Showing posts with label Gallows Hill. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gallows Hill. Show all posts

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Caves Whitcomb Farm Magic & Witchcraft Littleton MA

Whitcomb Farm (cave on the hillside, burial, barn & shale), Littleton, Massachusetts, May 31, 1932. From The American Antiquarian Society (AAS) library

House built by Jonathan Whitcomb. Nine generations of Whitcombs owned and operated the property as a farm. It remained in the family for 262 years, until 1963. Five members of the family served during Revolutionary War; two were killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill.

Read about field investigation, Dudley 1720 Witchcraft Affair, Rev John Eliot, and William Miller at Nashoba Hill: The Hill that Roars Vision Quest and Nashoba Praying Indian Village
More information
Picture Glossary of New England Lithic Constructions Featuring Nashoba Valley Area LithicsHistory of Middlesex County, Massachusetts: With Biographical Sketches of Many of Its Pioneers and Prominent Men, Volume 2 
Nipmuc Tribe
Littleton, MA Historic Plaques and Markers

J H D Whitcomb of Beaver Brook Stock Farm Littleton Mass was born June 15 1861 upon the farm. This farm has been in the Whitcomb family for no less than eight generations and the various members of the family have been prominently identified with agricultural matters In the fall of 1879 Mr Whitcomb completed the course of study at the Bryant and Stratton Commercial School at Boston acted as his father's foreman until 1883 He then purchased the herd of Ayrshire cows owned by his father and began business

In January 1984 he visited the Lakeside Stock Farm the great Holstein Friesian breeding establishment of Smiths & Powell Co at Syracuse NY and selected two very choice animals a bull and a heifer These animals were fine representatives of the breed and from the Aaggie and Alexander families the bull being Sir Rupert of Aaggie and the heifer Amy Alexander These constituted the foundation of the now widely known Beaver Brook Herd of Holstein Friesians which has been gradually increased until at present it numbers about fifty pure bred recorded cattle fifty pure bred Mr Whitcomb found in his early experience with the breed that it was considered too large for New England pastures but with trial and investigation this unfounded prejudice disappeared and he now finds it difficult to supply the demand As milk and butter producers Mr Whitcomb considers the breed has no equal and probably no family in New England has had longer or greater experience in milk producing than the Whitcombs For the past few years Mr Whitcomb has been a large and successful exhibitor at the Bay State and New England Fairs The high quality of his herd has here been demonstrated to the public by the many prizes awarded to its members by expert judges of the breed The blood lines followed in the breeding of Beaver Brook herd are those whose performances have been the means of their popularity as great producers Most prominent are the Aaggie Netherland Queen of the Hill and Clothilde families The leading sire of the herd Sir Netherland Soldene Clothilde is also of these lines and has the additional qualifications of much beauty and symmetry of form In the public competitions at the various fairs this grand bull has never failed to bring the highest award to Beaver Brook.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

What Ghost Hunters Found in Topsfield Hangers and Symbolism by Elizabeth Coughlin Two Great Articles

The story about a haunted New England home:

From The Village Reporter Newspaper     
November 19, 2008

This photo, taken by Leigh Cummings, shows a memorial for Mary Easty that is part of the Salem Witch Trials Tercentenary Memorial (dedicated 1992) in downtown Salem. It is adjacent to the 17th century Charter Street Old burying Point.\

