Charter Street Cemetery
Also called the Old Burying Point, or sometimes just the Burying Point, the Charter Street Cemetery was established in 1637 as the first cemetery in Salem, Massachusetts. We went to Salem one year ago (argh why does time go by so quickly!) but I never got around to sharing my photos from the Charter Street Cemetery.
Salem in October is quite the experience—sometimes great, sometimes horrible—but the next time I go back it will probably be in the off-season. We expected crowds, of course, but what we didn't expect was that those crowds would be unruly—particularly in the cemetery. We saw children running around unattended, couples sitting on stones for selfies and families eating funnel cakes while perched on the markers of the Salem Witch Trials Memorial.
Overcrowding should not be seen as an open invitation to drop your sense of decency and respect for the deceased (not to mention the historic significance of the second oldest cemetery in America). Not everyone was horrible, of course, but we saw enough bad behavior that it still leaves an impression, even a year after the fact. That really is a shame, because the cemetery has some pretty famous residents and many wonderful tombstones.
It's the final resting place of Judge John Hathorne, the great-great-grandfather of Nathaniel Hawthorne and a prominent judge in the witch trials. Richard More is the only passenger of the Mayflower with a known gravesite—he died the same year as the witch trials, and he's buried here beneath a stone labeling him as a Mayflower Pilgrim.
Much like the Old Burial Hill to the south of Salem, the Charter Street Cemetery is filled with beautifully carved winged skulls, crossbones and cherubs. These will always be my favorite of the tombstone motifs—known as "memento mori," or "remember you must die." Some stones even spell this out, which I much prefer to the more passive and less challenging, Rest in Peace.
I don't want to discourage anyone from visiting Salem during October—if you love fall and Halloween, it's a must—but I do recommend trying to avoid the weekends closest to Halloween. The difference between a Sunday and a Monday was noticeable and we were able to do everything that was sold out and packed on the weekend on a Monday with relative ease.