Ethel Sullivan was born about 1885 in Jonesboro, Indiana to James and Ella Sullivan. She was exposed to the religion of Spiritualism as a child. Her mother, aunt, and uncle were all members of the Indiana Association of Spiritualists and active at Camp Chesterfield in Anderson, Indiana. Ethel married Porter L. Stout in 1905 and they had a son, Roland, the following year. In the 1910 census, Porter was listed as a salesman and Ethel was a milliner. By 1914, Porter was using the last name, Riley. When he died in 1922, his last name was given as Stout-Riley.
It’s unclear if there was an official divorce, but Ethel Stout married spiritual healer and “suggesto-therapist” (hypnotist) Myron H. Post in 1916 in Anderson, Indiana. Myron had been married before to Dora and they had a son, Frank, born about 1893. Myron worked as an insurance attorney while married to Dora. In 1920, Ethel’s son Roland was living with them, and in 1930, after he married Annabell, they were still living with Ethel and Myron in Anderson, Indiana.
Myron and Ethel quickly became involved in the life of Camp Chesterfield, moving there permanently in 1923. Myron was ordained as a Spiritualist minister and served as Camp President until 1932. Ethel gave her first public demonstrations in 1925 and gained a reputation as a trumpet and materialization medium famous for her spirit guides, Sir Joseph Banks and a Cherokee girl called Silver Belle.
Tension grew between Ethel and Mabel Riffle at Camp Chesterfield. In 1927, Ethel and Myron moved to Miami, Florida, and founded the Spiritualist Temple of Truth, to showcase Ethel’s mediumship and train and accredit new mediums. The sweltering Florida summers shortened the Miami Temple’s season, so the Posts took up an offer by John Stephan, to move their summer programming north to an underused park property in Ephrata, Pennsylvania.
The Morning Call (Allentown, PA), 3 Sept 1932, stated, “Mrs. Post is one of the most highly developed mediums before the public today. She has worked upon platforms of the principal camps and churches of the U.S. and Canada and has presented her various phases of clairvoyance, ballot reading, trumpet; both in light and dark and materialization before psychic research societies of both countries with splendid results.
“Ethel’s direct voice demonstrations and spirit materializations attracted world-wide attention. She would enter a deep trance while sitting in a cabinet, bringing forth her spirit guides and others. During her lifetime, she submitted to many tests to prove the legitimacy of the physical manifestations she produced. There is one account of a séance in 1928 where doctors weighed a manifested spirit as well as Ethel during a demonstration and found her weight loss equaled that of the spirit’s weight. As many as five spirits could materialized during a séance, but Jayne Cuthbert described an unbelievable event in which nearly fifty spirits manifested. In a 1945 account, she stated, “While there were materialized individuals on the floor talking with their loved ones on earth, at the same time during the séance there were voices singing in the cabinet.”
New York Spiritualist Leader, 16 November 1941. Vol. 1 No. 1 said, “Mrs. Ethel Post-Parrish, one of the most famous of materialization mediums, and her not cabinet assistant, Mrs. Lena Barnes Jefts (who has written many distinctive booklets on Spiritualism) spent last week at their Camp Silver Belle quarters in Ephrata, PA, before leaving yesterday for the south to make preparations for opening their Institute of Universal Science for winter classes in St. Petersburg, Florida.”
Ethel divorced Myron Post in 1939 in Dade County, Florida. Her last husband was Jimmy Parrish who she married at the age of seventy-one in 1957. She died the next year, and her ashes were spread about the grounds of Camp Silver Belle.
William J Colville was born about 1859 in England. Little is known about his early life. His mother died when he was a young boy. His father lived only a few years after her death. From a young age Colville “expressed certain traits peculiar to highly sensitive organisms; and though he and others may have been spiritually unconscious of what was working beneath the surface, yet indications of some occult force were at times unmistakable,” according to an article in Medium and Daybreak Vol 9, No 442, Sept 20, 1878.
He was brought up in an orthodox church and first felt his talent was the work of the devil, but he overcame that fear. When he was 17, he attended a lecture by Mrs. Cora L.V. Tappan in 1874. Inspired, he returned home and composed a poem “The Resurrection.” He began to occasionally read his inspirational poetry, received while in a trance state, in private homes.
By the time he was 19, he was able to “deliver discourses with the same fluency as at the present time. The special phase of his mediumship, which is inspirational speaking, is about to undergo a great change.” After that, physical phenomenon, rapping, table oscillations took place. He had 12 guides for public demonstrations, including native American spirits.
