The Burying Point (Salem, MA)

Nestled behind the Salem Witch Trials Memorial, is the final resting place for some of the key players of a dark chapter in Salem, and America’s, history.  The oldest cemetery in Salem, MA, The Burying Point Cemetery is the home to at least one accused witch, Mary Corey, and a key sinister player in the Salem Witch Trials.

DSC_0193 DSC_0198 DSC_0190  DSC_0187 DSC_0186Tour groups and visitors from all over the country walk over sacred graves. While some may find it disrespectful, it is so common place most people don’t bat an eyelash.  Most people, except the seemingly still drunk (or under some other chemically induced stupor) college students who feared they were being stalked by a squirrel (that is sadly true), are respectful.  Some people leave coins, flowers or other offerings at the graves.



The cemetery is well kept and the vast majority of the visitors are respectful of the tenants there.  The one thing I find to be a little weird, besides the obvious weirdness of walking around a cemetery as though it was an “attraction”, was the “haunted house” located feet away from the cemetery.  I’m generally not one to care either way, but it still felt odd hearing ghastly screams and people ordering hot apple cider while we stroll along the cemetery.

Although many headstones are difficult to read, it is worth observing that many of them show the female deceased as the “wife of…” Just another sign of the times.

There are some popular people buried in Burying Point Cemetery.  Mary Corey, one of the accused witches who was hanged, is buried there.  I could not locate her grave.

There is one notable exception of Salem at The Burying Point.  While many of his relatives reside in the cemetery of the overly commercialized town of Salem, Nathaniel Hawthorne is not buried in Burying Point.  Instead he rests in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, Massachusetts.

The storied feud of Nathaniel Hawthorne and his ancestors is of legend.  Just to recap, John Hathorne, a Salem magistrate, was appointed by the then Governor Sir William Phips to be a judge in the Salem Witch Trials.  However, during the trials, he acted more like a prosecutor than a judge.  He would often presume the guilt of an accused witch and demand they confess to witchcraft as well as pressuring accused witches to name other witches after they were inevitably found guilty or they confessed under pressure of Hathorne and his court.  He became known as a “hanging judge”.

In light of his ancestors misdeeds, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Judge Hathorne’s great grandson, would change his name by adding a “w” after the “Ha” in his last name and he would distance himself farther from Judge Hathorne by penning The Scarlet Letterand speaking out against the deeds of his ancestor.

Judge William Hathorne’s grave is on the left in this photo, next to his son’s much larger gravestone.  No one left anything on his gravestone.


I wanted to thank everyone who reads, likes and leaves comments on my blogs.  It is appreciated.  I also wanted to mention that I have begun (resumed) blogging as Mr.Wayne after a fairly long hiatus.  I have always been a writer at heart and, after being inspired by so many wonderful blogs on wordpress, I have decided to resume my written blogs again, in addition to my photoblogs.  Please view my most recent post What Could Have Been.  Thank you.

About New England Nomad

Hi I'm Wayne. Welcome to my blog. I am a true New Englander through and through. I love everything about New England. I especially love discovering new places in New England and sharing my experiences with everyone. I tend to focus on the more unique and lesser known places and things in New England on my blog. Oh yeah, and I love dogs. I always try to include at least one dog in each of my blog posts. I discovered my love of photography a couple of years ago. I know, I got a late start. Now, I photograph anything that seems out of the ordinary, interesting, beautiful and/or unique. And I have noticed how every person, place or thing I photograph has a story behind it or him or her. I don't just photograph things or people or animals. I try to get their background, history or as much information as possible to give the subject more context and meaning. It's interesting how one simple photograph can evoke so much. I am currently using a Nikon D3200 "beginner's camera." Even though there are better cameras on the market, and I will upgrade some time, I love how it functions (usually) and it has served me well. The great thing about my blog is you don't have to be from New England, or even like New England to like my blog (although I've never met anyone who doesn't). All you have to like is to see and read about new or interesting places and things. Hopefully, you'll join me on my many adventures in New England! View all posts by New England Nomad

15 responses to “The Burying Point (Salem, MA)

  • Sand Salt Moon

    I’ve been there and loved Nathaniel Hawthorne’s home.

