What if you lived in a small community for your entire life and then one day a group of teenage girls claimed that you were projecting an image of yourself into their minds, taunting and torturing them; that you are practicing witchcraft? No one else in the courtroom can see or feel these ’specters’ and yet the authorities are taking their words over your own impassioned pleas. For years you have been a good neighbor, a good friend, a good citizen but above all a good Christian. Indeed there are many supporters in the courtroom testifying to your good character. It all sounds so insane to you, how could this possibly be happening? But it is. Common sense seemingly has no place here and logic falls of the deaf ears of the Chief Justice William Stoughton. Sentence is pronounced: death by hanging for the crime of witchcraft.
The year is 1692 and before long you are led to a place known as Proctor’s Ledge. Your arms and hands are bound and the noose is placed around your neck. Your legs quiver and feel like rubber; they can only just barely support your body weight out of fear. Soon they won’t have to. Hanging from a nearby tree is the body of someone you have known for years, someone you knew to be a good person but these are terrifying times and you are only two of dozens of victims that witchcraft hysteria has claimed. Salem and Andover Massachusetts became embroiled in this madness with 19 people being hanged, and six others dying in prison: Giles Corey famously being pressed to death for refusing to enter a plea at all. To make matters even worse Salem did not erect gallows for these executions; what they did instead was to force each prisoner to climb a ladder with the noose around their neck and at one point the ladder was "turned away", thus the hanging commenced and ended only after the accused either choked to death or blacked out from lack of blood going to the brain depending on where the knot landed. Before it all settled down there were hundreds of people accused of practicing witchcraft. Additionally, two dogs were executed: In October of 1692, an afflicted girl in Andover accused a neighbor’s dog of trying to bewitch her. The villagers shot the dog immediately. Only after its death did the minister, Cotton Mather, declare the animal innocent, reasoning that if the dog really was the devil in disguise, it would not be possible to kill it. Since the dog did die, Mather determined it was not bewitched and was therefore innocent. Around the same time, after a dog in Salem Village began behaving strangely, the afflicted girls of the village accused John Bradstreet of Andover of riding and tormenting the dog with his spirit. Although it was considered a victim, the people of Salem village killed the dog and Bradstreet fled Andover for the Piscataqua colony.
In 1699 one of the several accusers, Ann Putnam jr. stood up in church and made the following statement: I desire to be humbled before God for that sad and humbling providence that befell my father's family in the year about ninety-two; that I, then being in my childhood, should, by such a providence of God, be made an instrument for the accusing of several persons of a grievous crime, whereby their lives were taken away from them, whom, now I have just grounds and good reason to believe they were innocent persons; and that it was a great delusion of Satan that deceived me in that sad time, whereby I justly fear I have been instrumental, with others, though ignorantly and unwittingly, to bring upon myself and this land the guilt of innocent blood; though, what was said or done by me against any person, I can truly and uprightly say, before God and man, I did it not out of any anger, malice, or ill will to any person, for I had no such thing against one of them; but what I did was ignorantly, being deluded by Satan. And particularly, as I was a chief instrument of accusing Goodwife Nurse and her two sisters, I desire to lie in the dust, and to be humble for it, in that I was a cause, with others, of so sad a calamity to them and their families; for which cause I desire to lie in the dust, and earnestly beg forgiveness of God, and from all those unto whom I have given just cause of sorrow and offense, whose relations were taken away or accused.""
With that it seemed Salem Village and Andover unofficially swept the matter under the rug and everyone wanted to forget. Before long the site of the hangings was lost to time and was not until recently re-discovered after piecing together diary entries from several people who could see the bodies hanging up 'on the hill'. There was only one place where each of these families had line of sight from their homes. In July 2017 this small park was created to pay homage to 19 of the innocent victims. Please spend a few moments here to honor these people and to pass on your blessings if you are so inclined. They were not unlike you or me; they had hopes and dreams and families. When I visited the site on August 26th, people had left roses and sea shells and crystals; all offerings of sorrow to those whose lives were unjustly taken from them during this tragic period of our history.
- Upload a photo of yourself (if part of a group, a group photo is acceptable) at the location with the monument and hillside in the background.
- Enter the monument and with the hillside to your back, find the stone that marks the entrance to your right. I have uploaded a PHOTOSHOPPED version of this stone and have the INSIDE face of it outlined with a red border just below. Message me how many drill holes you see in the actual stone (be careful to include one pretty close to the ground and again, these holes will be seen when you are standing inside the enclosure).
Virtual Reward - 2017/2018
This Virtual Cache is part of a limited release of Virtuals created between August 24, 2017 and August 24, 2018. Only 4,000 cache owners were given the opportunity to hide a Virtual Cache. Learn more about Virtual Rewards on the Geocaching Blog.