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Lurancy Vennum – A Case of Spiritual Possession?

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Post by Mark74 Thu Jun 28, 2012 7:39 pm

In the latter part of the 19th century, during the heyday of Spiritualism, the case of the ‘spiritual possession’ of Lurancy Vennum attracted a great deal of publicity. Lurancy was a young girl from Illinois who claimed to be a reincarnation of another teenager called Mary Roff, who had died 15 years earlier. Through the spirit of Mary she claimed that she was able to recall in detail a past life with the Roff family and their friends, leading many to believe she was indeed, spiritually at least, Mary Roff.

Was Lurancy Vennum really the reincarnation of Mary Roff?

Mary Roff was born in Warren County, Indiana, on 8 October,1846. When she was thirteen years old the family moved to Watseka, about 70 miles south of Chicago, Illinois. By that time Mary’s health had been badly weakened by epileptic fits, which she suffered from about twice a day. In spring, 1865, in an attempt to escape from depression caused by her health, she tried to commit suicide by slashing her wrists. Her parents found her unconscious from loss of blood and called a doctor.

Psychic Abilities?

When Mary eventually regained consciousness she became so violent that it took several adults to hold her down in bed. She was delirious for five days, after which she suddenly became calm and slept for fifteen hours. She awoke to find bandages covering her eyes to protect them from her unconscious scratching; but instead of removing them, she discovered that she seemed to be able to see as easily while blindfolded as she had before.

Family friends, including A.J. Smith, editor of the Danville Times, and the Reverend J.H. Rhea, witnessed Mary Roff, heavily blindfolded, accurately ‘read’ to them the contents of a sealed letter in the editor’s pocket, and arrange, correctly, a pile of old letters which she could not see. The amazed editor wrote a long, detailed account of the incidence in his paper.

Slowly, however, the young girl’s health deteriorated, and before long doctor’s advised her parents to put her in a mental institution. They refused and decided to care for her themselves. They took her with them when they visited friends in Peoria, Illinois, for the 4th of July holiday in 1865. While there Mary complained of a terrible headache and went to her room. A few minutes later they found her unconscious on the floor in a pool of blood and rushed her to the asylum, where she died on the afternoon of 5 July.

Lurancy Vennum Sees Angels

On the day of Mary Roff’s death, Lurancy Vennum was a fifteen-month-old baby living on her parents’ farm in Iowa. She had been born Mary Lurancy Vennum, on 16 April 1864, at Milford Township, Iroquois Co, Illinois. In 1871, the family moved to a farm seven miles south of Watseka. This was nearly six years after the death of Mary Roff; so there is no possibility that Lurancy Vennum could ever have seen Mary. Lurancy was a normal, healthy child of thirteen when the twelfth anniversary of Mary Roff’s death occurred on 5 July 1877. Next morning she told her parents – ‘There were people in my room last night and they kept calling ‘Rancy! Rancy!’ and I could feel their breath on my face.’ A week after this incident Lurancy was helping her mother stitch a broken seam in a carpet when she suddenly straightened herself up and said – ‘Maw, I feel bad; I feel mighty queer!’

Seconds later she became rigid and fell unconscious for five hours. This began to happen every day and usually consisted of Lurancy lying stiff, with only a faint pulse, her breath slow and weak, and her temperature below normal. She suffered from excruciating abdominal pains and would murmur about strange visions which usually involved what she called ‘angels’. Sometimes the attacks lasted up to eight hours, during which time Lurancy would speak in different voices, though when she awoke, she would remember nothing.


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Post by Mark74 Thu Jun 28, 2012 8:05 pm

Pamphlet on the Watseka Wonder below, for those interested in reading up on it more. The Mary Roff case always fascinates me as the evidence is compelling. The family were also practising spiritualists.

Pamphlet:- http://www.roffhome.com/pdfs/The_Watseka_wonder.pdf


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Post by Admin Thu Jun 28, 2012 11:21 pm

Thanks for that Mark had managed to collect a pdf of the Watseka Wonder elsewhere but putting this up was really good.

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