The Other Fox Sisters and the Spiritualist Movement

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excerpt from A Fox Family History by Kevin A. Fox:

The Fox Sisters and the Birth of Spiritualism

There seems to be in the Fox family a strength and peculiar ability … an innate something which attracts and inspires.
—Mariam Buckner Pond, 1947

Introduction

The cottage where Margaret and Katie Fox first communicated with spirits.

The cottage where Margaret and Katie Fox first communicated with spirits.

My children grew up in Fredonia, New York, just five miles north of Lily Dale Assembly, which bills itself as “The World’s Largest Center for the Science, Philosophy and Religion of Spiritualism.” During the summer months it is the largest community of “spiritualists” in the US. The Fox sisters of Hydesville, New York are still celebrated worldwide as key figures in establishing the Spiritualism movement in the US and Europe in the mid-nineteenth century (Putnam, 2003). They are still spoken of reverently in Lily Dale, where one can see various monuments to their work—the Lily Dale Museum is filled with documents and relics relating to their lives. While I remain a curious skeptic, my daughters and their friends have more directly investigated the possibility of communication with spirits by having occasional “readings” by resident “mediums.” When they tell me the results of their readings I am often at a loss to explain how the “counselors” come by the information they seem to possess. If you travel to Western New York, I urge you to schedule a personal reading with any of the celebrated “mediums” at Lily Dale and make your own determination.

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Ghosts

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Greencrest Ghost

Many societies have a traditional belief in ghosts or spirits of the dead. The existence of ghosts have been reported worldwide and throughout history. The manner in which these apparitions take form varies in different cultures, but they generally appear as translucent or semi-transparent figures. Ghosts are sometimes known to move objects or take possession of others. Efforts to bring forth or communicate with specters of the dead have taken place through various rituals including the seances that typified the spiritualist movement that developed in 19th century Europe and America. Ghosts will inhabit particular locations, objects, or even people. Ghosts are often characterized as either lost souls, harbingers, or malicious spirits.

ghost