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Watseka Wonder: One of the Best Documented Cases of Possession



An old photo of Lurancy Vennum: The Watseka Wonder. Image: Wikipedia

The Watseka Wonder refers to a documented case of possession and exorcism that took place in the town of Watseka, Illinois in the late 19th century. In 1877, a young girl named Lurancy Vennum was said to have been taken over by the spirits of multiple deceased individuals, leading her to display unusual and erratic behavior. The events surrounding the case were documented by witnesses and medical professionals, and eventually resulted in an exorcism being performed to remove the spirits from the girl.

The case of the Watseka Wonder has been the subject of discussion and debate among paranormal researchers and skeptics for many years, with some viewing it as a clear example of supernatural possession, while others believe it may have been a manifestation of a psychological or physiological disorder. Despite the ongoing debate, the Watseka Wonder remains one of the most well-known and documented cases of possession in American history.

Who was Lurancy Vennum

Lurancy Vennum was a young girl from Watseka, Illinois. Lurancy was reportedly around 14 years old when she first began to display signs of possession. After her behavior became erratic and she was said to have been taken over by multiple spirits, Lurancy was placed under the care of a local spiritualist by her parents.

After the exorcism, Lurancy’s behavior was said to have returned to normal, and she lived the rest of her life as a normal individual. Despite her case being one of the most well-documented and discussed cases of possession in American history, little is known about Lurancy’s personal life or her experiences following the events that took place in Watseka.

Lurrancy Vennum and the Voices

Lurancy Vennum was around 13 years old when she started having trouble sleeping. She would hear voices desperately calling out her name at night time which made her too scared to go to sleep. Around the same time she became quite ill and started having epileptic seizures.

According to reports, Lurancy’s behavior became erratic soon after and she began speaking in different voices, leading some to believe that she had been taken over by multiple spirits.

The spirits that spoke through Lurancy made many claims such as:

Predictions about future events: The spirits were said to have made predictions about future events and natural disasters, such as earthquakes and hurricanes.

Knowledge of personal details: The spirits were said to have displayed knowledge of personal details about Lurancy and her family, as well as details about people and events that Lurancy could not have known.

Claims about past lives: The spirits were said to have claimed to be deceased individuals, each with a unique personality and set of experiences from past lives.

Insight into the afterlife: The spirits were said to have provided insight into the afterlife, including descriptions of heaven and hell.

The spirits identified themselves in many cases. Some of the spirits who visited often were:

Caroline Eaton: A deceased woman who claimed to have died from a fall.

Sarah Renico: A deceased woman who claimed to have died from a heart attack.

Mary Roff: A deceased woman from Watseka that died from tuberculosis about 12 years previously.

A number of other spirits were also said to have taken over Lurancy’s body, each claiming to be a deceased individual with a unique set of experiences and memories.

An image of Mary Roth before her death. Image: AmericanHauntingsInk

Lurancy allowed the spirit of Mary Roff to possess her body for about fifteen weeks at a time. During this time she visited many of Roff’s friends and relatives who lived in Watseka. Lurancy seemed to be familiar with the Roff home, and was able to recall stories from Mary Roff’s life.

The Roff family was convinced that Lurancy was a reincarnation of their daughter, Mary, and allowed Lurancy to live with them for several weeks.

Lurancy also displayed other strange behaviors that seemed to be supernatural in origin. Some of these were:

Unusual physical movements: Lurancy was reported to have experienced sudden and uncontrolled movements, such as convulsions, twitching, and tremors.

Changes in speech: Lurancy was said to have experienced sudden and dramatic changes in her speech, including speaking in different voices and using languages she was not previously familiar with.

Altered consciousness: Lurancy was reported to have experienced altered states of consciousness, including periods of unconsciousness and catatonia.

Unusual displays of strength: Lurancy was said to have displayed sudden and unnatural displays of strength, such as lifting heavy objects with ease and resisting the attempts of multiple people to hold her down.

This behavior continued for several months and resulted in Lurancy being placed under the care of a local spiritualist, Mary Baker. Baker believed that Lurancy was indeed possessed by multiple spirits and performed an exorcism to remove the supposed spirits from her body.

It is unclear what exactly took place during the exorcism, but it is reported that Lurancy experienced a dramatic change in behavior and that the spirits that were said to have taken over her body were no longer present. Lurancy was said to have regained control of her body and her personality, and was reported to have returned to a more normal state of consciousness and physical behavior.

A video that goes in depth into the story of Lurancy Vennum and the Watseka Wonder.

