By the spring of 1848, news of the Fox sisters' "contact" with a spirit from the other side triggered curiosity across upstate New York. Their older sister, Leah, who had moved with the girls to Rochester, joined in on the excitement and conducted public séances that proved Maggie and Katy could contact the dead. One of their first gatherings centered on Amy and Isaac Post, a local Quaker couple who had lost several children to disease. Just like they'd done to their mother, the sisters rapped out responses to the couple's questions that were close enough to the truth for the couple to find relief, and the Posts became some of the girls' first public supporters.
Over the next few years, the Fox sisters became a touring act, helping loved ones connect with spirits on the other side. Leah Fox negotiated the prices of these sessions: The biggest public demonstration in Rochester sold for 25 cents per ticket, which would be about $8 a pop today.
When spiritualism sprang out of Protestant Christianity in the mid-1800s, the idea of talking to the dead wasn't universally linked to danger of demonic possession like the horror movies of today would have you believe. Death was a great equalizer, affecting all genders, races, and creeds somewhat equally, and people were eager to touch it without passing. Girls were seen as pure and capable of connecting to spirits on the other side, so American spiritualism empowered women.