Meet The Fox Sisters

Nov 26, 2016
central NC

It is generally agreed that the modern Spiritualist movement began on April 1, 1848, in the village of Hydesville, New York, when two sisters, Margaret (age 14) and Kate Fox (age 11), claimed that they had communicated with the ghost of a man murdered at their house years before their family moved in. The murdered man was a peddler named Charles B. Rosna. The sisters “chatted” with Mr. Rosna’s ghost using a code of one rap for yes, two raps for no. As word spread, the girls were soon demonstrating their skills to 400 locals in the town hall. Reports of the event appeared in the New York Tribune and subsequently in other newspapers in America and Europe.


The Fox sisters’ home in Hydesville, New York.
(Photo courtesy of “Hudson Valley Halloween Magazine”)
The Fox sisters created a sensation, not because there wasn’t a belief in spirits before—there was—but because they seemed to prove that spirits were there and could be interacted with by common folks. They began a successful career as mediums and were managed by their older sister, Leah.


The Fox sisters. From left to right: Margaret, Kate and Leah.

It should be noted that Margaret and Kate confessed that their rappings had been a hoax and publicly demonstrated their method in 1888. Margaret later attempted to recant her confession, but their reputation was ruined. All three sisters died less than five years later in abject poverty. However, even with their public confession, the Spiritualism movement continued to grow in popularity.

A book has been written on the lives of Margaret and Kate. It's entitled, "Talking to the Dead: Kate and Maggie Fox and the Rise of Spiritualism" by Barbara Weisberg.

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Sergeant Major
Forum Host
May 23, 2018
This is interesting! Thanks for sharing!

I've always found the Civil War-era interest in spiritualism interesting, though I must confess I am more familiar with it in relation to WWI. Always remember reading about Siegfried Sassoon's grief-stricken mother trying to use seances to contact her other son killed in the war and how badly it creeped out Robert Graves when he came to visit. :frown:

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