Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Salem's Howard Street Cemetery

     There was no one else in the next cemetery we visited. The Howard Street Cemetery lies away from the Old Burying Point, the magic shops and the majoirty of the tourist attractions in Salem. We followed our map down a residential street, and crossed over to another.

     We followed the cemetery's fence for about half a block before we found an open gate. Around 5 or 6 o'clock in the evening, the day was just beginning to set, but there was plent of light in the cemetery. Like the Burying Point, the Howard Street Cemetery has many graves going back hundreds of years, but unlike the first burial ground we visited, many graves are more recent: from the 1800s through the early 1900s are present. 

      The land felt strange. Bordered by a Catholic church and school on one side, a municipal building on the other, city streets to the foot of the cemetery and the street of mid-century homes we walked up on the other. But in the midst of this city, this simple, long stretch of land with the occasional tree, and the graves of so many years, there was a much different feeling that the city's older cemetery. 

      Later that night, we would go on a nighttime walking tour, part histocial, part ghost, and the man who led the tour-- a wealth of knowledge I could have stayed and talked with all night (wearing a stove-top hat)-- told us a somewhat popular, albeit not well known belief that, among sensitive and spiritual people, there is a specific tree, now in the cemetery, that was the site of Giles Corey's horrific death. Accused of witchcraft while defending his wife Martha, Giles Corey refused to admit his guilt or deny the accusation. He was then crushed to death, while being tortured by having 32 boulders and rocks placed on his stomach. Earlier in the day, our wanderings had taken us in search of the address of the old jails, where the victims had been housed. If street numbers were even roughly what they were in 1692, the site would have been on a block housing apartments and a current municipal building-- just acorss the street from the Howard Street Cemetery. And while more than one source gives the cemetery as the land where the Giles Corey was killed, there is apparently no documentation on where in the cemetery that is. According to our tour guide, the spot is by a tree, to a corner of the cemetery now by a Catholic Church. And looking across from the site where the jails once where, one can see him being led out of the buidling and onto the land of the cemetery, to be tortured. 

     When we found this bit of information out, my feeling of the cemetery made more sense-- mostly. We wandered around the stones, taking pictures and finding the opposite end of the cemetery, where there is a steep drop-off on a hill. And we moved on, to take in what else in Salem there was to see.

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