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REPORT OF THE MYSTERIOUS NOISES.
as prompt and pertinent as they had been to those of Mrs. Fox. She was struck with awe; and when, in reply to a question about the number of her children, by rapping four, instead of three as she expected, it reminded her of a little daughter, Mary, whom she had recently lost, the mother burst into tears.
But it avails not further to follow out in minute detail the issue of these disturbances, since the particulars have already been given, partly in the shape of formal depositions, in more than one publication,* and since they are not essential to the illustration of this branch of the subject.
It may, however, be satisfactory to the reader that I here subjoin to the above narrative-every particular of which I had from Mrs. Fox, her daughters Margaret and Kate, and her son David--a supplement, containing
* The earliest of these, published in Canandaigua only three weeks after the occurrences of the 31st of March, is a pamphlet of forty pages, entitled “ A Report of the Mysterious Noises heard in the house of Mr. John D. Fox, in Hydesville, Arcadia, Wayne County, authenticated by the certificates and confirmed by the statements of the citizens of that place and vicinity.” Canandaigua, published by E. E. Lewis, 1848. It contains twenty-one certificates, chiefly given by the immediate neighbors, including those of Mr. and Mrs. Fox, of their son and daughter-in-law, of Mrs. Redfield, &c. &c., taken chiefly on the 11th and 12th of April. For a copy of the above pamphlet, now very scarce, I am indebted to the family of Mr. Fox, whom I visited in August, 1859, at the house of the son, Mr. David Fox, when I had an opportunity to visit the small dwelling in which the above-related circumstances took place; descending to its cellar, the alleged scene of dark deeds. The house is now occupied by a farm-laborer, who, Faraday-like, “does not believe in spooks."
A more connected account, followed up by a history of the movement which had birth at Hydesville, is to be found in “Modern Spiritualism : its Facts and Fanaticisms,” by E. W. Capron, Boston, 1855, pp. 33 to 56.
Most of the witnesses signing the certificates above referred to offer to confirm their statements, if necessary, under oath; and they almost all expressly declare their conviction that the family had no agency in producing the sounds, that these were not referable to trick or deception or to any known natural cause, usually adding that they were no believers in the supernatural, and had never before heard or witnessed any thing not susceptible of a natural explanation.
ALLEGATIONS OF THE SOUNDS.
a brief outline as well of the events which immediately succeeded, as those, connected with the dwelling in question, which preceded, the disturbances of the 31st of March.
On that night the neighbors, attracted by the rumor of the disturbances, gradually gathered in, to the number of seventy or eighty, so that Mrs. Fox left the house for that of Mrs. Redfield, while the children were taken home by another neighbor. Mr. Fox remained.
Many of the assembled crowd, one after another, put questions to the noises, requesting that assent might be testified by rapping. When there was no response by raps, and the question was reversed, there were always rappings; thus indicating that silence was to be taken for dissent.
In this way the sounds alleged that they were produced by a spirit; by an injured spirit; by a spirit who had been injured in that house; between four and five years ago; not by any of the neighbors, whose names were called over one by one, but by a man who formerly resided in the house,-a certain John C. Bell, a blacksmith. His name was obtained by naming in succession the former occupants of the house.
The noises alleged, further, that it was the spirit of a man thirty-one years of age; that he had been murdered in the bedroom, for money, on a Tuesday night, at twelve o'clock; that no one but the murdered man and Mr. Bell were in the house at the time; Mrs. Bell and a girl named Lucretia Pulver, who worked for them, being both absent; that the body was carried down to the cellar early next morning, not through the outside cellar-door, but by being dragged through the parlor into the buttery and thence down the cellar-stairs; that it was buried, ten feet deep, in the cellar, but not until the night after the murder.
Thereupon the party assembled adjourned to the
ANSWERS OBTAINED IN THE CELLAR.
cellar, which had an earthen floor; and Mr. Redfield having placed himself on various parts of it, asking, each time, if that was the spot of burial, there was no response until he stood in the center: then the noises were heard, as from beneath the ground. This was repeated several times, always with a similar result, no sound occurring when he stood at any other place than the center. One of the witnesses describes the sounds in the cellar as resembling "a thumping a foot or two under ground.”*
Then a neighbor named Duesler called over the letters of the alphabet, asking, at each, if that was the initial of the murdered man's first name; and so of the second
The sounds responded at C and B. An attempt to obtain the entire name did not then succeed. At a later period the full name (as Charles B. Rosma) was given in the same way in reply to the questions of Mr. David Fox. Still it did not suggest itself to any one to attempt, by the raps, to have a communication spelled out. It is a remarkable fact, and one which in a measure explains the lack of further results at Tedworth and at Epworth, that it was not till about four months afterward, and at Rochester, that the very first brief
* “Report of the Mysterious Noises,” p. 25. See also p. 17.
