The Salem Witch Trials

Kendal Lemmons, Staff Reporter

The Salem Witch Trials started in the spring of 1692 in the Salem village of Massachusetts. The trials accused many women of witchcraft and put many to death over suspicion. It all started in January of 1692, when two young girls 9-year-old Elisabeth Paris and 11-year-old Abigail Williams began having strange fits of uncontrollable screaming and violent body contortions. The girls claimed they had been possessed by the devil and accused several women of witchcraft. Doctor William Griggs diagnosed the girls with bewitchment (bewitchment: a magical spell. enchantment. black art, black magic, necromancy, sorcery – the belief in magical spells that harness occult forces or evil spirits to produce unnatural effects in the world.), which people today believe could have been false due to lack of knowledge on bewitchment at that time. The Salem village produced a special court to hear the cases of the accused women. The three women who were said to have possessed the two-little girls, Sarah Good, Sarah Osborn and Tituba were all tried in the new court that was set up. Tituba did confess to the bewitchment of Elisabeth and Abigail as well as telling the court room that many other women were involved but did not name any names. Although Tituba confessed, researchers are now looking into the fact that there was no evidence of witchcraft practice, but there was a possibility that Tituba’s confession was coerced. Sarah Good and Sarah Osborn continued to claim that they were innocent but after Tituba’s confession in the court room the jury was skeptical to believe them. As a result of this, Tituba, Sarah Good, and Sarah Osborn were all sentenced to death by burning at the stake. In total, 19 people lost their lives due to suspicions of witchcraft (14 women and 5 men) until finally in January 1697 the court deemed the trials unlawful and they were banned. Some believe witchcraft was an active practice in the Salem village while others have their doubts. To this day, researchers continue to look for the real answer to the innocence of the victims of the Salem Witch trials.