August 6, 2022 | Salem, MA
While in Salem, we visited several locations from the movie, Hocus Pocus, and took a Salem Night Tour which covered various witch trial historic sites, such as the town cemetery, prison, and site of the death of Giles Corey. The tour also stopped at the “haunted” home of the Peabody family, whose daughter Sophia married Nathaniel Hawthorne who wrote about seeing apparitions in the house.
Two in My Family Tree Accused
The first person accused was Susannah Martin, my 10th step great aunt.
Susannah was my 10th great grandfather George Martin’s second wife. Susannah was one of the 19 people hanged in Salem after being accused of witchcraft.
Her court documents may be read here: https://salem.lib.virginia.edu/n92.html
Her story, from the Macy-Colby House website:
The Witch Hysteria in the Puritan World
When the devil was thought to be behind every misfortune, it isn’t difficult to understand the witch hysteria taking shape in the repressive, Puritan society of Salem, Massachusetts.
The troubles began in January, 1692 when eight young girls in Salem Village (now Danvers, MA) became ill. The girls suffered from convulsions, delirium and developed strange skin afflictions. The townspeople of Salem desperately searched for an explanation. Their conclusion was the girls were being bewitched. And then the finger pointing began.
Susannah (North) Martin
Susannah (North) Martin was born in England about 1621, the daughter of Richard and Joan (Bartram) North. Susannah was living in Salisbury, Massachusetts in 1646 when she married widower, blacksmith George Martin, with whom she would have eight children. Later, they came to live in the new town of Amesbury, Mass.
George & Hannah Martin > Hannah Martin > Ezekial Worthen > Ezekial Worthen > Jacob Worthen > Rachael Worthen > Samuel Duncan Rowell > Judith Lucretia Rowell > James Franklin Gile > Evelyn Judith Gile
Accused of Being a Witch Three Times
The contentious Susannah was accused of being a witch on three different occasions; first in 1661, and later in 1669. When the Salem witch hysteria broke out in 1692, it was inevitable that she was again accused. By this time her neighbors were so upset with her because she was outspoken, she had a temper and she did not care what people thought of her.
Arrested May 1692
Susannah was arrested on May 2, 1692. She proclaimed her innocence throughout, but at the trial’s end, Susannah Martin, age 71, was found guilty and sentenced to hang on Gallows Hill in Salem Village on July 19, 1692 along with Sarah Good, Elizabeth Howe, Rebecca Nurse and Sarah Wildes.
The Ergot Poison Theory
In recent years, another theory has been presented that the bewitched accusers of Salem had in fact suffered hallucinations and other bizarre symptoms cause by ‘Ergot’ poisoning, a fungus affecting the rye crops. Ergot poisoning can’t explain all of the events that happen in Salem in 1692. Some of the behavior exhibited by the accusers probably was the result of mass hysteria. Others point to revenge and even fraud, as some of these women owned valuable property.
Pressed to Death
When it was over, nineteen men and women were hanged and one man, Giles Corey, was pressed to death with rocks. Four others died in jail awaiting trial. By May 1693, all the people accused of witchcraft that were still jailed were released, but only after jail and court costs were paid. This finally put an end to the hysteria of the 1692 Salem Witch Trials, but not with its fascination.
Susannah Martin’s Cradle on Display in Macy-Colby House
Displayed at the Macy-Colby House in Amesbury (see related post) is the wooden cradle that belonged to Susannah Martin (1621-1692). She and her husband George were among the first settlers of Amesbury, Massachusetts. (see related post)
The second person accused of witchcraft in my family tree was Mary Clements Osgood, my 8th great grandaunt.
Her story, as written later by her descendants, can be read here:
From Legends of America website:
Mary Clements Osgood (1637?-1710) – Born in England in 1637, her father was Robert Clements (my 9th great grandfather). When her father immigrated to America in 1642, five-year-old Mary was left with relatives. She later joined her father who was serving as a magistrate in Haverhill. When she married John Osgood, Jr. in November 1653, her father performed the ceremony. Of Andover, John Osgood was a man of prominence, who had served thirty years in military service in which he had attained the rank of captain, was one of the first settlers in Andover and a church founder, was the first representative to the General Court from Andover, and owned a considerable amount of land. The couple would have one daughter they named Constance [this appears to be incorrect]. Though Mary was described as a remarkably pious and good woman, she was accused of witchcraft. When she was examined, she was 68 years old. Though it is known that she spent some time in jail, she was later released, probably on bond. Her husband died on August 21, 1693. Mary lived until October 27, 1710.
From “Genealogical and Personal Memoirs Relating to the Families of Boston and Eastern Massachusetts” William Richard Cutter Published in 1908:
She was of the unfortunates suspected of witchcraft in the great delusion of 1692, was examined in Salem before John Hawthorne and other “Majestie’s Justices”, September 8, 1692, confessed, and was indicted January 1693, but recanted before Increase Mather.
After about four months imprisonment at Salem, she and four others were released upon petition of Mr Dudly Bradstreet.
Her court documents may be read here: https://salem.lib.virginia.edu/n96.html
The last stop on our Salem Night Tour was the Gardner-Pingree House.
Owned by the Peabody Essex Museum, the house was the scene of the grisly murder of merchant Joseph White, prosecuted by attorney and congressman Daniel Webster. The murder inspired both Edgar Allen Poe’s A Tell-Tale Heart and the local Parker Brothers’ game Clue.