Recently there has been a lot of talk about “unexplainable happenings” in the East Street area of Topsfield.  As stated in an Oct. 22 Village Reporter article, the show Ghost Hunters recently aired a show about a home in that part of town that has reported alleged hauntings.
Linda McKeehan bought the home from relatives 20 years ago.
Ghost Hunters aired the show on the Topsfield “Farmhouse” on Nov. 5 on the SciFi Channel after the show's production department came to town to investigate.
The crew stayed in the house overnight using cameras that could film in the dark, as they kept all the lights off in the house.  During filming, two separate doors violently slammed shut.  Initially the front door slammed locking a crew member out of the house.  The second time, the bathroom door shut on a cameraman who was following a cast member around the house.
Another incident occurred when Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson, the two stars of Ghost Hunters, knocked on a wall and asked whoever was haunting to knock back.  It did.
Perhaps the most visual finding was when a coat hanger flew across the bedroom and landed on the floor next to Jason.  Grant put the hanger back on the coat rack and once again the hanger went flying across the room and landed on the floor.
This symbolic connection was offered after the program aired by a descendant of Isaac Cummings, Leigh Cummings, who lives in Houlton, Maine.  Although he is not a believer in the “paranormal”, Leigh Cummings wrote in an email that, “The throwing down of the hanger (twice) is just far too symbolic.” 
Common thread

What does Isaac Cummings and the Witch Hysteria have to do with it?

The historic trail begins in 1652 when Isaac Cummings purchased 150 acres of land in Topsfield, later known as the Cummings-Hobbs-Bell place.  The acreage he bought would have included Linda’s home on East Street as well as others.

During the “Witch Hysteria” of the late 1600s, history tells us three local women were hanged as witches, Sarah Wilds, Elizabeth How, and Mary Towne Easty.

Both Elizabeth How and Mary Towne Easty, relate back to the Cummings Family.

The decision to convict Elizabeth How as a witch and sentence her to death was the result of the testimony of Isaac Cummings (2nd generation aged about 60), his wife Mary Andrews, their son Isaac Cummings Jr and Mary’s brother Thomas Andrews of Boxford, as well as others.  They testified that because they had refused to lend one of the How daughters their mare, it mysteriously became horribly abused one night later.  The mare ends up dying and the Cummings barn narrowly escapes a fire.  Elizabeth How (the wife of James How Jr) was hanged on Gallows hill in Salem on Tuesday, July 19th, 1692.

The second local Witch that was hanged and related to the Cummings Family is Mary Towne Easty.  Her niece (through her brother Joseph) married John Cummings in 1688 and two of Mary’s granddaughters, Abigail and Sarah, married Cummings men, both named Joseph (1712 & 1714).  Tragically in 1729, on Christmas Eve, Joseph died of smallpox and 17 days later his wife Abigail succumbed to the same disease, leaving five orphaned children.

It is also important to note Mary Easty’s sister Rebecca Nurse was also hanged as a witch and another sister, Sarah Towne Cloyes was charged but never tried.  In January, 1693 the grand jury dismissed the charge against Sarah.

Mary Towne Easty, who is called “Mary Easty, the self-forgetful” is known for a remarkable second petition she wrote in prison, awaiting her execution.  According to The Historical Collections of the Topsfield Historical Society, volume 13, written by Mrs. Abbie Peterson Towne and Miss Marietta Clarke, “This petition stands by itself and is probably the most remarkable petition in the English language.”

In part it reads  “I Petition to your honours not for my own life for J know J must die and my appointed time is sett but the Lord he knowes it is that if it be possible no more Jnnocent blood may be shed…”

Mary Towne Easty was executed on September 22, 1692 on Gallows hill in Salem.

At the end of Ghost Hunters both Grant and Jason reassured Linda that the “paranormal” things going in the house were nothing to be afraid of.  In their opinion the “ghost” was just trying to communicate with her. 

Although neither Mary Towne Easty nor Elizabeth Howe lived in the house that was featured on Ghost Hunters, it is important to remember the history of the land.  Some viewers said the hanger was just that, a symbolic reminder of the “Witch Hysteria” and the lessons to be learned from it.

By the way, both Lucille Ball and author E.E. Cummings, e.g., are descended from Isaac and Mary Andrews Cummings.  There is a cemetery in Topsfield, located on private property, that the Topsfield History book (History of Topsfield, George Dow) tells us holds over 100 souls from the Cummings-Lamson-Smith Families.  The Smiths are direct ancestors of Joseph Smith, Mormon Leader.

