Esther Cox and the Amherst Mystery

The Beginning of Esther’s Story
In 1878, eighteen  year old Esther Cox went out for a drive with her beau, Bob McNeal. It was not a pleasant evening. A steady drizzle had turned to rain, and the couple rode in an open carriage.

According to Walter Hubbell, who investigated the mystery, McNeal stopped the carriage in a remote spot, jumped down, and pulled a gun on Esther. He demanded she leave the carriage. Esther refused. The noise of an approaching carriage frightened McNeal, and he drove Esther home.

What really happened on that carriage ride? Some investigators claim this was an attempted rape. Some think maybe Esther was raped. We’ll never know.

For several days after the ride, Esther cried herself to sleep and moped around the house.

The Beginning of Poltergeist Activity

The Cox House

The Haunted House

A few nights after her experience, Esther and her sister Jane noticed something moving in their bed. Esther was sure it was a mouse, and jumped out of the bed screaming. Jane got up, and the girls could clearly see something moving inside the mattress. Ever practical, Jane convinced Esther that the mouse could not escape the mattress, and the girls went back to bed.

Soon, the activity increased with knockings, rustling, and moving objects. Several witnesses were terrified when they saw the bedclothes ripped off of Jane and Esther by no one. During these events, Esther would suffer seizures and swelling. A loud bang would be heard, and Esther’s suffering would end. She would then slip into what appeared to be a peaceful sleep.

The local physician, Dr. Caritte, was called. The first night he sat with Esther, Dr. Caritte was astounded when writing appeared on the wall right before him: “Esther Cox, you are mine to kill.” When Dr. Caritte administered sedatives to Esther, the strange knockings and other phenomena continued.

The local clergy men visited the house, and they cleared Esther of any wrong doing. However, not everyone in the tiny town of Amherst, Novia Scotia was convinced. They thought Esther was directly responsible for the events. Many neighbors became hostile to Esther and her family. When Esther became ill with diphtheria or visited family out-of-town, all of the activity ceased, and these neighbors congratulated themselves since this seemed to confirm their view of events.

Poltergeist Activity Intensifies
Following her illness, Esther was kicked, slapped, poked with pins, and stabbed with a knife by some invisible agency. Esther began to actually see the ghosts involved with the activity. Some of these ghosts identified themselves as Bob Nickle, Maggie Fisher, and Peter Cox. Whether it was  investigated if these “ghosts” ever lived is not known.

Soon, the entire household was put at risk when lighted matches began falling from the ceiling. No one could determine where the matches originated other than they simply fell from the ceiling of rooms in the house.

Walter Hubbell attempted to help Esther by taking her on a speaking tour about the events. Audiences paid to see her and hear about the events in her home. After a riot broke out at one of these speaking events, Esther returned home, and the poltergeist activity resumed.

Esther Arrested
In desperation, Esther left her home and took a position on Arthur Davison’s farm. When his barn burned down, Davison had Esther arrested for arson. She was sentenced to four months in prison.

When she was released, all poltergeist activity ceased.

Esther married twice and moved with her second husband to Massachusetts. She died on November 8, 1912.

Walter Hubbell’s The Haunted House sold over 55,000 copies.

*Information taken from Walter’s Hubbell’s The Haunted House.


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