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"We hate that statue!"

Salem, Mass
Aug 15, 2014

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So explained Ben, the 11th-generation Salem resident and ad hoc tour guide, who we met near the Bewitched statue that had been donated by cable network TV Land. It belittles Salem history -- and Ben should know: he told us he is descended from John and Elizabeth Proctor, both accused of witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. John Proctor was hanged, but Elizabeth was pregnant and so her prosecutors stayed her execution. Saner heads prevailed in the following weeks and months, and Elizabeth was spared. Ben told us it was from that child that he was descended.

Who knows if it's true. But we chose to believe it and follow Ben on a walking tour through the historic district of town, including a walk down Federal Street, where the old homes have plaques that display the name and profession of the house's original owner. One of these, Ben told us, is his family's house, where they have lived since the early 19th century.