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Full text of "The Watseka wonder; a startling and instructive psychological study, and well authenticated instance of angelic visitation. A narrative of the leading phenomena occurring in the case of Mary Lurancy Vennum .."

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A Startling and Instructive Psychological Study, and well 

Authenticated Instance of Angelic 












Truth wears no mask, bows at no human elirine, seeks neither place nor applause: she only asks a hearing. 1 ' 

To members of the various learned professions we especially commend this narrative. 
We believe the history of the case as herein told to be strictly true. The account is 
given in a modest, unassuming way, with no attempt to exaggerate or enlarge; it could 
have been made far more thrilling and yet have remained within the bounds of truth. 
It will be observed there is no chance for the witnesses to have been honestly mistaken 
and to have thought they heard and saw that which in fact they did not. Either the 
account is in exact accordance with the facts or the author and witnesses have willfully 
prevaricated. The evidence which we publish herewith as to the credibility of the Eoff 
family, could not be stronger; and the reputation of E. W. Stevens is equally good; 
the publisher has known him for years and has implicit confidence in his veracity. 

The case of Lurancy Vennum is not by any means an isolated one, and there are 
others which in some respects are even more remarkable. Yet on account of its recent 
occurrence and the facilities for investigation, we believe this case deserves and de- 
mands the careful, candid, unbiased consideration, not only of professional men, but of 
all who are interested, either as advocates of a future existence or as disbelievers there- 
in. The publisher will be glad to receive honest, intelligent criticisms, which may be 
utilized in a future edition. We are all in search of truth, let us not be so blinded with 
prejudice as to be disgusted with its wrappings and fail to find the fair treasure so 
snugly ensconced within. 

CHICAGO, September, 1878. 


is a fearless and independent newspaper, entirely free from all sectarian bias. While 
the JOURNAL is always ready to take the affirmative side on all questions involving the 
phenomena and philosophy of Spiritualism, yet it demands the most stringent accuracy 
of observation and unhesitatingly rejects all phenomena which cannot bear the ordeal 
of careful scrutiny. 

All Spiritualists, and those who are investigating the subject of Spiritualism, will find 
this paper invaluable as an assistant in their researches. 

The opponents of Spiritualism, who desire to be familiar with its progress and devel- 
opment, will find the JOURNAL a fair, candid and trustworthy channel of information. 
We respectfully commend the paper to all classes. For further particulars see last page 
of cover. 




A Startling and Instructive Chapter in the 
History of Spiritualism. 


It was long ago and wisely said, that "God 
had chosen the weak things of the world to 
confound the wise," and that " out of the 
mouths of babes and sucklings, He hath per- 
fected praise." 

The innocence of childhood is often the 
sublimest argument in the establishment of 
a great truth ; and the unpresuming sim- 
plicity of youth sometimes may become the 
channel of phenomena calculated to shake 
the skepticism and prejudice of bigotry, 
and to humble the conceit of the pompously 

Such has been a fact of the last year, at 
the city of Watseka, a town of humble pre- 
tensions, on the Eastern Illinois, and Toledo, 
Peoria and Warsaw Railroads, eighty-six 
miles South of Chicago.on the Iroquois river. 
Watseka is noted for its orthodox senti- 
ments and bitter animosity against all in- 
gress of Spiritual 'ideas. Its ruling classes 
are aristocratic and respectable, noted for 
their intelligence and literary attainments. 
Its society organizations are earnest in re- 
formatory measures, but the masses, like 
the population in all low and malarial dis- 
tricts, are inert in the investigation of ideas 
and principles, and slow in the discovery 
and application of truths hitherto unknown 
to them. 

This town has been swept by a tidal wave 
of excitement, on account of the presumed 
insanity of one Lurancy Vennum, a young 
girl belonging to an unpretentious family in 
the suburbs of the city. Her insanity, as 
it was thought to be, dates from July llth, 
A. D., 1877, and the remarkable phenome- 
non continued until her perfect restoration 
through the aid of friendly Spiritualists and 
spirits, on the 21st of May, 1878. 

Thus, for ten months and ten days, did 
these phenomena continue to excite and ag- 
itate the people. The following is a true 
narrative, and as full as the facts collected 
from the parents and relatives of the par- 

ties named herein and observations made 
by the writer, will warrant. 

Thomas J. Vennum was born May 7th, 
1832, in Washington Co., Penn.; Lurinda J. 
Smith (his wife), was born October 14th, 
1837, in St. Joseph Co., Ind. They were mar- 
ried in Fayette Co., Iowa, Dec. 2d, 1855. 


daughter of the above named Thomas J. 
and Lurinda J. Vennum, was born on the 
16th day of April, 1864, inMilford township, 
seven miles south of Watseka. The family 
moved to Iowa, July, 12th, 1864, and return- 
ed to the vicinity eight miles from Watseka, 
in Oct., 1865. In August, 1866, they removed 
to Milford, twelve miles south of Watseka, 
and remained there till March 1st, 1870, then 
moved out two and one-half miles from Mil- 
ford until April 1st, 1871, when they moved 
into Watseka, locating about forty rods 
from the residence of A. B. Roff, the spirit 
daughter of whom, according to all the facts 
and representations every way tested, is the 
principal character in this remarkable nar- 
rative. The family remained at this place 
during the summer. The only acquaintance 
ever had between the two families during 
the season, was simply one brief call of Mrs. 
Roff, for a few minutes, on Mrs. Vennum, 
which call was never returned ; and a form- 
al speaking acquaintance between the two 
gentlemen. Since 1871, the Vennum family 
have lived entirely away from the vicinity 
of Mr. Roff's, and never nearer than now, 
on extreme opposite limits of the city. 

"Rancy," as she is familiarly called, had 
never been sick, save a light run of measles 
in 1873. A few days before the following 
incidents took place, she said to her family : 
"There were persons ia my room last night, 
and they called 'Rancy I Rancy I ' and I felt 
their breath on my face." The very next 
night she arose from her bed, saying that 
she could not sleep, that every time she tried 
to sleep, persons came and called "Rancy I 
Rancy I " to her. Her mother went to bed 
with her, after which she rested and slept 
the rest of the night. 

On the llth day of July, 1877, Lurancy had 
been sewing carpet a part of the afternoon, 
when, at about six o'clock she laid by her 
work, as her mother said : "Lurancy, you 
had better commence getting supper." The 


girl replied : "Ma, I feel bad; I feel so queer,' 1 
and placirg her hand to her left breast, she 
immediately went into what seemed like a 
fit, falling heavily on the floor, lying appar- 
ently dead, every muscle becoming sudden- 
lv rigid. Thus she lay five hours. On return- 
ing to consciousness she said she felt "very 
strange and queer." The remainder of the 
night she rested well. The next day the 
rigid state returned, and passing beyond the 
rigidity, her mind took cognizance of two 
states of being at the same time. Lying as 
if dead, she spoke freely, telling the family 
what persons and spirits she could see, de- 
scribing them and calling some of them by 
name. Among those mentioned were her 
sister and brother, for she exclaimed, "Oh, 
mother! can't you see little Laura and Ber- 
tie? They are so beautiful!" etc., etc. Ber- 
tie died when Lurancy was but three years 

She had many of these trances, describing 
Heaven and the spirits, or the angels as she 
called them. Sometime in September she 
became free from them and seemed to the 
family to be quite well again. 

On the 27th day of November, 1877, she 
was attacked with a most violent pain in 
tier stomach, some five or six times a day ; 
for two weeks she had the most excruciating 
pains. In these painful paroxysms, she would 
double herself back until her head and feet 
actually touched. At the end of two weeks, 
or about the llth of December, in these 
distressed attacks, she became unconscious 
and passed into a quiet trance, and, as at 
former times, would describe Heaven and 
.spirits, often calling them angels. 

From this time on until the 1st of Febru- 
ary, 1878, she would have these trances and 
sometimes a seemingly real obsession, from 
three to eight and sometimes as many as 
twelve times a day, lasting from one to 
eight hours, occasionally passing into that 
tate of ecstasy, when, as Lurancy, she 
claimed to be in heaven. 

During the time recorded, up to about the 
middle of January, 1878, she had been un- 
der the care of Dr. L. N. Pitwood in the 
summer and Dr. Jewett during the winter. 
These M. D.'s are both eminent allopathic 
practitioners, and residents of Watseka. 
Mrs. Allison, Mrs. Jolly and other relatives 

and friends believed her insane. The Eev. 
B. M. Baker, the Methodist minister in 
charge at Watseka, wrote to the insane 
asylum to ascertain if the girl could be re- 
ceived there. It seemed to be the general 
feeling among all the friends, save the par- 
ents and a few who were only sympathetic 
observers and thinkers, that the girl should 
fro to the asvlum. 

There were in the city of Watseka at this 
time, persons who had more humanity than 
bigotry; persons who believe, in the lan- 
guage of Bishop A. Beals, that " disease has 
a dynamic or spiritual origin;" persons 
claiming to understand something of the oc- 
cult forces and phenomena of mind, and the 
diseases incident to a false conception of , and 
opposition to, its potencies; persons who be- 
lieve, God being " no respecter of persons " 
and "without variableness or shadow of 
turning," that power exists to-day, as in the 
days of the Nazarene, to cast out devils. 
Among this class were Asa B. Roff and his 
wife, who, with others, became thoroughly 
aroused to the importance of arresting the 
movement, to take a lovely child from the 
bosprn of an affectionate family, to impris- 
on her among maniacs, to be ruled and cared 
for by ignorant and bigoted strangers, who 
know less of catalepsy than a blind mater- 
ialist does of immortality. These good peo- 
ple ventured in the most gentle and Chris- 
tian spirit, to counsel with the parents and 
advise other treatment, different from any 
that had been administered. 

These earnest, self-sacrificing souls, im- 
bued with the conviction that uncultivated 
spirits had something to do with the case, 
plead with the many friends of the child, to 
withhold her from the asylum until it could 
be better shown whether the girl was really 
insane, or her unfortunate condition might 
be attributable to foreign minds. 

Mr. Roff, after much persuasion, obtained 
the consent of the girl's father, to visit her 
and bring with him Dr. E. W. Stevens, of 
Janesville Wis., to investigate the case. Dr. 
Stevens, who, for several months, at fre- 
quent intervals, had been in the city and a 
silent listener to the scoffs and scandals 
thrown out toward the Spiritualists on ac- 
count of their opinions regarding the case, 
and the universal foment of mind in the city 


over it, was formally invited by Mr. Ven- 
num, through Mr. Roff, to visit the family. 

On the afternoon of January 31st, 1878, 
the two gentlemen repaired to Mr. Ven- 
num's residence, a little out of the city. Dr. 
S tevens, an entire stranger to the family, 
was introduced by Mr. Roff at four o'clock 
p. M. ; no other persons present but the fam- 
ily. The girl sat near the stove, in a com- 
mon chair, her elbows on her knees, her 
hands under her chin, feet curled up on the 
chair, eyes staring, looking every way like 
an "old hag." She sat for a time in silence, 
untij Dr. Stevens moved his chair, when 
she savagely warned him not to come ne r- 
er. She appeared sullen and crabbed, call- 
ing her father "Old Black Dick, and her 
mother "Old Granny." She refused to be 
touched, even to shake hands, and was 
reticent and sullen with all save the doctor, 
with whom she entered freely into conver- 
sation, giving her reasons for doing so ; she 
said he was a Spiritual doctor and would 
understand her. 

When he asked her name she quickly re- 

"Katrina Hogan." 

"How old?" 

"Sixty-three years." 

"Where from?" 


"How long ago ? " 

"Three days." 

"How did you come? " 

"Through the air." 

"How long will you stay f " 

"Three weeks." 

After this system of conversation had 
proceeded for some time, she modified her 
manners very much, appearing to be a little 
penitent and confidential.and said she would 
be honest and tell the doctor her real name. 
She was not a woman; and her real name 
was Willie. On being asked what was her 
father's name, replied, " Peter Canning, and 
her own name was Willie Canning, a young 
man; ran away from home, got intodifficul 
ty, changed his name several times and fin- 
ally lost his life and was now here because 
he wanted to be," etc. She wearied with 
answering questions and giving details. 
Then she turned unpn the doctor with a 
perfect shower of questions, such as, "What 

is your name ? Were do you live ? Are you 
married? How many children? How many 
boys ? How many girls ? What is your oc- 
cupation ? What kind of a doctor ? What did 
you come to Watseka for ? Have you ever 
been at the South Pole ? North Pole ? Europe ? 
Australia? Egypt? Ceylon? Benares ? Sand- 
wich Islands ? " and by along series of ques- 
tions evinced a knowledge of geography. She 
next inquired after the doctor's habits and 
morals by questions like the folio wing: "Do 
you lie ? get drunk ? steal ? swear ? use tobac- 
co? tea? coffee? Do you go to church? 
pray ? " etc., etc. She then asked to have 
the same questions put Mr. Roff. She de- 
clined to ask them direct, herself, but 
through the doctor. They must also be re- 
peated through him to Mr. Vennum, making: 
the while, some very unpleasant retorts. 

When, at about half-past five o'clock,?. M.,. 
the visitors arose to depart, she also arose, 
flung up her hands and fell upon the 1 floor, 
straight, stiff and rigid, as I have often seen> 
sensitives fall with the " power" in Metho- 
dist revival meetings, and believing it to be 
of the same nature, the doctor took occasion 
to prove it, as he has done on those smitten- 
with the "power," by controlling body and 
mind and restoring them to a normal and 
rational state, despite the " power." 

The visitors being again seated, he took 
her hands as they were held straight up- 
wards, like iron bars, and by magnetic ac- 
tion soon had the body under perfect con- 
trol, and through the laws of Spiritual sci- 
ence, was soon in full and free communica- 
tion with the sane and happy mind of Lu- 
rancy Vennum herself, who conversed with, 
the grace and sweetness of an angel, declar- 
ing herself to be in heaven. 

