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The Watseka Wonder

» Eyewitness Account
» About Spiritualism
» In the Front Parlor
» "This is not the arm. That one is in the ground."
» The Upstairs Bedrooms
» Two Roff Homes
» Lurancy's Return

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The Watseka Wonder:
What Happened in the Front Parlor

When Lurancy Vennum, possessed by the spirit of Mary Roff, was first brought into the home, she saw the piano that she used to play. She approached it and said, "Oh, Ma! The same old piano --- and the same old cover!"

She opened the case of the instrument and attempted to play and sing. The songs were those of her youth, prompting a member of the Roff family to say: "As we stood listening, the familiar ones were hers, although emanating from another's lips."

Many people called on the Roffs while Lurancy stayed at the Roff Home, and the front parlor was the room in which these guests were regularly greeted. During these encounteres, she often showed a knowledge of events that had transpired many years prior --- even events dating before Lurancy's birth.

On a certain occasion a Mrs. Sherman came to call, and she questioned Mary the way one would question a traveler from a strange country. One of the things she requested was that Mary give an account of the people she had met in the hereafter. Mary recites to her the exact names of people who had composed Mrs. Sherman's family, then long since dead, also the names of many of Mrs. Sherman's neighbors and acquaintances who had passed on. She mentions in particular the family of a Rev. Mr. Rhea and states the name of a child in spirit form unknown to Mrs. Sherman. She knows the Rhea family intimately, and Mrs. Sherman insists that Mary is mistaken. However, Mary stoutly maintains that the child does reside in the life beyond. Later investigation proves this to be correct. The name given was one being considered when a baby died at childbirth.

Seances in the Front Parlor

The Roffs also held seances in this front parlor. On April 21, 1878, in the presence of Mr. and Mrs. Roff, their hired woman Charlotte, Dr. Steel and his wife, Dr. Stevens, and severeal other friends and acquaintances, manifestations of a very peculiar kind occur. Dr. Steel becomes possessed by the deceased brother of one of the people present, and he addresses the room. Upon becoming disentranced, Mary voluntarily leaves Lurancy's body. Lurancy's body falls over like a corpse, with her head resting against the should of the person next to her. She immediately takes control of Dr. Steel, and in every possible way proves it to be herself. Through the man, she turns toward Lurancy and laughs at her in her limp condition. She leaves Dr. Steel and returns to Lurancy's body and seems to enjoy the trick she has played.

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