Staus Poltergeist
Between 1860–62, the village of Staus, on the shores of Lake
Lucerne, Switzerland, was the scene of a reported case of poltergeist
haunting. The outbreak occurred in the house of M.
Joller, a lawyer and a member of the Swiss national council.
The household comprised Joller, his wife, seven children (four
boys and three girls), and a maid. One night in the autumn of
1860, the maid was disturbed by a loud rapping on her bed
frame that she regarded as an omen of death. Joller ascribed
the sounds to the girl’s imagination and forbade her to speak
about them.
A few weeks later, returning after a short absence, Joller
found his family alarmed. The knocks had been repeated in the
presence of his wife and daughter. A few days later, the family
received news of a friend’s death and they imagined this must
have been what the raps portended.
The outbreak was renewed in June 1861. This time one of
the boys fainted at the apparition of a white, indistinct figure.
Supposedly, the children began to see and hear other strange
things and a few months later the maid complained that the
kitchen was haunted by dim, grey shapes who followed her to
her bedroom and sobbed all night in the lumber-room.
In October of the same year, the maid was replaced, the rappings
ceased, and the disturbances seemed to be at an end. The
disturbances returned in August 1862, during the absence of
Joller, his wife, and their eldest son on business. Reportedly,
the annoyance was so bad that the children fled from the house
into the garden, in spite of their father’s threat of punishment.
Later, the poltergeist supposedly began to persecute Joller
himself, pursuing him from room to room with loud knocks.
Reportedly, items were thrown by invisible hands, locked doors
and fastened windows were flung open, and strange music,
voices, and the humming of spinning wheels were heard.
In spite of Joller’s attempts to conceal these happenings, the
news spread abroad and people came to witness the phenomena.
Finding no rational hypothesis to fit the circumstances, Joller
requested the Commissary Niederberger to come and investigate.
Niederberger was unavailable so Father Guardian
visited the house and blessed it. Reportedly, this did not stop
the disturbances and Guardian suggested an inquiry be made
by men of authority.
Joller privately called in several scientists he knew, but they
also were unable to find a solution, although various theories
of electricity, galvanism, and magnetism were advanced. Other
authorities were present while Niederberger and Guardian examined
the house without discovering any cause for the disturbances,
which had continued unabated.
Later, Joller requested a formal examination by the police,
and three police were chosen to investigate. The Joller family
left and for six days the police occupied the house. At the end
of that period, having neither heard nor seen any sign of the
poltergeist, they wrote a report to that effect and left the house.
When the Jollers returned to the house, supposedly the phenomena
started again. Joller found it impossible to carry on his
business and in October 1862, he left his ancestral home forever.
The following spring he found a tenant for the house in
Staus, but the poltergeist outbreak was not renewed.