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The Eddy Brothers

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 Green Tavern).

Olcott chronicled his stay in several newspaper articles and People 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

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