160 Years of Spiritualism
To many Spiritualists, the 31st March 1848 marks the beginning of the modern Spiritualist movement. Kate and Margaretta Fox first made contact with the discarnate spirit of a pedlar called Charles B Rosna on that date in Hydesville, New York.
This month is the 160th anniversary of Spiritualism and to mark this event, it seems only fitting to elaborate on the events of the Hydesville Rappings.
The house was located in Hydesville, New York, about twenty miles from Rochester, and was previously occupied by a Michael Weekman, who during his time at the house, had noticed phenomena which included knocking on the front door, only to find that nobody was there. Weekman's eight year old daughter also had a frightening experience of what felt like a cold hand touching her face in the night and she refused to sleep in her room again. It is recorded that the Weekman family moved out of the house soon after these strange disturbances.
The Fox family with their two daughters Margaretta (14) and Kate (11), moved into the house in December of 1847. For the first two months of their tenancy they experienced nothing unusual. But it was during March of 1848 that the first rappings occurred. Starting quietly like a knocking sound, but gradually increasing in intensity to such a point that furniture moved.
The Fox sisters refused to sleep in their bedroom due to the phenomena which continued unabated until the 31st March 1848 when Kate Fox finally challenged the rappings to repeat the snaps of her fingers. In this historic moment the spirit copied Kate and so this was the one of the first recorded communications between incarnate and discarnate beings. The rappings of a murdered pedlar buried in the cellar of the house had made the link between two worlds. The events in Hydesville kick started the Spiritualist movement in America and eventually across the world.
A great deal of testimony and statements exist regarding events taking place in the Hydesville House even before the Fox Sisters lived there. The following statement was made by Mrs. Ann Pulver who was a friend of the Bell family who lived there at the time that the pedlar was murdered.
A further statement was made by Miss Lucretia Pulver:-
Michael Weekman's wife Hannah who lived in the house between 1846 and 1847 made the following statement:-
I have heard about the mysterious noises that have been heard in the house now occupied by Mr. Fox. We used to live in the same house; we lived there about a year and a half and moved from there to the house we now occupy. About a year ago, while we were living there, we heard someone, as we supposed, rapping on the outside door. I had just got into bed, but my husband had not. He went and opened it, and said that there was no one there. He came back, and was about getting into bed when we heard the rapping on the door again. He then went to the door and opened it, and said that he could see no one, although he stepped out a little way. He then came back and got into bed. He was quite angry; he thought 'twas some of the neighbouring boys trying to disturb us, and said that "They might knock away, but they would not fool him," or something of that kind. The knocking was heard again, and after a while he got up and went to the door and went out. I told him not to go outdoors, for perhaps somebody wanted to get him out and hurt him. He came back, and said he could see nothing. We heard a good deal of noise during the night; we could hardly tell where it was: it sounded sometimes as if someone was walking in the cellar. But the house was old, and we thought it might be the rattling of loose boards, or something of that kind.
A few nights afterwards, one of our little girls, who slept in the bedroom where the noises are now heard, woke us all up by screaming very loud. My husband and I, and our hired girl, got up immediately to see what was the matter. She sat up in bed, crying and screaming, and it was some time before we could find out what the matter was. She said that something had been moving about, over her head and face that it was cold, and she did not know what it was. She said that she felt it all over her, but she was most alarmed at feeling it on her face. She was very much frightened. This was between twelve and one o'clock at night. She got up and got into bed with us, and it was a long time before she could go to sleep. It was several days before we could get her to sleep in that room again. She was eight years old at that time.
Nothing else happened to me during the time that we lived there; but my husband told me that one night he heard someone call him by name, somewhere in the house he did not know where but could never find out where or what it was that night. I was not at home that night. I was sitting up with a sick person. We did not think the house was haunted at that time.
April 11th, 1848.
In the years that followed the ground breaking events in Hydesville, many pioneers of Spiritualism have helped to bring comfort with the truth of the survival of human consciousness after death.
The evidence of survival, 160 years on, is proven through the mediumship of Spiritualists who share the message that the Spirit World exists and that our loved ones on the other side are only a thought away.
On Monday 31st March 2008, I will be lighting a candle in remembrance of that evening in Hydesville 160 years ago, when the Spirit World finally made contact with the living.