Bridgette Bishop was the first person to be hanged as a witch in Salem Village.  She was 60 years old when she was accused of sending her spirit into unsuspecting neighbors. Although she denied all charges against her, she was found guilty of practicing Witchcraft.

Bridgette was sentenced to death on this day in 1692.

Her simple grave is in Old Burying Point Cemetery in Salem, Massachusetts. However, her spirit is memorialized in legend and artifacts that transcend the physical properties of granite slabs. Parts of her story live in perpetuity in film, books and museums.

The Peabody Essex Museum in Salem archives many of the original documents from the Salem Witch Trial. The collection confronts the loss of Bridgette Bishop and 24 other innocent souls accused of Witchcraft. The realities of group-think and the ideological crisis-of-conviction hangs in the space dedicated to understanding this cruel chapter in American history. PEM has trial transcripts, invoices from the jail keeper, and the ordinary stuff of domestic life. It’s all so relatable, it’s chilling.

Across the street from PEM, on Liberty Street, is the verdant Salem Witch Trial Memorial.  Dedicated in 1992 by Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, locust trees line the space of remembrance and reflection. The Memorial includes the name of Bridgette Bishop and challenges visitors to question how far our culture has evolved on issues of decency and tolerance.

If your summer plans include day-trippin north of Boston, think of Bridgette Bishop, and travel through time while you ask yourself, “What could you do if this happened to you.”  Cool trip for a hot day.




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