No, it did not involves the clever trickster animal but the notorious Fox Sisters of the Spiritualist Movement…
Hydesville, NY will go down in history as the true birthing place of spiritualism. Here is where Margaretta (Maggie) and Catherine (Kate) claimed to have experienced the extraordinary events that would begin their controversial careers.
The Fox family lived in a shanty little cottage in a remote part of New York State. Dimwitted parents gave way to equally dimwitted children (I know it’s harsh, but nonetheless true), although Kate was said to be rather pretty. Kate and Maggie had four siblings, but none of them lived nearby. Their parents had the sisters at a very late period in life and were now middle-aged. Maggie and Kate had no friends and were not well schooled. It was 1848 and these girls were just plain bored. They were very, very bored. Did I mention they were bored? Their boredom was thankfully (?) ended in March of that year when the first of a series of mysterious events occurred.
Shortly after dusk approached on an evening in March 1848, the Fox family staggered to bed for a peaceful night’s sleep. Unfortunately for the family they were about to learn that peaceful nights were going to be few and far between. That night noises were heard coming from all over the house. It sounded like furniture being moved around. The house shook from the ferocity of the sounds. When the Foxes tried to investigate the sounds escalated from moving furniture to booming, rapping and cracking. This continued for more than a week. By the 31st of March the family learned that they could communicate with the source of the noises. Kate began by snapping her fingers in which the mysterious source of the noises replied. An ecstatic Mrs. Fox immediately ran to the neighbors to talk about the “miracle”.
Soon enough the stories of supernatural occurrences at the Fox home became a local sensation. It might have remained as such if not for Leah Fox Fish. Leah was in fact Maggie and Kate’s older sister. She had married and had a daughter by Mr. Fish who turned out to be what we would call a “dead-beat dad” today. Leah, an accomplished music teacher was able to fend for herself.
Leah Fox Fish heard about her sisters’ remarkable new foray into the strange and unusual thanks to a pamphlet written by E. E. Lewis of Canandaigua, NY. Lewis had heard about the Fox sisters and, curious, came to see the phenomena first hand. After interviewing several of the eyewitnesses he was able to scribble out the pamphlet that eventually came into the hands of Leah. Lewis more than likely never realized that he would be the first to write anything on the spiritualist movement that was very close over the horizon.
Evidence exists that suggests the sisters were faking the phenomena from the beginning. If Leah Fish Fox knew of any faking, she didn’t admit it or seemed to care. She quickly became the girl’s, well, for lack of better term, agent. They went public and became national sensations. It has been theorized that by 1852 there were more than 30,000 mediums just in the United States. English mathematician Augustus de Morgan wrote,
“It came upon them like a smallpox and the land was spotted with mediums before the wise and prudent had had time to lodge the first half-dozen in a madhouse.”
Leah toured the country with her sisters in tow. They met famous people and visited many famous places. Eventually Leah would remarry a wealthy socialite and would become known as a well respected “medium” herself. She turned her back on Maggie and Kate when they were no longer profitable. By 1888 the two youngest Fox sisters were alcoholics who had, between them, lost their savings, children and husbands. They had renounced spiritualism and admitted they were frauds and then retracted their statements. To this day no one knows if they faked all the events or some of them. Only a few believe they didn’t falsify any of it. Margaretta and Catherine both died in 1892 just a few months apart laid to rest in a pauper’s graves. Spiritualism was on the move and even the White House wasn’t impervious against the invasion! First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln held séances on a regular basis in the president’s home. Mediums were popping up on every corner faster than you can say “ectoplasm”.
THE FOX BOX
Although most scholars believe the Fox Sisters to have always been a hoax, The Order of St. George’s personal archives suggest otherwise.
An investigator for the Order discovered in the early days of the Fox Sisters budding fame that they had inquired, from a mysterious benefactor, an equally mysterious box. Shortly after the stranger with “a devilish look about him” left, the box seemed to become an epicenter for paranormal activity. It wasn’t until the Order’s investigator removed the box that activity began to wain.
Several other boxes soon appeared around the world. Each one a source of supernatural forces with varying degrees of damage and fear inducing stress. Some of these boxes were painted with arcane sigils while others were flat black. All known original boxes are currently in the possession of the Order of St. George.
Expect delivery in 3-5 weeks.