It seems appropriate, as we head into the July 4th weekend, to stop consider some of the darker aspects of American history. Long before the Founding Fathers put pen to paper and declared the United States of America an independent nation, “the colonies” were overrun by superstition and religious intolerance. The witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts are largely considered to be the last gasp of the Inquisitions, but what most people don’t know is that the early witch trials happened not in Salem proper but in the township of Danvers. If you visit Danvers, Massachusetts today, you can find a monument to the 25 victims who died as a result of the witch hysteria gripping Salem Village in 1692.
The monument is located on Hobart Street in front of Gates Field and the Senior Center. Across the street was the original site of the Salem Village Meeting House, where most of the witchcraft trials were held before moving to Salem proper. The meeting house was part of the parish property of First Church, which is located just up the road from the memorial at the corner of Hobart and Centre streets.
The memorial was completed in 1992 and dedicated that May by town officials and the Salem Village Witchcraft Tercentennial Committee, which designed the monument to coincide with the 300th anniversary of the witch trials. Numerous organizations and individuals in town donated the funds for the project. In addition to the victims’ names, public statements by eight who were executed are on display as well.
If you are Pagan, Wiccan or a witch of another flavor, and are in the Danvers area during your July 4th celebrations, we encourage you to exercise your hard-won freedoms and stop by the Witchcraft Victim’s Memorial to pay your respects. The memorial is open to the public daily, from dawn to dusk. There is a parking lot to the rear of the site. For more information on the memorial, visit the Web site.
Witchcraft Victims’ Memorial
176 Hobart Street
Danvers , MA 01923