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House of John Procter, Witchcraft Martyr, 1692   By: (1836-1905)

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Transcriber's Note: Sections of this text have been quoted from historical documents written with great variability in spelling and punctuation. These inconsistencies have been retained. A list of corrections made to the 1904 portions of this text can be found following this text.







[Illustration: Map]



[A paper read by William P. Upham at a meeting of the Peabody Historical Society at the Needham house, West Peabody, September 2nd., 1903.]

It is now nearly forty years since I assisted my father, the late Charles W. Upham, in the preparation of his work on Salem Village and the Witchcraft tragedy of 1692, by collecting what information could be obtained from the records as to the people and their homes in that locality. In doing this I was enabled to construct a map showing the bounds of the grants and farms at that time. On that map is represented quite accurately the Downing Farm, so called, owned, in 1638, by Emanuel Downing, father of Sir George Downing, and occupied as tenant, in 1692, by John Procter, the victim of the witchcraft delusion. When I made the map I knew that John Procter at his death owned, as appears by the inventory of his estate, fifteen acres of land in Salem, but I was not able then to locate it with exactness. Lately, in making a more complete study of the records relating to the Downing farm and the surrounding lands I have learned the exact situation of the fifteen acre lot owned by him, and also that he had a house upon it as early as 1682 and until his death in 1692. It appears that this lot is the place where he was buried, according to the family tradition, although the knowledge as to its being once owned by him seems to have passed out of the neighborhood for more than a century.

This lot is indicated, on the accompanying map of the locality which I have drawn for the purpose, by heavy dark lines. It was on the north side of Lowell Street in West Peabody, just west of the westernmost line of the Downing Farm and about one hundred and fifty rods east from the place of this meeting, which is the Needham homestead on the Newburyport Turnpike, or Newbury Street as it is now called, marked on the map as then, in 1692, the home of Anthony Needham, Junior.

The discovery that this was John Procter's land called to mind a conversation I had with Mrs. Jacobs, an aged lady who lived in the old Jacobs house, now the Wyman place, and of which I made the following memorandum about thirty years ago:

"Mrs. Jacobs (Munroe) says that it was always said that Procters were buried near the bars as you go into the Philip H. Saunders place. Mr. James Marsh says he always heard that John Procter, of witch time, was buried there."

Upon inquiring lately of Mrs. Osborn, the librarian of the Peabody Historical Society, as to what was the family tradition, I learned that it was said by Mrs. Hannah B. Mansfield, of Danvers, that John Procter was buried "opposite to the Colcord" (now the Wyman) "pasture, amongst the rocks." In answer to an inquiry by Mrs. Osborn, Mrs. Mansfield wrote to her as follows: "A great aunt took me, when a little girl, with her to a spot in a rocky hill where she picked blackberries, and said there was the place 'among birch trees and rocks where our ancestor of witchcraft notoriety was buried.' It was on the north side of Lowell Street in what was then called the Marsh pasture nearly opposite the Jacobs farm which is on the south side of Lowell Street... Continue reading book >>

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