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A girl falls sick and accusations fly. A town of Puritans who came to America to flee religious persecution find themselves becoming what they once beheld. Welcome to Salem, Massachusetts, 1692. History is about to take a turn for the horrific and it all started in Salem. Population? A mere 600 residents. But, by the time the witchcraft paranoia had run its course at least 24 apparently innocent victims were dead -- most of them hanged.

The Salem Witch Trials and all of the related executions took place between June and September in 1692. It all started when a group of girls became ill and went into convulsions. History points to the probability of either ergot poisoning or simply adolescent hysteria as the root of these fits, but these were different times. Once the girls began blurting out names of area residents the accusations that these girls were being possessed by the individuals that were named.

It didn't hurt that the town was going through political strife between separatists and local supporters. So the enemies were there for the picking -- and they did get picked.

Under British colonial law practicing witchcraft was a felony -- a felony punishable by death. When Bridget Biship was hung to death on June 10 it started one of the darkest chapters in colonial history. 19 residents were hung. One was even pressed to death -- where heavy stones were loaded on top of his body until it collapsed. At least four more, possibly including an infant, died in prison awaiting either trial or execution.

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