Modern Spiritualism is, the thought that, the soul does not die. The spirit sheds the body and lives on, still able to communicate with the living.
Kate and Maggie Fox recognized as the founders of modern spiritualism started it all in a small town called Hydesville, NY in 1848. They took the world by storm for the next 40 years, starting a fad that thousands had followed. This caught the attention of critics who then investigated these mediums at séance’s. Many mediums were caught at fraud. Though, Kate and Maggie were investigated by hundreds of folks from all over the world they were never caught at fraud.
October 21, 1888 Maggie did the unimaginable at the New York Academy of Music, in front of a crowd of hundreds. Kate watching from a balcony gave her silent approval. Maggie dealt, what was called a death blow to spiritualism.
She said it was all a fraud, the knocks that were made, she made with her toes. She described it as perfect control of the muscles below the knee. After the confession of fraud, she then stood on a small table and gave the crowd a demonstration of how she made the knocks, with her toes. Doctors on the stage confirmed the knocks were coming from her big toe.
They’ve gone 40 years undetected, so why the confession? Many say the girls were very mischievous, who lived a life of fraud. But there are other reasons that may have prompted Maggie to confess.
One reason may have been her husband whom passed away many years ago, wanted her to give up talking to the spirits and convert to the catholic religion. Which she did, her husband (Elisha Kane) died soon after that and she eventually went back to talking to the spirits. It is believed the Catholic Church, which frowned on her, wanted her to give up spiritualism as she did before.
Another reason was her older sister Leah. Many believe the confession was to get back at Leah, who Kate and Maggie thought took advantage of them over the years. Back in 1848, when Leah discovered the girls were talking to spirits she took the girls in and began doing séances in her home, being their manager. Then over the years she took them all over New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Collecting what Maggie said to be 150.00 a night. Over the years Leah made her money and no longer needed the girls. She married into a well to do family, and wrote a book about spiritualism (the missing link). The book was about how she contacted spirits, both Kate and Maggie said most of the book was lies. She left the girls to fend for themselves.
Over the years, Kate and Maggie became heavy drinkers. Kate finally with the advice from the spirit of Benjamin Franklin during a séance decided to travel abroad and clean herself up. She did she moved to France and got married and had 2 children. She continued séances over the next 10 years and did make a manse with her sister Leah. Kate’s husband died and she moved back to the states, she moved in with Leah.
That didn’t last long, she soon moved out on her own. It’s believed that Leah was trying to take control of her life again. Kate was on her own for many years she didn’t need someone to tell her how to take care of her children.
Kate soon took to drinking again, and was then arrested for neglect of her children. She had a 12 year old and a 14 year old at home and she was drunk. The police took her children from her and put them in a home. Both, Kate and Maggie believed that Leah was behind all of this. Which prompted them to confess of fraud with the hopes it may ruin Leah’s good name.
Finally the last reason was a reporter allegedly offered Maggie 1500.00 if she did a demonstration of how she produced the raps. Maggie being in hard times took the offer.
There could be many more reasons why Maggie confessed. It could be it really was a fraud and a huge burden to carry. A year later Maggie said she was pressured into calling it a fraud, and said she still believes and talks to the spirits.
Kate may have been the real deal. Kate was the first to question the raps and discovered that the raps did answer. She was also said to go into a trance like state. Kate produced all kinds of phenomena such as: table tipping, automatic writing, pictures, raps, knocks, and apparitions.
William Crookes of England was a well known chemist. He was out to prove fraud among the mediums and finally had Kate join him in his laboratory. Like other investigators before him, he couldn’t find anything. She made a believer out of him. He said other mediums need a formal séance setting, not Kate. She only needed to place her hand on something. He held her hands and feet and still could hear raps in the room, and down the hall. A piece of paper held from a string would be rapped upon. He theorized that she may have been able to do this with her mind, thus the poltergeist theory was born, he did said if it’s done with the mind you cannot rule out spirits.
Another thing worth mentioning, 1903 some children playing in the Hydesville home, that Kate and Maggie lived in, found a human skeleton behind a stone wall. A doctor said he believed the skeleton to be about 50 years old. The spirit that communicated with Kate and Maggie said he was a peddler who was murdered and buried in the basement, in 1848.