Joseph W. Dennis

Joseph W. Dennis

Joseph W. Dennis was born in 1827 in Green County, New York to Joseph and Julia Ann Dennis. He married Delia Toles, and they had two children before she died. He married his second wife, Lucy Mayfield, in the late 1850s and they had a son in 1860. Joseph lived in Buffalo most of his life working as a dock builder and contractor. In his obituary, it said he built most of the docks and coal trestles in the city of Buffalo. He was prominent in Republican politics and was an alderman during 1873-1874 for the third ward.

It is unclear when Joseph became involved in Spiritualism. He posted an advertisement in The Watchman in 1887. It said, “Send to J. W. Dennis for a sheet of his Magnetized Paper which is a magnet that will bring to the wearer, a Spirit Guide for Development or Healing. Ten cents per sheet. Can give references from mediums.”

The Buffalo News, 14 March, 1895, published one of Joseph’s poems submitted by another person. “J.W. Dennis, who wrote the verses quoted, is a Buffalo man, well known in Lily Dale, and every spiritualist in Buffalo will laugh over this satire on Mr. Dennis. His request to not mourn for him appeared in the Progressive Thinker, March 6, 1895

When I am Born Again

No black for me
No robes of night,
No clouded brow,
But robes of light;
No pall on coffin lid,
No priestly quack
No tears of grief,
No hireling hack,
No woes, no wails,
No sorrow’s veins.

But shouts of joy
And songs of mirth
Proclaim the news,
“Another birth.”

Joseph was a member of the Buffalo Spiritual Church Society and gave many lectures at their meetings in the late 1890s. In a 1900 announcement, he was referred to as reverend. He gave the lectures alongside medium Mrs. C Lewis Chase, who gave readings. In 1903, Joseph attended Lily Dale with prominent Spiritualists, Carrie E. S. Twing, W. M. Lockwood, and W. J. Hull. Joseph was a regular contributor to the Harmonia published in 1885-1886 a published a piece called “My Vision” in the January 1886, vol. 1 no. 7 issue.

Joseph’s wife, Lucy, died in 1911. He followed the next year at the age of 85. City hall flags flew at half-mast the day of his funeral in his honor.

Maud Lord-Drake

Maud Lord-Drake

Maud E. Barrock was born in 1852 in Marion County, West Virginia, the fourth child of Sarah J. and Phillip S. Barrock. Her father was a Baptist and mother a Methodist. They said she was born with a double veil over her face. When she was only a toddler, luminous lights were sometimes seen about her, and sparks flew from her hair. She liked to spend time in the dark and often her mother couldn’t find her. Her cradle rocked by itself. By the age of five, she had unseen playmates and said she could hear the trees and plants singing. Of course, her parents didn’t take kindly to all these happenings and thought the devil was behind everything.

A kettle of boiling lye accidentally spilled on Maud, and she was treated by a doctor. But when he returned to the house, she asked for pencil and paper and wrote, “Get pine needles, crush and mix with linseed oil, put between beet leaves and apply immediately.” The doctor recognized an old friend’s handwriting and did as she instructed. Maud recovered.

Her parents refused to educate her, believing her abilities were the work of the devil. She tried to sneak off to school but was caught. In a moment of temporary blindness, a spirit came to her and instructed her how she would learn from the spirit world in a grove of trees near the creek. And that she did.

When the civil war began, the family moved to Iowa. Maud spoke in French and German by then, advised neighbors on happenings duirng the war, and found missing things. She also communicated with spirits via rapping sounds. Unhappy, Maud ran away at one point, returned home and went through an exorcism at the church, and ran away again. She even thought of suicide before finding Mr. John J. Hall from New York City, who told her she was a medium. Her spirit guide came to her then. His name was Clarence.

In 1868, Maud married Albert Lord in Wisconsin. They had one daughter who was known as Adrienne de Corische. After Albert died, Maud married J. S. Drake in 1887. He was a contractor and hydraulic engineer and was involved with politics and a newspaper writer. “Mr. Drake apparently has the ability, education, experience, courage and inclination so necessary to assist in this important work,” according to The Religio-Philosophical Journal, 1887.

