Tour Bakers Island Light Station

Salem Harbor is home to five lighthouses, three of which are in Salem:  Derby Light is part of the Salem Maritime National Historic Site, Pickering Light is on Winter Island, and Bakers Light is on Bakers Island.  The other two lighthouses are Hospital Point in Beverly and Marblehead Light.  You can see all of the lighthouses from boat (Salem’s harbor tours are great for that), Pickering Light and Derby Light are accessible by foot, and beginning on July 1 you can tour Bakers Island Light Station on a guided tour provided by the Essex National Heritage Commission.

Bakers Island is a 60 acre island that is primarily occupied by a private summer colony.  The light station occupies 11 acres on the northern side of the island, and tours to Bakers Island Light will include a beach landing, tour around the base of the lighthouse, and return trip to Salem Wharf.  (Note: Tours to Bakers Island Light Station do not include other parts of the island, and tour participants are strictly prohibited from leaving the 11 acres of the light station.

Visit EssexHeritage.org for complete information on visiting Bakers Island Light Station, and click here to purchase tickets, which can also be purchased at the Salem Regional Visitor Center or at the dock.

Weather permitting, trips will go out at 11 am, 2pm, and 4:30 pm daily. Tickets cost $35 for adults, $32 for children. The Naumkeag holds no more than 17 passengers, so advance tickets are recommended. Access to Bakers Island is via a beach landing on a rocky beach, and passengers must be able to disembark, walk across the beach, and walk up a steep incline to get to the light station. People interested in taking the tour should read all restrictions and the FAQs answered by Essex Heritage prior to purchasing tickets.

Click here for the history of Bakers Island, as well as additional reading.

 

Four Ways to Set Sail in Salem Sound

Being on the water has its advantages: Cool summer breezes, beautiful sunrises, and harbor tours to name a few.  Here are four ways to find your sea legs in Salem this summer.
Schooner FAME & Hannah Salem
1.  Schooner FAME of  Salem.  Climb aboard this wooden boat, a replica of the 1812 privateer FAME , which sails out of Pickering Wharf daily May-October. Check their schedule for sunset cruises, summer camp (fun!), and their Rum & Revolution series.  SchoonerFAME.com

2.  Mahi Mahi Harbor Cruises will take you out on their repurposed lobster boat, the Finback, or the larger Hannah Glover. Offering Cocktail, Sunset, and Narrated Sightseeing Cruises all summer long, you may need to plan a longer visit to Salem.  MahiCruises.com

endeavor_and_bowditch (1)

3.  Sea Shuttle offers harbor tours aboard the 45′ catamaran, Endeavor. Leaving from Salem Willows, Sea  Shuttle offering daily harbor cruises, trips to Misery Island, and special Fireworks Cruises.  Kids will love the touch tank, which always has a different array of sea creatures that came up in local lobster traps.  Sea-Shuttle.com

4. Salem Ferry is the best way to travel between Salem and Boston. Leaving from Salem Wharf at Blaney Street, the high-speed catamaran will have you at Long Wharf in Boston (adjacent to the New England Aquarium) in 55 minutes.  SalemFerry.com

Photo Contest Pick of the Month

Salem_Veronica_Adams_Photo_Contest

Our “pick of the month” favorite photo for May was extremely competitive! Thanks to everyone who submitted pictures. Good luck in the year-end competition in December.

The winner is Veronica Adams’ photograph of Bridget Bishop’s stone at the Salem Witch Trials Memorial. Congratulations!

Salem_Veronica_Adams_Photo_Contest

Think you have a winning image of Salem? Submit it to our Photo Contest!

Bridget Bishop, Hanged, June 10, 1692

bridget_bishop_stone_salemHysteria, wrongly accused for a crime you didn’t commit, tried, and hanged; try and picture what life was like in Salem Village, 1692.  The people of Salem Village had to face an immeasurable number of elements that constantly worked against them: unpredictable weather with no protection against the bitter New England cold, performed back-breaking daily chores their farmland needed, and maintained the mindset of the Puritan religion: the fear that the devil exists and might very well walk among us.

The courts during that time functioned completely different than the ones we know today, and allowed the inclusion of spectral evidence.  Spectral evidence was when the witness would testify that the accused person’s spirit or spectral shape appeared to her/him in a dream at the time that their physical body was at another location.  It was because of this “evidence” that 19 people were hanged and one man was pressed to death during the Salem Witch Trials of 1692.

The first person to be tried, found guilty, and hanged on June 10, was the innocent Bridget Bishop.  Bridget was known throughout the Salem area for her un-Puritan like behavior of flamboyant dress, tavern frequenting, and multiple marriages.  In an effort to avoid being hanged, Bridget admitted guilt and denounced her good name in the community.  She was found guilty by the testimonials of numerous townspeople (more than any other defendant) and was therefore executed on June 10, 1692.

