The Earliest Days of the Poltergeist

Poltergeists are often said to be attributed to a person rather than an incarnate spiritual entity among paranormal investigators.  And if the phenomenon present is believed to be the latter, often it does center around one person.  But what was the earliest case where this fact was demonstrated?  When did spiritualists and those investigating the paranormal finally decide that it was likely a person and not a place that was required for a poltergeist?

Angelique Cottin, generally described as one of the first poltergeist girls aside from the Fox Sisters, was a normal girl for the most part, except that she seemed to have a peculiar connection to the paranormal.  In her presence things moved, sounds came seemingly from nowhere, and people began to get the impression that there was something very strange in the works.  But unlike the ghosts of the Fox Sisters, the strange force following around this Normandy peasant girl was quite a bit more dramatic.

It all started just after Sunset of January 15, 1846 when Angelique and her friends sat in front of a weaving frame making a pair of gloves.  As the girls worked, suddenly the frame mysteriously began shaking even when no one was touching it, though quite quickly they began to try to hold it down as if it were about to jump up and start floating around the room.  Terrified, they sprinted from their house and began running over to the neighbors.

At this point it’s important to remember that this story does take place in 1846, a time when the testimony of young women would be almost entirely dismissed without overwhelming evidence.  Rather than attempting to determine if something was wrong with the frame, the neighbors exchanged incredulous looks and sent the girls back home warning them not to come back with such absurd stories.  As the girls returned, they noticed that the frame had stopped moving and began weaving again, considering that whatever it was had passed.  But Angelique stood in the doorway far from the frame, and as she approached it once again started moving.

After a series of exorcisms which came and went without incident, Angelique was taken to a doctor when inanimate objects started moving once again in her presence without her even touching them.  She was taken to a doctor who would begin investigating the strange behavior she exhibited.  Including sudden movements of inanimate objects outside of her reach, Angelique seemed to repel these objects with a mysterious force that was not under her control.  Everything from hair brushes to massive oak tables would move away from her, and chairs she sat in rose from the ground with such power that multiple people were required to hold the chair down.

And that was before Angelique even began to host mysterious bolts of electricity from her hand that would strike others around her.  Reportedly, the mystery electricity was far more powerful and ranged than more conventionally accepted static electricity.  Of course the story doesn’t end there, and as Angelique’s journey continued, she found that this was quite a bit more than a simple curse to be cured.