In this condition she answered the doctor's 
questions with reference to herself , her seem- 
ingly insane condition and the influences- 
that controlled her, with great rationality 
and understanding. She regretted to have 
such evil controls about her. She said she 
knew the evil spirit calling itself Katrina 
and Willie and others. The doctor contin- 
ued to suggest to her mind, things to pre- 
pare the way for a change of influences, by 
enlightening and instructing her no w while 
her mind was clear and in this superior con- 
dition, and then asked her, if she must be 


controlled, if it would not be better, if it 
were possible, to have a higher, purer, hap- 
pier, and more intelligent or rational con- 
trol. She said she would rather, if it could 
be so. Then on being advised, she looked 
about and inquired of those she saw, and 
described, and named, to find some one who 
would prevent the cruel and insane ones 
from returning to annoy her and the fami- 
ly. She soon said: "There are a great many 
spirits here who would be glad to come," and 
she again proceeded to give names and de- 
scriptions of persons long since deceased ; 
some that she had never known, but were 
known by older persons present. But, she 
said, there is one the angels desire should 
come, and she wants to come. On being 
asked if she knew who it was, she said: 
"Her name is Mary Roff.'' Mr. Kofi being 
present, said: "That is my daughter ; Mary 
Roff is my girl. Why, she has been in heaven 
twelve years. Yes, let her come, we'll be 
glad to have her come." Mr. Kofi assured 
Lurancy that Mary was good and intelligent 
and would help her all she could; stating 
further that Mary used to be subject to con- 
ditions like herself. Lurancy, after due de- 
liberation and counsel with spirits, said that 
Mary would take the place of the former 
wild and unreasonable influence. Mr. Roff 
said to her: "Have your mother bring you 
to my house and Mary will be likely to come 
along, and a mutual benefit may be derived 
from our former experience with Mary." 
Thus reaching the sane mind of the girl and 
through her, the sane minds of a better 
class of spirits, a contract or agreement was 
made, to be kept sacred by the angels in 
Heaven and Heaven's agents in the flesh, by 
which a mortal body was to be restored to 
health ; a spirit, unfortunate in earth life, 
with twelve years' experience in spirit life, 
to have an amended earthly experience, a 
child to be spiritualized and moulded into 
a fine medium, an unbelieving and scof- 
fing city to be confounded, and the greatest 
truth the world has ever sought, establish- 
ed beyond doubt or cavil. How far the con- 
tract has been kept by the spirits and their 
faithful co-laborers here, the sequel will 

The object of the visit now being attain- 
ed. Dr. Stevens asked : 

" How long do you want to stay in this 
heaven ? " 

She answered. 

"Always sir." 

"But you will come DacK for the sake of 
your friends ? " 

"Yes, sir." 

"When will you come back ? " 

"At twelve o'clock." 

"But the family will want rest. Can't you 
come sooner ? " 

"Yes, sir, I can." 

"How soon can you come? " 

"At nine o'clock, sir." 

"Will you come at nine V " 

"I will." 

And so she did. 

After nearly three hours of careful in- 
vestigation, conversation, and the applica- 
tion of the laws of Spiritual science and har- 
mony, Mr. Roff and the doctor retired, leav- 
ing the family satisfied that a new fountain 
of light and source of help had been reached. 
A new beam of truth reached and touched 
the hearts of the sorrowing family, and 
to use the language of Mary Roff, "Dr. Stev- 
ens opened the gate for her," and for the 
inflowing of light where before was dark- 

On the following morning,Friday, Feb. 1st, 
Mr. Vennum called at the office of Mr. Roff 
and informed him that the girl claimed to 
be Mary Roff and wanted to go home. To 
use Mr. Vennum's words : "She seems like 
a child real home-sick, wanting to see her 
pa and ma and her brothers." 

It now becomes necessary in the relation 
of this narrative to give a brief sketch of 
the life of 


The daughter of Asa B. and Ann Roff, 
was born on the 8th day of October, 1846, in 
Warren Co., Ind. The family moved in Nov. 
of the same year to Williamsport, Ind., 
thence in September, 1847, to Middleport, 
111., where they resided till June, 1857, when 
they removed to Victoria, Texas, in search 
of relief for a sick child. In March, 1858, 
they returned to Gilman and remained there 
and at Onarga, 111., till the building of the 
Toledo, Peoria and Warsaw Railroad, when 
they returned to Middleport, Nov . Sth, 1859 
and built the first house in the new town of 


South Middleport, which is now a part of 
the city of Watseka, where they still re- 

In the spring of 1847, when about six months 
old, Mary was taken sick and had a fit, in 
which she remained several hours. After the 
fit,she became conscious and lay several days 
without the family having much hope of 
her recovery. In two or three weeks she 
seemed to have entirely recovered. A few 
weeks later she acted, on one occasion, like 
a child going into a fit. The pupils of her 
eyes dilated, the muscles slightly twitched 
but lasted but a few moments. From the 
age of about six months, she had these spells 
as described, once in from three to five 
weeks apart, all the time increasing in 
force and violence, until her tenth year, 
when they proved to be real fits, having 
from one to three and sometimes four or 
five of them within a period of three or four 
days, when they would cease, and she would 
enjoy good health until the next period ap- 
proached. At these times, she for few days 
would seem sad and despondent, in which 
mood she would sing and play the most 
solemn music, (for with all the rest of her 
studies, in which she was considered well 
advanced, she had learned music,) and al- 
most always would sing that beautiful song, 
"We Are Coming Sister Mary," which was 
a favorite song with her. 

When she was fifteen years old, and the 
violence of the fits had increased, the pa- 
rents say they could see her mind was af- 
fected during the melancholy periods prior 
to the fits. Dr. Jesse Bennett, now residing 
at Sparta, Wis., and Dr. Franklin Blades, 
DOW Judge of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit 
of Illinois, and resident of Watseka, were 
employed to attend her. Dr.N. S. Davis, of 
Chicago, Illinois, and several other promi- 
nent physicians, had examined her. They 
kept her in the water cure at Peoria, Illi- 
nois, under the care of Dr. Nevins, for eight- 
een months, but all to no purpose. 

In the summer of 1864 she seemed to have 
almost a mania for bleeding herself for the 
relief, as she said, "of the lump of pain in 
the head." Drs. Fowler, Secrest and Pit- 
wood were called and applied leeches. She 
would apply them herself to her temples, 

and liked them, treating them like little 
pets, until she seemed sound and well. 

On Saturday morning, July 16th, 1864, in 
one of her desponding moods, she secretly 
took a knife with her to the back yard, and 
cut her arm terribly, until bleeding excess- 
ively, she fainted. This occurred about nine 
o'clock A. M. She remained unconscious 
till two o'clock P. M., when she became a 
raving maniac of the most violent kind, in 
which condition she remained five days and 
nights, requiring almost constantly the ser- 
vices of five of the most able bodied men 
to hold her on the bed, although her weight 
was only about one hundred pounds, and she 
had lost nearly all her blood. When she ceas- 
ed raving, she looked and acted quite nat- 
ural and well, and could do everything she 
desired as readily and properly as at any 
time in her life. Yet she seemed to know no 
one, and could not recognize the presence 
of persons at all, although the' house was 
nearly filled with people night and day. 
She had no sense whatever of sight, feel- 
ing or hearing in a natural way, as was 
proved by every test that could be applied. 
She could read blind-folded, and do every- 
thing as readily as when in health by her 
natural sight. She would dress, stand be- 
before the glass, open and search drawers, 
pick up loose pins, or do any and all things 
readily, and without annoyance under heavy 

Near the time, in 1864, when she cut her 
arm while blindfolded, she took Dr. Trail's 
encyclopedia, turned to the index, traced 
the column till she came to the word 
"blood," then turned to the page indicated 
and read the subject through. On another 
occasion she took a box of her letters re- 
ceived from her friends, and sat down, 
heavily blindfolded by critical, intelligent, 
investigating gentlemen, examined and read 
them without error or hesitancy. When 
Rev. J. H. Ehea, Editor A. J. Smith, Mr. 
Koff and others misplaced and promiscu- 
ously arranged some of their own letters 
with Mary s, she at once proceeded to cor- 
rectly draw out the intruded letters and ex- 
amine them. If wrong side up, she would 
quickly turn them, and read aloud the ad- 
dress thereon, and throw violently away 
every letter not her own; and re-arranged 


twenty or thirty letters in the order she de- 
sired to have them. Rev.J. H. Rhea was the 
Methodist minister in charge at that time ; 
A. G. Smith was editor of the Iroquois 
county Republican, now editor of the Dan- 
ville (111.) Times. She was also investigated 
by all the prominent citizens of Watseka at 
that time. 

With the physicians her peculiar state or 
condition was called catalepsy. With the 
clergy it was one of the mysteries of God's 
providence, with which we should have lit- 
tle to do. With editors, who are obliged to 
be wise or silent, it was fits or some unac- 
countable phenomenon. All, with untiring 
effort, tried to solve the mystery, and learn 
what it was that produced such strange 
and wonderful manifestations. The editor 
of the Danville Times, in a recent issue 
writes : 

"Now as to Mary Roff, it was our fortune 
to know the sweet girl, who was herself a 
cataleptic, and who died twelve years ago. 
Disease dethroned her reason and maddened 
her brain until she sought her own and oth- 
ers' lives, and the modest young lady was 
transformed into a screaming maniac. She 
had periods of exemption from raving, and 
thus her aberrant mind conceived fancies 
of the queerest hue, creating the most im- 
possible beings for associates, and convers- 
ing with them, she maintained her own side 
of the conversation in a usual tone of voice, 
while imagination supplied her created asso- 
ciates with language and intelligence. When 
in this condition, her father and mother as- 
serted the discovery that Mary could read a 
book with its lids closed, and they desired i 
us to test the correctness of what they 
claimed. We therefore took from our side 
pocket a letter inclosed in an envelope, and 
holding it before her bandaged eyes, said to 
her, 'Mary, read the signature to that letter.' 
Immediately the proper name was pro- 

After remaining in the clairvoyant state 
above related for three or four days, she 
came again to her normal condition and in 
good health as she usually was, except the 
fits. From this time she continued as she 
had been prior to cutting her arm. Her fits 
increased, and her parents were advised to 
place her in the insane asylum. 

On July 5th, 1865, while her parents were 
at Peoria. 111., on a three days' visit, she ate 
a hearty breakfast, and soon thereafter lay 
down on her bed, and in her usual health 
went to sleep. In a few minutes she was 

heard to scream, as was usual on taking a 
a fit. On approaching her bedside, they 
found her in a fit, and in a few moments she 

We now return and take up the original 
narrative where we left it, dating Feb. 1st, 
1878, when it was first seen that Mary Roff 
had control of Lurancy's body, and teasing 
to go home. Could it be possible the gulf of 
death had been bridged I the gates of heav- 
en left open ? Had Mary, like Moses and 
Elias, returned to a transfiguration ? Or, 
like the spirit of "one of the prophets," had 
she come with revelation to the grotto of 
darkness in this benighted Patmos ? Were 
the unnumbered facts of scriptural ages re- 
peating themselves now ? Can we say with 
Job, "A spirit passed before my face?'' Eze- 
kiel and Isaiah talked with the departed, 
Saul conversed with Samuel, Paul and the 
shepherds with spirits in the air, and can 
we talk with Mary ? And the friends of the 
family went up to see, aad answered, "Yes !" 

From the wild, angry, ungovernable girl, 
to be kept only by lock and key, or the more 
distressing watch care of almost frantic pa- 
rents; or the rigid, corpse-like cataleptic, as 
believed, the girl has now become mild, 
docile, polite and timid, knowing none of 
the family, but constantly pleading to go 
home. The best wisdom of the family was 
used to convince her that she was at home, 
and must remain. Weeping, she would not 
be pacified, and only found contentment in 
going back to heaven, as she said, for short 

About a week after she took control of 
the body, Mrs 1 . A. B. Roff and her daugh- 
ter, Mrs. Minerva Alter, Mary's sister, hear- 
ing of the remarkable change, went to see 
the girl. As they came in sight, far down 
the street) Mary, looking out the window, 
exclaimed exultingly, "There comes my ma 
and sister Nervie!" the name by which Ma- 
ry used to call Mrs. Alter in girlhood. As 
they came into the house, she caught them 
around their necks, wept and cried for joy, 
and seemed so hagpy to meet them. From 
this time dn she seemed more homesick 
than before. At times she seemed almost 
frantic to go hcwie. Finally some friends of 
the faffilly insisted on their sending her to 
Mr. Roffs, which they reluctantly consented 


to do; reluctantly because the girl was so 
much trouble and care as she had been al 
winter; so much so that Mrs. Vennum was 
nearly prostrated, and could not have sur 
vived the care and anxiety many months 
longer, under the same state of affairs, anc 
they felt that it would be an imposition to 
send the girl to be cared for by strangers 
and especially so by Mrs. Roff, as she was 
not able to take charge of and care for a 
girl that made so much trouble as this one 
had for Mrs. Vennum. 

Mr. and Mrs. Roff, with their hearts ever 
full of the milk of human kindness, more 
ready to forgive than to censure, and brav- 
ing the sneers and taunting innuendoes of 
an uneducated bigotry, with no other mo- 
tive but one of mercy and kindness, opened 
their doors and hearts to receive the unfor- 
tunate girl with her new control, having 
no hope or desire for reward but in the 
sense of a just sympathy for right and truth. 
They remembered the precept, "Forget not 
to entertain strangers, for thereby some 
have entertained angels." 

On the llth day of February, 1878, they 
sent the girl to Mr. Roff's, where she met 
her "pa and ma," and each member of the 
family, with the most gratifying express- 
ions of love and affection, by words and em- 
braces. On being asked how long she would 
stay, she said, "The angels will let me stay 
till some time in May ;" and she made it her 
home there till May 21st, three months and 
ten days, a happy, contented daughter and 
sister in a borrowed body. 

After the girl was at Mr. Roff's, the Rev. 
Mr. Baker said to Mr. Vennum, "I think 
you will see the time when you will wish 
you had sent her to the asylum." Mrs. Jolly 
said if she ever came home she would be 
more trouble than ever. Another relative, 
more religious than humane, said, "I would 
sooner follow a girl of mine to the grave 
than have her go to Roff's and be made a 
Spiritualist." Dr. Jewett called it catalepsy 
No. 2, which is as definite and convenient 
in explanation of this case as is "humbug" 
in explanation of any newly discovered sci- 
entific truth unacceptable to popular ignor- 
ance. He said : "Humor her whims and she 
will get well." Some prudent, two-faced 
people would say, with a noncommittal air, 

"What strange freaks!" Others, with an 
exalted opinion of their wonderful percep- 
tions, would say, "It is all put on," etc., etc. 
Yet none of the persons expressing such 
opinions have ever called to see the girl, or 
derived any information from those in 
charge of her. 

The girl now in her new home, seemed 
perfectly happy and content, knowing every 
person and everything that Mary knew 
when in her original body, twelve to twen- 
ty-five years ago, recognizing and calling by 
name those who were friends and neighbors 
of the family from 1852 to 1865, when Mary 
died, calling attention to scores, yes hun- 
dreds, of incidents that transpired during 
her natural life. During all the period of 
her sojourn at Mr. Roff's she had no knowl- 
edge of, and did not recognize any of Mr. 
Vennum's family, their friends or neigh- 
bors, yet Mr. and Mrs. Vennum and their 
children visited her and Mr. Roff's people, 
she being introduced to them as to any 
strangers. After frequent visits, and hear- 
ing them often and favorably spoken of, 
she learned to love them as acquaintances, 
and visited them with Mrs. Roff three times. 
From day to day she appeared natural, easy, 
affable and industrious, attending diligent- 
ly and faithfully to her household duties, as- 
sisting in the general work of the family as 
a faithful, prudent daughter might be sup- 
posed to do, singing, reading or conversing 
as opportunity offered, upon all matters of 
private or general interest to the family. 

Three days after she came to Mr. Roff's, 
while looking at him and seeming to have 
been in a sort of retrospective revery, she 
asked, "Pa, who was it that used to say 'con- 
found it?'" and laughing very heartily 
when she saw that he understood it to be 
limself, that being a common expression of 
his in the time of her girlhood, twelve to 
,wenty years ago. 

