The case of the Eddy Brothers in Vermont is one of those stories that was hot once upon a time, but have since faded into nothingness. Though the story captured the minds and attention of the American public during the 1800’s, very few people remember the story today except of course for those who live in the area.
William and Horatio Eddy shared a small farm with their sister Mary. The two men were known as fairly slovenly, meaning that they left the housework and upkeep of the farm to Mary, who didn’t really want the job. One night the brothers began experiencing some odd things, and before long the whole area knew of the events happening there. When a local newspaper ran a story on the paranormal events, the popularity of the brothers grew even larger.
Henry Steel Olcott was a man who happened across a newspaper article about the family. He had no way of knowing that the two brothers were about to change his life forever. Olcott was uncertain if he believed the stories surrounding the Eddy brothers, but he knew that true or not, they would make an excellent story. With that in mind, he gathered up another newspaper man and headed out to the farm.
During his research into the family, he discovered that the two men were illiterate and could not read or write. He also learned that their mother had psychic abilities as did several of their other relatives. The two Eddy brothers claimed they had the gift as well, and the ability to speak with the dead, or channel the dead.
The family claimed that the boys’ powers came about when they were only babies. The kids would disappear for hours at a time, and reappear suddenly without any sign that they were missing. When they were small children, the boys played with ghostly friends who disappeared without a trace. Their tyrant of a father often beat the boys because he believed they were possessed. He also attempted some cruel and unusual punishment on his sons and when that didn’t work, he sold them as a circus act.
Imagine what it must have been like as a teenage boy, who couldn’t read or write forced to travel the country all night and day. As part of the show, their “owner” allowed the audience to attack the boys, and basically do anything they wanted to. While in their spirit trance, the boys were stabbed with hot pokers, pinched, prodded, and even had hot wax poured into their mouths. They were also shot at by locals and run out of town on several occasions. This was their life for over a decade, until their father finally passed away and they moved home.
During the séances that Olcott witnessed, the brothers were able to manifest spirits and ghosts around the room. They often worked out of a small cave, where visitors were encouraged to join in on the sessions. Those who came to the sessions were astounded to see the figures appear and disappear at will.
Olcott continued looking for ways that the brothers could be cheating or fooling their audience, yet he was unable to find anything. He even called in specialists to examine the walls and construction of their house, to look for signs of a hidden room. Even the specialists could find no reason how or why the brothers could contact the dead. After several months, Olcott finally left the farm, convinced that the Eddy brothers did have the power to talk to the dead and later published a book on the family.
Not long after the book was released, the Eddy family split up. It seemed as though the three were always fighting over the séances and what they should do with the farm. Mary moved to another town, while Horatio moved across the street and William remained in the old farmhouse. By the 1930’s, all three had passed on, leaving behind only the stories of those who saw them perform.