In 1900 they were lodging in St. Louis. Drake was listed as a lawyer and she a lecturer. He was ten years her senior. They eventually moved to Boulder Creek, California where they lived 27 years. After Drake died in about 1914, an Ernst Lydick, who was living in Pittsburgh, received many spiritual messages from Maud’s control, Clarence, and her deceased husband to travel to California and take care of her.

Maud and Ernst were eventually married. Maud died in 1924 in Santa Cruz after she initially survived burns when her house burned at Boulder Creek. “For many years a spiritualist of considerable prominence, the events of the wedded life of the deceased woman, as told this morning by her third husband, Ernst B. Lydick, also a spiritualist and author of various literary works of psychic phenomena form an unusual and sometimes weird story.”

Maud’s biography was published as Psychic Light: The Continuity of Law and Life in 1904 by Frank T. Riley Publishing Co. Kansas City, Missouri and contains much more information about her.

John W. Day

John W. Day

John W. Day was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts in 1838, son of Joseph and Augusta Day. His maternal grandfather was Rev. Ezra Leonard who converted to Universalism. John was educated in grammar schools and went to high school in Portsmouth at the Hampton Academy. He joined the office of The Trumpet, a Universalist publication and then the Banner of Light soon after its inception in 1857 as an apprentice to “the art preservative.”
He thought of joining the Universalist ministry but his poor eyesight, which made him abandon printing as well, lead to several outdoor jobs. He spent 2 years at sea and 5 years in the army ending up a captain in the cavalry from 1861-1866. When he returned to Boston in 1867, he worked for The Banner as compositor, shorthand reporter, and Associate Editor. In 1880 he married Nellie M. King, twenty years his junior, of Cambridge, Massachusetts. He was a member of the Masons, Odd Fellows, and the Grand Army of the Republic.
In 1880 he was living with the King family and working as reporter at age 42; Nellie was 23 and they had no children. John authored many poems and recited them at Spiritualist meetings in the Boston area. Twenty of the poems were published as A Galaxy of Progressive Poems in Boston in 1890. His “The Wine of the Spirit” begins:

Another year hath trod th’ arena’s floor
Where uses stern to Being’s call respond;
And we with gladness hail the loved once more
Who bring their message from the Fair Beyond!
We mark with joy Progression’s prophet shine
That streams puissant from that primal ray
When angel fingers from the land divine
Swept the dark lignite clouds of doubt away.

According to the Biography of Mrs. J.H. Conant, the World’s Medium of the Nineteenth Century published in 1873, “Mr. John W. Day, a reporter at the Banner of Light office, listened on many occasions to utterances through Mrs. Conant while she was under control by Parker (spirit Theodore Parker), and minuted in shorthand what that spirit desired to put forth as a biography of his medium.”
Unfortunately, John died from a gunshot wound in Somerville, Massachusetts in 1898 after he retired from working at the Banner. His work as editor and reported greatly influenced the dissemination of information about Spiritualism across the country.

Lucius Colburn

Lucius Colburn

Lucius Colburn was born in Plymouth, Vermont in 1854 to Moses and Eunice Colburn. He had a younger brother, who died in 1879 while they lived near Rutland. Lucius never married and devoted himself to lecturing and working as a medium the rest of his life.
During the 1880s and 1890s, Lucius traveled throughout Vermont while living in Manchester. He gave lecturers, inspirational speeches, sermons, improvised poetry, and readings in Orleans County, Essex Junction, St. Albans, East Wallingford, South Barre, Tyson, and Reading.

Lucius was a member of the Vermont Spiritualist Association and participated in a majority of their meetings as lecturer and medium. At the 1890 spiritual convention in Tyson, he gave the opening address, had a séance in a closed session, gave a lecture, improvised a poem and sang music to close the day’s meeting. He also attended Spiritualist Camps, like Lake Sunapee in 1885 where he was known for his “satisfactory tests as a medium.”