One day she met an old friend and neigh- 
>or of Mr. Roff's, who was a widow when 

Mary was a girl at home. Some years since 
,he lady married a Mr. Wagoner with whom 
he yet lives. But when she met Mrs. Wag- 
>ner she clasped her around the neck, and 
aid, "0 Mary Lord, you look so very natural, 

and have changed the least of any one I have 
een since I came back." Mrs. Lord was in 


some way related to the Vennum family, 
and lived close by them, but Mary could 
only call her by the name by which she 
knew her fifteen years ago, and could not 
seem to realize that she was married. Mrs. 
Lord lived just across the street from Mr. 
Eoff s for several years, prior and up to 
within a few months of Mary's death ; both 
being members of the same Methodist 
church, they were very intimate. 

Some days after Mary was settled in her 
new home, Mrs. Parker, who lived neigh- 
bor to the Boff' s in Middleport in 1852, and 
next door to them in Watseka in 1860, came 
in with her daughter-in-law, Nellie Parker. 
Mary immediately recognized both of the 
ladies, calling Mrs. Parker "Auntie Park- 
er," and the other "Nellie," as in the ac- 
quaintance of eighteen years ago. In con- 
versation with Mrs. Parker, Mary asked, 
"Do you remember how Nervie and I used 
to come to your house and sing?" Mrs. 
Parker says that was the first allusion made 
to that matter, nothing having been said by 
any one on that subject, and says that Mary 
and Minerva used to come to their house 
and sit and sing, "Mary had a little lamb," 
etc. Mrs. Dr. Alter (Minerva) says she re- 
members it welL This was when Mr Eoff 
kept the postoflice, and could not have been 
later than 1852, and twelve years before Lu- 
rancy was born. 

One evening in the latter part of March, 
Mr. Eoff was sitting in the room waiting 
for tea, and reading the paper, Mary being 
out in the yard. He asked Mrs. Eoff if she 
could find a certain velvet head-dress that 
Mary used to wear the last year before she 
died. If so, to lay it on the stand and say 
nothing about it, to see if Mary would recog- 
nize it. Mrs. Eoff readily found and laid it 
on the stand. The girl soon came in, and im- 
mediately exclaimed as she approached the 
stand : "O, there is my head-dress I wore 
when my hair was short !" She then asked, 
"Ma, where is my box of letters ? Have you 
got them yet?" Mrs. Eoff replied, "Yes, Ma- 
ry, I have some of them." She at once 
got the box with many letters in it. As Ma- 
ry began to examine them she said, O, "Ma, 
here is a collar I tatted! Ma, why, did you 
not show to me my letters and things be- 
fore?" The collar had been preserved | 

among the relics of the lamented child as 
one of the beautiful things her fingers had 
wrought before Lurancy was born ; and so 
Mary continually recognized every little 
thing and remembered every little incident 
of her girlhood. 

It will be remembered that the family 
moved to Texas in 1857. Mr. Eoff asked 
Mary if she remembered moving to Texas 
or anything about it. "Yes, pa, and I re- 
member crossing Eed river and of seeing a 
great many Indians, and I remember Mrs. 
Eeeder's girls, who were in our company,' 
and other incidents and facts. And thus 
she from time to time made first mention of 
things that transpired thirteen to twenty- 
five years ago. 

On the 19th of February Mr. Eoff address- 
ed the writer as follows : 

"You know how we took the poor, dear 
girl Lurancy (Mary). Some appreciate our 
motives, but the many, without investiga- 
tion and without a knowledge of the facts, 
cry out against us and against that angel 
girl. Some say she pretends; others that 
she is crazy; and we hear that some say it 
is the devil. * * * Mary is perfectly 
happy ; she recognizes everybody and every- 
thing that she knew when in her body 
twelve or more years ago. She knows no- 
body nor anything whatever that is known 
by Lurancv. * * * Mr. Vennum has 
been to see her, and also her brother Henry, 
at different times, but she don't know any- 
thing about them. Mrs. Vennum is still un- 
able to come and see her daughter. She has 
been nothing but Mary since she has been 
here, and knows nothing but what Mary 
knew. She has entered the trance once ev- 
ery other day for some days. She is per- 
fectly happy. * * * You don't know 
how much comfort we take with the dear 

The child has often said she likes Dr 
Stevens next to her pa, because he opened 
the gate for her to come in, and because he 
has done so much for her pa and ma, and 
her brothers, and for Lurancy 's body, and 
feeling that gratitude, she wrote him by 
permission of the parents, on the 20th of 
February, in which she said: 

'I am yet here. * * Frank is better. * 

Nervie is here for dinner ; Allie Alter is 
going to stay all night; Mrs. Marsh was 
here to-day and read a beautiful letter to 
us. I wish you could spend the evening with 
us. * * I would like to have your picture 
to look at. * * Please write to pa when 
you get time. * * We all send our love 


to you. * * I like it here very much, and 
am going to stay all the time. * * * I 
went to heaven and staid about an hour. 

* It seerns a long time since I saw you. 

* Forget me not. Good night. 


She wrote the doctor again on February 
31st, of which the following is an extract: 

"I have just finished a letter to brother 
Frank. He went back to his store feeling 
quite well. The boys have gone put to play 
for a dance. * * * In the evening I went 
to heaven, and I saw some of the beautiful 
things, and talked with the angels, * * * 
and be sure 1 don't forget when I go to 
heaven and come back. * * * Fear the 
Lord and depart from evil' Prov. 3d : 7th. 


It may here be said that it was fre- 
quently the case that when Mary went to 
heaven, as she called it, other spirits some- 
times, by permission, would come and pre- 
sent themselves, and speak freely their own 
language and sentiments. Mr. Koff writes 
under date of March, as follows, of a com- 
munication through another young lady at 
his house. The medium's name I reserve 
because I have no license to use it : 

"A lady came throtigh at our house, 

who claimed to have lived and died in Ten- 
nessee, and says she was afflicted from eight 
years of age till twenty-five, when she died 
with a similar disease, and in a similar way 
that Mary- died. She says that Mary has 
control or Lurancy Vennum, and will re- 
tain control till she is restored to her nor- 
mal condition, when Mary will leave. Mary 
Is happy as a lark, and gives daily, almost 
hourly, proofs of being Mary's intelligence. 
She don't recognize Lurancy's family or 
friends at all. She knows and recognizes 
everything that our Mary used to know, 
and nothing whatever of what the Vennum 
girl knows. She now enters the trance with- 
out any rigidity of the muscles whatever, 
very gently, and at her own will, describes 
heavenly scenes, etc., etc. \Ve think all 
will be well, and Lurancy restored to her 
orthodox friends yet. * * Some of the 
relatives are yielding by Mary's calling 
their attention to things of thirteen years 
ago, that transpired between her and tnem. 
It wakes them up. * * It is wonderful. 

* * It wpuld take a volume to give the 
important items that have occurred." 

Mrs. Dr. Alter, under date of April 16th, 
1S78, writes of Mary as follows: 

"My angel sister says she is going away 
from us again soon, but says she will be of- 
ten with us. She says Lurancy is a beauti- 
ful girl ; says she sees her nearly every day, 
and we do know she is getting better every 

day. Oh, the lessons that are being taught 
us are worth treasures of rare diamonds ; 
they are stamped upon the mind so firmly 
that heaven and earth shall pass away be- 
fore one jot or one tittle shall be forgotten. 
* . * * I have learned so much that is 
grand and beautiful, I cannot express it ; I 
am dumb. * * A few days ago Mary was 
caressing her father and mother, and they 
became a little tired of it, and asked why 
she hugged and kissed them. She sorrow- 
fully looked at them, and said, 'Oh, pa and 
ma! I want to kiss you while I have lips to 
kiss you with, and hug you while I have 
arms to hug you with, for I am going back 
to heaven before long, and then I can only 
be with you in spirit, and you will not al- 
ways know when I come, and I cannot love 
you as I can now. Oh, how much I love you 
all I'" 

Mary writes to Dr. Stevens, in an envel- 
ope with Mr. Koff, under date of May 7th, 
as follows : 

DEAR DOCTOR: I thought I would write 
you. I am at Aunt Carrie's ; am going to 
take dinner with her. * * Yesterday I 
went and spent the day with Mrs. Vennum. 
She had a dreadful headache and I rubbed it 
away. Pa is quite busy in his office to-day. 
Ma is feeling a good deal better. * * lam 
feeling quite well,except my breast hurts me 
some to-day. It commenced hurting me last 
night. * * I treat ma in the morning and 
Nervie at night for hard colds and cold feet. 
"VVe all went to the Reform Club last Satur- 
day. Aunt Carrie's essay was splendid, and 
very affecting, * * We all read that let- 
NAL from your daughter, and liked it very 
much. MARY ROFF. 

In the same letter Mr. Roff writes: 

"I want to give you a little scene ; time, 
Monday moraine:, May 6th; place, A. B. 
Roff 's office, Watseka; present, A. B. Roff 
at table writing; Frank Roff at the table 
at the right or A. B. R. ; door behind A. 
B., and a little to the left; enters unheard 
the person of Lurancy Vennum ; places her 
arm around the neck of A. B. Roff, kissing 
him and saying, 'Pa I am going with Mrs. 
Vennum to visit to-day ; ' A. B. Roff looks 
around and discovers standing in the door 
Mrs. Vennum, Lurancv 'smother, looking on 
the scene. The girl then bade an affectionate 
good-by to Frank ; A. B. R. asks : 'How long 
will you stay ? ' She replies, 'Till two or 
three or o'clock.' Mrs. Vennum then said to 
Mr. Roff : 'If she does not get back at that 
time, don't get alarmed, we will take care of 
her.' Exit Mrs. V. and the girl. You don't 
know how my heart aches for that poor mo- 
ther, yet she is much happier than she was 
last winter with Lurancy as she was." * * 

On May 7th, the day of writing the last 
letter, Mary called Mrs. Roff to a private 



room, and there in tears told her that Lu- 
rancy Yennum was coming back. She seem- 
ed very sad, and said she could not tell 
whether she was coming to stay or not ; that 
if she thought she was coming to stay, she 
would want to see Nervie and Dr. Alter 
and Allie, and bid them good-by. She sat 
down, closed her eyes and in a few moments 
the change took place, and Lurancy had 
control of her own body. Looking wildly 
around the room she anxiously asked : 

"Where am I ? I was never here before." 

Mrs. Roff replied. 

"You are at Mr. Roff's, brought here by 
Mary to cure your body." 

She cried and said : 

"I want to go home." 

Mrs. Roff asked her if she could stay till 
her folks were sent for. 

She said : 


She was then asked if she felt any pain in 
her breast. (This was during the period that 
Mary was suffering pain in the left breast ; 
continually holding her hand, pressing it.) 
She replied : 

"No, but Mary did." 

In about five minutes the change was 
again made, and Mary came overjoyed to 
find herself permitted to return, and called, 
as she often had, for the singing of her pre- 
vious girlhood's favorite song, "We are Com. 
ing Sister Mary." 

The child seemed possessed of all the nat- 
ural affection for the family that a daught- 
er and sister of fine feelings and cultivated 
tastes might be supposed to possess, after 
an absence of twelve years, and she often 
took occasion to demonstrate that affection 
by endearing names and kindly words. 
When walking with Mrs. Alter, her sister 
Nervie as she called her,she would say, "Ner- 
vie,my only sister.put your arm around me." 
Or, "Come Nervie, put your arm around me 
and we will take a little walk in the garden 
or the grove, for I cannot be with you much 
longer and I want to be with you every min- 
ute I can." When Mrs. Alter would ask her 
when or where she was going, she would 
say "The angels tell me I am going to heav- 
en, but I don't know just when. O, how I 
wish you could live here at home with us 

as you used to when I was here before.' 

She thought a great deal of Dr. Alter, the 
tiusband of her sister, but could hardly seem 

realize that Xervie was married and had 
a family for eleven years. She said when 
she got into this body she felt much as she 
did when she was here twelve years ago 
This body seemed as natural to her as 
though she had been born with it, yet she 

iould not do with it as she would like to. 
She did not seem to realize at first, but this 
was her own original, physical body, until 
angels explained it to her. and she had 
received information and instructions from 
ler parents, sister,brother and friends about 
it. So natural did it seem to her, after know- 
ing all the facts, that she could hardly feel 
it was not her original body born nearly 
thirty years ago. 

In conversation with the writer about her 
former life, she spoke of cutting her arm 
as heretofore stated, and asked if he ever 
saw where she did it. On receiving a neg- 
ative answer, she proceeded to slip up 
her sleeve as if to exhibit the scar, but sud- 
denly arrested the movement, as if by a sud- 
den thought, and quickly said, "0, this is 
not the arm ; that one is in the ground," and 
proceeded to tell where it was buried, and 
how she saw it done and who stood around, 
how they felt, etc., but she did not feel bad. 

1 heard her tell Mr. Roff and the friends 
present, how she wrote to him a message 
some years ago through the hand of a medi- 
um, giving name, time and place. Also of 
rapping and of spelling out a message 'by 
another medium, giving time, name, place, 
etc., etc., which the parents admitted to be 
all true. I heard her relate a story of her 
going into the country with the men, some 
twenty odd years ago, after a load of hay, 
naming incidents that occurred on the road, 
which two of the gentlemen distinctly re- 

In one of those beautiful trances which 
rendered her entirely oblivious to all phys- 
ical surroundings, appearing in a state of 
happy ecstasy, and, so far as manners and 
movements are concerned, perfectly normal 
and graceful, with visions and senses fully 
open, she went to heaven as she called it, in 
company with another young lady in like 
condition, whose name must be reserved 
until the wonderful history she is making, 



shall be made public by the consent of all. 
They saw and conversed about the beautiful 
scenes before them, pointing out individu- 
als, giving names, relationship, histories 
facts, etc., describing places and things. 
Mary pointed out and described some with 
titles of Royalty, such as Mary Queen 
of Scotts, Henry IV, King of France, and 
others of equal note, showing a rich bio- 
graphical and historical reading or experi- 
ence and acquaintance in spirit-life. Then 
bowing low, and kneeling with hands fold- 
ed, and heads together, as if in the most 
devout and solemn devotion remained in lis- 
tening silence for some time, then rising,the 
unnamed girl said : 

"He came to bless, didn't he Mary? a 
bright, beautiful, angel." 

After talking of the different classes they 
were observing, and the "lovely children" 
attracting so much of their attention, Mary 
seemed to take in her arms a very little, 
tender infant and said: "This is Sister 
Nervie's baby ; how sweet and beautiful it 
is. Don't you think it is a sweet little an- 
gel?" The other, in softest accents said, 
"Yes, but it seems to me they are all too pure 
to be touched by such as we," and after some 
time the babe was carefully handed back to 
the care of the angels. Mrs. Alter, who was 
present, had recently lost by death, a beau- 
tiful babe and had scarcely recovered from 
her confinement. The whole scene was one 
of uncommon interest, very affecting and 
impressive beyond description. 

