Site of Reverend Higginson Home/Salem Witch Museum
Early in his ministerial career, Higginson had been strongly against the Quakers, but later regretted his stance. His became a more moderate view of human differences. As the witchcraft trials moved forward, he tended to stay out of the turmoil. He was involved with questioning 4-year-old Dorothy Good on March 26 after the toddler had been sent to prison by John Hathorne. Joining Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin in her examination, one might think Higginson was concerned for the child’s welfare. He was also present, along with Beverly’s Reverend John Hale, to observe the questioning of Mary Warren in Salem jail on May 12. Later, after the witchcraft trials were over, Higginson would write the introduction to Hale’s Modest Enquiry into the Nature of Witchcraft.
Despite his guarded views of the witchcraft accusations, Reverend Higginson’s own family was pulled into the fray. On June 6, an arrest warrant was issued for Reverend Higginson’s daughter, Ann Dolliver. Ten years before, she had married Gloucester fisherman William Dolliver, who had deserted Ann and their three children. Ann returned to Salem with her children to live with her father and stepmother. Sad and depressed, and, according to her father, “crazed in her understanding,” Ann would battle melancholy for the rest of her life.
Mary Walcott and Susanna Sheldon accused Mistress Dolliver of witchcraft, focusing especially on two wax poppets she had admitted to possessing. They also said Dolliver wished her father dead. When questioned by the three Salem magistrates Hathorne, Corwin, and Gedney, Dolliver not only admitted to using “counter-magic” with her poppets, but also said she used witchcraft “not with intent to hurt anybody” and also admitted that she had once stayed out in the woods all night. Although Dolliver was jailed, she never came to trial and returned to live with her father in his house on the Salem Common.
John Higginson was born in 1616 in Leicestershire, England. He arrived in Salem in 1629 with his father Francis, who became the first minister of Salem. Francis died at the age of 43 when John was only 13. John Higginson attended Harvard, and then worked and ministered in Connecticut until 1659. He married his first wife Sarah who was the daughter of the Guilford, Connecticut minister. His second wife Mary was the daughter of the Stratford, Connecticut minister.
On a sea voyage headed back to England in 1659, a storm forced Higginson’s ship to land in Salem. Ultimately, he never left Salem and was minister of the First Church from 1660 until his death in 1708 at the age of 92.
Additional note: Reverend Higginson’s son John, brother to Ann, was sworn in as a new Essex County justice of the peace on June 11, 1692. Despite the fact that his own sister was accused of witchcraft and jailed, and his father was less than enthusiastic about the trials, son John apparently believed in both spectral evidence and the touch test. He took part in a hearing on July 15 of Ann Foster of Andover, questioned in Salem Village. Accused of afflicting Elizabeth Hubbard and Mary Walcott, Ann Foster confessed to witchcraft, and claimed she was encouraged by Martha Carrier to carry out her torments. She was questioned four times, with Higginson present at each examination. Foster claimed to have worked with the Devil for six years, and told elaborate stories about flying to witch meetings and attending witch picnics, implicating Reverend Burroughs as the group’s leader. Foster would be convicted on September 17 along with eight others. She may have escaped execution because, as historian Marilynne Roach points out, “not all of the condemned could be executed at one time.” The last mass hangings took place on September 22. Foster was not included in this group.
Our present-day building was built between 1844 and 1846. Originally housing the Second Unitarian Church of Salem, this brownstone-and-brick Gothic Revival structure remained a fully operational church until 1902. Though the building was left uninhabited for a time, the exterior went through a series of minor changes, the most substantial taking place in 1925 when the octagonal towers were reduced from their original height to their present size. In 1957, the building was once again inhabited, this time by the Salem Auto Museum. When the Salem Auto Museum was damaged by a fire, the building was purchased by Holly and Tom Mulvihill, who founded the Salem Witch Museum. The ribbon cutting for the Salem Witch Museum was on May 6, 1972, and has taught the history of the Salem witch trials to visitors from all over the world ever since.
Photo credit - Tina Jordan
Ann Dolliver arrest warrant, from the University of Virginia Salem Witch Trials Documents, http://salem.lib.virginia.edu/texts/tei/BoySalCombined?div_id=n41;
Vintage image of the building when it was still a Unitarian Church, with towers at their original size.
Vintage postcard image of Second Unitarian Church, seen from Salem Common
The Salem Witch Museum and adjacent homes
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Originally part of Salisbury, MA (1640), “New Town,” on the left bank of the Powwow River (a tributary of the Merrimack) officially became Amesbury in 1668.
The Old Burying Point Cemetery, also known as the Charter Street Cemetery, is the oldest cemetery in Salem, and one of the oldest in the United States. Opened in 1637, it is the final resting place of several Salem notables. (King’s Chapel Burying Ground in Boston is the oldest, founded in 1630.)
