects with Boston street.
The examination showed that all the territory southerly of North river and Boston street and for along distance up north river beyond Boston street was, in 1692, common public land, because of its unevenness and craggy and ledgy condition. The old road skirted it from Norman's rocks to Boston street and beyond westerly.
July 24, 1735, Samuel Pope, a blacksmith, sold his house and lot on Hardy street, and in 1737 was in possession of a house and nearly two acres of lead, formerly a part of the common land, over which Proctor street now runs, as shown on the plan (post), on which the Solomon Stevens house on Pope court and the ancient David Nichols house (now Gagnon house) on Proctor street now stand. Apparently, Samuel Pope purchased the land of the commoners at the time, and built a house thereon, having his blacksmith shop near the junction of the ancient road and Boston street. For one hundred and thirty pounds in province bills he and his wife Sarah conveyed the property to Moses Steward of Salem, bricklayer, Dec. 15,1737.(1) The land is described as funded by "the great pasture, so called." It would thus appear that the part of the pasture which included the highest hill was not then called Gallows Hill pasture. It was called the Horse pasture in 1753,(2) 1775(3) and 1785.(4) The first time it was mentioned as Gallows Hill pasture was in 1789.(6)
Moses Steward conveyed the estate to Thorndike Proctor about 1745, and the latter owned the house and land in 1753(2). Mr. Proctor was grandson of John Proctor who was executed for witchcraft in 1692. Mr. Proctor did not live in this house, which he apparently let.
The commoners proposed in 1747-8 that locust trees be set out on the common highlands, and offered to pay two shillings and sixpence for each tree thus set out. Mr. Proctor heeded the suggestion and set out some locust trees on his land that had belonged to Moses Steward. Mr. Proctor died in the summer of 1774; and one of the lots of land assigned to his widow Abigail Proctor, Sept. 18,1775 (confirmed by the court April 1, 1776, was "a peice of land, about one acre, which was purchased of moses steward, on which the Locust trees now stand, bounded as follows, from the well by the wall adjoining
(1 Essex Registry of Deeds, book 74, leaf 85.
2 Salem Town Records, Jan. 1, 1753, Meeting of the Selectmen.
3 Probate Records, Estate of Thorndike Proctor, docket number
4 Essex Registry of Deeds, book 143, leaf 208.
5 Essex Registry of Deeds, book 151,leaf 244.
) the horse pasture (so calls) runing about south east to a stake & stones, from thence about thirty feet North east to the fence running round the hill, the old wall being the bounds, she allowing the liberty of the road for passing and repassing." This mention of the locust trees as a distinguishing mark used to identify the lot shows that they were not similar to trees of that kind that were common, but trees that were for some reason different in themselves or in their use and generaliy known. Else, they would not have assisted in the identity of the premises.
John Adams, afterwards president of the United States, in 1766, had a sister-in-law living in the Ruck house, on Mill street, in Salem, and in passing from court to court and from county to county, in his law practice, he occasionaly stopped at the house of his brother-in-law Cranch. Under date of Thursday, Aug. 14, 1766, he wrote in his diary as follows: "Dined at Cranch's; after dinner walked to 'Witchcraft hill, a hill about half a mile from Crunch's, where the famous persons formerly executed for witches were buried. Somebody within a few years has planted a number of locust trees aver the graves, as a memorial of that memorable victory over the prince of the power of the air'. This hill is in a large common belonging to the proprietors of Salem, etc. From it you have a fair view of the town, of the river, the north and south fields, of Marblehead, of Judge Lynde's pleasurehouse, etc., of Salem Village, etc."
Mr. Adams may have walked to the highest part of the hill, though his description would probably have been as applicable to the lower hill where the locust trees were growing. Some things that he, omits to mention, as the harbor, indicate that he ascended the lower hill only. .
The following sketch was made by the writer in 1901, from a photograph of the hill taken from a chamber window of house numbered fifty-one on Boston street, which looks southerly, and which is also the view from either of the three most ancient Symonds houses in Salem. In the picture the buildings which appeared in the photograph were eliminated, and the river and ancient road have been added, together with a fence along the bottom of the hill and by the side of the road. The trees and shrubs are as they were in 1901. Where the old road and the fence by its side are shown, was built a railroad some fifty years ago; and the digging and blasting thus occasioned greatly changed the appearance of the side of the hill to the northeast.
