Are people only possessed by negative or evil spirits? The story of Mary Jobson has been the subject of a book or two or at least a chapter in an anthology. Her story is fascinating.
In November of 1839, at the age of 12 years, Mary contracted a most peculiar illness. In the beginning she complained of severe pain at the back of the head, her eyes were sensitive to light, she had a slight temperature, constipation and an irregular heartbeat. Her symptoms quickly grew worse eventually leading to convulsions that would ease up and then return. Mary was not able to swallow food. Her doctor and parents did what they could for the girl but all of this marked the beginning of strange occurrences that would last for almost 11 weeks. She was attended by several physicians during that course. Several physicians, family members and others who witnessed the events wrote their accounts of the happenings which can be found in The Miraculous Case of Mary Jobson by W. Reid Clanny M.D.
At first the family would hear rapping emanating from Mary’s room but upon inspection, each time they found the child merely laying in bad with her hands at her sides. These knockings grew into poundings and finally what sounded like fierce explosions. This was accompanied by phantom footsteps, closet doors that opened and closed by themselves, water falling from the ceiling and melodious music coming from an organ that did not exist.
Then came the voice. It claimed it was using her voice as a “trumpet” and was the voice of God that should not be mocked. It further claimed it was a good spirit who would be lending advice to all who came to hear it and that Mary’s possession was only temporary. It insisted that Mary was not harmed and that her spirit was not there and had left its physical form for a time. Mary’s father was not accepting this story and demanded proof. He asked for water to be dumped at his feet. It was and continued to be dumped until the room was soaked.
The human trumpet met with visitors giving out advice and at times summoned people to come to get messages. They were subject to celestial music via organ and hymns and a disembodied choir. Often the voices of departed loved ones came through. According to Brad Steiger in Real Ghosts, Restless Spirits and Haunted Places, who wrote a rendition of this story the voice said:
“Look up, and you shall see the sun and moon on the ceiling.” Before the bewildered eyes of a roomful of witnesses, the planets appeared above them as celestial orbs of yellow and orange. John Jobson immediately set about whitewashing the figures, but he soon learned that the voice had intended its artwork to be permanent … after several coats of whitewash the figures still remained visible.
Despite what the spirit voice had been saying, Mary’s condition appeared to be diminishing and the attending doctor told her parents to prepare for her death. The voice however announced that on June 22, a miracle would take place and Mary would be restored. Mary’s mother had laid out clothing as instructed and at 5:00, the voice told everyone to leave the room with the exception of Mary’s two year old brother. Approximately 15 minutes later the voice instructed everyone to re-enter the room. They found Mary sitting in a chair smiling with her brother on her lap. All was well.
It is said that Mary grew up into a fine educated woman who was highly respected. There were signs or scars from the “good spirit” who never returned and it was said she very rarely got ill.