Based on actual events, the play centers on the Fox family, in particular the two youngest daughters, Catherine and Margaretta, who conversed through rappings with the spirit of a peddler who had been murdered in the house many years before.
In the winter of 1848, the Fox family moved from Rochester to a small cottage among the farm fields of Hydesville, southeast of the city. Soon after the move, they began to hear strange sounds - rapping in the walls - and to hear tales of a long-ago murder in the house. Where was the knocking coming from? What secrets did the house hold within its walls? Sometimes the most intense hauntings come from within our own houses...
The Fox sisters made their public debut as mediums in Rochester's Corinthian Hall becoming huge celebrities of the Spiritualist movement at a time of great religious fervor in America. The area of Central and Western New York State was known as the "burned-over district". During the early nineteenth century, prior to the creation of the Erie Canal, this area was still considered a frontier and the inhabitants were largely self-taught, making them susceptible to folk religion. The area spawned a number of religious movements including the Latter Day Saint movement (founded in Palmyra), the Millerites (founded in Low Hampton), the Oneida Society, the Fourierist Utopian society (founded in Skaneateles) and the American movement of Spiritualism with the Fox sisters in Hydesville.
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