Photographs are the sole copyright of ©Elizabeth A. Coughlin.  Any questions please email

Kris Williams (seated on left) and President of the Topsfield Historical Society Norm Isler during their taped interview for the show "Ghost Hunters" to air sometime this Fall on a Wednesday night at 9 pm on the Sci Fi Channel. photo by Elizabeth Coughlin

From The Village Reporter October 22, 2008 This was the first article of 3

When Linda McKeehan bought her Topsfield home from relatives twenty years ago she had been warned not to buy it and at the time she did not know why, however, now she does.
For the last twenty years Linda and her three daughters have been experiencing unexplainable happenings in their home. They have seen lights turn on and off, doors shut on their own, sounds of someone walking up and down the hallway, coins dropping, children laughing, singing, banging, balls bouncing, objects moving, and the feeling that someone is watching. Most of these unexplainable events occurred while someone was alone in the house and usually at night. Linda explains, 'The most common thing is when someone is coming to the house expecting nobody to be here because they are checking on my home while I am away, and instead they hear laughing, singing and music."
Linda also talks about another incident where friends have driven up to the house expecting her not to be there and all the lights are on in the home.
For years her daughters have felt it too. One daughter explains, "I'll feel like someone is in the room. Sometimes the TV will go on by itself and lights too."
Linda, however does not always feel safe in her home. She explains, "Some nights I feel afraid, and two of my daughters will not sleep here alone over night."
All of these things are what helped lead up to Linda contacting the show Ghost Hunters.
A co-worker of Linda's had told her she should send her story to the show Ghost Hunters. A reality based show that appears on the SciFi channel on Wednesday nights at 9pm. According to the SciFi channel website, "This one-hour weekly reality show from the creator/executive producer of American Chopper follows a group of real-life paranormal researchers as they investigate hauntings throughout the country."
After several months of waiting and then some phone calls back and forth it finally came to be. On Friday October 3rd the team of investigators along with the two celebrities who lead the investigation, Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson, showed up at the McKeehan house to film the Ghost Hunters show. They filmed all night Friday and Saturday night until midnight. Linda says, "They really did a great job, they were fantastic. They were very sincere about what they were doing."
What they found during taping will have to wait until the show airs, sometime this fall, but Linda confirms that they did find things. In fact at one point the team got locked out of the house by a door that frequently shuts on its own locking people out of the house.
Perhaps the most interesting part of Linda's story may have come from looking into the history of the East Street area of Topsfield.

What history tells us
Linda does know some historical facts about her home from her relatives and neighbors. Her house was in fact a cottage house that was part of the working farm her step-father's family, the Pym family, had bought. The Pym family bought the entire farm, including the cottage, from Mr. John Lawrence sometime after 1937. Mr. Lawrence was a wealthy leather maker who was known to have entertained the Prince of Wales at his home. He had bought the property from the Robinson Family who owned 70 or more acres in that area of town. In the 1600's there was also a mill in that part of town, known as the Hobbs Mill, which was owned by the Hobbs Family.
Although all these historical facts are fascinating they still do not explain the haunted happenings occurring in Linda's home. That is where Norm Isler comes into the picture.
Norm Isler is the President of the Topsfield Historical Society. He was asked to be interviewed for the show Ghost Hunters in order to shed some light on the history of the East Street area of Topsfield.
What Norm explained was that houses back then did not have street numbers so it is difficult to know exactly where someone lived. However the Topsfield Historical Society has kept excellent records through the years. Some of these records can be found at the Topsfield Library in the reference section. Topsfield Historical Collections , start at Volume I and go up to volume 33 (1982). In the Topsfield Historical Collections Volume III, 1897, a Miss Marietta Clarke wrote this, "they do say that this last Hobbs House is haunted. It is a fact that a family left the house on account of the unexplainable noises heard therein. Doors opened noiselessly, mysterious footsteps were heard crossing some of the rooms. At times a fearful clamor broke out in the old blacksmith shop and all the spinning wheels were set a whirling."
What is fascinating about the writings of Miss Marietta Clarke from over 100 years ago is that it sounds a lot like what Linda and her family have been experiencing today. Although it may seem tragic not to be able to know which house belonged to whom, one can't help but find Ms. Clarke's historical document intriguing, perhaps even validating.