For the discovery of facts unknown to 
others, Mary seemed remarkably developed. 
One afternoon, she, with much concern and 
great anxiety, declared that her brother 
Frank must be carefully watched the com- 
ing night, for he would be taken very sick, 
and would die if not properly cared for. At 
the time of this announcement he was in 
his usual health, and engaged with the Roff 
Bros.' band of music up town. The same 
evening, Dr. Stevens had been in to see the 
family, and on leaving, was to go directly 
to Mrs. Hawks, far off in the Old Town, 
and the family so understood it. But at 
about nine and a half o'clock the same even- 
ing, Dr. Stevens returned unannounced to 
Mr. Marsh's, Mr. Roff's next neighbor, for the 
night. At two o'clock in the morning Frank 

was attacked with something like a spasm 
and congestive chill, which almost destroy- 
ed his consciousness. Mary at once saw the 
situation as predicted,and said, "Send to Mrs. 
Marsh's for Dr. Stevens. "No, Dr. Stevens 
is at Old Town," said the family. "No," 
said Mary, "he is at Mr. Marsh's ; go quick 
for him, pa." Mr. Roff called, and the doc- 
tor, as Mary said, was at Mr. Marsh's. On his 
arrival at the sick bed, Mary had entire 
control of the case. She had made Mrs. 
Roff set down ; had provided hot water and 
cloths and other necessaries, and was doing 
all that could be done for Frank. The doc- 
tor seconded her efforts and allowed her to 
continue. She saved her brother, but never 
made a move after the doctor's arrival, with 
out his co-operation or advice. 

Mary often spoke of seeing the children 
of Dr. Stevens in heaven, who were about 
her age and of longer residence there than 
herself. She said she was with them much, 
and went to his home with him. She correct- 
ly described his home, the rooms, furniture, 
gave names and ages of his children, and as 
evidence of her truthf ulness, told of a re- 
markable experience of Mrs. E. M. Wood, 
one of the doctor's married daughters, which, 
on account of its peculiar features, and the 
faith of some of the relatives was not in- 
tended for the public, yet was a beautiful 
evidence of angel guardianship. She stated 
the story minutely, saying that was where 
and when she got Mrs. "Woods' name, for 
she was present with others she named. 

The doctor's daughter Emma Angelia, who 
had been in spirit-life since March 10th, 
1849, sought through Mary to take the body 
she was controlling and go home with her 
father to Wisconsin, to visit the family for 
a week, and Mary was disposed to let her 
do it ; she asked Mr. and Mrs. Roff if she 
should let Emma Stevens have the body for 
a week to go with her father to see and be 
with her mother, sisters and brother, so 
they could realize it was Emma ? But no 
one thought it advisable. 

To show the ease with which Mary con- 
trols, or goes in and out, as it is said, and 
the perfect medium the body of Lurancy 
is, a single instance will suffice. On the 21st 
day of April, in the parlors of Mrs. Roff, in 
the presence of Mr. and Mrs. Roff, their 


hired woman Charlotte, Doctor Steel and 
wife, Mrs. Twing, of Oregon, Mrs. Alter, 
Mr. and Mrs. M , and the writer, mani- 
festations of a very peculiar and happy char- 
acter occurred. Mary being the last one to 
join the company in the parlor, took the only 
vacant seat, next a gentleman friend. Dr. 
Steel became influenced by a brother of one 
of the persons present, and made a very 
striking address, with a good deal of energy 
and pathos. On his becoming disentranced 
and entering into the general conversation, 
Mary voluntarily disembodied her controll- 
ing power, and leaving the girl's form like 
a corpse, with the head resting against the 
shoulder of her friend, immediately took 
control of Dr. Steel, and in every possible 
way required proved it to be herself, she 
then through that manly form, turned in a 
jovial way and laughed at the position of 
the seemingly untenanted body and its limp 
condition, with a pleasant jest at the friend 
who supported it. She soon, however, re- 
turned to her own proper control and seem- 
ed to enjoy the trick she had played, in the 
control of the gentleman. 

In a few moments she appeared peculiar, 
and calling the hired woman to follow her, 
they left the room. Soon she returned clad 
in an old-fashioned way, with gown, cap, 
cape and spectacles, etc., leaning on the arm 
of Charlotte as if bowed down with many 
years. Not one.trace of the girl could be seen 
save in the youthful skin of the face. Tak- 
ing a seat in the old arm chair, she began to 
talk as an old lady of olden times might be 
supposed to do, representing herself as the 
grandmother of Charlotte, giving her name, 
inquiring after all the relatives, old and 
young, asking by name for those belong- 
ing to families the girl could have known 
nothing about. Said she died of cancer near 
the right eye and temple ; called for tepid 
water and soft cloth, which being furnished, 
proceeded in the most natural manner to 
bathe and dress the cancer. She called for 
food and ate it, apparently without teeth, 
smoked after it, as she used to do, because 
her food always hurt her if she did not. She 
asked for knitting work. It being furnished, 
she found fault because the knitter did not 
know how to knit. Raveling, out and taking 
up again she knit, at the same time telling 

Charlotte how to knit without looking at it. 
She next asked for mending and other things 
to do.looked at the fabric of the ladies'dress- 
es, asking the prices, etc., etc. She looked 
out at the windows, remarked how pleasant 
a place it was, and so continued for a full 
hour, never for a moment showing any sign 
of deception, but a veritable, honest, exper- 
ienced domestic old lady. Numerous other 
personations might be related but this is 

When inquired of as to form materializa- 
tion she said it was a truth, though she 
had never tried it because She did not know 
how, but should learn how when she found 
an opportunity. 

During her stay at Mr. EofFs her physi- 
cal condition continually improved, being 
under the care and treatment of her sup- 
posed parents and the advice and help of her 
physician. She was ever obedient to the 
government and rules of thefamily, like a 
careful and wise child, always keeping in 
the company of some of the family, unless 
to go into the nearest neighbors across the 
street. She was often invited and went with 
Mrs. Eoff to visit the first families of the 
city, who soon became satisfied that the girl 
was not crazy, but a fine, well-mannered 

The manner in which she acted for a con- 
siderable time after coming into Mr. Eoff's 
family was very strange to many. Sitting 
down to the tea-table on one occasion, Mrs. 
Roff asked: 

"Now, Mary, what shall I help you to ? " 

She answered: 

"O, nothing, I thank you, ma, I'll go to 
heaven for my tea." 

Suiting the action to the word, off she 
went into a quiet trance or to heaven as she 
termed it, and so remained till the family 
had eaten, when she returned to her normal 
state. Being again asked, she said she had 
been to tea, and the question was put: 

"Mary, what do you eat, and how do you 
eat it?" 

Her answer was : 

"O ma, if I could tell, you could not un- 
derstand it." 

And thus for some time she only ate in 
that way, except a very little occasionally, 
to pacify the anxious family. As her system 


became in better condition, she ate more 
freely, and for many weeks toward the last 
she ate. drank and slept as a healthy person 

As the time drew near for the restoration 
of Lurancy to her parents and home, Mary 
would sometimes seem to recede into the 
memory and manner of Lurancy for a little 
time, yet not enough to lose her identity or 
permit the manifestation of Lurancy's mind, 
but enough to show she was impressing her 
presence upon her own body. 

On being asked, "Where is Lurancy?" she 
would say, "Gone out somewhere,' or, "She 
is in heaven taking lessons, and I am here 
taking lessons too." 

On Sunday, May 19th, about half past four 
o'clock, P. M., Mr. Koff and Mary were sit- 
ting in the parlor, Henry Vennum, Luran- 
cy's brother, being in the sitting room, an- 
other room and hall between. Mary left con- 
trol, and Lurancy took full possession of her 
own body. Henry was called in and she 
caught him around his neck, kissed and 
wept over him, causing all present to weep. 
At this juncture, Mr. Eoff was called and 
asked Lurancy if she could stay till Henry 
could go and bring her mother (she had ex- 
pressed a desire to go and see her father and 
mother) She said "No," but if Henry would 
go and bring her, she would come again and 
talk with her. She immediately left and 
Mary came again. When Mary was asked 
where she had been ? she replied, "I have 
seen Doctor Stevens and he looks as good 
as ever again." 

Mrs. Vennum was brought within an hour, 
and on her arrival, Lurancy came into full 
control,when one of the most affecting scenes 
ever witnessed took place. Mother and 
daughter embraced and kissed each other, 
and wept until all present shed tears of 
sympathy ; it seemed the very gate of Heav- 

On the morning of May 21st, Mr. Koff 
writes as follows : 

"Mary is to leave the body of Rancy to- 
day, about eleven o'clock, so she says. She 
is bidding neighbors and friends good-by, 
Rancy to return home all right to-day. Ma- 
ry came from her room up stairs where she 
was sleeping with Lottie, at ten o'clock last 
night, lay down by us, hugged and kissed 
us, and cried because she must bid us good 
by, telling us to give all her pictures, mar- 

bles and cards, and twenty-five cents Mis. 
Vennum had given her, to Rancy, and had 
us promiseto visit Rancy often. She tells 
me to write to Dr. Stevens as follows: 'Tell 
him I am going to heaven, and Rancy is 
coming home well. She says she will see 
your dear children in spirit life; says she 
saw you on Sunday last.' * * She said 
last night, weeping, 'O pa, I am going to 
heaven to-morrow at eleven o'clock, and 
Rancy is coming back cured, and going 
home all right.' She talked most lovingly 
about the separation to take place, and 
most beautiful was her talk about heaven 
and her home.'' 

Mrs. Alter writes : 

"When the day came, and the angels told 
Mary that Lurancy was coming to take full 
possession of her own body, it seemed to 
make her feel very sad. She went to the 
residences of Mr. L. C. Marsh and Mr. M. 
Hoober, to say good-by, telling them the an- 
gels had said the body was cured, and Lu- 
rancy was coming to go home and live with 
her parents again all well, yet she says, 'I 
feel sad at parting with you all, for you 
have treated me so kindly ; you have helped 
by your sympathy to cure this body, and 
Rancy can come and inhabit it.'" 

This shows that the angels can help the 
children of earth. Mr. M. Hoober being a 
pious Christian gentleman, and loving Ma- 
ry for her sweet influence in his family, 
came into the room and asked if she would 
like to sing with him and his good wife. 
She said: 

"Yes, I am so sad, but when I go to heav- 
en all tears will be wiped away, and I will 
be happy." 

After singing th'ey all knelt down, and 
Mr. Hoober made a very affecting prayer, 
saying, "If it can be that an angel is in our 
midst, and about to leave us to go and join 
her own in spirit-life, will God in his good- 
ness allow her to bear a message of love to 
my own angel father and loved ones, who 
may, for all we can see, be hovering around 
our household at this moment." He hoped 
we would all be better and wiser, and when 
Lurancy should come back to her normal 
condition, would be better for the strange 
and new lessons she has learned. 

Mary had sent word to her sister Nervie 
to come to her father's to stay an hour with 
her. to say good-by, and when Rancy should 
come back at eleven o'clock, to take her to 
Mr. Roff's office, and he would c?o to Mr. 
Vennum's with her. Mary said: "I will 



come in spirit as close to you as I can, and 
comfort you in sorrow, and you will feel me 
near you sometimes." 

When eleven o'clock came she seemed 
loth to go or let Eancy come back. Mrs. Al- 
ter started to go home and Mary started 
with her. When in the yard, Mrs. A. said, 
"Mary, you have always done as you said 
you would, but as I don't understand these 
things, will you please let Lurancy come 
back just now, and then you can come 
again if you want to." Mary said: "Yes, I 
will," and she kissed mother and sister 

A voice said, "Why, Mrs. Alter, where are 
we going?" Then in a breath, "Oh, yes, 1 
know, Mary told me I" 

On the way they met Mrs. Marsh and Mrs. 
Hoober, who were the nearest neighbors 
and Mary's favorite friends ; Luraney did 
not seem to know them, but remarked, 
' Mary thinks so much of these neighbors." 
Then turning to Mrs. Alter, with whom Lu- 
rancy had been but slightly acquainted two 
years ago, she said, "Mrs. Alter, Mary can 
come and talk to you nearly all the way 
home, if you want her to, and then I will 
comeback." She spoke, and appeared like 
one slightly acquainted. Mrs. Alter said 
"I have trusted you in the past, and of 
course I would love to talk with my sister." 

The change was again made, and Mary 
said, "I do love to be with you so much." 

She talked lovingly, and gave good advice 
about many things and f a*mily matters. The 
final change now took place at the time 
predicted, and Lurancy stated she felt 
something as though she had been asleep, 
yet she knew she had not. On reaching Mr. 
Eoff' s office, she addressed him as Mr. Eoff, 
and asked if he would take her home, which 
he did. 

May 22nd, Mr. Eoff writes me as follows: 

"Thank God and the good angels, che dead 
is alive and the lost is found. I mailed you 
a letter yesterday at half past ten o'cock \. 
M., stating that Mary had told us she would 
go away, and Rancy return at eleven o'clock 
the 21st of May. Now I write you that at 
half past eleven o'clock A. M., Minerva call- 
ed at my oflice with Eancy Yennum, and 
wanted me to takd her home, which I did. 
She called me Mr. Eoff, and talked with me 
as a young girl would, not being acquaint- 
ed. I asked her how things appeared to 
her if they seemed natural. She said it 

seemed like a dream to her. She met her pa- 
reuts and brothers in a very affectionate 
manner, hugging and kissing each one in 
tears of gladness. She clasped her arms 
around her father's neck a long time, fairly 
smothering him with kisses. I saw her fa- 
ther just now (eleven o'clock). He says she 
has been perfectly natural, and seems en- 
tirely well. You see my faith in writing 
you yesterday morning instead of waiting 
till she came." 

