The Legend of Mr Splitfoot -- A later embellishment

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The Legend of Mr Splitfoot -- A later embellishment

Post by Admin on Thu Jan 08, 2009 10:57 pm

The Legend of Mr Splitfoot -- A later embellishment

Hi All,

From my earliest involvement on most occasions when people talk about the communication with the Peddler at the Fox Cottage in Hydesville it includes a variation on the phrase “Kate said the words Here Mr Splitfoot do as I do”. I believe that this is the way I had always heard the story whenever it was said. There is also an inference that it was the Sisters who established contact with the Peddler.

Although this is an interesting, and rather more romantic version of events it does of course run in a contrary way to the Statement made by their Mother immediately after the events at Hydesville.

I have provided links to the EE Lewis report but let me just remind us of what their Mother said.
“A REPORT OF THE MYSTERIOUS NOISES, HEARD IN THE HOUSE OFMR. JOHN D. FOX, IN HYDESVILLE, ARCADIA, WAYNE COUNTY,AUTHENTICATED BY THE CERTIFICATES, AND CONFIRMED BY THE STATEMENTS OF THE CITIZENS OF THAT PLACE AND VICINITY. Canandaigua: PUBLISHED BY E.E. LEWIS. PRINTED ON THE POWER PRESS OF SHEPARD & REED, Over Nos. 20, 22, & 24 State-Street, Rochester April 20th, 1848.”

Firstly the report was completed in three weeks, giving no time for confusion or for witnesses to misremember events. Secondly there are a number of equally rare early documents that back the information up.

To quote from Mrs Fox’s Statement

. We went to bed so early, because we had been broken so much of our rest that I was almost sick. My husband had not gone to bed when we first heard the noise on this evening. I had just laid down. It commenced as usual. I knew it from all other noises I had ever heard in the house. The girls, who slept in the other bed in the room, heard the noise, and tried to make a similar noise by
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snapping their fingers. The youngest girl is about 12 years old;--she is the one who made her hand go. As fast as she made the noise with her hands or fingers, the sound was followed up in the room. It. did not sound any different at that time, only it made the same number of noises that the girl did. When she stopped, the sound itself stopped for a short time. The other girl, who is in her 15th year, then spoke in sport and said, "Now do this just as I do. Count one, two, three, four;" &c., striking one hand in the other at the same time. The blows which she made were repeated as before. Itappeared to answer her by repeating every blow that she made. She only did so once. She then began to be startled; and then I spoke and said to the noise, "Count ten," and it made ten strokes or noises. Then I asked the ages of my different children successively, and it gave a number of raps, corresponding to the ages of my children.I then asked if it was a human being that was making the noise? and if it was, to manifest it by the same noise. There was no noise. I then asked if it was a spirit? and if it was, to manifest it by two sounds. I heard two sounds as soon as the words were spoken. I then asked, if it was an injured spirit? to give me the sound, and I heard the rapping distinctly. I then asked if it was injured in this house? and it manifested it by the noise. If the person was living that injured it? and got the same answer. I then ascertained, by the same method that its remains were buried under the dwelling, and how old it was. When I asked how many years old it was? it rapped 31 times; that it was a male; that it had left a family of five children; that it had two sons and three daughters, all living. I asked if it left a wife? and it rapped. If its wife was then living? no rapping; if she was dead? and the rapping was distinctly heard how longshe had been dead? and it rapped twice. About this time I asked, will this noise continue if I call in my neighbors, that they may hear it too? It answered me by the usual token of rapping. My husband went and called Mrs. Redfield, our next door neighbor. She is a very candid woman. The girls were then sitting up in bed, somewhat terrified and clinging to each other. I was as calm, I think, as I am now. Mrs. Redfield came immediately. This was about half past seven o'clock. She came in, thinking to joke and laugh at the children: but when she came, she see that we were all amazed like, and that there was something in it. I then asked a few questions, and they were answered as before; and she was satisfied that there was something strange about it. It told her age exactly. She wouldthen call her husband, and he came; and the same questions were asked over again, and the answers were the same as before. It was then asked how long it had been injured? and the sound was repeated four times at regular intervals, and then, after a short. pause, one more; and the same was repeated every time the same question was asked.
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Then Mr. Redfield called in Mr. Duesler and wife, and several others. A great many questions were asked over, and the same answers given as before. Mr. Duesler then called in Mr. and Mrs. Hyde; they came, and also Mr. and Mrs. Jewell. Mr. Duesler asked many questions and got the answers. I then named over all the neighbors that I could think of, and asked if any ofthem had injured it, and got no answer. Then Mr. Duesler asked it somequestions, the same as I had, and got the same answers. He asked if it was murdered? and it answered in the usual way; and if the murderer could be brought to justice? and there was no sound: and then, if he could be punished by the law? and there was no rapping. He then asked, "if this murderer cannot be punished by the law, manifest it by the noise? " and the noise was repeated. In the same way Mr. Duesler ascertained that it was murdered in the bedroom, about five years ago, and .that the murder was committed by a Mr.--- --- , on a Tuesday night, at 12 o'clock;.