Sometimes...understanding the past helps to release the mysteries of today.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Gallows Hill: Where Were the Witches Hung Salem, Massachusetts

A Share from Daniel Boudillion 
The story of 18 people accused as witches in the 1692 Salem Witch Hysteria ends as victims at the end of a hangman’s rope on Gallows Hill, otherwise known as Witch Hill or Witchcraft Hill. You would think such a public and awful event at that spot would have made such a huge impression on people that the location would live forever if only in infamy. Yet today, the exact location of the hangings, and even which hill is Gallows Hill, is not precisely known.
The town of Salem did set aside a public park but there is still historical debate about the location of the site and the clues lead elsewhere. Let us see where those clues lead.

On the Road with the Salem Witches
Many years ago as a young man I traveled the country for a year. With me I brought a number of books to keep me occupied, and included were several volumes on the Salem Witch Hysteria. These were fascinating accounts of the bitter land-feuds and ministerial issues that polarized Salem Village. This was to erupt in 1692, with a supernatural twist, into a seething cauldron of persecutions, accusations, and executions.
The entire drama captured my imagination and upon returning to New England, I visited Salem to see the locations of the many events.  High on my list was Gallows Hill.  Little did I realize it would be 20 years or more before I stood on the actual place where the hangings occurred. 
 Salem Town: Witches Old and New
Although I grew up in Middlesex County, I had never been to Salem in adjoining Essex County until I went on my pilgrimage there.  Driving in on Lowell Street from Peabody Center, I crossed into Salem at the Old South Cemetery.  Here a sign at the town line informed that I had entered The Witch City.  What were they trying to say by that, I wondered?
                          Door of Salem Police Car
By the time I got to Salem Common and had a walk around, I knew.  Salem had made a tourist trade off the Hysteria, even though virtually all the characters and action in 1692 took place in Salem Village, which was renamed Danvers about 50 years after the hangings.  Salem Common was a dangerous place.  It was where everyone walked their dogs, and back then there was no such thing as "scooping."  I quickly renamed the place Dog Poop Park, a name that has stuck long after the town bylaws have changed to address that situation.
Salem Common
Watch your step!

There was a terribly tacky Witch Museum in a wonderfully old gothic building.  I walked in and promptly walked out.  Around the corner was Laurie Cabot’s Crow Haven Corner.  In case you don’t know, Laurie Cabot is Salem’s official Witch.  It was an interesting little shop in a spooky old Colonial house.  The ambiance alone was worth every penny of the herbs I bought to be polite. 

Crow Haven Corner & Salem Witch Museum
The Salem Common and Pickering Wharf area were a co-mingling of historical Witch Hysteria sites, and modern Witch and New Age shops. 
   Is This Gallows Hill?
As delightfully "witchy" as the Salem Common area turned out to be, I directed my steps to Gallows Hill.  The directions I had led me to a park near Proctor Street, near the intersection of Boston and Bridge Streets.  The park was named Gallows Hill Park and a nearby water-tower had a large official witch riding a broomstick painted on the side. 

Salem water-tower with Witch Logo

This must be the place.  I walked up the hill to the official "hanging spot" and looked around.  The view was magnificent.  But although it was an impressive location, and even a satisfying one, it simply did not line up with the facts I had learned from my reading.
Official Hanging Place on Official Gallows Hill

For one thing, the hill was steep, and the thought of the accused being transported to the top in a cart, as it is known they were, seemed ludicrous upon having ascended the hill myself.  Also, I had learned that Benjamin Nurse had rowed a boat from a creek near the Nurse Homestead, out into the North River, and then to the base of Gallows Hill to recover his mother’s body.  It only took one look to see that there was no waterway contingent to the North River at the base of the hill I was standing on.  There was no water at or even near the base of the hill  The closest water was a canal over a quarter mile northeast. 