The Watseka Republican says: 
"The meeting with her parents at the 
home was very affecting, and now she seems 
to be a healthy, happy little girl, going 
about noting things she saw before she was 
stricken, and recognizes changes that have 
since taken place. This is a remarkable 
case, and the fact that we cannot under- 
stand such things, does not do away with 
the existence of these unaccountable mani- 
festations. " 

The Danville (111.) limes, in speaking of 
this case, says : 

"Mr. and Mrs. Eoff are Spiritualists, and 
stoutly maintain th?t their daughter's abil- 
ity to penetrate closed books and letters in 
the manner indicated, was imparted by the 
inhabitants of an unseen world. We have 
no fixed opinion as to whether Spiritualism 
is false or true. Certain it is, that occur- 
rences are upon record which are hard to 
explain upon any natural hypothesis, but 
attributable to spirits' aid. Let those say 
who know, for we do not. In spite of all 
opposition, Spiritualists have increased in 
numbers, nor are they confined to the illit- 
erate classes, but embrace poets, scholars 
and statesmen. Let us hope the unharmful 
truth will early assert a glorious reign, and 
illuminate the darkened understanding of 

The Iroquois county (111.) Times, under 
the head of "Mesmeric Mysteries," and in 
reference to Lurancy Vennum, says : 

"Mr. and Mrs. Eoff kindly offered to take 
charge of her until her mind would change, 
and she would become well again. She 
went there in February, and remained till 
about three weeks ago. Since then she has 
been Lurancy Vennum, and is healthy and 
full of intelligence. * * It was hard for 
even the most skeptical not to believe there 
was something supernatural about her. 
she was not prompted by the spirit of Mary 
Eoff, how could she know so much about 
the family, people with whom she was not 
acquainted, and whom she had never visit- 
ed V * * No stranger would have suspect- 
ed her of being the victim of disease, though 
her eyes were unusually bright. * " There 
are yet numberless mysteries in this world, 
though science has dissipated many won- 
ders, and philosophy has made plain many 



marvels. There is much that is unaccount- 
able in the action of spiritualistic mediums, 
and they do many things that puzzle the 
greatest philosophers. Skeptical and unbe- 
lieving as we are, and slight as our experi- 
ence has been, we have seen enough to con- 
vince us that Spiritualism is not all hum- 
bug. The case of Lurancy Vennum, a bright 
young girl of fourteen years, has been the 
subject of much discussion in Watseka dur- 
ing the past year, and there is a good deal 
in it beyond human comprehension. " 

The subject of this article had become 
familiar with the writer during the several 
months she was under his advice and the 
more kindly care and sympathy of Mr. 
Rofi's family, speaking with him freely up- 
on every subject necessary to her good and 
the courtesies of association, always, how- 
ever, in the presence of members of the 
family. On Sunday, the second day of June, 
he met her with her parents at the house of 
a friend, who lived nearly two miles from 
Mr. Yennum's. Lurancy was introduced to 
him by Mr. Vennum. She seemed to be an 
entire stranger, and for two hours remained 
like a timid, unacquainted child. The next 
day, June 3rd, without notice to any one, the 
writer went to the house of a noted attorney, 
and as he entered the gate,Lurancy came out 
the door, stopped on the steps and said,"How 
do you do, Doctor ? Mary Roff told me to 
come here and meet you. Somehow she 
makes me feel you have been a very kind 
friend to me ;" and she would not let him in- 
to the house till she had delivered a long 
message from Mary. Since the last inter- 
view he has seen her several times, and she 
seems easy, affable, and as a young lady 

On the 25th of June she wrote a beautiful 
letter, by the consent of her friends saying 
among other thines: 

"Dear Doctor, I am feeling quite well to- 
day. I was up to Mrs. Alter s to-day ; she is 
very well at present. This afternoon I 
called at Mr. Roff s office, and had quite a 
long talk with him ; but of course it was 
about the loving angels that you and I love 
so well. Let them twine around your neck 
their arms and press upon your brow their 
kiss. * * Well, Doctor, you have many 
dear friends in this city who love you much. 

1 saw Mrs. M . She said she would have 

died if it had not been for you, and you 

know about Mrs. I . We know you saved 

her life. * * Kiss your loving wife for 
me, and tell her we shall all meet in heaven 
if not on earth. * * I shall visit Mrs 

Eoff to-morrow. * * I shall have my pic- 
ture taken and send it to you in mv next 
letter. I get up early and take the morning 
air. I should like to have you write a line 
to me. Your friend, 


. This letter, written in pencil, is very dif- 
ferent in its make-up and penmanship from 
those written by the same hand, signed by 
Mary Roff, and gives evidence of another 

Since penning the foregoing article, the 
writer has received the following letter from 
the mother of Lurancy, through the polite- 
ness of Mr. Roff: 

WATSEKA, ILL., July 9th, 1878. 
DEAR FRIEND: Mary L. Vennura is per- 
fectly and entirely well, and perfectly nat- 
ural. For two or three weeks after her re- 
turn home, she seemed a little strange to 
what she had been before she was taken 
sick last summer, but only, perhaps, the 
natural change that had taken place with 
the girl, and except it seemed to her as 
though she had been dreaming or sleeping, 
etc. Lurancy has been smarter, more intel- 
ligent, more industrious, more womanly and 
more polite than before. We give the cred- 
it of her complete cure and restoration to 
her family, to Dr. E. W. Stevens and Mr. 
and Mrs. Roff, by their obtaining her re- 
moval to Mr. Roff' s, where her cure was 
perfected. We firmly believe that had she 
remained at home, she would have died, or 
we would have been obliged to send her to 
the insane asylum, and if so, that she would 
have died there, and that further, that I 
could not have lived but a short time with 
the care and trouble devolving on me. Sev- 
eral of the relatives of Mary Lurancy, in- 
cluding ourselves, now believe she was 
cured by spirit power, and that Mary Roff 
controlled the girl. 


On the 10th of July Mr. Roff writes: 

DEAR DOCTOR: Mr. Vennum is out of 
town, but 1 have often talked with him, 
and I know his opinion, often expressed, 
that Lurancy and her mother would both 
have died if we had not taken the girl ; he 
gives all credit to yourself and us for it. He 
believes it was spirit agency that did the 
work. Lurancy is in perfect health, and 
"much more womanly than before" (so her 
mother says). She says she used to romp 
and play with her brothers, and with the 
horses, etc. Now she is steady; you can 
hardly imagine how the dear girl loves 
those who saved her. She sends you a let- 
ter to-day, but thinks it a little strange you 
have not answered her last letter. 
Yours, etc., 

A. B. ROFF. 



In the letter referred to above, the child 
writes : 

I am quite well, and much obliged that 
you showed my letter to your dear wife. I 
am sure there is nothing for me to be 
ashamed of. * * I was down to Mr. M's 
store, and he told me how you saved his 
wife's life, and they appreciate it. Will you 
want me to .give you my description of 
heaven ? I will sometime, when there are 
but few present. I can't write it, for I 
make so many mistakes. I made a short 
call at Mrs. Alter's. * * Please ask your 
daughter to write to me. Can't you bring your 
wife when you come ? Poor Mr. Wicker- 
sham still lives. We should pity such mor- 
tals. My aunt says I know all that has 
transpired, but none know but the angels 
and you. Your friend, 


On the evening of the 16th of July, 1878, 
in the parlors of Asa B. Roff and his wife, 
we, the undersigned, met and listened to the 
careful reading and consideration of the 
foregoing narrative, and declare it to be en- 
tirely true and correct in every respect ; and 
further, that now after eight weeks of home 
life, Lurancy Vennum remains well and 
sound in body and mind. 




WATSEKA, Iroquois Co., 111., 
July 18th, 1878. 

To THE READER: The writer has col- 
lated the foregoing facts from a mass of 
interesting incidents, which might be much 
enlarged upon, but he is satisfied with the 
few incidents that involve principles hith- 
erto discussed by the philosophic world, and 
sends them out to make a chapter in the 
literature of Spiritualism. He has this day 
seen the family, including the subject of the 
narrative. Mrs. Vennum has gone to Indi- 
ana for a two weeks' rest and visit, and left 
Lurancy in charge of the family and house, 
a healthy, happy, noble girl. 

July 19th, 1878 


Views of Prominent Spiritualists in Refer- 
ence to the Manifestations through her 
Organism, as Detailed in the Foregoing 

In reference to the case of nugelic incar- 
nation (Mary Roff and Lurancy Vennum) 
reported by Dr. Stevens, there is no reed of 
indorsement or comment by Scientists, on 
such facts so well reported. When the sun 
shines we need no professor of optics to 
teach us the fact. 

One such example of angel visitations to 
earth, would enlighten all the world, if it 
were not for the stubborn hostility to truth 
of the materialistic press and fossilized 
church, which causes the systematic sup- 
pression and concealment of such informa- 
tion from the people, and imposes upon all 
who are really enlightened the duty of aid- 
ing in the diffusion of this narrative. I 
think that every Spiritualist should pur- 
chase as many copies of this remarkable 
narrative as he can afford, and distribute 
them among honest inquirers. 

I would add a word in reference to the 
marvelous fact of spirit exchange or trans- 
fer of souls between two bodies. All spirit- 
ualists are familiar with the trance medi- 
umship in which one from the Spirit 
world occupies a human body while the 
spirit of that body is either resting quiet- 
ly, or, as has happened in some cases, gone 
out to obsess another body. Experience 
shows that this is not a hazardous or un- 
natural thing, but it is very strange to those 
who have not learned the rudiments of 
spiritual science. By way of explanation I 
would say that spirit is far more easily 
transferred than matter, and that the ex- 
change of souls between Mary Roff and 
Lurancy Vennum is no more marvelous to 
those who understand it than the pouring 
of a quart of water from a full pitcher into 
one just emptied. 

The spiritual potency of a dose of medi- 
cine of any kind (morphine, quinine or any 
other drug) held in the hands by any one 
who is not of a hard temperament, will pass 
up the arm and pervade the whole person. 
It may also be arrested in its progress at 
the arm and by a few dispersive passes 
thrown out of the body entirely : or it may 
be transferred by contact into the person of 
another individual, thus relieving the one 
who first felt it of the drug symptoms. 

As the psycho-physiological effects are so 
easily transferred, and as pains are often 
transmitted from one who is suffering them 
to a healing operator whose touch gives 
relief psychic impressions are still more 
easily transferred. The intense melancholy 



or joy felt by one individual is often sud- 
denly transferred to another even without 
touch, at the first approach of a sympathet- 
ic person. 

But personal presence is not necessary. A 
letter held by a psychometer on the fore- 
head will give the entire force of the emo- 
tions of the writer and a consciousness of 
, his whole character, which is vividly felt. 
Sometimes the impression is so complete 
that the psychometer becomes lost in the 
character, and actually personates it; as 
in Boston thirty-four years ago, an intellec- 
tual lady, in describing Mr. Clay under the 
influence of his autograph, at length lost 
her identity and assuming the dignity of 
Mr. Clay, declined to be catechised any 
longer as to her impressions. Mr. Clay was 
then living. 

The extremely impressional or sensitive 
individual, may thus take on any character 
by merely coming into psychometric rap- 
port with it, and for a time personate the 
individual, giving a very good embodiment 
of his character. Indeed a considerable por- 
tion of that which has been considered spir- 
itual obsession is of this sympathetic or 
psychometric character, and is sometimes a 
tolerable expression of the spirit's senti- 
ments, although the spirit may have noth- 
ing to do with it. The same sympathetic 
sort of quasi-obsession may take place con- 
cerning living individuals, and the psycho- 
metric medium may personate and speak or 
write for a living individual, as in the case 
of a girl in Ohio, who at the same sitting 
wrote a prescription from Dr. Hahnemann, 
the founder of Homoepathy and another 
from Dr. Hill, a living physician. 

Thus a spiritual transfer of thought may 
take place by receptivity, when the party 
supposed to speak, is entirely passive. But 
when that party is active his psysehic pow- 
er and personality are transmitted far 
more effectively even when the recipient is 
not endeavoring to receive them. Dr. Brit- 
tan tells of his own success in projecting 
his spirit so as to be seen and recognized by 
persons at a distance, and Dr. Jno. F. Gray 
of this city, a distinguished physician, by 
making the effort to look into the condition 
of a patient whom he could not convenient- 
ly visit, made so strong an impression on the 
man (who was not expecting him, that he 
firmly insisted that Dr. Gray did visit him 
and stand by his bedside where he saw him) 
and remarked on the strangeness of the 
fact that Dr. Gray would come to see him 
and walk off without saying anything. 
Hundreds of such cases are reported in 
spiritual literature, as well as similar cases 
in which the party came out of himself 
spiritually, has like Swedenborg visited 
the Spirit-world and seen his friends, or has 
seen and described others to the satisfaction 
of their surviving friends. 

It is quite a familiar old story for the last 

hundred years that clairvoyants in mes- 
meric somnambulism visit distant places 
and describe them minutely ; and the Spirit 
world has often been described by the som- 
nambulists who have visited it. 

There is nothing in this "Watseka wonder" 
which is not illustrated by parallel facts 
and experiments, although they are but lit- 
tle known to the world. But in none other do 
we find so satisfactory an array of public 
and private events, combined with the pe- 
culiar angelic beauty of sentiment which is 
displayed and which is so honorable to all 
concerned. A deeply interesting volume 
might be made by compiling these authentic 

So easy is the interchange between the 
two contiguous worlds, that spirits have 
often eaten of earthly food in their mate- 
rialization, which has disappeared forever 
as their new bodies vanished, and, on the 
other hand, living women, like Mollie Fan- 
cher, of Brooklyn, have been spiritually fed 
while fasting for many months and been 
thus sustained in health like Mary Roff. "I 
have food which ye know not" is the lan- 
guage that may often be used by spiritual ex- 

This Watseka case is interesting as an il- 
lustration of the elevated and beautiful na- 
ture of spirit communion, and the gradual 
elevation of mankind by its increasing fre- 
quency and power. The "communion ot 
saints' 1 which orthodoxy has failed to real- 
ize is to become hereafter a grand factor in 
human elevation, and, as the centuries roll 
on, the still accumulating power of the 
Spirit-world, organized for earthly labors ot 
love and aided by the increasing spirituality 
of mankind, will surround our lives with 
sweet influences as if we were breathing 
another atmosphere, and standing in the 
presence of all that is holy. 


No. 1 Livingston Place, New York. 
^ ; 

Views of D. P. Kayner, M. D. 

There gathers around the case given to 
the public through the RELIGIO - PHILO- 
SOPHICAL JOURNAL, under the above head- 
ing, an unusual amount of interest. Being 
personally well acquainted with Mr. A. B. 
Roff and his family, and having some ac- 
quaintance with Dr. Stevens, and knowing 
they are not persons who would in any man- 
ner lend themselves to a deception in this 
matter, it assumes increased proportions in 
its importance as a wonderful phenomenon 
in which are displayed many principles re- 
lating to the spiritual philosophy ; notably 
among which are first, the effects of bodily 
disease in favoring the influence of uncon- 
genial or undeveloped controls; secondly, 
the influence of cultivated and properly di- 
rected mesmeric power in changing those 



controls for more congenial ones; and, third, 
while thus healing the physical body through 
changing the controls, and apparently chang- 
ing the individuality of the person controlled, 
giving a spirit, who had through a similar 
disease been deprived of a full earth experi- 
ence, an opportunity to enter again into 
those earthly relations and increase her ex- 
perience amid earthly surroundings. Tak- 
en all together, it is one of the best authen- 
ticated illustrations of the phenomena and 
philosophy of Spiritualism among the mill- 
ions of phenomena which have been pre- 
sented to the world, and the solution of the 
complex problems of the philosophy of life, 
embodied in the phases presented, will great- 
ly tend to elucidate life s many mysteries. 

That certain diseases, as epilepsy or cata- 
lepsy, predispose to render the subject easy 
of control by undeveloped spirits, seems to 
have been settled by this case. The changed 
polarity of the brain-magnets, deranges the 
harmonious control of the individual spirit 
over its body by temporarily suspending the 
connection, and blending of the action of 
the spirit body or soul with the physical 
body, through which the manifestations of 
mind are shown. In this condition another 
spirit having sufficient knowledge of the 
psychic laws may form a connection with 
the external organs of the mind, either by 
acting directly upon the brain itself, or seiz- 
ing upon the spirit body of the individual 
thus affected, and through that, by taking 
possession of the brain and its organs, hold 
control of the mind ; and, acting upon any 
of the faculties at will, sway the thoughts, 
words and actions of the individual, thus 
said to be "obsessed" at their pleasure. 

