Hunting for a haunted home? The house of John Proctor in Salem, Massachusetts might be just the place for you. Proctor was the first man to be convicted in the the infamous Salem Witch Trials.
Salem Village in 1692 was contentiously divided between those who lived in the eastern and western parts of Salem and by a long a standing rivalry between two families, the Porters and the Putnams. The Porters were well connected with the rich merchants of Salem Town which was located in Salem's eastern section. Residents of the eastern part of Salem enjoyed richer farming soil and benefited from Salem Town's growing prosperity. The Putnams lived in the less fertile and more agrarian western half of Salem and had little chance to participate in Salem Town's commercial expansion. As a result they began to lose the wealth and political influence they had once enjoyed.
It was through the influence of the Putnam family that the Reverend Samuel Parris was chosen as the minister of Salem Village's new church. His rigid religious views, constant demands for financial compensation and bias towards the western part of the village only served to increase tensions and it was from within his own household that the first accusations of witchcraft occurred.
In February of 1692, Parris's 9 year old daughter, Betty began having uncontrollable fits as did his niece, Abigail Williams and their friend, Ann Putnam. Examination by doctors and clergyman led to the conclusion that the girls were bewitched. The first people accused of witchcraft were 3 women living on the margins of society but soon the number of "inflicted" girls in Salem multiplied and the accusations widened in scope to include more respected members of society. Arrests were made and the trials began. Was it a mere coincidence that the majority of accused witches lived in the eastern part of Salem or that the overwhelming number of their accusers lived in the western area?
John Proctor soon began to speak out against the trials and claimed that the "inflicted" girls were liars and fakes who should be punished themselves. After his own wife was accused and arrested, he became even more vociferous in his opposition to the trials. For his efforts he soon found himself accused, tried, convicted and hung. 18 others suffered the same fate until late 1692 when most clergy and citizens doubted that justice was being done. The terror formally came to an end when the colonial governor, who found his own wife accused, suspended all further trials and in early 1693 pardoned all those convicted or suspected of witchcraft.
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