In 1692, Mary Easty was arrested for the second time from her son Isaac’s house on the hill.
More About Peirce Farm at Witch Hill
Historian George Francis Dow says on page one of his 1940 book History of Topsfield, Massachusetts, “Like its namesake in the County of Essex, England, Topsfield has within its bounds some of the highest land in the county. The Pierce [sic] Farm Hill rises 280 feet above the sea level…” It appears that sometime in the 1980s, the name “Witch Hill” also began to be used for Peirce Farm Hill.
Long before the Newburyport Turnpike (aka Route 1) was built between 1803-4, this property south of the Ipswich River belonged to Isaac Easty Jr., son of Isaac and Mary Easty. Mary was arrested for witchcraft on April 21, 1692. She was released on May 18 when she was cleared of charges after her accusers started to have doubts about her guilt. Mary was re-arrested at her son Isaac Easty’s house on the hill after only two days of freedom, when accuser Mercy Lewis suffered such dramatic torments observers thought she might die. Lewis claimed it was Mary Easty who caused her pain.
According to George Francis Dow, “Aaron Easty, grandson of Mary, and son of Isaac Jr. was born in 1698, in the house on the hill. He married Esther Richards who lived to be one hundred years old and died in Topsfield in 1805. She told her children that Mary Easty was taken to prison, the second time, from the house on the hill, the sheriff coming for her in the night. This was stated to Mrs. Abbie (Peterson) Towne, by a grandchild of Esther Richards. Mrs. Easty was kept in prison for nearly five months, three weeks of this time in Boston, and during the entire period her husband visited her twice each week, carrying food and whatever she needed. … Her husband, while speaking of it nearly twenty years afterwards, called it an hellish molestation.”
A beautiful, three-story mansion stands on the hill today, along with a renovated Victorian-era barn. According to the Topsfield Historical Society, “It is said that one corner of the foundation of the present house is part of the foundation of Isaac Easty’s house.”
Lawrence Bond in his Houses and Buildings of Topsfield, says the house that stood on the hill in 1798 was remodeled in 1821 by Benjamin W. Crowninshield, Secretary of the Navy under Presidents Madison and Monroe. In the 1850s, the house and property were owned by railroad tycoon Thomas Wentworth Peirce, who created a 500-acre gentleman’s retreat. The Peirce family remained on Peirce Farm Hill until 1947, and then again from 1950 until 1975, undertaking more renovation and improvements to the house.
Today, Peirce Farm at Witch Hill, which was established in 2014, is an event venue. For more information, visit: www.peircefarm.com.
The mansion at Peirce Hill
The mansion at Peirce Hill, photo by Tina Jordan, Salem Witch Museum
The barn at Peirce Hill, photo by Tina Jordan, Salem Witch Museum
Looking north from the hill, Route 1 in the distance. Photo by Tina Jordan, Salem Witch Museum.
Another view looking north from the hill.