The only structure still standing in Salem that has a direct connection to the witchcraft trials and is open to the public is the Witch House, on the corner of Essex and North Streets. This home, built circa 1675, was the residence of Judge Jonathan Corwin in 1692.
This church was established In 1733 largely through the support of the wealthy Salem merchant Philip English. English was accused of witchcraft in 1692, but ultimately escaped from prison and fled to New York to wait out the witch trials.
Located just off Charter Street, on Liberty Street, is Salem’s simple yet dramatic memorial to the 20 victims of the witch trials of 1692. This memorial was erected to mark the 300th anniversary of the Salem witch trials. The Witch Trials Memorial was dedicated on August 5, 1992 by Nobel Laureate, Holocaust survivor, and author Elie Wiesel, who noted, “If I can’t stop all of the hate all over the world in all of the people, I can stop it in one place within me,” adding, “We still have our Salems.”
Samuel Sewall, a justice on the Court of Oyer and Terminer, is buried beneath a red sandstone table stone in the northwest portion of the cemetery (Plate 18). The stone’s surface is inscribed: “Honl. Judge Sewall’s Tomb Now the property of his Heirs Philip R. Ridgway 1810 Ralph Huntington 1812 No. 185 Ralph Huntington.”
Hale built this house in 1694 and lived here until his death on 15 May 1700. A graduate of Harvard College in 1657, Hale became minister of the First Church in Beverly in 1665, a position he held for over thirty years.
In 1692, North Andover was known simply as “Andover.” It became embroiled in the witchcraft in July 1692 when Joseph Ballard brought several of the afflicted girls there to determine the cause of his wife’s illness.
Located at the intersection of Tremont and School Streets. Two people connected with the witchcraft are buried here. Also remembered here are: Major General Wait Still Winthrop, Thomas Brattle, and Thomas Newton
In this ancient cemetery, beneath an imposing marble table stone adorned with skulls, lies buried William Stoughton, the chief justice of the Court of Oyer and Terminer. Stoughton was born in 1631 and graduated from Harvard College in 1650.
By 1692, widow Mary Gedney was licensed to “sell drink out-of-doors” from this home, earning money that helped support her children. Mary Gedney, as well as her sister-in-law, both provided refreshments for the jurors and witnesses during the Salem witch trials.
Set back from Washington Street is the beautiful Federal style home built for the successful merchant Joshua Ward in 1784. The property has older connections that date back to the witchcraft trials. Today, visitors can still see ragged stones along the building’s foundation, which are all that remain of the 1692 home of George Corwin.
Judge John Hathorne was one of the most vocal participants during the Salem witch trials. Judge Hathorne lived south of the Town House/Salem Courthouse in 1692, on present-day Washington Street, a short walk from home to court.
Bridget Bishop was not the first to be accused of witchcraft but she was the first to be executed for the crime in 1692. At the time of the trials, she was married to her third husband, the elderly sawyer Edward Bishop. When arrested, Bridget was living on the property she inherited from her second husband Thomas Oliver, on present-day Washington Street in Salem Town.
In 1692, the Salem jail was located on Prison Lane, today known as St. Peter Street. The building, at the corner of Prison Lane and County Street (present-day Federal Street) measured “thirteen feet stud, and twenty feet square, accommodated with a yard.”
Site of Reverend Higginson Home/Salem Witch Museum
In 1692, the property where the museum and one building on each side stand today belonged to Reverend John Higginson. It is believed his home was located close to the street, approximately where the museum is located. At 76, Reverend Higginson was the elderly minister of Salem, assisted by the 45-year-old Nicholas Noyes. Reverend Higginson’s adult daughter, Ann Dolliver, was accused of witchcraft during the hysteria, and imprisoned.
Just down the street from the Reverend John Higginson’s property (where the Salem Witch Museum is today) was the home of his son, Captain John Higginson Jr. He was sworn in as a new Salem magistrate in July of 1692.
There were many taverns in Salem in 1692, two of which were owned by the Beadle brothers, Thomas and Samuel. It was in Thomas Beadle’sTavern, on the south side of Main Street (present-day Essex Street) and east of Salem Common that some of the accused were detained.
The House of the Seven Gables/Turner-Ingersoll Mansion
In 1668, sea captain John Turner built a multi-room house on the Salem waterfront. This house eventually came into the possession of Susanna Ingersoll, who was often visited at her home by her younger cousin, Nathaniel Hawthorne.
A simple memorial, designed by landscape architect Martha Lyon, was dedicated on July 19, 2017, the 325th anniversary of the hangings of Sarah Good, Elizabeth Howe, Susannah Martin, Rebecca Nurse, and Sarah Wildes. Embedded in the semi-circular wall are stones engraved with the names of the nineteen victims.
In 1692, convicted witches would be picked up at the jail, loaded into a cart, and escorted to the execution site by High Sheriff George Corwin, who would sign their death warrants. The path led south on Prison Lane (today St. Peter Street), right on Main Street (today Essex Street) heading west to the edge of town.