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House Of John Procter, Witchcraft Martyr, 1692
     

House Of John Procter, Witchcraft Martyr, 1692

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by William P. Upham
 

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HOUSE OF JOHN PROCTER

WITCHCRAFT MARTYR, 1692.


[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

Overview

HOUSE OF JOHN PROCTER

WITCHCRAFT MARTYR, 1692.


[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."

The Marsh pasture from which Mrs. Mansfield's aunt pointed out the
"birch trees and rocks" near by where John Procter was buried was, no
doubt, the pasture conveyed by James Marsh to Philip H. Saunders, 11
June, 1863, and then described as "thirteen acres known by the name of
Bates Pasture." I do not know of any other place near there that would
be called the Marsh pasture at the time Mrs. Mansfield mentions. This
thirteen acre pasture was conveyed by Ezekiel Marsh to John Marsh, 15
Oct., 1819, having been devised to him by his father Ezekiel Marsh. It
had a way leading to it from Lowell Street over the eastern end of the
John Procter lot as shown on my map. This way is still used as well as
the bars opening into it on Lowell Street a few rods east of the
westerly way leading southerly to the Jacobs, or Wyman, place. These
are the "bars as you go into the Philip H. Saunders place" mentioned
by Mrs. Jacobs as stated above, unless we suppose the expression to
mean bars leading from the John Procter lot where the way enters the
Philip H. Saunders place, or Marsh pasture, as Mrs. Mansfield calls
it. Perhaps the latter locality is the most probable since it is high
rocky ground; but which bars were meant is uncertain.

Mr. Daniel H. Felton, who has an intimate knowledge of the history of
all the lands about Felton's Hill, and is himself a descendant of John
Procter, informs me that Mrs. Hannah B. Mansfield some years since
related to him

Product Details

BN ID:
2940014928212
Publisher:
SAP
Publication date:
07/15/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
19 KB

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