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Observations placeholder

Esther Cox and the flying potatoes



Type of Spiritual Experience


If the communication is in words and sentences it is a bodied or disembodied soul.  If the communication is symbolic, or uses words as puns, or is simply a ‘thought’ without words – an impression conveyed, communication is with a Spirit being , Spirit helper or Intelligence.

I think it is very clear who was creating all this and it wasn't Esther or a spirit, it was either the nasty little man of rape - Bob McNeal, or a person who had a grudge against poor litle Esther.

A description of the experience

Mysteries - Colin Wilson

The shoemaker Daniel Teed lived in a small house in Amherst, Nova Scotia, with his family, which included his wife and two sons and his wife's two unmarried sisters, Jennie and Esther Cox. Jennie was pretty and popular; Esther was plain and inclined to sullenness.
There were also two other adult males in the house, brothers respectively of Mr and Mrs Teed.
In the year 1878, Esther was eighteen, and had acquired a boyfriend, a good looking young man named Bob McNeal, who had a reputation for instability. The trouble appears to have begun with what seems to have been the attempted rape of Esther by Bob.

On August 28, he took her for a buggy ride and asked her to go for a walk in the woods. She refused. He lost his temper and pointed a gun at her, ordering her to get out. At that moment the sound of another vehicle was heard; Bob climbed back into the buggy and drove her home. Although it rained heavily, he refused to raise the hood. That night, he left town. Esther kept her secret for a month but went around red-eyed and obviously upset.

On Septernber 4, lying in the bed she shared with Jennie, Esther started crying and admitted that she was thinking about Bob. Soon after they blew out the light, she screamed and declared that there was a mouse in the bed. A search revealed nothing. The same thing happened the next night. The rustling noise seemed to come from a box that stood under the bed. They placed it in the centre of the room and prepared to surprise the mouse, when the box rose a foot in the air.

Their screams brought Daniel Teed, who told them they were dreaming and went back to bed.
The next night, Esther leapt out of bed shouting: Janie, I'm dying.'
Her face was bright red. The other adults came into the room and Esther was helped back to bed. She began screaming and grinding her teeth. Her whole body seemed to be swelling. There was a loud bang like a thunderclap, and Esther ceased to swell. There were two more loud bangs that seemed to come from under the bed. By this time Esther was peacefully asleep.

Three days later, Esther again felt herself swelling. The bedclothes flew off the bed of their own accord and floated across the room.  Again there were loud bangs, and Esther deflated and fell asleep.

The next night, the local doctor was called in. He felt Esther's pulse and declared she was suffering from shock. At that moment, the pillow inflated like a balloon, there were rapping noises, and the bedclothes flew off. They all heard a scratching noise on the wall above the bed. An invisible hand or claw traced the letters: 'Esther Cox, you are mine to kill.'  The letters were scratched deep into the wall. A large piece of plaster fell off the wall, and the room resounded with raps. Esther lay there, wide awake, as terrified as everyone else.

Soon after, Esther began to complain of electrical sensations in her body. When she was given morphia, loud bangs began. When the doctor left, they sounded as if someone was pounding on the roof with a sledgehammer.

Three weeks later, Esther suddenly went rigid and fell into a trance. In this state, she told the story of the 'attempted rape' for the first time.  On recovering consciousness, she admitted it was true.

In December, the manifestations ceased when Esther became ill.  But in January 1879, she told Jennie that a voice had warned her that the house would be set on fire by a ghost. The next morning, as the members of the family laughed about the idea, a lighted match fell out of the air and onto the bed. More lighted matches rained out of the air for the next ten minutes, but were all extinguished. That evening a dress belonging to Esther was found burning under the bed. Three days later, a barrel of wood shavings in the cellar burst into flame and was extinguished with difficulty.

Daniel Teed was deeply worried. When a neighbour offered to take Esther in, he agreed. For two weeks nothing happened; then a scrubbing brush flew through the air. It signalled another outbreak of poltergeist activity. At work in the neighbour's restaurant, Esther was attacked by a flying jacknife that stabbed her in the back and drew blood. Some iron spokes placed in her lap became too hot to touch. A heavy box was moved across the floor. Rappings resounded along the main street of Amherst. The neighbour sent her back home.

For the next three months, she lived out of Amherst as the guest of two sets of kind-hearted neighbours. During this time, no manifestations occurred, although Esther claimed that she saw ghosts who threatened her. One was called 'Bob Nickle'.

When she returned to the Teed cottage, a professional magician named Walter Hubbell had moved in to observe her. In 1888, he published a book called The Great Amherst Mystery, in which he described all the poltergeist phenomena he witnessed: flying knives and umbrella moving furniture, loud bangs and raps. Questioned by means of the raps, the 'spirits' correctly named the serial number of his watch and the dates of coins in his pockets. Hubbell was so impressed that he persuaded Esther to make a public appearance in a rented hall; every seat was taken, but nothing happened.

Esther spent another peaceful holiday with the kindly neighbours, then went to work on a nearby farm. There she was accused of theft when some missing clothes turned up in a barn. Before further action could be taken, the barn burned down. Suspected of arson, Esther was put in the town jail for four months. And the manifestations ceased as abruptly as they began.

The ending of the story certainly suggests that Esther was somehow responsible for the phenomena, and that when the penalties became too serious, her subconscious mind was cowed into good behaviour. ....But she was as worried and frightened by the phenomena as everyone else. It is hard to believe that she would-even subconsciously-cause so much damage to her sister's home, which was virtually a wreck when she left. Furthermore, Hubbell describes Esther as a pleasant, honest-looking girl with well-shaped features and pretty teeth, who loved housework, and was in constant demand with the neighbourhood children 'who were always ready to have a romp and a game of tag', which does not sound like a house-wrecker.

Esther herself asserted repeatedly that she heard and saw ghosts.

When she called on the minister to ask him to pray for her, one of the spirits attacked her with a bone, which cut her head open, and jabbed a fork in her face. When she and the doctor went down to the cellar to investigate, they were met by a hail of potatoes.

The source of the experience

Ordinary person

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Psychological trauma