, ,

Hydesville House

Who Were the Fox Sisters?

The Fox Sisters are sometimes called the originators of Spiritualism in the United States. Here are some facts about the sisters and a quick overview of their lives.

  • Sisters were born in Canada. Family relocated to New York.
  • Margaretta “Maggie” was 14 and Catherine “Kate” was 11 when they began to perform in Hydesville, New York.
  • A rumor started that the sisters were aided by a murdered peddler. This story was never substantiated.
  • On April Fool’s Eve (March 31) in 1848, the sisters performed their unique abilities to a local 33-year-old neighbor. Their mother, Margaret, led the demonstration.
  • Maggie and Kate relocated to Rochester, New York to live with their older sister, Ann Leah Fox Fish.
  • Isaac and Amy Post rented the large public hall for the Fox Sister’s first public demonstration. Four hundred people attended the November 14, 1849 event.
  • Leah joined Maggie and Kate in the performances.
  • The sisters debuted in New York City at Barnum’s Hotel, located at Broadway and Maiden Lane. The hotel was owned by a cousin of P.T. Barnum.
  • Scientific American labeled the sisters “Spiritual Knocker from Rochester.”
  • A big toe demonstration brought their careers to an end. On October 21, 1888, Maggie was paid $1,500 to denounce their abilities. At the New York Academy of Music, she did indeed denounce; however, it was done to embarrass Leah, who was highly critical of Kate’s drinking.
  • Maggie and Kate began with apple dropping to create the knocks. Later, they were able to manipulate their body parts to make noises.
  • Leah died November 1, 1890 at the age of 77.
  • Kate died July 2, 1892 at the age of 55.
  • Maggie died March 8, 1893 at the age of 59.
  • Kate and Maggie are buried together in the Cypress Hills Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York.
  • In 1904, schoolchildren playing in their Hydesville home discovered bones in the walls. The house was known as the “spook house” by then.
  • In 1909, the bones were ruled a probable hoax.


Learn more about phony psychics at Dragon Con 2019!

Update and Clarification: I believe they had psychics gifts, but those gifts were either exploited by others or used for fraudulent gain. Look for my follow-up blog addressing these theories.