A Psychic Goes to Court

Ben Bruce knew his house was haunted. He also was fairly sure the house he owned across the street was haunted too. There could be only one solution – he would hire a clairvoyant ghost hunter and have her remove the ghosts and haunts from the homes.

So begins our tale of ghosts, deception, psychics, lawsuits and eventually a chicken.

Ben Bruce, a resident of Fort Scott, Kansas was tormented by the idea that the two houses he owned were filled with ghosts and goblins. In order to make the homes safe and secure he hired Mrs. Mary Epps to vanquish the unwelcome visitors. Mrs. Epps was well known throughout the community as a Clairvoyant who was capable of dispelling any demon, devil, spook or spirit from dwellings where the owners felt unease.

In August of 1898, Mrs. Epps was contacted by Mr. Bruce and she informed him that,from her expertise in the area, she knew that removing phantoms from a residential dwelling was more difficult than removing them from a church or schoolhouse. Because of this supposed difficulty it would take some time for her to prepare for the adventure. Mr, Bruce acknowledged the efforts that the deed would require and Mrs. Epps got down to researching, studying and preparing to expel the troublesome spirits.

Mrs. Epps, determined to fulfill her duty, labored for five months in preparation to do battle with the inconvenient entities. Finally, in the early weeks of January 1899 she was ready to begin the ghost disgorging.

It was to Mrs. Epps’ great shock, upon arrival at the properties, to learn that Mr. Bruce was simply a tenant of the properties and not the owner of the locations. Surely, she could not perform her services without the agreement of the actual property owner so she immediately contacted the actual owner of the two houses.

He basically told Mrs. Epps, “Get lost”

Furious that her time had been wasted she filed suit against Mr. Bruce which would seek to gain some sort of monetary compensation for her time lost preparing for battle with creatures from another world.

She sued him for one-hundred dollars.

C.E. Cory, the attorney representing Mrs. Epps, called for the testimony of five witness who would prove that Mrs. Epps’ time, energy and effort had been needlessly wasted. The witnesses were gathered, a jury was selected and it seemed as if the psychic Mrs. Epps would indeed have her day in court. The jury entered the courtroom and were about to be sworn in by the judge when one of the jurors told the court since he was from China he would refuse to be sworn in unless it was in the fashion of his country. The judge agreed, a chicken was brought into court, slaughtered and then finally the trial could proceed.

For two hours lawyers on both sides entered evidence and testimony and countered each other’s arguments. Finally, at some point the judge realized that he had just seen a chicken slaughtered in his court and had spent two hours listening to lawyers argue about ghosts… he dismissed the entire case.

So in the end, the houses would remain haunted and Mrs. Epps would not receive her $100 compensation… also, a chicken had been killed for no good reason.

R.I.P. Chicken

See one of the original newspaper articles here.


  1. Laura Martin

    The tenant was playing chicken and all left with ruffled feathers !

  2. Gia

    I cry foul on just about everything in the story except for Epps trying to use Mr. Bruce. But I think she was attempting a swindle — I doubt the “spirits” needed to be studied for nearly half a year. She gambled and lost.


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