A while back, I posted a story about how use of a Ouija board led to a lawsuit. Well, imagine my delight when I found a similar case reported in the "Pittsburgh Press," April 25, 1894:
Brookville, Ind., April 5. The famous Rockdale ouija board is to come to court. It is the property of the family of George Doty, a resident of Rockdale, and has before figured in several exciting affairs. The ouija is an "improved planchette," and this particular board is credited with unusual talent. Its answers often, so declare its friends, have been proved true."The Speaker" for May 19, 1894 recorded the lawsuit's denouement:
The Dotys are respectable people, and outside their strange belief in the intelligence and reliability of the ouija board are not different from their neighbors. The Doty home was a Mecca for many people. This was particularly the case on Sunday afternoons, when crowds of people flocked to it to receive hints of their future. One day the correspondence in a county paper from Rockdale intimated that a girl of that vicinity would soon be excluded from her circle of friends by her own indiscretion. The mysterious announcement caused wide remark, and it was decided by a crowd of young women to consult the ouija board. Mechanically the indicator moved from letter to letter until "Otie Hallowell" was spelled, the name of one of the best and most beloved girls in all the neighborhood.
Miss Hallowell soon noticed a growing coldness among her friends. For some time she failed to find any reason for the change against her, but at last she was told and was almost crazed at the information. She told her mother all she had heard, and in turn the father was told. He started out to run the talk down, and finally traced it to the ouija board. The Misses Doty, who manipulated the board that day, were arrested on a charge of malicious libel, and have been required to produce the board in court. The women and their friends declare they are not responsible for what the board said, but say they believe what the ouija spelled. The title of the suit is the state of Indiana vs. Eva Doty and Nora Doty. The development of the case will be watched with great interest, as it will establish a precedent in regard to the responsibility of the operator for the statement of the board.
In a word, this Ouija has managed to wreck the peace of an idyllic Indiana village, a quaint and rural community numbering not more than a hundred families. It was brought into the village in all innocence by the Doty family, and the neighbours used to assemble after church of an evening and amuse themselves by asking it questions. It uttered some remarkable prophecies, and gave the rustics some sage advice about their private affairs, in which they had faith, notwithstanding that it set them all one day digging up the village green in search of a buried treasure. The girls of course made great use of it, and at last one night it said some very wicked things about Miss Eva Hollowell [sic], a village belle and a rival of the Doty girls in church-work and other accomplishments. This came to the ears of Miss Hollowell's father, a choleric man, and there was a row. The Dotys said they believed the Ouija, and Mr. Hollowell summoned them all to court, including the Ouija. The latter being produced as a witness, we are told, gave some samples of its work; but the verdict went for the plaintiff, and the Doty girls were fined five dollars apiece and costs. Mr. Hollowell, however, is too angry to be satisfied with this slight vengeance, and he is bringing the case to a higher court, where the Ouija will again appear in the witness-box. “The country hereabouts,” says the report, “is intensely agitated over the matter.”The lesson is obvious: If you insist on playing around with Ouija boards, be aware that you may be summoning up something far more frightening than mere ghosts or devils: Lawyers.