In September of 1878, he addressed a select meeting at the Spiritual Institution in London before leaving for the United States. He made his home in Boston for the next decade. He was a popular speaker in the city and at Spiritualist camps. He attended Queen City Park in Burlington, Lookout Mountain in Tennessee and was a regular guest at Lily Dale in New York. At the 1888 Tenth Anniversary of American Spiritualism lectures in Boston, he made his farewell appearance before traveling to California.
Between lectures, Colville also published several articles, books and edited journals. His books included: The Spiritual Science of Health and Healing (1887), Universal Theosophy: The Science of Health and Healing (1887), Spiritual Therapeutics; or, Divine Science, (1888), A History of Theosophy (1896), and Old and New Psychology (1897).
While in California, Colville lectured, taught classes, and was business manager for George Chainey and Anna Kimballâ’s Gnostic in San Francisco. He then published an edited The Problem of Life (1890-1893) with Alzire A. Chevailler. The publication was, “Devoted to Spiritual Science and Philosophy and all Subjects Pertaining to the Welfare and Progress of Humanity / A Magazine Devoted to Spiritual Science and Philosophy as related to Universal Human Progress.”
In his first issue, he wrote, “ How many are there who enter the ranks as teachers and practitioners of Spiritual, Mental, or Christian Science, who realize anything more than a very small part of the work they are called upon to do, and how many are there who even attempt to begin at what is really the right end of the line, if true progress is to be made? The moral elevation of the race is of primary importance, its intellectual advancement is of secondary value, its physical soundness comes third.”
Colville returned to London in 1914 and gave lectures to the London Spiritualist Alliance and The Buddhist Society of Great Britain and Ireland. During his life he toured the U.S., England and Australia. He died in San Francisco in January of 1917. His obituary stated that “W. J. Colville, one of the foremost British lecturers on theosophical topics, died yesterday at the Wiltshire apartments after a brief illness with pneumonia.” He was 57 years old and “spent many years lecturing and writing.”
Josiah Francis Baxter was born to Josiah and Elizabeth Baxter in 1841 in Plymouth, Massachusetts. He married Eliza C. Holmes about 1862 and worked as a school teacher in Plymouth, Winchester, Nantucket and Amesbury. They had one daughter, Elizabeth, who married Otto Baron.
Frank’s interest in Spiritualism began sometime around 1870. In 1875 he taught a course of six lectures. Soon after, he began to deliver addresses at New England Spiritualist camps, including, “The Reality of Spiritualism,” given in 1876 at Shawsheen Grove.
By 1877, Frank was listed as a test medium at the Onset Bay Grove Spiritualist camp. The Boston Globe 23 July 1877, reported that, “Among them was a communication purporting to come from a girl named Matilda Frances Lyons. Through Mr. Baxter she recalled several things of her life on earth. Her father and mother, who were both present, responded to a question of the speaker, and asserted that what had been said was true, every word.”
Frank was known as one “who has won golden opinions for his eloquence of speech and song, and for his mediumistic gifts, and lectures at the Brooklyn Institute.”
His work as a lecturer and medium continued through the 1880s and 1890s.He frequently attended Lake Pleasant and Cassadaga Lake/Lily Dale. One address at Onset Bay was entitled: “The Rise and Progress of Modern Spiritualism and its Demands upon its Advocate.”
A booklet of one of his lectures was printed in 1893 entitled: “The Development of Spiritualism and its Demands upon its Recipients.” In it he wrote, “Spiritualism should be presented by competent lecturers, exemplified by honest mediums, demonstrated by positive manifestations, not only in every city, but in every town throughout the United States, and our efforts should ever be bent in such direction. Our best literature should also be extended through some system to all these places. Our lecturers and workers should always find a welcome in every place, sought, encouraged, and pleasantly environed, instead of finding themselves left apart and treated as strangers.”
Frank was present at the Ohio State Spiritualist convention in May of 1897. He participated with other well-known Spiritualists: Rev. Moses Hull, of Massachusetts, Maggie Waite of California, Hon. L. V. Moulton of Grand Rapids, Mich., and Mrs. Cora L. V. Richmond of Chicago.
Frank’s wife, Eliza, died in 1897, but Frank continued with his lectures, traveling from Maine, all the way through the Midwest, including Indiana, Ohio, and Missouri. In 1899, he spoke at the Woman’s Progressive Union in New York. His lectures included: “Heaven: What, Where and Who’s There” and “The Scope and Value of the Spiritualist Platform.”
For 30 years, Frank was a lecturer, singer and medium. He was also a member of the Temple Heights Spiritualist Corporation of Northport for many years. He died in February 1904 from typhoid fever at the age of 62.