Theories about the Watseka Wonder

The Watseka Wonder has been the subject of much speculation and theorizing by those interested in paranormal and spiritual phenomena. Some of the spiritual theories about the Watseka Wonder include:

Possession by multiple spirits: Some paranormal researchers and spiritual practitioners believe that Lurancy Vennum was truly possessed by multiple spirits, each of whom claimed to be a deceased individual with a unique set of experiences and memories.

Channeling of spiritual energy: Some believe that Lurancy Vennum was a vessel for spiritual energy and that the spirits that were said to have taken over her body were manifestations of this energy.

Other more down to Earth theories include:

Dissociative identity disorder: Some experts believe that Lurancy Vennum may have suffered from dissociative identity disorder (DID), a condition in which a person experiences multiple distinct identities or personalities. This theory suggests that Lurancy’s behavior was the result of a split in her consciousness, rather than supernatural possession.

Conversion disorder: Another theory is that Lurancy may have suffered from conversion disorder, a condition in which psychological stress is expressed through physical symptoms such as seizures, tremors, and changes in speech. This theory suggests that Lurancy’s behavior was a manifestation of psychological distress, rather than supernatural possession.

Hysteria: Some believe that Lurancy’s behavior may have been a result of hysteria, a condition that was commonly diagnosed in women during the 19th century and was characterized by symptoms such as convulsions, changes in speech, and altered consciousness.

Psychological suggestion: Another theory is that Lurancy’s behavior may have been the result of psychological suggestion or the placebo effect. This theory suggests that Lurancy’s behavior was influenced by the beliefs and expectations of those around her, and that her experiences were shaped by the cultural and social context of the time.

The events surrounding the Watseka Wonder remain a source of fascination and mystery, and continue to be studied and debated by paranormal researchers and experts in the fields of psychology and mental health.

William T. Stevens’ Account of the Watseka Wonder

William T. Stevens was an American author and paranormal researcher who wrote about the Watseka Wonder in his book “The Watseka Wonder: A Strange and Mysterious Case of Possession and Exorcism.” Stevens was one of the first to bring the story of the Watseka Wonder to a wider audience, and his book remains one of the primary sources of information about the case.

In his book, Stevens documented the events surrounding the supposed possession and exorcism of Lurancy Vennum, as well as the cultural and historical context of the time. He included accounts from witnesses, newspaper articles, and other sources, and provided his own interpretation of the events.

Stevens was interested in spiritualism and paranormal phenomena, and he believed that the events surrounding the Watseka Wonder were evidence of supernatural possession. However, his book has been criticized by some experts and researchers who believe that the events were the result of a psychological or physiological disorder, rather than supernatural possession.

Regardless of one’s beliefs about the events of the Watseka Wonder, William T. Stevens’s book remains a valuable source of information and a fascinating account of a strange and mysterious case.

If you want to learn more about the case this book is the best source of information. You can purchase it on Amazon(Affiliate link, we may earn a commission):

The Watseka Wonder by William T. Stevens.

What do you think was going on with the Watseka Wonder and the possession of Lurancy Vennum? Let us know in the comments.

If you enjoyed this article you might also be interested in the ouija board demon ZOZO or the ghosts of the General Wayne Inn

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Crisis Apparitions




Can we communicate with our loved ones telepathically during times of crisis?

In the early 1800s, Pastor John Frederick Oberlin moved to the town of Bande-la-Roche, France, hoping to educate the residents and relieve them of their superstitions. In the end it was Oberlin who was educated, becoming convinced that the apparitions residents saw in times of crisis were real.

Pastor John Frederick Oberlin and the Crisis Apparitions of Bande-la-Roche

John Frederick Oberlin, a well-known pastor, teacher, and philanthropist from the 18th and 19th centuries, completely changed the way of life in the Bande-la-Roche valley in the Vosges Mountains of Alsace. When he arrived in the area, he didn’t like the superstitions of the locals, especially their stories about seeing their dying family members appearing to them in spirit form before their deaths. Despite his efforts to educate them and speak against these beliefs, the reports of such sightings continued.

A significant turning point in Oberlin’s attitude towards the apparitions occurred in 1806 when a devastating avalanche struck Rossberg, burying several villages in its wake. The aftermath of this catastrophic event was marked not only by the physical destruction but also by an increase in the number of villagers claiming to have witnessed visions of their deceased loved ones.

