10 of the Most Famous and Weirdest Claims Ever Made

by Shweta Anand3 years ago

6 In 1726, a British woman named Mary Toft became the subject of great controversy when she claimed that she had given birth to rabbits. Toft claimed that after her initial pregnancy had ended in a miscarriage, she began giving birth to animal body parts. Upon further investigation, however, her claims were found to be a hoax. 
Mary Toft
Mary Toft. Image credit: Damninteresting.com

On 27 September 1726, a month after she had miscarried her initial pregnancy, Mary Toft went into labor and gave birth to something resembling a liverless cat.

She was assisted by her mother, Anna Toft, who quickly called the Guildford obstetrician, John Howard, for help. Under the doctor’s care, Toft went on to deliver more animal parts, including a cat’s leg, a rabbit’s head, and nine dead baby rabbits.

As news of Toft’s extraordinary pregnancy spread, she was soon shipped off to London for further investigations. However, she was unable to give birth to any more animal parts, and suspicions soon arose.

Eventually, when the authorities threatened to cut her open to looking inside, Toft was forced to admit that she had manually put the animal parts inside her and pushed them out under the guise of a delivery. (1, 2)


7 The Kentucky meat shower incident occurred in 1876 when a woman claimed that while she was outside making soap, some chunks of meat fell from the sky and hit the ground. Her claims were widely reported by the newspapers of the time and even drew the attention of numerous scientists. However, the reasons behind the incident still remain inconclusive.

Mrs. Crouch, a Kentucky farmer woman, was outside making soap on 3 March 1876, when she noticed pieces of meat falling from the sky.

This meat storm continued for another five to ten minutes and covered an area of 100-by-50 yards on the Crouch farm. Some of the neighbors then took it upon themselves to taste the chunks and declared that it tasted like lamb or mutton.

This incident soon drew the attention of renowned scientists who carried out numerous tests to determine the nature of the meat chunks. They were baffled to find that the pieces resembled lung tissue from a horse or a human baby.

Some theories suggested that something may have triggered flying vultures to vomit their undigested meals, showering the ground with pieces of meat. However, no one was able to deduce the exact cause of this bizarre meat shower. Even today, nearly two centuries later, there has yet to be a conclusive explanation for this event. (1, 2)


8 In the 1930s, the religious movement “I AM” was founded as a result of a supernatural encounter. Its founder, Guy Ballard, claimed that during one of his frequent hikes on Mount Shasta in California, he met a man who called himself the Count of St. Germain. Ballard and his wife would soon go on to impart the teachings of the count through their religious publications. 

Guy Ballard
Guy Ballard (on the left). Image credit:- Vaivasvata/English Wikipedia via wikimedia.org

Guy Ballard was an army veteran turned mining engineer who had a great love for the occult. In the 1930s, during one of his hikes up Mount Shasta, he claimed that he met a young man who identified himself as the Count of St. Germain.

According to Ballard, the count took him on an out-of-body journey that changed the way he viewed the world. From that moment on, Ballard and his wife, Edna, became the self-proclaimed angels of the count and established the “I AM” religious movement.

After the death of Guy Ballard, in the 1940s, the group faced a minor setback when Edna Ballard and other members were convicted of mail fraud. Their numbers then began to dwindle over time and today, they exist only as a small religious group that operates from Mount Shasta. (1, 2)


9 In April 1817, a woman named Mary Willcocks gained notoriety for her claims of being Princess Caraboo from the Island of Javasu. She was found by a cobbler in the English town of Almondsbury, who noticed that she was disoriented and speaking a strange language. Willcocks claimed that she had been kidnapped by pirates and had jumped off their ship into the Bristol Channel to escape.

Princess Caraboo
Princess Caraboo. Image credit:- Edward Bird/repro-tableaux.com via wikimedia.org

On 3 April 1817, Mary Willcocks, dressed as Princess Caraboo, knocked on the door of an Almondsbury cobbler, asking for food and water. Since she was a stranger, the cobbler was hesitant to take her in and handed her off to the local authorities. However, the county magistrate and his wife were moved by her plight and took her in.

Months later, a Portuguese sailor came forward with the claim that he could understand her strange language. With his help, Willcocks narrated that she had been kidnapped by pirates and had managed to escape by jumping into the Bristol channel.

But the truth soon came out when a boarding-house keeper recognized Willcocks as the woman who had taken lodging with her a couple of months ago. By then, however, the magistrate’s wife had grown fond of Willcocks and helped her migrate to America.

For the next seven years, she remained there and continued her Princess Caraboo act, until eventually returning to Britain. (1, 2)


10 Edgar Allan Poe once famously pulled off a newspaper hoax, called “The Balloon-Hoax.” First printed in the American newspaper The Sun, Poe’s article claimed that a European man had completed a 75-hour journey across the Atlantic Ocean in a “lighter-than-air” balloon. It also included diagrams, specifications of the craft, and other realistic details of the journey.

The Balloon Hoax
Edgar Allan Poe (on the left). Image credit:- Shutterstock, eapoe.org via wikimedia.org

On 13 April 1844, the American newspaper, The Sun, published an article penned by Edgar Allan Poe, which detailed the journey of a European balloonist across the Atlantic Ocean.

Poe claimed that the balloonist, a man named Monck Mason, had pulled off an incredible feat by traveling across the ocean for 75 hours in a “lighter-than-air” balloon. To make the article as believable as possible, Poe also included diagrams, specifications of the aircraft, and other details of the journey.

In truth, Poe was a great hoax-lover and had cooked up all the details of the story. However, the readers of The Sun lapped up this mesmerizing story and flocked to the newspaper’s office to find out more details.

The Sun, having recognized the impression their story had made, quietly published a retraction two days later, admitting that the story was fabricated. (1, 2)

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