Another important lesson derived is. that 
calm, cultivated and properly directed mes- 
meric power is capable of changing the con- 
trol and, in a manner, of influencing and di- 
recting the operations of minds in the mun- 
dane and supramundane spheres. In this 
we can begin to see some of the philosophy 
of "the gift of healing." 

The spirit who has learned the law of 
self-control, whose cultivated reason holds 
the reins and guides the intellect, who 
readily comprehends the necessities of the 
hour and grasps them with the strong grip 
of an educated Will, has that within him 
which, when properly directed, is more ef- 
fective in restoring a healthy polarity to a 
diseased brain and correcting all mental de- 
rangement than all other means combined. 
And this applies with equal force to spirits 
in the form or those who have departed this 
life. The mental influences with which an 
invalid is surrounded and the manner in 
which his own mental machinery is set 
in motion and made to operate thereby is, 
when adapted to the necessities of the case, 
more potent than drugs in effecting a cure. 

The healing power which can be impart- 
ed and aroused through the psychic forces 

are multitudinous, and vast in their pro- 
portions. Disease may be said to be any 
derangement in the proper balancing of the 
working forces of body or mind, and the ad- 
justment of those forces, restoring the 
equilibrium, will bring a return of health. 
Changing the polarity of the brain-magnets 
deranges the individual psychic control over 
the bodily functions, and can only be re- 
stored to a normal action through some ex- 
ternal impression or control which influ- 
ences the mental machinery to resume its 
normal relations and assert its wonted ac- 
tivities. This may perhaps be accomplished 
through the influence of drugs ; but aside 
from their specific action upon special or- 
gans, they are, undoubtedly, more efficient in 
their operation upon the mind, in some 
way arousing the psychic forces which 
wheel the unbalanced organs into harmoni- 
ous relations by which the vigor of health is 
regained, and the physician and his reme- 
dies are applauded. 

It will however be noticed in this con- 
nection that the same medicine will act 
differently in the hands of different physi- 
cians and will act best in his hands who 
imparts the most genial and positive psychic 

But, perhaps, the most difficult problem 
to solve, is involved in the question of 
"obsession" of the spirit leaving its own 
physical body and roaming at will while 
another spirit takes possession of the phy- 
sical habitation of that spirit and re-enacts 
over again the scenes of its earth life and 
renews its earthly experiences. From 'an- 
alogy, and from the accumulated know- 
ledge of clairvoyance, it seems clearly es- 
tablished that a spirit cannot completely 
sever its connections with the body and 
again re-habilitate itself therewith. Now, 
just how far all apparent obsession, is sub- 
jective psychological spirit control acting 
upon and directing the individual's own 
spirit to produce the manifestation present- 
ed , is difficult to determine. In this problem 
lies the great mystery of the"Watseka won- 
der," and its proper solution will do more to 
unravel the tangled skein of the power of 
mind on mind, of mind over matter, and of 
the peculiarities of mediumship, than all 
the sophistical arguments of the scholastic 

The subject of obsession has engaged the 
attention of some of the ablest minds in 
the world. Andrew Jackson Davis from 
the heights of clairv9yance, if we rightly 
understand him, considers it an utter im- 
possibility for one's spirit to leave his body 
or be displaced by another spirit. While on 
the contrary, a case so clearly verified as 
the one under consideration will have 
more weight in deciding this question than 
all mere theories and assertions. 

Again what are we to do with the case, 
where on a vessel wrecked at sea, one of the 


famishing persons on the wreck became un- 
conscious and lay almost as one dead for two 
hours? On awakening he informed the 
captain a vessel was steering to their relief. 
During the time he was lying in the uncon- 
scious state upon the wreck, he was seen by 
the mate of the relieving vessel to enter the 
Captain's state room and write upon his 
slate, "Steer due North- west," and after the 
rescue, when pointed out to the captain as 
the mysterious person who had done the 
writing, on being asked to write the above 
sentence on the opposite side of the slate, 
the correspondence was perfect. 

The case of a medium in Connecticut 
hunting up a sea captain for the captain's 
wife, finding and conversing with him in 
London, giving him his wife's message, and 
being seen by the captain sufficiently to be 
recognized by him on his return, while the 
medium's body, in an apparently dead state, 
was lying in the shade of an apple tree, is 
worthy of consideration. 

To what sublime heights may not man 
soar, if he possesses the power to step out of 
his mortal tenement at will, through a 
knowledge and application of psychic law, 
and leaving the body in charge of some 
other spirit, enters upon the experience of 
the life beyond to return and re-inhabit the 
body again at the pleasure of the two spir- 
its thus exchanging experiences? Which, 
of the two propositions involved in this 
question is the true one, calls for our most 
devoted endeavors to discover. Taken all 
in all this "Watseka Wonder" being so well 
verified, forms one of the most interesting 
and important chapters in the history of 

Letter From Dr. S. B. Brittan. 


I have read the narrative of E. "W. Stev- 
ens, published in late numbers of the JOUR- 
NAL. The alleged facts are certainly ex- 
traordinary, but they are compassed by 
spiritual forces, and compatible with the 
psycho-physiological laws. The internal 
evidence that the statement accords with 
the essential facts of the case, is such 
as to secure a general acceptance of the 
Doctor's testimony among those who may 
have been familiar with similar phenome- 
na, and all who are able to comprehend the 
philosophy of their causation. In the at- 
tempt to obtain credence for marvelous 
statements which have no foundation in ei- 
ther fact, law or reason, the narrator is al- 
most sure to blunder by the introduction of 
some alleged occurrence which involves an 
impossibility. The man who knows little 
or nothing of the essential forces and fun- 
damental laws which govern spiritual phe- 
nomena, has no certain means of determin- 
ing what is, and what is not, within the 

range of possibilities. A single illustration 
will serve to elucidate my idea. 

Many years ago, while the writer was ed- 
iting the Spiritual Telegraph, a tricky fel- 
low sent us a long account of remarkable 
facts, said to have occurred at West Troy. 
In his story of the wonders alleged to have 
been performed by spiritual agency, he de- 
clared that a table rose from the floor with- 
out hands ; that it floated out-of one open 
window, 'and after remaining suspended, 
mid air, over the sidewalk for a little time, 
it slowly returned through another open 
window and resumed its former position. 
Had the narrator stopped at this point in 
his story, we could only have said, well, the 
alleged facts are remarkable, but they are 
altogether possible; and then our accept- 
ance or rejection of the statement would 
have been determined by our judgment of 
the credibility of the witness. Instead of 
pausing, however, in time to prevent an im- 
peachment of his veracity, he went on to 
say that he measured both the table and the 
window, and found that the former was fif- 
teen inches wider the narrowest way than 
the latter. In other words, this Munchau- 
sen story-teller made an inflexible object 
one utterly incapable of the slightest com- 
pressibilitypass through a space between 
unyielding walls, fifteen inches less than it 
was known to occupy, and without break- 
ing either the frame or fiber of the table. It 
required but little philosophy to decide that 
such an assumed fact, if not altogether im- 
possible, in the nature of things, was at 
least highly improbable. 

The same party sent us some half dozen 
similar communications, every one in a new 
chirography, and mailed at a different post- 
office. But we spotted the author every 
time; marked his papers "bogus," and thrust 
them all into the same pigeon-hole. Some- 
time after the writer received a brief note 
from this pretended medium, dated and 
postmarked at Brooklyn. The material por- 
tions of the note were as follows : 

SIR: I perceive that you are an old bird, and 
not to be taken on chaff. I thought I could sell 
you out, but you are too d d sharp for me." * * 

Subsequently this same miserable trick- 
ster ventured on a further trial of his ex- 
periment by sending his villainous inven- 
tions to the late Hon. Horace Greeley, 
whose motto adopted with special and ex- 
clusive reference to this subject was, "Give 
us the facts; ve want no philosophy." The 
editor of the Tribune published the state- 
ments, with an implied editorial indorse- 
ment, when a little philosophy would have 
enabled him to detect the fraud and expose 
the impostor. 

My own investigation of the facts and 
laws of mind and matter, as displayed in 
the relations of spirits to the phenomena of 
psycho-physiology, assures me that there is 
nothing in the narrative of Dr. Stevens that 


is intrinsically incredible ; and in all such 
cases we have only to satisfy ourselves, and, 
if possible, the public, of the intelligence, 
discrimination and veracity of the witness- 
es. It is quite natural for the average phy- 
sician, who is usually a man of small faith 
and a materialist in his philosophy, to refer 
all such spiritual phenomena to physical 
causes. The familiar diagnosis resolves all 
spasmodic attacks, such as the Doctor has 
described, into epilepsy, catalepsy and hys- 
teria. It is safe to assume that these con- 
ditions and various forms of disease may, 
and often do, result from the operation of 
both physical and spiritual causes. They 
may be produced by any violent disturbance 
of the subtile forces on which the vital 
functions and voluntary motion are made 
to depend. The abnormal action of the in- 
dividual's own mind, and the violence of 
his passions ; the presence and influence of 
powerful magnetic forces emanating from 
other persons, whose minds and lives are 
disorderly ; and the direct agency of spirits 
of another world, whose unfinished or oth- 
erwise unsatisfactory lives prompt them to 
come back in the hope of recovering what 
was lost, and performing what was left un- 
done, are chief among the causes and influ- 
ences which derange the human body and 
mind. The spirits of the class referred to 
exist in great numbers along the border- 
line between the two worlds, and it is not 
strange that they raid across the frontiers 
of our visible existence, in some cases to 
our injury. 

It may assist the reader to form an intel- 
ligent judgment of the facts comprehended 
in the narrative of your correspondent, if I 
briefly analyze the peculiar forms of dis- 
ease to which such phenomena are usually 
referred. Epilepsia, or epilepsy, is other- 
wise known in common parlance as "the 
falling sickness." The word is derived from 
the Greek, and literally signifies to seize 
upon. The application of the classical word 
appears to have been determined by the 
suddenness of the attack ; and the proprie- 
ty of the familiar terms employed to repre- 
sent the disease, must be evident to any one 
who has ever witnessed the sudden manner 
in which the patient falls to the ground in 
an epileptic fit. The ancients regarded this 
as "the sacred disease," for the reason that 
it disordered the mind the noblest part of 
our human nature and also because they 
attributed its existence to spiritual causes. 

The victim of this fearful malady some- 
times has little or no warning of the attack ; 
but in other cases, and more frequently, the 
paroxysm is preceded by certain symptoms, 
some of which are cognizable by the patient 
and the qualified observer. The symptom 
most frequent in the experience of the sub- 
ject, is a feeling of coldness, as if occasion- 
ed by a light current of air proceeding from 
some part of the body, usually the lower 

portion of the spinal column, or from the 
region of the kidneys. This peculiar feel- 
ing is known to the faculty as the aura epi- 
leptica. Other symptoms are diminished 
contractile power of the muscles, a feeling 
of debility, flatulence, palpitation and stu- 
por. As the cool, creeping sensation ap- 
proaches the head, the subject becomes diz- 
zy ; sensation, consciousness and voluntary 
motion are suspended; the paroxysm fol- 
lows, and may last from one minute to a 
quarter of an hour or longer, during which 
the muscles are powerfully convulsed, the 
respiration difficult, the patient froths at 
the mouth, the features are distorted and 
the face flushed or otherwise discolored. 
The attack is followed by a feeling of un- 
usual lassitude and a disposition to sleep. 

This disease no doubt results from a 
great variety of physical causes and inci- 
dental conditions occurring in the experi- 
ence of the individual. Among these I may 
mention organic defects and hereditary pre- 
disposition ; want of a proper cerebral bal- 
ance and a uniform distribution of the vital 
motive power ; sudden fright, heavy blows 
and violent shocks to the nervous system ; 
the change that occurs at the age of puber- 
ty and solitary vice. That it may also re- 
sult from more subtile and psychological 
causes, and the visitations of disorderly 
spirits, I am equally well assured. The 
most enlightened of the ancient nations en- 
tertained this idea, and were disposed to as- 
cribe all similar diseases to the invisible 
sphere of spiritual causation. This is suffi- 
ciently evident from the evangelical narra- 
tives of similar cases, in which all the more 
important phenomena of epilepsy are plain- 
ly described. 

Before referring to several ancient exam- 
ples, I will briefly define the nature of cata- 
lepsis, or catalepsy. In this disease sensa- 
tion and all the voluntary faculties and 
functions of mind and body, are suddenly 
arrested. The organs of involuntary mo- 
tion usually continue their functions; the 
heart and lungs moving in ordinary cases, 
the former with an accelerated action and 
diminished power. It is also characterized 
by unusual rigidity of the muscles. The 
body and limbs, though stiff and statue- 
like, may be moved by the effort of another, 
and they retain the posture in which they 
are left, however unnatural and uneasy the 
position. The particular expression on the 
face, at the moment of the attack, is liable 
to remain. The paroxysm varies in the de- 
grees of intensity in different patients ; anrl 
the time that may transpire before the res- 
toration to the normal condition is alto- 
gether uncertain. In profound states of 
catalepsis all outward signs of life some- 
times disappear; the processes of the ani- 
mal chemistry cease, and the trance may 
continue for weeks. In this state of sus- 
pended animation many persons have been 


buried alive, or before the spirit had sever- 
ed its connection with the body. 

I have neither the time nor space to at- 
tempt an exhaustive treatment of the sub- 
ject, much as society needs a complete phi- 
losophy of its material facts and essential 
laws. My exposition of the causes and as- 
pects of these forms of disease, must be gen- 
eral. I do not propose a critical classification 
of the symptomatic phenomena, whether 
physical or psychological ; nor is it my pur- 
pose to consider the means and methods to 
be employed in the treatment of the same. 
It is rather my present design to call atten- 
tion to a profound but much neglected sub- 
ject, which, however, most deeply concerns 
the public welfare. Beyond this, I desire to 
show that the abnormal conditions and 
startling phenomena under consideration, 
may and do result from causes resident in 
both the material and spiritual worlds. 
Even when an attack of either epilepsy or 
catalepsy is precipitated by purely organic 
conditions and physical causes, the subse- 
quent state and its phenomenal aspects are 
very likely to be complicated by the play 
of psychological forces and the interposi- 
tion of spiritual visitors. 

It is natural that the spirits whose lives 
on earth were cut short by either acts of 
violence or the supervention of disease, 
should have a desire to continue the career 
that terminated prematurely. In like man- 
ner, all who are conscious of haying neg- 
lected their opportunities in this world, 
must desire to finish up the incomplete 
work of this rudimental life. Those who 
have committed great wrongs on earth may 
be forced back by a law of the moral con- 
stitution or f rom an irresistible impulse 
to undo the mischief of their hands to the 
scenes of the ruin they have made. Such 
spirits reviewing the records of their lives, 
imperishable forever in the memory ear- 
nestly seeking relief from ignorance and 
unhappiness, may seize on any poor, help- 
less mortal in the hope of deriving some 
satisfaction from a temporary renewal of 
the former relations. Filled with recollec- 
tions of time wasted ; a life madly sacrificed, 
or at best disorderly and profitless, they are 
liable to derange the body and mind of any 
delicate subject who may willingly or oth- 
erwise yield to their iniluence. In all this 
we are not, as a rule, authorized to infer 
that the spirits are maliciously disposed. It 
may suffice that they are ignorant and 
clumsy to account for the disorderly re- 
sults of their influence. Should a common 
tinker attempt to manipulate a fine chro- 
nometer, he would be sure to derange its 
action. The man who has never handled 
anything more delicate than chain cables, 
could never tune my lady's harp. An ig- 
norant magnetizer, with strong passions, 
an unsuitable temperament and unbalanced 
brain, might derange and upset the nervous 

system of a sensitive girl, and so may an 
ignorant spirit, who has not yet recovered 
from the similar imperfections of the life 
on earth. 

