It might not need to be said, but Ouija boards have a long, scary, and complicated history. First invented in 1890, over the last century its prominence in popular culture has reverberated through every American household. However, as we’ll soon discover, its reputation and popularity varied widely over time. One thing is for certain, scary and dark stories have followed the game. But, with so many myths and legends, what is the truth about Ouija boards? From Ouija board rules to its dark history, here are 25 Spooky Ouija Board Facts.
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When first created, the Ouija board got its name after asking what it wanted to be called.
Proprietor William Fuld gained exclusive rights to manufacture and sell the Ouija boards and amassed a grand fortune on their sales. The Ouija board told him to construct a new building, claiming to "Prepare for big business," and while overseeing its construction in Baltimore, he plummeted to his death in a freak accident.
The creator of the Ouija board, Elijah Bond, never received proper recognition for creating the board. However, in 2007, a collector and fan Robert Murch erected a Ouija board tombstone and put it over Bond's unmarked grave.
While using the Ouija board in 2015 on Christmas Eve, Paul Carroll was convinced his dog was possessed by a demon. In response, he killed his Bedlington Terrier and unsuccessfully tried to hide the fact. Authorities still ended up finding the body and arrested Carroll.
In 1994, Stephen Young was convicted by a jury for the murder of Harry and Nicola Fuller. How did the jury come to this conclusion? While locked in overnight at the Brighton's Old Ship Hotel, they used a make-shift Ouija board from paper and spoke with the spirits of Harry and Nicola Fuller. It replied, "Vote guilty tomorrow."
After using a Ouija board, Carol Sue Elvaker killed her son-in-law, Brian Roach, before driving off with her two daughters. She deliberately crashed the car to kill them all, but failed. So, instead, she fled the scene, shedding all her clothes while running and hiding in the nearby wood.
In 1905, Frank Aulich divorced his wife Mabel and sued for custody over their daughter, claiming his wife was deranged and controlled by the Ouija board. He said she made all her decisions based on the board and conducted herself as such toward him and their daughter.
In 1990, six intelligence officers with top-secret security clearances started dabbling with supernatural forces and found the Ouija board to be the most effective. They claimed spirits predicted the Gulf War and an earthquake in 1990. When the spirits told them they had to stop an impending cataclysm from happening, they obeyed and went AWOL, traveling to Florida to see a psychic about it. They were eventually arrested for going AWOL and honorably discharged.
Ouija boards were very popular during and after World War I, selling 3 million in 1920 and outselling Monopoly in 1922. They were in almost every household in America.
So, what changed? Two words: The Exorcist. Upon its release in 1973, telling a story about a little girl who becomes possessed by demons through a Ouija board, people destroyed their Ouija boards in great numbers, feeling they saw its true nature. Sales also plummeted and it's carried a negative stigma ever since.
Of course, The Exorcist isn't the only reason people feel worried about the game. Its rules clearly lay out its paranormal nature, stating that if you ignore the rules, you could be possessed by a demon.
The Catholic Church and Protestant Christianity have also widely criticized the board, calling it divination and tying it with the occult. Their influence no doubt caused many parents to throw out their children's boards.
On the cover of the Saturday Evening Post, Norman Rockwell drew a picture of a well-dressed man and woman playing a Ouija board with each other while on a date, as if it were the most normal thing in the world.
Ouija boards work. But, not in the way you'd think. Many scientific studies have shown that through the ideomotor effect, or unconscious, involuntary movement, your brain answers your questions, and they're revealed on the board subconsciously.
When family heirlooms went missing from her home, Helen Peters, an early investor and creator of the game, saw her family torn apart after she asked the Ouija board who took them and it named a family member. The family never reconciled and Peters sold all her stock in the company saying to never play the game.
A mother and daughter pair took a cocktail of pills and started a session with the Ouija board. By the end, they burnt down their house in an attempt to take their own lives. Making it even weirder, they were related to Paul Carroll, the man who drowned his dog after using the board.
In 1933, Dorothea Turley and her 15-year-old daughter Mattie played the Ouija board game, and it told them to kill Mattie's father. Her mother said, "the board cannot be denied." Shortly after, Mattie followed through with the murder, and it became the first recorded murder involving a Ouija board in known history.
The Ouija board has also influenced matters of inheritance. In one such story, upon her death in 1955, Helen Down Peck left her $180,000 estate to John Gale Forbes, a man she met through her Ouija board. She believed he was in a mental institution somewhere and if they found him, to give him the inheritance. If he wasn't found, she wanted to fund research into mental telepathy.