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vol. 1, p. 84
from Adyar archives of the International Theosophical Society
vol. 1 (1874-1876)


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From Сhittenden to Havana

by R. R. Lear, F.T.S.


On the morning of the 2d of November, Dr. Henry Slade and myself left New York for Chittenden to visit the Eddys, but, as far as I was personally concerned, my object was to verify, for my own satisfaction, the statement of Dr. Miller in regard to Mrs. Mary Eddy Huntoon.

We arrived at Rutland, VL, at 4.40 P.M., and drove from there to Chittenden; reaching Mrs. Huntoon's about 7 P. M.

The Huntoons reside in a small, partially finished, frame house, about a hundred yards from the Eddy homestead, so often described. They seem to be very poor; I emphasize the very because their apparent poverty will seem to have some bearing on what I am about to write.

At about 7.30 the seance commenced, at which were present about ten persons, including Dr. Slade and myself. The seance rooms are on the ground floor, the cabinet being a small bedroom, opening into a larger room, in which the spectators are seated. At the back of the smaller bedroom was a window, the lower half of which was apparently securely nailed down; the upper half was secured by an upright prop, placed on the top part of the sash of the lower half oi the window, and running up to the under side of the sash of the upper half of the window: this prop was not nailed or fastened in any way. The room used for the cabinet was lathed and plastered; the one where the spectators were seated only lathed. I make here a little diagram, as not being apt in writing. I may be able to explain myself more clearly by its aid.


About 7.30 Mrs. Huntoon took her seat at the door of the room, the curtains, with which the door is draped, so falling ore- her that the right side of her body was in the cabinet, the other outside in plain view.

I omitted to say that a string of small sleigh-bells and a violin had been placed in the cabinet.

Soon the bells began to ring; then a bare arm was thrust through the curtain; neat a man looked out, showing his full bunt, and finally walked completely out into the outer room. Yon understand, of course, that to all these sort of seances the light is insufficient to enable the spectator to distinguish any features; however, it was quite sufficient to enable one to see that there was before him a very mortal man, or a most excellent spiritual materialization of one. I can also say of the facts, that from time to time parted the curtains and peeped out, that they were very mortal looking facet; and to my fancy requiring a powerful imagination to establish their identity as the persons or spirits they claimed to be. After the full-form apparition bad retired, a voice from the cabinet directed Mrs. Huntoon to come altogether inside, which she did; from that to the close of the seance nothing new occurred worthy of especial mention.

The scene I have just given a sketch of was then, either a marvellously wierd and startling manifestation of spirit-power or a piece of as cheap trickery—not even worthy the name of jugglery—as it ever fell to the lot of man to travel 250 miles to witness.

After Mrs. Huntoon had rejoined us I said to Mr. Huntoon that I would like to make arrangements to have a test seance, at 2 P.M., the next day, premising that as Mrs. Huntoon was in full view, at the time that the form issued from the cabinet, it would not be necessary to lay hands on her; I desired only to put the room in such shape that I should feel that access to it from without would be impossible. For such a seance I asked his terms; he replied that he had never charged less than ten dollars. I answered him that I felt the price too small, and that I would give him twenty-five dollars. Mrs. Huntoon expressed herself satisfied if Mr. Huntoon would assist her to be in readiness, by giving her a little aid in her morning household duties.

Dr. Slade and myself returned to Rutland; and I P. M., Wednesday found us again in front of Mr. Huntoon's house this time prepared to reside at Chittenden for some days.

To my surprise—but merely as Dr. Slade had predicted—I was met by Mr. Huntoon with excuses: some lumber had arrived, and he could not stop "work on his house, as the plasterer was coming on Thursday morning to plaster. I suggested deferring the seance until evening; this did not answer, as he was to work until IO P. M., and then should be too tired; the next evening? No, the outer room would then be plastered and too damp to sit in; he had notified all his visitors of the previous evening to come no more as no seances would be held for ten days.

I then offered to send a conveyance from Rutland, on Thursday, or any morning he might name, to bring Mr. and Mrs. Huntoon to Rutland, and return them to Chittenden, at my expense, and I would pay them fifty dollars for their trouble—the seance being strictly private for Dr. Slade and myself; answer to this, that no one could be obtained to take care of the children. Finding Mr. Huntoon impracticable, I went in the house to talk to the madam; here it was, Mr. Huntoon had not helped her, and she was too busy, etc.

Mr. Huntoon had done no plastering up to I P. M., on Thursday, when Dr. Slade and myself left Chittenden; and the usual circle was held on Wednesday evening.

Intending to make still another effort with the Huntoons the Doctor and myself drove on to Horatio Eddy’s—Horatio and William have quarreled and Horatio is at the homestead, —William having removed to Mr. Brown’s, a brother-in-law.

At the door of Horatio Eddy’s, was a gentleman who, in response to our inqury if Mr. Eddy was at home, stepped into an inner room and at once returned with “Mr. Horatio Eddy says he can’t accomodate you." The inquiry if Mr. Eddy was at home and the aforesaid response was every word that passed between the gentleman and myself, who, by-the-way, most suspiciously resembled the materialization of the evening before.

We pursued our way to Mr. Brown's; here we met Mr. William Eddy who was perfectly polite and assisted us to obtain quarters with Mr. Warren Chaffee, some three or four hundred yards from Mr. Brown’s. We had two seances with William, at which no tests were either asked for or offered. The cabinet room is in the second story, and secured from ingress from without. Several forms appeared; some apparently, in the dim light, not far from William Eddy’s size, some very tall, and two quite small. Those about William's size came out into the room, the tall and small ones remained well within the darkness of the cabinet, merely opening the curtains and looking out.

There was marked difference in the dress of these forms; Col. H. S. Olcott’s book well fella the story.

IF William Eddy goes into the cabinet with nothing on his person but hit ordinary clothes, the manifestations are truly wonderful; but I had not the slightest proof that such was the case, and I know that any first-class character performer, Lingard or Maccabe for instance, could do all and more than William did, — if given the same opportunity for deception that William had.

Feeling that, in all probability, we should continue to remain in doubt as to the genuineness of Mr. Eddy’s materializations, the Doctor and myself decided to return to New York; but before leaving I again called on Mrs. Huntoon. This time I offered her a hundred dollars to discontinue her household labors and hold a teat seance; she declined, her excuse now being that she had promised Dr. Miller to give no more test seances, to any one until the $5.000 challenge

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Editor's notes

  1. From Сhittenden to Havana by Lear, R. R., Spiritual Scientist, v. 3, No. 12, November 25, 1875, pp. 140-2
  2. image by unknown author. Scheme of the room.