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Descendant of accused Salem witch writes book about her ancestor

An Idaho Falls woman says she can claim descent to Bridget Bishop, the first accused witch hanged during the Salem Witch Trials in 1692.

Even though Bishop lived more than 300 years ago, you can still see some of her in local author Laura Jo DeMordaunt.

“I am a strong-willed individual and I stand up for the things I believe in, and I guess that’s been passed down,” said DeMordaunt.

Fascinated by her family’s dark history, DeMordaunt said she began researching Bishop 35 years ago.

“I have been back to Salem and into the Library of Congress studying old documents, reading books. Books, books, books, books,” said DeMordaunt.

What she discovered became the inspiration for her own newly published book, “Thou Shalt Not Allow A Witch To Live.” It details Bishop’s life and the times in which she lived through a first-person narrative.

“I would call her probably the first American feminist,” said DeMordaunt.

Bishop owned her own businesses and wore brightly colored clothing, which DeMordaunt said made her an easy target for accusations of witchcraft.

“She allowed her taverns to be open late in the evening and for the sailors to come in to play shuffleboard and to bet and throw the dice and play cards and dance. I’m naming all the things that the Puritans hated,” said DeMordaunt.

Bishop, like other accused witches, was convicted using spectral evidence, which essentially allowed witnesses to testify about things they saw in dreams and visions.

“She was accused of looking at a baby and then the baby died,” said DeMordaunt.

DeMordaunt says Bishop’s story is still relevant today.

“What happened to her is probably still happening today where we accuse people wrongly for something they did, and then we don’t let people be individualistic,” said DeMordaunt.

Bishop was the first of 20 women who were hanged as witches during the Salem Witch Trials.

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