DENVER (KDVR) — The “Mother of the Ouija board,” a woman who named and helped patent the talking board, is still in Denver today.
The original Ouija boards, which were called “talking boards,” started in the mid-1800s. They became increasingly popular during the Spiritualism movement in the late 1800s after the Civil War, according to Molly Bown House Museum director Andrea Malcomb.
People used the boards as a way to communicate with those who had passed on. While talking boards have existed for over 100 years, the boards became commercialized once Helen Peters Nosworthy discovered the new name.
Nosworthy’s story is told by the Talking Board Historical Society. It was referred to as a talking board until Nosworthy, said to be a medium, patented the new name in 1890.
As the legend goes, Nosworthy asked the board what it would like to be called, to which it responded “O-U-I-J-A.” After asking the board what the name meant, it said “G-O-O-D L-U-C-K”
She then went to the patent office to secure the name, but the patent would only be given if the board could guess its name. When Nosworthy asked the board, it revealed the name “Ouija.”
From then on, people called the talking board an Ouija board.
While Nosworthy wasn’t born in Denver, she lived in Denver for 44 years. She was even buried in the Mile High City.
She was laid to rest at Denver’s Fairmount Cemetery and her headstone is still there 100 years later.
Just down the road from her grave lies the Molly Brown House Museum, which also features Nosworthy’s story as part of an exhibit lasting until early November.
The exhibit shows the Spiritualism movement with around 20 Ouija boards dating back to the early 1900s. At the museum, you can see what the original talking boards looked like and learn more spooky facts about Denver’s past.