See what Salem, Massachusetts was like during 1692 Witch Trials

Special Guest Blogger Kathy Witt, an award winning author and journalist, takes us on a trip to historic Salem, Massachusetts in the following post:

Enter the rustic kitchen at Daniels House and step through a portal into late 1600s Salem, known then as Salem Town. Ritual protection marks are etched into the wood of the heavy door—the double V for Blessed Virgin Mary and the Blessed B—to protect the house and those who lived within its walls from evil spirits.

The fire in the massive open-hearth fireplace would have burned round the clock, licking at heavy cookpots and kettles. The house, built 350 years ago by a sea captain, sheltered its occupants from sun and rain, but it was sweltering in the summer and freezing cold in the winter. When night fell, the room was plunged into darkness, the only light source the flames of the candles burning down in their candlestands.

“If you want to know what it was like to live in Salem during the Witch Trials of 1692, this room is it,” said Vijay Joyce, whose background is in architectural history and historic preservation.

Joyce developed and conducts the tours and events that take place at Daniels House,, including the new interactive “Inside the Daniels House” tour where visitors are treated to a full sensory experience: seeing the conditions in which the home’s former occupants worked, lived, played and prayed; hearing the stories of neighbor turning on neighbor; touching the China, sitting on the furniture, stepping into an abyss of darkness on the root cellar’s stacked granite stairs; smelling peppercorns—a highly prized seasoning proudly displayed on front parlor table; tasting strong and smoky Souchong black tea, a favorite brew among New England seamen.


Salem’s story is best enjoyed on tours like “Inside the Daniels House.” From candlelight, kid and trolley tours to movie sites, foodie and ghost tours, there is no shortage of ways to walk into Salem’s past—and no two experiences are alike.

On Witch City Walking Tours,, see what is considered Salem’s most haunted building. It sits on the site of the jail, where Sheriff George Corwin once interrogated, tortured and carried out the death sentence for those accused of witchcraft.

Stop by Witch House, former home of Witch Trial Judge Jonathan Corwin (the sheriff’s uncle), one of the few structures in Salem with direct ties to the trials. Hear the story of the tween and teenage girls who set in motion one of America’s darkest chapters, where 19 innocent people were hanged at the gallows and one (Giles Corey) was pressed to death.

“Twelve-year-old Ann Putnam accused 60 people herself,” said tour guide Jeremiah Hakundy.

On Spellbound Tours,, founder, guide and professional paranormal investigator Dr. Vitka takes visitors through the streets at night to share the supernatural side of Salem—tales of vampirism and paranormal activity, of hauntings and horrors related to one of the cruelest of Witch Trial judges, John Hathorne, and a young girl who may have been buried alive. Pray you don’t see the specter of Giles Corey at the very site he was pressed to death at the age of 81.

“Legend says that when his ghost walks, tragedy follows close behind,” warned Vitka.


Salem’s newest hotel is the Hampton Inn Salem Boston,, featuring a bright, modern feel and an ideal location within walking distance of all Salem’s restaurants, shops and attractions. Among amenities are an indoor pool, fitness center and attached heated garage with valet parking. The third-floor breakfast area is clean and well maintained and has individual booth seating, each with its own flatscreen television.

Besides presenting a number of outstanding tours—including “Terror Next Door,” which takes place through August and focuses specifically on the Salem Witch Trials—the Daniels House,, is also a bed and breakfast inn. In fact, it is America’s oldest bed and breakfast inn, offering four individually decorated guestrooms—each expressing a different facet of the house’s history. A Continental breakfast is served in the atmospheric settings of the antique-laden front parlor and the ancient kitchen, the oldest parts of the home.


Drop by Turner’s Seafood,, for a crabcake appetizer and a Smoked Old Fashioned. The restaurant, famous for seafood entrées like Wild Atlantic Haddock Piccata, Hake Marsala Dinner, made with local Gloucester hake, a mild white fish, and a seafood medley featuring local haddock and sea scallops, is located in historic Lyceum Hall. This coveted piece of land is presumed to have once belonged to Bridget Bishop—until she was accused of being a witch.

Witch City’s Walking Tours’ Hakundy summed up the plight for those accused: “Half the village accused the other half—that is, the half who had land. A couple days after you were accused, all your property would be sold at auction, while you were sitting in jail awaiting trial.”

Other fun foodie stops: Lulu’s Bakery and Pantry,, for chocolate croissants and lattes; Red Line Café ,, for ham and cheese crepes; and American Flatbread,, spread out in a former Goodyear tire repair shop and offering candle pin bowling alley and monster flatbreads with flavor combos like maple fennel sausage, sundried tomatoes, mushrooms and caramelized onions topped with mozzarella and parmesan, garlic oil and herbs.

Treat: Grab a table at artisanal chocolate shop, Kakawa Chocolate House,, for a flight of chocolate elixirs and a tasting that is velvety-smooth exquisiteness. Drawing on chocolate’s long history, Kakawa’s chocolatiers recreate original Mesoamerican, European and Colonial chocolate elixir recipes: Tzul, a rich mix of dark chocolate and caramelized milk chocolate; French lavender, highly scented, exotic and semisweet; Zapoteca, complex, unspiced, bittersweet—less and less sweet as the elixirs move toward 100 percent real chocolate.

