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Mystery of The Fox Sisters and The Davenport Brothers.

Updated on February 8, 2019

Mystery of the Fox Sisters

Fox Sisters Two sisters Maggie (Margaret) and Kate Fox were purported to have mediumistic abilities and news of their powers quickly spread, by 1849 they were giving shows of their skills, and this was the birth of the spiritualist movement. The Fox sisters soon became famous.
The sisters continued to appear at many different places and were later joined by their elder sister Leah, who had separated from her husband and had been living in poverty. They were surrounding by publicity with many people classing them as fraudsters, non the less many people still flocked to see them, paying for doing so.
Leah became the manager and there touring become more widespread and the shows hugely popular. Their seances began to become elaborate with objects being able to move on their own and spirits would appear.

Lots of other people began to discover their own powers and seances and mediums became an ever popular.

The sisters were often exposed as fakes.


The sisters were often exposed as fakes, many tests and experiments were carried out including the sisters being trussed up around their ankles preventing them from moving,but no trickery was ever discovered.

Maggie gave up being a medium for love she met artic explorer Elisha Kent Kane in Philadelphia, even though they exchanged vows and ring they never legally wed as his family did not deem her worthy enough to do so. Unfortunately Kane died in 1857 and Maggie was left heart broken and almost penniless, she resorted back to being a medium, she began to drink heavily and her health and mental state declined.

Kate married barrister Henry Jencken.

Kate continued to be a medium but due to her fame she also turned to drink, in 1871 she traveled to England and performed there, it is also where she met and married barrister Henry Jencken and whom she had 2 sons with.

By 1885 spiritualism began to decline, and investigations began to increase. Maggie had to prove her skills in front of a commission and failed, and also in 1885 Kates husband died from a stroke, she returned to New York and in 1888 she was arrested for drunkenness and the welfare took her children away from her.

IN 1888 Maggie made an appearance where she confessed to spiritualism being a total sham, and she was overlooked by Kate who quietly affirmed this. Some believed her while others said the confession was a sham itself and put it down to her being a sad drunk. In 1891 she would take back her confession. It was said that all this was done to spite Leah who had turned her back on her sisters, and had married a wealthy business man, Leah considered her sisters to be a embarrassment.

Kate died in 1892 due to her drinking she was 56, Maggie died penniless in 1893.

Mystery of The Davenport Brothers.

Davenport brothers Ira Erastas was born in 1839 and his brother William Henry in 1841. At a young age along with their mother and father who was interested in the spirit rapping in Hydesville and their sister Elizabeth they began to have there own seance sittings at home with some having amazing results.

Soon after their first sitting they would meet for the first time with their spirit guide, the phantom John King. It was said that it was John who told the brothers to start giving public performances, this they did with the first one when they were only 14 and 16 in 1855.

At first they would do things that were known because of the Fox sisters and other mediums in the growing spiritualist movement in America, but then they introduce new things for Eg:, musical instruments that would move and play by themselves. By the end of the year they would introduce what would become their signature, the spirit cabinet, and would preform acts where they would escape from ropes and knots.

Their act caused a sensation and many claimed it was real proof of spirit manifestation, but others said they were merely stage magicians. The Davenports even though they billed their act as a seance, never claimed to be mediums, this they left for the audience to decide.


Years after their retirement, and after the death of William in 1877, the surviving brother Ira met with Harry Houdini, he told him that they never meant to become known as mediums but their seemingly supernatural powers came at the time os the spiritualist movement, and rather than turn down the money and public appearances allowed members of the public believe what they wanted to.

Inspite of this interview many people still believed them to be mediums. And newspaper even gave them credit for producing miracles.

Ira died in 1911.

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