I first met the pesky little critters when I was researching my book Passing Strange.
I had found them mentioned in Thomas Weston's History of Middleborough MA (1906). As I recall he doesn't specifically state that they are supernatural or especially malevolent. They certainly were not portrayed as demonic.
My friend Robert Schneck (author of The President's Vampire) tells me "The name appears in some Hiawatha-influenced poetry, but I think 'In the Fairyland of America' by Herbert Quick is the first book to take a longer look at the stories."
That moves their print debut back to 1901.
Although the little Puckers are usually portrayed as New Englanders, there is reason to believe that "Puk-wudjee" or "Pukwudjee" or "Puk-wud-jee" was a co-opted Ojibwa term.
Who knows. Maybe because "Pukwudgie" is easier to pronounce than "Muhkeaweesug" which, I think, was the local Native American designation for our resident little people.
Harder to explain why they've turned evil and suddenly raised their ugly heads among "Paranormal Groups". Just recently I received two calls from two different producers of the same "Reality show" asking me to talk about them. Supposedly the Puckers are are attacking some family from CT or RI or something.
I said no, of course. At this point the only thing that interests me about them is the similarity of names -- "Puk" and "Puck" -- but otherwise I tend to toss them off as one variant of multiple Native American little people.
I'd love to broaden my horizons. Anyone want to comment on Puk-wudjees or have anything to add?