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THE CIDEVILLE DISTURBANCES.
shape of several letters written by respectable gentlemen who visited the parsonage during the disturbances. One is from the assistant judge of a neighboring tribunal, M. Rousselin. He found the curate profoundly afflicted by his painful position, and obtained from him. every opportunity of cross-questioning, separately, the children, M. Tinel's sister, and his servant. Their entire demeanor bore the impress of truthfulness. Their testimony was clear, direct, and uniformly consistent. He found the window-panes broken, and boards set up against them. Another gentlemen states that, on his arrival at the parsonage, he was struck with the sad and unhappy look of the curate, who, he adds, impressed him, from his appearance, as a most worthy man.
All these letters fully corroborate the preceding testimony.
It would be difficult to find a case more explicit or better authenticated than the foregoing. Yet it is certain that the phenomena it discloses, closely as these resemble what has been occurring for ten years past all over the United States, are not traceable, directly or indirectly, through the influence of imitation, epidemic excitement, or otherwise, to the Spiritual movement among us. The history of the Rochester knockings, then but commencing here, had never reached the humble parsonage of Cideville, and afforded no explanation to its alarmed inmates of the annoyances which broke their quiet and excited their fears.
I might go on, indefinitely, extending the number of similar narratives, but a repetition would prove nothing more than is established by the specimens already given. I therefore here close my list of disturbances occurring in Europe, and proceed to furnish, in conclusion, from the most authentic sources, that example, already referred to, occurring in our own country, which has
become known, in Europe as well as America, under the name of the "ROCHESTER KNOCKINGS."
THE HYDESVILLE DWELLING-HOUSE.
Disturbances in Western New York,
There stands, not far from the town of Newark, in the county of Wayne and State of New York, a wooden dwelling,—one of a cluster of small houses like itself, scarcely meriting the title of a village, but known under the name of Hydesville; being so called after Dr. Hyde, an old settler, whose son is the proprietor of the house in question. It is a story and a half high, fronting south; the lower floor consisting, in 1848, of two moderate-sized rooms, opening into each other; east of these a bedroom, opening into the sitting-room, and a buttery, opening into the same room; together with a stairway, (between the bedroom and buttery,) leading from the sitting-room up to the half-story above, and from the buttery down to the cellar.
This humble dwelling had been selected as a temporary residence, during the erection of another house in the country, by Mr. John D. Fox.
The Fox family were reputable farmers, members of the Methodist Church in good standing, and much respected by their neighbors as honest, upright people. Mr. Fox's ancestors were Germans, the name being originally Voss; but both he and Mrs. Fox were native born. In Mrs. Fox's family, French by origin and Rutan by name, several individuals had evinced the power of second-sight, her maternal grandmother, whose maiden name was Margaret Ackerman, and who resided at Long Island, among the number. She had, frequently, perceptions of funerals before they occurred, and was wont to follow these phantom processions to the grave as if they were material.
Mrs. Fox's sister also, Mrs. Elizabeth Higgins, had similar power. On one occasion, in the year 1823, the two sisters, then residing in New York, proposed to go to Sodus by canal. But Elizabeth said, one morning, "We shall not make this trip by water." "Why so?" her sister asked. "Because I dreamed last night that we traveled by land, and there was a strange lady with us. In my dream, too, I thought we came to Mott's tavern, in the Beech woods, and that they could not admit us, because Mrs. Mott lay dying in the house. I know it will all come true." "Very unlikely indeed," replied her sister; "for last year, when we passed there, Mr. Mott's wife lay dead in the house." "You will see. He must have married again; and he will lose his second wife." Every particular came to pass as Mrs. Higgins had predicted. Mrs. Johnson, a stranger, whom at the time of the dream they had not seen, did go with them, they made the journey by land, and were refused admittance into Mott's tavern, for the very cause assigned in Mrs. Higgins's dream.
Mr. and Mrs. Fox had six children, of whom the two youngest were staying with them when, on the 11th. of December, 1847, they removed into the house I have described. The children were both girls: Margaret, then twelve years old; and Kate, nine.
Soon after they had taken up their residence in the dwelling referred to, they began to think it was a very noisy house; but this was attributed to rats and mice. During the next month, however, (January, 1848,) the noise began to assume the character of slight knockings heard at night in the bedroom; sometimes appearing to sound from the cellar beneath. At first Mrs. Fox sought to persuade herself this might be but the hammering of a shoemaker, in a house hard by, sitting up late at work. But further observation showed that the sounds, whencesoever proceeding, originated in the
COMMENCEMENT OF THE
house. For not only did the knockings gradually become more distinct, and not only were they heard first in one part of the house, then in another, but the family finally remarked that these raps, even when not very loud, often caused a motion, tremulous rather than a sudden jar, of the bedsteads and chairs,-sometimes of the floor; a motion which was quite perceptible to the touch when a hand was laid on the chairs, which was sometimes sensibly felt at night in the slightly oscillating motion of the bed, and which was occasionally perceived as a sort of vibration even when standing on the floor.
After a time, also, the noises varied in their character, sounding occasionally like distinct footfalls in the different rooms.
Nor were the disturbances, after a month or two had passed, confined to sounds. Once something heavy, as if a dog, seemed to lie on the feet of the children; but it was gone before the mother could come to their aid. Another time (this was late in March) Kate felt as if a cold hand on her face. Occasionally, too, the bed-clothes were pulled during the night. Finally chairs were moved from their places. So, on one occasion, was the dining-table.
The disturbances, which had been limited to occasional knockings throughout February and the early part of March, gradually increased, toward the close of the latter month, in loudness and frequency, so seriously as to break the rest of the family. Mr. Fox and his wife got up night after night, lit a candle, and thoroughly searched every nook and corner of the house; but without any result. They discovered nothing. When the raps came on a door, Mr. Fox would stand, ready to open, the moment they were repeated. But this expedient, too, proved unavailing. Though he opened the door on the instant, there was no one to be seen. Nor did he or Mrs. Fox ever
obtain the slightest clew to the cause of these disturb
The only circumstance which seemed to suggest the possibility of trickery or of mistake was, that these various unexplained occurrences never happened in daylight.
And thus, notwithstanding the strangeness of the thing, when morning came they began to think it must have been but the fancy of the night. Not being given to superstition, they clung, throughout several weeks of annoyance, to the idea that some natural explanation of these seeming accidents would at last appear. Nor did they abandon this hope till the night. of Friday, the 31st of March, 1848.
The day had been cold and stormy, with snow on the ground. In the course of the afternoon, a son, David, came to visit them from his farm, about three miles distant. His mother then first recounted to him the particulars of the annoyances they had endured; for till now they had been little disposed to communicate these to any one. He heard her with a smile. "Well, mother," he said, “I advise you not to say a word to the neighbors about it. When you find it out, it will be one of the simplest things in the world." And in that belief he returned home.
Wearied out by a succession of sleepless nights and of fruitless attempts to penetrate the mystery, the Fox family retired on that Friday evening very early to rest, hoping for a respite from the disturbances that harassed them. But they were doomed to disappointment.
The parents had had the children's beds removed into their bedroom, and strictly enjoined them not to talk of noises even if they heard them. But scarcely had the mother seen them safely in bed, and was retiring to rest herself, when the children cried out, "Here they are again!" The mother chid them, and lay down.