In 1637, a yeoman carpenter from England by the name of John Pickering settled in a small, untamed piece of land in Salem. Over 360 years later, the house his son built on this property is still standing, and his direct descendants continue to converge under its old beams. Ten generations of Pickering lived at 18 Broad Street: a shipwright, ministers, sea captain, top-ranked statesman, world’s foremost linguist, a preeminent naturalist, two celebrated astronomers, and more. The most celebrated among these, Colonel Timothy Pickering, spent all of his adult life in the service of his country. Appointed by President George Washington as Quartermaster General in the Revolutionary War, he was present at the battles of Brandywine and Germantown and at Cornwallis’ surrender. Pickering is the only person to serve three cabinet posts: Secretary of State, Postmaster General, and Secretary of War — which included administration of the Navy and Indian affairs. And he oversaw the building of three noble frigates, the “USS Constitution,” “United States,” and “Constellation,” starting a love of things marine for succeeding generations.
John Remond was born in the Dutch colony of Curaçao in 1788. At ten years old, he traveled to Salem on the ship Six Brothers. After learning the trades of barbering and catering, he married Nancy Lenox, an accomplished cake baker and cook. John and Nancy ran a catering business out of Hamilton Hall for many years and they were well-known for their dazzling feasts.
John and Nancy’s eldest son, Charles, was born in 1810. Their ninth child, Sarah, was born in 1826. Both Charles and Sarah grew to become prominent activists in the fight against slavery. They toured, together and separately, around the US and Europe giving abolitionist speeches.
Sarah studied nursing at the University College London and then completed training to become a doctor at the Santa Maria Nuova Hospital school in Florence. Today, UCL honors Sarah’s work through the Sarah Parker Remond Centre for the Study of Racism & Racialisation.
The Peabody Sisters were so remarkable, there is a book dedicated to their stories! Daughters of Dr. Nathaniel Peabody and his wife, Elizabeth (Palmer) Peabody, of Salem, Massachusetts, the sisters, Elizabeth Palmer Peabody (1804-1894), Mary Tyler (Peabody) Mann (1806-1887), and Sophia Amelia (Peabody) Hawthorne (1881-1871) lived in what is commonly known as the Grimshaw House on Charter Street. Elizabeth Peabody was one of the most important women of her time. She was an educator and education reformer who opened the first kindergarten in the United States. Mary Tyler Peabody married the famous educator, Horace Mann (1789-1859) in 1843. A painter, Sophia Amelia Peabody married American author Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) in 1842.
Judge John Hathorne was one of the most vocal participants during the Salem witchcraft trials. Judge Hathorne lived south of the Town House/Salem Courthouse in 1692, on present-day Washington Street, a short walk from home to court. Hathorne, whose father had been a Salem magistrate, was born in 1641, married at 33 and had six children. Hathorne had experienced several deaths in his family, including those of his three brothers, which left him the sole heir. While not legally trained, Hathorne was a trusted law official and was, like the other judges, a wealthy merchant. He owned a wharf and a liquor license and was a landowner with property in Maine. Early in his career he became a delegate to the General Court, and ultimately remained in the judiciary for his whole life. Promoted to the Superior Court in 1702, he resigned in 1712. Learn more at SalemWitchMuseum.com
Never showing remorse for the death sentences he awarded, John Hathorne died in 1717 at the age of 76. He is buried in the Old Burying Point/Charter Street Cemetery.
John Hathorne’s great-great grandson, Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in Salem on July 4, 1804 to Elizabeth Manning and Capt. Nathaniel Hathorne. The family lived on Union Street in Salem until 1808, when his father died of yellow fever at sea. After his death, Nathaniel, his mother, and two sisters—Elizabeth, and Maria Louisa—moved into the Manning family home on Herbert Street. Learn more at 7gables.org.
It is speculated that Nathaniel Hawthorne added the “w” to the family name as a means of distancing himself from the wrongdoing of his great-great-grandfather. It is equally possible this change was merely the result of a fashion of the period, as many families were altering their names to reflect the original English spelling. It is interesting to note that Hawthorne did hold particular disdain for his ancestor, as Judge Hathorne appears as the antagonist Judge Pyncheon in Hawthorne’s 1851 novel The House of the Seven Gables. (From SalemWitchMuseum.com)
Roger Conant was the founder of Salem and became one of the first governors of Massachusetts when he took over a fishing settlement in Gloucester in 1625. In the fall of 1626, Conant led a group of the Gloucester colonists to Naumkeag. The group included: William Allen, Thomas Gray, Richard Norman, Peter Palfray, John Balch, Walter Knight, Richard Norman Jr, John Tylly, John Woodbery.
At Naumkeag, the colonists built houses, cleared and prepared the land for the planting of corn and tobacco and other crops. It is believed that Conant built the first house in Salem, on what is now Essex Street almost opposite the Town Market, that year and his son Roger was also born that year, making him the first colonist born in Salem.
On November 19, 1679, Roger Conant died at the age of 87. In 1913, a bronze statue of Roger Conant was erected on Brown Street in Salem. Learn more at HistoryofMassachusetts.org