The Hydesville Rappings were the first phenomenon, and it was the beginning of the Fox Sisters' careers.
The Fox family moved into a house in Hydesville, NY was the rappings first started. The people in the town claimed a spirit haunted the house.
The Michael Weekman family, who owned the house in Hydesville prior to the John Fox family, claimed the family had run into "strange and unnerving incidents" (Fornell 10). One evening while the Weekman's were still living there, Michael Weekman reported strange knocking/rapping on his front door. Every time he answered the door, no one was there. Weekman even resorted to going outside and looking around every corner of his house. Each time the phenomena started, he could feel the door move as if someone was actually knocking on the door. Weeks later the there was an incident with the Weekman's eight-year-old daughter. The child had just gone to sleep for the night, and she told could feel someone or something run their hand over her sheets. When the hand touched her face it was cold. She was so struck with terror that she could not call out to her parents. After this occurrence, the young child refused to go into the bedroom after dark. The Weekman family had experienced enough strange incidences and moved out of the house.
The Fox family, well known in their community (Fornell 10), moved in to the old Weekman house. It was only weeks later that the rappings that the Weekman family had heard, were keeping the Fox family up at night. On the night of March 31, 1848 the rappings were more relentless than any other night. Mrs. Fox had checked every window and door to make sure they were locked tight, and threatened Margaret and Kate to say quiet and not reprimand the rappings. One of the young girls sat up in her bed and snapped her fingers and said, "Here, Mr. Splitfoot, do as I do!"** Then the same child raised her hand to silently communicate with Mr. Splitfoot. Every time the young girl made a different form of silent communication, the rapper gave the correct response. "Oh Mother look it can see as well as hear!" (Fornell 11)
Kate and Margaret's brother thought that the rappings could be decoded using the alphabet. A neighbor decided that the man was murdered by a man with the name of Charles B. Rosma (Ross 90). The body was supposedly buried in the cellar of the house. Being the curious people they were, they looked in the cellar hoping find the body. Nothing confirmed was found, but the family claimed that there were fragments of bone under the dirt floor. A local doctor had also claimed that there was hair and a fragment of a human skull found (Fornell 14).
The Fox house was a spectacle for the whole town. The Fox house was commonly flooded every night with visitors from the community and even from neighboring communities to hear the mysterious rappings.
As any good Methodist family would do, they called in the clergymen to help them with this problem. It was decided that the children should be sent away to Rochester to live with their older sister, Leah.
**Fornell 11, McHargue 32, Ross 90
Each source disputes as to which daughter actually said this statement.
Page created by Ashley Fields
Religion In America (History 338)
Last updated: 3-22-01