With a history like this one, it's no wonder that Salem, Massachusetts, is a city filled with creepy stories and haunted folklore. In 1692, witchcraft hysteria swept through Salem, ultimately leading to the deaths of 20 innocent people during the notorious Salem witch trials. As he was being tortured, accused witch Giles Corey cursed the town and its sheriff, and now his ghost appears as a bad omen before terrible events.
But the town's trouble didn't end with the Salem witch trials. Pirates, sailors, smugglers, and bootleggers also made Salem their home, and their ghostly remains haunt everything from a basement embalming studio/speakeasy to the creepy underground tunnels that crisscross the coastline.
Read on for true stories of some of the many spooky and sinister things that have happened in Salem, and the ghostly effects from its tragic history that still linger today.
The Ghost Of Giles Corey Appears Before Terrible Events
Giles Corey was a supporter of the witch trials and even testified against his own wife, Martha. That all changed when he was accused of being a warlock (or male witch) himself. He refused to enter a plea during his trial, leading Sheriff Corwin to torture him in the hope of securing a confession. Corey was publicly pressed to death, and the extreme nature of his punishment led many to question the validity of the witch trials.
During his torture, Corey reportedly shouted at Sheriff Corwin, "Damn you! I curse you and Salem!" Four years later, Corwin died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 30.
Corey's ghost is now believed to haunt the Howard Street Cemetery, where he appears as a bad omen. Witnesses saw his ghost just before the Great Salem Fire of 1914.
Joshua Ward's House Was Built On An Infamous Sheriff's Land
Retired sea captain Joshua Ward had this brick mansion built in the mid-1780s. During the 1680s, the land had been owned by the notorious Sheriff George Corwin, also known as "The Strangler." Nineteen men and women were executed under his watch during the witch trials, and Corwin was infamous for his torturous interrogation techniques
After Corwin's sudden death in 1697, his family had him interred in the cellar because it was too cold to bury him and they were worried about Salem residents dismembering his corpse in revenge. His body remained in the house for several years before being moved to the Broad Street Cemetery.
Several ghosts now reportedly haunt the spot where Joshua Ward's house now stands, including Corwin himself and the spirit of one of his victims, Giles Corey. The angry ghost of a woman with wild black hair has also been seen; she's believed to be another victim of the witch trials.
The House Of The Seven Gables Is Haunted By Its Former Owner
The famed House of the Seven Gables was built by sea captain John Turner in 1668, and three generations of the Turner family lived there before it was sold. The new owner, Captain Samuel Ingersoll, eventually left the house to his daughter Susanna, who was a cousin of Nathaniel Hawthorne. His visits to her house inspired him to write The House of the Seven Gables.
Today, it's said that Susanna's ghost can still be seen wandering the halls and looking out the windows. Strange sounds are heard, and the ghost of a friendly child reportedly lives in the attic. The house is now a museum, so you can make your own ghost-hunting visit, if you dare.
The Jonathan Corwin House Has Direct Ties To The Witch Trials
The Witch House (also known as the Jonathan Corwin House) was the home of Judge Jonathan Corwin, who presided over the Salem witch trials and sent 19 innocent people to their deaths. It's now the only structure still standing in Salem that has direct ties to the witch trials, and it's open to the public as a museum.
The paranormal hot spot was featured on Ghost Adventures and the investigators experienced cold breezes, felt touches on their arms, and heard the sound of a child's voice.