Their family, going back to the Salem witch trials,
had long had a history of psychic ability. These abilities seemed
to concentrated in William and Horatio Eddy though, creating two of
the most powerful supernatural magnets and spiritual mediums that
the world has ever seen.
Growing up on a small farm near
Chittenden, Vermont, both brothers exhibited strong psychic
abilities from an early age. When they dropped into trances,
all manner of supernatural things would happen around them.
Their father constantly tried to "beat them out of"
the trances, but to no avail.
He eventually got sick of trying and sold the two boys to a
traveling sideshow, where they would be for the next 14 years
as it toured through America, Canada and Europe. The crowds
that came to see them "perform" in these shows made
their father's abuse seem almost tame, for one of the sideshow
owner's gimmicks was to challenge audience members to try and
wake the Eddys from their psychic trances.
They were beaten and abused almost daily, and even stoned and
shot at on occasion by mobs believing them to be possessed by
demons. When their father finally died, William and Horatio
returned home to live with their sister Mary. There, the three
of them opened a small inn they called the Green Tavern. In
addition to lodging travelers, the Green Tavern was also the
sport of regularly scheduled séances that the brothers
put on for visitors from around the world.
Enter Henry Steel Olcott. A respected attorney and war
hero (he even sat on the three-man commission looking into the Lincoln
assassination), Olcott became intrigued with the Eddy brothers after
reading about them in a spiritual newspaper. In 1874 he headed to
Vermont to meet with the brothers and decide for himself whether they
were charlatans or a validation of that period's Spiritualist movement.
Olcott spent several weeks with the Eddy brothers, during
which time he observed a number of séances that William and
Horatio put on (for free) for the public. A typical séance
would have the audience gathered in the "circle" room at
the tavern. One of the brothers would enter a special spirit box at
the front of the room (essentially just a small room with a chair
in it) and lapse into a deep trance, at which point the show would
start. Instruments would start playing music on their own, various
noises could be heard and strange lights would be seen. Then the spirits
would start filing out of the spirit box, sometimes 20-30 of them
in an evening. These spirits would perform, sing and talk to the audience,
sometimes in foreign languages that the illiterate Eddy brothers could
have never known. Essentially the brothers were capable of conjuring
up a wide array of supernatural activities, including automatic writing,
psychic healing, levitation, teleportation and prophecy.
Henry Steel Olcott came away from his visit without
a whole lot of love for the Eddy brothers, but absolutely convinced
that they were not charlatans. He hired numerous engineers, carpenters
and consultants to thoroughly examine the "circle" room
and found no evidence of false panels or hidden passages. Even if
the Eddy brothers were capable of pulling off such a deception, it
would have taken a sizable troupe of players and considerable resources
to do it, something well beyond the simple farmers from Vermont who
didn't so much as charge people to attend the séances (although
they did charge a minimal amount in board for anyone staying at the
Olcott chronicled his stay in several newspaper articles
From Other Worlds, a sizable book (still in print) where he
described everything he saw and included illustrations and interviews
with witnesses and experts.
--excerpted from Click
or Treat: The Best of Halloween and Horror on the Internet
by Rich Gray