Experience Salem in 1692 with Better Than Fiction Salem Walking Tours
This October in Salem, Massachusetts, Better Than Fiction Salem Walking Tours is sharing the history of the Salem Witch Trials through their 1692: Salem and Witchcraft Walking Tour. The tour, along with their tour on Salem’s Dark History, runs multiple dates and times throughout Salem Haunted Happenings offering a detailed look at the events of 1692 while seeing sites around Salem today.
If you are interested in taking any walking tour in Salem, or participating in any timed events this fall, we strongly recommend getting your tickets in advance. You can find tickets for both of Better Than Fiction’s tours at btftours.com, and learn more about our experience taking the 1692 Salem and Witchcraft Walking Tour below.
Better Than Fiction’s tours depart from the newly named Houdini Way (across from 15 Front Street). While performing in Salem in 1906, one of Harry Houdini’s escapes was a break out of a jail cell at what was then the Front Street Police Station. Better Than Fiction company owner and guide Jeffrey Lilley was instrumental in the naming of Houdini Way, and on July 15, 2021 the City of Salem made the name Houdini Way official.
After departing from Houdini Way, we learned about what life in Europe was like before the colonies were settled, and how this society gave rise to the Puritan culture that existed in Salem during 1692. Jeff did an excellent job of portraying Puritanism so that even if you are totally unfamiliar with it as a form of religious extremism, you’ll be brought up to speed in no time.
As the tour continued, Jeff’s style of storytelling along with close attention to detail gave us the full picture of what life in 1692 was like so that we could better understand why people would have suspected that the Devil had a hand in what was happening in Salem. Jeff’s anecdotes on Puritanism shared throughout the tour added layers to the logistics of the Salem Witch Trials with each stop around town, allowing for an entertaining and interactive look into Salem’s past.
The tour covered events from the Witch Trials from the afflictions of Betty Parris and Abigail Williams to the executions of innocent victims, while covering all of the necessary details in between, including laws from the time, religious beliefs, forms of torture that were used for the accused held in Salem’s jail and in the case of the pressing of Giles Corey, and so much more. The tour even went far beyond the end of the Witch Trials to share how these tragic events had ripple effects throughout the rest of Salem’s history, and even how some outcomes of the Trials are still happening today.
While not focused on ghost stories, Jeff’s enthusiasm for history made the tour very entertaining, and even being quite familiar with the Salem Witch Trials we heard stories that we did not know going into the tour. Some of the sites we stopped at during the tour were even new-to-us in that we were not aware of what had taken place in certain specific locations around town in 1692.
Perhaps the most valuable part of the tour is the way that Jeff used the Salem Witch Trials to make connections to the present, even going beyond the installation of the Salem Witch Trials Memorial (where we ended our tour). Jeff portrayed the humanity in all of the people involved in the Witch Trials (or the lack thereof depending on the person) in such a way that really helped put some context behind names and dates and give us greater understanding of the Trials.
We don’t want to give away too many specifics, because Jeff really does a better job of sharing this time in Salem’s history (and we want you to get the most out of your tour), but if you book your next Salem walking tour with Better Than Fiction, here is some of what you can expect:
- The tour stops at 5-7 sites relevant to the Salem Witch Trials in just under a mile’s walk.
- The tour is approximately an hour and a half long.
- In terms of content, you’re getting the full story of the Salem Witch Trials, from the arrival of the Puritans in Salem (with context from even earlier before they left Europe) through the end of the Trials, later outcomes in the 18th and 19th centuries through the present.
- Tours typically run twice daily at 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm, with additional tours on the calendar throughout October (purchase tickets here).
- If you are interested in a later tour, Better Than Fiction also offers tours of Salem’s dark history (learn more here).
Prior to starting Better Than Fiction Tours, Jeff earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology while in Bath, England and he spent eight years serving in the United States Marines. During his undergraduate career, he gained his first tour experience while giving campus and city tours in the international office. Prior to that, his service in the Marines focused on primary MOS (infantry) and duty as Armor Custodian, as well as his role as a combat instructor and martial arts instructor where he was responsible for training and logistical operations. He also spent several seasons narrating the haunted hayride at Witch’s Woods in Westford and he has worked with Historic Tours of America in Building 21 in Key West, where he also gave several summer ghost tours.
He began giving tours and sharing his interest in Salem’s past after his move to our historic seaport, and later made the decision to open his own company focused on accurate yet compelling storytelling, in Better Than Fiction Tours.
To book your tour, visit btftours.com.
Remember to book early for tours during Salem Haunted Happenings, and enjoy your visit!