Nobody knows for sure when spiritualism adopted the first talking board. A British patent for a "Psychograph, or Apparatus for Indicating Person's Thoughts by the Agent of Nervous Electricity," was awarded to Adolphus Theodore Wagner in London on January 23rd, 1854. The patent itself claims that "nervous electricity" causes the device's pointer to move to letters and spell words, suggesting that a person's subconscious, not a spirit, was communicating using the board. Other European devices of the mid-1800s used a "planchette," the heart-shaped wooden slider used with Ouija boards today, to guide a writing instrument.
The talking board was a natural progression in spiritualism once automatic writing took off. Its first known North American use was referenced in a New York Daily Tribune article from March 28th, 1886, which profiled a group of Ohio spiritualists using "the new planchette," a talking board. A few East Coast businessmen -- Charles W. Kennard, Harry Welles Rusk, Col. Washington Bowie, William H. A. Maupin, John T. Green, their friend Elijah J. Bond, and their employee William Feld -- saw the Tribune article, and on February 3rd, 1891, the Kennard Novelty Company received a trademark on the title "Ouija." Days later, on February 10th, Elijah Bond was awarded the patent for the Ouija talking board, the first iteration of the game we know today.