Salem's 'Witches' Finally Getting Their Due
City will honor them at site of hangings more than 300 years ago
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 15, 2017 1:50 PM CDT
Salem State University history professor Emerson Baker stands near the site in Salem where accused witches were hanged.   (AP Photo/Rodrique Ngowi)

(Newser) – In the late 1600s, three mass executions took place on a rocky ledge on the outskirts of Salem, Mass. Yes, the result of the witch trials. The city-owned site is undeveloped and largely out of view, but a new memorial aims to respectfully commemorate those who lost their lives because of superstition and intolerance, reports the Smithsonian. Salem Mayor Kimberley Driscoll plans to dedicate the site below what is called Proctor's Ledge on July 19, the same day in 1692 when five women—Sarah Good, Elizabeth Howe, Susannah Martin, Rebecca Nurse, and Sarah Wildes—were hanged from a tree on the ledge. In all, 19 people would be hanged in Salem.

The site gets its name from the local Proctor family. Wealthy landowner John Proctor became a victim of the historic hysteria after he condemned the witch trials and was hanged himself. His grandson, well aware of the site's history, later bought the land. Today, especially around Halloween, tourists flock to Salem to indulge in "ghost tours" and visit sites like the Witch House, where some of the trials took place. Salem is also now home to many practitioners of the Wiccan faith. Volunteers were cleaning up the site this weekend ahead of the ceremony, notes a post at Patch.com. (The actual site of the hangings was only recently verified.)

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