Sunrise at Official Gallows Hill

This left me confused.  In my opinion, the hill simply did not square with the historical record.  I left feeling misled and puzzled over it occasionally in the ensuing years, but with no better understanding. 
   Salvatore Trento Takes a Stab
Twenty years later I bought Salvatore Trento’s Field Guide to the Mysterious Places of Eastern North America and was intrigued about this once again.  Trento asserted that the official Gallows Hill was not the correct location, much as I had suspected.  He proposed a nearby hill as the site, complete with crevasse and gallows footing stones. 
So off I went in July of 2003 to locate this hill.  I found it easily enough south of the playing fields in Gallows Hill Park, and about 200 yards Southwest of the water tank.  It is a low grassy hill sloping down on its southern end.  The north end was a knoll with a crevasse just over the side (history tells us the bodies were dumped in such places).  The hill even had easy cart access up the south side from Colby Street, which looked liked it may have been a road back in the hanging times. 
Trento's Gallows Hill
I was pleased with this discovery, but the fact that this hill was even farther away from the closest waterway to North River was disconcerting.  It was over a half mile to the canal in fact.  I wondered how Trento reconciled this fact with the site’s location.

Top of Trento's Gallows Hill

So I went back to the books and refreshed my grasp of the known facts. Several things immediately invalidated the Trento site. First, he says the footing stones for the gallows are still visible. I have seen the stones he talks about, but the problem is that the accused were not hung on a gallows. Rather, they were hung from the branches of trees. Researchers have combed the meticulous records of the trial era, and not one mention was found of a gallows, and more tellingly, there is no record of the cost to purchase wood and construct such a gallows.

Correct and Incorrect Salem Witch Hanging Depictions

Also, the accused were brought to the top of the hill in a cart.  Although that is quite doable at the Trento site, the approach is from the Colby Street area, and it is known that the actual route went over Town Bridge at what is now the intersection of Boston Street and Bridge Street, and thence up the hill.  The Trento site does not fit with this fact either. 
Disappointed, I determined to find out once and for all the actual location. 
   Collective Amnesia
The more I researched and investigated, the more apparent it become that the official Gallows Hill site is only a probable site.  Rev. Charles Upham chose what is known today as Gallows Hill as the probable hanging site in his 1867 book Salem Witchcraft.  Historians and officials have followed his lead ever since, even though in Upham’s own words, "There is no contemporaneous nor immediately subsequent record that the executions took place on the spot." 

Upham's Gallows Hill

By the time of Upham’s writing, the actual site, wherever it was, had dropped from public consciousness.  The entire hanging episode was an acute embarrassment and shame to the community, and although the site was known to people, it was not publicly proclaimed or celebrated.  Rather, the subject, and therefore the location, was avoided and a kind of collective amnesia occurred in regards to the location.  People simply wanted to forget, and thus the location was "forgotten" too. 
However, it doesn’t help the tourist trade in modern Witch City to not have a true location of Gallows Hill.  Let the scholars argue as they will, but the hill that Upham chose has become the agreed-upon location for pragmatic ends, if nothing else. 
   The Perley Hypothesis
Fortunately, there are a number of scholars and researchers who have made a thorough examination of the facts and have come to conclusions more consistent with the historical record.
The most thorough and convincing presentation was made by Sidney Perley in 1921.  Like other researchers since, Perley was unable to "discover any tradition or other evidence which indicates that the alleged witches were executed on top of [Uphams’] Gallows Hill; and it is unreasonable in every aspect of consideration that they were." 
Perley did discover a number of important clues.  He was able to reconstruct the landscape and land ownership of Salem at the time of the hangings, making a number of maps.  A final and composite map of Salem circa 1700 drawn from his work was assembled by William Freeman and published in 1933. 
Freeman's 1933 map based on Perley of 1700 Salem showing actual Gallows Hill

