Lurancy Vennum was born in 1864 in Illinois. The family eventually settled in Watseka. When she was thirteen years old, Lurancy heard voices calling for her and felt very strange. She eventually began exhibiting paralytic fits, spoke as if other spirits were speaking through her, and, after a time, seemed to be "possessed" by the spirit of Mary Roff. Interestingly, this whole change in Lurancy began on the 12th anniversary of Mary's death. Years before, Mary had also experienced epileptic-like fits and had eventually committed suicide and died in an asylum when Lurancy was six months old. Lurancy and Mary had never met.
Once completely "possessed" by Mary's spirit, Lurancy begged to be taken home, that is, to live with the Roffs. She recognized people and items that Mary knew and even played the piano as Mary had. As "Mary," Lurancy failed to recognize her own parents anymore, except as friendly visitors to the Roff home. She stayed with the Roff family as "Mary" for about four and a half months. After that, she tearfully said goodbye to the Roffs and returned home as Lurancy.
So was Lurancy possessed by Mary's spirit? Was she schizophrenic? Was she faking the whole thing? More on this next week.