The elixirs are paired with house-made whipped cream, light, fluffy and delicious. All the historic elixirs as well as the artisan chocolates, ice cream, milkshakes and other sweet treats are handmade onsite, and exclusively in small batches.

Part of the fun of being in Salem is immersing yourself in its history through its many tours as well as museums, including the Salem Witch Museum,, where illuminated dioramas draw visitors into Salem’s dark period, and the Witch Dungeon Museum,, with its dramatic live performance of a witch trial adapted and created from historical transcripts from 1692.

Equally enthralling are attractions like Court Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery, a wax museum of filmdom’s monsters—Lon Chaney’s Phantom of the Opera, Halloween villain Michael Myers, Bette Midler’s Winifred Sanderson of Hocus Pocus, parts of which were filmed in Salem—and indie bookstores like Wicked Good Books,


Located on the Pedestrian Mall (Essex Street), this shop is fun to poke around in for books relating to the most notorious chapter in Salem’s history, like Marilynne K. Roach’s book, Six Women of Salem: The Untold Story of the Accused and Their Accusers in the Salem Witch Trials. One of the women profiled is Bridget Bishop—one of the 19 people hanged for witchcraft and who supposedly owned the land on which Turner’s Seafood is located today.

“Especially with history, knowing something about what you hope to see and experience before you go makes the reality more understandable once you get there,” said Roach, currently working on Six Men of Salem. “In reading about these women, I hope readers will see the characters as real people rather than stereotypes or symbols, individual human personalities. I also hope the setting makes more sense to the readers, that the difficult circumstances of their times make better sense of their different reactions both wrong and right.”

No matter how the narrative unfolds, Salem bewitches with its blend of mystery and magic, myth and the macabre.


Stop by the new Visitor Information Center at 245 Derby Street in downtown Salem.

Turner’s Seafood Crab Cake

A favorite app on Turner’s menu is the crab cake made with local Jonah crab and blended with seasoned crumbs and a hint of Dijon and served with crunchy Napa slaw and house-made remoulade sauce.


Combine all ingredients except the crabmeat and saltines.

Whisk together to make a loose batter. Fold in the crushed saltines and crabmeat. Mix well.

Let sit refrigerated for 30-45 minutes minimum. (Can hold for 3 days refrigerated.)

Separate into 4-oz portions (recommended) or the size portions desired.

Place the cakes on a greased cookie sheet and bake in a 375-degree oven for approximately 12-15 minutes or until golden brown on the top.

Leave the cakes in a rustic scoop.

Serve with tartar sauce or favorite mustard and lemon.

Kakawa Chocolate House’s Historic Chocolate Elixir

Kakawa Chocolate House, a specialty chocolate company located in the beautiful high desert town of Santa Fe, New Mexico, describes their passion is authentic and historic drinking chocolates elixirs. Historic drinking chocolate elixirs include traditional Pre-Columbian, Mesoamerican, Mayan and Aztec drinking chocolate elixirs; 1600’s European drinking chocolate elixirs, Colonial American and Colonial Mexican drinking chocolate elixirs. Kakawa Chocolate House drinking chocolate elixirs are representative of these historic recipes and span the time period 1000 BC to the mid-1900s AD.

“If you were visiting friends in Mexico you might be served a frothy concoction like the recipe below which has been made in one version or another for, literally hundreds of years,” said Kakawa Chocolate House owner Bonnie Bennett. “Feel free to tweak for your tastes; that is part of the fun, and each family will make it slightly different.” Makes four servings.


  • 3.5 cups of whole milk – If you prefer dairy-free, substitute unsweetened Almond milk.
  • 6 oz of rough chopped dark chocolate, at least 65%, and 70% is ideal or up to 80%. Buy the highest quality cacao you can as this will dramatically change the taste and texture.
  • 2.5 TBSP of finely chopped or ground Piloncillo sugar, a traditional Mexican brown sugar often found in cone shapes, or substitute coconut sugar or honey (3 TBSP).
  • 2 TBSP Canela (Mexican cinnamon)
  • 1 tsp of vanilla
  • 1/3 tsp ancho chili powder – You can also use traditional Guajillo, which is milder, or reduce amount. If you prefer more heat, use cayenne chili powder.


Warm the milk slowly on the stovetop. Do not boil. Once very warm, add sugar, Canela and chili. With a whisk, mix and blend these into the milk mixture, continue blending until sugar is incorporated. Allow mixture to continue to warm further, until steam begins to come off the surface but just before a boil.

Turn the stove off and add chocolate and vanilla, blend until chocolate has melted and all ingredients are mixed.

Create a froth with vigorous whisking, either with a traditional Molinillo or a conventional whisk. The froth is a delicious part of a traditional Mexican hot chocolate.

Divide into cups and serve. Fresh whipped cream or even 1 oz of Kahlua coffee liqueur (for an adult-only version) can be added at this stage if you like.

Kathy Witt


SATW Society of American Travel Writers│Authors Guild

Author of Cincinnati Scavenger; Secret Cincinnati: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful & Obscure;

The Secret of the Belles; Atlanta, Georgia: A Photographic Portrait

Arriving Spring 2024: Perfect Day Kentucky: Daily Itineraries for the Discerning Traveler

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