As these accounts multiplied, Oberlin, the steadfast clergyman, found himself grappling with a growing sense of doubt. The sheer volume of testimonies and the intensity of the experiences described by the locals led him to reconsider his earlier dismissal of the supernatural. The tragic circumstances surrounding the avalanche seemed to challenge his previously held orthodox views.

In the face of mounting evidence and the profound impact of the disaster on the community, Oberlin began to believe that the villagers were indeed be perceiving spirits of the departed.

What are Crisis Apparitions?

In most supernatural encounters, the spirits involved are usually belonging to people who have passed away. Sometimes, however, the spirit seen is belonging to someone still living. What does this mean?

One idea regarding crisis apparitions suggests that when a person dies, their soul is released from their body. This liberated soul can then move freely across space and time. The belief is that the individual’s soul might want to make a final visit to say goodbye or provide comfort to loved ones.

In some cases, crisis apparitions involve a person who is still alive. For instance, someone might hear the voice of a loved one delivering a message or warning during a vision. According to a theory, when a person is in physical pain or danger due to illness, they might unconsciously project psychic energy to their loved ones. This projection could happen without the person being aware of it, driven by the challenging situation they are facing.

This type of crisis apparition resembles visions of those who have passed away. As the energy is sent to the receiver, their brain interprets it as an image of the sender. Researchers believe that some individuals may be more sensitive to this energy, increasing their likelihood of having paranormal experiences.

Other Notable Examples of Crisis Apparitions

A woman having an out of body experience is seen by her husband who was hundreds of miles away

According to Rosemary Ellen Guiley’s book, The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits, (affiliate link) in 1863, a man named S. R. Wilmot and his sister, Eliza, sailed from England to New York. They faced a severe storm that lasted nine days. Wilmot, feeling seasick, stayed in his sleeping area for several days and nights. On the eighth night, after the storm eased, he dreamt that his wife, Mrs. Wilmot, visited him in a white nightgown, kissed and caressed him, and then left.

The next morning, William J. Tait, who shared quarters with Wilmot, mentioned seeing a lady visitor. Wilmot was surprised because Tait’s description matched exactly what he had dreamt. When asked, Eliza denied being the visitor.

Later, Mrs. Wilmot asked her husband about his dream, describing her own experience of going out during the storm, finding the ship, going to the stern, and entering the cabin. She hesitated at first when she saw Tait but eventually kissed and caressed Wilmot, just like in his dream. Mrs. Wilmot shared this vivid experience with her mother, insisting it felt too real to be just a dream and that she believed she had actually been on the ship.

A Man Sees His Wife’s Dying Sister-in-Law

“In the higher part of the door was a glass window, and I all at once, in the darkness, saw a face looking through that window. The face was very well known to me, though for the instant I did not associate it with the original, as she was 300 miles away. I instantly opened the door, found nobody there, and then searched the ivy with which the porch and house are covered. Finding nothing, and knowing it was impossible anyone could have got away. … I at once knew the face was that of a married sister-in-law of my wife’s. I told all our family of the circumstance directly I got home, and judge of our dismay when we had a letter to say she died at the very hour I saw her. Monday was the evening I saw the face, and on Wednesday, when we were at dinner, the letter came.”

W. Goodyear.

Apparitions of the Living Vol 1 p. 523

A Man Sees His Brother During a Near Death Experience

“It was either in 1874 or 1875. My brother was third mate on board one of Wigram’s large ships. I knew he was somewhere on the coast of Australia  …  I looked up, and, to my astonishment, saw my brother coming towards me from the outside door of the kitchen. … I noticed he was in his sailor uniform with a monkey jacket on, and the wet was shining on his jacket and cap. I exclaimed, ‘Miles, where have you come from?’ He answered in his natural ‘For God’s sake, don’t say I’m here.’ This was all over in a few seconds and as I jumped towards him he was gone. I was very much frightened, for I had really thought it was my brother himself; and it was only when he vanished that I realised it was only an appearance. … About three months afterwards my brother came home, and….I asked him in a casual manner if he had had any adventures, and he said, ‘I was nearly drowned at Melbourne.’ He then told me he was ashore without leave, and on returning to the ship, after midnight, he slipped off the gangway between the side of the ship and the dock. There was very little space, and if he had not been hauled up at once, he must have been drowned. He remembered thinking he was drowning, and then became unconscious. His absence without leave was not found out, so he escaped the punishment he expected. I then told him of how he had appeared to me, and I asked him the date. He was able to fix it exactly. … He had no recollection of thinking specially of me at the time, but he was much struck by the coincidence, and often referred to it. He did not like it, and often when he went away said, ‘Well, I hope I shan’t go dodging about as I did that time.”

