Thanksgiving with the Spirits

“Thanksgiving with the Spirits. Rappings in East Boston. From the East Boston Ledger,” Liberator, January 23, 1852.

We did not know until last week, when the article from which we make the following extracts was sent us, marked for notice, that the ‘spirits’ had made any particular demonstration in Noddle’s Island. It seems, however, that they have not overlooked us. The writer of the article—published in the Dedham Democrat—says that, being in East Boston on Thanksgiving Day, and hearing a good deal said about the manifestations, he attended a meeting for the purpose of seeing and hearing for himself. He says—

‘We met at the house of Mr. David Hoyt, 31 Webster street. And I wish to say here, that the reputation of this excellent family is sufficient guaranty against anything like trickery and deception on their part. The daughter of Mr. Hoyt, an amiable and truthful young lady, is the medium. There were present at the meeting Mr. Hoyt, his wife and daughter; Mr. Increase Hill, of Boston; the writer; and some ten or twelve others, gentlemen and ladies. We were seated around a large square dining-table. Scarcely had we taken our seats when the rapping commenced, so loud and strong as to start the table from the floor at each concussion. This was the spirit of a military commander, who held the office of colonel while living in the body. This spirit made the most wonderful demonstration of strength that I ever witnessed. He was a very powerful man while living, it is said by those who knew him. He lifted the table, which I should judge would weigh thirty or forty pounds, square up from the floor, turned it on one side, then back, wheeled it around, and while this was going on, a lady in the circle, fearing the lamp, in which fluid was burning, would be upset, reached out her hand to take it from the table, when the most boisterous raps were made directly under the lamp; and on asking the colonel what he wanted, he replied, ‘Let the lamp alone, I’ll take care of that.’ While everything else was rolled from the table, the lamp stood upright during the whole time. A number of gentlemen took hold of the table, and tried to hold it still, but could not do it. I now took hold of one side of the table, and lifting it from the floor, requested the colonel to raise the other up even with mine, which he instantly did. . . . The spirit told the business of each one of the company by imitating the sounds made in the various mechanical professions. For instance, the carpenter by sawing and planing, the cooper by driving down hoops and smoothing the staves, &c. But the grandest scene in this line was the imitation of one of the great battle scenes in Mexico under Gen. Taylor, viz., the taking of Buena Vista. In the distance you could hear the thunder of cannon, the rattle of musquetry, and the sharp crack of the rifle.

This was one of the most wonderful exhibitions I ever witnessed. . . . Many other spirits were present, and responded to their relatives around the table. One spirit being questioned about the manner of his death, gave a most perfect imitation of the railroad cars in motion. He was killed on the railroad. . . . The spirit of a little girl, who died when about seven years old, on being asked by a gentleman if she had any message to send to her mother, spelled out the following: ‘Tell her I love her, and want her to come with her child. I am always watching over her.’ The same little spirit, on being asked to dictate an epitaph for her grave stone, replied, ‘Write none, it is useless.’ . . .

There was one incident I intended to relate when speaking of the manifestations made by the colonel. Now, said I, Colonel, will you convince me and the company present that you are a real spirit by doing some one thing that I shall tell you mentally to do? He answered that he would. I then, without speaking or moving my lips at all, mentally requested him to beat upon the table the tune of ‘Hail Columbia.’ And as soon as the thought was formed in my mind, he commenced the tune, and continued it through with most astonishing correctness. . . . Thus after two or three hours’ sitting, we bade the spirits good night. Long will it be before the women and men composing that circle will forget the Thanksgiving spent with the Spirits.’


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