Published on the Salem Witch House Society (Facebook page)
Envision being arraigned for consorting with the devil. Reflect on yourself being placed before your peers attempting to convince your neighbor that you are not a witch. Welcome to 1692 Salem, MA.
A cradle of intolerance and religious persecution, Salem is a municipality divided; separated between the town and the village. The feud embarked when the inhabitants of the innermost section wanted to annul their loyalty from the coastal town. There came mumblings of discontent within the remote area of the village; they wanted their own church (and minister), wished to raise their own defense and desired not to pay taxes to the said town. Add to this, the settlers were besieged by Indian attacks. All of these matters were at the forefront when a group of adolescents, unexpectedly commenced delving in to their future.
We all remember the narrative: Betty Parris and her cousin Abigail Williams, with the assistance of their Indian servant initiated what was to became known a the witch hysteria of 1692. Still established within Salem is a tiny mansion once owned by Jonathan Corwin. Corwin purchased the dwelling in 1642, making it the oldest structure with a direct thread to the said hysterics. While the home does not have an association with the trials themselves it does provide a great resource into the lives of those involved. For example, the four–room estate had been thought a luxurious mansion in the mid/late 1600’s. What results must living in such close quarters have had on the onslaught of the witch hysteria upon this small community? There has been much research on the question of the outbreak, but very little has been presented of the denizens dwelling so close together.
As you stroll the footpaths within the Jonathan Corwin estate you can theorize what it must have been like. Not only do we catch sight of the objects within but we muse of those Puritans flourishing within the homestead itself. Again, with everything happening outside the community, the Puritan’s bosses always sensed they were in command of their family at least. When it was determined the people of Salem could not do this, did the family structure also have play a share in sending 19 innocents to their extermination?
The Salem Witch House, located at 3101/2 Essex Street is a boundless reminder of historical architecture, but it is more than that. It is a home that witnessed a community on the crossroads of destruction. Whatever the root of the hysteria this refuge is a remarkable reminder of what frustration and hatred can do; frustration at the world around and anger towards not being able to supervise the family structure.
As you move across the floors of the Jonathan Corwin house be aware that sometimes history does repeat itself; that we are merely a stone throw away form a witch hysteria of our own…