The Spiritualists of Lawrence County, New York held a convention at West Potsdam in 1892 where Lucius was the leading speaker. The following year, the Progressive Thinker, vol. 7 no. 184, 3 June 1893 wrote that “Bro. Lucius Colburn is kept very busy going from one part of the state (Vermont) to another, holding meetings and test circles. In his circles he had convinced many a doubting Thomas of spirit return.” By the late 1890s, Lucius was referred to as reverend and conducted sermons in Orleans County on Sundays.

In the 1900 census, Lucius R. Colburn referred to himself as a clergyman. At the 1903 Vermont state convention, Lucius gave a talk entitled, “Is Life worth Living?” It was sometime after that that he moved to California. Reporting on the Summerland Camp Meeting in the Progressive Thinker, vol. 5 no. 210, 10 October 1914, John T. Lillie wrote, “Lucius Colburn eloquent, earnest and honest, not only in his rostrum work helped the camp, but by labor in the entertainments and by contributions did much to make the meeting a financial success.”
Around 1910, Lucius started the Vermont Society in Santa Barbara, California and was president. At the same time, he attended the state Spiritualists association in L.A. and gave Impromptu poems. He was a 1912 San Diego convention speaker. In 1913 he was listed as Mr. Lucius Colburn, pastor of the Progressive Church in Pasadena.

In the Press-Telegram, 10 Nov 1913, they wrote of Lucius, “Speaking on the ‘the ideal life’ at the First Spiritualist church, Universal temple, 415 Linden avenue, Lucius Colburn, of Pasadena said: “We are living today in a most remarkable age. The religions of the past have been of the material nature instead of the spiritual. Our ideals are the real life. Whoever lives to manifest in this life manifests his ideal—it is not the life beyond, but the life onward. The inmost thought of the soul has yet to be expressed and we must begin with child life to develop it. Colburn said while we are chiseling or developing or characters let us strive to make for the very highest ideals we can conceive, Let us do it now, and not wait for some time to come. Let us with our own deeds, actions and principles work out all life’s problems and success and an ideal life will be ours.”

In the 1910s, Lucius owned a boarding house, was a member of the Green Mountain Club, and attended Mineral Park Spiritualist camp. He continued with his Spiritualist lectures in California but died a tragic death in 1925. As a boarding house owner he was known to have plenty of money on him all the time. Thieves broke into his room and tied and gagged him. He did not survive the attack.

Dean Clarke

Dean Clarke

Dean Clark was born in Royalton, Vermont in 1837 to Jedediah and Mary Clark. He helped his father on their farm and was still working there in 1860 at the age of 23. Dean married Harriet Horton Bardy in 1863 in Sudbury, Vermont where he worked as a physician. It is unclear what happened to Harriet. By 1870, Dean was traveling the country as a Spiritualist lecturer.

Dean lived in several communities, from Chicago, Illinois to Oakland and San Francisco, California, to Portland, Oregon from 1872 to 1886. He returned to the Boston area in 1887, but still travelled widely. He was speaker at the Liberal Spiritualist Society in Oakland at their 44th anniversary celebration in 1892. In 1900 he was a representative of the American National Spiritualist Association at the Paris Congress and visited London while abroad.

A Guide to Mediumship and Psychical Unfoldment by E. W. and M. H. Wallis contained several quotes from Dean dealing with mediumship, magnetism, and physical phenomena. One from the Banner of Light stated: “The word mediumship, as understood and used by Spiritualists, technically speaking, means a susceptibility to the influence, and more or less control, of decarnated spirits. Physiologically, it means a peculiar nervous susceptibility to what may be termed the ‘psychic force,’ which spirits use to move the mind or body, or both, of their moral instrument.” He added that, “Novices in mediumship have no business to assume obligations they are not fully qualified to fulfill.”

In the Progressive Thinker, vol. 2 no. 36, 2 August 1890, he wrote “Our work is that of pioneers. Let us do it faithfully and well, carrying our standard in the vein, bearing the motto: ‘Spiritualism Pure and Simple, Unalloyed by Theosophic Speculations.’”

Dean was living with his brother and family in Brookline, Massachusetts in 1910. He died two years later, in September of 1912 and was buried near his hometown in Vermont.