The Broad Street Cemetery in Salem, Massachusetts is one of Salem’s oldest and most historic cemeteries. Settled in 1655, it is Salem’s second oldest burying ground. It is rivaled in age only by Charter Street Cemetery (1637). First known as “Lawes’ Hill Burial Place”, then “Ye Old Common Burying Hill”, and finally “Broad Street Cemetery”. The cemetery is located within Salem’s McIntire Historic District and the Chestnut Street Historic District and is bordered on all sides by colonial sites including Salem’s oldest First Period residence, the Pickering House (1651).
The list of notable internees is long and storied. The cemetery contains the graves of 71 Revolutionary War veterans, including the notable Thomas Pickering (d.1778) who was an aide to General George Washington during the war, and a cabinet member to Washington’s administration. Civil War veterans are also well represented in Broad Street Cemetery, with graves including that of Captain of the Salem Light Infantry, Arthur Forrester Devereux (d. 1906).
judge for the Court of Oyer and Terminer in 1692
Beneath a small, white obelisk lie the remains of George and Jonathan Corwin, together with other members of that extensive family. George, who was only twenty-five at the time of the hysteria, served as the high sheriff of Essex County in 1692. In this capacity he directed the confiscation of property from those convicted of witchcraft and carried out the death sentences of the nineteen who were hanged and of Giles Corey who was pressed to death for refusing to stand trial. George’s funeral in 1697 was delayed by Philip English, who sought to recoup some of the fortune Corwin had seized from him in 1692 when English stood accused of witchcraft.
Jonathan Corwin, a Salem merchant and the owner of the still-standing “Witch House,” served as a magistrate at many of the examinations and later as a justice of the Court of Oyer and Terminer. He died on 9 June 1718, aged seventy-eight years.
While many of the notable members of Broad Street Cemetery sign are men, it is the lesser-known yet invaluable women of history who stand out. Caroline Plummer was laid to rest in the cemetery in 1854, yet lived a life of philanthropy at a time when few women had power or money. Plummer’s fortune came with the death of her brother, a successful merchant who left Caroline as the sole benefactor of his estate. From then on, Plummer was consumed with philanthropic pursuits in Salem and beyond. She went on to establish the Plummer Professorship of Christian Morals at Harvard University in 1855. Her charity can also be seen around Salem in Plummer Hall (later used for the Philips Library) and the Plummer Youth Promise (formerly Plummer Home for Boys).
Inventory No: SAL.804
Historic Name: Broad Street Cemetery
Common Name: Ye Old Common Burying Hill
Address: 5 Broad St
Village/Neighborhood: Central Salem
Local No: 25-0546
Year Constructed: 1655
Architect(s): Emmes, Nathaniel; Maxcy, Levi; Park Family
Use(s): Burial Ground
Significance: Art; Community Planning; Religion
Area(s): SAL.HJ: Chestnut Street Historic District
SAL.HU: McIntire Historic District
Designation(s): Nat'l Register District (08/28/1973); Local Historic District