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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: About Spiritualism

In Proverbs, the Bible says: "The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord." Spiritualists believed that this 'candle' lit the room that is the human body.

They believed the spirit was not wedged and fixed to the body, in a few feet of mortality. They believed that in dreams and visions it could temporarily leave, visiting different parts of this planet and beyond.

This story of Mary Roff and Lurancy Vennum has captured people's imaginations and attention for well over a century. The story was held up by proponents of Spiritualism as evidence to support their beliefs.

In 1878, the Iroquois County Times wrote: "It was hard for even the most skeptical not to believe there was something supernatural about her. If she was not prompted by the spirit of Mary Roff, how could she know so much about the family, people with whom she was not acquainted, and whom she had never visited? . . . Skeptical and unbelieving as we are, and slight as our experience has been, we have seen enough to convince us that Spiritualism is not all humbug. The case of Lurancy Vennum, a bright young girl of fourteen years, has been the subject of much discussion in Watseka . . ., and there is a good deal in it beyond human comprehension."

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