Apparitions of the Living, Vol 2, p. 141

Billie Holiday Sees Her Mother at the Time She Died

Billie Holiday wrote in her memoir of a strange incident occurring at the time of her mother’s death. Her mom was very young when she had her, and they were close. In the middle of the book, Billie talks about a strange moment in a hotel room with her boyfriend after a show:

“I don’t believe in ghosts, but something weird happened that night… We were just sitting there when suddenly I felt my mother behind me, touching my shoulders. And I knew she was dead. I told Joe, ‘Mom just left, and she’s dead.’

‘You’re crazy,’ he said. ‘You must be losing it.’

‘Listen to me,’ I said, ‘you better be good to me because you’re all I’ve got now.’

Her mom wasn’t sick, and she was only 38, so nobody expected her to die. The next day, people acted strangely around Billie. She went up to the road manager and “told him Mama was dead and what time she died the night before…He blew his top, raised hell with everybody backstage. He swore somebody must have told me. But nobody had told me nothing.” The crew knew about Billie’s Mom but didn’t want her to know as it might impact her performance.

Knock Once for Yes Podcast covers the topic of Crisis Apparitions

Have you ever had a crisis apparition experience? Tell us about it in the comments. If you enjoyed this article you might also be interested in the phenomenon of paranormal apathy or twin telepathy.

Interested in Talking to Spirits? Try one of our paranormal communication apps!

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MacKenzie Family Omens




The MacKenzie family received various omens to warn them of death that was about to occur in the family.

In the early 1900s, the MacKenzie family line in Scotland experienced several different paranormal omens, warning them about deaths that would soon occur in the family.

These stories have been gathered from 1934 book “Family Ghosts and Ghostly Phenomena,” by Elliott O’Donnell.

The Prophecy of the Face

One evening, young Sylvia MacKenzie was alone in her small house, sitting in the living room. She heard a tapping sound at a window facing a small garden. When she looked, she saw a strange face with a long, narrow nose and no nose at all. The eyes were very pale, set at an angle, and far apart. The face seemed to be looking at her in a menacing way. As Sylvia stared, scared and unable to move, the face slowly disappeared. When her parents came home, she told them about the scary vision. They were really upset because, as they explained, their family believed this ghostly face showed up only when something bad was about to happen.

The next day, Sylvia’s brother Robert, who was in the Canadian forces during World War I (between 1914-1918), was killed on the Western front.

Miss MacKenzie and the Ghostly Arm

One morning, another, unamed member of the Mackenzie family went upstairs to get something from her bedroom. While leaving, she heard something fall behind her. When she turned around, she saw an old-fashioned silver candlestick on the floor next to the chest of drawers. Curious, she went to pick it up and noticed a “beautifully round” arm, from the elbow up, coming out of the wall beside the drawers. The skin was very white, and the hand had long, slender fingers and filbert nails, like a woman’s hand. As she watched, the arm slowly faded away and disappeared.

After it was gone, she remembered her family’s stories about a phantom omen—a strange hand seen only by family members that predicted death and misfortune. She worried that her vision foretold her mother’s death, who was very sick at that time. Fortunately, her mother recovered fully. A few days later, the family received news that a cousin had died tragically. It made the young woman wonder if her vision had predicted this sad event.

Mr MacKenzie and the Cold hand

One night, Mr. and Mrs. MacKenzie were at a cinema in Glasgow. While watching the movie, Mr. MacKenzie suddenly felt a cold hand touch his cheek. Annoyed, he thought it was the people around him playing a prank. A little later, he felt the cold hand on the back of his own hand and got really scared. He knew his family believed in a ghostly hand that showed up before someone’s death. Unable to enjoy the movie, they left right away.

When they tried to sleep that night, Mr. MacKenzie felt someone moving in the room. He lit the gas to check, but the room was empty, and the door was locked. As he went back to bed, the cold hand touched his forehead. He grabbed the arm, describing it as soft and slender, and felt it up to the elbow where it suddenly disappeared. The next day, they got a telegram telling them that one of Mr. MacKenzie’s sisters had died during the night.

Here is another gripping ghost story recounted by Scotish author Elliot O’Donnell

Have you had any similar experiences with in your family? Tell us about it in the comments.

If you enjoyed this article you might be interested in other omen phenomena such as Our Lady of Fatima or Katherine Hobbs predicting her own death

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