SITE OF THE LOCUST TREES AND CREVICE
This sketch presents the location of the lot where "the locust trees stand" in 1775, which was then assigned to Abigail, widow of Thorndike Proctor, as a part of her dower. It lay between the road and the fence along the top of the hill and the whole length of the picture.
In 1901, Andrew Nichols, then upwards of sixty years of age, and now an octogenarian, said to the writer that his father, Dr. Andrew Nichols, the first president of the Essex County Natural History Society, who was born in 1785, who was an investigator and greatly interested in the history of the locality, lived at Central Square in what is now Peabody. Mr. Nichols says that when he was a small boy he often rode with his father on his professional visit, and once when he was about twelve year of age (in 1849), when they were driving to Salem, Doctor Nichols stopped in Federal street and looked back to the large trees on this lot of land, and said to him, "That is where the witches were hung." Doctor Nichols was born, reared and always lived among people who would be likely to know where the executions occurred, and he was a man who was positive before he made such important statements to his boy.
The writer then went to the place where he was told the trees had stood more than fifty years before to see if there were any stumps or other remains of any large trees at that spot. He met the owner of the land, the late Solomon Stevens, then ninety years or more of age, who lived on the lot, just beyond the left hand end of the picture. Through the infirmities and weaknesses of years, he was unable to talk intelligently, but his son and daughter said that there had been two large trees standing there, until about 1860, when the son felled them, and dug out the stumps, as the trees were in their garden. He pointed out the place where each had stood, on the near side of the fence running along the brow of the ridge or hill at the left of the picture, ---one where a little dot appears, and the other in the shrubbery about thirty or forty feet to the left of the first, at the very edge of the picture. The last-named tree (the one farthest to the left) stood in a crevice between the ledges. When the stumps were removed Mr. Stevens stated that he and his father pulled down into their garden all the soil that was in the crevice, leaving it as it is to-day. The fence passes over the crevice. Mr. Stevens produced from within his woodshed several short sections of the trunks of the trees, which had been there all those years, and gave the writer a small piece of one of them. The great fire came in 1914, having originated in front of Mr. Stevens' residence and swept away the house, shed, fences and the remaining sections of the old trees.
The writer has found neither evidence nor tradition that locust trees ever grew upon the top of Gallows hill; nor that a crevice ever existed there where the bodies of Burroughs, Willard and Carrier could have been even partially buried. The late Abner C. Goodell of Salem, ex-president of the New England Historic-Genealogical Society, and a student of the Salem witchcraft delusion, in a public meeting, a few years before his decease, stated that, occasionally for twenty years after Mr. Upham's work appeared, he had searched on top and on the sides of the hill for such a crevice or hole between rocks,--but in vain.
The finding of this crevice, cormbined with the statement of John Adams that the locust trees were set out to mark the graves of the witches, brought to mind the statement of Robert Calef, the Boston merchant, who has already been mentioned, regarding the disposition of the bodies of Burroughs, Willard and Carrier. Calef wrote as follows: "When he [George Burroughs] was cut down, he was dragged by the halter to a hole, or grave, between the rocks, about two feet deep, his shirt and breeches being pulled off, and an old pair of trousers of one executed put on his lower parts; he was so put in, together with Willard and Carrier, that one of his hands and his chin, and a foot of one of them, were left uncovered."(1)
It is a tradition in the Buffum family that from the house of Joshua Buffum were seen the hand and foot mentioned by Calef, and after dark on the evening of the day of the execution of these men Mr. Buffum went to the crevice and covered the exposed parts. Mr. Buffum then lived on the northerly side of Boston street, just easterly of Fowler street. He is also credited with having assisted relatives of the victims in removing the bodies from the places where they were buried to the river and in boats carried away to their houses. Especially was this true of George Jacobs, Rebecca Nurse and John Proctor, to the homelands of each of these persons there teas direct communication by boat. The low hill near the river made this method of removing the bodies the most advantageous. .
The distance from the house of Joshua Buffum to the top of the hill would make it improbable that a slightly
('Robert Caleb's -more Wonders of the Invisible World," etc., 1700 (edition of 1798, gage 213.) exposed hand or foot could be seen. In an air line the distance is about one hundred and twenty rods, which is considerably more than a third of a mile. Not only was the distance great, but the growth of trees, which must have existed to a greater or lesser extent in the common lands, would necessarily have precluded such a view.
