What happened on this day in history: The first victim of the Salem witch trials is hanged, the Villisca Axe Murders take place, and more.
1692: The First Victim Of The Salem Witch Trials Is Put To Death
Bridget Bishop, the first victim of the Salem witch trials, is hanged. Accused of being a witch by a group of girls in town, Bishop protested her innocence but was found guilty at trial. Ultimately, 19 other accused witches met a similar fate before the Salem witch trials finally ended in 1693.
1752: Benjamin Franklin Flies His Famous Kite
Benjamin Franklin flies a kite in a thunderstorm to explore the connection between lightning and electricity. Franklin found that there was, indeed, a connection, when he was able to draw an electrical charge into a Leyden jar.
1896: Amelia Dyer Is Executed
Amelia Dyer is executed at Newgate Prison in London, England, at the age of 59 or 60. Dyer, a serial killer who operated over a 30-year period, placed ads in newspapers offering to adopt unwanted children in exchange for money. Once she had the children, she killed them — and kept the adoption fee.
1912: The Villisca Axe Murders Take Place
Eight people are found bludgeoned to death in Villisca, Iowa. The victims, six members of the Moore family and two of their guests, had been killed with an axe. Though police considered several suspects, the so-called Villisca Axe Murders remain unsolved to this day.
1944: 642 Civilians Are Massacred In Oradour-Sur-Glane
Six hundred and forty-two people are killed by Nazis in Oradour-sur-Glane, France, during World War II. Allegedly seeking retribution for a kidnapped comrade, a group of SS troops separated the village’s men and women into a barn and a church, respectively, then burned and shot them to death. Today, the original village stands as a memorial to the massacre while a new village was built nearby.