The Bangs Sisters Return

John Curtis Bundy, “A. B. Richmond’s ‘Dear Friends’ Again Exposed,” Religio-Philosophical Journal, June 13, 1891

An infuriated woman in undress and flourishing a big revolver, another woman still more scantily clothed who but a moment before had been personating the materialized spirit of the wife and mother of two visitors, now quivering with fright and rage, and an old dotard flourishing another revolver in defense of these women, made up a tableau never to be forgotten by those who witnessed the latest exposé of the notorious Bangs sisters on Thursday night of last week.

Mr. C. V. Peckham, a well-known and reputable business man of Chicago, lost his wife a few weeks ago.  While suffering deep anguish over his loss, he was approached by an acquaintance who assured him that he could again see his beloved wife in materialized form if he would visit one Mrs. Jennie Moore.  Longing for some evidence that his dear one still lived, he visited Mrs. Moore.  At first he was deceived, but after a few visits he discovered the deception.  Still hoping there was a reality in the assertions of his acquaintance he was induced to visit Lizzie Bangs, taking his daughter with him.  There his wife again appeared, and his daughter was so overcome she fainted.  After further experience he had grave doubts about the bona fide nature of this show, too; and took measures to test it.  On the night of the exposé, he repaired to the quarters of Lizzie Bangs, after arranging to have several friends present, also his son.  The show proceeded in the usual way until the alleged spirit Mrs. Peckham, appeared.  While addressing her son in loving terms, Mr. Peckham, senior, drew near and with a sudden spring embraced the spirit.  Scream after scream rent the air, and unutterable confusion ensued.  Instead of spirit Mrs. Peckham, the voluptuous form and features of May Bangs stood unmasked.

The better to deceive the public, Lizzie, it is reported, has pretended to be still on bad terms with her sister May and that she would not allow her on the premises.  Hence the profound astonishment of Mrs. Voorhees and others when May was disclosed personating the spirit.  The “conditions” had seemed fraud-proof to these silly dupes.  Mrs. Voorhees was a swift witness for A[lmon] B[ruce] Richmond in his lame effort to sustain his wonderful hanging slate test at Cassadaga, when these same Bangs women were the mediums, but in this instance she unreservedly pronounced the show a fraud, and left the house in tears.  An oldish man commonly known as Judge Polley, a lawyer, an attendant of the Upton Park Congregational church and conspicuous in local circles, apparently held Lizzie in high esteem, and was present at the séance.  He showed such an intimate acquaintance with the premises and with the medium as to excite unfavorable comment on the part of the exposers.  This Judge Polley is of course much opposed to the bill which we caused to be introduced into the legislature.  One Frank Powell, of the Illinois Type Foundry, a widower and devoted friend of Lizzie Bangs, was one of the committee which appeared before the House Judiciary Committee at Springfield to oppose the enactment of the law.  He bore with him to General Thomas a letter from this same Judge Polley asking the senator to assist the bearer in defeating the bill.  The impertinence and audacity of the letter aroused the ire of Senator Thomas, who expressed his mind very freely to the representative of the Bangs gang.

May Bangs has been giving materializing seances of late in Michigan and Indiana, it is said, assisted by Harry DeWolf, a son of Mrs. Sara A. DeWolf—who was also one of the committee appointed to go to Springfield by the indignation meeting of frauds and their friends in this city.  May slipped back to Chicago on the day of the evening on which Lizzie was to exhibit, in order to personate Mrs. Peckham.  It is alleged that Harry DeWolf was also one of the confederates on the same evening.

Up to date the Bangs sisters have not made any public statement.  Remembering the injunction of their particularly “dear friend” the Hon. A. B. Richmond, in the Cassadaga case, “Do not make any written statement to any one until I send you one to sign,” they are quite likely anxiously awaiting that very honorable and able gentleman’s “written statement” of this case.  Which he is quite as able to give as in the first instance.

Is it any wonder our bill meets with the opposition of Frank Powell, “Judge” Polley, Mrs. S. A. DeWolf, the Bangs sisters, and the inconsequential squad composed of Peter Funk editors, senile men and silly women?  Is it astonishing that these deeply pious people cry aloud that their religious privileges are abridged by the proposed law?  Is it surprising that they hold a mass meeting and threaten the editor of The Journal with personal violence?  No indeed, they are all consistent in their indignation, protests and threats.  They should now forthwith organize; elect the Hon. A. B. Richmond bishop; ordain the Bangs sisters and DeWolfs as “ministers of the Gospel,” and make deacons out of “Judge” Polley and Frank Powell;—they already have an “organ.”  Then they will be better able to resist the threatened subversion of the inalienable rights so eloquently portrayed by Representative Ramsay in his speech against our bill.


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