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Virtual Vermonter - 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.
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
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