SALISBURY — Rae Bradbury-Enslin is on a mission to honor her family’s long history — including a conviction during the Salem witch trials — but she will need a little help to do it.
Bradbury-Enslin, a native and resident of Berwick, Maine, is a descendant of Captain Thomas Bradbury and his wife Mary Perkins Bradbury, who lived in Salisbury when the Salem witch trials were taking more than 320 years ago.
Mary Perkins Bradbury was accused of being a witch, was tried and convicted. She was sentenced to hang on Sept. 22, 1692.
“She was accused by, I believe, a spurned suitor of her granddaughter, I’m not entirely sure,” Bradbury-Enslin said recently. “It was a lot of people who were angry and accusing neighbors, things like that. She actually had several previous accusations against her. To me, it sounds like she was possibly difficult at times. She was 75 years old when this happened. But, when the time came for her trial, several hundred people came out to say she was not a witch. She was much loved in the community.”
Mary Bradbury missed her date with the hangman’s noose and returned to Salisbury where she died in 1695.
“She had a hanging date and she wasn’t there for it,” Bradbury-Enslin said. “The prevailing theory was that there was a prison guard who was more than happy to have his palm greased. She was most probably bribed out.”
Bradbury was eventually exonerated and she and her husband are buried in the family plot in Salisbury’s Old Colonial Burial Ground.
A massage therapist by trade, Bradbury-Enslin said she gained an interest in her family history after her father Mark started working on a genealogy project in the mid-1990s.
One of Mark Bradbury’s goals was to find every family gravestone and when they tracked down the final resting places of Mary and Thomas in 1995, they found very little left, Bradbury-Enslin said.
“The town did not have a record of those two stones even being there,” Bradbury-Enslin said. “They are broken and almost illegible. There is a tiny piece of scrollwork on Thomas’ stone that I can still find, only because I know what it looks like. The stones had been moved. At some point, somebody scrawled a few dates and names on the back and for all I know, people have been taking pieces of them. It is essentially vandalism at this point.”
While she is no historian, Bradbury-Enslin said has enjoyed getting to know her family history over the years and would like to honor her late father’s memory by making sure the names of Thomas and Mary Perkins Bradbury are not forgotten.
Although she briefly explored the possibility of refurbishing the two gravestones, Bradbury-Enslin said the cost was prohibitive. She is now leading an effort to raise the necessary funds — between $8,000 and $14,000 — to buy a pair of new gravestones for Mary and Thomas.
“I would like to start getting as many Bradburys aware of this as possible,” Bradbury-Enslin said. “I have a blog and I would hope they would feel it would be nice to be a part of this.”
Bradbury-Enslin said she is working with a monument maker and an expert on historical stones from the time period and has also started a GoFundMe page for the project at www.gofundme.com/bradbury-gravestone-project.
“If people can help me purchase the stones, everyone can say they helped,” Bradbury-Enslin said. “I also don’t want to quietly go in and do this without making it more public. The Bradburys are a determined and stubborn lot and the last thing I want to do is” make them mad.
To read Bradbury-Enslin’s blog, visit https://bradburygravestone.wordpress.com.
Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News.