From the house of Joshua Buffum to the crevice, in an air line, the distance is only about fifty-three rods, and the view unimpeded, as one had to look down the hill and over the marsh and river only.
THE JOHN MACCARTER HOUSE
When a boy,(1) Edward F. Southwick lived with David Nichols at this place, from 1847 to 1852. Mrs. Nichols was a Proctor, and a granddaughter of Thorndike Proctor, who was grandson of John Proctor, who was executed for witchcraft. Mr. Southwick stated to the writer and others, that both Mr. and Mrs. Nichols told him that the
(1)He was born Feb. 24, 1833.
witches were executed near the crevice. Mr. Southwick also said that an old man, who lived with Mr. Nichols, and who was named Thorndike Proctor and was a relative of Mrs. Nichols, used to take walks with him, and he also told Mr. Southwick that the witches were hung near the crevice.
An incident in the history of the house(1) which stood on Boston street, next westerly from the house on the westerly corner of Boston and May streets, and which was swept away in the great fire of 1914, is at least suggestive. It was built about 1685, by John Maccarter, a dyer; and was only about two hundred yards from the crevice on the small ridge or hill. If the hangings occurred where the evidence shows they did, in June, July, August, and September, 1699, Mr. Maccarter and his family had from the windows of their home the plainest view. The jails contained many accused or condemned persons who were to all appearances destined to pass by the Maccarter house and in plain view of the family be roughly and cruelly executed. What, if any, was the effect of the executions upon the minds of Mr. Maccarter and his family is unknown; but November twelfth of that autumn, he conveyed the house and lot for a price apparently far below their worth to Nicholas Chattwell of Salem, a mariner.
Returning to the statement of John Symonds who died in a house standing in Salem, at the end of Beverly bridge, that, at the time of his birth, his mother's nurse, from the chamber windows, could see the witches as they were hanging on the day of their execution,--the house where he was born must have been the original Symonds house, which stood on the site of the present Upham schoolhouse on North street, in North Salem. From the southerly windows of that house, one could look over the garden, marsh and river to the place where the locust trees stood and where the crevice is, the view being unobstructed by any natural thing. The hill appeared as in the sketch on page 12, that being the side which would
('Numbered nineteen on Boston street.)
have been seen from the original Symonds house on North street.
Herewith is given a plan showing the location of the various points relating to the subject matter.
THE WITCH TREE.
This does not refer to a tree upon which any witch may have been hung, nor perhaps to a tree that was in existence in 1692. A superstition prevailed in England in ancient times that a baby or young child would be immune from witchcraft if he were bodily passed through a hole in a rock or something else where the symbolism would be similar. Where the "witches" were executed in Salem a peculiar tree was noticed soon after the summer of the executions. The peculiarity was the division of the trunk afoot or two above the ground, into two parts, and the two parts grew widely apart. About two or three feet higher, the two parts grew together and became practically a single trunk. How prevalent the ancient practice in England of passing a young child through a hole to prevent him from ever being under diabolical influences was in New England is entirely unknown. Who was the first to suggest the practice in Salem is also unknown. It is true, however, that, for a long time after 1692, babies were passed through this tree for that purpose. The aged Mr. Southwick, already mentioned, told the writer that he had known of the "witch-tree", which stood between the crevice in the rock and Proctor street. Henry Safford, who was born where Ex-Mayor Turner now lives, on Boston street, July 9, 1793, is said, by his granddaughter, to have been the last child passed through the tree. The following letter, which was received by the write many years ago, relates to this tree :.--
11 Laurel Street, No. BEVERLY, Oct. 16, 1911.
Sidney Perley, Esq., . Salem, Mass.
I have bees very much interested in your article on the location of the site upon which the "witches of Salem" were hung. It fits in with information that has come to me from time to time.
My wife's great-grandfather at sometime way back lived where Ex-Mayor Turner now lives, and in the rear of that house was said to be a tree called "the witch tree". This tree had a large hole through the trunk and new born children were passed through the hole to protect then from the witches. My wife's grandfather was said to be the last one passed through. In the same line of argument, the Trofatters that lived above near the "big tree", and who claimed to have parts of this tree, always located the spot on the hill in the rear and below the house. I have a small fragment of the tree, or said to be of the old tree.
It has always been a puzzle to me to make the location on the hill above fit in with the information that I had and I am very glad to read your theory of the location.
Very truly yours,
A. L Babbidge.