October 6, 2011

The Witch Trials Did Not Happen in Danvers

              With so many awesome things going on this month it's hard to keep track. Just this week we have things like today's Haunted Happenings Opening Day Parade, tomorrow's midnight showing of Rocky Horror at Cinema Salem, free movies on Salem Common at 8pm Saturdays (Oct 8-Monsters, Inc., Oct 15 Casper, Oct 22 Hocus Pocus, Oct 29 Beetlejuice), and this weekend is the first street fair of the month, so vendors and street performers will be out in droves. 

Oh, and this Saturday is the annual Salem Zombie Walk so be sure and grab some corn syrup and red food coloring.

 I like the part with the zombies.

In Lords of Salem news, Rob Zombie is posting pictures of people on his Facebook (which at the moment is the best way to keep updated about the movie) as they get cast and the last one was for Dee Wallace. The interesting things is part is of what he wrote for the caption:

"With less than 2 weeks until the start of filming the cast members are coming on board quickly. The latest addition to THE LORDS OF SALEM is our good friend DEE WALLACE. Dee plays the role of Sonny, a self-help guru."

Now two things can be surmised from this quote: firstly, that her character to will die a horrible death, as anyone described as a "self-help guru" inevitably will (and should) in a  horror movie [update: She's actually one of the witches!], but the part that really got me excited was him mentioning filming will be beginning just before the last week in October. Are we still safe to assume they will be taking shots of the crowds and filming certain scenes that might be dependent on crowds right downtown in the midst of the October excitement? It's way cheaper than paying extras! And a lot of people don't know, the way that filming permits work in Salem is that you only need to obtain one if you intend to block off streets. That means they can show up any day with no warning at all!

Boo! Imagine turning around and seeing this?

So Salem has been all over the national and international news, blogs, little local news segments around the country - everyone is getting into the spirit, but the only problem is how many journalists and bloggers are quick to add a little snarky jab about how the witch trials didn't even happen in Salem, but the next town over in Danvers. 

This has always been a pet peeve of mine - when people hear a small amount of information and run around regurgitating it as if they are an authority. So let me take a moment to explain to anyone that doesn't know: the Salem Witch Trials happened in (surprise surprise) Salem! 

What is now Salem was then called Salem Towne which was the downtown area surrounded by smaller farming communities. The small girls who made the initial accusations were from a part of Salem then known as Salem Village which is now modern Danvers starting in January. Arrests and examinations started in March (The first three victims arrested Feb 29th). Essentially, these "examinations" were insane verbally abusive arraignments where the victim was faced with the charge and given a chance to enter a plea, but not really because they would just yell at the person more and the little girls would bug out. They were not trials.

Things were getting out of hand as more and more people were being accused and arrested. The governor issued a commission for a Court of Oyer and Terminer and they chose a courthouse in what is now downtown Salem in the center of Washington st to house these, the actual trials - which started in JUNE with the trial of Bridget Bishop, first to be hanged on Gallow's Hill (also located in Salem btw) . All of the more than 150 people found guilty of witchcraft were tried in what is now modern day downtown Salem. There is even a plaque there that no one ever notices.

In addition, the site of the Witch Dungeon, where the victims were brought from other prisons and jails in order to be tortured and outside of which Giles Corey was pressed to death is in Salem.

Yes, many notable figures from the trials were from Danvers, but if you look into it you will see that there were also victims from Boxford, Andover, Ipswich, even as far as Welles Maine. On top of that, if you do the math you will find that more victims were from Salem Towne than Salem Village so if it was a contest hooray we win..., more people died from here. ...Yippie. Not really something to be proud of, but I am just sick of people spreading misinformation around.

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