Salem, Massachusetts is my favorite town in all of the United States. I hope to live there someday, but in the interim, between the months of April and November, that's where I spend most of my weekends. I would like to say I know it inside and out, but Salem is a very mystical, magical place, and she doesn't give up her secrets that freely. For the time being, let's forget about all the bewitching shops and even about all the haunted tours. Let me give you the down low on some of the most poignant hauntings in Salem, MA.
The Old Burying Point Cemetery, also known as the Charter Street Cemetery, boasts many hauntings in Salem, MA. Its rows of stones, some too old to read, some knocked over and broken, some so pristine they may have been erected only a few years ago, each tell stories. If you take pictures there at night, if the moon and the mood are both right, you're apt to get quite the chilling, thrilling surprise – and I actually have proof of that!
The Burying Point is actually located right next to the Salem Witch Trials Memorial, and it comes as no surprise that this area is haunted. The memorial itself is beautiful and spacious, a bit like an outdoor cathedral – but the stone benches lining the walls that surround it each contain the name of someone who was hanged or pressed or worse, upon being branded as a witch. A total of 20 people – 16 women and 4 men – were accused of witchcraft, and it is fully believed that something of their spirits remain here, perhaps to impart their stories to visitors.
Located right at the top of Artists Row and part of much loved Derby Square, the Old Town Hall is also the site of a number of hauntings in Salem, MA, and not simply because of the wonderful History Alive! acting troupe who performs around it. To be sure, however, they likely do awaken the spirits that rest within the old building.
The Joshua Ward House has long been believed to contain spirits. Giles Corey's busy ghost is said to haunt its rooms – which must be awkward, since the man who was employed as the sheriff during the witch trials is also believed to haunt the house. As if that wasn't enough, there are also reports of a very angry, elderly woman specifically haunting the stairs in the house.
The Hawthorne Hotel is one of the most haunted hotels in all of Salem, in part because it is believed that the spirits of both residents and visitors remain in the building. Though named after Nathaniel Hawthorne, however, it is not haunted by the author. Today, items are mysteriously rearranged in the hotel, causing employees to get in trouble. In particular, the scent of apples sometimes rises up out of nowhere, causing believers to be certain that Bridget Bishop, who was hanged on – and thus also haunts – Gallows Hill, is making her presence known at the hotel as well.
It's perhaps fitting that so many hauntings in Salem, MA, take place at the House of the Seven Gables. Locals are more apt to call the house the Turner-Ingersoll Mansion, in reference to two families who actually lived there. Members of the Ingersoll family were related to Nathaniel Hawthorne but, again, he is not on record as haunting the house. Rather, his cousin Susan is believed to roam the halls – and has actually been seen – while other visitors report hearing a young lad playing in the attic. As well, sometimes the lights and the faucet turn off and on at will.
The Salem Jail was home to myriad atrocities, and now it is home to several spirits. Naturally, many of the hauntings are caused by prisoners – both those who died there, and those who were left to die. I haven't ever seen any ghostly activity myself – but I can say that every time I walk past the sprawling structure, the hairs on my arms and the back of my neck lifts, and the strangest, kind of electrical feeling overtakes me...
It's hard to pick just a few hauntings in Salem, MA. If you forget the tourist trade and go exploring on your own, you can easily feel the truth of the matter. This entire city is haunted, and not necessarily in a bad way. It's a special place, magical not because of all the witch shops but because of its rich history. Have you ever experienced any haunting episodes, in Salem or elsewhere?
Top Photo Credit: TWE42
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