Perley was also in possession of a letter written by Dr. Holyoke in 1791 with the following passage: "In the last month, there died a man in this town by the name of John Symonds, aged a hundred years lacking about six months, having been born in the famous ’92.  He has told me that his nurse had often told him, that while she was attending his mother at the time she lay in with him, she saw, from the chamber windows, those unhappy people hanging on Gallows Hill, who were executed for witches by the delusion of the times." 
Perley was able to locate the house Symonds was born in and found that it was impossible to see the supposed hanging site on the southern end of the hill, let alone Gallows Hill.  Ledge Hill completely blocks the view.  However, a nearer lower hill that better fits the facts of the circumstance was well in view.
Pearly's map showing actual Gallows Hill and Symonds sightlines
click for same map oriented to north

The known route from Salem to the hanging site is from Prison Lane (now St. Peter Street), then the long ride down Essex Street, thence a short ride on Bridge Street (now Boston Street), and over Town Bridge and then left to the hill. 
Town Bridge (now the Junction of Boston and Bridge Streets) was the recognized limit of the town in 1692.  The Sheriff of Salem, George Corwin, was given the authority to choose the execution location, the only stipulation being that it be done outside of town.  Immediately upon crossing Town Bridge, the lands to the left (including the official Gallows Hill) were all Common Lands.  Salem was built on a peninsula of land.  The only road out of town at the time was over Town Bridge.  Thus Corwin would have taken the condemned at least over Town Bridge.  Perley believes that Corwin did so, but no further.  Perley believes that Corwin took the immediate left after the bridge onto Proctor Street, at that time only a cart road skirting a low hill, and deposited the condemned at this little hill for execution. 
This site fits all the known facts.  First, it is over the town line.  Second, it is easily accessible by cart.  Third, the hill was of sufficient height that Salem was observable from it, a noted fact.  Forth, at the time, the North River extended in a large bay all the way to Town Bridge.  The modern canal is simply all that is left of the bay after it was filled in.  In 1692 the Town Bridge crossed a small arm of the North River bay called Bickford’s Pond.  Bickford’s Pond abutted the small hill.  This fits with the story that Benjamin Nurse was able to row his boat all the way to the base of the hill.  Fifth, the small hill supported substantial trees, whereas Upham reports of the official Gallows Hill site that the "scattered patches of soil are too thin to tempt cultivation."  Thus no trees, and recall that there is no evidence of an actual gallows erected - so how were they hung, then?  Sixth, the hill may be plainly seen from John Symonds’s birthplace, exactly as his nurse said. 
   Evidence of the Locust Trees
In 1747 locust trees had been planted in the area.  According to President John Adams, who visited "Witchcraft Hill" in 1766, "Somebody within a few years has planted a number of locust trees over the graves, as a memorial." 

Perley's sketch of actual Gallows Hill

Adams was incorrect about them being a memorial, however the clue of the locust trees led Perley to inquire of the owner of the small hill if locust trees had ever grown there.  Indeed they had, although recently cut down.  No locust trees or memory of locust trees were found on Upham’s choice of Gallows Hill.
   The Witch Tree
An interesting side note is that there was a so-called "Witch Tree" on the Perley site as late as 1793.  This tree was not connected with the hangings, but was rather of an odd shape.  It divided a foot or two above the ground into two trunks that then grew wildly apart, only to reunite into a single trunk several feet higher.  It was the custom among some Salem residents sometime after the hysteria to pass new-born babies through the hole to protect them from witches. 


Nurse family tradition is that when Rebecca Nurse was hanged on July 19, 1692, that her youngest son Benjamin, then 26 years old, rowed his boat under cover of darkness from the Nurse homestead to Gallows Hill to retrieve her body.  This is not as impossible as it might seem, even though it was a 6 mile one-way trip.  For one thing, it was not unusual for Salem Village farmers to row into Salem Town. 

