The tragic events of 1692 in Salem Village now known as Danvers, Massachusetts have put a dark stain on American history. However, witch trials have been recorded as early as the 15th and 16th Centuary in Modern Europe, and the legend of "Witches" dates back ever further than that.
History states that accusations from Abigail Williams, and her cousin Betty Paris began the frenzy in Salem Villiage. While there accusations did fuel the fire, rumors of witchcraft in towns surrounding Salem Village had been spreading rapidly.
The rumours were so easy to spread at the time because all Puritans believed that the Devil walked amoung the living. He was always looking for someone to prey on and pull from God, or he would harm you or a loved one, etc... According to legend their beliefs were so strong in the existance of the Devil being in the villiage that not even grown men would wonder into the woods at night.
This was a society without Charter from King George II of Great Britian signing the villages Charter, Salem Village had to rule with their own Government. The Church was your Judge, Jury, and Executioner and the most used sentancing at the time in Salem, MA were forms of Public Humiliation. The puritans believed if your darkest secret (crime) was exposed to the public. That when your neighbors, friends, loved ones could to see your sins, only then could you be cleansed of your wicked ways and become "Pure" again.
Prior to the events of 1692, if we look in Boston Massachusetts at the trial and execution of Ann Glover a washwoman who was accused of withcraft in 1688. Her accusers were the two young children of her employers the Goodwin family. She was accused of bewitching Martha Goodwin, 13 who was having fits, and convolsions.
Many things such as someone having a stillborn child, or dying farm animals, loss of crops, etc. were signs of the Devils work to the Puritans. These things coupled with their beliefs, aided the girls to take the village of Salem on a rollercoaster ride of accusations and innocent deaths of many innocent people.
Abigail Williams her Cousin Betty Paris, Mercy Lewis, as well as many others including Ann Putnam Jr, Betty Hubbard, Mary Walcott, Sussanah Sheldon, Mary Warren, and Elizabeth booth were all "afflicted" by witchcraft. Or so they claimed.
It all started when Tituba a slave in the Paris household began showing the girls "folk magick". In Particular, Tituba had taught the girls a game in which if they cracked an egg and dropped the contents into a glass of water, that the girls would be able to see images. One day in early January 1692, during one of these games one of the girls said she saw a dead mans coffin thusly starting the girls to have convulsions, or quiet spells for long periods of time.
The villiage Doctor at the time Dr. Griggs mentioned witchcraft as one solution to the girls ailment. Soon the girls convulsions and fits to the next level and claimed that Witches spectors (spirit, or familiar) would attack the girls in there homes by biting, pinching, and more.