Our last order of business in Salem, Massachusetts was the Witch Dungeon Museum. What made this worth seeing was it touched more on what happened after they were found guilty.
Salem’s laws were unique to the rest of the states for witches. If the accused admitted guilt then their lives were sparred.
After being told that they would be shown mercy if they confessed, 54 of the accused witches admitted guilt. Families and friends often urged their loved ones to confess to save their lives. Families sometimes turned on one another. When Margaret Jacobs confessed to witchcraft, she implicated several others, including her grandfather, Reverend George Burroughs.
From February to May, events escalated until 180 residents had been accused of witchcraft. Formal action was taken against 144 individuals, who were often chained and thrown in jail for months under harsh conditions. At least 55 of the accused were tortured or terrified into admitting guilt. Neither the young nor the old were spared. Four-year-old accused witch Dorcas Good went insane after spending months in prison and watching her baby sister die while in jail with their mother, who was later hanged. Three women and two infants died while imprisoned.
Ultimately, 19 individuals who had refused to admit guilt were hanged and another was pressed to death.
Around the end of September, the use of spectral evidence was finally declared inadmissible, thus marking the beginning of the end of the Salem Witch Trials. Although spectral evidence, evidence-based on dreams and visions, wasn’t the only evidence used in court during the Salem Witch Trials, it was the most common evidence and the easiest evidence for accusers to fake.
Massachusetts Governor Phips, who had returned from the colony’s border, was shocked by the state of the trials. Already nineteen had been hanged and more and more influential and important people were being accused. One of these people was his wife, Lady Phips. The governor put an end to the trials immediately and dissolved the Court of Oyer and Terminer (to hear and determine ). He also released all those who had been accused but not yet stood trial. Finally, he established a new court known as the Superior Court of Judicature to hear once more the cases of those who had stood trial and been sentenced to death. He then offered apologies to the families accused of being a witch.
So I wonder if the Governor’s wife wasn’t accused of being a witch would Governor Phips had declared the witch trials unconstitutional.
Torture for the witches included being put in the dungeon with some cells only big enough to stand up inside. There was no luxuries for the witches.
We then headed north, driving to Montpellier, Vermont to go to an eighth-generation maple syrup farm.
I learned that trees can produce maple syrup for many many years. The process to make maple syrup is a detailed process. It’s not just catching the sap in a bucket. They tap the trees with a drill in the early spring when the ground freezes at night and warms up during the day. It takes a lot of sap from a tree to make a gallon of syrup. The people who own the maple syrup farm are farmers. They can’t make a living on maple syrup alone. After a maple tree is planted it takes many years before it produces sap.
The sap runs for about 20-30 days a year. We had some maple-flavored ice cream that was very tasty.
Next, we drove to our destination of Stowe, Vermont. Stowe is a ski resort town at the base of Mount Mansfield, the highest mountain peak in Vermont. There is no snow here now. We did get to see our first covered bridge. Emily’s bridge is supposed to be haunted. The story states that on the day of her marriage, Emily was stood up at the altar. In a state of despair, Emily took her life at the bridge.
Many people who have visited the bridge have experienced disturbing paranormal activity. People have reported scratch marks appearing on vehicles that were parked on the bridge and being touched or scratched by Emily’s ghost. Often strange noises are heard on the bridge, such as footsteps, ropes tightening, and a girl screaming. Many have also reported seeing a white apparition around the area of Emily’s Bridge. People that have parked their vehicle on the haunted bridge say they tend to hear banging noises from Emily hitting the vehicle on the outside, or a dragging sound across the tops of their cars. The most distinct paranormal events tend to take place between the hours of 12 AM and 3:30 AM.
In the town of Stow, we saw the classic view of what you think of Vermont and its beautiful church steeples. We just need snow to complete the picture.