The story of Eddy Brothers and their illusions

Published: Nov. 1, 2019 at 1:54 AM EDT
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Vermont is home to some places with real ghost stories.

The story of the Eddy Brothers is one that not a lot of Vermonters know, but its definitely no ghost story.

In the 1870's they were so famous that they earned the town of Chittenden the title of "Spirit Capital of the Universe", and the house they lived in is still standing to this day.

Today, it’s a high life ski lodge, but 150 years ago it was home to William and Horatio Eddy, who gained fame for their supposed ability to speak to the dead.

“So the Eddy's became famous in the 1860s, they traveled throughout the U.S. and allegedly into Canada and Europe,” Eddy Brothers expert Jason Smiley said. “They performed a routine or an exhibition known as a spirit cabinet.”

Vermonter Jason Smiley is an authority on the brothers, giving lectures on the pair at local museums this time of year. He passes on the legend of the Eddy Brothers, who were said to be able to speak with spirits and make objects move from the time they were children.

“It’s said they didn't have much schooling because when they went to school strange things would happen in the classroom, so they were kicked out of the school,” Smiley said. “They started to see strange things with the children, mysterious figures would appear with them out in the field, and objects would levitate, things.”

Smiley says the brothers spent most of their childhood in their family home in Chittenden until they were sold to a traveling show by their father.

When the boys became old enough, they broke off from the show they had been a part of and started performing séances on their own.

Eventually, they found their way back to Chittenden and performed all of their shows in one of the upstairs rooms of the house.

“William Eddy would go into this cabinet and as soon as he would sit down, the seance circle would begin and spirits would physically materialize and walk out of the cabinet so people came from all around the world to see their departed loved ones,” Smiley said.

But were the Eddy’s able to conjure spirits, or was it just an elaborate hoax?

“"On most days I would say that they were probably just clever illusionists, but there's always that little bit of doubt because there are so many people who swear that they did see their departed loved one when they went to visit they eddy family,” Smiley said.

There aren't very many people who believe that the Eddy brothers were actually able to speak with the dead; however, their legend has lasted this long, so there may be at least a little truth in their tall tales.