– Margaret Kazan, Destination Salem

Spotlight on the Salem Witch Trials

The Trial of George JacobsWe commemorated the anniversary of the hanging of Bridget Bishop, the first victim of the Salem Witch Trials, on June 10.  The Witch House hosted an excellent lecture by historian Margo Burns as well as a brief ceremony at the Witch Trials Memorial.  Bridget Bishop was the first of twenty to be condemned and executed during the Salem witchcraft hysteria of 1692.

The Salem Witch Trials are a fascinating time in American history, and the stories of the victims and their accusers have withstood the test of time, holding the fascination of people from around the world.  Any great story changes and evolves as it is told and retold, and from time to time it is good to check back in with the facts.  There are many misconceptions of the Trials and the hysteria, as well as frequently asked questions, and the Salem Witchcraft Trials has inspired retellings in literature and film for centuries.

Here is our “top-ten” list of misconceptions, frequently asked questions, and favorite retellings.

It all happened in Danvers, not Salem.  The Witchcraft Hysteria of 1692 happened throughout the region, with accused and accusers coming from Salem, Ipswich, Gloucester, Andover, Methuen, and other communities.  Salem Village is now the town of Danvers, and some of the sites associated with the trials and hysteria are in Danvers.  Salem Town, modern day Salem, is where the trials actually took place, as well as the hangings and the pressing of Giles Corey.  The Salem Award Foundation has produced a Visitor’s Guide to 1692, which is available through Destination Salem, the Salem Regional Visitor Center, and several participating sites.

Gallows Hill is a soccer field today.  Maybe, but maybe not. There is definitely a soccer field up on a hill in a neighborhood that is called, “Gallows Hill.” That much is true. That said, the location of the gallows or hanging tree (we are not sure which was used) is not on any modern map.  We recommend people go to the Witch Trials Memorial, adjacent to the Old Burying Point, to remember the victims and consider the past.  Please treat the Memorial with respect when you visit, and note that the Witch Trials Memorial is closed between dusk and dawn.

The House of the Seven Gables was part of the Salem Witch Trials. The mansion does date back to 1668, so it was here during the trials, but the house itself does not have direct ties to the Witch Trials. The Turner family lived in the house in the 17th-century, and they made their fortune at sea.  Nathaniel Hawthorne’s great-great-grandfather was Judge John Hathorne, one of the “hanging judges” during the trials, and his involvement with the Witchcraft Hysteria drove Hawthorne to add the w to his name and write The House of the Seven Gables, which is fiction.

The victims really were witches. Doubtful.  It is equally doubtful that the accusers were witches.  The Salem Witchcraft Trials were a social hysteria that spun out of control.

The accused were “swum” to determine if they were a witch.  Not in Salem. The practice of swimming a witch was widespread in Europe, and it was used in Connecticut, but not in Salem.

Victims were burned at the stake.  Not in Salem.  Burning at the stake was punishment for heresy, a crime against the church, in Europe.  Witchcraft was a felony in the colonies, a crime against the government.

The Hysteria ended in October.  The Court of Oyer and Terminer was dissolved by Governor Phips in October, and a new Superior Court was convened to try the remaining witchcraft cases. The Superior Court condemned three additional people in January 1693, but Governor Phips pardoned them and all who were still imprisoned on the charge of witchcraft.  Not everyone was freed, however, as prisoners had to pay for their imprisonment before being released.

On stageThe Crucible, by Arthur Miller, is a remarkable play that is set in Salem in 1692. Miller wrote the story as allegory for the House on Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) that was having its own social witch hunt for communism in the 1950s.  The play is fiction, inspired by actual events and actual people.  Historian Margo Burns writes more in her essay, “Picky, Picky, Picky.”

On the big screen: Hocus Pocus is definitely fiction, but it sure is fun.  A bigger hit in DVD and on network television each October than it was in theatres when it was released in 1993, the story of the Sanderson sisters, starring Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimi is one of our favorites, and many of the locations where they filmed in Salem are still here, and were featured in the 2013 Guide to Salem Haunted Happenings.

In literature: The Heretic’s Daughter, by Kathleen Kent, is about Martha Carrier’s family. Told from the perspective of Martha’s daughter, Sarah, it is a wonderful work of fiction inspired by actual events.  Katherine Howe’s novel, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, is also an engaging work of historical fiction inspired by the events of 1692.

Resources and References:

The Salem Award Foundation gives the Salem Award for Human Rights and Social Justice annually and maintains the Witch Trials Memorial.

The Salem Witch Museum FAQ Page, Witch Trials Weekly, and Miscellany

Salem Witch Trials Documents Archive and Transcription Project, University of Virginia

17thc.us, Historian Margo Burns

Books:

Witch-Hunting in Seventeenth Century New England, David D. Hall

In the Devil’s Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692, Mary Beth Norton

The Salem Witch Trials: A Day-By-Day Chronicle of a Community under Siege, Marilynne K. Roach

Records of the Salem Witch-Hunt, Bernard Rosenthal

Salem.org