(Ann) Leah Fox (1814-1890)
Margaret Fox (1833-1893)
Kate (Catherine) Fox (1836-1892)
The Fox family moved into a house in Hydesville, New York, in 1847 and began to hear rappings and experience paranormal phenomena. They called together neighbors and the community to witness the strange happenings. Paranormal knocks made in the walls claimed to be from a man murdered in the house some years before the Fox family occupied it. His skeleton was later found burried in the cellar. The Fox's had three daughters who went on to become spirit mediums. Their seances inspired others who had similar abilities to practice spirit communication. This gave birth to the Spiritualist movement. The sister are reported to have died impoverished alcoholics.
In 1916 the Hydesville house where the Fox family lived in 1848 was moved to Lily Dale, a campground in western New York. It served at times as an informal headquarters for American Spiritualists. Unfortunately, it burned to the ground in 1955. It was reconstructed in 1968 as a tourist attraction on the Hydesville site. The building bears a commemorative marker reading: "Birthplace of Modern Spiritualism 1848." The building identifies the place in the cellar wall where a man's bones were discovered.
The mother, Margaret, gave the following signed testimony describing the paranormal occurrences:
"On the night of the first disturbance we all got up, lighted a candle and searched the entire house, the noises continuing during the time and being heard near the same place. Although not very loud, it produced a jar of the bedsteads and chairs that could be felt when we were in bed. It was a tremulous motion, more than a sudden jar. We could feel the jar when standing on the floor. It continued on this night until we slept. I did not sleep until about twelve o'clock. On March 30 we were disturbed all night. The noises were heard in all parts of the house. My husband stationed himself outside the door while I stood inside, and the knocks came on the door between us. We heard footsteps in the pantry, and walking downstairs; we could not rest, and I then concluded that the house must be haunted by some unhappy restless spirit. I had often heard of such things, but had never witnessed anything of the kind that I could not account for before.
"On Friday night, March 31, 1848, we concluded to go to bed early and not permit ourselves to be disturbed by the noises, but try and get a night's rest. My husband was here on all these occasions, heard the noises and helped in the search. It was very early when we went to bed on this night—hardly dark. I had been so broken of my rest I was almost sick. My husband had not gone to bed when we first heard the noise on this evening. I had just lain down. It commenced as usual. I knew it from all the other noises I had ever heard before. The children, who slept in the other bed in the room, heard the rapping and tried to make similar sounds by snapping their fingers.
"My youngest child, Cathie, said: 'Mr. Splitfoot, do as I do,' clapping her hands. The sound instantly followed her with the same number of raps. When she stopped the sound ceased for a short time. Then Margaretta said, in sport, 'No, do just as I do. Count one, two, three, four,' striking one hand against the other at the same time; and the raps came as before. She was afraid to repeat them. Then Cathie said in her childish simplicity, 'Oh, mother, I know what it is. To-morrow is April-fool day and it is somebody trying to fool us.' "I then thought I could put a test that no one in the place could answer. I asked the noise to rap my different children's ages, successively. Instantly each one of my children's ages was given correctly, pausing between them sufficiently long to individualize them until the seventh, at which a longer pause was made, and then three more emphatic raps were given, corresponding to the age of the little one that died, which was my youngest child.
"I then asked: 'Is this a human being that answers my questions so correctly?' There was no rap. I asked 'Is it a spirit? If it is make two raps.' Two sounds were given as soon as the request was made. I then said: 'If it was an injured spirit, make two raps,' which were instantly made, causing the house to tremble. I asked: 'Were you injured in this house?' The answer was given as before. 'Is the person living that injured you?' Answered by raps in the same manner. I ascertained by the same simple method that it was a man, aged 31 years, that he had been murdered in this house and his remains were buried in the cellar; that his family consisted of a wife and five children, two sons and three daughters, all living at the time of his death, but that the wife had since died. I asked: 'Will you continue to rap if I call my neighbors that they may hear it too?' The raps were loud in the affirmative.
