Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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FOX, Margaret, spiritualist, born in 1836. She and her sister Katharine (b. 1839) were the youngest children of John D. Fox, of Hydeville, Wayne County, N.Y. When Margaret was about twelve years old the family were startled by mysterious rappings heard nightly on the floor of one of the bedrooms. All endeavors to trace them to any physical source proved unavailing. On the night of 31 March when the raps occurred, Kate Fox imitated them by snapping her fingers, and the raps responded by the same number of sounds. The ages of different members of the family were asked, and the answer in every instance given correctly a knock for each year. Various experiments were tried, and investigations made, but the occult power refused to act save in the presence of the two sisters.
The family removed to Rochester, and the raps followed, while heavy bodies were also moved, without appreciable agency. In November 1849, the sisters appeared in a public hall, when the same phenomena were freely manifested, and subjected to tests. Committees reported that they were unable to trace the sounds to any mundane agency. In May 1850, the two girls went to New York City, and the alleged spiritual manifestations became the subject of extended public discussion. Observations, facts, and descriptions were published far and wide, and "mediums" through whom spiritual manifestations were said to occur sprang up all over the country. Men of learning and intelligence followed in the train with the ignorant. The elder of the sisters was dissuaded from following the "spirit mediumship" by Dr. Kane, the Arctic explorer, previous to his expedition to the north in 1853. During his absence her education was provided for by his arrangement and at his expense. On his return in 1855 she asserted that a marriage had taken place, and, although his relatives denied this, she continued to bear his name after his death. "The Love Life of Dr. Kane" (New York, 1865), containing letters and facsimiles, was published in proof of her claim.
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