    Liked by 1 person

  • JoHanna Massey

    Thank you so much for this very interesting post.
    I have not been to Salem myself, but am not surprised that it is now commercialized as a tourist attraction.

    Liked by 1 person

    • New England Nomad

      Thank you! Yes, you must see it for yourself. It is rich in history, beautiful (particularly in the fall) and a lot of fun! The only downside is the over commercialization. But, the city still has a very quaint atmosphere to it. There are no huge shopping department stores, unless you count the Museum Mall which is more of a scaled down shopping center.

      Liked by 1 person

      • JoHanna Massey

        I actually really want to visit the area to research out a family lore of connection to Salem. One of those quick relocations to a remote area to avoid prosecution of strong women following a land grab.
        I enjoyed your post very much.

        Liked by 1 person

  • 3llepalmer

    This is so interesting! I really wish to visit this place and the entire city. Salem always seems very mysterious. x

    Liked by 1 person

  • joseph elon lillie

    Thanks for this tour. Heading to Mr. WAYNE’S now.

    Liked by 1 person

  • kathryningrid


    As I have posted myself, I am a devoted admirer of cemeteries for any number of reasons, including as you’ve observed, history, funereal traditions, the remembrance of individual lives, the recognition of the continued cycle of life and death, beautiful landscapes and cemetery architecture and sculpture, and so forth. The spiritual (ghostly and/or religious) aspect of cemeteries seems to me, regardless of my own beliefs, to require a certain level of decorum, day or night, among the living. But I’m also of the view that the dead can no longer be harmed or helped by anything the living do; physical remains seem far too small to contain the true essence of what makes us who we are, so I very much doubt that anybody underground would take it ill if I walk over his or her grave, so long as I do so with mindful respect.

    I’m really enjoying your graveyard explorations as a result, and know from our little foray in the NE in July that there are many cemeteries full of the best of the aforementioned characteristics. I’m glad you’re taking us all on the visits with you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • New England Nomad

      Thank you, Kathryn. It’s striking how what you wrote resonated with me. I agree that we should have respect for the dead (as we should the living of course). I also think there is a sort of comfort in knowing you can no longer be harmed after we pass.
      Yes, there are so many cemeteries, memorials and other monuments to remember those we’ve lost. That is one thing I can attest to. We do remember our figures with lasting memorials. Thank you again for stopping and leaving such a thoughtful comment!


  • Booksphotographsandartwork

    I think it would be very interesting to wander amongst the graves reading the headstones. Sad also. I always feel awful if I step on a grave but sometimes you don’t even realize it because of the strange way they might be laid out. I would love to visit this area especially to view the coastline.

    Liked by 1 person

    • New England Nomad

      I know what you mean. I do have a curiosity about the people interred in any cemetery. Who were they? What were the really like? Who did they leave behind? Each gravestone really does have a story. You would love it out here! Come visit!


  • Mary Moriarty

    Hello From Camden Maine. I have been working on my genealogy since the late 1980s. I have on my mother’s side the Putnam family, Deacon Edward Putnan and on my father’s side, George and Anne (Hooker) Alcock and of course their daughters, granddaughter and great granddaughter who were charged and one dying in jail after being convicted, Ann (Alcock) Foster. I look forward to visiting the cemetery this year. Thanks for the photos!

    Liked by 1 person

    • New England Nomad

      That is very interesting and sad, Mary. Visiting the cemetery must surely be a much more significant and emotional experience for you and your family. I look forward to seeing your post from your visit to lovely Salem. I am sure you will enjoy it there despite the emotional aspect of your visit. Thank you for sharing.


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