"My husband went and called in Mrs. Redfield, our nearest neighbor. She is a very candid woman. The girls were sitting up in bed clinging to each other and trembling with terror. I think I was as calm as I am now. Mrs. Redfield came immediately (this was about half past seven), thinking she would have a laugh at the children. But when she saw them pale with fright and nearly speechless, she was amazed and believed there was something more serious than she had supposed. I asked a few questions for her and she was answered as before. He told her age exactly. She then called her husband, and the same questions were asked and answered.
"Then Mr. Redfield called in Mr. Duesler and wife, and several others. Mr. Duesler then called in Mr. and Mrs. Hyde, also Mr. and Mrs. Jewell. Mr. Duesler asked many questions and received answers. I then named all the neighbors I could think of and asked if any of them had injured him and received no answer. Mr. Duesler then asked questions and received answers. He asked 'Were you murdered?' Raps affirmative. 'Can your murderer be brought to justice?' No sound. 'Can he be punished by law?' No answer. He then said: 'If your murderer cannot be punished by the law manifest it by raps,' and the raps were made clearly and distinctly. In the same way Mr. Duesler ascertained that he was murdered in the east bedroom about five years ago and that the murder was committed by a Mr.— on a Tuesday night at twelve o'clock; that he was murdered by having his throat cut with a butcher's knife; that the body was taken through the buttery, down the stairway and that it was buried ten feet below the surface of the ground. It was also ascertained that he was murdered for his money by raps affirmative.
"'How much was it—one hundred?' No rap. 'Was it two hundred?' etc., and when he mentioned five hundred the raps replied in the affirmative.
"Many called in who were fishing in the creek, and all heard the same questions and answers. Many remained in the house all night. I and my children left the house. My husband remained in the house with Mr. Redfield all night. On the next Saturday the house was filled to overflowing. There were no sounds heard during the day, but they commenced again in the evening. It was said that there were over three hundred persons present at the time. On Sunday morning the noises were heard throughout the day by all who came to the house.
"On Saturday night, April 1, they commenced digging in the cellar; they dug until they came to water and then gave it up. The noise was not heard on Sunday evening nor during the night. Stephen B. Smith and wife (my daughter Marie) and my son David S. Fox and wife, slept in the room this night.
"I have heard nothing since that time until yesterday. In the forenoon of yesterday there were several questions answered in way by rapping. I have heard the noise several times to-day.
"I am not a believer in haunted houses or supernatural appearances. I am very sorry there has been so much excitement about it. It has been a great deal of trouble to us. It was our misfortune to live here at this time; but I am willing and anxious that the truth should be known and that a true statement should be made. I cannot account for these noises; all that I know is that they have been heard repeatedly as I have stated. I have heard this rapping again this (Tuesday) morning, April 4. My children have also heard it."
John D. Fox then signed the following statement:
"I have also heard the above statement of my wife, Margaret Fox, read, and hereby certify that the same is true in all its particulars. I heard the same rappings which she has spoken of, in answer to the questions, as stated by her. There have been a great many questions besides those asked, and answered in the same way. Some have been asked a great many times and they have always received the same answer. There has never been any contradiction whatever.
"I do not know of any way to account for those noises, as being caused by any natural means. We have searched every nook and corner in and about the house at different times to ascertain if possible whether anything or anybody was secreted there that could make the noise and have not been able to find anything which would or could explain the mystery. It has caused a great deal of trouble and anxiety.
"Hundreds have visited the house, so that it is impossible for us to attend to our daily occupations; and I hope that, whether caused by natural or supernatural means, it will be ascertained soon. The digging in the cellar will be resumed as soon as the water settles, and then it can be ascertained whether there are any indications of a body ever having been buried there; and if there are I shall have no doubt but that it is of supernatural origin."
Source: "Fox Sisters," Occultism and Parapsychology Encyclopedia.
Edited by mrsspookypants, 27 June 2009 - 10:05 AM.