Tuesday, 1 January 2013

The Cradock Mystery - an investigation by The Society of Psychical Research

The Cradock Mystery

In 1887 South Australia faced a mystery, in the town of Cradock, some 370 kms north of Adelaide in the Flinders Ranges, not far from Hawker, a young girl was falling into trances and mysterious knocking could be heard, often in reply to questions being asked at the time.
The story created somewhat of a sensation in South Australia, and throughout the colonies of Australia.
The Cradock Hotel
Sissy Schultz, a young lady of Cradock had been experiencing some odd conditions and noises in her family home. It seems the young girl would fall into a trance like state and loud knocking would be heard in her room. It was claimed the knocking was not from the young girl, but from some phantom that was in the room with her. There were also claims of odd electric shocks and one occasion, the sighting of a young child’s apparition by Sissy.

Mr Kirkham Evans, a member of The Society of Psychical Research, took it upon himself to travel the almost 400 kilometres to Cradock to investigate. 
 He sent forward a telegram of his intentions and discovered that the resident School master, Mr J.A. Jones was also a member of the society.
Mr Jones had himself already set about investigating the case but had made little headway into goings on.

The two gentlemen, armed with a small tin of flour, some black lead, string an electric magnet, a bottle of strong ammonia and a thermometer, amongst other things set about to investigate the haunting.
Cradock Church
The two gentlemen allowed two other men to enter the room with them, one Reverend Hancock of Port Pirie and Mr A. Healy of Blackrock.
Upon entering the room and examining the child Mr Evans had this to say (South Australian Weekly Chronicle – June 11 1887 page 22)
“We saw sissy, a plain looking child of nine years but tall for her age, at times full of life and activity, bold and fearless, simple in manner, but upon entering into conversation with her she showed remarkable cunning, suggestive of “I know you; you are laughing in your sleeves” a remark which, by-the-way, we once heard her make”

After making a few notes and getting ready for their investigation the men made there way into the back of the store to Sissy's bedroom. They evaluated the location and could find nothing out of the ordinary or untoward in the room. The Father told the men that this was the only room in which anything out of the ordinary had happened.

It was decided that their objective for the night was to find out if the young girl really was sleeping or “shamming it”, and then how the knocks were made. 
Careful notes were made that the child lay on a double bed, of which she could not reach the sides when laying in the middle, but if she rolled to the left she could easily knock on the floor from under her covers, unseen.
It was also noted how the child had been over-the-top excited about having the gentlemen there, then in no time at all was ready for bed and in a minute and a half sound asleep, not bothered by the talking of men in her room.

Soon Sissy was laying in bed, with the light on, rolling her head from side to side, her Dad remarked “ It's coming, put out the light!”
Mr Evans keen eye for detail noticed as the lights were being put out that the child rolled to her left side and that her arm stretched out toward the wall.
Shortly after, very faint raps were heard in reply to questions asked.
Evans and Co decided to lay some black lead dust about, and again turned off the lights. When the candles were relit, it was discovered the girl had black dust on her hands, and so the fraud was detected!

A report was drawn up and signed by the gentlemen investigators.

" We agree from the observations of Wednesday, June I.—
1. That the child is awake or semi-conscious, and we believe she shams asleep.
2. She produces the raps herself with |her band, or any available object, this including her own body.
3. The raps could be easily simulated.
4. That she is open to suggestions.
5. From the observations we made on this particular night we don't feel justified in imputing to any person in the room the charge of collusion with the girl.
    —W. E.L. Jones, Kirkham Evans, Blackrock, June 2,1887."

Even though the evidence was more than stacked against the Schultz family, it did not stop them making their way to Adelaide to put on paid performances of young Sissy's ability, however this did not last long as eventually the father found himself in court of fraud!

Next week we are staying in the local area and visiting some stories from Yanyarrie Station, just 17 miles from Cradock, another location the infamous Ms Schultz placed her ghost story, but this time, it would seem, there may be something else going on....

© 2013 The Haunts of Adelaide
written and researched by
Allen Tiller

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