Site of Salem Witch Trial Hangings Discovered: Why It’s Important to Genealogists


Nineteen people were executed by hanging during the 1692 Salem witch trials, with a 20th being pressed to death to try to force a confession from him (to his credit, he never plead one way or the other, knowing the city could take his property from his heirs if he said anything). The tradition has long been that the victims of the witch trials were hanged on the summit of Gallows Hill, and their bodies were buried together in a shallow pit at the site, since, as convicted witches, they would not be allowed burial in consecrated ground in the city cemetery.
Yet, the story of the place of the hangings and what happened to the bodies is only that…tradition. While there is usually a truth behind historical and genealogical traditions, the real story can often get lost in the retelling. This is what happened with the Salem witch trial executions. Fortunately, new research has revealed the actual location of the hangings and the likely fate of the bodies of those who were hanged there. This is important to genealogists with Salem roots in several ways...