The careful reader of the New Testament 
will have observed, not only that cases of vi- 
tal and mental derangement corresponding 
in all their essential features to the forego- 
ing analyses of epilepsy and catalepsy were 
of frequent occurrence ; but also, that they 
were invariably ascribed to the agency of 
demons or spirits. Among the Greeks a 
demon was not always regarded as an evil 
spirit. The word was not understood to 
either express or imply anything in respect 
to his moral qualities. The ancients be- 
lieved in both good and evil demons or 
spirits of men. When, therefore, we trans- 
late the word into English, and call the de- 
mon of the Greek Scriptures a devil, we 
neither change his nature nor acquire a 
right to defame his character. We can not 
make a good spirit evil by giving him a bad 
name. Those only who produced unhappy 
effects were characterized as "unclean spir- 
its ;" by which we may understand spirits 
wanting intelligence and a high moral pur- 
pose. It was an important part of the busi- 
ness of the early Evangelical teachers, un- 
der the apostolic commission, to cast out 
the spirits whose influence was found to be 

The fact can not be disputed, that the 
different classes of demons referred to by 
the early Greeks embraced "the disembodied 
spirits of the dead, without respect to their 
moral qualities," and they appear to have 
been "the favorite -sources of information." 
The distinction between two general classes 
is clearly made in the following passage by 
a learned author: 

"There is also a second class of demons, namely: 
the souls of those who having lived meritoriously 
have departed from the body. Such a soul I find 
called in the ancient Latin tongue Lemur. Of 
these Lemures, he, who having obtained by lot 
the guardianship of his posterity, presides over 
the house with a quiet and placable superintend- 
ence, is called the household Lar. But those, 
who, on account of a vicious life, having obtained 
no happy seats, are a sort of vagabonds, or are 
punished by a kind of exile ; and who inflicts idle 
terrors upon good men, but more real evils upon 
the wicked. This kind is commonly called Larvae." 
Apocatastasis, p. 89. 

The narratives of the Evangelists contain 
many references to the agency of spirits, in 
the transfiguration of mortals, and in modi- 
fying human feeling, thought and conduct. 
For the time being, and as long as the spir- 
it maintained the ascendancy over the me- 
dium, the former often governed the voli- 
tion and action of the latter. As I am 
treating the subject in its relation to cer- 
tain forms of disease, I shall make my cita- 
tions from the Christian Scriptures with a 
special view to the illustration of that rela- 


tion, and the power of Spirits to damage 
the organic action of mind and body. I 
will here introduce examples which will 
exhibit their demeanor and show the man- 
ner in which they handled their subjects. 
It is related that while Jesus was teaching 
in a synagogue in Capernaum, that there 
was a man present who had "an unclean 
spirit." The medium while under this in- 
fluence was inclined to be noisy. He dis- 
covered the name and character of the 
Teacher, and in a declamatory style insisted 
on Deing let alone. 

"And Jesus rebuked him, saying, 'Hold thy 
peace and come out of him.' And when the un- 
clean spirit had torn him, and cried out in a loud 
voice, he came out of him." (Mark, chap. I, 35-26.) 

\Vhen Jesus was coming out of a ship in 
which he had just crossed the sea of Gali- 

"Immediately there met him out of the tombs 
a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwell- 
ing among the tombs; and no man could bind 
him, no, not with chains. . . . He had been often 
bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had 
been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters 
broken in pieces: neither could any man tame 
him. And always, night and day, he was in the 
mountains, and in the tombs, crying and cutting 
himself with stones." 

This spirit was rather boisterous in his 
recognition of the man who was about to 
exorcise him. While the man was under 
the influence of this spirit, Jesus asked for 
his name, whereupon the spirit "answered, 
saying, 'My name is Legion; for we are 
many.' " (Mark, Chap. v. 2-9.) 

It is recorded that as Jesus descended from 
the mountain, after his transfiguration, a 
man brought his only child to him, whose 
case is thus described: 

"And, lo a spirit taketh him, and he suddenly 
crieth out; and it teareth him that he foameth 
again; and bruising him, hardly departeth from 
him. . . . And as he was yet coming the devil 
threw him down, and tore him. And Jesus re- 
buked the unclean spirit, and healed the child." 
(Luke, chap. IX, 38-41.) 

The following is a very accurate descrip- 
tion of the general phenomena which ac- 
company an attack of the disease known as 
Epilepsy : 

"And one of the multitude said, 'Master, I have 
brought unto thee my son, which hath a dumb 
spirit; and wheresoever he taketh him he teareth 
him, and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, 
and pineth away'.... And when he saw him, 
straightway the spirit tore him; and he fell to the 

ground and wallowed, foaming 'And oft-times 

it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters 
to destroy him' Jesus rebuked the foul spirit, 
saying unto him, 'Dumb and deaf spirit, I charge 
thee come out of him, and enter no more into him.' 
And the spirit cried and rent him sore, and came 
out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that 
many said, 'He is dead! " (Mark, chap. IX, 17-26.) 

It would seem from this description that 
the paroxysm was followed by a state of 
suspended animation. It is to be observed 

that this is not usually the case in epilep- 
sy. The convulsion is followed by great 
general prostration clearly enough indi- 
cated in the Evangelical description by the 
words, "and pineth away.'' In all ordinary 
cases the respiratory movement continues 
and the process of the aeration of the blood 
goes on with only partial interruption. 
During the continuance of the paroxysm, 
as a rule, the respiration is heavy and diffi- 
cult, while the heart's action is quick and 
strong, but never rhythmical; the systole 
and diastole occurring at irregular inter- 

It seems that Mary Koff was subject to 
spasmodic attacks from early infancy, 
.whether originally produced by physical 
causes or spiritual agency, is quite uncer- 
tain. The general description given does 
not warrant the expression of a decisive 
opinion on this point. There appear, how- 
ever, to have been indications of spiritual 
interference in her later experience. Her 
melancholy periods ; the "mania for bleed- 
ing herself; her inability to recognize her 
friends, and indisposition to heed the pres- 
ence of other persons; her lucid intervals, 
in which she became highly clairvoyant; 
the preternatural strength developed in her 
delirium requiring the aid of so many 
persons to restrain her and the manner of 
her death are facts which may have de- 
pended largely on the presence and agency 
of Spirits. In such a case the ordinary pro- 
fessional treatment for epileptic or catalep- 
tic fits, would have been powerless to afford 
relief; while the attempt to drown out the 
spirits, by flooding the house they had 
moved into, was if possible still more pre- 

The case of Mary Lurancy Vennum is 
less obscure in its origin. It was clearly a 
case of spiritual entrancement in the begin- 
ning. Had the Rev. B. M. Baker under- 
stood the nature of his commission as a 
preacher of the Gospel, and possessed the 
requisite qualifications for his office, he 
would never have thought of sending the 
girl to a lunatic asylum. Some one has 
said, "Satan loves to fish in troubled waters." 
If this is true, the atmosphere of madness, 
in and about an insane asylum, would fur- 
nish just the place and the occasion for 
disorderly spirits to assemble, and in which 
we might expect the patient to suffer most 
from their influence. I should as soon 
think of ordering a file and saw as a sedative 
for a nervous woman; orof prescribing a 
small room and a large brass-band as a 
soporific for babies. 

If we accept the testimony of Dr. Stevens 
and the other witnesses, the record of the 
three months and ten days residence of 
Mary Eoff in the body of Mary L. Vennum : 
forms a curious and most significant chap- 
ter in the history of Modern Spiritualism. 
The sweet spirit of the gentle and loving 



Mary; the strong proofs of her identity; 
how she occupied her time while a tenant 
at will in the mortal tabernacle of another, 
and the possible supramundane experiences 
of the released spirit of Lurancy; these 
are all matters of singular interest which 
invite comment; but the unexpected length 
of this letter admonishes me to leave the 
further consideration of the subject to your- 
self and your readers. 

You will, however, indulge me in a few 
concluding observations, which are not in- 
tended to be so general as in no case to ad- 
mit of a special application. The poor vic- 
tims of physical disease and spiritual infes- 
tation have little chance to recover their 
equilibrium when the professional classes, 
to which the interests of soul and body are 
intrusted, know so little of the real evils 
they attempt to combat. The doctors of 
medicine, as a rule, can not distinguish epi- 
lepsy, catalepsy, hysteria and nightmare 
from the shades of departed saints and sin- 
ners, who return whether for mischief or 

"On errands of supernal grace" 
to confirm the common faith in immortali- 
ty. Cases have come under my observation 
in which the diagnosis of the family physi- 
cian converted a vision of the Spiritual 
Heavens into a fit of hysteria. The mental 
darkness of lunacy and the light from 
another world are made to differ in terms, 
but are presumed to be about the same 
thing in fact. Our doctors of divinity can 
not perceive the difference between aberra- 
tion and inspiration. In their judgment a 
man has no business to be inspired in these 
degenerate days ; and if he is, they are sure 
the devil is in him. The moral philosophy 
of Spiritualism suggests that through the 
medium of his own faculties and passions 
every man must look at whatever is exter- 
' nal to himself. While many members of 
the profession are playing the devil in the 
sheep-fold as we learn from the papers 
and the courts a legitimate branch of their 
appropriate business "casting out devils" 
is entirely suspended. The clergy did 
not succeed in this part of the apostolic 
work. The concern was so run down, and 
the proprietors so destitute of assets that 
without the slightest consideration that 
branch of the business was transferred to 
the Spiritualists. If a spiritual wolf finds 
his way into the fold, the shepherd permits 
him to remain to frighten and worry the 
lambs ; or, perhaps, he advises sending the 
little innocents to bedlam for safety ! 

Nothing can more clearly illustrate the 
materialistic ter.dencies of many people than 
their disposition to ascribe all spiritual 
phenomena, manifested through the human 
organization, to a diseased condition and 
action of the faculties. All persons who 
have been visited by the angels, or other- 
wise rendered susceptible of spiritual influ- 

ence, for nearly eighteen centuries, are confi- 
dently presumed to have been sick at the 
;ime. But why not refer the remarkable 
experiences of the Apostles themselves to 
;he same source. They were men, subject 
;o every form of physical disease, and had 1 
*ime to analyze their cases it would appear 
.hat they were very much like others in 
all their essential features. Saul certainly 
aad the "falling sickness," while on his way 
to Damascus. He had been in a bad frame 
of mind for some time, and doubtless was 
bilious. He declared that he saw a great 
light and heard a voice. It might have 
been subjective thunder and lightening, oc- 
casioned by a derangement of the electrical 
polarities of his brain. And suddenly "he 
cell to the earth." The attack so deranged 
his nervous forces that for three days he 
saw nothing, and had no appetite. Ananias, 
a respectable citizen of Damascus, was im- 
pressed to come in and magnetize him, and 
his vision was speedily restored. The fall- 
ing sickness proved to be a good thing in 
this case. It took the devil out of the man, 
and the patient was improved in body, 
mind and character. (Acts, chap. IX.) 

"When Peter was in Joppa, at the house of 
one "Simon a tanner," he improved the oc- 
casion by going "upon the house-top to pray," 
and there he had a sudden spasmodic attack 
which doubtless presented many of the as- 
pects of catalepsy. He thought he "s&w 
heaven opened," and a great vessel resem- 
bling an immeasurable "sheet let down to 
the earth," containing in its enormous folds, 
the major part of the animal kingdom, 
(Acts x, 9-12.) When the Kevelator a man 
of poetic temperament and many woman- 
ly qualities was in Patmos, one of the 
Grecian Islands, he one day fell into some- 
thing like a cataleptic 1 ranee. To his great 
astonishment the New Jerusalem, in all the 
glory of a divine personality like "a bride 
adorned for her husband" came after John, 
and his soul was entranced while the grand 
visions of the Apocalypse moved before him 
in stately procession. 

It is the favorite hypothesis of many 
doctors, whose wisdom is chiefly conspicu- 
ous in their diplomas, that all spiritual phe- 
nomena, so-called, are the results of some 
physical disorder. To what fathomless 
depths of apostacy to what gross and infi- 
del issues is the unbelieving world tending, 
when its learned men ( ?) include the shades 
of the departed and the physical maladies 
of the living in the same category I 

"Angels and ministers of grace defend us" 
from the titled ignorance and licensed stu- 
pidity which can not distinguish a vision 
of heaven from an attack of epilepsy, hys- 
teria or the nightmare. Let the clergy 
anoint their eyes with finer clay and wash 
in the spiritual Siloam, and they will see 
something beyond the creed and the sal- 


ary. This vulgar and profane idea, that all 
psychical experiences are but the offspring 
of disease, presumes that the perfection of 
the individual, and his accord with Nature, 
are best realized when he is most insensi- 
ble of all impressions from super-terrestrial 
sources. This monstrous assumption is 
born of ignorance and sensuality ; it is fos- 
tered by popular science, and dry-nursed by 
the old theologies ; while the doctors of di- 
vinity and medicine labor to obscure the in- 
ward senses by "the foolishness of preach- 
ing" and a species of medical exorcism. 

Hoping that the time may come quickly, 
when the passion for new sensations among 
our people, will give way to a growing de- 
sire for accurate knowledge, 

I remain yours fraternally, 

> > ^ 

The Views* of Hudson Tuttle. 

Taking for granted the truthfulness of 
the persons interested, of which there ap- 
pears to be no doubt, the Watseka narra- 
tive is not only among the most wonderful 
but is replete with interest to the student 
of spiritual science. It pours a flood of 
light on some of the rn^st obscure questions 
relating to the sensibility of the spirit and 
its relations to the body. "We do not under- 
stand it as supporting the theory of the dis- 
placement of the spirit of the patient by 
that of another, but the subjection of 
the spirit to the will of another, as in a 
trance produced by magnetism in this state 
the spirit is passive and at rest, and the 
physical body has opportunity to restore its 
wasted energies, and further, the intimate 
contact of the pure spirit, would react on 
the body and thus hasten its restoration to 

This is illustrated in our daily lives by 
sleep, which is a lower state of rest, in 
which the spirit reposes and leaves the phys 
ical processes of restoration to go on with- 
out waste of energy, and it is claimed by emi 
nent authorities that this is so much more 
rapid during sleep than in waking hours, thai 
really the former is the only time that it oc 
curs. It is also illustrated by the magnetic 
state of trance, which restores by resting 
the spirit, and reaction of another spirit on 
the physical body of the subject. 

This opens the vast field of investigation 
the relation of the Spirit-world to the phy 
sical, wherein the true laws of health and 
disease remain to be discovered. 

