Posts Tagged ‘salem witch trials’

In the family cemetery on the Rebecca Nurse Homestead, there is a newer stone in the colonial style for George Jacobs, Sr. In documents regarding the Salem Witch Trials, he is described as an elderly (late 70s/early 80s) English colonist and farmer who used canes for mobility. During the 1692 Salem Witch trials, the afflicted girls, including his servant Sarah Churchill, accused Jacobs, his son George Jr., his daughter-in-law Rebecca, and granddaughter Margaret of being witches. George Jr. managed to evade arrest by leaving the Salem area. Margaret Jacobs confessed to witchcraft while being examined by the magistrates, naming her grandfather as another witch. Though Margaret later recanted her testimony and was in fact acquitted, her grandfather was tried, convicted, and sentences to die by hanging.

The executed witches were barred from burial in sacred ground and probably tossed in a common pit near the gallows, but Salem tradition has long held that some relatives returned under the cover of night to retrieve remains and bury them in secret. The Jacobs descendants claimed to have found George Sr.’s grave on the family farm in 1864. In 1950, developers discovered the grave while building on the property, and the bones were exhumed. While they cannot be verified as belonging to George Jacobs, Sr., the bones were those of an elderly man fitting his description. In 1992, 300 years after the trials, the bones were reinterred in the Nurse family cemetery on the Rebecca Nurse homestead in a 17th century style coffin.

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This is my 3rd post on my most viewed photos. I find it very enlightening to see what other people find interesting, and I also remind myself that more people would probably find more of my photos if I would keep up with labeling them.

The 7th most viewed cemetery photo in my Flickrstream is the breaking point I’ve been wondering about – up until this point, the grave markers have been famous because of what or who they commemorated, rather than for the markers themselves. And as I suspected, the first famous marker to get hits without necessarily marking the burial place of a particularly famous person is the Haserot Angel.

Haserot Angel in Snow

This statue has to be on of Lake View’s most famous, and it is only natural that my photo of it would receive a lot of views.

The next most viewed are back to famous people. First we have a monument to Rebecca Nurse, executed in Salem Witch Trials of 1692.

Rebecca Nurse grave

Next is the grave of famous suffragist Susan B. Anthony, a scan of a photo taken on an old cheap camera that isn’t really even readable.

Susan B. Anthony's Grave

Rounding out the top ten is the marker for Eliot Ness, whose ashes were scattered at Lake View Cemetery in 1997.

Ness Monument

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The internet is a strange place. People come looking for all sorts of things, and occasionally they stumble on my blog and photographs. About once a week I check on the stats for the blog to see what brings people here, and I probably look at my Flickr stats about once a month to see what photos are getting the most views.

For reasons that I have yet to fathom, my most viewed photo on Flickr is a fairly grainy shot of my grandfather’s hunting themed birthday cake that probably predates my birth. But what I wanted to look at today was my most viewed cemetery photos.

The most viewed cemetery photo of all (4th most viewed of all photos) is one from the Nurse family cemetery at the Rebecca Nurse homestead in Danvers, Massachusetts. It lists the names of the people who testified on Rebecca Nurse’s behalf during the Salem Witch Trials.

Salem Monument

This makes a lot of sense to me, as the Salem Witch trials elicit a lot of interest even today. My 4th most viewed cemetery photo is the stone cenotaph for Rebecca Nurse at the Salem Witch Trials Memorial.

Rebecca Nurse stone

Number two is my rather poor photo of the stone for Helen Pitts Douglass from Rochester, New York. I’m guessing it gets the hits it does because Frederick Douglass, her husband, is mentioned in the description.

Grave of Helen Pitts Douglass

The third and fifth most viewed cemetery photos are for Confederate general’s graves in the same town: Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee.

Stonewall Jackson's grave

Robert E. Lee's tomb

These photos, poor as many of them are, have received well over 100 views each. I’m going to revisit this again, because I am curious about what photos of mine that aren’t of famous people’s graves get visitors.

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During the women’s history roadtrip, we visited sites associated with the Salem witch trials, including the Rebecca Nurse Homestead and the Salem Witch Trials Memorial.

Rebecca Nurse home

Rebecca Nurse was a 71 year old woman at the time of the Salem Witch Trials.   Nurse was the matriarch of a large family and a respected member of the church and community.  She was vigorously defended by more than 40 residents of Salem (some of whom would later be accused of witchcraft themselves) who signed a petition to the court attesting to her piety and good character or wrote individual letters asserting the same.   The arrest of Rebecca Nurse for witchcraft has been noted by scholars as a significant moment in the witch trials – by acknowledging the possibility that such an upstanding member of the community could be a witch, the court was stating that anyone could be.   Nurse was initially acquitted, but then the magistrate asked the jury to reconsider their verdict.  The jury’s second verdict was guilty and Nurse was sentenced to be executed by hanging.   She, along with 4 others, was hanged on July 19, 1692.

The story of Nurse and her family is the focus of the film Three Sovereigns for Sarah. The Sarah of the title is Sarah Cloyce, and the film follows her quest to clear the names of her executed sisters Mary Easty and Rebecca Nurse. The reconstructed meetinghouse used in the film sits on the Nurse property and is part of the tour.

Salem Meeting House

According to descendants, Nurse’s children brought her body back to the property after her execution and buried her somewhere in the family graveyard on the property. In 1885, the Nurse family erected a monument in her memory.
Rebecca Nurse grave

The monument includes a poem by John Greenleaf Whittier:
“O, Christian martyr! who for truth could die,
When all about thee owned the hideous lie!
The world, redeemed from superstition’s sway,
Is breathing freer for thy sake today.”

The other side of the monument reads:
“Accused of witchcraft she declared “I am innocent and God will clear my innocency.”
Once acquitted yet falsely condemned she suffered death July 19, 1692.
In loving memory of her Christian character even then fully attested by
forty of her neighbors This monument is erected July 1885.”

Rebecca Nurse grave

Another monument, added in 1892, stands to those who defended Nurse:
Salem Monument

Rebecca Nurse’s second memorial is the Salem Witch Trials Memorial. In Salem, there is a memorial that was dedicated in 1992 to the victims of the trials. A small park adjacent to the Charter Street Cemetery (or Old Burying Point)  is surrounded by a stone wall. A few trees provide cool shade. Jutting out from the stone wall are 20 rough-hewn slabs, each engraved with the name and date of death of one of those executed during the trials. The entrance is engraved with the protestations of innocence of those memorialized here- – but cut off, explained to “symbolize society’s indifference to oppression.”

Salem Witch Memorial

Salem Witch Memorial

Rebecca Nurse stone

Photographs of all the individual stones in the memorial can be found here. Documents from the Salem Witch Trials can be found here.  While researching this post, I discovered a 3rd memorial that includes Rebecca Nurse: the Salem Village Witchcraft Victims’ Memorial in Danvers.

By the time the Salem Witch Trials ended, over 150 people had been accused, and 25 had died – 5 in jail, 19 by hanging, and 1 by being pressed to death with stones.

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