- Historic Sites
They Spoke With The Dead
A century and a half ago two young girls started hearing noises they said came from beyond the grave—and embarked on a lifetime career that began a national obsession with spiritualism that has lasted to this day
September 1999 | Volume 50, Issue 5
Spiritualism’s 150th anniversary celebration concluded with a pilgrimage to the property in Hydesville, now a barren and brackish piece of land. As I carefully picked my way through the little wilderness, I wondered what artifacts I might find. In 1848 a crew of diggers led by David Fox claimed to have discovered in the basement some hair, a few bones, and broken bits of a pottery bowl. Proof of the peddler’s story? Disgusted skeptics called the evidence a plant. Then, in the early part of this century, children found a skeleton hidden behind a decrepit cellar wall. It had been there, according to estimates, for about fifty years.