Mr. Marvin Losey and Mr. David Fox state, in their respective certificates, that on the night of Saturday, April 1, when the crowd were asking questions, it was arranged that those in the cellar should all stand in one place, except one, Mr. Carlos Hyde, while that one moved about to different spots; and that Mr. Duesler, being in the bedroom above, where of course he could not see Mr. Hyde nor any one else in the cellar, should be the questioner. Then, as Mr. Hyde stepped about in the cellar, the question was repeated by Mr. Duesler in the bedroom, “Is any one standing over the place where the body was buried ?" In every instance, as soon as Mr. Hyde stepped to the center of the cellar the raps were heard, so that both those in the cellar and those in the rooms above heard them; but as often as he stood anywhere else there was silence. This was repeated, again and again.
* Report of the Mysterious Noises," pp. 26 and 28.
THE CIDEVILLE DISTURBANCES.
as she deposed, completely incredulous, and convinced that she could discover the cause of the disturbances. On the 8th of December, after vespers, being in the parsonage, and standing apart from any one, she felt her mantle seized by an invisible force, so as to give her a strong pull or shock, (une forte secousse.) Among various other phenomena, just one week before she gave her evidence, (January 22,) while she was alone with the children, she saw two desks, at which they were then engaged in writing, upset on the floor, and the table upset on the top of them. On the 28th of January, she saw a candlestick take flight from the kitchen chimneypiece and strike her femme-de-chambre on the back. She also, in company with her son, heard the knockings beat the measure of various airs. When it beat“ Maître Corbeau," she said, “Is that all you know ?” Whereupon it immediately beat the measure of “Claire de Lune" and “J'ai du bon Tobac.” During the beating of several of these airs, being alone with the children, she observed them narrowly,their feet, their hands, and all their movements. It was impossible that they should have done it.*
Another important witness, M. Robert de Saint-Victor, son of the preceding witness, deposed as follows. On the invitation of the curate, several days after the disturbances began, he visited the parsonage, about halfpast three in the afternoon. Going up-stairs, after a time he heard slight knockings on the wainscot. They resembled, yet were not exactly like, sounds produced by an iron point striking on hard wood. The witness arrived quite incredulous, and satisfied that he could discover the cause of these knockings. The first day they strongly excited his attention, but did not secure his conviction. The next day, at ten o'clock,
* Deposition of Marie-Françoise Adolphine Deschamps de Bois-Hebert, wife of M. de Saint-Victor.
in anatomy, proved to be portions of a human skeleton, including t#o bones of the hand and certain parts of the skull; but no connected skull was found.*
It remains briefly to trace the antecedents of the disturbed dwelling:
William Duesler, one of those who gave certificates touching this matter, and who offers to confirm his testimony under oath, states that he inhabited the same house seven years before, and that during the term of his residence there he never heard any noise of the kind in or about the premises. He adds that a Mr. Johnson, and others, who, like himself, had lived there before Mr. Bell occupied the dwelling, make the same statement.†
Mrs. Pulver, a near neighbor, states that, having called one morning on Mrs. Bell while she occupied the house, she (Mrs. B.) told her she felt very ill, not having slept at all during the previous night; and, on being asked what the matter was, Mrs. Bell said she had thought she heard some one walking about from one room to another. Mrs. Pulver further deposes that she heard Mrs. Bell, on subsequent occasions, speak of noises which she could not account for. I
The daughter of this deponent, Lucretia Pulver, states that she lived with Mr. and Mrs. Bell during part of the time they occupied the house, namely, for three months during the winter of 1843–44, sometimes working for them, sometimes boarding with them, and going to school, she being then fifteen years old. She says Mr. and Mrs. Bell “ appeared to be very good folks, only rather quick-tempered.”
She states that, during the latter part of her residence with them, one afternoon, about two o'clock, a peddler, on foot, apparently about thirty years of age, wearing a
*“ Modern Spiritualism," p. 53. Mr. David Fox, during my visit to him, confirmed to me the truth of this. | “Report of the Mysterious Noises," p. 16.
# Ibid pp. 37, 38.