The route Benjamin would have taken started from Crane Brook on their property, passing east under Hadlock’s Bridge, then further east under the Crane River Bridge on Ipswich Road, and out into the Crane River proper, a tidal bay.  He would have continued rowing east to where the Crane River joined the Wooleston River, another tidal bay.  He would have turned South into the North River near Skerry’s Point in Salem Town were they original lived before buying the farm in Salem Village.  Down the North River, a tidal bay, he rowed, then under Town Bridge and into Bickford’s Pond. 

Crane Brook behind the Rebecca Nurse House

Proctor Street occupied the 20 foot wide flat between the pond and the hanging hill, which rose about 30 feet high.  Rebecca’s body was dumped in a crevasse on the face of the hill.  He would have retrieved her body from the crevasse and rowed back to the homestead where his older brother Samuel (who had adjoining property) and father Francis buried her in an unmarked grave. 

Nurse family Cemetery

   Will the Real Gallows Hill Please Stand Up
I had a feeling years ago that something was not right with the official Gallows Hill location.  It didn’t square with the facts as I knew them.  The alternative location that Trento proposed had even more historical problems.  It wasn’t until I worked on Perley’s material that I felt a proposed location fit the known facts.  It’s my opinion that Perley is the only one so far that has produced a location for Gallows Hill that is convincing.  Perley’s work seems historical proof enough, certainly more then Upham’s, but it has no official recognition.  Perhaps because a Walgreens occupies the site and it’s not a very tourist friendly location. 
   Witchcraft Hill
On November 19, 2006, I visited the Perley site.  It is located at the junction of Boston, Bridge, and Proctor Streets.  This intersection was actually Town Bridge three hundred years ago.  From here, turn onto Proctor Street.  Today Proctor Street curves up behind the hill, but back in 1692 it curved in front of the hill.  In any event, the hill is behind the Walgreens and the parking lot butts up against it.  Proctor Street used to curve along it face between the hill and the pond.  Walgreens is where the pond used to be.  The Witch Hill GPS coordinates are: 42.5180N, -70.9100W.
Walgreens at the Corner of Bridge & Proctor
GoogleEarth Image

You will notice that the face of the hill behind Walgreens is steep and rocky.  This is due to a since-removed railway that was put through along the base of the hill in the 1870’s. 

Base of hill behind Walgreens where the railroad was.

The digging and blasting changed the face of the hill from a smooth grassy slope to the current bedrock and steep ledge. 
The hangings took place on the flat of the hill directly behind and overlooking the parking lot near the hill’s northeast end.  This area is now a small grove of young trees in a Proctor Street resident’s backyards. 

The hangings were on the top of this knoll, in the center of the picture.
Here is the same location seen from the extreme far left of the above picture:

Actual Gallows Hill location from Perley's History of Sale Note the "official" Gallows Hill high above in the upper left side of picture (photo courtesy of Eric Lawison)
The crevasse is further down the length of the hill, near where Pope Street turns left past the Walgreens parking lot.  The actual location appears to be in someone’s side yard.
Crevasse in Perley's History of Salem (1924) and in 2009 by Eric Lewson
Photograph courtesy of Eric Lewison

View From Where the Witches were Hung
Photograph courtesy of Eric Lewison

At first appearance it is not an obviously spectacular or evocative location.  But the little tangle of oddly twisted trees at the top is a witch’s woods of sorts. 

The hangings were here in this "witch's woods."

Some quiet moments I spent there in early morning contemplation were revealing, however.  I had no sense of the deaths that occurred here, however, I had a sense of the collective amnesia of the place.  It is a place hidden, forgotten, and shunned.  An embarrassment and shame of a community.  There will be no markers placed here.   All it wants is to be forgotten.
If you visit, say a prayer for the accusers, not the accused, it’s their pain that lingers here.