from the New York World, October 21, 1888
On many occasions, THE WORLD has been able to expose the fraudulent practices of so-called spirit mediums and turn the bright light of careful investigation upon the secret methods of these social vampires. Several times have WORLD reporters torn the white robes from the mediums as they groped about their darkened parlors deceiving their dupes into the belief that the returned spirits of their friends were before them. Besides this many persons have been saved from the clutches of these soulless impostors just as the mediums were about to hold them within their avaricious grasp.
The Exposure is Complete
The unparalleled excitement caused by these young girls suggested to the minds of many unscrupulous persons the vast financial field that lay before anybody who should pretend similar mediumistic powers. At once there were hundreds of mediums in all parts of the country and the number of these impostors has increased year by year. Now the Fox sisters have come forward and as a matter of long-neglected duty to the public and for their own peace of mind say boldly that theirs has been a life of deception and fraud. As the first and greatest of all mediums the weight of their evedence can not fail to sound the death knell of the abominable business which they, at an age when they knew not what they did, began and have seen flourish into one gigantic world-wide fraud.
The statement which THE WORLD gives was prepared by Mrs.
Margaret Fox Kane, the widow of the famous artic explorer, Dr.
Kane. This she will repeat to-nite at the Academy of Music, and
she will demonstrate to all, as she has to a WORLD reporter, exactly
how she preforms the tricks which have deluded 8,000,000 people
in this country alone. At the same time Dr. C. M. Richmond and
Mr. Frank W. Stecham will expose the many other tricks and illusions
commonly practiced by mediums at their seances. The admission
to the Academy to-night has been placed at such a figure as to
merely pay the expenses of the exposure, which is made purely
in the interest of the public.
Mrs Margaret Fox Kane Tells the Story
I think that it is about time that the truth of this miserable subject "Spiritualism"
should be brought out. It is now widespread all over the world, and unless it is
put down soon it will do great evil. I was the first in the field and have the right
to expose it.
My sister Kate and myself were very young children when this horrible deception
began. I was eight, and just a year and half older than she. We were very
mischievous children and we wanted to terrify our dear mother, who was a
very good woman and very easily frightened. At night, when we went to bed, we
used to tie an apple to a string and move the string up and down, causing the
apple to bump on the floor, or we would drop the apple on the floor, making a strange
noise every time it would rebound. My mother listened to this for a time.
She could not understand it and did not suspect us of being capable of a trick
because we were so young.
Childish Mischief at First
At last she could stand it no longer and she called the neighbors in and told
them about it. It was this that set us to discover the means of making the raps.
I think, when I reflect about it, that it was a most wonderful discovery - a very
wonderful thing that children so young should make such a discovery, and all
through mischief. Children will always find means to accomplish mischief.
And to the thought of spirits, this never entered our brains. We were too young
to know anything about that.
Our eldest sister, Mrs. Underhill, was twenty-three years of age when I was born.
She was in Rochester when these tricks first began, but came to Hydesville, the
little village in central New York were we lived and were born, shortly after.
My father and mother were very good, honest people and great friends with the
Hyde family for whom the village was named and who lived near. They took a great
fancy to us and we were especial favorites of the Hydes, both before and after
the notoriety that our rappings made became widespread. All the people around,
as I have said, were called in to witness these manifestations. My siter, now
Mrs. Daniel Underhill - she was Mrs. Fish then - began to form a society of
spiritualists. There were so many people coming to the house that we were not
able to make use of the apple trick except when we were in bed and the room
was dark. Even then we could hardly do it so that the only way was to rap on
And this is the way we began. First as a mere trick to frighten mother, and
then, when so many people came to see us children, we were frighten ourselves
and kept it up. We were then taken by Mrs. Underhill to Rochester. There it was
that we discovered how to make the other raps. My sister Kate was the first one
to discover that by swishing her fingers she could produce a certain noise with
the knuckles and joints, and that the same effect could be made with the toes.
Finding that we could make raps with our feet - first with one foot, then with
both - we practiced until we could do this easily when the room was dark. No
one suspected us of any trick because we were such young children. We were led
on by my sister purposely and by my mother unintentionally. We often heard her
say, "Is this a disembodied spirit that has taken possession of my dear children?"
Convinced That Murder Had Been Done
That encouraged our fun, and we went on. All the neighbors thought there was something,
and they wanted to find out what it was. They were convinced some one had been murdered
in the house. They asked us about it, and we would rap one for the spirit answer "Yes"
not three, as we did afterwards. We did not know anything about Spiritualism then.
The murder, they concluded, must have been committed in the house. They went over the
whole surrounding country, trying to get the names of people who had formerly lived in
the house. They found finally a man by the name of Bell, and they said this poor
innocent man had committed a murder in the house, and that these noises came from the
spirit of the murdered person. Poor Bell was shunned and looked upon by the whole
community as a murderer. As far as spirits were concerned, neither my sister nor I
thought about it.