It is interesting that what becomes clear is after the initial involvement the two sisters did not take any further part in events. Indeed during the evening they left the house, not to return next day, with the rappings and communication continuing with a committee of neighbours. It is also interesting that it was Mr Duesler, a neighbour, who did most of the questioning on the first night. Apparently even the claim the peddler was called Charles Rosna is at doubt because the initials on that first night were CP. Once again I draw attention to the work of Paul Gaunt, Leslie Price and Psypioneer for that information (and the EE Lewis pamphlet)

I have permission from Lis to post on here her Psypioneer article on the riddle of the dates, that is what were the true ages of the two sisters. Suffice to say here the 1850 census, where because they moved the family were recorded twice (by two different census takers) is consistent with the dates above.

So where oh where did old Splitfoot get into things and why at the same time did one of the many changes in age of the girls appear. Just a reminder for Spiritualists, often challenged to be dealing with evil forces, Splitfoot is a bad name being a title given for the devil.

I will turn to this in part 2


Last edited by Admin on Fri Jan 09, 2009 10:53 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: The Legend of Mr Splitfoot -- A later embellishment

Post by obiwan on Thu Jan 08, 2009 11:15 pm

In the words of Blackadder, Jim. I suggest you you make the explanation phenomenally good Smile

obiwan


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Re: The Legend of Mr Splitfoot -- A later embellishment

Post by Admin on Fri Jan 09, 2009 7:54 am

What seems evident is that Leah Fox Fish Brown Underhill, the eldest Sister has a hand in the story as it unfolds. Leah was in Rochester when the events unfolded and by the time she arrived in Hydesville her sisters had been out of the cottage for a while with the family living with the brother David Fox (it seems likely it was at least a month before she heard about the rappings).

Leah was probably born in 1813 so she was around 35 at the time this all occurred. However, Leah never let her age get in the way and as she married men who were her junior her age decreased both in censuses and in published material. Additionally she also changed the ages of her sisters’ a trait that they also developed over their own lives.

Her own book “The Missing Link in Spiritualism” 1885 is at best a rather unreliable memoir when a comparison of the actual contemporary records of events, from the writers of the day, is examined against it. Thus in this book Splitfoot becomes Mr Splitfoot (with Kate not Maggie being the one saying do as I do), she restates wrong ages for herself and her sisters.

One of her more interesting additions, in this book, concerns the Rochester Committees of Inspection, which occurred after the first Public Meeting of Spiritualism in November 1849. Leah describes a night late in that week where as the sisters became upset at dinner the entire table and plates levitated. A perusal of the contemporary records including those by the supporters of Spiritualism who were involved at the time, The Posts, EW Capron, Samuel Britten and Barron shows no record of such a happening.

However 1885 and the Missing Link is not the first mention of Splitfoot and different ages for the girls. This appears in Robert Dale Owens Footfalls on the Boundary of Another World 1860 and get repeated in Emma Hardinge Brittens Modern American Spiritualism 1969. With all respect to these people, and to Owen’s meeting with the Fox family, they were great friends and confidants of Leah for whom they had the highest regard both as a person and Medium (as a note it was possibly about 1863 at a séance with them all involved that the 10 spiritual laws and 10 spiritual commandments were brought through Emma Hardinge Britten by the spirit of Robert Owen senior and the start of the Cleveland Hall Myth of the 7 Principles).

Robert Owen wrote much of his book while staying with Leah so it is unsurprising that the ages and the story changes. It is also at this time Kate was made into the person who asked Mr Splitoot to do as I do not Maggie saying do as I do. We must also remember that the intervening 11 years since the Rappings had been a very trying time for the family (once again Barbara Weisberg's 2005 book Talking to the Dead is a well reesearched book on the Fox's).

Unfortunately most of our Modern Version of Spiritualism has been created post 1890, with the formation of the major Spiritualist bodies. It is clear that, by then, much of the original material had faded from site and the three books above became the major reference source leading to these errors becoming part of our official history.

An opinion could be formed that the Fox Sisters may seem rather unreliable people to found a movement upon. However, a review of EE Lewis will show that they left the Cottage quite quickly and others continued the original communication with the Spirit without the need for their presence. Also in the First Public Demonstration and the subsequent committee of investigation there was no proof of fraud and their Mediumship was not disproved. In many ways this event was probably as critical to the foundation of Spiritualism as the events at the cottage. Subsequent to this date their direct role in the nascent movement reduced in importance with the appearance of many other Mediums. Leah may have had some involvement, especially through her friendship with Emma Hardinge Britten but the other sisters were not involved, working independently running séances.

In reality there is no problem with a claim Mr Splitfoot was said, albeit it refers to the devil. What should be said by those saying this is that there is no evidence that these words were actually used.

Jim


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Re: The Legend of Mr Splitfoot -- A later embellishment

Post by obiwan on Fri Jan 09, 2009 8:49 am

lol shame about the book title referred to in Psychic News in the UK. I have a few suggestions for the next book: Dracula Visits Casualty; Hannibal Lector opens a creche;Christians for Satan...just a thought Smile

obiwan


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Re: The Legend of Mr Splitfoot -- A later embellishment

Post by Admin on Fri Jan 09, 2009 9:18 am

Love it Obi cheers
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