Created By: University of Massachusetts Boston
You are standing near the beginning of Salem End Road also known as the Salem's End of Danforth's Farm. This road is named for the fact that it is where Sarah Clayes, one of the young women accused of witchcraft in Salem, found refuge (for context, this happened only about 15 years after King Philip's War). It’s unclear just how Sarah was able to escape the noose and make it to Framingham. One theory is that her family traveled here by night while hiding out in caves and hollowed out trees. Another theory is that Thomas Danforth, who was the owner of the land where you stand, helped her escape and settle here. If you travel down this street, you will pass by two important sites. The first is the Sarah Clayes House (657 Salem End Road), which her and her husband Peter built in 1693, after they found permanent settlement here. It had been abandoned, but was recently sold and renovated. The second is the Ashland Town Forest (883 Salem End Road), which is where Sarah Clayes and her family lived in caves when they first arrived to the town (it is listed as the "caves" on the trail maps posted in the parking lots of the Town Forest).
Yet, the story of the Clayes family does not end there. It is believed that the house, with its many hidden compartments and passageways, became one of several Underground Railroad stops in Framingham, where abolitionists helped hide freedom-seeking (runaways) enslaved people.
How does Sarah Clayes and her family add to your understanding of freedom and justice in Framingham? How might the Salem Witch Trial be an example of gendercide (the systematic killing of members of a specific gender)? Might the Clayes family's experience during the Witch Trial contribute to their participation in the abolitionist movement?
For more on the refugees of Salem End Road, read the following: https://framinghamhistory.org/escape-from-salem/
For more on the caves of the Ashland Town Forest, read the following: https://www.wbur.org/radioboston/2018/10/26/witch-caves-salem
For more on the Underground Railroad in Massachusetts, read the following: https://historyofmassachusetts.org/traveling-the-underground-railroad-in-massachusetts/
This point of interest is part of the tour: Framingham Local History Walking Tour