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vol. 3, p. 186
from Adyar archives of the International Theosophical Society
vol. 3 (1875-1878)


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People from the Other World

Such is the title of Col. Olcott’s remarkable work on the materialization phenomena at Chittenden, Vt. and elsewhere. It is published by the American Publishing Company of Hartford, Conn., and sold by subscription. It forms a neat volume of 492 pages. The type is clear and open, the paper good, and the work is embellished with some sixty highly appropriate and interesting engravings, illustrating the precautions which the author took in nuking his investigations at the house of the Eddy family and elsewhere; giving likenesses of the mediums, and of many of the individual spirits, sketches of the spirit groups, diagrams, plans, landscapes, and fac-similes.

The book is perhaps to the general reader the most interesting that has ever appeared on the subject of Modern Spiritualism. Entering upon his investigation wholly unbiased, and determined to give results faithfully without fear or favor, the author wins our confidence at every step of his narrative, not only by the internal evidence of perfect candor and honesty, but by evidence of his thoroughness and vigilance as an investigator. When the question of the occurrence of the phenomena is to be tested he takes nothing for granted, but exhausts his ingenuity in multiplying precautions and eliciting proofs.

The principal part of the volume is devoted to the Eddy phenomena, but a very interesting account is given of the author’s experiences at the seances of the Holmeses in Philadelphia, and of Mrs. Compton in Havana, N. Y. Though he did not trouble himself with the question whether Mr. and Mrs. Holmes had ever given fraudulent imitations of the materialization phenomena, he did satisfy himself, by the most irresistible tests that they are genuine mediums for thou phenomena, and he leaves it to the reader to infer whether or no the accounts by Gen. Lippitt, Dr. Fellger, Dr. Roue, Mr. J. B. Crosby, and others, of the phenomena last May and June, when Katie King appeared, and was de-materialized before their eyes, may not be in every respect literally true. The injustice inadvertently committed by Mr. Owen and Dr. Child, through their repudiation of all the phenomena they had witnessed through the Holmes, because of a suspected fraud in some cases, a wrong mainly because of the slight thrown on those prior and contemporary investigators who had testified in behalf of the facts and had not seen occasion to doubt them. Col. Olcott, in summing up his conclusions in regard to this case, remarks “The accuser of the Holmeses (Mrs. White) is apparently successfully impeached, and her endorser (Dr. Child) shown to be incompetent to testify. The real mediumship of both Nelson and Jennie Holmes, and ‘especially the appearance of materialized spirit forms through the same' seems to be demonstrated.”

It is evident that the author regards as secondary' and unimportant the question whether or no the mediums may, at any time of their lives, in any transaction professional or not, have been guilty of trick or imposture. It is the business of the investigator to rule out the possibility of fraud and confederacy, and not base his conclusions on premises so insecure, that at any future time, when he may hear that the mediums have been tricky, he should be ready to abandon his own testimony and reject that evidence of his senses and his common sense, which has convinced him of the reality of his facts. These are the considerations which seem to have influenced Col. Olcott in all his dealings with mediums. “I have not,” he writes, “nor will I play the part of the mouchard, searching out the immorality of mediums or the trickeries they resort to, except in so far as it may be necessary, in the one case, to weigh their testimony, and in the other to learn bow their roguery may be made impossible of repetition.”

We have already given some account of what Col. Olcott has to say of the wonderful manifestations through Mrs. Compton. It forms one of the best parts of the book. A characteristic likeness of Mrs. Compton, also a full-length drawing showing how she was tied in her chair, illustrate the text. These phenomena are among the most astounding of which we have any record. The disappearance of the medium from the cabinet, and her subsequent reappearance, tied precisely as she was at the beginning of the seance, and the coming forth of spirit forms in face and figure wholly unlike her, are a series of marvels, which, strange as they may seem, are attested by many and competent witnesses besides Col. Olcott.

We hope that every Spiritualist will try to have this beautiful volume in his library; for it deals not so much with theories as with plain irresistible facts, and it corners skepticism with reiterations of testimony, so respectable and irresistible, that one must either give heed to it or willfully shut eyes and ears. The style of the book is excellent; animated but precise, genial and entertaining, and yet careful and meeting the demands of the scientific inquirer. Such testimony as is here embodied cannot surely be long resisted by the scientific world. The facts which Prof. Tyndall regards as “degrading” are facts nevertheless; and being facts they are God’s facts, and we have no fear but that good and not evil will come of them.

Col. Olcott is entitled to the gratitude of every truth-seeker for his noble contribution to the literature and science of Spiritualism. His book will long be memorable as among the first and certainly as yet the most important, giving a full and faithful account of the materialization phenomena of the years 1874-5.

From the New York Sun.

“Spiritualism Put to Use”

The Remarkable Disappearance of a Young Man Erom Sing Sing. – A Grandfather`s Assurance that he is Alive. – A Mother`s Hope

On one of the highest bluffs about Sing Sing, which over looks a broad sweep of the loveliest part of the Hudson, in a beautiful dwelling that is provided with every luxury and attraction of an artistic tast, is the home of Frank Buckhout, who disappeared a little over a year ago, and who has not been heard of since. His father, Mr. Benjaman B. Buckhout, a genial, free-hearted gentleman, is one of the wealthiest residents of Sing Sing. He owns a large farm in Unionville, and, in addition to his fine residence in Sing Sing, has a large, new brick building on Main Street; part of which he rents for stores, reserving until lately an angle apartment for a billiard room. The billiard hall is closed. Mr. Buckhout has always lived in Sing Sing, and his two sons, Frank and Edward, received their education and went into business in that village. Frank, the older son, after leaving school, obtained a good position in a grocery store when about nineteen years old. He worked faithfully, and was known as a sober, industrious, and pleasant young man. He was rather retiring in disposition, was free from vices, and spent most of his evenings in his home, to which he was more than ordinarily attached. His brother Edward was clerk at the same time in a dry goods store on Main Street.

Last evening Mrs. Buckhout, a fine looking lady with snowy hair and a grief-stricken countenance, rehearsed the story of the disappearance with trembling voice, and with the vague, yearning look of the mother who longs yet half dreads to hear tidings from her missing boy. Said she,—

“It was on Wednesday of March 4, 1874, that I left home for a short visit to a relative in Bedford Place, Brooklyn, having arranged with my son Frank that he should meet me either in Brooklyn or in Orange, N. J., whither I intended! going on Saturday. On Sunday Frank spent the day in reading at the house, but went out early in the evening, and I did not return till late at night. His brother, with whom he slept, awakened on his return, but nothing was said about the trip projected for the next day. In the morning Edward was obliged to rise early to open the store and he left Frank sleeping. This was the last he has seen of his brother. Frank started that morning for New York with a young man, John Van Liew, who worked in a shop in Jersey City. He took but little money, was without his valise, and as the day was very warm he left his overcoat behind. It was the arrangement with Van Liew that Buckhout should apply that day at a ship chandler's shop in Jersey City for employment, and they went to the place together. The application was unsuccessful, and Frank told his companion that he should start at once for Orange to meet his mother. Van Liew showed his friend to a street car for Hoboken where he could take the train for Orange, and here ends all clue to the fate of the young man. Mrs. Buckhourt returned from her visit to Brooklyn expecting to find her son at home, and the family <... continues on page 3-187 >

Editor's notes

  1. image by unknown author
  2. People from the Other World by unknown author, Spiritual Scientist, v. 2, No. 8, April 29, 1875, p. 92
  3. “Spiritualism Put to Use” by Birdsall, Isaac, Spiritual Scientist, v. 2, No. 8, April 29, 1875, pp. 92-3