SALEM — Kathleen Kent took the stories shared by her mother and grandfather and wove them into "The Heretic's Daughter," a novel based on her relative Martha Carrier, who was hanged as a witch in Salem in 1692.
Little did Kent know, her writing would bring together more than 250 of Carrier's descendents, who gathered in Salem this weekend.
"This has turned into something beyond my wildest expectations," said the author, a 10th-generation descendent of Carrier.
Kent flew in from Texas with her mother, Audrey Carrier Hickman, brother Kevin Hickman and sister Kim Morrison. Other relatives traveled from as near as Connecticut and as far as Newfoundland, Washington, Seattle, Arizona and Florida.
"It's really interesting to know where you came from, how far you've come, and the origin of your family and the origin of your own family's history," Kent said.
They kicked off the reunion with a Friday night reception, to be followed by lectures, tours and discussions all day Saturday.
One of the Carrier descendents even designed T-shirts that said, "Are you a good witch or are you a bad witch? Who me? I'm not a witch at all. I'm a CARRIER."
Kate Fox, executive director of the city's tourism arm, Destination Salem, put together some activities for the group, after the author contacted her in September.
"I helped them flesh out a walking tour of sites," Fox said. "I love stuff like this. It's a huge group. They're enthusiastic about why they're coming and what's happening in Salem."
Among the activities planned for the weekend were a visit to The House of the Seven Gables and a guided tour of Danvers and Salem on the Salem Trolley. They also gathered at the Witch Trials Memorial to hear about their distant relative.