Sunday, 26 June 2016


Salem, MA

Fort Pickering Light, Salem

In the summer of 1692, hundreds of people in this area were accused of practicing witchcraft, which was considered a crime at the time. The hysteria spread through communities as far north as Maine. These events become known as the Salem Witch Trials as the court was held in Salem Town.

Although the Puritans, who were Protestants that tried to reform the Church of England from anything Roman Catholic, believed in witchcraft, none of the accused were actually a witch. Yet 20 people were put to death. They were victims of fear, superstition and a court system that failed to protect them. These events symbolize the tragic consequences of intolerance and injustice.

All people had to do was lay blame for a loss, illness or death which they said was caused by witchcraft with the local magistrates. If the complaint was deemed credible, the magistrates had the person arrested and brought in for an interrogation, where the magistrates pressed the accused to confess. Once indicted, the defendant went to trial, sometimes on the same day. There were four execution dates, with one person executed on June 10, 1692, five executed on July 19, another five executed on August 19, and eight on September 22, 1692

International Port

The witch trials seem to overshadow Salem’s more notable success. It was the sixth largest international port of the colonies in 1790. Salem’s customs duties accounted for 7% of the Federal Budget, while total customs duties accounted for 97% of the Federal Budget. Hospital dues were also collected for the relief of sick and disabled seamen.

Customs House

We were able to visit a replica of the Friendship cargo ship but unfortunately its mast is sitting on the dock. The original one made 15 voyages around the world selling dried cod fish and timber for pepper, spices, coffee, sugar, tea, silk and other exotic goods. Many people made a lot of money. Some captains were given permission to upgrade their cargo if they could trade what they had for something more profitable.

Eventually it will be on the water with all it’s sails up. If there are two rangers on duty, one will be able to take you below deck, but also there was only one when we visited. The Customs House is also open and you can see the large scales that were used to weigh goods.

The Friendship Cargo Ship
We did a national parks tour of two houses. One was a 17thC house, they excavated the pits in the backyard the owners had filled with rubbish to understand how they had lived. It had been shared by two low income families. There was one cold water tap in the kitchen and one bathroom, but no hot water.

The 17C house

The other house was an 18thC house was built by Richard Derby and given to his son as a wedding present. Elias, the son became the first millionaire of Salem. When he upgraded to a larger house, instead of selling this one, he rented it out. He started off looking after his father's business, then bought a few ships and a warehouse. During the Revolution he became a privateer. There seems to be a blurred line between that of a pirate and a privateer. A privateer is allowed, during wartime to attack foreign vessels and take them and their cargo as prizes, all under the authorization of the government with a letter of marque. The owner would have to purchase a performance bond, like insurance. What the government got out of this, I’m not sure.

The 19C house - Derby House an example of Georgian architecture

As we left Salem, we realised that we hadn’t filled up with diesel. Not all the gas stations have diesel, not all of them have canopy’s high enough for us to fit under nor can we usually get in and out successfully with the trailer on. With only 45 miles left of fuel which might have reduced once the computer had calculated that we had the trailer back on the back, we didn’t want to chance finding a station on the highway. So we got off, the first street we went in had nowhere to turn around until we went into a park with a gravel road, back out near the main road there was a space we could park the trailer, with a small square park opposite. So we unhooked the trailer and I took a rug to sit on the grass and waited until Lindsay got back. At least if anyone had a problem with the trailer being there I could talk to them.



  1. Your opening photo of the deep purple sunset and the lighthouse is gorgeous! Oh my, having to unhook the trailer to go get diesel.....better than running out of fuel, though.

    1. It wasn't too bad having to unhook, things are a bit tighter here over on the East Coast