In 1878 Daniel Teed was living in Amherst, Nova Scotia with his wife and two sons, as well as 22-year-old Jane Cox and eighteen- year-old Esther Cox (his wife’s two sisters), his wife’s brother William, and John, his own brother
In August 1878 Esther Cox’s boyfriend Bob MacNeal took her for a ride in a buggy and apparently made sexual advances to Esther of a less than subtle kind, taking her into the woods and ordering her to obey him at gunpoint.
He was disturbed when someone else approached and he ran scared from Amherst, never to return. Despite MacNeal’s behaviour, Esther was distraught and unhappy for several days at losing a man she cared for. A few days later poltergeist activity began to be reported in Esther’s bedroom. First of all she heard what sounded like a mouse, but none could be found; then a cardboard box appar- ently began moving independently, The following night Esther began to be physically affected by something: her face reddened and her body swelled alarmingly. From outside the house there came a loud noise which was investigated by Teed, William and John, and on their return they found Esther had returned to normal appearance and was asleep.
A couple of days later Esther suffered all the bedclothes being ripped off her bed, and they flew off the bed again after having been replaced by Teed; Esther became ill and swollen again. During this episode the bedclothes flew at John Teed, Daniel’s brother, and he left the house, never to return again, While a doctor examined Esther, the pillow under her head expanded and contracted and noises were heard around the room. The bedclothes flew off again. Above Esther’s bed writing appeared on the wall accompanied by a scratching noise: ‘Esther, you are mine to kill.’ Plaster flew off the wall and landed near the doctor and this spate of poltergeist activity continued unabated for some two hours.
The following day there were loud noises all around the house, in fact the disturbances continued for weeks. Eventually Esther revealed what her former boyfriend MacNeal had done, and Jane Cox suggested that he was somehow responsible for the phenom- enon; loud noises around the house suggested that the spirit was agreeing with her.
During a period of convalescence to get over diphtheria Esther left the house and the phenomenon ceased. It returned when she did. The poltergeist turned really nasty shortly after this, attempt ing to set light to the house with lighted matches which fell around the room causing small fires. Alarmed neighbours strongly ‘suggested’ that Esther should be sent away. For a time Esther lived with a neighbour, John White, and the poltergeist phenomenon seemed to have abated although in fact it eventually started up during her stay at that house too. White invited Esther to work at the restaurant he owned but even there the poltergeist phenomenon manifested: the oven door removed itself from its hinges and metal objects attached themselves to Esther as if she carried a strong electromagnetic force. John White decided he could not continue in this way and asked Esther to return home. In fact she left Amherst for some time during which she was able to identify, by name, a spirit, Bob Nickle, as the one threatening her with harm (Bob Nickle and Bob MacNeal are perhaps significantly similar names).
In June of the following year, 1879, magician Walter Hubbell moved into the cottage in order to investigate the hauntings for a book. On Hubbell’s arrival the poltergeist threw his umbrella up in the air, lobbed a carving knife towards him and tossed his bag away from him. It then went on to hit him with a chair from across the room and made a good few other chairs dance around. Hubbell tested the spirits by asking them questions such as the dates of coins in his pockets, and apparently they successfully communicated the correct answers by means of rapping noises! Over the period of Hubbell’s stay, when Esther was there the poltergeist activity accelerated, Esther had pins stuck in her hand and further fires broke out in the house. Hubbell tried to capitalise on these events by putting on an entertainment for a paying audience. As the poltergeist did not enter into the spirit of the occasion all Hubbell got were demands to return the entrance fees. Hubbell left and wrote his book. In the meantime Esther had gone to stay with some friends and was working on Davidson’s farm nearby. Her friends reported that objects were missing which were found in the Davidsons’ barn and she was accused of theft; the case terminated abruptly when the barn caught fire and Esther was then accused of arson and sentenced to four months’ imprisonment.
The poltergeist activity now stopped permanently. In his books Mysteries and Poltergeist! investigator Colin Wilson suggests that the poltergeist was a manifestation of Esther’s unconscious mind, the result of sexual frustration and regret at driving Bob MacNeal away. Perhaps the jail sentence was a sufficiently short sharp shock to ‘bring her to her normal sense’. Such an explanation does not, however, as Wilson himself points out, explain the manifestations of writing on the bedroom wall and the knowledgeable rapping noises that answered Hub-C bell’s questions.
Most investigators at the time and since have dismissed the probability of outright fraud and suggest that there was some ‘genuine’ phenomenon occurring. A combination of these theories may lead us to believe that the poltergeist was the product of Esther’s unconscious mind and the phenomenon of exteriorisation. It would also perhaps need to involve phenomena such as telepathy. There are too many unknowns, however, and at this distance in time it is unlikely that any further genuine investigation can now be undertaken. Italy | New York | Wiltshire | Activity | Activity | Activity | Borley | Brazil | Brazil | Brazil | Burma | Canada | Corney | East Drive | Edinburgh | Finland | France | France | Germany | Ghostly | Lincoinshire | Manchester | Middlesex | Northern ireland | Northern Romania | Paraguay | Phenomena | Poltergeist Information | Scotland | Scotland | South London | Suffolk | Switzerland | USA | Washington State | West Norwood | Whitechapel |
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