A direct ancestor of a friend was hanged as a witch in Salem, Mass.
“My great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandmother,” said Mary Broas, “was accused twice.”
Susannah Martin was hanged on July 19, 1692 after being found guilty of causing damages through witchcraft by those who did not like her. Her husband successfully defended her the first time, but after his death, Martin was helpless. She was strong and defiant until the end. She laughed at her accusers and proclaimed her innocence. Though the Broas family does not have any direct information about this incident, their connection to Salem witchcraft was discovered by Mary’s brother, who traced their genealogy all the way back to Europe.
This October, out of curiosity and to connect with the history that linked them, Mary headed off for a visit to Salem. She stayed at a hotel called the Joshua Ward House, which was once the private residence of a sea merchant of the same name. It is said that this building was built on the very site where the dreadful sheriff’s house once stood. The infamous Sheriff George Corwin, who was nicknamed “The Strangler,” used to strangle his victims until near death before releasing them.
Perhaps for that reason, the Joshua Ward House is believed to be haunted. Mary didn’t believe in ghosts, but then something happened. In the quiet of the night, as she lay in her bed reading, Mary heard a woman crying outside her room. It was an uncontrollable sobbing. When she opened the door to investigate, no one was there. She asked others in the vicinity if they heard someone cry; no one had heard or seen anything. I wondered if Mary’s ancestor had stopped by her door to relay her story from long ago.