The return of Mary Roff to her earth life 
at first presents some difficulties, for had 
she advanced in her new life, as we suppos 
she should, she would have been more ma 
tured. The drift of facts recorded shov 
that when the spirit comes in close contac 
with earth through a medium, it takes on 
more or less of the traits and stains of its 

ormer earth-life. The disease which pro- 
uced its severance from the body, and the 
eculiarities of its character, are revived, 
n this case, Mary Eoff, as a mature spirit, 
vould not have been recognized by her Da- 
en ts; but as a child-like daughter she filled 
heir hearts with joy. If she came at all 
n a satisfactory manner, she must come 
n the form she presented herself, and this 
was the easier for her to do, because of the 
endency of the returning spirit to take on 
ts previous earthly character on contact 
with earthly scenes through the medium. 
l?he cause of this need not here be explain- 
ed, for the fact is sufficient. 

Altogether the narrative is of exceeding 
value, teaching us how readily our spirit 
friends can come to us when the way is 
opened, and with what eagerness they avail 
hemselves of an opportunity. It also shad- 
ows the great power of the spirit over the 
body, and of the Spirit- world, when it comes 
n contact with us. HUDSON TUTTLE. 

Supplementary Statement by Mr. Asa B. 


Being almost daily in receipt of letters 
:rom readers of the JOURNAL, inquiring as 
x) the truthfulness of the narrative entitled, 
The Watseka Wonder," and not having 
time to fully answer all their questions, I 
am impelled to collect from them the promi- 
nent points of inquiry and objection, and 
briefly reply through the JOURNAL. Per- 
sons hereafter writing me, who do not re- 
ceive an answer to their letters, will seek 
for the information desired in this article. 

One writer inquires: "Is it a fact? or is 
it a story made up to see how cunning a 
tale one can tell?" Another asks: "Can- 
the truthfulness of the narrative be sub- 
stantiated outside of yourself and those im- 
mediately interested? Can it be shown that 
there was no collusion between the parties, 
and no former acquaintance ?" A reader of 
the JOURNAL suggests : "It is a pretty big 
yarn, and there might be some arrangement 
between the parties, or they themselves 
deceived." Another after saying he has 
read the narrative, remarks: "I confess 
that I am not of your faith, and I am very 
doubtful whether newspapers are always 
embodiments of sacred truths, and I wish 
that under your hand, as a gentlemen, you 
might confirm to me and other doubting 
friends, the strange, mysterious, and to me, 
fanciful, statements in those two papers. 
I write wholly to overcome a doubting feel- 
ing that exists with myself and friends in 
regard to that remarkable and wonderful 
personation." A lady writes: "Is the ac- 
count true in every particular? I hope 
there is a life beyond this, but I have never 
had any proof." 




I furnished Dr. Stevens with all the ma- 
terial facts in the case, except such as were 
within his own knowledge. The history of 
the Vennum family (and Lurancy's condi- 
tion up to the time he and I went to see 
her J une 31st), I obtained from the mem- 
bers thereof, and the neighbors intimately 
acquainted with them. The narrative, as 
written by Dr. Stevens, is substantially true 
in every part and particular, yet the half has 
not been told, and never can be ; it is im- 
possible for pen to describe or language 
portray the wonderful events that trans- 
pired during that m emorable fourteen weeks 
that the girl was at our house. The mater- 
ial facts of the case can be substantiated by 
disinterested witnesses, whose veracity can- 
not be questioned, and whose evidence 
would settle any case in a court of law. I 
refer you to Robert Doyle, Chas. Sherman, 
S. R. Hawks, Lile Marsh, J. M. Hoober, and 
their wives, and to Mrs. Mary Wagner, for- 
merly Mary Lord, all residents of Watseka. 
As to "collusion," "arrangement," or "our- 
selves being deceived," that is simply im- 
possible, as you will see if you carefully 
read the whole narrative over again. I, too, 
doubt whether newspapers are always "em- 
bodiments of sacred truths," but in this 
case I assure the writer, the JOURNAL does 
embody a very sacred truth, that of man's 

The lady writes me : "I hope there is a 
life beyond this, but I never have had the 
proof. To her 1 would say "Carefully 
read and study that narrative ; in that you 
have the proof, for surely it is contained 
there. That there is a life beyond this, or 
rather that there is no death, you may rest 
assured ; there is only a change simply a 
removal of the real man or woman from 
this temporary house of clay, to that house 
not made with hands." 

"There is no death. The stars go down 
To rise upon some fairer shore, 

And bright in heaven's jeweled crown 
They shine forevermore. 

"There is no death! The leaves may fall, 
The flowers may fade and pass away, 

They only wait through wintry hours 
The coming of the May. 

"And ever near us though unseen, 
The dear immortal spirits tread, 

For all the boundless Universe 
Is life I there are no dead I" 

Talking with Mary, we sometimes spoke of 
her death. She would quickly reply : "I nev- 
er died," or "I did not die." She never tired 
of talking of the life beyond this. She 
would at any time leave her play, her read- 
ing or her jovial companions, to talk with 
her "pa" and "ma" about heaven and the 

angels, as she termed spirit-life, and spirits 
that have left the body. 

I have questioned Lurancy Vennum on 
different occasions, as to whether she re- 
membered anything that occurred during 
the time that Mary had control of her or- 
ganism, and she states that a very few 
things occurring the last month that she 
was controlled, she recollects, but that in 
all cases the information was imparted by 

In conclusion, let me say to those who 
doubt or disbelieve the "strange, mysterious 
and wonderful story," call to mind Luran- 
cy's condition at her home last January, 
surrounded with all the kind care of pa- 
rents, friends and physicians, every thing 
done to alleviate her suffering and perform 
a cure that human minds and hands could 
possibly do, yet growing continually worse 
(if that were possible), given up by her phy- 
sicians, her friends without a ray of hope, 
the insane asylum ready to receive her, a 
condition terrible to behold! Then view 
her condition from May 21st until to-day, 
over three months, a bright, beautiful, hap- 
py, healthy girl, and then tell me what pro- 
duced the change. The narrative furnishes 
the facts ; account for them if you can, on 
any other hypothesis, than power exercised 
through or by the spirit of Mary Roff hav- 
ing control of Lurancy's body. 

I am now 60 years old ; have resided in 
Iroquois county thirty years, and would not 
now sacrifice what reputation I may have 
by being a party to the publication of such 
a narrative, if it was not perfectly true. If 
any should desire testimonials of my stand- 
ing, Col Bundy has some to use as he deems 

Watseka, III., Aug. 23rd, 1878. 

Asa B. Roff. 

The name of this gentleman has lately be- 
come of much interest to our readers in con- 
nection with the case of Lurancy Vennum. 
From a somewhat lengthy biographical 
sketch of Mr. Roff, published last January in 
the Iroquois County Times, a paper printed 
at Watseka, we make the following extracts : 

* * * a gentleman now in his 60th year, 
though with a heart as voung and happy as 
that of a child ; agreeable, generous and full 
of sympathy, he is respected by all who know 
him, while his more intimate friends love 
and honor him for his personal worth. ' 
His present enviable standing anwng his 
fellow-men is entirely owing to his indomi- 
table energy and integrity of purpose. His 
family is a most exemplary one; all who 
know them love them; no family in our 
community are more happy in their domes- 
tic relations. May it ever be so with them. 


The above extracts in connection with the 
following letters, would seem to establish 
Mr. Rolf 's reputation for truth and veracity 
beyond all question: 

WATSEKA, ILL., Aug. 22, 1878. 

Editor Religio -Philosophical Journal. 

Dear Sir. Many inquiries are made of me 
as to the standing of Mr. Asa B. Roff . These 
questions are .elicited through the publica- 
tion in your journal of Dr. E. W. Stevens' 
account of the Mary Eoff and Lurancy 
Vennum phenomena. 1 wish to say to you 
that no man in this community stands high- 
er in the estimation of the people than Mr. 
Eoff. He is a high-minded, honorable gen- 
tleman who would spurn to give currency to 
any thing not verified by facts. I don't be- 
lieve Mr. Roff capable of a mean act. It is 
not in his nature. 

Very truly yours, 


Mayor of Watseka and Editor Iroquois 

I have been personally acquainted with 
Asa B. Eoff since the year 1858, and take 
pleasure in stating that his character and 
reputation for truth and veracity is good. 


Ex-Judge 20th Circuit of Illinois. 
122 LaSalle st, Chicago, Aug. 22, 1878. 

We have also received letters speaking in 
the highest terms of Mr .Eoff and family, from 
the following gentlemen of Watseka: O. F. 
McNeill, Ex-County Judge; O. C. Munhall, 
Postmaster ; Eobert Doyle, Attorney at Law ; 
John W. Eiggs, Circuit Clerk ; Henry But- 
zow, County Clerk ; Thomas Vennum, f or- 
mer Circuit Clerk; Franklin Blades, Judge 
of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit; M. B. 
Wright, County Judge. 






Founded on Evolution and Continuity of 
Man's Existence beyond the Grave. 



" Arcana of Nature," " Antiquity of 
Man," "Career of the God-Idea in 
History," " Career of Religious 
Ideas," " Arcana of Spirit- 
ualism," etc. 



The "Ethics of Spiritualism," while running In the columns 
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"Hudson Turtle's Ethics of Spiritualism, now being pub 
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Banner qf Light. 

* * SuQh a work has long been needed and never more so 
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* * " This subject should have been thoroughly treated be- 
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WABBEN SUMNEB BAKLOW, author of The Voices. 

The author has steadily aimed to bring his work within the 
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12mo. Cloth, 160 pp, Price, in cloth, 60 cents. 
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**For sale, wholesale and retail, by the Publishers. The 


The Principles of 


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Etherio - Atomic Philosophy of Force, 
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with Numerous Discoveries 
and Practical Applications. 
Illustrated by 204 exquisite Photo-Engravings. 
besides four superb Colored Plates printed 
on seven plates each. 


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Clotb, 676 Royal Octavo pp. Price 84. Postage fre. 
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Christian Spiritualist. 



Being a Synopsis of the Investigations of Spirit Inter- 
course by an Episcopal Bishop, Three Ministers, Five 
Doctors and others at Memphis, Tenn., In 1855: also, 
the Opinion of many Eminent Divines, Living and 
Dead, on the Subject and Communications Received 
from a Number of Persons Recently. 


rpHE " CLOCK STEUCK ONE," is an intensely in- 
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judge for themselves the " CLOCK STRUCK ONE.* 

l%mo, Cloth, price 81.OO ; postage free. 
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THE , , 






Translated, with Copious Notes, an Introduction o 

Sanskrit Philosophy, and other Matter, 



The book is a 12mo., 278 pp., and the mechanical 

?art is finished in a superior manner, being printed on 
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Price, 91.75. Gilt, W2.25 ; Postage Free. 

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A Captivating Book. 

This is a story of remarkable Spiritualistic power and beau- 
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Paper, 170 pages. Price 50 cents, postage free. 

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Clock Struck Three. 

Embellished with a fine Steel Portrait of the 

Being a Review of " CLOCK STRUCK ONE," 
and a Reply to it and Part Second, Show- 
ing the Harmony between Christianity, 
Science and Spiritualism. 


In the long list of distinguished divines connected with the 
Methodist Episcopal Church, few have enjoyed so high a repu- 
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than Dr. WATSON. In the early days of Modern Spiritualism 
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The CLOCK STRUCK THREE contains a very able review of 
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it. Science and Spiritualism. 

Extract troin the Introduction. 

* May it not be that the semi-infidel utterances of Spir- 
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* * I also give communications received through a medium 
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harmony with Christianity as I understand it. Believing, as I 
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A tf EW BOOK. 


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By JT. B. WOLFE, M. I>. 

Embodies some of the most remarkable and wonderful facts, 
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Poems of ti6 Life Beyonl and fitMtt 

Voices from many lands and centuries saying, " Man, them 
Bhalt never die." 

Edited and Compiled by GILES B. STEBBINS. 

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Religion of Spiritualism. 


Author of " The Identity qf Primitive Christianity and 
Modern Spiritualism," etc., etc. 

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The Religion of Spiritualism identical with the Religion of 

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sins ; it only enlightens our minds, makes clear our dty, and 
points us to the way in which we can elevate ourselves : and if, 
with this knowledse, we fail to walk righteously, the greater 
is our condemnation " 


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I'..- i i ' an Account of the Materialization Phe- 
nomena of Modern Spiritualism, <witli Re. 
marks on the Relations of the Tacts to 
Theology, Morals and Ueligiuu. 


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" M. A. (OX03T)," 0* 




List of Works bearing on the Subject. 



Psychography in the Past: Guldenstubbe Crookes. 

Personal Experiences in Private, and with Public Psychics. 
General Corroborative Evidence. 

I. That Attested by the Senses: 

1. Of Sight Evidence of Mr. E. T. Bennett, a Malvern 
Reporter, Mr. James Burns, Mr. H. D. Jencken. 

2. Of Hearing Evidence of Mr. Serieant Cox, Mr. Geo. 
King, Mr. Hensleigh Wedgewood, Canon Mouls, Baroness Von 
Vay, G. H. Adshead, W. P. Adshead, E. H. Valter, J. L. O'gul- 
livan, Epes Sargent. James O'Sargent, John Wetherbee, H. B. 
Storer, C. A. Greenleaf, Public Committee with Watkins. 

II. from the Writing of Languages unknown to the Psy- 
chic : 

Ancient Greek Evidence of Hon. R. Dale Owen and Mr, 
Blackburn ( Slade) Dutch, German. French. Spanish, Portu- 
guese (Slade) ; Russian Evidence qfjfadaine Blavatsky (Wat- 
kins); Romaic Evidence of T.T. TnnayenisC Watkins); Chi- 
nese (Watkins). 

III. From Special Tests which Preclude Previous Prepar- 
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Psychics and Conjurers Contrasted; Slade before the Re- 
search Committee of the British National Association of Spir- 
itualists ; Slade Tested by C. Carter Blake, Doc. Sci. ; Evidence 

of Rev. J. Page Hoppe, W. H. Harrison, and J. Seaman 
(Slade) ; Writing within Slates securely screwed together- 
Evidence of Mrs. Andrews and J. Mould ; Dictation of Words 

at the Time of the Experiment Evidence of A. R. Wallace, 
F.R.G.S., Hensieigh Wedgwood, J, P. ; Rev. Thomas Colley. 
W. Oxley, Georee Wyld. M. D., Miss Kisllngbury : Writing in 
Answer to Questions Inside a Closed Box Evidence of Messrs. 
Adshead; Statement of Circumstances under which Experi- 
ments with F. W. Monck were conducted at Keighley; Writ- 
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Letters addressed to The Times, on the Subject of the Pros- 
ecution of Henry Slade, by Messers. Joy. Joad, and Prof. Bar- 
rett, F.R.S.E. 

Evidence of W. H. Harrison, Editor of The Spiritualist. 

Summary of Facts Narrated. 

Deductions. Explanations, and Theories. 

The Nature of the Force: Its Mode of Operation Evidence 
of C. Carter Blake, Doc. Sci., and Conrad Cooke, C. E. 

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