Bob McNeill was by all accounts a deeply cruel and unpleasant character, known in his youth to have skinned cats alive and left them to suffer and die.

In August 1878, McNeill assaulted his friend Esther Cox. Esther was left traumatized by this event and it was amidst this trauma that one of North America's most notorious poltergeists would present itself.

18-year-old Esther lived in a crowded house in Amherst, Nova Scotia, where she shared a bed with her sister Jennie. Also living in the house was their brother William and their sister Olive as well as Olive's husband Daniel, the couple's two children, and Daniel's brother John.

The strange phenomena started with banging noises and quickly progress to objects moving by themselves and taking flight. Esther then began to suffer odd seizures where her body swelled up and she experienced both fever and chills.

Events quickly worsened as Esther found herself cut, scratched, and stabbed by pins and needles. Objects continued to fly through the air and containers of water in the house would begin to spontaneously boil despite remaining cool.

Then, during a visit from the family's doctor, the family heard scratching noises and witnessed the words "Esther Cox you are mine to kill" appear on the wall.

Esther then contracted diptheria and remained bed-bound for two weeks, after which she travelled to stay with another sister in Sackville, New Brunswick.

The paranormal activity ceased completely during the time Esther spent in bed and in Sackville, but resumed as soon as Esther returned to Amherst.

Around this time, Esther claimed to see the ghost for a first time, saying that the entity was threatening to burn down the house. Soon, matches began materialising and falling onto furniture, and clothes were set alight.

By this point, the events surrounded Esther Cox had become notorious among the local community. After a fire in the basement almost consumed the house, the family's landlord insisted that Esther move out.

She relocated to a local farm, but the strange activity followed and it wasn't long before two barns burned down in Esther's presense.

Naturally, there was speculation that Esther was faking the existence of the entity and that she herself was responsible for the odd happenings and for starting the fires.

Interestingly, around this time, Esther was found to have stolen some clothing from her employer. She was sentenced to a month in jail and the supernatural phenomena ceased entirely during her time behind bars.

But, eventually, the phenomena returned. By now, Esther had learned to communicate with the entity, which had identified itself as Bob Nickle, a shoemaker in life.

In addition, other spirits identified themselves, including a spirit called Maggie Fisher, and a spirit claiming to be a relative of Esther's, Peter Cox.

Esther's case may have remained the stuff of local legend if it weren't for Walter Hubbell, an out-of-work actor who met Esther and saw an opportunity to make some money by touring. But the plan was a disastrous failure when the spirits failed to perform on stage.

Hubbell then moved on to Plan B, moving in with Esther and her family and writing up her case as a book.

The final product, The Haunted House: A True Ghost Story was published in 1879 and was a big success, selling 55,000 copies and making Esther Cox's story much more widely-known.

Hubbell released an expanded version of the book in 1888, and the case would be covered by several other authors in the following years, some of whom would believe the supernatural claims, while others would be more skeptical, sometimes accusing Esther outright of faking the entire ordeal.

But what became of Esther?

After taking another job on a farm, yet another barn burned down in Esther's presence. Her employer accused her of arson, which resulted in Esther serving four months in prison.

Just as with her previous stint in prison, the paranormal phenomena would come to a stop while Esther was behind bars, but this time, the change would be for good, as the supernatural events orbiting Esther Cox ceased at last.

Esther eventually married twice, having a child with each husband, before dying in Brockton, Massechusets, on November 8th, 1912, aged only 52 years.